Royal Blood are #5 in The DIY List 2014, a look back at the year’s best albums, one-off shows, festival performances and achievements outside of the norm.
There was always something special about Royal Blood. From their first carnal offering, all guttural riffs and pounding drums, they drew the attention of the masses. Their first headline tour gave us another clue; fights broke out, carnage reigned supreme and rooms were packed tightly, sweat dripping from the walls.
Over the last twelve months, things have grown bigger and more tremendous for the Brighton-based duo. From dominating the city festivals to commanding one of the biggest crowds of the weekend at Reading & Leeds, theirs is a juggernaut that’s been impossible to slow down. Whoever said that rock was dead? “We’ve just been going a million miles an hour,” agrees drummer Ben Thatcher, “and ‘I’m not sure how we’re managing to go at that speed.”
Since first releasing debut single ‘Out Of The Black’ late last year, Royal Blood have scored a Number 1 album – which consequently went on to sell over 100,000 copies - played Finsbury Park (twice) and sold out a whole UK tour in about twenty seconds flat. Not to mention the fact that they’ve been heralded as the new British kings of rock’n’roll in the process. And how did Ben celebrate the news of their chart-topping debut? “I can’t actually remember…” he pauses. “I did something really normal, like I think I went to get petrol…”
“We’re not saviours of rock’n’roll, or this, that and the other.”
Despite his choice of celebration being a little less rock star than some might expect, their success isn’t lost on the duo: they just find the hyperbole a bit surreal. “We know that not many people get to be in our position,” he offers, “but we don’t take it too seriously either. You can have people say you’re the saviours of rock’n’roll and you can have people say you’re bringing back rock music, but all of that, to us, seems a bit funny really. We’re just two guys who enjoy playing rock music. We’re not saviours of rock’n’roll, or this, that and the other. We’re just two quite normal people who enjoy listening to and playing music. To have people say things like that, it’s very nice and we appreciate it, but for Mike [Kerr] and I, we’re just two regular dudes who are made for playing music.”
Regular guys they may well be, but that hasn’t stopped a slew of invitations and accolades being slung their way. While ‘Royal Blood’ was nominated for this year’s Mercury Prize (“It was pretty strange, as you obviously don’t join a band to get nominated for awards!”), the band themselves were invited to perform at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, because, well, why the hell not? “That was a very surreal experience for us, because it was the MTV EMAs!” he laughs. “You’ve got your Nicki Minajs and your Ariana Grandes and then you had us; just two guys from Worthing, going and performing. It is a bit strange but we had a really good time there actually, and it was really funny to be there amongst such crazy people.”
Despite the evening being that much more pop than they might be used to, they did get to bump into Ozzy Osbourne on that same evening. “It was great to meet such a dude! He’s the Prince of Darkness! It was just a complete mixed bag of artists which made it even more funny and surreal I guess. I was like, ‘What’re you doing in a room with Ozzy Osbourne and Nicki Minaj?!’ There’s no other situation where you could see that happening.”
With 2014 drawing to a close, their star is still on the rise: the two-piece have just been confirmed to support Foo Fighters when they return to the UK next year for five mammoth stadium dates. “They’re very exciting,” says Ben of the dates. “To get to play with Foo Fighters is one of our biggest aspirations and we never thought that that would ever happen. To be even in the same room as a legend like Dave Grohl… We look up to those guys so just being a part of that will be amazing.”
As for whether or not the band have any particularly favourite moments of the past twelve months, well… “No, it’s just all been ridiculous,” says Ben. “Everything that’s happened this year have been things that we never ever thought we’d do so I could not pick one moment that’s been a standout. There’s one every other day for me.”
For all DIY’s end of year coverage, head here. This interview is from the December 2014 / January 2015 issue of DIY, out now.