In celebration of how stunning the live set that American Royalty performed at Mercury Lounge last night was, I am re-posting both my original EP review and interview with the band. If I was already in love with their sound, hearing it live only confirmed my suspicion that they are fucking brilliant. They played a lot of brand new songs last night and a lot of good stuff is in the works. Enjoy!
American Royalty sings about strawberry fields with such conviction and creativity you’ll forget the Beatles even mentioned these two words in the same sentence. When I first heard ‘Matchstick’ off their latest EP of the same name, released just this week, I was completely floored. The inventive, catchy rock this band is putting out falls somewhere between what UK bloggers refer to as “math rock” and just sheer good electronic riffs and guitar work. ‘Matchstick’ alone seems to pass through three or four musical phases of lilting lyrics and upbeat loops before descending into a full out jam session and is book-ended with a jumpy, smooth piano intro and closure. This song reels and turns with the fun and speed of a merry-go-round and just when you think you it is only going in circles, it sets off into hyper-speed. This track is the highlight of the short EP.
‘Matchstick’ strikes cleanly and burns brightly, leading right into the rest of a flaming three track set that lights a clear path through the band’s sound. Recently covered by Filter Magazine (exclusive full stream here) and repped by both Solid Gold PR and The Windish Agency, this LA three-piece are destined to have a bright future, and their collaborators will ensure that their bright sounds fall on the right ears.
The second track, ‘I’ve Been Fighting For You’ dips into a more R & B feeling vein with a slowed-down chorus that comes in with realizations like “Baby it’s true, I’ve been fighting for you/ Then I woke up and I realized / I should be fighting for us”. Don’t worry though, the serious note of this song is followed up with a breakdown of sound in the second half that drives all hints of “emo” right back out. Finishing with ‘Blood Keys’ which has a biting beat and some great lo-fi vocal effects along with some seriously sexy guitar/synth work and a pulsating chorus, I can easily imagine this song playing in a club, as the hook of a car commercial, or sung out to a million screaming fans at a rock show.
I haven’t heard something brand new that I’ve been this excited about in a long time. American Royalty are certainly a group to watch, once you listen to Matchstick, I think you’ll be just as hooked as me. Psychedelic, bluesy, vintage and cutting edge, American Royalty will soon be kings of the music scene, mark my words.
Interview with American Royalty
Your press releases mention that the group came about kind of by accident, can you elaborate a little on how & why you began writing music together?
It was more of a lucky event rather than an accident. The first songs that we worked on were only in the studio as a recording. When we finally figure out how to present it live, we felt much more comfortable to go full steam ahead with everything.
Do you think your music is influenced geographically/by where you live?
Definitely. Lucky for us, LA has a little bit of everything, so the diversity is fun to draw from.
Who would you consider your biggest influences & how does that show up in your music?
J Phlip, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, War Child, Girl Unit, The Black Lips
What was it like recording with vintage equipment? Do you think that added a lot to your sound?
It definitely allowed us to explore some uncharted sonic worlds, which was a blast. Vintage/analog rabbit holes are much more fun to get lost in. At the end of the day, part of how the soul of the song exists is dictated by how it all of the ideas are glued together, so using some classic gear intrinsically makes a difference.
How long have you both respectively been musicians and what instruments do you/have you played?
Since childhood we have all played music. Lucky to come from some musical families.
Choosing to allude to Strawberry Fields lyrically seems like a bit of a risky choice, what influenced the decision to use such an infamous phrase?
Are you planning to tour in 2012 and if so where?
We are currently on our second tour. Hopefully some summer gigs can be arranged… we’d much rather camp in the warmth while on tour so hopefully we can do a cross country thing and hit the east coast mid/late summer.
What is the process for song-writing for you? Do lyrics come first or later etc.
The key is being prepared to capture ideas that we have for a second. We save hundreds of voice memos on our phones.
When is a full album in the works?
Hopefully we can write and record one in the upcoming months. A 2013 spring release would be cool.