Royal Blood Reflect On Playing in America + Their Major Successes
Despite being one of the year’s most buzzed about bands, Royal Blood haven’t been around all that long. Starting their reign in 2013, bassist/singer Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher’s quickly wooed fans in the U.K. with their heavy rock and strong stage presence.
Before they hit the road with the Foo Fighters, Royal Blood sat down with us to chat about how it feels to open for Dave Grohl and company, what it’s like touring the states and what their major successes — like being crowned the Best British Band at this year’s Brit Awards — mean to them. Check out our exclusive conversation below:
You’ve been touring around a lot, especially this year. How has it been going here in the states?
Mike Kerr: It’s been great, and the shows in America have been brilliant. We’re finally seeing the fruits of our hard work with coming to America. We’re playing in rooms that are full of American people, which is great. We used to play in rooms in America with no one there.
Ben Thatcher: No Americans or any nationality in America.
Kerr: Just us.
So take us back to the early days of Royal Blood. When you first started, was this something that you envisioned for the band — filling rooms in the U.S., opening for Foo Fighters, being named the British Band of the Year?
Kerr: I don’t think we imagined anything really. We just took it each day at a time, and it all became this crazy circus.
Do you notice changes in the band as you spend more and more time on the road?
Kerr: I think it has made us better performers and better players and better songwriters. Every show is different, so getting nervous depends on where we are, but we rarely get nervous. It’s more excitement than nerves I’d say.
You mentioned how you’re happy to play to American audiences now. What’s the difference between playing gigs in the U.S. than …
Kerr: I don’t know really. There’s nothing in particular that I’ve noticed except that we’re playing in a cooler place than if we were play around the U.K. That’s me. I can’t tell the difference.
What shows have stood out to you as memorable ones so far this year?
Kerr: We had a great one in Chicago.
Thatcher: Well, the show we did in Columbus [Ohio that we did in June] was pretty memorable as well. Surprising, that one.
Kerr: Yeah, sometimes when you end up in the middle of, or what feels like the middle of, nowhere, sometimes literally the middle of nowhere, we’ve had some great shows there. All around, it’s been a positive experience for everyone.
So, opening for the Foo Fighters …
Kerr: I know people who want to tour with them who aren’t even musicians, and we’re two of them.
Excuse me … you don’t consider yourselves musicians?
Kerr: Sorry, we’re not magicians. Actually sometimes, I don’t know who we are. He’s [points to Thatcher] got me convinced that we’re magicians. What do you think we should do?
You should be who you really are.
Kerr: Okay — then we are magicians.
So you make magic onstage?
Kerr: Exactly. It’s always magical. You could feel it in our fingers and sometimes in my toes. [Kerr and Thatcher start singing a few lines from the Troggs’ “Love Is All Around.”]
[Laughs] So with all the festivals you’ve done this summer, how do you prep for it? Does it feel any different from a club gig?
Kerr: Yeah, I love playing outside. There’s something about being in a place where people are much more sedated because they’ve been drinking the whole time. It’s kind of like you’re playing to lizards.
What are Royal Blood up to for the rest of the year?
Kerr: Foo Fighters. We’re going to play some of our own shows. We’re going to do some recording.
Kerr and Thatcher: Then there’s Christmas.
Have you already started on the next record?
Kerr: Yeah, yeah.
How’s that going?
Kerr: We’ve done a few tunes. They sound great. There are loads more to write, but we’re just going to keep cracking on.
Thatcher: Keep and keeping on.
Do you feel any pressure on new music because of the success of your debut album?
Kerr: There’s always the pressure of coming up with something, but that was there when we first started playing music. That’s the pressure you put on yourself — if you want to stay true and good to yourself. You keep putting pressure on, but there’s a moment when you stop adding the pressure and start making music.
What is your meaning of success? Do you think Royal Blood have reached it already?
Kerr: Well, yeah, every song is its own success. Every time we write a good tune, it’s something, but we have to win that success.
Thatcher: I don’t think there’s a definition of success. If I did a really good painting it would be successful, but it wouldn’t mean I’m successful. It would just mean the painting was successful. So for us, our songs and work together have been successful for us — which includes us being successful.