Atlanta, Georgia three-piece and Relapse Recording artist Royal Thunder are on tour right now supporting their 2012 full-length release, titled CVI. Though the group has been active since 2005, it wasn’t until 2012 that they got their lineup solidified and stated making some serious waves as a full-time touring band.
Currently on the road providing direct support for Baroness, I met up with guitarist Josh Weaver prior to the performance on August 7th at Water Street Music Hall to a bit of info about their latest record, signing with Relapse Records, touring with heavyweights Baroness, and some details about what the remainder of 2013 has in store for the band.
G- Josh, hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! How’s everything been going with you guys, man?
J- It’s been going great! Thanks for talking to us.
G- It’s my pleasure! So, for some of our readers who may not be familiar with Royal Thunder at this time, let’s go around and introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and where does everyone come from?
J- I’m Josh and I play guitar in Royal Thunder. Mel sings and plays bass, and Evan plays drums.
G- And you guys are all from Atlanta, right?
G- Dig it. So, Royal Thunder has been around for quite a while, correct?
G- Tell us a little bit about the history of the band, man.
J- I started years ago playing in a lot of heavy bands. You know, screaming Black Metal style stuff, anything you can think “heavy.” And I finally got to the point where I kinda got tired of straight up metal, so I took a break for like 6 months. I sold all my gear and then bought gear I’d never buy. Like, I bought a Fender guitar and amp, and me, my brother, and my best friend just got together.
I had some riffs and we’d get together in my friend’s living room, and we didn’t have any specific genre we wanted to play, but that’s where a lot of the early Royal Thunder stuff came about. That started around 2005.
After that… My brother and best friend are tattoo artists, and I knew I wanted to pursue this seriously, and they couldn’t pursue it seriously because their careers are tattoos, and they’re working on weekends and couldn’t do shows, so I decided to start looking for other people to play with. Mel started playing bass, and around that time I met up with Jesse Steuber, who recorded CVI, and that was the solid lineup for a while.
After CVI was recorded, Jesse left the band and I had a little bit of a lineup change here and there, but it was last year when we started playing with Evan, and this will be our third tour together.
J- It’s definitely the solid lineup at this point.
G- You guys clicking pretty well on stage?
J- Oh yeah. Everything. You know, sometimes one doors closes and another doors opens, and things work out for a reason, and I felt like the was the case for finding Evan and playing with him. It’s great. It’s been awesome!
G- Nice! So, being from Atlanta, can you tell me a bit about where you are from… How is the metal scene and how are the responses at your shows out there?
J- Oh man, it’s obviously where we got our start. There’s always been a really good metal scene in Atlanta. It’s just a great city, man. There’s always something to do. If you like music, you can go out any night of the week to several different clubs and hear live music of all different types of genres. It’s just a cool, laid back city. It’s really happening.
G- Deep South!
Well, we have to talk about your 2012 release on Relapse Records, CVI. How has the reception been to the new songs, and have you noticed any fan favorites off of the record at this point?
J- Oh man, it’s been great. We’ve had a lot of really great responses to the record, and I have so many people come up to me and say “Please play that song” or “Please play that song” that it’s crazy how many different favorite songs there are. A lot of people like “Blue” and we usually end with that one. It’s a long, epic song and a lot of people like it. But the response has been awesome, and it’s been great traveling and meeting fans and stuff like that.
Also, we recorded an acoustic 3-song EP that you can download for free on Amazon.com.
G- Nice! What tracks did you do?
J- We did “Black Water Vision,” “Parson’s Curse,” and “Whispering World.” We completely restructured them. We didn’t just want to unplug them and play them acoustically. We made them new songs, new versions. It was a great experience!
We did it up at Aria Recording Studios with Joey Jones. He produced it with us, and he produced CVI, as well. It was such a great experience! It pushed us as musicians and I’m really happy with the way it turned out.
G- Gave you a couple of new angles on the tunes?
J- Yeah. Sometimes live, we’ll do alternate parts electrically that we did acoustically. It definitely gave us a different experience of the songs.
G- Right on. Now, let’s talk about the remainder of 2013. You’re on this run right now with Baroness… What else do you have in the works for the last few months of the year?
J- Yeah. We’re finishing up this tour in the states September 10th, and after that we’re doing a European run for a month with Baroness, starting in September. After that, we have something in the works for November and December, so keep your ear out for that.
J- Yeah Stateside.
G- Nice! Now, since we touched on it briefly beforehand, do you personally have a favorite song you have ever written? Or if you could only give 1 song to someone who’d never heard of you before, to try and make a new fan, what song would you give them and why?
J- That’s a hard one. (pauses) Generally, I like them all, but off of CVI, I like “Blue.” I think “Blue” covers a lot of ground for the listener who might have never heard us. It’s a long song and it has a lot of different parts, so that would be a good song for someone to check out. I really like playing that.
We’ve been playing a lot of new material live, and we’ll be playing some tonight. I really enjoy playing those.
G- Stuff that’s not recorded yet?
G- Alright cool! So, it looks like we’ll be seeing another album soon, possibly in 2014?
J- That’s the plan as of right now.
G- Alright! We’ll have to be on the lookout for that. Very good!
Now, to open it up a bit, are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future? If you could curate your own feasible 3-band dream lineup to be a part of, who you most want to go on tour with?
J- As of right now, I think that the 2 bands we’d love to go on tour with would be Queens Of The Stone Age and The Cult. I mean, both bands are just incredible rock bands. Both have there own sound, and I would equally love to tour with both.
G- Awesome! And give us one more. We’ve got The Cult, QOTSA, and…
J- Lemme think about that… That’s hard. I’m so picky and there are so many good ones. Maybe Graveyard. Graveyard is really good!
G- That’d be a unique tour! Solid tour!
J- Yeah it’d be a well rounded, good rock tour,
G- Yeah and with all the people I interview that want to go on tour with QOTSA, we should have a battle royale with all of them. It’d be a hell of a festival lineup!
And to finish out today, Royal Thunder is a band on the build and you’re on a great tour right now. what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician like yourself?
J- That’s hard to say. Bust your ass and work hard, man! Word hard for what you believe in and never give up. It’s never an easy road, and you can’t cut corners for something you love. Definitely don’t shoot for overnight fame, because that shit doesn’t last. Get out there and work the people one at a time, and just work hard. That’s what we’ve done. We’ve done the best we can and worked as hard as we can to get where we’re at.
G- Right on. And if you keep getting tours like this with Baroness, maybe we’ll be able to get you on that tour with QOTSA.
J- (laughing) There you go!
G- Well, I want to say again, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today…
G- Play well, travel safe, and we look forward to more to come!
J- Alright. Thanks man!