Interview: Shelby Lynne of The Black Belles

The Black Belles are a Nashville based foursome. Jack White is often credited for the discovery and rising indie-fame of the group, though I think he and Third Man Records simply beat everyone to the punch. The Black Belles have been described as ‘garage goth’ by several. They drag dirty, vintage rock to a place that is uniquely dark and sonically haunting, yet hooky. So, it’s a fair description.

The Black Belles are Olivia Jean (vocals, guitar), Ruby Rogers (bass), Shelby Lynne (drums) and Tina NoGood (keys). The ladies are gearing up to kick off their first tour of 2012 this Sunday. In the midst of prepping, Shelby Lynne took the time to sit down and answer some curious questions for us.

TST: So, you’re based in Nashville? I love Nashville; have some musical ties there. The cynic in me has to ask, though – in what ways did Nashville help and hinder the band in the beginning? Did you play in town much early on? If so, where, and what were the crowds like? Do you play there often now, or just as a tour stop?

Shelby Lynne: Yes, we are based in Nashville. Nashville has been very supportive to us. There is a fabulous local rock scene here.

TST: The word on the street is that the band started in 2009. That’s a fast track to working with Jack White/Third Man and being on Colbert last year. Besides just being awesome, what brought on this overnight success – a publicist with superpowers? A hometown session friend who owed a HUGE favor? Something purely cosmological? What?

SL: Purely cosmological.

TST: Yours is the intro song for Elvira’s new show. If you’re as big of an Elvira fan as me, that’s cooler than winning a Grammy. How did it happen? Tell me she chose by sorting through videos, though if she went with The Black Belles based purely on audio, that would be rad, too.

SL: Elvira contacted Third Man and they thought we’d be a perfect fit. It’s surreal to have a theme song, but for it to be Elvira’s is just amazing.

TST: Have you met Cassandra Peterson, or had any kind of contact with her?

SL: Yes, Elvira hosted our Devil’s Night show at Third Man Records. It was dreamy!

TST: My bandmates and I got our first introduction to The Black Belles by watching the “What Can I Do?” video at the studio one day. The consensual reaction was, “Awesome, witches with sexy vintage gear!” Seriously, it’s a great video. And we’re onto your witchy ways [see question #2]. I’ve never seen you live so, will you be wearing those hats? How many of them do you have?

SL: Yes, we will be wearing the hats. We have four, which we guard with our lives.

TST: For myself and the other gear snobs, give me a brief rundown of your gear for the upcoming current tour.

SL: Olivia plays a Gretsch Duo Jet guitar and Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp. Ruby plays a Gretsch Thunder Jet bass and Ampeg BA-115 amp. Tina uses a Yamaha MO-8 keyboard. I play a Ludwig maple drumkit, vintage Supraphonic snare and Paiste Giant Beat cymbals.

TST: What sort of shopping excursions were involved in the making of this video? Or were all the clothes and instruments personal, pre-owned items?

SL: All the stuff in the “What Can I Do?” video is ours; pre-owned.

TST: For The Black Belles, is it more about bringing studio creations to the live performance, or about capturing the live performance on the records?

SL: For us, it was more important to capture the live performance on the record. Just as playing a live show is a moment in time, we tried to use the same mindset in the studio to capture a more spontaneous sound.

TST: What are a couple of your favorite records/bands right now… flavors of the week?

SL: Olivia’s flavor of the week is Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung.” Tina’s current favorite is local band Ranch Ghost, and long-time obsession is JEFF the Brotherhood. Every week, my flavor of the week is Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Ruby’s current jam is Os Mutantes.

TST: Finally, will you have a good supply of vinyl on tour with you? I’m making it my personal goal to have you ladies sign the Elvira themed 7” for my music room wall, so please bring a copy to Atlanta for me!

SL: Yep, we always have vinyl for sale at our shows. And yes, we’ll happily sign one for you!

    • TomCat

      I met the Black Belles at their Knitting Factory show in Brooklyn ,NY. – They are wonderful ladies and awesome Live! Plus they were kind enough to sign a CD AND vinyl copy of their debut album – They ROCK!!!!!!!!!