Royal Chant - MusicNSW

Royal Chant are a three piece garage band from the sleepy coastal town of Port Macquarie.  Fast & fuzzed, slanted & slurred, they have spent the last 3 years playing shows across Australia on stages big & small.  After a handful of singles and a smashing on Triple-J with their single “Somedays”, their debut LP Raise Your Glass & Collapse was named Indie Album of the Week by the Brag amongst a flurry of press, and their raucous live show gained the band some serious attention.  Recently returned from their maiden tour of the USA, the trio is back to recording and touring, carving their own strange path out of the spotlight but somehow never far from it.  They keep their heads down and the distortion up, creating an alternate world of pounding drums, walls of sound, & songs that speak with the ache and numbness of existence.

How did Royal Chant first come about?

It’s almost a bit hard to remember, but essentially from the remnants of another garage band we had in Port Macquarie.  I hadn’t known Matt (drums) for very long, but we stuck with it and formed Royal Chant.  It just kind of happened, and then kept on happening until that’s all we knew.

What have Royal Chant been up to over the past 12 months?

After 2011 we were a bit war weary, but we went into various studios and bedrooms and recorded our Sleep Quintet EP that we released in 5 installments over the Autumn & Winter.  After a few more runs up and down the East Coast of Australia we went to the USA in September & October for a tour starting in NYC and winding down through the sweltering Southern states until it was all over and we came home with empty pockets and bad suntans.  We also recorded our new single while we were in Brooklyn, and we were hooked immediately.  It was just a giant mess of shows and fun and we’re going to do it all over again as soon as we can.

How would you describe the local music scene in Port Macquarie, your hometown? 

It exists, in it’s own way.  Lots of roots and covers acts, mostly, but we do get the occasional touring band coming through.  Opening for the Hard Ons was a major high, but other than that we tend to stay out of the way, playing the odd local show here and there.

I’d like to think an engagement of the senses, but perhaps that’s expecting a bit much.  As a writer I’m trying to connect with or reach some sort of other-ness, which tends to manifest itself in some strange amalgam of slightly skewed pop structures with lots of fuzz and distortion, singing about both banal and epic subjects with a surreal & gutter romantic vocabulary.  As a band we’re pretty tight, so when we’re on and it’s all happening it’s absolutely electric, which is like no other feeling and certainly keeps me playing shows.  Our fans certainly know what they’re in for, while first timers can usually get into the catchy nature of the songs and the old school energy we bring.  It’s a fairly simple aesthetic, but we do try our best to play an honest performance from the heart.

What is your favourite Sydney venue to play at and why?

That’s a tough one, but I’ll personally go with FBi Social because it’s such a good sounding room and we know the guys at the desk really well, so they always make us sound massive.  Besides the fact that we love FBi Radio and they’ve been very supportive of our underground sounds over the years.  But really, there’s a few select venues that we truly cherish and feel at home with, and hopefully they know who they are.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the Australian music scene at the moment and how has it affected your work as an artist?

We’d probably need a novel just to begin to look at the entire problem, but creating and maintaining a healthy and self-sustaining original live music scene across the country is the most pressing, especially as a full-time artist.  Speaking from my limited time here in Australia (being an ex-pat from America), it does seem like there is a shrinking middle class of music and musicians, and we’re noticing that there are fewer and fewer regional places to play, which makes touring more and more difficult.  Potentially great bands need the chance to play heaps of shows while they find their sound and work out their kinks, and that’s getting harder and harder to do.  More and more bands seem to be calling it quite earlier and earlier in their existence, which is a bit of a shame.

If you could collaborate with any Sydney based artist or band, who would you pick?

Craig Nicholls of the Vines.

What other garage rock bands are inspiring you in Sydney these days?

Sounds Like Sunset, Chitticks, New Brutalists, plus the latest sounds from Regular John.  Sydney is showing some fine colours these days.

What’s on the horizon for Royal Chant in the new year?

We’ve got our new single coming out at the top of January, and then we’re heading off on our Panic & Cash Tour around Australia to get the word out.  After that we’re going back the USA for more shows and to record the rest of our album.  Matt & I formed a new 2-piece side project called Designer Mutts, James (bass) is always busy doing remixes under his Wipe That Sound (WTS) moniker, and I’ve just started releasing solo material again.  We’re back to having fun and the songs are starting to pile up, so we’re looking forward to 2013, in our own lazy way.