- - Sunday, June 4, 2017

England’s Royal Blood burst on to the music scene in 2014 with explosive jams and well-crafted lyrics. Impressively, all that sound is made by just two guys — singer/bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher — whose debut album captured the ears of critics and music fans alike and earned them a slew of awards.

The spring sees the band preparing to launch a large-scale tour and release a thunderous new album, “How Did We Get So Dark?” In advance of the duo’s Tuesday gig at the 9:30 Club, we sat down to discuss the pressure of following up their successful debut, the rigors of touring and what it’s like to share chips with their biggest fan, Jimmy Page.

Question: Because your debut CD generated so much great acclaim and awards, is there more pressure this time out?

Mike Kerr: It was nothing that got in the way of making the album. And it certainly didn’t compromise the direction in any way, really. We really make music for ourselves.

When we finished recording our first album, we were super stoked, but we thought, “Whatever.” We didn’t think anyone would hear it. Honestly, we didn’t think it would go beyond our friends and family. Flash forward three years. All that sort of mad stuff happened to us, and we got to go around the world.

Our kind of compass for quality remains the same: If we think it’s cool, then that’s enough. On the second one we just wanted to evolve in our own way and make a record we thought was great and that we could be proud of.

I won’t lie: We are aware that this time it is falling on ears with eager anticipation from a lot of people around the world. But even if it is difficult at times, you got to remember to trust your gut.

Q: How do you feel the band has evolved between your debut record and this new album?

MK: I think massively. We spent three years of really intense touring. When the band was on its way, I had only been playing bass for a year. We had only just jumped into bed and started making Royal Blood happen. We definitely felt on our toes.

By the end of it we were so much more confident and comfortable in our shoes. By the end of those three years, we knew how the band worked. Even just the way we play together has gone to another level. There is that element in terms of being musicians.

Q: How about as a songwriter?

MK: The songwriting was our main focus on moving the band forward. We were proud of our identity and sound [and] our aesthetic as a band. We felt that was something that was ours. We weren’t really looking to warp that too much. It was more about how do we refine what’s good about us and get some better tunes out of sitting together.

Q: Is the collaborative process between you two a 50/50 split?

Ben Thatcher: Mike has the lyrics to do and he has he tunes to do. I’m a rhythmic part of what it is. The magic happens when we collaborate. That’s when the songs come together. Then the structures and everything is put into this ball of energy. That becomes Royal Blood.

MK: Both of us have such a vital role to play. The same with when [John] Bonham was no longer able to be in Zeppelin. You can’t just replace that person. A huge part of being a great band is being good friends. That chemistry is vital when we work together and play music. Me and Ben have a good enough relationship to argue over a song — prod at it with anyone being offended.

We realize that the music is so much bigger than us. That is the key to our —

BT: Dynamic?

MK: Dynamic. Thanks. Good example, isn’t it? (Laughs)

Q: The new album is titled “How Did We Get So Dark?” Is it a darker record?

MK: I’d say it’s darker, yeah. Every song deals with a different subject matter under the same theme of that title. Lyrically, on this record I wanted to be completely open and vulnerable. I almost forgot people were going to hear me say these things. When we were mixing I was like, “Oh [expletive]!” because I was so open. So there is definitely that darkness to it where it’s much clearer insight.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. There are also songs that go way more sexy and groovy and fun than we’ve done before. We wanted every song on the record to be a card we haven’t played yet. A song and a direction and character almost that we hadn’t explored yet. It’s our sound but kind of with the deck spread out.

Q: What is the one thing you need on the road to keep you sane?

MK: Our tour manager. He is the glue to the entire circus. The people you’re with can make a massive difference to your experience while touring.

Q: Jimmy Page is a big fan of Royal Blood. Any talk of ever collaborating with him?

MK: That would be great. But the time we kind of hung out, we’re always at our shows, usually offstage in the dressing rooms. To have him on board and be behind what we are doing is massive for us. He’s a huge influence. It’s surreal to have him sitting in your dressing room helping himself to crisps (potato chips).

Q: I hear Jimmy Page is a well-know crisps thief.

MK: Yeah, he’s a potato chip connoisseur. (Laughs)

Q: How will you spend your downtime in DC?

MK: We like to party pretty hard. Ben is the party master. I’m the one who wakes up in the morning and asks Ben, “Where did you end up last night?” He’ll say, “I haven’t been to bed yet.”

Royal Blood plays the 9:30 Club in Northwest Tuesday evening. 

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