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Robert Levon Been is one of the founding members of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. He is best known as a bassist and singer, and his crushing tone and distinct voice acts as the cornerstone of BRMC's unique sound.
Been is from Santa Cruz, California and was born in 1978. He formed Black Rebel Motorcycle Club with guitarist Peter Hayes, after they met in High School in San Francisco. In the beginning, many thought the band was from England, probably owing to the influence of bands like The Verve and perhaps the fact, that their first drummer Nick Jago was in fact from Devon, England.
Been favours a heavily distorted sound and an aggressive playing style. He uses a pick to play the bass most of the time. His booming heavily overdriven tone is a signature of both Been himself and BRMC. His very aggressive playing style is somewhat at odds with his quiet demeanour when speaking, so if you didn’t know what to expect, you might be surprised at the power that hits you when the speakers start making waves. Despite the heavy distortion, and the aggressive style, Been’s bass lines are often very melodic.
When his father Michael Been, who had been the frontman for rock band The Call, live sound engineer, and something of a mentor for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, suffered a fatal heart attack while on tour with BRMC in Belgium, it was a huge blow, not only to Been, but to the entire band. In 2013, Robert appeared as bassist and lead singer as his fathers old band The Call reunited for two concerts in 2013.
His appearance as frontman of reunited The Call showed a somewhat softer side of Robert Been. It also challenged him, both vocally, because The Call’s songs typically have a bigger range than BRMC’s and on the bass, because it’s a different style than Robert Been had been used to playing. A less aggressive, cleaner sound.
The newest album from BRMC Specter at the Feast is probably the most personal, and certainly the most emotionally raw record from the band, as they worked through the legacy of the late Michael Been. The single “Let the Day Begin” is a cover of one of Michael Been’s songs with The Call.
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