Exclusive: The Royal Artillery celebrate 10 years with new live single Your Money Maker
Plus they give us the low down on 10 hard-fought years of rock'n'roll ahead of a huge east coast tour.
The Royal Artillery are something of a hidden treasure in Australian rock music, but through no lack fo trying. Having spent the better part of the last 10 years blowing the doors off any venue lucky enough to host them, they've released acclaimed EPs, scored plenty of radio play, supported some of the world's biggest acts and jumped on equally large festival stages. Fueled by the hard-rocking riffs of frontman Zed Charles backed by monster new drummer Matt Campbell, they're ready to go around again for the Shake Your Money Maker tour, celebrating new live single Money Maker.
Below you can indulge in said video, along with a refreshingly candid and open interview between writer Ellis Dee and Charles, as he looks back on the oft-rocky road that is being in the music industry.
It’s great to see The Royal Artillery back on the scene, one of my favourite Brisbane live acts. How do you stay relevant at 10 years in the Rock’n’Roll business (I realise this sounds ridiculous but it’s true) considering the multitude of young bands kicking around?
You can rely on us to make our annual tour down the east coast around October once the footy is out of the way! The key is to be supportive with the young ones, I work as a booking agent and I love seeing new bands pop up and helping them out, more often than not they already know who you are and are probably even fans, so you play some shows + drink some beers, build the community and make it more inclusive, I think that's how you stay relevant.
Do you think it’s viable for a band to remain a touring unit in Australia for long periods of time? It can be a pretty unhealthy lifestyle…
Yes, but there's a method to the madness, there's a point where the intent and purpose evolves, the business gets more serious and you get more serious about it, but also no, in that a lot of touring bands perish under the strains, sometimes pretty tragically, losing people you share this unique experience with to suicide and addiction, car accidents...
Tell us how it really is on the road. How do you keep your sanity and stay focused? What are the pitfalls of life on the road?
You're pushing yourself to the limit every weekend, it's pretty standard to bash out up to 1000ks in a day and then get set up and play your show, day after day, week in week out, the hedonism in you really comes out, you are the catalyst for the punter's "release"; a sacrificial lamb and the centre of attention, it's hard not to get swept up in the mania, if not impossible.
The pitfalls are generally a direct result of the lifestyle, you can stay home after dark and drink tea but we aren't in it to fuck spiders, so night after night you go big, pull your socks up and go big again, rinse and repeat, 3 to 6 months of the year, it's great.
Mondays become an oasis between the noise of the weekends - it's a gnarly grind punctuated by rare moments with beautiful strangers and distant friends and loved ones, it's a lot of fun and I cherish the freedom of it all but it can drag, the reality of it is different for everyone, no doubt it's a lonely place to be grappling with personal demons.
You’re back with new drummer Matthew Campbell. Why the transition from a power rock three-piece to a duo after all these years? Don’t you miss the solos?
Firstly, we're still down with bass guitar and guitar solos! We had a lot of fun at Mojo Burning Festival this year doing a Hendrix Tribute with ex-artillery and Frown bassist Ben Gorringe. The duo simply occured, Matt and I started jamming sans bassist and the songwriting and dynamic onstage really evolved so we stuck with it. It's interesting that we find it easier to improv on the fly and psyche-out more freely within structured songs now than previously as a trio, there's limitations to endless wailing definitely, but there's added sparks that bring something more unique out of us.
New track Shake Your Moneymaker is recorded and filmed live in your basement. Do you think the garage approach will be well received by your fans and the wider Australian Music industry? There’s such a focus on production these days.
Definitely, we're really excited about it and our followers seem to like this "live" vibe about us. We wanted this song and clip to be a real portrayal of what we do; our heavy blues live and loud in the garage where we spent the hours working on our music. The cameras were rolling and we nailed these tracks start to finish as if we were on stage, it may be raw and wild in places but it's real, it's us doing our thing in our element, it's pure rocknroll. We're working on a new album with Ian Haug of Powderfinger which is going to be super slick.
What is the current state of rock’n’roll in Australia as you see it? Where is it heading?
Rock'n'roll is a big umbrella which represents a lot of bands in different pockets in the underground, it's a broad genre and it seems that unless you identify with a sub-genre or scene it can be almost too obtuse to break through nowadays, maybe it's the nature of social media "pigeon-holing" everything. Especially considering the amount of new Aussie music that isn't getting played on the radio, I don't see that there's really a mainstream outlet for domestic rock bands coming out of Australia but there's always heaps of new faces popping up, there could easily be more recognition from the industry.
Rock’n’roll has always alluded to sex, drugs and danger. How does rock’n’roll even keep its identity and edge considering the cultural/political shifts and PC nature of social media in 2018? I mean, you simply can’t be an Axl Rose anymore. What is accepted and what isn’t?
As far as I can tell it's all still there, I wanted to be Kurt more than Axl anyway, maybe we're more grunge in our attitude? I see "edge" everywhere on social media, which is becoming more 'gonzo'. Teenagers listening to mumble rap, giving each other stick and poke tats overdosing on Xanax, is it becoming a little passe? All of that is for someone else, I do my drugs and enjoy single life (honestly, we're raving hedonists) but that's not the primary sales pitch of the brand, I feel like we've tried to be musicians primarily as opposed to rock'n'roll provocateurs.
What does The Royal Artillery contribute to the scene and why should we listen? What other underground Australian bands are you digging?
Royal Artillery is becoming a bit of a stalwart in the heavy blues/desert-rock scene, some bands see it as a rite of passage to play with us! It's nice to see the work and time we've put in starting to reciprocate into picking up international supports and festival opportunities. We've had a some misfortune with our releases over recent years and are really looking forward to coming back strong and putting on some fun shows around the country, working with some new bands!
Bands like Cakes and Hobo Magic, Black Rheno, even King Parrot, all killing it in the underground and now getting picked up for more mainstream opportunites. We enjoyed Walken and Waax Chattels at Big Sound but it's tough listing bands as there's so many to mention!
But look at promoters like Beats Cartel, Your Mate Bookings, Damaged / Drunk Promoter, truly independent DIY types who are running venues and festivals and bringing internationals to Australia who give bands like us the opportunity to support these tours, these guys are the gate keepers of the scene, the underground is pretty vibrant in Australia right now.
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