Royal Blood’s new album, Typhoons, introduces funky dance music beats to their original guitar and drum rock riffs that fans love. The album was released on April 30th, 2021 and the modern day psychedelic rock style looks good on bandmates Mike Kerr (bassist and vocalist) and Ben Thatcher (drums). Kerr’s sobriety has brought a new clarity to the dynamic of the band, and his hidden talent is debuted on the last song of the record.
mxdwn: I understand that you released “Boilermaker” last week, and apparently is a long-time fan favorite from your shows. What made you guys decide to put that on the new album?
Ben Thatcher: Well, it was probably the first song we wrote for the album. We weren’t really writing for the album, but it was original to touring and we were on the road with Queens of the Stone Age and the song kind of came out of Mike and one of our mates just messing about and this thing came along. We just worked from there and then decided to record it with Josh Homme out in LA, which was great. You know cause we toured with them, we got to know Josh quite well, and it was a real straightforward way of recording this song. It kind of lent itself to him and we love his band and we love what he produces. So we thought, why not go in with him and do this and that song we then tested out on the road a few times and found we really liked it. So, by the time we finished writing the album, it was a song that we still felt was real relevant to us and fit on the album as well.
mxdwn: Awesome. That just kind of leads to my next question of what experiences/ideas did Josh bring to the recording session?
BT: He kind of just allowed us to be who we were and let us do what we do really. And he had some great ideas for arrangement and he just produced some great sounds of the drums and guitars and it was just real easy working with him because he’s a friend. There was no ego in that room. It was just us wanting to record something really, really cool.
Photo Credit: Brett Padelford
mxdwn: So I understand this album is a little different than what you usually create and the psychedelic-like rock vibe is really working well, but at the same time, it totally aligns with the sound that Royal Blood is known for. How do you guys think that you made it work so well and come together?
BT: I think we just used all of our influences here at the end. We don’t just listen to rock music when we’re on the tour bus partying, we listen to pop music, R&B, rap and funk music and dance music. And we felt like the party for us started on the stage. And then the music changes when we come off of it and we thought, you know, why not step out into this brave range and put what we listen to in the bus on the stage and start the party there. We were already into the French dance music group called Justice and Daft Punk. And we’re all saying, you know, we love ’70s disco music, like the Bee Gees and stuff like that. So, we thought we’d take a step in that direction but still keeping what we love about Royal Blood in our sound, progressing a little bit with different things from those genres.
mxdwn: Do you think the changes in style will continue to influence future Royal blood albums? Or do you think you’ll continue to explore new styles and inspirations?
BT: Yeah, I’m not really too sure. I think what we hold onto as Royal Blood will always be the core of us and that’s Mike and me playing music together. I’m not going to come up off the drums and Mike, you know, might change phases that sound like keyboards and guitars, that is the core element. We’ll do whatever we feel is right and feels fun and feels like it’s got a good energy. A lot of the time it is quite heavy music, but the heaviness doesn’t come from the genre, it comes from the sound.
mxdwn: Do you think that having the gap between your past album and Typhoons was beneficial?
BT: You can’t jump from one to three. So to our second album was kind of baby steps because we had never written a second album before and the first record was written just for us. We didn’t think anyone else would hear it. We were quite blown away by the success of that first record and kind of set us up with a little pressure of making the second one, where this third one we felt quite liberated in how it sounds. It’s a huge step for us I think, but we wouldn’t have been able to do this without the second record and the part of production changes we have now.
mxdwn: Would you ever consider taking a break, like the break that you just had between future albums to have time to maybe reflect on the album and write more?
BT: Yeah, I mean, it was written obviously during a very strange time with pandemic, and so we will never get to be able to do that again, but who knows really. It’s been nice to have that time to reflect on this record, but also we want to be out there gigging and being fans. That’s why we like records, because we love playing live and we love having all these songs to play. I think stopping, well, I think taking a break that long can sometimes be a bit too much for bands like us, just because we love being relevant and we’d love to always be playing music.
mxdwn: What genre would you love to completely immerse Royal blood in that is unlike anything you have ever released?
BT: I think now everyone crashed together and you don’t get the typical rock fan now, you know, with the way we listen to music nowadays, you pay 10 pounds and you can listen to whatever you want. So who knows what we’re going to do next. We’re just riding the range of this sound that we’ve got at the moment. I think we’re more focused on songwriting and excited about the other songs move in the genre of thinking about what the genre is going to be a bit.
mxdwn: Definitely. So, I read in a press release that at the end of your end of tour trip in Las Vegas that Kerr downed an espresso martini and said that that was going to be his last drink. How has your bandmates sobriety changed the dynamic of your group?
BT: Yeah, he’s totally changed his lifestyle for the better. And is doing very well he’s really healthy, really fit and has become a lot more creative and a lot more confident in himself which is really nice to see. It changed the band because all of a sudden you have this clarity and you look back on and write about it on this record.
Photo Credit: Brett Padelford
mxdwn: What is the best part of producing the majority of your own album?
BT: I think it’s being able to do what we envisage in our music, and it’s been able to do it freely and having the confidence to do that. You know, we’ve learned a lot along the way with production and recording. We’ve always co-produced and so we feel like we know what we’re doing really. And especially with this record, who knows the future ones, but there’s a fun process to do it ourselves.
mxdwn: Oh, I’m sure. So I love the unexpected piano song, “All We Have Is Now,” at the end of the album. This song is so emotional and vulnerable. How did the idea for this kind of song come up?
BT: Well, it was one of Mike’s secrets. He’s a pianist and he had this song and it didn’t really feel like it was for Royal Blood, but one night he plucked up the confidence to play it to me. And I instantly loved it. And I told him to record it. We were in the studio on one evening and he recorded it right there at that moment and we kind of left the song to the side. When it came to putting the album together, we both thought it was our last rule that we hadn’t broken, really, a piano ballad that doesn’t have any drums or guitars on it. The song, sonically, doesn’t fit with the other songs on the record, but if we didn’t have that song on the end of the record, then you would never hear that song. I think it’s such a special moment on the record.
Photo Credit: Owen Ela
mxdwn: So what made you guys choose “Troubles Coming” as the lead song on the album?
BT: That came down to what we were most excited about at the time, and “Troubles Coming” was the first song that revealed this kind of dance feel, with strings, and that seventies kind of vibe. And so when that song revealed itself to us, we thought that should be the first thing that people hear cause then we followed that up with “Typhoons” and “Limbo” and that kind of gave us a gateway to write those songs and link them.
mxdwn: Besides Daft Punk and Justice, were there any other big influencers for this album?
BT: I mean there’s lot of things, I guess. One thing that we chose not to be influenced by was the pandemic and coronavirus, because you can easily write about how you’re feeling at this time and how awful things are, but we wanted to write as an antidote for that really. That’s why the music is kind of up lifting and cheerful, because we are going to come out of this at the other end and we all are going to be together again, and these songs are going to be played and we want it to be a party. We want people to not be reminded about the past year. Really.
mxdwn: I totally agree. I’m glad that you guys did it like that because I do think people are kind of, you know, over hearing about the pandemic and stuff along those lines, but those are all the questions I have. Um, thank you so much for doing this. It has been truly an honor to be able to talk to you. I love your album and yeah, it’s just great.
BT: Amazing. Thank you so much.
mxdwn: Of course. Well, have a great rest of your day and good luck with everything and congratulations.
BT: Of course. Thanks. Thanks Ben. Yeah, of course. Thank you.