If you don’t know them already, The Royal Gala are a 4-piece indie pop band based right here in Adelaide. The band consists of Luc Thomas (guitar / lead vocals), Alex Kropf (guitar / vocals), Sam Miller (bass / vocals) and Nathan Harrison (drums). Having played gigs with bands from all around Australia and recently released a new single, you’ll want to keep an eye out for these guys. We had a chat to Luc and Nathan about the band’s influences, successes, the new single and what’s coming next for The Royal Gala.
When did The Royal Gala form?
Luc: Straight out of high school in 2011 Alex and I would busk around as a bit of extra cash, then we realized that we actually enjoyed playing together and writing songs. So at some point when we worked up enough original songs, we decided to ask a restaurant in Glenelg if we could play there and they gave us a weekly spot and we went from there really. Then we decided to expand when the songs we were writing needed a bit more.
Nathan: I came along in early 2013. I knew Luc and Alex a little bit, and had been to watch them play gigs as a duo. We’d joked about me bringing drums along for a while, as something to expand the sound of the acoustic guitars and vocals. When we finally gave it a shot, I think it worked pretty well. They’ve kept me around since.
Luc: Then we added Sammy on bass in 2014 and have performed as a 4-piece since.
Where’d the band name come from?
Luc: Well Alex used to stick little apple stickers on his first acoustic guitar and when we’d play, people would ask us why we had all the apple stickers. So when we were trying to think of a name we thought we could maybe take the apple angle and run with it; he’s since got a new guitar so it doesn’t make much sense any more…people always ask us if The Royal Gala is our favourite apple but personally I’m a pink lady man; I just don’t think we could pull off being called "The Pink Ladies.”
Who are your musical influences / inspirations?
Nathan: They’re everywhere. The guys will pretend that all I listen to is pop-punk or post-hardcore… which is only partially true. Lots of my training and passion has been in jazz, funk, theatre – Sam and I play a drum solo live that really came out of a duo feature we used to play in a big band Latin standard. So the inspiration comes widely and from across the genres I love.
Luc: Yeah we listen to everything, we originally drew influences from artists like The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, The Kooks and Neil Young and we still try to get the balance between our musical interests in pop, indie and folk with maybe a bit of Nath’s influence in there, because all he listens to is pop-punk or post-hardcore.
What would you say is the band’s biggest success to date?
Nathan: I’ve had so much fun whenever we’ve played – but some cool gigs with some really great bands from across Australia when they’ve been in Adelaide really stick out. I hope the times keep coming.
Luc: Yeah just playing with some of the bands we've played with has been great, we had a bit of success with a couple of tracks charting on the unearthed page a few years ago too. Also Nathan will want me to mention this, we supported a band called 5 Seconds of Summer a few years ago now which was by far our largest gig, I'm not sure if you can call that a success but it was certainly a great experience to play to that many people.
You recently released a new single, Something In The Water. What’s it all about?
Luc: Ok here we go. The song is from the point of view of someone who isn’t dealing with a break up very well at all. He can’t live without the other person and can’t understand why she doesn’t feel the same; which ultimately culminates in a murder and creepily he comments after the fact that she “Looks so beautiful when [her] eyes are closed.” Yeah the theme is creepy but it suits the dark style of the track I feel. And if you think it’s creepy you should have seen my girlfriend at the time I wrote this song’s reaction. I should clarify that I have no murderous tendencies.
Can you describe your song-writing process? Does the creative process differ depending on the song you’re writing?
Luc: For me the process is always music first and then lyrics later. I'll usually have a load of verse ideas and a load of chorus ideas knocking about and sometimes they'll fit together, I then like to loop the progressions until I come up with better melodies and riffs. I think Alex does it slightly differently and his lyrics have always been better than mine so I think he puts more effort into that. But we're lucky in that we can come to each other with song ideas and because we've played together for a while we can hear what the other is trying to do and add our own parts and harmonies and so on.
Nathan: In terms of then adding the band parts that I play, sometimes Luc will have a new song with an idea of a particular drum pattern or vibe that can be very general or very specific – and often that will serve as the foundation. Sam is an incredible drummer, very highly trained and so musical (he’s just too polite to have kicked me off the stool yet), so his advice and ideas help my processes to no end. Having said that though, especially in the early days, there were songs that I hadn’t even heard until we were playing them on a stage – so lots of “just play along!” happened instantaneously and lots of it actually stuck.
How would you describe the current Adelaide music scene?
Nathan: Always punching above its weight. But with the small city environment, supportive and laid-back.
Luc: Yeah it has its ups and downs, you have to love places like The Crown and Anchor, The Exeter and The Ed Castle and others that don't require you to sell tickets to play there. Places that require you to charge a door fee when you play are limiting themselves to two groups of artists, established local artists who have a large fan base or smaller artists who have to take advantage of their friends and family's support by making them pay $10+ to a venue who will inevitably see more money from the gig than anyone playing will. A band that’s just starting out can’t command a crowd when they’re being forced to charge people for the privilege of seeing an unpolished product, so there needs to be a better understanding across some venues of the uneven nature of a local music scene; bands are at different levels.
Outside that though there are some phenomenal Adelaide bands playing across all genres, we’ve supported and been supported by some excellent musicians that just haven’t had a chance to go further; get out and see a local band!
What can we expect in future from The Royal Gala?
Luc: You can expect some more catchy choruses and fun songs, I think we’re going to try and go back to our roots as a feel good band now that we’ve dabbled in murder songs and hopefully we can get some of those new tracks recorded and listened to.
All images via The Royal Gala's Facebook page.