Vocalist/Bassist, Mike Kerr is very much a different man these days and seems to be enjoying the success of the bands’, short, but hectic legacy which saw them rise from obscurity to a global platform almost overnight.
We talk about the new album, the pressure of delivering their aptly-titled previous album ‘How Did We Get So Dark‘, the evolution of the bands’ sound and much more…
OD – Album number three is finally released and takes the existing Royal Blood sound even further with the introduction of a hybrid of electronic/disco-style alternative arrangements that work so well. I can’t imagine fusing elements of genres together like that is as easy as it sounds. Did you find it a little grueling at times?
MIKE – I think in order to get to that point, we really had to get very experimental with things all the while finding out where we could take the overall sound, without repeating ourselves, or losing our sound. In short, we tried to keep the true essence of what Royal Blood is, yet take things in a more adventurous direction.
With regards to the more electronic elements on the album, it wasn’t something that we sat down and agreed upon. I would say it took about a year for us to land on that element, and that’s from just experimenting, and pushing ideas, as far as we could while keeping the overall structure, and feel of our sound intact.
OD – Was there one particular song that locked in the overall sound/direction on the album?
MIKE – Yes, in fact, it was ‘Trouble’s Coming‘. That track kind of locked in the overall DNA of the entire album.
OD -Although the album sounds and feels very innovative, would you agree that the live version of the tracks, takes on a whole different element?
MIKE – Yeah, I think that all of our songs… we always have the live experience in mind when we’re writing. Going on tour with this album, especially when understanding what the world has been going through recently… I think ‘Typhoons’ is such a party album.
It really has a synchronize with the kind of show that everybody wants to go back to. I can’t wait to get out there and perform these new songs.
OD – You had said in the past that when you put out ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’, you knew that people were waiting to hear it and I’m sure that adds a little dynamic that can cause some pressure. With this album, did you find that you were far more relaxed?
MIKE – Yeah, it was. Having survived that second record and the touring we did after that album… we felt that we had established ourselves somewhat. I don’t think we played to the gallery on the second album, but we definitely felt a knife in our back the whole time we were making it, and that’s not a good thing to feel from any creative standpoint.
So, this time around it was a lot more relaxed and we just let our creativity flow and it was a noticeably different experience. We produced the album ourselves and could do exactly what the fuck we wanted.
OD – Everything about ‘Typhoons’ is a far more joyous experience and I can only assume that’s where you both were coming from. When you look back at the previous album, does it seem kind of night and day, especially when it comes to the overall approach?
MIKE – Yeah, it does. I hardly recognise the person who was making our debut and the second album. It’s really about getting the experience of writing songs. I have written so many songs over the years, now.
Looking back, our first record was our first step forward as a band and we didn’t have any room to make mistakes and as we all know, making mistakes is how you learn to get things right. This time around, we were much more experienced songwriters, artists and just had a greater sense of identity.
OD – You have spoken about the mental and physical place you were in towards the end of the last album tour cycle. With regards to discovering a side to you that you didn’t know existed, do you now feel that you’ve conquered how you digest the outcome of being in the public eye more so now?
MIKE – I do, yeah. Any kind of scrutiny or negativity, I just take as a symptom of success. Every band gets to that point where people fucking hate them and that is when you can tell that most bands are actually doing well! [Laughing]
Having said that, we’ve not really experienced that level of trolling. We kind of anticipated that we may have gotten some backlash on this album because we made something for ourselves and to be honest, so far, so good. The reaction has been really great. When we put these songs out, about 95% of people were on board with it all, and that kind of caught us off guard.
OD – Royal Blood have been a name that is used to tick the ‘Rock’ box in today’s contemporary musical climate. Does that irritate you as the very labeling of that is pressure in itself?
MIKE – Yeah, it’s a fairly ignorant analysis of an entire genre. We have done well for ourselves but we are not the antithesis of the entire genre. There are so many bands’ I know what have had a number one record and get pretty much no coverage. The mainstream has a very stale outlook on the genre as a whole and it’s really their loss as there is so much going on with so many incredible bands’ pushing the envelope, and discovering new sub-genres, etc.
OD – What is your opinion on the issues that mainstream have with Rock/guitar-based music have at the moment, as the focus seems to be very much on Urban/Electronic and the genre as a whole is not getting fair exposure?
MIKE – I’m really excited about the prospect of getting back on the road. When we started rehearsing again, it was a really weird experience. [Laughing] The new songs are very complex and it took a while to get back into the swing of things, but we’re finally there now.
OD – How many people are now involved with Royal Blood’s live show now?
MIKE – The live show will see three of us on stage. We have a wizard keyboard player who just completes our sound and gives it the extra push we need for the live experience.
OD – Was there a lot of extra material from the writing sessions to the album that is still in the picture for future stuff or do you tend to start writing new stuff with a ‘clean slate’ so, to speak?
MIKE – Yeah, there’s a bunch of stuff. Probably one or two things that I’m really excited about. But, from past experiences, I never really take old ideas to the finish line and tend to start fresh when working on new ideas, but I have to say there’s one riff I’m working on now that may just be the best riff I’ve ever written [Laughing].
It came right at the last minute towards the end of this album writing cycle so, it didn’t make the cut but if anything, it’s that good, it will be the catalyst for the next album. I’m really excited about it.
OD – New album track you’re most excited about performing live?
MIKE -I would have to say ‘Mad Visions‘ because it’s just so different from anything we’ve ever made and it’s just gonna ignite the crowd into one huge party. It’s like a celebration of sorts…
OD – What is the first album you remember as a child being interested in?
MIKE – I think it was ‘Help‘ [The Beatles, 1965]. It was one of the first albums that really caught my attention with regards to being a cohesive body of work. Prior to that my previous purchases were’ The Best of the Beach Boys’, and ‘The Best of Queen‘ [Laughing]
I had never really experienced a concept, or body of work like ‘Help‘ before and it really had a profound effect on me when I was around nine, or ten years of age.
Royal Blood’s new album ‘Typhoons‘ is out NOW. The band will be returning to Ireland as part of their upcoming live dates and Overdrive are giving away 3 pairs of passes and CD copies of the new album. All you have to do is:
1: Share this post on your socials
2: Follow us on Instagram and Facebook
3: Tag the friends you wish to bring to the show
Winners will be picked at random and contacted privately on Friday, June 17th.
Royal Blood will be performing in Dublin’s 3Arena on April 5th, 2022. Tickets are on sale NOW via this link. Contact MCD Productions for further details.