Written for Warner Bros. Records, January 2014.
Royal Blood is a mixture of anguished vocals, ferocious drumming, and bass that provides intricate detail as well as a rumble of rhythm. Royal Blood are the result of a lineage that stretches from present day heroes Queens of the Stone Age to the influential Led Zeppelin, and all the way back to early blues pioneers
Yet this wall of sound emerges from just two men: Mike Kerr howls venomous lines such as “I’ve got a gun for a mouth and a bullet with your name on it” as his bass elicits a roar that a blind test would predict is the result of multiple musicians. Meanwhile drummer Ben Thatcher complements his band-mate’s attack with the controlled aggression of a young Dave Grohl. Royal Blood wrap the primal essence of ferocious rock ‘n’ roll power around a surprisingly innate ability to craft deft melodies and soaring hooks.
Kerr is only willing to describe that eureka moment of sonic experimentation as the result of “three amps and a secret code of pedals” played on a collection of £220 small scale bass guitars. He invested in more expensive equipment but found it couldn’t match the brute power of the cheaper alternatives
Royal Blood argue that being a duo forces them to find ever more inventive methods to bring their ideas to life. “We seem to resist every opportunity to do something the easy way and instead come up with a more creative solution,” explains Kerr. “If it gets to a point where we think, how can we progress or can we go even larger, I’d like to think that there’s another creative solution rather than expanding the line-up with additional musicians.”
Kerr and Thatcher first met as teenagers and have been playing music together ever since. Kerr experimented with other instruments before settling on the bass with a unique cocktail of pedals and amps. Thatcher was given a drum kit for his sixth birthday and has remained committed to his instrument ever since. Thatcher, they laugh, is the organised and borderline OCD counterpoint to the chaotic and impulsive Kerr.
Things have moved fast since the duo formed Royal Blood at the start of 2012. Their pulverising debut single ‘Out of the Black’ earned significant national airplay, a feat which was repeated when the b-side ‘Come On Over’ gained further attention. Press acclaim followed likewise – NME, Clash, DIY and others – which resulted in Royal Blood being the only rock band to be named in the longlist for the BBC Sound of 2014 poll. Further endorsement arrived courtesy of Arctic Monkeys and Foals – two bands whom Royal Blood truly admire.
The coming months will see Royal Blood release the long-awaited second single ‘Little Monster’, embark upon a headline tour in February and then hit the NME Awards Tour on a bill headed by Interpol. Longer term, there’s the prospect of their upcoming debut album and the opening slot at Arctic Monkeys’ two sold-out shows at Finsbury Park.