‘Before we had any kind of recognition I remember thinking ‘maybe rock isn’t cool anymore?”: An interview with Mike from Royal Blood

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There are acts that show promise, acts that show a lot of promise, and then there’s Royal Blood. With merely a single 7 inch vinyl release to their imposing name, the raucous Brighton-based duo have managed to gain daytime airplay on Radio 1, a fanbase nothing short of devotional, the honour of supporting Arctic Monkeys on their two sold out dates at London’s Finsbury Park and a slot on the coveted NME Awards Tour.

Amidst this whirlwind of hype that can usually only be conjured through the summoning of black magic or by being The Strokes circa 2001, The Edge had the pleasure of chatting to bassist and front man Mike about success, riffs, their upcoming material and his favourite albums of 2013.

You made the Sound of 2014 longlist, have been playlisted by Radio 1 and are supporting Arctic Monkeys at two sold out dates at Finsbury Park. How encouraging does it feel to gain that much traction off the back of one single?

Very encouraging. I think it’s still important to us to not let these great opportunities or affirmations get in the way of our work ethic. There is only so long you can pat yourself on the back for.

You’re taking Tigercub out with you for your whole UK tour; how did you come to meet each other?

Tiger Cub have recently become good friends of ours – it just so happens we really love their music too! We met at a studio called Brighton Electric where both of our bands rehearse.

As well as your headline tour, you’re also playing the aforementioned AM Finsbury Park shows; what was your reaction when you got the call?

I got the news via a voicemail that had been left and ended up nearly dropping my phone in the cup of hot coffee I was drinking at the time.

Being a two piece band you obviously get comparisons made between you and other duos like DFA 1979, The White Stripes, The Black Keys, etc. Are you pleased when you get compared positively to those acts? Or do you simply see it as journalists trying to box you in to a certain sound and template?

I think it’s a very natural thing to do. By comparison you can familiarise a new band or sound with yourself and others. As much as we don’t mind being compared to bands of that calibre, we can’t help but feel like the comparison is made based more so on the fact we are a ‘duo’. I guess looking at the history of two pieces there have been very few as iconic as the ones listed above so we can only expect a tidal wave of two piece comparisons, I’m surprised we haven’t been compared to Ant and Dec yet.

As is evident from ‘Out of the Black’ and ‘Come On Over’, you are massive fans of the riff. What would either of you say is your favourite riff of all time?

Wow, this is a difficult one. I guess a significant riff in my life would have to be ‘Millionaire’ by QOTSA. It changed me.

You’ve said in a previous interview that you feel as if there is not a great deal of good rock music around at the moment. Would you say that a lot of bands around right now are afraid to write big-sounding, ambitious songs?

I’m not sure if it’s that. Perhaps there is more pressure to follow the trends and become involved in ‘scenes’ rather than to make music you love for the love of it. Before we had any kind of recognition I remember thinking ‘maybe rock isn’t cool anymore?’ It’s always been my favourite style of music and it was something I remember being told I would grow out of! I think drum machines and backing tracks have to take some responsibility for these dark times we live in.

Now, we’ve only recently come into the New Year; what were your albums of the year for 2013?

It would have to be AM, Like Clockwork, Random Access Memories, Drenge and Days Are Gone.

You’ve got an album in the pipeline yourselves; how are you approaching your first full-length? Are you setting out to explore certain themes and sounds, or is the plan to just go in and write some great songs?

We’ve spent the whole year writing and recording songs – we’re are at a stage now where we are starting to compile what will be our debut record. By no means is it finished but it’s very clear that we will have it ready for summer 2014. The whole idea for this first record is to capture who we are as a band at this moment in time and define our sound in best songs we have to offer.

Would you say that Royal Blood on record is a different experience to Royal Blood live?

I would say the live show is more exciting in the same sense that live music always is. We record very true to what we can actually do live, all you hear is drums, vocals and one bass on the end of many overdriven amplifiers.

Being the most exciting new act to emerge for a very long time you must be highly sought after; are you planning a busy summer?

The diary is certainly filling up. Lots of touring and work to be done, not to mention a few weddings to attend.

If there was one act that you could recommend to someone right now – aside from your good selves – who would it be?

I recently saw a great band called Lion Bark in Brighton! You should also check out singer-songwriter Chris Simmons, the song called ‘The Occupant’ is the one.

Royal Blood play the Cellar on 13th February. Get tickets here.

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I write about music. When not at gigs I like to spend my time being annoyed that I'm not at a gig. UPCOMING // Takedown Festival

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