San Francisco Chronicle with Robert on 'The Call' appearance
Before Black Rebel Motorcycle Club plays its sold-out show at the Fillmore on April 22, the group’s frontman-bassist Robert Levon Been will take part in special performance at Slim’s on Thursday, filling in for his late father, Michael Been, for a reunion of the Santa Cruz ‘80s rock band the Call. “I’ve known those guys forever,” the younger Been said last week from a tour stop in Germany. “What happened after my father passed away is his music was really echoing for all of us — we started thinking back and reflecting on all the great things in his life.” Black Rebel Motorcycle Club covers the band’s signature tune, “Let The Day Begin,” on its latest album, Specter at the Feast.
The way you perform with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is so different from the way your dad performed with the Call. Can you sing those songs the way he did?
At first it was an incredibly scary thought, trying to step in. Not only is he a better bassist but his vocal range is far superior. I didn’t think there was any chance. But I surprised myself continually with how many songs I was able to retrain my voice how to sing. In doing so it’s actually given me a lot of strength and resonance with Black Rebel songs. I learned a lot from just trying to learn those Call songs. I didn’t think I could do it but I never tried.
It must be in your DNA.
It’s in there. It’s in the DNA and it’s really spooky. One of the reasons I developed my own style in the beginning is because I was fighting against being my father. No one has actually called me out on that. I was always fighting against his thing. You push as hard as you can against. I wouldn’t have thought I could do it at all. But I can do that if I have to.
Your father toured with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club as the sound engineer, which you weren’t exactly happy about at first. Did you eventually come around?
Yeah, thankfully, he didn’t join us until we toured the second album so I got some of the real bad stuff out of my system. Over time I wouldn’t trade any of it. There were so many great years we had that a lot of families don’t get to spend together. I really value it now.
Apr 16 at 1:11 am|