Royal Blood "Give yourself a little bit of self care and thought. It's normal to feel shit in these times"
Alice Gee | 29/03/2021
I catch up with Royal Blood, the rock phenomenon who have demanded the ears of us all over the past 8 years, amidst the release of their new album Typhoons. The Brighton duo joins me over Zoom and we kick off the interview talking about Ben’s lockdown birthday which consisted of lots of tequila and some nice long walks with his partner, trying to utilise a situation to its best potential. Something the band have done a lot of over lockdown as they used the time to recuperate and launch their best album to date.
“Yeah, lockdown now is just life. So there’s time to do nothing. There’s time to procrastinate. There’s also time to be productive.”
Mike tells me he’s been learning French and Ben has got domestic telling me he will be deep cleaning his car after the interview, so it seems we’ve all taken up some new and exciting activities during this weird time.
“Before the pandemic and the lockdowns we had set ourselves time anyway to do this (the album). So it was a little bit frustrating knowing that we weren’t able to go out on the road and play these songs live. But by looking back, it did give us extra time to double-check ourselves as well as being able to continue writing, even though we’d made our album. Every time we went back to the studio to write we’d come up with a couple more songs, and we’d end up adding them to the record. And so throughout the first lockdown, It turned out to be really, really good for the album. It made it a lot better.”
As a group so used to being on the road I wondered how frustrating not being able to get out and show off the new album was and whether they had any other plans to give fans a good night out, be it live stream or socially distanced gigs?
“We are going to wait until we can play live. We’re hoping to go on tour around early 2022, that’s what we have in a diary at the minute.Like everyone else in the industry, we’re all waiting to know when we can get back to normal. But in the meantime, as everything is uncontrollable at the moment we will put this record out knowing that it’s an uplifting and euphoric and fun sounding album, and although we’re unable to go and play live, hopefully, people will enjoy it from the privacy of their own homes for now. And when we do get to go back to play live, it’ll be incredible.”
With work from home in place for the majority of 2002, and by the looks of it 2021 following in the same way, I wanted to know how both Mike and Ben managed with restrictions to add to get the album finished? “I guess this is one lucky thing about being a two-piece is that, at times when we did have to have a bubble, we could do that. And then other times we would be able to have an engineer, and we’d all have to get tested before we go down. It’s been pretty good in terms of being able to be physically together. There were a few times that we had to separate. But that’s one of many pros of being in a small band. Yeah. The world’s smallest gang.”
Their latest single ‘Trouble’ further delves into tales of dark spells and mental ill-health, themes that were present in their 2017 album How Did We Get So Dark?. This new material expands on those feelings encapsulating the highs and lows of dark emotional states and the desire to just escape. “Music’s a great way that we express ourselves. We always create from a personal perspective. So on this record, in particular, the only reason that the lyrics and the songs are covering these subject matters is by default. I’ve experienced a big change in my life. And, and weirdly, I had to be in a good mental headspace in order to articulate being a bad one.
I think it’s (low points in mental health) something everyone experiences, We’ve been asked before by a few; Do you suffer from mental health issues? Or do you suffer from depression and my view on it, is that it’s part of the human experience, it’s part of being human being, it’s totally normal to experience periods of depression, or anxiety, or, you know, just having a bad spell. In the same way that it’s like, almost like being asked, like, Do you suffer from laughter? Do you suffer from shyness or do you suffer from excitement? It can be a weird question because they’re just all human emotions that we experience, both dark ones and light ones. It just so happens on this record it became part of the subject matter. I don’t think we realised. We thought we were making a disco record and then we got to the end of it, and we’re like, this is something else.”
"I know what you shouldn't do, which is drink loads of alcohol and try and drown out your problems."
In a world where we pigeon hole everything, a lot of the time Royal Blood take a different approach. Instead of focusing constantly on the bad and the role that comes with it, they focus on the good and the power of music.“It’s can be really negative, how we as humans focus on what’s wrong with you. A lot of people feel it and experience the low, but opening up about the bad stuff is the best thing you can do because it does lift you up. Talking about it helps. But for us music is so powerful as an escape. When you come to one of our shows, people, they’re all their have a good time and feel good. And even though whatever is going on in their lives for that hour and a half, it kind of stops. People are together and enjoying themselves.”
“I think music is so good at doing that. I almost think even if we weren’t talking about these issues in our music, it doesn’t take away from how profound distraction can be and it doesn’t, it doesn’t have to solve the problem, you know. I think it’s okay to have moments of respite, that don’t necessarily solve a problem, but certainly don’t make it worse. I think music’s great at that.”
When it comes to mental health, although escapism is good it only seems right we ask Ben and Mike what they’ve found helps in the longer term.“There are so many things you can do, and there are so many things you shouldn’t do.”
To which Mike quickly chips in, “I know what you shouldn’t do, which is drink loads of alcohol and try and drown your problems. We all know that doesn’t work. Well, it does work. The immediate results are fantastic. In the past when I felt really sh*t, it’s like, two drinks, and like boom, it’s gone. And then reality kicks in and it’s actually getting progressively worse and worse. So my advice is don’t turn to drugs or alcohol and expect it to solve your problems. My second piece of advice would be, don’t be on your own. Don’t suffer on your own. A way to think of it is, you’re not as special as you think you are and whatever you’re going through in your own mind which feels like this bespoke trauma - isn’t. Someone else is going through the exact same thing as you and will completely understand. The world’s full of lonely people waiting for someone else to say something first. So speak, speak to someone that you trust and tell them what you’re experiencing.”
“Give yourself a little bit of, self-care and thought for yourself. It’s normal to feel shit in these times.”
As the boys look forward to a world where they can be with fans playing the ‘ultimate party’ the most of all look forward to spontaneity, whether it be a gig, finding their way to a bar or simply being with their fans. The future, they hope, is bright.