Continuing with our promise, we’re proud to feature another band this month!!
Heavy, post-punks and royalty from The Round Pizza of King Pizza Records!!
We’re proud to present to you, Their Majesties, The Royal They!!
Even though they’ve only been a band for a few years, they’ve covered a lot of ground. Playing amazing DIY venues across Brooklyn (some of which have a closed forever now) and drawing consistent crowds to their shows.
Listen to their music and lyrics, “What’s the difference between me and the dream, am I not sweating enough? / Like I don’t get it, of course you’ll never settle / You never had to give anything up / Now, the real punks are the ones with real jobs and who aren’t starving for your fucking attention.” The lyrics from The Royal They’s song “Shinburner;” probably one of the most genuine songs you’ll listen to.
The Royal They are Michelle Hutt (guitar, vocals), Darrell Dumas (guitar, backing vocals), and Rick Martinez (drums). Just listening to their music, you can tell what their influences are and that they have mixed them well. Angst ridden grunge-influenced songs; telling it how it is. Bouncy, melodic, and fun. The Pixies are definitely the first band that comes to mind when I hear their songs.
Their debut and first full-length album, self-titled, is roughly 30-minutes long and frankly not long enough…WE WANT MORE, please and thank you!! As I previously stated, their songs are completely genuine. Inclusiveness and staying true to their word are the first thing you should about The Royal They.
‘Kamikaze’ – a fun, energetic, bouncy, in-your-face song that can get a crowd moving. Starting with a stop-start guitar playing and Michelle singing; the song then turns into a free-for-all and everyone joins in. I can see this song being played in the background of a giant street fight. At 1:07, the song takes on a bluesy twist that not only fits but feels necessary, helping to keep that crowd moving. Just a 4-minute song, but definitely a favorite of mine and one that I was always hope to hear in their set.
We sent The Royal They some questions and they had some answers:
When and why did you guys start playing music?
D: I was five years old when my parents started me on classical piano. I had a clear inclination, but it was mostly a chore and they had to really force me to practice. Then when I was 13 I decided on a whim to pick up my dad’s old Gibson acoustic archtop and start teaching myself a few chords. The next thing I knew I’d gotten a Strat for Christmas and suddenly music was fun and interesting and not part of some stuffy hyper-disciplinary academic regimen anymore. I basically relinquished having a social life in high school in favor of shutting myself in my room and practicing guitar. I was pretty relentlessly obsessed. Had things gone only a little differently I might very well have never learned to properly interact with other humans…
M: My family couldn’t stop me singing. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to sing. I started piano lessons when I was 5, and I started guitar lessons when I was 12. I didn’t stick to getting music lessons for very long after that because I had the basics, which was what I had really wanted out of it. I wanted to be able to write and play songs I wrote.
R: I started playing drums when I was about nine. Rhythm was something I felt I’ve always been drawn to. And soon after I started lessons, I joined jazz bands, symphony orchestras, rock bands, drum circles, really anything I could be a part of. I’ve always been a closet rock drummer though, and this band in particular allows me to let out most of my musical instincts.
How did you start playing music together?
D: Michelle and I had talked about starting a band together long before we started taking the idea seriously – back when we were still each fronting our own bands. We were originally going to call it A Man, Sometimes a Robot and have it be this scrappy two-person garage punk thing with her on guitar and me on drums and occasionally one or the other of us playing a pocket piano or a synth. It wasn’t much more than a long-running joke for a while, but then both our respective bands kind of fell by the wayside and we realized we were each the most trusted musical partner either of us knew, and so we started writing together and playing around with what we wanted to sound like. As I recall it crystallized pretty quickly – we had a lot of common musical inspirations at the time, and the songs ended up happening pretty organically. It also became clear pretty quickly that we needed a drummer, and Rick was far and away the best drummer either of us knew, so it made him the obvious choice.
M: Darrell and Rick had played in a few bands together prior to The Royal They. Rick and Darrell had also both filled in for my drummer in my old band for few gigs. So, it felt pretty natural when we all started playing together. We were all already friends.
R: Darrell and Michelle came to me with rough demos and asked if I would be their drummer. Having already played with Darrell I knew the chemistry was there musically and it was an added bonus that I really dug the tunes. Our first gig was on Valentine’s Day at Cake Shop in the Lower East Side to about three people. I’m pretty sure we still have the video footage 🙂
Who and/or what are you biggest non-musical influences?
