The High Achievers of Royalty Storm the Music Scene
Posted Wednesday, July 04, 2012 4:57 PM
The Royalty is a hard band to pin down. At times they sound like Vampire Weekend, or else like Marilyn Monroe. They can go from channeling Beach House to the Crystals without taking a breath. Try listening to their single, “Bartender,” off their new album Lovers (Victory Records).
The song opens with music straight out of a Quentin Tarantino flick—think right before a fight scene—which quickly leads into a Strokes-like guitar riff. And right when you expect to hear Julian Casablancas, a voice somewhere between Gwen Stefani and Etta James emerges above the instruments, demanding to be heard.
The Royalty sound like a band straight out of the ‘60s or ‘70s that built a time machine and started listening to St. Vincent and Weezer (two of the band’s major influences).
Royalty’s front-lady, Nicole Boudreau, recently spoke with Highbrow Magazine.
On how the band got together:
A couple of the guys grew up in the El Paso music scene; they started bands when they were really young and I was the only one who wasn’t really involved in the local music scene. I kind of was more of a trained singer; I did choir and all that—I wasn’t one of the cool kids. They started having different bands at around 13, but in college they started another project and they were looking for a singer. I heard about it from a friend of a friend and I went and tried out. So the first time I met them was auditioning for them and I was scared to death. That happened in college. (University of Texas at El Paso—UTEP)
On her band mates:
Jesus Apodaca, Guitar: He was an orchestra teacher—he got his degree in music. So he is definitely our go-to theory guy. He has a very good ear and very formal training.
Daniel Marin, Keyboards: Dan used to be a news anchor in El Paso. He was a drum major in high school and that gave him a really good background in music. He got his degree, I think, in film/communications.
Joel Quintana, Drums: He’s actually working on his Ph.D. from the road. He’s an electrical engineer. He has both a creative side and a scientific side. So he’s kind of a weirdo…in a good way.
Will Daugherty, Bass: He brings a lot of the feel—he doesn’t have any formal training in music. He just does what feels right and he has a great knack for that.
On what it’s like being the only lady in the band:
We formed the band in 2006. It’s been kind of like dating five people at one time.
On their influences:
With our first album, we were very into Phil Spector at the time. And since we all knew a lot of the people in the music department at the university, we were able to get our friends to do string arrangements and horn arrangements—we were trying to stack the sound. So that had a big influence on us.
[When] we were growing up, we always listened to a combination of rock ‘n’ roll and soul—from punk rock to Sam Cooke. And with the second record that we released with Victory, we got a little bit away from the “Wall of Sound” thing. The problem we saw with the first album was that we couldn’t pull off what we did on the record live. We wanted to sound the way the album sounded live, and therefore we couldn’t have strings and horns and all that stuff. We wanted to be more real, not that the first one wasn’t. We just can’t have a whole string section.
On some of their favorite stops on the tour:
Do you know what was so unexpected? We played in Akron, Ohio, and we played in this small bar that got packed really quickly. And the kids there that watched us were so engaging—it was like a dance party. So that one was so surprisingly fun. Also playing in New York was really cool. We got to play Arlene’s Grocery [ in the Lower East Side] and that was a really fun place to play—they know how to run a venue.
On what’s next for the band:
We’re just chugging along, one city at a time. This stretch of time we’ll be gone about a month or so, but we just keep looking for the next thing. We’re working hard—it’s kind of tough being away from home. All the guys left their careers so we’re very serious—we’re going to do as much as we can to make it work.
The Royalty have released two records: The Royalty (self-released) and Lovers (Victory Records). For tour dates, merchandise and all that jazz, visit their website.
Sam Chapin is a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine.
Photos: Victory Records