MANILA, Philippines – Few bands have had such a stellar first year as Royal Blood. The British duo composed of Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher officially formed only in 2013, but have quickly become one of the most exciting groups to rise out of the woodwork in years.
Even established, big-name artists like Arctic Monkeys, Muse, and members of Led Zeppelin and Metallica have talked about the newcomers.
Playing a combustible hybrid of modern garage rock, alternative and grunge, Royal Blood has delivered a fresh sound severely lacking in today’s mainstream musical landscape composed mostly of shiny pop princesses, R&B and hip-hop pretenders to the throne, and garden variety boy bands.
Their eponymous debut album reached number one on the UK charts and was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize last year.
Watch the video for “Figure It Out”
What’s even more incredible is how they managed to achieve their full, sonically charged hard rock sound with only two members, recalling to mind other hardworking duos like The Black Keys, The White Stripes, and Japandroids.
This month, Royal Blood are set to make their Southeast Asian debut at the Laneway Music Festival in Singapore. Rappler, a Philippine media partner of the festival, got the chance to chat with drummer Ben Thatcher. Excerpts:
Rappler: Hey Ben. Where are you now and could you tell me what you can see outside your window?
Ben Thatcher: Yeah I’m in London, in a hotel. And outside my window is winter wonderland, Christmas fanfare in Hyde Park.
Wow. Sounds pretty.
BT: Yeah! It’s a good sight.
When did you figure out that you and Mike were the band, that you didn’t need other members to complete the lineup?
BT: Because the lineup was already completed when we got together. We thought that we sounded good enough and we worked together pretty well. And could write songs. So it was an easy decision.
You guys have had a phenomenal year. Was there a specific turning point during the course of the year that you knew things weren’t the same and were getting a bit crazy?
BT: It’s been a very gradual process for us, our rise. There’s been a lot of moments when we realized that things were going very well. From the start, when we got picked up and we were able to quit our day jobs to write our music, I think that was the start.
When we thought, wow, this could really be something, which we never thought it would be. Throughout the last two years, every month has been unexpected. Things have happened that we can’t quite believe.
You mentioned that you quit your jobs. What were you doing before all of this madness happened?
BT: I was playing drums for a function band. You know, weddings and parties. I was also working in a bar, back in my hometown.
Watch the video for “Out Of The Black”
If Royal Blood didn’t happen, what do you think would you be doing now?
BT: I would still be playing music, definitely. And probably trying to have the best time, I guess. I’m not really too sure.
A lot of very famous artists and personalities have called themelves fans of yours, like Howard Stern, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Lars Ulrich of Metallica, and of course, Arctic Monkeys. That must feel unreal.
BT: It’s great to have the support of anyone. It’s a team of people on your side that are encouraging and supporting what you’re doing. That goes for any fan. But to have people like Jimmy Page and Lars, people that we have grown up listening to and that have inspired us, is another thing. It’s incredible to have those people on your side and backing you up. And enjoying what you do as well.
At this point in your careers, would you say it’s more important for you to sell more records or sell tickets to live shows?
BT: We’re not interested in selling anything. It’s great to have all of these people in your shows, and it’s good to, you know, sell your records to people so they could listen to it. But for us, we didn’t become a band to sell records or to play arenas.
We’re in a band because ultimately, we love playing music together and we love writing songs and being creative, and for anyone else to hear it is an absolute bonus for us.
Tell us about your dynamic with Mike. What’s you’re relationship like, particularly when you’re onstage and touring?
BT: It’s brilliant. We’re best friends. We get to tour the world together. And we know how lucky we are in our situation. It’s a fun thing to do. We’re travel partners. And colleagues of music. And we’re loving it.
Could you talk more about Mike? What’s he like?
BT: To me he’s a brother. He’s someone I talk to and respect and love. He’s a genuinely great person. He’s very smart and very clever at what he does. He’s precise.
You guys are playing in Laneway in Singapore later this month. Anything you’re particularly looking forward to seeing and experiencing?
BT: Yeah we can’t wait to play our first show in Singapore. It’s going to be a fun experience for us. We hope that the people of Singapore and the rest of Southeast Asia are going to love it, too.
I know you’ve expressed your fondness for pop groups like the Spice Girls in previous interviews. Just for fun, if you were to share the stage with anyone of these artists, who would you pick: Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry.
BT: I’d go with Katy Perry. I love all of them. But I think we’d work best with Katy Perry. – Rappler.com
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