A Force Of Nature: Leah Shapiro Of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Talented Female Drummer Leah Shapiro of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club for Tom Tom Magazine Women's Music Magazine

By Jen Marchain for Tom Tom Magazine | Photos: James Minchin

When you tour with one of the hardest working bands out there– Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, a “break” is just enough time for a snooze, a cup of coffee and a stretch (sometimes not in that order) before you are right back out on the road.  TTM had the opportunity to catch up with BRMC’s soul rebel Leah Shapiro in Los Angeles while on a brief hiatus from touring.  We wanted to know how life has been out on the road and what exciting things this force of nature has to look  forward to. 

Talented Female Drummer Leah Shapiro of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club for Tom Tom Magazine Women's Music Magazine

Tom Tom Magazine: Hi Leah!  TTM is so happy to be able to talk with you again.  Last year was a flurry of shows for you guys. Have you had a moment to breathe?   

Leah Shapiro: Just a little bit!  We ended 2013 with the Asia tour in December and then I was at home in Los Angeles for about a week and then I hopped on another flight to Europe for Christmas. Then it was back to LA again before New Year’s. So yeah, go-go-go!

That’s right!  You and the boys toured Asia and got to visit new places.  How was that experience?

That was just incredible. We got to go to so many places that I never even dreamed I would get to visit. It’s rare for us to see new countries or cities on our itinerary because we’ve been at it for so long, but this time around the whole last chunk of the tour was pretty much all brand new places for all of us. I wish we had more days in between the shows to go explore a bit more, but I’m thankful that we got to go and play music and the fans there wanted to listen and share the experience with us. A few years back, Rob and I were on our way back home from some shows in China we decided to take a detour and go to Cambodia for a few days. We got some dirt bikes and went out to the jungle for about 3 days just checking out their beautiful temples and little countryside villages. Whenever there is time for little trips like that we try to take advantage of it and go explore. Exploring on two wheels is always much better than any vehicle with four!  This time around we didn’t have any real time to go explore that way but it was just amazing to meet all the people who worked so hard making the shows happen and to get to talk to some of the fans that came to the shows. I don’t think it has fully registered yet in my little brain that our little band actually went to these faraway places to play these shows.

You then hit up Europe earlier in the year – a place I know BRMC has embraced and the fans love you out there.    

Yes! We headed back to Europe in February and the fans are always nice to say hello to. We also got to Greece and that’s another place I’d never been to – it was very exciting!

I saw a picture the band posted back in the spring last year. Your hands were all blistered up after a gig and I thought that is such a true testament of how hard you all work.  How do you maintain such resilience when you are out on the road playing gig after gig?  

Well, there’s not much of a choice. You just have to suck it up. The tour obviously has to go on even if one of us is feeling a little crappy or whatever. That blister thing was the weirdest thing ever actually. It was pretty severe and I haven’t had that happen in ages and definitely never that bad. We had already been on the road for 6 months or so, and technically after that amount of time playing this really doesn’t happen. My only theory is that maybe because it was summer and humidity made my hands soft and that’s why they fell apart. I’m not sure that makes sense at all but that’s all I can come up with.  It was a little bit hard to play because my hands were just a bloody mess, which makes it difficult holding the sticks. Thank god for adrenaline right? *laughs*

Talented Female Drummer Leah Shapiro of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club for Tom Tom Magazine Women's Music Magazine

You are featured in the upcoming book THE DRUM THING – a book project of photographs and interviews featuring the most talented and established drummers in the world today including Dave Grohl, Brad Wilk and Questlove.  I have to admit, as a fan this is awesome to see you – a female drummer be part of such a project. 

Deirdre O’Callaghan approached me about being part of it.  She is such an amazing photographer and this was such a cool project that it was an honor to be part of it.  It was also funded by donations through Kickstarter.

It makes so much sense for you to be involved in a grassroots project like that since BRMC takes that same approach with their promotions.  It’s always such an honor to get to chat with you Leah!  Thank you for the time!

You’re very welcome!


Black Rebel Motorcycle Club heads to Spain this summer and will also support the Artic Monkeys this August at the Los Angeles Staples Center.

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