Royal Thunder – Southern Rock’s Heir Apparent

Monday, 13th April 2015

Southern rockers Royal Thunder have been hard at work ever since hitting the scene back in 2012 with CVI. Seeming to grab as many tours as they could, they’ve been slugging it out on the live circuit and honing their performance. But, one can only stay on the road for so long without stepping into the studio to churn out some new tunes. And that is precisely what Royal Thunder has done. Don’t think for a second that they are phoning it in though.

Their newest effort, Crooked Doors, is anything but a sophomore slump. Continuing their ‘70s-inspired sound (complete with vocalist Mlny Parsonz’s riveting Joplin-esque vocals), it’s the next logical step for the band. But with a large following already, where is the band to go from here? To get the answer to this question, we called up guitarist Josh Weaver, who dished out the details, as well as gave some insight to touring, the band’s crossover potential, and more.

Dead Rhetoric: You’ve released a number of tracks and have been streaming the entire album [Crooked Doors] at this point; what’s the feedback been like so far?

Josh Weaver: I think a lot of people are really digging it. It’s a different album than CVI; I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how people were going to react to it. But we’ve had nothing but good reactions so far, it’s been awesome.

Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel that Crooked Doors compares to CVI?

Weaver: I think compared with CVI, it’s think it’s a little bit more in depth of an album, especially tonally. We took so much time to make sure all the tones of the guitars and the amps and everything were to our liking. We used a lot of different equipment this time around, and it was nice to have access to a bunch of different guitars and pedals. There was a lot more gear and microphones and everything, so I think sonically, it’s a much more diverse sounding record compared to CVI. I’ve told people this before, but when I was recording CVI, I really experimented with a lot of fuzz pedals. It was really fun and I feel like you just have to do that as a guitarist; experimenting with different guitar pedals and tones. It turned out to be a much heavier record because of that, which is awesome. In comparison to Crooked Doors, it seems to be sonically, a much heavier album.

Dead Rhetoric: What inspires you as a songwriter to keep writing and progressing as you go?

Weaver: It’s one of those things that absolutely comes pretty naturally. Just traveling a lot, in these past few years, when we did CVI, it’s just living life. That was a big inspiration to that last album. As a guitar player, I don’t sing and I don’t really paint or draw. [Writing] is my outlet to express everything I get to experience in life. The good, the bad, everything.

Dead Rhetoric: Do any challenges ever come up, being in a band with your wife?

Weaver: We all get along so well together. That’s what is so great about this band is that we get each other. We are all on the same page; this is exactly what we all want to be doing. We really never have any problems with that, which is awesome.

Dead Rhetoric: Being on a metal label, do you ever get any “what are they doing on that label” gripes or are most people cool with it?

Weaver: I think most people are very cool with it. The only people that ever don’t understand it are the ones that are really more into extreme metal and think it’s stupid that we are on Relapse. But even that, for the most part, it’s pretty rare. I think that a lot of people that are into Relapse are pretty open minded.

Dead Rhetoric: Likewise, do you find that Royal Thunder has a lot of crossover potential with non-metal fans?

Weaver: I definitely think so. There’s definitely metal influences, because we all grew up listening to metal and playing metal at some point. There are also so many more influences that are in Royal Thunder. I am excited about playing for different crowds. We are open to anybody who has an open ear to hear us. There’s a lot of crossover for people to enjoy it.

Dead Rhetoric: Personally speaking, it seems like your sound has the potential to really reach a mainstream audience. Based on everything I’ve read, everything seems great with Relapse, but do you ever see yourselves making the jump to a large-scale record label at some point?

Weaver: I don’t know. I’m not sure what the future holds. I haven’t really thought about that so much. We are so focused on what’s right before us. In this day and age, whether you are on an indie label or a big record label, it doesn’t matter as long as you have momentum going. It’s been great working with Relapse. They are a hard working label and I think I’d almost rather be on an indie label that works really hard like them than a bigger label that tends to ignore what you have going on. Just finding bands for the sake of finding bands. What’s also cool about Relapse is that they do have a huge reach with what they are doing.

Dead Rhetoric: You released an acoustic collection of some songs from CVI. Any possibility of that occurring with Crooked Doors?

