I first heard of Royal Blood when they were named on the longlist for ‘BBC Sound of 2014’ last December. “Sound of…” is a poll of critics and music industry figures aimed at rooting out promising new talents and Royal Blood ended up being the only band on this years list.
Even then I wasn’t quick to jump on the bandwagon at first because I was suspicious having never heard of them, despite them being hailed as a local band (arrogantly I assumed I’d heard of all the local bands worth hearing about). I was also irked that this years only band were a 2-piece and, at a knee jerk, I was prepared to write them off for only being half a band without ever hearing them. When I finally listened I was blown away!
Their latest release, the single ‘Little Monster’, came out on 11th February with a video following on 3rd March. It’s certainly gone a long way toward justifying the hype: Royal Blood’s sound is incredibly full: chunky and heavy but melodic. Singer Mike Kerr bucks the trend of two-piece bands by playing a bass guitar to accompany Ben Thatcher’s drums. Lazy comparisons to other two-pieces like The White Stripes or The Black Keys – who tend to match their drums with guitars – put me off, but, in my opinion, a drums and bass combo is a different proposition altogether: there’s more to it than the pitchshifter pedal going up instead of down! At the heart of every great band is a tight rhythm section and these guys must have discovered at some point that, actually, that’s all they need. If I were to compare them to another tight rhythm section I’d say they owe more to Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk from Rage Against The Machine. If there is a White Stripes influence it would be on the vocals, but Jack White isn’t the only guy who goes for distorted wailing and at the end of ‘Little Monster’, for the briefest of moments, Kerr sounds more like Matt Bellamy from Muse.
Ultimately Royal Blood have succeeded in creating a powerful, original sound, they’ve taken modern garage rock and attached some much needed balls to it. If ‘Little Monster’ is anything to go by I’d imagine these guys could make it huge. We’re really looking forward to catching up with them at this year’s Great Escape Festival.