John Thornley is the lead singer of U.S. Royalty, a local DC band with a loyal fan base. He brings an energy and a passion for what he does to every show. He spoke with us about their upcoming album MIRRORS and some of the artists who have inspired him musically.
Q: So your next album, MIRRORS, is still in production. You said it has a "desert feel" to it, what do you mean by that and when do you expect it to be released?
A: This will be our first full-length release. It definitely has a travel vibe to it. We wrote the album during and after about a year and a half of traveling. As far as the desert feel, it has a western vibe flowing through parts of it. We enjoy alot of old cowboy flicks and I would say Ennio Morricone's soundtracks were definitely inspirational. We are hoping to release it mid to late October, 2010.
Q: Who does most of the writing in the band and what's the process?
A: Most of the songs start out with a guitar line my brother has or a melody I have. Then we'll work on it together until we get some sort of song out of it. We'll take that to the rest of the guys, jam it out a bit, then start to test it out live. A few times at our space we intend to work on a certain song but then start jamming and end up writing a new song. That doesn't happen all the time but those songs come the fastest. I'd say about half of the songs on the album though were recorded first, in some fashion, then were played live later.
Q: What's it been like working with producer Gus Oberg? How did you connect with him and can you tell us a little bit about him?
A: We met him over a year and a half ago. Jake had reached out to him about recording, though at the time we weren't ready to do the album. Fast forward to this past winter, we had alot of new material we were working through and were ready to have him man the helm of recording this batch of new songs. I'm sure google can tell more particular details about his work, but we have really enjoyed working with him so far and really feel he has helped us capture the sound we were going for on this project.
Q: U.S. Royalty is set to play an upcoming fashion event in DC, Fri., Sept. 10th what are the details for those who'd like to attend?
A: It's a Fashion Night Out event on Sept. 10th at the Neiman Marcus Gallerie. It's being sponsored by the L'Enfant Society.
Q: You mentioned that your grandfather was a blues man, how did this inspire you artistically? And what artists in particular have influenced you?
A: I think just hearing that as I grew up and thinking to myself that this sounded like it had feeling and importance. You hear alot of different music growing up, alot of which you are running the other way from but can't escape because your a kid. The blues stuck with me even today as I continue to listen and write music, as a benchmark for what I think is cool and of importance. Some artists in particular that have influenced me...Fleetwood Mac, Mark Kozelek, Lee Hazlewood, Led Zeppelin, The Zombies.
Q: When asked what your favorite venue is so far you mentioned both the 9:30 Club in DC and Pianos in New York, for very different reasons. Can you tell why you liked them so much?
A: I really enjoy the room on the stage at 930 club and the sound is incredible. We've played there twice now and I feel I can really let go there and get lost in the music. Pianos on the other hand is a very small stage, there's no room for your gear and the sound probably won't be that great. But talking with people in NYC, they enjoy going to see bands at that venue. Maybe because it's easy to get to and it's familiar but I just know that I would want to play at a place that people enjoy coming to. Makes it easier to get them to come to your show. And our last gig there was packed and had a good mix of old friends and new faces so i really enjoyed the vibe that night.
Q: Can you tell us about your collaboration with Phil Ade and Alex Goose; and can we look forward to more in the future?
A: Alex helped write two tracks on our new album. We collaborated over email and have had him up to our studio at Gold Leaf. The thing with Phil and Alex is more hip hop based and is separate from what we do with USR. All I can say at this point is yes, there will be more in the future.
Q: What's your favorite thing to do in DC?
A: Well when I'm in town I enjoy spending time at our studio in Chinatown playing ping pong and music. Otherwise having a drink at The Gibson, crashing pools around town, or going to house parties are some things that are sure to be a good time in DC.