Courtney Love likes us. So what?

BRMC have famous fans. As if they care, writes Akin Ojumu

The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club didn't just work hard to become the flavour of the new year, they had to 'fight'. Their conversation is littered with combat metaphors, which is odd, because after being championed by celebrity fans, including Johnny Marr, Noel Gallagher and Courtney Love, then aided by an adoring music press, their rise appeared predestined.

They take themselves seriously, talking about music as if they are rock fundamentalists on a mission. But what else do you expect from a trio of men in black who borrow the fuzz-rock intensity of Jesus and Mary Chain allied to the pugilistic proto-punk of the Stooges? The result on their impressive debut album, BRMC, is an outsider attitude coupled with unerring self-belief.

Their first EP, 'Whatever Happened to My Rock'n'Roll [Punk Song]': 'I fell in love with a sweet sensation/ I gave my heart to a simple chord/ I gave my soul to a new religion,' was a statement of intent.

'It's a good thing to say but hard to actually keep to,' says Peter Hayes, their wild-haired guitarist and singer. 'We're not trying to make it our bread-and-butter song but it's how we feel about what we do.'

'I think bands like us are really able to put up a fight at the moment,' says bassist Robert Turner. 'I think people stopped listening and caring for a while but now they're prepared to listen.'

The biggest struggle the band members face today, however, is hauling themselves out of bed for this interview following a night out in the West End. They're polite yet far from loquacious; each question receives a mumbled, considered reply in keeping with their image as gloomy rock'n'rollers.

After a year of playing small venues in America, the San Francisco-based band arrived in Britain to a conqueror's welcome, including the cover of the NME: 'Leaders of the Pack'. Like the Strokes and White Stripes, BRMC were more highly regarded over here than back home.

'We've actually got some good recognition in the States, but we don't know what will happen over here,' says Turner. 'We haven't stepped on stage here so we don't know what's real and what isn't.' They're on the current NME revue tour, alongside Andrew WK, the Lostprophets and the Coral, about which they have mixed feelings.

Their short sets ('We haven't played a half-hour set for so long,' says Hayes) are a teaser before festivals in the summer. Their Devon-born drummer, Nick Jago, the pretty one who could find employment in a boy-band, has work-permit problems and couldn't leave America. He's been replaced by the Verve's Pete Salisbury.

Their next album is half completed but the five finished tracks have gone missing. What about the demo tapes? Silly question; they don't exist. BRMC follow the punk ethos in the studio, working fast without thrills.

'We just don't do things twice for no reason. Why try and replicate yourself? We try and do the best we can on the first take,' says Turner.

And how do these self-styled ascetics feel about their famous fans? Noel Gallagher and Tim Burgess are friends, they say, but Hayes groans when he learns about Love. Says Turner: 'We've had a lot of people support us from the beginning but when people approach us after we've been on the cover of magazines, I don't take it seriously.'

BRMC is out now on Virgin. The NME Carling Awards Tour is at Newcastle Uni, Mon; Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall, Tues; Sheffield Uni, Thurs; Liverpool Uni, Fri; Manchester Academy, Sat


Akin Ojumu

The GuardianTramp

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