The Black Belles: Shelby Lynne


BlackBelles_Tom Tom Magazine Woman Drummer Badass Jack White

Shelby Lynne, the uniquely wonderful dark beauty driving the heavy beats behind the kit of garage-rock outfit, The Black Belles spent some time with TTM to talk about drums and The Black Belles highly anticipated 2011 debut album from Third Man Records, produced by White Stripes front man Jack White. 

Tom Tom Magazine: You recently moved from Los Angeles to Nashville, TN to record with The Black Belles.   How has life been treating you in Nashville and at Third Man Records?

Shelby Lynne: It’s been great! I love Nashville. I think everyone I know here is in artist in one way or another. There’s just a ton of creativity here and it’s a wonderful family over at Third Man.

Your command on the drums in The Black Belles is pretty fierce.  How long have you been playing drums?

Thanks! I’ve been playing for 5 years.

What made you to want to play the drums?

I’d wanted to play drums for ages and after I saw Patrick Keeler playing live I was able to convince my parents I was completely serious about it. Soon after that I got my first drum kit.

Did you play any other instruments before you played the drums?

I played keys for a bit first. But at the time all I wanted to do was play drums, so I didn’t come to enjoy keys till later on.

Prior to working with The Black Belles, had you been in any other bands or worked on any other projects?

I played drums for some friends here and there and on a few recordings. And I once competed in a drum competition…and lost.

The Black Belles sound has been defined as “garage goth.”  How would you describe your sound?

We have a lot of different influences hidden in there, but obviously mostly surf, garage, punk…

Which part of the music process do you enjoy more; recording or playing live?  Why?

I prefer playing live, definitely. I had a lot of fun recording too, and of course it’s nice to be able to do another take if there’s a mistake, but I prefer playing live. All the good stuff and all the bad stuff that happens, it’s only for the people there in the crowd to know about. It’s more fun that way. Just as I enjoy seeing a live show more than I enjoy listening to a record.

BlackBelles_Tom Tom Magazine Woman Drummer Badass Jack White

Speaking of playing live, The Black Belles recently played at Third Man Records on November 11th in support of the release of your debut album.  How did the show go?

I had so much fun at that show! It was great to have so many of our friends and family there, and all the people that helped us make this whole thing possible!
Do you find it important to practice independently or do you use rehearsing and playing live as a means of perfecting your craft?
I think it’s hugely important for me to rehearse on my own. I love to work out any kinks and practice to a metronome all by myself.   Someone once told me to practice just as you’d want to play live so that it is what naturally comes out when you’re on stage. Even how you want your performance to look, all of it. I took that advice.

What drummers do you find inspirational?  Why?
Not in any order:
Rat Scabies…I love The Damned, but I love them most of all because of his drum fills.
John Bonham…Of course. The sound of his drums alone earn him a spot as one of my all time favorites. And he knew when not to play.
Patrick Keeler…No one else plays like he does.
Keith Moon…He broke the rules. And he was the best to watch play. Ever.

Can you tell me a little about the drum kit you play on in The Black Belles?   (Brand, size etc).

Ludwig. Always Ludwig! I have a new black glass glitter kit with a 24” bass drum, 16” floor tom, and 12” rack tom. And I use either a 6.5″ maple snare or my beloved vintage 60‘s Supraphonic. Before  I got that, I was playing my 60s’ vintage silver sparkle kit. And I’m very loyal to my Paiste Giant Beat cymbals…15” hi-hats, 20” crash, 24” ride. I love that gigantic ride cymbal more than I love most things.

Are there plans for a tour in the future?

Yeah, we will definitely be touring around in 2012! In February we are headed to the Midwest and east coast with Bleached!

What encouraging words can you offer other women who are learning the drums?

Play every day…Don’t forget to break the rules… And if you encounter rude guys at your local drum shop, it is your duty to sass them.


Interview By Tom Tom writer Jenifer Ruano

Photos courtesy of Third Man Records

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