Metal’s hot with U.K.’s Royal Blood 

Rage-meets-Sabbath rock duo Royal Blood’s Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher are finding that their laissez-faire attitude toward stardom is serving them well. Two months ago, bassist-vocalist Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher won a BRIT Award in their homeland for Best British Group, presented to them by one of their most famous fans, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page. Their first self-titled disc from 2013 was one of the fastest-selling debuts in UK chart history. And after they finish their headlining tour, which hits The City for next week – they’ve signed on as the opening act for the upcoming Foo Fighters tour.

“There’s a certain freedom, or a liberation, when you just stop caring – when you stop trying too hard and just let those wings start flapping,” says Kerr, who played countless weddings and bar mitzvahs with Thatcher in several previous bands.

He had almost given up on showbiz entirely and was working as a chef before forming Royal Blood. An equally-despairing Thatcher was pulling pints at a local pub, and teaching percussion on the side.

“We played a lot of Lionel Ritchie covers, and loads of really strange shows,” Thatcher says of those early days.

As Thatcher recalls, the pair also grew tired of the demands of playing in a five-piece group – too many egos to please, too many stylistic compromises that had to be made.

“But with a two-piece, you can just do what you want, and it’s much easier to lock in to what each other are doing,” he says. “We had played together for so long, we knew exactly what we wanted `to do with this band. And the main thing was to just enjoy ourselves and have fun. And that was it – that’s when it all worked out.”

Rehearsing in their down time, with Kerr thrumming his bass melodically like a guitar, the rockers came up with piledriver-riffed anthems such as “Out of the Black,” which caught the ear of the Wildlife Entertainment management firm, who handle Arctic Monkeys, then Warner/Chappell publishing, and finally Warner Bros. Records.

It was the last thing anyone expected: magma-molten metal to overflow the charts again. But “Royal Blood” exploded to No. 1 in England.

Kerr wants to maintain a veil of mystery around Royal Blood. He won’t discuss the nature of his lyrics for sonic assaults like “Blood Hands” or “Little Monster,” he says, “because it’s like a painter telling you exactly what every detail in every corner of it means – it really ruins the illusion.

“Or, it’s like working all day on a dish, like I used to do in restaurants, and then telling the diners how the recipe was made – it’s just wrong.”


Royal Blood

Where: Slim’s, 333 11th St., S.F.

When: 9 p.m. April 14-15

Tickets: $21 (sold out)

Contact: (415) 522-0333,

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Tom Lanham

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