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Interview: Royal Blood Talk Tour Life and Birdwatching

Interview: Royal Blood Talk Tour Life and Birdwatching

Fluffy / Tuesday 24th April, 2018 10:45AM

Brighton-based duo Royal Blood have been racking up accolades since dropping their infectious, self-titled debut album in 2014. The team of Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher's aural output is almost equal parts garage and stoner rock and with memorable hooks and loop pedal mastery, some might be as bold to call them prodigal sons of the likes of The White Stripes. Last year's How Did We Get So Dark? saw the duo amp up the introspection in their songwriting, next week will see them return to Aotearoa for the first time since their excellent appearance at Laneway Festival 2016. In preparation for their visit, we sent our resident aficionado of instruments-tuned-below-the-baritone-register, Fluffy to chat with drummer Ben Thatcher about Royal Blood's new album, birdwatching and the odd cheeky cover song....

How are you man, what’re you up to?

Good, I’m just reading a book about British birds actually. I have’t been very well for the last couple of days and I’ve been in bed and have taken up birdwatching.

I see, have you seen any good ones?

No pun intended but I saw a Great Tit today.

Oh nice!

Yeah but it’s easy to confuse with the Blue Tit, they're very similar but the Great Tit is a little bit more violent and it has some fat, black feathers on it’s head.

Was it just mulling about your neighbourhood?

Yeah, it’s quite exciting to be honest.

Cool cool, so were here today to talk about your band Royal Blood.

Yeah, let’s get to that.

Tell us about your latest album How Did We Get So Dark. How did the album come together and is there any underlying themes that run throughout?

We felt a bit of pressure to come up with something that was better, hopefully then the first [album], something a bit more different. There’s a progression from the first one. I think the writing was better on this one and we got to play around a bit in the studio with some new sounds and some new things. I guess the theme of it all is about relationships, being in and out of relationships. Different scenarios and stuff. 

How do you guys go about writing? Do you have to be in the same room as each other or do you send each other demos and that kind of thing?

There’s no way of writing a song that we’ve come to patent but some come from little demos, some come from writing in a room together and jamming out but they all come together when we’re recoding in the studio, when it comes down to the nitty gritty of it; changing parts , lyrics or whatever, that all comes down right at the end. 

That sounds like the studio space in which your working is pretty influential on how things turn out. 

Yeah, I guess so. To be enclosed in a studio, you can get a bit claustrophobic and a bit miserable. It’s all about keeping it fresh and not beating yourself up too much about things and just getting it right.

You sound pretty well travelled. What’s been your favourite place that you’ve visited in your musical adventures?

Everywhere with fucking sun to be honest. We love being in Australia and New Zealand and we’re really looking forward to coming back this week. It’s just such a fun place. The music down there and the people down there are so chilled and fun, we’re really looking forward to being back there. We love America, we love being back all around there. We’ve just come back from South America which was our first time there which was pretty incredible. We love just visiting, travelling the world, it’s just brilliant.

You’re heading back to New Zealand soon. Could you paint the scene of last time you were here? Where did you go to? Did you see many sights and the like?

Yes, we’ve only been to New Zealand once and it was very, very quick. We were only there for about three days, we were there for Laneway and we played a side show in Wellington too I think.

What artists did you share the stage with at that Laneway?

Yeah, it was a good one actually. We were with Mac Demarco, Angus and Julia Stone and Little Dragon.

All star aye? Your recent video for ‘Where Are You” was inspired by the HBO series ‘Vinyl’. What about that series made you think “Damn, that could make a sweet song”?

Well actually they asked us to come up with a song for the show. We thought it really worked well on the album.

You recently worked with director The Sacred Egg for a couple of clips.

They’re just an amazing videographer. We sent them a bunch of music and imagery and they were just up for cutting a video for us. They did ‘Lights Out’ with lots of people coming out of walls and floors while we’re playing and then there’s the ‘How Did We Get So Dark?” video, which is a bunny rabbit rampage... I have no idea what that video is about anyway. 

It’s interesting that you say that the meaning of it is somewhat open to interpretation because I’ve encountered lots of artists that are very stringent on every small detail to do with their artistic output and I think sometimes I can be nice to let that go and let collaborations flow a bit more.

Definitely. Y’know, you don’t need to explain a beaten path, do ya? You take from that walk what you want. I think that’s a really nice thing, rather than someone telling you what it means. We have the same thing with our lyrics. We don't really want to explain a situation about something we did to someone and go “here’s a song, here’s something completely different about it”. It’s nice of them to take away what they want to.

I saw your Robbie Williams cover in between your first and second albums. Are you guys big fans?

[Elated tone] Oh, we love Robbie! We’re actually pretty awful at covers and we thought “What’s the worst song we could do?” and we got ‘Let Me Entertain You’.

Have you ever had the pleasure of meeting the man himself?

Yeah we have, we went to see him at a festival somewhere. We hung out, watched him play ‘Millennium’, (it was) brilliant!

You guys are a two-piece. I wanted to ask what attracted you to that configuration of personnel?

I think Mike and I just love playing music together and we’d been in bands together for years and we just really love playing rock music. We have a bit more time than other people and Mike’s bass sound started growing because of the lack of guitar-players showing up to practice. I think it just kind of worked out from there really. 

You mentioned Mike Kerr’s big ole bass tone. How does he achieve that? Surely he must be running through multiple amplifiers at once?

Yeah, he’s a clever kid. He does run through a few different amplifiers and lots of effects pedals.

You have a pretty idiosyncratic drumming style yourself. What sort of drum kit are you rocking? Do you have any other bits-and-bobs of percussion that you use?

Yeah, at the moment I’m using a Gretsch kit - a lovely piece of wood, lovely Zildjian cymbals and I have a few little noise things going on, a few little triggers and a few cowbell things. Yeah, its all a bit of fun really. 

You can catch Royal Blood at Logan Campbell Centre in Auckland on Tuesday 1st May and at TSB Bank Arena in Wellington on Thursday 3rd May.


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