Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in Brooklyn at The Warsaw on October 4.
Photo: Todd Berkowitz
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club—guitarist/singer/songwriter Peter Hayes, bassist/singer/songwriter Robert Levon Been and drummer/songwriter Leah Shapiro—has been on the road in the U.S. and Europe for most of 2013 touring in support of its March release, Specter At The Feast. The band’s sixth studio album in 15 years was its first self-produced effort and served as a catharsis for the painful loss of Michael Been—Robert Been’s father, and BRMC’s primary collaborator. Michael Been died suddenly in August 2010 in Belgium while on tour with BRMC as the band’s front-of-house engineer.
Current FOH engineer Allen Strand has worked with BRMC for 10 years, beginning at monitors before being asked to step into Michael Been’s role on tour. “When we lost Michael, it hit us all real hard,” Strand says. “It was a bittersweet promotion. There’s no rulebook on mixing Black Rebel for me. A lot of it’s just mixing by feel. I use the band and the P.A. as my instrument for the night.” BRMC is currently carrying microphones and backline, and Strand sees a variety of house-provided consoles and P.A. systems each night. “My main vocal mics are Heil PR 35s,” Strand says. “They like to be relaxed with their vocals but with their loud stage [volume] I’ve got to get every little bit I can out of them. I can normally leave [EQ settings] flat, but sometimes I’ve got to cut some low end out. This band doesn’t always like their vocals out front. I want to hear the vocals, because their lyrics are just as important to me as their playing. The main thing is to make the crowd happy. It makes you feel that much better.”