Weaver: I’d love to, that was a great experience. We probably will. It was really awesome revamping the songs from the album. It taught us a lot. So hopefully yes. I actually bought an acoustic guitar yesterday, I haven’t had one for a while. We are heading up to New York tomorrow to meet up with our publishing company and do some acoustic stuff for a scene release thing we are doing.

Dead Rhetoric: This seems a little silly based on what we talked about earlier with you being more in the moment, but where would you like to see the band in say, 5 years?

Weaver: I would like to see us exactly as we are now, as far as not really paying attention to what’s going on around us. Just doing our thing. I think that’s the most important [thing]. Once you focus on everything else around, you start to lose it. I hope to be in a very creative space. We’ve been doing this since we were kids, so we aren’t going to throw in the towel ever. If someone told us tomorrow that we had to start at square one, we’d start at square one. That’s what we do. The awesome thing about it is that it blows me away that we all get together and make music together and it’s something we do from our heart. It’s almost one of those things that you have to do. For people to be into it and enjoy it, it’s just amazing to me and I’m very grateful for that. But it’s one of those things that I would do anyway, whether people liked it or not. To me, it’s that much more rewarding that it’s something it’s something from my heart that has to come out and people enjoy it.

Dead Rhetoric: I know there’s a lot of different influences that make their way into Royal Thunder’s sound, but with the grounded piece of classic rock in the band’s sound, do you ever feel like you are stuck in the wrong decade?

Weaver: I’m so thankful, I was born in 1979. I grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s and I’m so thankful to grow up in those times, because I feel like it was one of the last big pushes in creativity in music, and I got to experience it. I’m waiting, and I hope that people will look more and become more hungry for creativity and individual sounds, musically. A lot of my theory is that the Internet killed that. Being that so much of the new generation, they may have like 5000 albums on an iPod, but they never really listen to anything. It’s almost just overkill. We have all of this at our fingertips, but no one really listens to anything.

I remember when I was a kid with my brother being at a skate party, and his parents were out of town and his friend had a half-pipe in the backyard. I remember the whole night, it was probably like a week after Nevermind by Nirvana came out. The next day, me and my buddy went through the back woods and going to a local Turtles, the record store, and buying Nevermind. That record just changed me forever. It’s what got me playing music. Being able to sit there and listen to the album, and open up the cd booklet and read all the lyrics and see the pictures. You had to sit there and learn to appreciate it. I know Nirvana had the hidden track too. It wasn’t like now, when you click on a song and it’s there. It’s just not the same. I’m thankful that I got to experience music like that, because I think that it really helped form me and help me get so many different influences musically.

Dead Rhetoric: I was born in 1980, so I completely agree. With the Internet, there’s no sense of discovery anymore, it’s all right there in front of you.

Weaver: Unfortunately, it seems like you get a band that comes out that is hot at the moment, but you’ll get 10 more that pop up that sound exactly the same. I can’t imagine going in to write a song and saying, “hey, let’s write a song that sounds like this band.” It’s a foreign thought process to me. But I have to have faith in the future. Kids are hungry to be individuals, and that’s why vinyl is having such a big comeback. Kids are hungry to have something in their hand that’s tangible and look at the artwork and everything. I can’t imagine experiencing music any other way. Kids are hungry for it so there’s a lot of hope for the future.

Dead Rhetoric: You’ve done a large amount of touring. Any moments standout so far?

Weaver: It’s all been such a blur yet so awesome at the same time. It was incredible playing Hellfest and Azkena Rock Fest in Europe. Those were great experiences. It was great being on the road with Baroness in Europe. It was amazing going on tour with Monster Magnet. It was so awesome. Seeing them play every night, they are just a true rock and roll band. To share the stage with those dudes, it was a highlight for me. We love being on the road, and we are dying to get back out there. We had to stop to make the record, which we had to do. But it was like taking the pacifier away from the baby, trying to take the road away from us. We just did not want to stop. I’m glad that we did, I’m glad we got the record. You’ve got to have balance. We’ve had time off from the road, and the record is about to be released, so it’s time to get back out there.

Dead Rhetoric: You’ll be on tour with Wild Throne in June. So is that what we can expect for the rest of the year – more and more touring?

Weaver: Definitely! As much as we can. We are excited to get out there and play these new tunes, so we’ll be on the road as much as physically possible.

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