This month’s featured artist is U.S. Royalty. The band, based out of Washington, DC, has been compared to Local Natives, The Black Keys, Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses, and early Kings of Leon. Members John Thornley (Vocals), Paul Thornley (Guitar), Jacob Michael (Bass), and Luke Adams (Drums) released their debut album, MIRRORS last week and over the past few months have been featured in Esquire, SPIN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
The DC quartet packs a punch with their debut MIRRORS. This is an album you’ll want to listen to over and over. You will experience a western flow of bluesy rock that takes you on musical journey spanning their travels across the country. The quartet produces magnificent harmonies bolstering a unique and infectious rock that will have you hooked instantaneously.
ESBMusic sat down with John and Paul Thornley to talk about their musical influences, what shaped the sound of the album, and what it’s like being brothers in a band:
ESBM: : How did you guys come together?
J&PT:: John and I had some really rough song ideas and we met in an abandoned trailer our friend Jon DePompa owned out in the woods to rehearse them. We invited Luke and Jake to come jam and ended up meeting all winter long around a single heater playing the blues. When things began to thaw, we took the songs on the road to see what would happen.
ESBM:: Who would you cite as some of your influences?
J&PT:: It’s a range of things. We like to cherry pick sounds and ideas and incorporate them into our songwriting. I think for this album we focused on what was more of our early/intitial influences like blues and folk and added our own take on it. We don’t really find a certain sound then write everything in that vein. Each song has a life of it’s own and we try to write enough songs to where we feel we can edit them down to a cohesive album. Some influences for this album range from Ennio Morricone, to Fleetwood Mac, to Mark Kozelek. All have an influence at different points in the album.
ESBM:: How did you come up with your band name?
J&PT:: Well we kinda booked a gig before we had a band name. The club said they needed a name and Jake just threw out U.S. Royalty to the booker at the last sec. and since then it just stuck.
ESBM: Does this debut album differ or similar to your EP?
J&PT: Definitely different. The EP was to mainly book shows and our first forays into song writing. I think this album is better representation of our sound. We hope to continue to build on this first album release in the years to come.
ESBM: : It was said by John Thrornley, “With this record we wanted to present a body of work, a complete thought,” what would you say is the theme of the album?
J&PT: : I would say traveling is the main theme. We wanted it to ebb and flow, pick up and pull back throughout the duration. Just like any trip you take, it has it’s high points full of energy and it’s moments of reflection and we wanted our album to accompany that experience. There are a lot of nature references because that’s all we tend see most of the time, besides the dingy clubs we play night after night.
ESBM:: What is your favorite part of performing live? What was one of the best places you have played?
J&PT: : The energy is very palpable live. Seeing how the crowd reacts to the music can be a rewarding experience compared to us sitting in the studio a few months before, arguing over what mix is the best. Usually the most fun places to play have been outside the typical club circuit. For instance, last minute house parties, hotels in South Beach Miami, to an historic mansion that was built by a Supreme Court Justice in the late 1800’s
ESBM: : What bands are you listening to right now?
J&PT: : Birdlips, Stevie Nicks, The War on Drugs, Lightning Hopkins, Evenings, The Highwaymen (Nelson, Jennings, Cash, Kristofferson)
ESBM: : “Equestrian” was the first single off your debut album, how did that come about?
J&PT: : John woke up on the couch at our studio one morning with the oooh part stuck in his head and he recorded it with the acoustic part and drums accompanying it. He kinda sat on it for a while, thinking it was just a random idea, but when the rest of us heard it we couldn’t get it out of our heads so we started diving into what it could become.
ESBM: Through the writing and recording process you had wrote new songs to replace other songs. Do you think you guys will use those songs on another album?
J&PT: : Maybe a 1 or 2 of them but we have a lot of new material since we finished MIRRORS that we are excited to work on. We would rather keep moving forward.
ESBM: : For John and Paul, you guys being brothers working together and on the road together, is it ever too much togetherness?
J&PT: : We all have our moments of needing some fresh air but it’s nothing that a good show can’t cure.
ESBM:: A lot of your debut album MIRRORS had been written on the road, were there any places that heavily influenced the music?
J&PT: : DC and New York since we spent a lot of time in both places. Also Austin, New Orleans, Miami and Kentucky. The influences range from certain experiences we may have had there to a passing feeling as we skirted through town. My brother and I were on a family trip when we were younger out in the west (Montana, Wyoming) so I think there were some nostalgic feelings coming through as we were writing the music.
ESBM:: You guys will be featured in the Swedish designer Gant Rugger’s upcoming 2011 Spring Collection. How did you guys get connected to the fashion world? Do you get awesome perks from this type of thing?
J&PT: Before we were working on the album we traveled all the time playing gigs, especially in New York City. Over time there came opportunities for us to work with the people that were constantly coming out to our shows which among those people were people from Gant. The biggest perk is getting an opportunity to work with such creative people in the design world and taking that inspiration to tackle our own creative goals.
ESBM: : What is next for US Royalty?
J&PT: : Gigs, recording and finishing new songs. We have a lot of new material we want to work on but we want to travel and support this record that we finished. So I’m sure it will be a balance of the two. There will be some remixes coming out too that we are really excited about. It’s great to hear the songs re-interpreted by other people.
For more information on U.S. Royalty official website, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter pages. Get their debut album Mirrors now on iTunes!
U.S. Royalty will be performing at Mercury Lounge on Tuesday, February 22, 2011.
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