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Royal Blood

Royal Blood

Interviewed by
Danielle Street
Friday 16th January, 2015 12:51PM

Friends and bandmates since their mid-teens, bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher struck a magical formula when they decided to work together as a duo under the name Royal Blood. The pair started gaining attention from Britain's mainstream music media back in 2013, with singles 'Out Of The Black' and 'Come On Over'. Those early releases proved that despite just being a two-piece they could conjure up an impressive wall of noise, thanks to Kerr's huge bass sound accompanied by Thatcher's punishing drum strokes. The eventual release of their self-titled album last August opened up a global audience for the pair, who have seen a meteoric rise and now spend most of their time on the road. UnderTheRadar caught up with Ben mid-tour to talk about how life has changed since he stopped working as a music teacher and made Royal Blood his full time job...

UTR: Hey Ben, how are you doing?

BT: Oh, I’ve just woken up.

Sorry to wake you up! I was going to talk to you about Royal Blood. Are you feeling up to it??

Let’s talk about that band Royal Blood.

Cool. You're on tour at the moment right, where are you in the world?

I’m in my bunk in the tour bus, we’re on our way to a show in Newcastle.

What’s the best thing about travelling by bus?

You can sleep on a bus, which is good. You can travel through the night and don’t really realise you are going anywhere. It’s brilliant.

It’s not too bumpy?

Um, it can get bumpy, but you take the bumpy with the smooth.

Ha, it’s the perfect analogy for life…

That’s it. You don’t know a smooth road until you’ve been through a bumpy one.

Speaking of smooth roads, you guys have done amazingly well since put your debut album out last year, how are you feeling about the meteoric rise?

Yeah, life’s taken a drastic change for us, but we are very much enjoying it.

You and Mike knew each other as teenagers, and you’re now in your early 20s, had you played together in a band before this?

Yeah, we had played in many bands together. We have been playing music together since we were 15 years old so it was nothing new to start a new band.

What prompted you to form a duo?

We knew what we wanted to do and we connected very well. It wasn’t really a big decision for us. It was more like, let’s get together and write some songs.

How does that writing process look?

Well, it’s changed recently but for our first album we just got together in a room and jammed and came up with things, that’s how most of the songs were written for that one. Now, we are on the road a lot so we kind of had to change our writing style as we are writing on the road. We do some stuff in soundchecks and play around a little bit, but we are learning other ways.

So is Royal Blood a full time job for you now?

Yeah, it’s been a full time job for the last almost two years.

What were you doing before that?

Before that I was playing in wedding bands, drum teaching in schools. I worked in a bar as a barman. I was doing everything.

It must be amazing to be able to make music your full-time job now…

Definitely, it’s a thing that not many people get to do, you know, and I’m very lucky to do it.

Can you tell me how you went about recording the album. The two of you make a huge sound but stayed away from overdubbing and other studio tricks...

The record is what we do live really. We went into the studio with the conscious decision to make it as live as we could. I mean there’s little bits of production on there with a shaker or tambourine or whatever, but apart from that what you see is what you get.

There is a lot of comparisons to the White Stripes, which I don’t hear that much aside from the fact you have a very full sound, and you are a duo obviously. How do you feel about those comparisons?

Um, the White Stripes comes up quite a lot because they are a commercial two-piece, and we understand all the bands we get compared to. I mean, you’re always going to get compared to someone, to describe music you think of bands that sound like them, or look like them, or have the same amount of members. We get compared to bands we really like, so it really doesn’t bother us at all.

Do you see yourselves expanding beyond a two-piece?

Not for the time being. We are very happy making music together and we don’t really a see a need for another person right now.

What was the last music you listened to?

Hmmm, last night on the ferry I was listening to The Beatles.

Is that a band you listen to a lot?

In the last month I haven’t listened to anything except for The Beatles and Ryan Adams.

Why’s that?

I’m not sure, I get into weird phases of things that I re-visit and I’ve just been addicted to listening to those songs recently.

It’s good to have those songs that buck musical trends and you can keep going back to...

Yeah, it’s good to listen to a variety of music as well, especially with The Beatles catalogue, how much their music and production changed. But for me it’s songwriting, you know, they’re the kings of great songwriting. So there’s a lot to learn from those guys.

Is there a particular era of Beatles that you enjoy?

Yes, and no. I mean, I like it all but my favourite album is the Abbey Road album, but I’ve been listening a lot to Rubber Soul lately.


Royal Blood are playing at Laneway Festival 2015 on Monday 26th January in Auckland. Head over here for details.


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