By Andrew Bansal
Atlanta, Georgia group Royal Thunder released their third full-length album ‘Wick’ on April 7th 2017, their first on Spinefarm Records, and the only thing it fails to do is disappoint, and succeeds at everything the band intended it to. Royal Thunder has been an ever growing, expanding and exploring group of musicians right from the self-titled debut EP (2010) through the first two LPs ‘CVI’ (2012) and ‘Crooked Doors’ (2014). ‘Wick’ continues the pattern but takes them to a new level of captivating creative brilliance, as evident from reactions of fans and critics alike that are completely mesmerized. Following the release, the band has set out on a North American tour as main support to Brant Bjork, and much more touring is in the agenda for Royal Thunder in the near future. Vocalist/bassist Mlny Parsonz recently spoke to Metal Assault about the new album and more. Enjoy the candid conversation below:
Mel, it’s great to have you again on Metal Assault. It’s been a while! The last time I talked to you was for the ‘CVI’ album, which was five years ago now.
Oh shit, that’s crazy!
Yeah, and a lot has happened since then, obviously. You put out ‘Crooked Doors’ in 2014, and now ‘Wick’ is coming out on April 7th. What was the making of this album like in comparison to the previous two?
I think personally we were all more comfortable and more grounded from all the years of doing it, touring and stuff, so we’re a little more seasoned. That being said, for ‘Crooked Doors’ we had a few songs ready by the time we started recording, but this was the first time we went into the studio with literally only one song. So, we wrote pretty much all of ‘Wick’ in the studio. We literally just came off tour and got put in the studio, and at first we were like, “Fuck!” There was a lot of initial panic. Although like I said we were comfortable with what we were doing on our instruments more than we were in the past, there was that underlying panic. We were like, we have an album to write! Is it going to be good? What are we going to do? What is it going to sound like and where is it going? So, there was a struggle there, big time. But you never give up and you just keep going, and in the end you’ll have your piece of art. We’ve always been able to stand back and look at our albums and go, we worked our asses off and crossed the finish line. Sweet! Onto the next one. So, there was a little more panic involved, but it always works out.
What was the reason for the panic in the first place? Was there a deadline you had to finish the album by, or something like that?
I think there was a deadline and it would have been better if they let us know there was (laughs), but we could tell we were getting close to it by the number of emails and texts. So, we weren’t aware of it, but it was just that we were on the road, we had just signed to Spinefarm, and we didn’t want to just sign to them and sit around and be like, “Cool, we’re on a new label, everybody!” So, we knew it went hand in hand. New label, new album, let’s go. ‘Crooked Doors’ was our last album with Relapse and they didn’t really do anything with it. We didn’t really tour on it or anything. It was here and there, but not like we should have. Spinefarm is not lazy, they’re all about getting us working our asses off and it’s like being in the army, because we have to be on the move all the time. That’s great. They’re super enthusiastic, and it has been a wonderful experience. I’m not just saying that. It genuinely has been.
That’s good to hear. May be that’s why we didn’t do an interview for ‘Crooked Doors’, because there didn’t seem to be that much of a push, and as you said, you guys didn’t do any real extensive touring.
Yeah, there wasn’t a whole lot of press surrounding it or support for it. It was just kind of shitting there on a shelf like a sad little album (laughs).
Right, but you had only one song ready when you entered the studio for ‘Wick’, but then you obviously figured everything out and wrote in the studio. What was that like? These days, I don’t think anybody can pull that off.
I think it was just like, we had to do it and we wanted to do it, and aside from that, I don’t really know, man. It all just fell into place. That’s how it goes for us, we don’t know what we’re doing or where we’re going. We just do it. We’ve never mapped anything out, there’s no plan, there’s no agenda. It’s all about creating. That’s what we’re all born to do and that’s who we are. I can’t sit around and watch TV and do nothing. I have to write a song or do something creative. All of us in the band are like that.
Right from the debut EP in 2010 through the first two full-length albums, I think you expanded musically with every release. Would you say that for ‘Wick’ as well, in terms of its music?
Yeah, I think and hope we’ll always constantly expand and reach new horizons. For me personally, and I think the guys are the same, I’m always a little intimated by the last album that we made. I feel like I pulled everything out of me that I had in me creatively, used all the colors on the palette to paint that picture, so to speak. I’m always afraid of running out of paint. Is there another color? Can I mix these two and do this? I can dig forever within myself creatively, and I think anybody can. You’ve just got to keep digging. So I hope we always do that as a band, looking for more voices within myself, even as a drummer, guitar player, bass player or whatever, not just me with my voice. We’re always looking for ways to say the things we want to say. I know that I’m in a band with a bunch of people that were meant to make music, specially Josh, and I speak of him in particular because I grew up with him. That dude was meant to make music and it inspires me and moves me so much to just hear him write. He is meant to be a songwriter, always will be, and that’s what he is going to do forever. He is truly gifted.
