Festival Date/Time/Location: Saturday, April 13 / 11:30PM / Andy’s Bar
Praise & Warships isn’t just the name of their new album–it’s what fans will be doing when they’re introduced to the music of Royal Sons. Fresh off winning ‘Best New Artist’ and ‘Best Live Band’ from the Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards, along with a Dallas Observer Music Award nomination, the blues rockers are eager to show fans in Fort Worth and beyond that they have the chops to add even more awards to the mantle. Their debut album is only the beginning of that journey; their sound–a soulful psychedelic blues rock–is what will get them there.
It’s a group that’s been seasoned and forged through years of experience.
“We all come from diverse backgrounds but ultimately music has been at the core of all of our lives from a very young age,” Beck says. Four of the five Royal Sons–guitarists Chad Beck and Johnny McConlogue, bassist and vocalist Marcus Gonzales and drummer Javier Garza have all honed their crafts and built bonds together over the many years as members of the same band or label. Lead vocalist Blake Parish joins the crew from a stint as a front man with the Hanna Barbarians. It’s that bountiful blend of blues talent that makes the band a must-see set–and calls to mind the likes of Black Sabbath and ZZ Top.
To call Royal Sons the blues might be accurate, but it doesn’t paint the whole picture. The riffs are 16 oz. prime rib-thick, and at times, the band is as heavy as any stoner metal trio, a byproduct of the rhythm section’s hard rock past.
“I never wanted to be, ‘This is the blues –– let’s do that,’ ” Beck said. “It’s always our interpretation of it. Blake was trying to get the guys to start listening to older, bluesy stuff, and I was like, ‘No, ’cause then we’ll just do that.’ I think it’s best when we can have Javi do some Jon Theodore [from Mars Volta and Queens of the Stone Age] fill or something completely unexpected. We don’t want to reach for something. We want to do something different. They start out bluesy, but by the time the song is completed, it’s a little darker, a little edgier, heavier and more aggressive.”
As the music was forcing the members out of familiar sonic territory, Parish found himself being pushed as well. The band had been playing together for so long that, despite moving away from what they knew musically, they were still really tight and well rehearsed. Parish, inspired by of the rest of the band, capitalized on their energy to experiment with just how far he could stretch his voice.
“Coming in to play with these guys was like someone tossing me the keys to a badass hot rod and saying, ‘Why don’t you take that shit for a spin,’ ” he said. “I’ve gotten to really dig deep and explore some influences that I had only gotten to entertain in my own head before. My voice has gotten a lot stronger with this band, and my range has gotten better. There are notes I can hit now that I couldn’t hit five years ago.”
Armed with one of the most anticipated local albums in recent memory and a live show aimed at kicking down the barriers between band and crowd, the hard rockin’, hard partyin’ five-piece is focused on teasing listeners out of their comfort zones and pulling them into an unbreakable shared experience –– a music-guided trip into the darker, more intriguing spaces of human behavior. As frontman Blake Parish puts it, “We want [our listeners] to feel like maybe they’re doing something they shouldn’t, like it’s a little naughty, like something seedy and dark is happening behind closed doors, but they want to find out about it.”
The live experience has always been paramount for the band, Beck said. They feed off the crowd’s energy, returning it back tenfold with Parish channeling a Jim Morrison-like shaman persona as he slinks around the stage, brandishing his Super 55 vintage-style microphone like a grenade while film projections of lava lamps cascade down the walls.
“If we’re gonna call ourselves Royal Sons, that’s maybe kinda ballsy, but we’ve earned our spot,” Beck says. “There’s a lot of musicians younger than me, and a lot of bands out there that are better than us, but when we do what we do, and we get what we get, it’s because we deserve it. We fucking push for it.”