The Dirty Royals
'God Save The Queen ... Please!!'
Contrary to popular mythology, the cheeky moniker adopted by the British-U.S. hybrid band The Dirty Royals has nothing to do with the bathing habits of Queen Elizabeth or Prince Charles.
In fact, fans who are fast catching on to the foursome's brilliant three part harmonies and West Coast meets UK, punk royalty dirtying it up with straight ahead rock vibe — described by one tastemaker as The Buzzcocks meet the Beach Boys — may also be surprised to realize that “dirty” in the U.K. has more to it then just sex.
The edgy yet cool, powerful yet ultra-danceable sounds created by Oxford born and bred brothers Simon (lead vocals, lead guitar) and Matt Williams (rhythm guitar, vocals), Jimmy Martin (bass, vocals) and L.A. drummer Keith Tenenbaum are a better fit for the modern Brit interpretation of the word—that is, irreverent, down and dirty, the way rock used to be before a corporate, cookie cutter mentality stormed the music business.
“We've always liked band names with contradictions, or which juxtapose two ideas which at first seem opposite – like sweet vocals and dirty guitars” says Matt. “Rock and roll by nature is down and dirty, insolent when it's engaging in full freedom of expression. It's also the name of a cocktail.”
Launching a career with a five song EP may seem like a modest way to encourage a post-millennial British invasion, but the five tracks on Obsessed America may be the most intense, happy, raging and soulful 17 minutes in indie rock history. The album cover—featuring four Royal Guardsmen standing before an image of the American flag—and title might invoke the idea of a full-on political statement, but actually, the songs vary between social consciousness and very personal storytelling.
Chatting recently with both Simon and Matt Williams, and mentioning that when a band comes with a John Peel quote attached (as they do!) stating that they were one of his all-time favorite bands, I first wondered if there could be any better launch pad?! "John was a real legend and a true champion of innovative and exciting music. It was, and continues to be, a huge thrill for us that he loved our music so much. We ended up recording 5 sessions for his BBC radio show - in the same studios where everyone from Bing Crosby, through The Beatles to Coldplay have recorded. John really went above and beyond the call of duty to support us and we are enormously grateful to him. Like everyone, we miss him very much."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying your upcoming 'Obsessed America' EP, how would you yourself describe your sound? "The sound of the Beach Boys getting beaten up at a Dead Kennedys concert."
Your EP title 'Obsessed America' is an interesting choice, but perhaps it originates from a more personal standpoint for you? "Having spent last summer in California, Obsessed America worked for us on a number of levels; personally, lyrically and politically. We love America but are increasingly peturbed by the fact that the media in America are obsessed with only American issues and often the most trivial. Should we really care where Paris Hilton last went to the bathroom, when there are bigger issues in the world?"
"The rest of the world - Britain in particular - is also obsessed with America. But rather than taking all the things that actually make America the fantastic country it is, the world apes the worst excesses. Fast food, disregard for the environment and an unhealthy obsession with instant fame at any price."
"Politcally, we are uncomfortable with the direction that Blair and Bush are leading both our countries. Blair's obsession with Dubya seems pretty unhealthy too."
If there was one track on 'Obsessed America' that truly encapsulated The Dirty Royals at their musical and lyrical finest, which one would it be? "Lyrically, the track 'CIA' is representative in that it puts elements of a personal relationship in a wider social context. It talks about the way that both our governments are clamping down on our civil liberties. Everyone is assumed to be guilty of something. In doing so, our governments are acting like jealous lovers, rifling through their partner's texts and emails behind their backs. This is a huge turnoff in any relationship, so no-one should be surprised when voting turnouts are down."
"Musically, 'CIA' is a 3 minute pop song that takes you from raw, hysterical energy through to a luscious and reflective coda. You really need to check out a show to sample all the delights at the Dirty Royals all-you-can-eat buffet."
Has your band name ever gotten you any weird, unwarranted comments back in England? "Not really - in fact most people think it's a cool name. The royal family are the best comedy act this country has produced, so it's hard to take it all that seriously."
Noting that some of you come from Oxford in the UK, what landmark is the town famous for ... and have you ever been there yourself? "Oxford is probably most famous for the University, but we didn't get the grades. If you're ever in Oxford, check out the Pitt-Rivers."
What happened in-between August of last year and May of this one that caused such a change in the band? "When our original drummer failed to get a visa to come to America in August we had to recruit a new drummer at very short notice. Happily our paths crossed with Keith Tenenbaum, who is an amazing drummer and a really cool guy. He is now our full-time drummer and brings his own special magic and personality to the music."
"Also, we learned a lot from the people we have been fortunate enough to work with over the past few months and we were inspired by all the experiences we had. There is a much more positive attitude to life in California than in most parts of Britain and this is definitely reflected in the new material we have written."
"Believe me, that Californian sunshine is a pretty potent catalyst!"
It's been quoted that Simon was shot by a passing motorist outside a pub in 2000 ... was this on purpose or by pure accident?! "Just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
What '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today if asked ... and why?! "80's AND cheesy? How about "How Can We Be Lovers" by Michael Bolton? I gather that the argument he's singing about was caused by his tendency to hog the remote!"
Lastly, I like Penguins ... do you?! "Of course! What's not to like? Mind you, we prefer Catwomen!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of The Dirty Royals' brand new CD, just answer this easy question: Back in 2000, Simon, Matt and Jimmy were all the rage in Great Britain as a hot indie band dubbed by some as the “next Oasis” and with a name that was again very European ... but what was that other band name that they had before The Dirty Royals?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great new and AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before August 1st with your answer and the subject title 'DIRTY ROYALS SIGNED CDs' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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