Band of the Week: Royal Beasts

Band of the Week: Royal Beasts
Rustin McCann

MEET THE BAND: Will Hooper (guitar), Jason Dunlap (guitar, synthesizers), Alec Schumann (drums, synthesizers), Jeff Motika (bass)

NOT YOUR TYPICAL POST-ROCK BAND: Dunlap and Motika began thinking of forming a band together several years ago and had the notion of delving into the post-rock genre. For a few months, they played with various drummers and guitarists. "It went nowhere and felt derivative and boring," says Dunlap, who says he then spent a year or so just writing and not playing. When he ran into Hooper at a Lakewood bar, they talked about instrumental music and their interests in playing that style of music. Last year, Hooper said he had recruited Schumann to join them and wanted to jam. "We had such a great musical connection," says Dunlap when asked about that initial session. "The band formed, and we sat in a room for nine months and wrote and played and wrote and played." The group performed its first public show this past July.

A ONE-DAY SESSION: The band recorded the songs for its new self-titled album in a single day. "We didn't even tell anyone we were in a band," says Dunlap. "We knew we weren't ready and didn't want to just show up playing long instrumental songs without any context." They recorded with local producer Jim Stewart, who guided the 13-hour session. The digital version of the disc came out in August. Eventually, it will come out on vinyl. For the live show, the band hauls an assortment of gear onto stage, and Schumann comes up with abstract videos that he triggers with a foot switch.

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: "Farm Wisdom," the opening track on Royal Beasts, starts with softly humming synthesizers and a delicate guitar riff that becomes much louder after the band adds clashing cymbals to the mix. "That song was the one floating around when Jeff and I took the band to other people," says Dunlap. "I had written it to a soundtrack for a film that I was working on. It hung around. I didn't know what to do with it. Then, when Alec and Will and I got into a room to talk about the songs we had, I played that for them, and they gravitated to it. It was the first song we finished. I cringe when I think about how melancholy most post-rock bands are. We wear masks in photo shoots because we're tired of seeing band photos featuring four white dudes look sullen."


WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Royal Beasts perform with Key to the Mint and Slug Fest at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Happy Dog.

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About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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