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Royal Blood

Royal BloodUK duo Royal Blood’s self-titled debut album recently entered the British charts at #1. AUGUSTUS WELBY reports.

Royal Blood is two heavyset English blokes. One of them sings and plays bass and the other guy smashes the shit out of a drumkit.

That’s right, main man Mike Kerr plays a bass, not a six-string. Royal Blood’s brief sell-out Australian tour a couple of months ago proved that the thunderous sound of breakthrough singles Out Of The Black and Little Monster aren’t the product of studio trickery. A lot of the clamour comes from Kerr’s masterfully handled distorted bass work. So, upon the release of the band’s debut LP, it seems appropriate to find out what led to adopting the four-string as his primary tool.

“I just picked it up one day out of curiosity and plugged in a few pedals and that developed over time until I had my own thing, which is something I always wanted – my own sound. It just felt very natural.”

2014’s been a mammoth year for Royal Blood. They’ve sold out shows all over the world, supported Arctic Monkeys, The Pixies and Interpol and appeared on the main stage at just about every UK and European summer festival. It’s remarkable to think that 12 months ago the band was basically unknown. If we look back one year further than that, Kerr was actually living in Australia and music wasn’t his number one vocation.

“I was mainly working as a chef on the Gold Coast. I somehow ended up on the Gold Coast amongst my travels. I didn’t do that much music, really. It was mostly leisure and work.”

Soon upon arriving back in his hometown of Brighton in Southern England, he teamed up with his old mate Ben Thatcher and the pair got to work on Royal Blood. While Kerr had conceived of the idea for the band when living in Australia, Thatcher’s ballsy drumming was integral in bringing his vision to life.

“I certainly had my sound kind of developed, but the band didn’t really start until Benjamin joined up. There were ideas I had floating around, but we did so much songwriting when I got back. It was almost like I’d already cut my teeth and we had better and bigger things to do.”

Royal Blood’s rise to prominence began last November when their debut single Out Of The Black (and its B-side, Come On Over) invaded radio playlists around the globe. The public fervour grew more intense with the release of their second single, Little Monster, this February.    The band’s rapid ascent to widespread popularity means the album had to be pieced together during momentary gaps in the touring schedule. Even so, Kerr says they were fully prepared before jumping into the touring circus.

“We spent about six or seven months writing before we went out and did shows. We’ve only really been on the road for six to eight months. We dedicated a long period to writing before we got out there.”
Much like Royal Blood’s high-intensity live show, the 30-minute LP doesn’t outstay its welcome. Kerr says the primary aim was to make it a no-nonsense declaration of what they’re about.

“This record didn’t have a running theme. We weren’t trying to make OK Computer. We were just trying to accurately capture the sound of the band and establish who we are. We didn’t want to contrive it in any way. The whole idea was just for the record to be the best, strongest 10 songs that we could write.”

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