On May 9, 2012, Josh Weaver was just about two weeks out from the release of CVI, the first full-length with his band Royal Thunder on Relapse Records. That evening he took some time out of his day to have a chat with OurStage to answer questions about the new album and summer touring plans. Royal Thunder are one of many doomy, sludgy, heavy rock ‘n’ roll bands hailing from the south, and they have already received some great press from the likes of NPR, Paste Magazine and BrooklynVegan. Going on their first full national tour this summer with Holy Grail and Valient Thorr, the band faces an eventful season.
OS: You’re quickly approaching the release of your first full-length with Royal Thunder, how are you feeling about it?
JW: I’m super excited to get it out, man. We worked really hard on it so from the time we got done with it ‘til now we’ve been anticipating it. We’re all really excited.
JW: I’ll come up with the melodies and guitar parts, and we just get together and play. Mlny writes the vocal lines and lyrics. Everyone in the band just kind of puts their spin on a song that I bring to the table and we just jam out on it for a while. We start out with drums and bass in the studio, after that we did guitar stuff, and after that we did vocals. It was a great experience. We did it at Aria Studios in Marietta, Georgia with Joey Jones. It was a great experience.
OS: So, what were some of the biggest struggles for you when you were writing and recording the album?
JW: I think going into recording for me is always… like, going into it the material is there and it’s so hard starting off. You’ll have a scratch guitar and a drum track, and just not really knowing how it’s going to sound in the end. It’s really easy to get discouraged, for me personally, when I go into the studio not knowing how it’s going to turn out. I want to know how the whole picture is going to look like, but you just never know. So it’s always a struggle starting out in the studio for that reason.
OS: It might seem obvious who your main guitar influences would be, but which guitarists would you say have had the biggest influence on your music?
JW: Nirvana. Kurt Cobain was the reason I started playing guitar when I was a kid. I saw what they were doing and knew right away that was what I wanted to do with my life. It was just so inspiring to me. I was just a young teenager and knew right away that’s what I wanted to do, so that’s definitely one of the main influences on me as far as guitar go.
JW: Yeah, a lot of the music that influenced songwriting for me—and when I say influenced I don’t mean that I tried to sound or write like them or anything—I think the stuff that definitely influenced me was definitely Nirvana, The Cure and The Cult and there was a period where I got into punk rock and indie rock. I just had so many interests when I was growing up as far as music and rock goes. I think that the main cornerstone of influence for me as a musician would probably be those ’80s and ’90s bands.
OS: In the interview you guys did with NPR you covered being based in Atlanta and how it affects your music. How do you think it affects your career as a band and how people view Royal Thunder?
JW: I don’t know, I guess living in the south and being from the south, I guess there is a pretty big stigma regarding music from the south. I don’t think that we think about what we’re doing, we just kind of do it, you know? I think that people will always have their opinions about it and we’re always going to do what we do.
OS: In the NPR interview, Mlny mentioned that a lot of the material for CVI was a lot more personal for her. Is that the case for all of you, that you felt more emotionally invested into the album?
JW: Yeah, for sure man. By the time we recorded the album we had pretty much been living together for a couple of years and our living room was our practice space and we practiced pretty much every night. We had invested so much in the band. What we put on that album, we really put our heart into the whole band. We all laid it on the table.
JW: The whole album was really special to me. It really pushed me as a musician, being in the studio and working stuff out. I definitely enjoyed doing “Minus”—that was really enjoyable. I think just doing something a lot different than the rest of the album just sort of stuck out to me as a fun little song to do.
MtD: You guys are going on tour with Holy Grail and Valient Thorr. This is going to be the first full US tour for you guys, isn’t it?
JW: Yes, it is. It’s covering a lot of dates. With this band we haven’t really made it up to the west coast yet. We flew out for one date in Hollywood not too long ago, but otherwise we haven’t really done any dates out west so we’re really excited to get out there.
MtD: You guys have played with a whole slew of bands in Atlanta over the last few years. If you could pick any bands, live or dead, to play with–what would be your dream lineup for Royal Thunder to play with?
JW: Oh man… Probably, for me… man, that’s a hard one. I know Nirvana would probably be the top one for me, and maybe the Sisters of Mercy or… yeah. Those two bands would be pretty phenomenal to play with.
As of today (May 28th), the album has been out for six days, and we hope it has had some killer success so far. You can grab the album from most any place you normally would, like iTunes, or you can grab it from Bandcamp. If you want a physical copy, like vinyl or something, the Relapse Mailorder site will work nicely for you. Your local record shop might have a copy or two as well.