Band brings rock ’n’ roll to town

One night while watching television, Peter Hayes saw a scene in an old black and white film that would play a role in his life.

In the classic film “The Wild One” Marlon Brando played the leader of a motorcycle gang. Each gang member wore a black leather jacket with a logo inscribed on the back that caught Hayes’ attention — a skull and pistons with the letters “B.R.M.C.”

“He didn’t know what it meant, but it looked cool,” said Robert Levon Been, Hayes’ bandmate.

A few months later the band needed a name and thought about calling themselves “B.R.M.C.” But they had one problem— they still didn’t know what the acronym stood for.  After going back and watching the film, the band decided that the character Chino’s gang, the rival gang to B.R.M.C., was a bit more intriguing.

“We were like, ‘Oh, we should probably call ourselves whatever their name is because they are kind of a tough gang,’ ” Been said.  But that presented yet another problem for the band. The name of Chino’s gang in the film had already been used — at least phonetically.

“And then we found out that they were called ‘The Beetles,’” Been said. “And that wasn’t going to work.”

Despite the fact that the name of Brando’s gang, “Black Rebels Motorcycle Club,” is only said once throughout the entire film, it sounded like a name that the band could live up to, Been said.

“At first it seemed a little too big for our sound, but I don’t know, we kind of had to grow into it,” Been said. “It took us a while, and it felt pretty far from us.

“But at the same time we like throwing people through a loop, it’s kind of the fun part,” he said.

After forming in 1998, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has grown into the moniker that once felt too large to fill.  When the trio, which is rounded out by guitarist Hayes, bassist Been and drummer Nick Jago, take the stage they manage to pull in the audience on several different levels.

BRMC has a look that reeks rock ’n’ roll. The trio usually wears black leather jackets on stage and has a riveting sound that has a hint of The Jesus & Mary Chain. At the same time, the group can downshift a few gears for slower, more folk-driven songs such as “Shuffle Your Feet” and “Devil’s Waiting,” from their album Howl.  And the band has been known to play shows that last up to two and a half hours.

This Saturday BRMC will bring rock’n’ roll to town when they play The Dame at 9 p.m.  Tickets cost $20.  The Duke Spirit will open the show.

BRMC first came to prominence during the re-emergence of garage rock a few years ago.  Bands such as The Strokes and The White Stripes headed the comeback, but BRMC rode under the radar and is just now being recognized beside their mainstream counterparts.

But Been said being less well-known has helped define BRMC.

“We’ve kind of been able to make records the way we want to, and we didn’t get swept into too much of the highs and lows in the way of people forcing us to produce a single or hit or something that was just not us,” Been said. “We were kind of left on our own to just make music and not get lost in something else.”

With their fourth album, Baby 81, released in 2007, the band continued to make music on its own terms and was awarded their highest charting debut on the Billboard 200 at No. 46.

Been said people should come out and see the show because they are playing some new songs that may be featured on future albums, and because it’s an experience that you can’t get from reading a magazine.

“Even if it’s the greatest magazine of all time,” Been said. “It’s better to get out and have a drink, get out of the house and you can meet a pretty girl and fall in love.  All of that is possible. You have to go and figure it out on your own.”