With a name like Royal Blood, either distinguished classical music or heavy metal come to mind, but the opposite is true. The U.K. band — who scored a plum gig opening on the Foo Fighters' current tour which hits Xcel Saturday — has a sound that mixes anguished vocals, voracious drumming, and rolling, intricate bass lines. The band's sound is reminiscent of and rooted in modern blues rock, hard rock and garage rock.
Royal Blood are the result of a lineage that stretches from present day heroes Queens of the Stone Age to the influential Led Zeppelin, and all the way back to early blues pioneers. Yet this wall of sound emerges from just two men: Mike Kerr growls lines such as “I'll let it go, cause I won't see you later/And we're not allowed to talk it out” as his bass elicits a delicious hum. Meanwhile, drummer Ben Thatcher partners his bandmate’s attack with the studied precision of a young Dave Grohl.
Things have been on the fast track for the duo since drummer Matt Helder of the Arctic Monkeys was spotted wearing a tshirt sporting their name ane Jimmy Page professed his fandom of the band. Their EP Out of Black was such a success, it was quickly followed up with a full length a few months later, including the single "Out of the Black" that has been earning significant radio airplay. Royal Blood wrap the primal essence of tenacious rock ‘n’ roll power around a surprisingly innate ability to craft deft melodies and soaring hooks.
The two met as teenagers and have been playing music together ever since. Kerr tried his band at other instruments before settling on the bass and eclectic combination of pedal and amps. Thatcher was given a drum kit for his sixth birthday and has stayed true to his instrument since.
Here's the rest of our conversation with Royal Blood ahead of their gig Saturday at Xcel.
City Pages: Your album has been out for almost a year now. How do you think it has evolved in the last year you have been playing it live?
Mike Kerr: It’s definitely changed a lot; it’s interesting listening back to it now and then the way we play the tracks live. We’ve definitely embellished things in the live shows, got a few more extra jams in there!
CP: When writing for this album, did you have the live show in mind in translating as a duo in the studio?
MK: Yeah, absolutely. Live is what we love to do; we want to be able to perform the songs like on the record, but add in that energy as a visual show.
CP: There was a lot of hard work that went into the music before you got a break. What do you feel you learned in that time that helps you today?
MK: Keep trying, really — and enjoy yourself. I think if you ever find yourself not enjoying yourself and what you’re creating then there’s a problem. We’d both been in different bands before, but with this it felt right from the word go.
CP: How has the tour with the Foo Fighters been going so far?
MK: Great, so great. It’s an amazing opportunity to play in front of so many people who perhaps don’t know your music. We go out there to try and convert them and build our fanbase. Plus playing beneath the Foo Fighters, well that’s just a dream come true. They were always a band we’d said we’d love to support.
CP: With the support of Dave Grohl and Jimmy Page, what do you feel is the next step in your career? Does it scare you to have that much expectation on your shoulders?
MK: I think it’s what you make of it really. We’ve been fortunate enough that some of our luminaries have said nice things about our music, it’s really encouraging. But at the end of the day, it’s our job to get our heads down and work on new music and hopefully carry on the success of the first record.
CP: What can we expect to see at your show in St. Paul on Saturday?
MK: The classic cliché, expect the unexpected. We give it at all during our live performances and always get carried away. We can’t wait to play.