The singing half of new duo Royal Blood, Mike Kerr, on being welcomed into the rock fraternity
Jimmy Page, Foals, Arctic Monkeys and Muse have all declared themselves fans. Which of these bowled you over most?
It’s weird, because nearly everyone from that world has said they like what we’re doing. It feels like I’ve only been approached by my favourite bands so far [laughs]. One of the weirdest ones was – like you said – Muse, because that’s who I grew up learning to play riffs on. I saw Matt Bellamy a couple of months ago and he was coming over to me. That was bizarre.
How many people contacted you about Arctic Monkeys’ Matt Helders wearing your handmade T-shirt while headlining Glastonbury?
I got about three texts. Not enough, if you ask me.
Did you not get a sudden wave of new fans?
No, because when it happened we didn’t have any music out. I think, in hindsight, that story has been used as this big event for our band when we were launched into the limelight. Of the three texts I got, one was actually from my mum. We had no music out and no one knew who we were. We gained zero attention from new fans. It wasn’t until later, when we released music, that we looked back on that event and it warped into something different. We just thought it was really funny.
Does having only two members in a band make things easier?
Well, I’ve only ever had one girlfriend at a time and that was complicated enough, so I can’t imagine having any more again.
What’s your first memory of drummer Ben Thatcher?
I went to watch Ben’s band play at a college event – he’s two years older than me – and hit on his then girlfriend. Well, I didn’t realise she was his girlfriend. I plucked up the courage to say hello and clocked he was going out with her, so I didn’t like him. We became friends because he liked the band I was in, so he came over and was nice, which was annoying. There’s nothing worse than someone you want to hate being really nice.
Your brand of rock couldn’t be further from what’s fashionable in 2014. Do you feel like an endangered species?
The thing about rock music is it never really adheres to the trends. There’s always something that’s the next ‘cool’ thing, but those things date. The music I love is the stuff that’s absolutely timeless and still sounds amazing now: Michael Jackson, James Brown, The Beatles, Queen. No one is going, “Oh I can’t believe we listened to something like that.” That’s why I love rock music. Good rock music.
Will you stick to rock music?
Who knows? That’s always where I’ve naturally gone to. It’s made me the most creative. I think it’s important to have humour and personality in your music. Rock music has been a good way of putting that across. Nearly every song in Royal Blood started out as a bit of joke, or had the intention of making the other person laugh.
In terms of your lyrics?
No, more in the content. I think Out Of The Black is a good example. To us, it was a bit stupid, like cartoon rock. Everything is so dramatic because there’s only two of us. When we recorded that intro, we thought it was funny, particularly the last riff – so obnoxious, loud and silly. It was almost classical.
What’s the dynamic like as a duo when you’re working on songs?
Someone else always has a slightly different angle from yours, that’s the beauty of it. You know at school when you get loads of straws and have to make a bridge? It was always the group with the most people who made the sh*ttest bridge because there’d be so many people faffing around. Big bands can be like that. We both had a clear of idea of what we wanted to do. It was just a case of grabbing the straws [laughs].
You’ve toured quite a bit in the US. How do the crowds differ to the UK?
I’ve found they’re all different everywhere. One of my favourite gigs was Detroit because it’s a bit scary. It’s run-down, a sort of skeletal city, and there’s not a lot there. It almost feels a bit lawless round the edge and you have something to prove. When you win someone over there, it’s like, “Yeah, we’re not going to die!” I felt a bit like Eminem in 8 Mile. We played at the venue where he did the rap battle.
Finally, you appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live. What was that like?
I’d never been to Hollywood and it’s a very strange place. It’s like a theme park for millionaires. But the show is a very isolated experience. We didn’t meet Jimmy Kimmel or watch the show. It was like turning up to a place in Hollywood and doing a gig to 20 competition winners that were Googling you on the way in. Jools Holland (above) was totally different, so it’s interesting how they compare. One of the best moments of my life was on that show. After we’d done our first song, I looked up and saw Neil Finn’s face emerge from the smoke. He was clapping and mouthed the words ‘Well done’. It was like Wayne’s World. Like, why is Neil Finn looking at me?
Royal Blood’s latest single Figure It Out is out on 17 August; debut album Out Of The Black is out on 25 August