Royal Blood on revisiting their debut album 10 years on: “So much has changed, but when it comes to the music, nothing has”

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Royal Blood have spoken to NME at Download Festival 2024 and discussed what it was like to revisit their self-titled debut 10 years on, as well as reflecting on their time on the road with Queens Of The Stone Age.

The duo – comprised of frontman and bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher – caught up with NME at this year’s edition of the festival, shortly before they took to the main stage for a career-spanning set.

Not only did the slot mark their first time back at the festival in a decade, it also came as the two are ready to play some intimate London shows, celebrating the 10th anniversary of their self-titled debut album.

In the conversation, the duo told NME about what it was like to look back at their debut album this far down the line, and how they perceive it now compared to their latest release, 2023’s ‘Back To The Water Below’. They also recall their time on the road and growing friendship with Queens Of The Stone Age, who they first joined forces with back in 2017 and recently joined on the road earlier this year, as they toured across the US.

NME: Hi Royal Blood, what’s it like to be back at Download?

Mike Kerr: “It’s great to be back, we haven’t been here in 10 years, but I actually played here with my first band in 2008, around then. I love being here. Good memories, it’s a great atmosphere out there already.”

Ben Thatcher: “It is still the first day though and it’s already raining. I’d like to see these people’s faces on the Sunday afternoon when they’re on the comedown.”

Mike Kerr of Royal Blood performs in 2024Mike Kerr of Royal Blood performs in 2024. CREDIT: Scott Legato/Getty Images

Not only is it 10 years since you first performed here, it’s also 10 years since you shared your debut album. What has it been like looking back?

M.K: “It’s been good looking back. We’ve been prepping for these anniversary shows coming up but to be honest, there are only two or three songs off the debut record that we don’t play live pretty regularly. It really is still an album that we live and breathe every day. I think we’re just stoked that we still get to do this every day. That’s been the biggest take we’ve got from reminiscing about a decade ago.”

Has your perception of the album changed now compared to when you first shared it?

M.K: “I think the album feels very similar to how it did back then to be honest. But it’s everything around it that’s changed very dramatically. I think going from the age of 22 and moving a decade on, that’s a transformative time in any human being’s life anyway! Let alone to be in this band and to have been on the road since the beginning. It’s weird seeing how so much has changed, but when it comes to the music, nothing has.”

What’s it like to revisit the debut not long after releasing ‘Back To The Water Below’?

M.K: “I Think ‘Back To The Water Below’ is the kind of album that we never could have made 10 years ago. That album, like every other album, is solely based on the experience that we had before. It’s never going to be something you can buy or something you can cheat your way through – it’s just born out of being in a band and being an artist. That record for us was only able to be made because we had those experiences over the past 10 years.

“Both are part of the journey and we’re still very proud of both. I just hope we can look back at this one a decade on and feel the same way as we do now about the debut.”

Ben Thatcher of Royal Blood performs in 2024Ben Thatcher of Royal Blood performs in 2024. CREDIT: Scott Legato/Getty Images

What can we expect from the 10th anniversary shows?

B.T: “We’re going to be playing every single tune of the first record, but we’re also going to be playing other tunes off other records. I can’t really give much more away than that but one of them will be taking place on Mike’s birthday… so we’re also going to be celebrating that.”

You’ve just come off tour with tonight’s headliner, Queens Of The Stone Age. What was it like being on the road with them?

B.T: “It was absolutely amazing because they’re the best band in the world. We got to tour with them first back in 2017 and we had a great time then. We then did some stuff with them in America earlier this year and the bromance is still on fire. We still love those guys and we still think they’re the best band. We’re going to have a good time watching them tonight.”

M.K:  “We learned how to do Sudoku while on the road with them! They’re actually all into puzzles so we’ve learned about that from being on tour with them. Crosswords, puzzles…”

B.T: “Yeah they all have their little crossword books and try to complete them before one another.”

M.K: “Those humans love Scrabble. I would say it’s rock n’roll but that wouldn’t get me many Scrabble points – I don’t even know if it’s classed as two words or three.”

Where would you say you are now as a band?

M.K: “For us, there’s never been the feeling of ‘We’ve arrived at where we want to be’. It will always feel like there’s more music to make and more shows to play. Once that feeling goes away, that’s the end. It’s that want to keep going that keeps the band going, and we hope we’re always in this perpetual state of wanting more and more. It’s incredibly toxic, not very healthy, but we love it.”

Who else are you looking forward to seeing at Download… other than Queens Of The Stone Age?

BT: “It’s all about Queens Of The Stone Age and this band I’ve heard of, Royal Blood. It’s all about those tonight. Busted and Wheatus are also up there for me, but we can’t see them because we’ll be playing at that time. What a clash.”

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