Defying monotony is the reason ROYAL BANGS exist. In recording their third album, Flux Outside, out March 29th, the band has proven their ability to challenge the tediousness that consumes the music industry today. With the new album they have reclaimed their identity: three high school friends playing inspired, kinetic rock and roll, and in the process, discovered the sound they've been looking for all along. "This record is not just another in a progression of little steps forward," Schaefer explains. "It's something different."
Under ROYAL BANGS and various other guises, frontman Ryan Schaefer, drummer Chris Rusk, and guitarist Sam Stratton have been making music together since their high school days. In 2006, they unleashed We Breed Champions, a home-recorded and self-released breakthrough album. The record's potent noise-pop wormed its way into hearts throughout the southeastern US, eventually finding its way to Patrick Carney (The Black Keys), who reissued We Breed Champions on his own Audio Eagle Records in May of 2008.
In February of 2009, ROYAL BANGS traveled to Tangerine Sound Studios in Akron, Ohio to record their long-awaited sophomore album. The studio quickly became home to the three obsessive musicians, who even found themselves sleeping there at night. "We just could not stop working," Schaefer recalls. The result was Let It Beep, released on Audio Eagle in September 2009.
To record Flux Outside, they decamped to a friend's restored Victorian house in Knoxville, where they spent a month exploring the unique acoustics of every single room. They'd already written much of the album holed up in their rehearsal space, an old methadone clinic. The resulting album is a beguiling, multi-layered collision of brutal, wittily arranged rock and roll. "Loosely Truthing" is a madcap blend of driving guitars and syncopated keys. "Back Then It Was Different" is an elegy to past desires set to the relentless throb of a defiant piano. But of all the album's tracks it's the bright-eyed frenzy of "Fireball," that really captures the essence of this band.
The "Fireball" demo was initially barely formed, just something Schaefer had recorded and then forgotten about. But they needed new material. After the loss of a few band members due to the rigors of touring, they began to question how they were going to continue on, especially with even more severe touring in the near future. "We had no idea how we would play these songs with three people," Schaefer remembers. "It was depressing, trying to recreate things we'd already done." Schaefer began to play with the beginnings of "Fireball," and quickly, it became the band's motivation to create. Once ROYAL BANGS focused on writing songs the three of them could play together, everything fell into place.
After years of exploration and reinvention, ROYAL BANGS finally know who they are and what they're about. In this state of reassurance, the band is eager to tour. "When you're on tour it's nice because there's a schedule," Schaefer says. "It's not a tough schedule, but it's a schedule, and we're doing the only thing we've ever wanted to do."