The Australian four-piece garage-rock band Royal Headache cram massive amounts of exuberance and passion into each and every minute of their self-titled debut album. The band often sounds as if it's on the verge of self-combustion.
“When I started writing riffs for the band, I was mainly inspired by what happened on Thursday and Friday nights in the city,” says the band's guitarist, Law. That's it -- Law. The other members are Shogun, the singer, Joe, the bassist and Shorty, the drummer.
Law adds, “It was a really fun period, so I was just trying to write riffs that matched what was going on in my life.”
Those must have been wild nights because most of the band's '70's-punk-infused songs maintain a terrifyingly breakneck pace, and tell tales of barroom glory and broken hearts.
Before Royal Headache, the band members played in numerous bands on Sydney's hardcore and punk music scenes, and according to Law, they have collectively been in over 20 bands. “We grew up going to shows together,” says Law. “And there has been so much excellent music coming out of Australia in the past couple of years, so we have always had a healthy amount of bands to play with.”
They formed Royal Headache in 2008 and began writing the songs that would eventually appear on their debut album.
Not a trace of fat remains on “Royal Headache.” Recorded by Mikey Young and Owen Penglis of likeminded Australian rock groups Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control and Straight Arrows, and released in the United States on What's Your Rupture?, the band slams through 12 songs in 26 minutes.
The defiant recklessness of the band members' punk past is evident, but the rough edges have been replaced with the smooth shine of modern power pop. Most interesting is singer Shogun's affinity for 1960s American soul and R&B music. Even on rambunctious anthems like “Psychotic Episode” and “Girls,” where the music pushes you straight off the edge of a cliff, Shogun soulfully quivers and croons as often as he barks and screams.
Royal Headache's unique combination of compact pop, classic soul, garage-rock and untamed punk caught the ears of Grammy-winning American blues-rock band The Black Keys, who invited the quartet to tour with them for a series of Australian dates later this year. This time around, the band will be playing large festivals and stadiums, which is a far cry from the first time they toured their native country.
“We traveled with about 13 people spread over two cars,” says Law. “I remember being really out of tune for the majority of the tour, and I totally forgot how to play our song 'Eloise' in Melbourne.”
Elliott Sharp wants you to follow him on Twitter @elliottsharp.