Royal Blood is driven beyond the bass | Music Features | Creative Loafing Charlotte
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Royal Blood is driven beyond the bass 

UK garage rockers redefine what a duo can do

The high tones are there at the start; so are the rattling drums. Then a bass groove slinks in behind it all as the vocals start. A guitar riff bounces between thumping and screaming pitches. Royal Blood's hit single "Out of the Black" sounds like a mixture of Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures and almost every Jack White project.

But Royal Blood is comprised of only two people. WTF?

There's no studio trickery involved. Royal Blood creates its full-band, garage-rock sound via a bass and drums while sonically breaking down walls of what the four-stringed instrument can do. Check them out at Tremont Music Hall on July 15 and see for yourself.

"A lot of people who don't know much about us assume there are guitars or that we use backing tracks or loops," singer/bassist Mike Kerr says. "Anyone can make a record sound good. I like real music. I like risks and mistakes. We don't do anything to our recording that we can't do live."

Until now, Royal Blood has only released a four-song EP. The band has been working on a full-length album for more than a year and are excited to get it into the hands of fans in August, but Kerr says the band is truly best heard and seen live.

"Our album is pretty much done now," Kerr says. "We've got a lot more breathing room on the album to whisk you away to places that you wouldn't anticipate. We've got your attention for a bit longer so we can make it more of a journey."

At Glastonbury last month, Royal Blood did an interview with NME where drummer Ben Thatcher commented that Sting makes an appearance on "track three" of the band's upcoming full-length album. It was clearly a joke, though some people didn't take it that way.

"We thought it was funny, but apparently some people took us seriously," Kerr says with a laugh. In other words, sorry, no Sting.

Kerr had been working on a bass sound for a while when he started Royal Blood, with the current lineup, in 2013. "From the start, we just never actually asked anyone else to join us," he says. "It's just how it ended up."

Kerr says he was driven by lead guitar players when he was playing bass and pushed to discover the limits of what he could do on four strings while developing his own style.

As for how he gets such a broad spectrum of sounds out of his bass, different reports online mention pedals and multiple amps or perhaps different strings on his bass. "I'm afraid I've been sworn to secrecy," Kerr says of his on-stage setup. "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. I don't want that to happen. With [Royal Blood], you need to see it to believe it."

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