While Kerr has no doubt impressed countless women with his innovative multilayered electric guitar-esque bass playing, his original pastime was juggling and magic.
”I think I just like learning, really,” he says from the road as he travels down Caliifornia's Ventura Highway in the sunshine. “I like a challenge, you know, so David Blaine was a massive idol of mine when I was sort of 10 or whatever; it seemed like every other week on TV, he was doing something mad — not just the stunts, the card magic as well, which no one really talks about.”
During lockdown, Kerr decided to pick up the cards again.
“I’m glad I stuck to the music,” he says, laughing.
Royal Blood, made up of Kerr and longtime drummer Ben Thatcher, are scheduled to return to North Texas on Friday, May 13, for a performance at the South Side Ballroom at Gilley's with special guest Cleopatrick.
Last year, the duo released Typhoons, their third full-length LP and third consecutive No.1 record in their native England. The band recently completed a U.K. tour which saw them filling out arenas. Kerr says the comparatively smaller U.S. tour is going well, but audiences are a bit different across the pond.
“I think I find that the audiences listen a little bit more intently in the U.S. and are less rowdy,” he says. “There's a lot of haze up on that stage. It’s hard to tell sometimes.”
During the initial planning stages for what would eventually become Typhoons, the duo recorded with producer Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, one of Kerr’s favorite bands. The sessions yielded three songs: “King,” “Space” and “Boilermaker,” yet only the latter made it onto the final track listing, with the former two eventually ending up as B-sides tacked onto the deluxe edition of the album.
"I think in finding something unique, you have to blend and take from multiple influences, and that's what Typhoons is. It's about bringing things into your world rather than just adopting another world that isn’t yours.” – Mike Kerr
Why would two-thirds of the material Kerr recorded with one of his favorite musicians be relegated to bonus-track purgatory?
“I had changed quite dramatically as a person,” he says, in reference to his decision to get sober prior to the recording of Typhoons. “I turned my life around, and some of the new music that I was writing was a much more accurate reflection of who I was at the time than some of those other songs. And it's about making a cohesive piece of body of work, you know, rather than just putting everything you've created onto one record.”
After his sessions with Homme were complete and COVID hit, Kerr resorted to recording a series of self-produced demos, many of which became the actual tracks, resulting in Typhoons becoming Royal Blood’s first fully self-produced record, aside from “Boilermaker.”
“Self-producing isn't something we ever really intended to do,” Kerr says. “It's just something we've always done. We co-produced our first two records, so it's always been a part of the band. It always depends on the music and the songs and sort of where we're at. I don't think we like to make decisions beforehand — we want to let the music kind of guide us really and tell us what we need to do or where we need to go.”
Typhoons also betrays Kerr’s abundant interest in electronic dance music, with the band’s tight walls of overdriven bass and drums spiraling together in fierce disco grooves. As to whether or not the band will pursue dance music further on future albums, Kerr says the door is always open, but he has no plans to commit to any one style.
“I mean, there's no rules,” he says. “We can do whatever we want. That's what's great about this job. Um, however, I think going full anything is generally not something that we're into. I think in finding something unique, you have to blend and take from multiple influences, and that's what Typhoons is. It's about bringing things into your world rather than just adopting another world that isn’t yours.”