I think Josh’s songwriting is a signature feature of the band, but your voice is very recognizable. As soon as one hears it, it’s like, yeah, that’s Royal Thunder. Is it hard to maintain it over different albums?
I think the key is not knowing what the fuck we’re doing! It’s the best thing for us, being completely unaware and unintentional. We’re not trying to fake anything, we’re not trying to sound like anything, or manipulate or steer people in any way. We just do what we do and focus on that. The minute we start thinking about it, I think we’ll fuck it up. So, the key for us is to just go with it. It doesn’t matter if people think it sucks. We’d know that we went for it.
So, for this album, are you planning on doing more extensive touring as compared to the previous one?
Yeah! On ‘CVI’, man .. we were just like dirty road dogs, just raw as fuck. That was us, our life, our lifestyle. We did that for a solid almost three years. I mean, we’d tour all the time even before that, but on that cycle, we were never home. That was awesome. And then on ‘Crooked Doors’, everything kind of slowed down a little bit. I think it’s just the label we were on. It wasn’t a big deal to them. They’re a great label, it’s just a different style of doing things. But now that we’re with people that are a match to our energy and enthusiasm and the desire to be on the road, that’s what we love doing and that’s why we do it. The best part is when we get to play live. So, now we’re on the same page with our label, so let’s go and do this! I know we’re going to be touring a lot and we’re looking forward to it, big time. My head is already spinning. I’ve been asleep for a year or two and now I’m awake and I’m like, “So .. what are we doing?” It’s exciting.
That’s awesome. And from when you started out, I think the debut EP was definitely more like a stoner doom kind of thing, but your musical style is much more expanded now. That must be a good feeling too, because this way you’re not really depending on waves of popularity of this stoner rock genre that’s big right now. You can sustain yourself for longer.
Yeah, and that really wasn’t on purpose. We all grew up in the underground metal scene. I had only ever been in black metal or death metal or grindcore bands before Royal Thunder. I was screaming and playing keyboards in some black metal band, wearing fucking corpse paint, and next thing I know, I was in this band called Royal Thunder, and it was like, “What the fuck? This is cool!” But naturally, we were closer to our roots being metal, closer to that time in life, so a little of that world kind of infiltrated where we were with Royal Thunder. But then we got older and moved away from that scene, not intentionally, but you grow old and discover new things in life. I used to think that I was going to die with my boots on as a metalhead, and it was like fuck everything else but metal. And then one day I woke up and realized I was growing up and didn’t just want to be a metalhead. So it was just a natural progression, and the whole idea of following a trend, I would never fucking be in a band like that. I would die. I would just be miserable. I would hate that, and it would be like signing up to suck and then disappear and then may be never play music again. I can’t get down with that. I just can’t (laughs).
I’m glad you’re not, and talking of the touring coming up, you have a North American run supporting Brant Bjork! That’s going to be an interesting one. Have you guys had any interactions with his band in the past anywhere?
No, and it’s crazy because the little Kyuss thing that he comes from, we know who Josh Homme is, and we have friends in that circle, and then there’s Queens Of The Stone Age, of course, and you have all these degrees of separation. Like I remember in 2012 or 13, we opened up for Nick Oliveri in a small club in Atlanta. It was a tiny little hole in the wall and he was doing an acoustic solo tour. So, that’s the closest we’ve been to it. But no, I don’t really know how our paths crossed with the opportunity to open up for Brant Bjork, but our fucking pleasure, dude, because the guy is extremely talented. We’re all looking forward to playing, but how cool is it that we get to see that every night and experience it? I’ve never heard of Black Wizard but they’re on the tour too, and I guess Pentagram is going to be on some of it here and there. So, I think this is going to be fun, man. We’re excited, I’m stoked!
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Related MA link: Album Review: Royal Thunder – Wick
Royal Thunder North American tour dates supporting Brant Bjork:
04/10/2017 – San Francisco, CA @ Slims
04/11/2017 – Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
04/12/2017 – Vancouver, BC @ SBC
04/13/2017 – Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
04/14/2017 – Boise, ID @ The Shredder
04/15/2017 – Salt Lake City, UT @ In The Venue
04/16/2017 – Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater
04/17/2017 – Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room
04/18/2017 – Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen
04/19/2017 – Cleveland, OH @ Agora Ballroom
04/20/2017 – Baltimore, MD @ Soundstage *
04/22/2017 – New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge *
04/23/2017 – Boston, MA @ Middle East *
04/25/2017 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
04/27/2017 – Austin, TX @ Barracuda
04/28/2017 – Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Bar & Grill
04/29/2017 – Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad
04/30/2017 – Mesa, AZ @ Club Red
05/01/2017 – Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex
* = w/ Pentagram