Royal Blood by Royal Blood is the swiftest-selling debut rock release since Noel Gallagher’s eponymous High Flying Birds’ album, which topped the charts in October 2011. Some might say this doesn’t mean much, but 65,000 sales in a week does mean the duo are already due a silver disc award from the BPI. Here’s nine more facts to bring you up to speed with the south coast success story.
The album was released in two limited editions: a while vinyl edition of 800 limited to the Rough Trade stores, and a signed edition available via the band’s website. Both are sold out, although both are already in plentiful supply on eBay and Discogs at vastly inflated prices. If you’d like late access to this rather grubby reselling bonanza, there’s another limited edition (of 1000, with an art print) available now. We’re waiting for the royal blood-splattered coloured vinyl.
The band were formed after Mike Kerr spent nine months on Australia’s Gold Coast, attempting to write music and form a band. Frustrated, and missing friends and family, he returned to the UK. Ben Thatcher picked him up at the airport, and was asked if he wanted to give it a go. The band played their first show the following day.
There’s really no guitars at all on the album, honest. “We just filled a room with four or five amplifiers, all on full and all having a different sound, and at the other end was just one bass”, says Kerr. But he’s not saying how he gets that sound. Live, he plays his bass (a Gretsch Electromatic Jr.) through three different Fender amps (two Super-Sonic guitar amps and an 8×10 Bassman), but the rest? It’s “entirely secret!”
Jimmy Page is a fan. The Toronto Star asked the Led Zep legend which band he’d like to join, and he responded, “I can recommend a band that I’ve just heard that sounded really amazing, but they don’t need anybody else. They’re called Royal Blood.” Page first saw them play on Later with… Jools Holland, and then later at the Mercury Lounge in New York. And Royal Blood are fans of Led Zeppelin: “Robert Plant, vocally, is a big influence”, says Kerr, “because I hear so much of him in my other two favourite singers, [Jack] White and Jeff Buckley.”
Famously, the band got a push when Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders wore a Royal Blood t-shirt onstage at Glastonbury. Then again, the duo are managed by Wildlife Entertainment, who also look after Arctic Monkeys… as well as Paolo Nutini, Travis and Drenge (a band mentioned by Labour MP Tom Watson in his letter of resignation from the shadow cabinet).
Album closer Better Strangers was named after a line from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, where Orlando responds to Jacques’s “Lets meet as little as we can” request with the equally insulting “I do desire we may be better strangers.”
When the band played at Brighton’s Bermuda Triangle last December, Harry Robbins (a local mixed media artist who’s done all of their artwork) was on hand during the day at tattoo emporium Inka Tattoos to assist fans getting Royal Blood ink. Robbins describes his work as “often symbolic, obtaining either a deceived message or a clear one, pursued by a warped decorative purpose.”
That “Royal Blood are from Brighton” thing? It’s only partly true: Thatcher and Kerr are actually from Rustington (whose previous musical claim to fame was being mentioned in the lyrics of Flanders & Swann’s comedy song The Gnu) and Worthing (where both Billy Idol and Keith Emerson attended school).