Garage rock duo Royal Blood have done a lot in a year. They formed, made Matt Helders of Arctic Monkeys their number one fan, and became one of 2014’s biggest ones to watch in almost every new year music forecast, after only one single and B-side.
“It’s incredible. It was only a year ago that we were at our regular jobs,” says vocalist and bass player Mike Kerr. “It’s hard to know why people like Royal Blood, but probably for the same reasons we like it. I think that’s the best way to do it really, trust your own taste and hope that others share the same taste.
“I guess we’re unique in that there aren’t many two pieces, but we like to think we make a big noise for the amount of people there are.” And they do. Debut single ‘Out of the Black’ is overdriven, shouty, loud, and totally addictive. “You made a fool out of me,” barks Kerr over frustrated minor riffs, as Benji Talent, drummer, slaps out a competitively rowdy drum line in perfect mirror to the bass. It’s pure, unadulterated rock music.
“There’s definitely something very exciting about where rock music is going at the moment. The trouble for me with being in a rock band is the connotation of some crummy CD you get free with the Daily Mail. We just like to write songs, and do it in a really primitive and aggressive way. And yeah, you can call it rock for now, that’ll do.”
I ask him why he uses the word aggressive. “Obviously I’m not an aggressive person, but there is something about music which I suppose is quite similar to sport. You get this release, and you can almost be someone else.”
Has rock music always been his genre of choice when writing music? “The last five years for me have been about rock. That’s where my heart lies. That, and heavy blues.”
But the passion for music has been ever present. “I originally started off playing piano when I was six, and by the time I was twelve I was obsessed with music. But when you write songs at fifteen, you don’t know who you are, and you don’t really know what music you want to make. I’ve been in a band that sounds like Coldplay and I’ve been in a band that sounds like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. You find and explore yourself as you grow up and this is what I ended up doing.”
Having grown up with his band mate, Mike sees his and Ben’s friendship as a key to their success. “It’s amazing. It’s like a school trip everyday. It’s never difficult, because we started this band to have fun.
“We started writing songs together a year ago, but I’ve known Ben for years, since I was 15, so this year doesn’t feel as rushed as it does for people who have just discovered us.”
But of course, a lot of those discoverers have arrived since the summer, owing to the powerful free patronage from one of the world’s most famous drummers, Matt Helders. Less than a year after he sported a Royal Blood t-shirt at the Arctic Monkeys headliner Glastonbury set, Mike and Ben will be performing in front of 50,000 of Alex Turner and co’s fans as they support them during their Spring tour. If you can’t wait until then, they’ll be stopping by the Oxford Art Bar on the 26th of February. Be aware though; Mike says, “someone might get hurt.” You’ve been warned.