D: Geoffrey Colvin’s book Talent is Overrated has had a huge influence on my mindset as a musician and a creative person. It essentially rejects the notion that talent is either inborn or the result of relentless hard work, and instead argues that talent is within the reach of anyone with the capacity for focused, deliberate practice. It’s a terrific motivator, if you’re in need of one. I also often find myself hugely inspired by stories I hear on podcasts like Radiolab and Reply All. I had tons of story tapes as a kid that I played to death, which probably predisposed me to the tenets of audio-based storytelling, and podcasts are like the adult version of those in a lot of ways.
M: My family, the Magnificent Seven from the 1996 Olympics, and the Harry Potter series are my biggest non-musical influences. Family: My parents work very hard to support those around them and always inspire me to do the same. The Magnificent Seven: I was a competitive gymnast for many years, and I was so inspired by the Magnificent Seven that I would watch a tape from the ‘96 Olympics almost every day before gymnastics practice to motivate myself. It still reminds me that working hard is worthwhile (and that I should probably get off my ass and go do something). Harry Potter: The Harry Potter books came out as I was growing up, and I believe that they showed me the value of being an independent thinker.
R: My mom, dad, and sister are probably my biggest influence. They all have an immense love for the Arts and have shown me what a great work ethic can achieve. I’ve learned learned as a drummer in New York, achieving perfect time, monster chops, and a killer stage presence, aren’t going to be your biggest hurdles. There are a lot of real life issues waiting for you when you step out on your own. Fortunately for me, my family has always and continues to help me balance my life/music goals and push me further along.
Who do you pull influence from locally?
D: I’m so glad you asked this question, because it’s no exaggeration that our earliest influences were almost entirely local. There are three bands that I primarily identify: Boytoy, who Michelle and I both had a huge crush on and which empowered us both to believe in the whole no-bassist thing; Rathborne, which was my two buddies Luke and Darren making really catchy, simple, new-wave-inspired punk songs; and this short-lived but ridiculously fun band called Make Out that wrote some of the catchiest, most manically fun power pop I’ve ever heard. Honorable mention also to Low Fat Getting High, who influenced a lot of our heavier stuff.
M: Well, Darrell already cited our first local influences. Two of my personal influences are The Eames Era (not local, and not current) and Haybaby (local and current). I’m still obsessed with The Eames Era’s album, Double Dutch. I am literally listening to it right now. They had a real knack for melodies that made sense but weren’t cloying. I also have found musical inspiration from local band, Haybaby. I love the way they construct their songs with multiple instrumental melodies sort of communicating with each other. And of course there is Leslie Hong’s voice, which is at times almost dainty and at other times furious. Her vocal control and breadth of expression is inspiring whenever I see it.
R: a.l.e.x. h.e.i.g.l.
Locally, I listen to my buddies from school. I have two friends who are in the band Son Lux (completely changing the game with drums and samples) and a few others in a band called Snowmine. Other inspiration comes from my friends Nick Semrad and Andrew Bailie with The Funk Apostles and Julian Pollack with his group J3PO. I’m about as open as you can be regarding musical taste so I often draw from how musicians carry themselves on and off the stage. Are they fun to hang around? Are they honest with the music on stage? Are they genuinely badass individuals? These are some of the qualities that separate good musicians from great ones. All of these bands have it and help influence me as a performer.
What are your goals as a band?
D: I think we share a collective desire to make the kind of music that we all want to exist in the world. As long as we’re doing that, everything else is gravy.
M: We just want to make music that we like. It is beautiful serendipity that other people seem to appreciate it too!
R: creating music that inspires us and hopefully inspires others
Do you have anything coming up, so we can keep our eyes peeled for?
D: Do we ever! We’ve got so many shows lined up between now and July that we’ve been having to turn down offers, which we absolutely hate doing… as of right now we’ve got one coming up on April 27th at the Gutter with our buddies the Sharp Shadows and the New Restaurants. Then we’re playing a Thursdays for the Cause show at Our Wicked Lady on May 11th, and then May 17th we’re playing with Garbage Brain and Queen with a Megaphone to kick off our tour! (venue TBD, we’ll keep you posted)
M: Speaking of tour, we’re going on a tour in May with our buddies from Austin, Honey and Salt!!! With them, we’ll be hitting up NYC, NJ, DC, to name a few. Then we part ways with Honey and Salt. On our own, we’ll continue the adventure down to Richmond, VA for a show or two, and then touring our way back up the eastern seaboard.
R: More balls courtesy of John Meredith… what a stud. Seriously so stoked for our new record session in June. He’s got magic ears when it comes to drum tone. Darrell has new toys. Michelle is composing some tasty hooks. I sing in one of the songs for Christ’s sake. Expect to be pleased.
Check back every month as we spotlight good, hardworking bands.
Stream a curated Spotify playlist by The Royal They — songs that helped shape their sound:
Stream their debut full-length below: