Photo by Ramon Hess
Even when they get spacey, there’s something extremely snappy and enchanting about Knoxville experimental rock outfit Royal Bangs. Listening to a Royal Bangs record is akin to a magical Friday night where everything falls into place–dancing, fun, and all those weird moments you can’t put into words, but you just know are right. That’s Royal Bangs.
Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney probably heard some of that magic when he stumbled upon the band’s Myspace page. Royal Bangs had been going since at least 2001 when high school friends Chris Rusk (drums) and Ryan Schaefer (singer and multi-instrumentalist) started the band. Guitarist Sam Stratton joined up in 2005, and today they’re joined by Dylan Dawkins on bass and keyboards. After Carney discovered the group, he signed them to his (now defunct) Audio Eagle Records and released the band’s 2008 full-length We Breed Champions. Carney also produced Royal Bangs 2009 follow-up, the peppy, electro-heavy Let It Beep. The band enlisted Sparklehorse’s Scott Minor to produce and Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann to mix their even more experimental–but still catchy as a flytrap–2011 effort Flux Outside.
Back in September 2013, Royal Bangs released their latest, Brass. Carney took back the producer’s seat for the new album. The band walked back some of the more experimental touches of Flux Outside. It’s a more straightforward effort, but no less effervescent. The album opens with the sunny blast of “Better Run.” The song’s got a caffeinated beat, jagged, Buzzcocksy guitars, and a great old-school pop hook in the chorus. On “Better Run,” all the parts fall right into place.
You can catch Royal Bangs Saturday, Jan. 11 at the Mohawk–AND there’s no cover to boot.