Interview: Royal Thunder
Mon, 03 Jun 2013 09:29:32
Any heavy band worth its salt can take its songs, strip them down to their bare bones, and preserve the same power. Recently, Royal Thunder have taken a few gems from their stunning CVI and re-recorded them acoustically. The results are downright chilling. In fact, the Atlanta triumvirate has managed to tap into an artfully haunting energy carried by singer Mlny Parsonz' immense voice and cinematic lyrics. It's just another indication that Royal Thunder are well on their way to the top of heavy music.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Mlny Parsonz of Royal Thunder talks breaking the music down to its essence and so much more.
How did you approach the songs acoustically?
It was actually really challenging. Our drummer Evan Diprima is such a pounder, and he has so much power behind his playing. He was like, "How do you play toned down?" It was a challenge for him, and he did amazing. For Josh, it was challenge for him to throw down acoustic. I played piano for the first time ever in this band. I haven't done that since I was really young. Pulling back on "Blackwater" was really challenging, but we grow so much from it. We realized we can do this if we have to. Playing acoustic is getting less intimidating. It was a really good learning experience.
The lyrics stand out even more acoustically.
The stand out to me as well. Maybe that brought it to another level for people listening to it. They took it in a different way.
What was the most seamless transition to acoustic?
It's a tie between "Whispering World" and "Parsonz Curse". Initially, we wanted to pull back on the vocals for "Parsonz Curse". It was so hard for me to do that. I'm a loud mouth so it was hard for me to be quiet. Once we found our groove vocally on that, it came the easiest. It allowed us to pound shit out and be cathartic about it, especially on the ending part. That was a lot of fun for us. You know those drum cases that are almost cardboard material? That's what Evan played on. He beat the shit out of it with mallets. We were in the garage, and that's where we got the sound from. I was in the kitchen doing vocals and on stairs. It was cool once we found our groove.
Do the songs take on a new meaning when they're acoustic?
I think each one of them feel really different for me. "Whispering World" reminded me of my childhood and the stuff I grew up on. There were images of Tina Turner in my head. Did you ever her hear do that cover of "Rolling On The River"? It totally made me feel that song. It has that vibe and reminded me of what I grew up on. "Parsonz Curse" took on an almost tribal feel. I didn't feel that originally on CVI. "Blackwater" literally felt like we were swimming through black water. I think I went deeper into feeling the lyrics there. It was very emotional for me. It was the biggest struggle for me to record. I wanted to really put out the spirit of what I was feeling at the time while I was going through all of that.
How was "Sleeping Witch" constructed?
That's an old one. It feels like it's the cornerstone to who we are. It captures a time when we were like, "This is who we are". It just happened. It was faster at one point, but we slowed it down. We found this groove in what we were doing. It was almost like a picture of who we were and who we still are. It illuminated the evolution of us feeling what we're doing. It slowed down and we started swaying back and forth. It got comfortable, and it just happened.
Is it important for the songs to conjure visuals?
We play the songs until they're strong enough for me to think about and throw vocals on. The whole time we're building up that strength and confidence instrumentally, I'm definitely seeing things. That's where the lyrics come from. I'll see things and feel them. I follow wherever those visuals are going. Sometimes, my lyrics will change. I'll throw lyrics down and let them happen. I'm not afraid to have one show where the lyrics are one way and another where they're completely different. I'm very open to letting the songs be what they want to be. In my opinion, music is just energy that passes through us, and we're just vessels to put it out there, let it be alive, and allow it to flow.
You can snag an MP3 of the acoustic version of "Parsonz Curse" over at RollingStone.com.