Brooklyn, NY’s Royal Psalms have released their Rise Records debut EP, I Could Have Been Anything on iTunes. The band features former Daytrader guitarist Gary Cioni, Crime In Stereo bassist Eric Fairchild, Aficionado vocalist Nick Warchol and drummer Joseph Ruotolo.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Warchol to discuss the record. This is what he told us.
How does Royal Psalms differ from your previous projects?
For me, Royal Psalms is a little more straight forward than projects I’ve been a part of in the past. My last band, Aficionado, always tried to do the unexpected. We always wanted to challenge the listener. Royal Psalms focuses a lot more on the songs themselves. We’re not trying to challenge anyone by being overly technical or intricate. We really just want to connect with people by writing good hook-filled songs. Royal Psalms is, simply put, a band for the people.
When did you begin writing the material for your most recent album?
This project took a minute to get off the ground. We began writing material for the I Could Have Been Anything EP in the summer of 2013. The songwriting process was actually very quick and smooth. There was almost immediate musical chemistry between the people involved in this project. It was the recording process that ended up taking a little while, just because we all had a bunch of crazy stuff going on in our lives last year. This past winter we finally got our shit together and finished it. I think it was worth the wait because we’re all really stoked about these songs and the way the recording came out.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing?Why was it so troublesome?
I don’t think any particular song was difficult to record or mix. We’re professionals here. Haha. If I had to pick one, for me, I guess the song “Anything” was difficult…only because I changed my idea for the verse melody like a hundred times before finally landing on one that I really loved. Sometimes when you write a melody, and you sing it for a while, that melody becomes engrained in your head, and it’s difficult to stray away from, even if you don’t really like it. I remember driving in my car every day for a month blasting the instrumental track for “Anything” hoping something good would just come to me. Finally, the skies opened up, a beam of light shined down, and it came to me.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
At one point I think we totally rewrote the song “Slow Horse”. So, that song is totally different from the way we originally conceptualized it. I think we wrote the original bones for that song at one of our first band practices ever. We ended up scrapping a lot from that practice, but there were parts from that song that we felt really good about. So, we re-visited it months later and rewrote a much cooler version of it.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
Yeah, actually. There aren’t any real celebrity appearances or anything. But Chris Kehoe, who was the bassist in Aficionado, wrote and recorded lead guitar parts for five of the six songs. Chris Curtin, a musician I’ve known for a long time who’s played a bunch of cool bands from the area, recorded and wrote leads on 1 song. And Craig Dutra, who played keyboard in Aficionado, wrote and recorded a little slide guitar part on the song “Stagnant Water.”
Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
This record wasn’t any sort of big time crazy production. Most of it was recorded in our practice space in Brooklyn with Robert Cheeseman. He brought his gear in, and over the course of several months, we met up a bunch of times and hashed it out. I’m sure Robert did some producing. Craig Dutra did some producing on my vocals. But for the most part, I’d say it was self produced. We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to the songs to sound like and we just went for it. Maybe on the full length we’ll seek out the services of a producer, but we haven’t planned that far in advance.
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
The record is called I Could Have Been Anything. The overarching concept behind the majority of the lyrics is regret. Thinking back on choices you’ve made throughout your life. Thinking back on the different paths you chose to take. Thinking back and wondering how your life would have turned out if you had done things differently. If you had followed through on all the things you talked about wanting to become. On all the plans you had for yourself when you were young and hopeful about the future. A bunch of heavy stuff, ya know.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
We’ve just begun to play these songs live. So, it’s tough to really say at this point. We played our first show last week, and we’ve got a handful of shows scheduled in the upcoming months. I’m really looking forward to playing these shows and having a better answer for you! Hopefully the answer will be “all of them.”
(Catch Royal Psalms live:
5/28: Amityville, NY @ Amityville Music Hall w/ Fireworks, Turnover, Sorority Noise
5/29: New York, NY @ Webster Hall Studio
w/ Fireworks, Turnover, Sorority Noise
5/30: Cambridge, MA @ Middle East w/ Fireworks, Turnover, Sorority Noise)