In 2011, Royal Blood sold 66,000 copies of their debut in Week One, making it the fastest-selling rock record since Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds came along in 2011. Today, its follow-up, How Did We Get So Dark?, is being unleashed via Warner Bros.
Naturally, the big questions revolve around sales, and just how big this already considerably huge rock band can get on their second cycle. But when Music Week sat down with label president Phil Christie to talk about the release, we went deeper than that.
Click here to revisit his comments on the potential for “global growth”, and here for frontman Mike Kerr’s comments on “breaking the rules”. Feeling refreshed? Now, read on to find out why Christie feels so connected to the band he signed when on the publishing side at Warner/Chappell, and why he believes there’s more to Royal Blood than meets the eye.
Can you describe how deep your connection is to Royal Blood?
“I have a particularly close connection to them. I found them when I was at Warner/Chappell and then when they came to Warner Bros that became the catalyst for me to move across into records. Royal Blood and I are intrinsically linked to the label because we came through at the same time. I feel incredibly close to them.”
Where do they fit in with modern rock music?
“There are clear things that set them apart as a rock band. They are a visceral live act; they just sit slightly outside of the current culture of rock music in my opinion. And that reflects the depth of their musical taste. They are not entrenched in the rock scene as individuals, in their taste or in their network. So they stand alone in that sense, and the music reflects that. At its core, this band is quite unique, both in terms of recording and the live show. That’s the USP.”
There’s already been a tie-in with Samsung during the campaign, what’s the marketing strategy this time round?
I think it’s about tasteful music facing associations, helping taking the band to a new audience online. The marketplace is hugely different from the first album. That was a Radio 1 and Zane Lowe driven campaign. The landscape is totally different this time around, because in terms of streaming, the single-track business is driven by pop and R&B records. From a record company point of view, you are getting the benefits of the amplification that a brand can provide, but you’re maintaining the integrity of the artist and their integrity in the eyes of the audience. That is key. And that is something that I have been very keen to uphold. This is Royal Blood. And brands like Samsung can help us to reach to a new audience.
What about social media, what’s the strategy there?
“A band should use social media in the most authentic way. It’s a way to communicate with your fans and that’s the most precious thing at the moment. A band doesn't need to rely on traditional media to reach their audience [now]. They can reach them directly. If it is prescriptive and it comes from a label, then it’s non-authentic and fans can see that. I think that the best artists use social media to get their personality across. That is what we are doing with Royal Blood. We are seeing more of that in this campaign. The band has this amazing camaraderie, they are great friends, they have known each other for years, they have great huge personalities as a duo and they are huge fun to be around… that’s something people are beginning to understand. That’s going to be new in this campaign. Due to the speed of the launch, the speed of the first campaign and because social media wasn’t as advanced back then, it wasn’t really there [before]. There’s still a fair amount of mystery around who Mike and Ben are. We got so far in the first campaign, really, without using one of the great assets that the band have which his the personality of the guys. We now have multiple platforms to do that.”