Here’s an excerpt from the BRMC feature that appears in Sentimentalist Magazine issue 25. For the full text, check out the back issue. Enjoy!

Peter Hayes needs you to know something right now.

He is not a grumpy man, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is not a grumpy band. It was never supposed to be like that.

Should we blame it on all that leather? Or the famously disjointed interviews from the beginning, or the 2004 break-up that found British-born drummer Nick Jago departing in the wake of ‘internal conflict?’

Either way, 2005’s bluesy, jamming-on-the-back-porch masterpiece Howl cleared up any confusion about general mood, even if it did bewilder both BRMC’s rabid fan base and critics alike as to the true direction of the band. Lush with acoustic guitar, harmonica, tambourine and tumbleweeds blowing in the wind, Howl introduced the soulfulness Hayes, Robert Levon Been and Jago had hidden away, in deference to chunky, psychedelic fuzz rock.

Baby 81, BRMC’s fourth and latest release, took just six months to hatch, and beautifully molds all previous outings. Jago was back in the fold full-time, and by all accounts, recording sessions were positive, smooth and friendly for once.

“We had done ‘666 Conducer’ and ‘Took Out a Loan’ at the end of the Howl sessions, then we went on tour with Howl with Nick, and just kept writing on the road, so it was nice to have that all back into the mix. Recording went for the most part pretty quick,” Hayes remembers.

Named after an infant, Abhilasha Jeyarajah—one of the youngest victims of the devastating 2004 tsunami—who was claimed by nine different families, but through DNA testing was eventually reunited with his biological parents, Baby 81 is a treatise on personal responsibility in a world where the “system” dictates everything, but ultimately, the importance of making a connection and the value of community.

“I sat down and thought about how we’re kind of misunderstood as a band. We’ve never been pointing a finger at anybody. We’ve never been saying, ‘you’re the fucking reason that shit ain’t right.’ It was always more personal as in what I can do to not feed into a situation or a system that I don’t particularly believe in?”

For more BRMC, check out our review of their May 31, 2007 show at Webster Hall here.

–Carrie Alison