Interview with The Royalty

Photo: Yasmin Marquez

El Paso-based rockers The Royalty have been garnering critical acclaim since the 2012 release of their latest studio album, ‘Lovers.’ The quintet signed with Victory Records in November 2011, providing the label with an injection of soulful indie rock flavor. Nothing but down-to-earth, the group took the time to chat with us before soundcheck at Austin’s own intimate venue Club DeVille. We discussed their sound, how it feels to amass praise from the likes of the New York Times, and the cool cities that you may not necessarily think would be cool. Check it out below.

How did you all come to meet each other?

Nicole Boudreau: Well, you guys met first. [points to Jesus Apodaca and Daniel Marin]

Jesus: Yeah, I met Dan when I was in middle school and Dan was in high school. We were in bands. And I met this guy [nods to Mike Hernandez] in driving school. Then, I met Joel [Quintana], who is on drums. And then I met Nicole! And then we made a band together.

Was there a tryout process or anything? Or was it something like, “Oh, you can sing, come chill out with us?”

Nicole: I did kind of have a tryout.

Jesus: Yeah, kind of.

Nicole: Basically, I showed up and they gave me a mixtape of what they had without a singer, like just instrumental tracks, and I listened to it. I was all scared when I showed up to the practice and they didn’t even say a word and then I left.

Jesus: We gave you a tape of songs? I don’t remember that.

Nicole: Yes! I wish I still had it. I might have it.

You can get nostalgic and listen to it in your van going to the next show and see how far you guys have come along.

Nicole: [laughs] Yeah!

Now, you guys are known as a “little startup band from Texas,” so how does it feel to garner such high praise from the likes of the New York Times, Alternative Press, and MTV?

Nicole: It is really surreal. I still haven’t really processed it. I’ve heard our songs on shows on MTV and it doesn’t really click. I think it’s going to take like a year and then I’ll look back on it and be like, “Oh my gosh! That’s really weird.” But, the New York Times thing was huge for us. We were in New York when we first read that and it was just the most flattering thing that’s ever happened in my life.

Joel: It was your first time in New York too.

Nicole: It was our first day in New York and I opened the Times and I was like, “Oh my gosh!”

It’s like they knew! They were welcoming you.

Nicole: Yeah! It was the best memory ever.

You’re influenced by ’60s girl bands and ’70s R&B singers, which is an eclectic combination. Do you think that’s why people enjoy your music and your sound so much? Because it’s so different from what’s often played now.

Nicole: I think it is a weird combination of things, so maybe we span a lot of genres that maybe pull a lot of people in, because some people like different aspects of the music. I think it works to our benefit, being eclectic like that. And it is a little different because we don’t exactly fit on a rack yet. And so they don’t know where to put us, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Daniel: We don’t know where to put us either. We never know how to describe our music.

That’s not a bad thing! And like you said, you can span a lot of different genres that way. It’s kind of like with your record label, Victory Records, because they have more of a “Warped Tour crowd” and that was what actually got us interested because you guys were so different from the rest of the label. Do people think it’s strange that you signed with them?

Joel: Yeah.

Daniel: It takes them a second to wrap their minds around it, but we’re happy with where we are. And as long as we get to make the music the way we want to, which this label really lets us do, then it’s cool.

Definitely. At least they’re not trying to change you.

Daniel: Right! Nor would they ever want to.

Jesus: I mean, they gave me these clothes. So, yeah, they dress me.

Well, that’s okay. Free clothes!

Jesus: I have to pay for it. Full retail.

No sale or anything? That’s not as cool.

Everyone: [laughs]

Anyway, so you guys have an album out called ‘Lovers.’ What song would you say, on that album, would be the one you use to introduce yourself to new fans?

Jesus: That’s kind of like what we were talking about earlier — it’s hard to choose. You listen to one song and you think the rest will sound that way, but they’re all different.

Nicole: I was thinking “I Want You” and I think that’s a good one just because it does kind of encompass our sound with mixing soul on top of a rock base. It has a rock and roll foundation with soul on top of it. At least, that’s how I explain it.

You always read the reviews and wonder what the critics are thinking, but with you guys I see why they have such praise for you.

Nicole: Thank you!

You’re from Texas, so you obviously know all the cool stuff to do here, but have you found anywhere that’s really cool elsewhere while touring?

Daniel: We had a great time in Kansas City.

Nicole: Oh yeah, Kansas City is a trip!

Jesus: It’s really pretty.

Mike: They’ve got a lot of cool record stores and cool t-shirt shops that we went to. Cool coffee shops and…

Jesus: Oh, you’re thinking of Omaha!

Mike: Was it?

Jesus: Yeah, you’re thinking of Omaha.

Mike: Well, that was in Omaha. [laughs]

Nicole: Omaha is cool too!

Daniel: We always have a good time in Akron, OH.

Jesus: Yeah, that’s true.

Nicole: There are a lot of little cities out there that you wouldn’t expect there to be such strong music support, but you find it.

It is kind of shocking to hear places like Ohio and Kansas City.

Mike: Right?

I was thinking more like California — you know, the usual.

Daniel: Well, of course, we love California! And we love New York.

You guys played last year’s SXSW and we all know it’s this crazy animal where no one really knows what they’re doing, but do you think you’re going to tackle it again this year?

Nicole: Yeah, we’ll be here.

Daniel: Yeah, our agent is working on our shows, so we’ll be here with our white van in the sea of other white vans.

Well, hopefully we’ll see you there. And, for my last question, your album came out last May, so have you been working on anything new that you can tell us about?

Nicole: Right now, we’re just still working on touring this one. So we haven’t started yet. It’s all about exposure and trying to work with what we have.

I understand that. There’s always a band that comes out with something every single year, and fans don’t have the time to soak in the last album.

Joel: We’re still trying to get people to listen to this one!

Well, I’m sure they’re going to start listening.

Nicole: Thank you!

Pick up The Royalty’s latest album, Lovers.

For the band’s upcoming tour dates, check out their Facebook page.