Royal Blood’s rapid rise from broke blokes in Brighton, England to commercially successful rockers seemed almost too easy. The duo of bassist/vocalist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher formed in early 2013. A year later, the twosome released its self-titled debut, which came on like Queens of the Stone Age by way of Death from Above, a bombastic, riff-heavy record that led to gigs opening for Arctic Monkeys, Pixies and Foo Fighters. Its own whirlwind headlining tour followed, as did a win for Best British Group at the Brit Awards in London. Jimmy Page presented the award to them, a surreal twist for guys who just a year earlier could barely pay rent; in fact, Kerr was still living with his mom when Royal Blood formed.
The duo’s recently released follow-up, How Did We Get So Dark?, largely follows the same formula as the debut: Thatcher’s booming beats provide a sturdy foundation for Kerr’s thick bass riffs and emotive, high-ranging vocals.
“The songs we felt really excited about didn’t involve having synths or guitars,” Kerr said of the duo’s songwriting approach in a recent interview with NME. “It’s funny, the moment we added anything like that, our songs went from sounding huge to really not that cool and small. It made it ordinary. We’re a pretty tight-knit team. It’s kind of like bringing your mate on a date. They’re just going to kill the vibe.”