Royal Blood are gaining worldwide attention at a phenomenal rate. Having received a great deal of praise and early support from fellow brits Arctic Monkeys, as well as a number of festivals in the US and UK circuit (SXSW, Glastonbury, Sound City), the duo will play their debut shows in Australia later this month. We chat with drummer Ben Thatcher ahead of the visit.
You guys are still a relatively young group, having only formed last year. How did the two of you come together for this project?
Yeah, me and Mike have actually been friends for a really long time. We hang out together a lot, and we’ve played in bands together for a long time, and basically I’ve been playing music with him for as long as I can remember. Mike went travelling a bit, and came back in October 2012. I picked him up from the airport and it was there that we decided to write and play some music together.
Royal Blood have quickly risen through the ranks of bands in the UK live circuit despite only having been around for such a short time. Tell us how things have come together so well for you guys over the last six months?
We’ve basically been in a studio writing together. Making lots of mistakes and making some music together. We’ve been really enjoying it. In the past six months, we released our first single, ‘Out of The Black,’ and it went off better than we thought it would. That’s the spark that really set everything for us.
Just to name a few – you guys are billed to play on Glastonbury, T In The Park, and Reading and Leeds Festival this year, each of which is an outstanding achievement for such a young band. How does it feel to be a part of all of those huge lineups?
Incredible. Absolutely incredible. It’s so good to be part of it, and it’s exciting for us to be able to play to those crowds.
Are there any shows so far that have been personal highlights for you so far in your career?
Yeah, Brixton Academy here in London was really great. It’s one of those venues that I’ve always wanted to play, so it was really good to finally get up on that stage.
What was it like to get such heavy support from the guys in Arctic Monkeys so early on in your career?
We have the same management as the Arctic Monkeys, so they got to hear some of the first recordings of some of our songs, and they became fans of what we were doing, and that’s how that kind of came about and it’s been incredible. We get to play with them at the end of May and I can’t wait!
You guys are making some decent waves over here in Australia as well. In fact, on your first tour down here in a couple of months, you’ve had to add a second Sydney show after the first sold out. How does it feel to get such a strong reception before even making it down here?
Incredible. I don’t know how it’s happened really. It’s so good to have such amazing support from you guys. We can’t wait to come down under and play for you.
What would you say fans can expect from your shows while you’re down in the country that sets you apart from other live acts?
It’s gonna be very noisy. Our shows go crazy, and it’s great. We’ll be playing all the songs from the EP, which you would have heard, as well as some new stuff. It’s gonna be a lot of fun.
Do you guys have any pre-show rituals that you do before hitting the stage?
We like to tie our shoelaces. Even if they’re already done up, we like to do it.
I like to put a fresh piece of chewing gum into my mouth as well. Just so I feel fresh for the stage (laughs).
Despite Royal Blood only being a duo, the sound you guys create is absolutely huge. That said, do you find there to be any challenges or limitations placed on you from being part of a duo rather than a four or five piece band?
Yeah, definitely, there’s so many restricitions on being a two piece. I think it makes us more creative though. Mike’s got to fill a lot of space, really. I’m on the drums, so there’s not a great deal that I can do. Mike’s got to do almost the whole song with just his bass. There’s a lot of limitations, but that brings a sort of challenge for us, and we really enjoy that challenge.
How do you see the way that you two work with each other on stage to be different to the way a larger group does?
Well, there’s only the two of us, so there’s only one other person to engage with while you’re playing. There’s a lot of kind of energy between us as well. We can’t really go wrong either, since there’s only the two of us. We can kind of just go off and freestyle for a bit really easily if we want to. Not that we do, but we definitely could (laughs).
Looking around the internet, I find a lot of comparisons between you guys and other duos like The White Stripes or The Black Keys. What’s your take on the comparisons?
I’m a massive fan of The White Stripes and other duos like Drenge and The Black Keys. I can’t really fault it because I’m really into those bands. What I would say is that we definitely get compared to two pieces a lot quicker than we get compared to three pieces or four pieces. Really, by default as well because we’re a two piece (laughs). With bands like The White Stripes, their sound is kind of empty and they’ve turned that into a signature sound. For us, we try to make a bigger, fuller sound.
That said, I love those bands, so I can’t really fault the comparison.
In light of that, who would you say are your biggest influences?
I’m a massive fan of Queens of the Stone Age. Older 70s rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and all of that. I’m also into a lot of the current chart music like Drake and Justin Timberlake and all of that pop stuff. It’s good to have strong songs, and I don’t think it matters what genre they’re presented in. A good song is a good song, and they’re in every genre.
You guys released your debut EP earlier this year. What do you think the timeframe is for us to expect more music from you guys?
We just finished recording our album. We’re going through the process of mixing and mastering it here in England now. I’m not sure the timeframe on it’s release, but it will be pretty soon.
If you could perform with any band in the world, who would it be?
Living or dead?
I’d probably pick Led Zeppelin, then. I’d love to have been there for Bonham solo-ing in Black Dog. It would inspire me.
Most embarrassing tour story?
When we were playing a live show at BBC Radio 1, just at the end of Out of the Black, I managed to somehow drop both of my drum sticks. I managed to pick it up, so it wasn’t too embarrassing, but it was rather unfortunate.
If you could only ever listen to three albums for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Jeff Buckley – Grace
Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors
That said, something by Queens of the Stone Age could fit on there. Or Thriller by Michael Jackson!
Royal Blood tour Australia this May/June. Dates and details here.