Royal Blood: why lockdown was a period of remarkable creativity
Former Worthing boy Mike Kerr – one half of Brighton band Royal Blood – looks back on a lockdown year of remarkable creativity as the duo release their latest album Typhoons.
Mike Kerr (vocals, bass) – who formed the band with Ben Thatcher (drums) nearly 15 years ago – found himself in a good place musically when the pandemic hit.
“From a creative standpoint, it has been amazing. It has been one of the best years of my life. I think just having been forced into that isolated state makes for the most perfect conditions for creativity. I think the reason I started to play music was essentially to entertain myself from the boredom of growing up in a town like Worthing.
“I was very bored. I didn’t like playing football or going outdoors. I was an indoors kid. It meant that playing the piano, writing songs, learning Queen songs was like my skateboarding.
“When we had the lockdown, it took away all my hobbies, every other part of my life and just left me with music. And I think it created an appetite for a particular type of music that was not gloomy or bleak like the world. We wanted to create the antidote to all that was happening, something that was feel-good.”
Most of the album was written during lockdown: “We were able to get together on and off. When we were able, we got together. But we were able to share ideas and speak on Facetime.”
Both live in Brighton: “I have been here for about six years,” Mike says. “I left Worthing and went on tour for a long time but once we had a month off, I was able to set up a place here.”
The point is that there is nowhere better to be than Brighton for a musician: “I wouldn’t want to be in London. I want to be able to see the sea. Once you have grown up by the sea, you know what you are missing.”
As for the band: “I think we started playing together when I was 16. It’s nearly 15 years.”
It’s the great attraction of opposites with plenty of common ground: “We have played together in so many different ways. We have been together in lots of different bands and projects. We have always shared that experience, and playing together is something that we are very good at. We don’t want anyone else. There is nowhere for anyone else to squeeze between us and join the recipe. We have always both had very big musical personalities so there just isn’t room for anyone else.
“And I think the common ground is that we have both always been great believers in good songs. Genres don’t necessarily matter, particularly when it comes to bringing different genres together. We both just want to make really really good songs.
“But actually in terms of people we are completely different. I mean drummers are a whole different brand of human. Who would want to make a living by hitting something? But I suppose you have got to be equally as nuts to want to work with a drummer!”
It’s a combination which has led to huge success – two UK number-one albums, two million album sales and an array of international acclaim.
“The success for us was like a seamless transition, but when you look back you realise how fast it all happened. Every single moment you experience seems like a leap forward. Everything was a rollercoaster, and it was a lot of fun. I found it very easy to cope with the success.
“It was more a game of sustaining it.
“After three years I found it difficult. It was like going on a stag do and surviving the three days of mayhem and then you live with the mayhem for a year. It was really about trying to keep up with the athleticism for partying and touring. It was exhausting. This break now has been really good. This break has enabled me to reset myself… so that I can go out there and do it all again!”
Typhoons is released on digital, vinyl and CD formats.