Photography by: Rustin McCann
Warning: If you are turned off by the following sentence, this is not a band for you.
Royal Beasts is a heavily-dynamic, groove-oriented, guitar-based, synth-friendly, melodic, instrumental, post-rock band that focuses mainly on creating an orchestral and moving experience through the use of hypnotic sound and imagery.
Still reading? Royal Beasts is about to be your favorite band to ever come out of Cleveland.
The band comes from many different musical backgrounds and previous or still ongoing projects, none of which is what we’re talking about here. Royal Beasts’ first album, a self-titled EP, is recorded mixed, mastered, and hopefully set for release in September thanks to local heavy hitter Jim Stewart and the crew over at Cauliflower Audio.
When it came time to record, the band only needed to book the studio for a day to track the album due to the set being crafted and perfected for months. The band members played live alongside each other in one room for most of the recording, as badasses do.
The album moves as a cohesive collection of moods and tempos. Touching briefly on post-rock tropes but quickly deferring into an unpredictable soundscape showcasing every member’s talents. There is no front man here. After multiple runs through the record, there is still something new to discover each listen.
That feeling is not lost watching the band perform live. Royal Beasts stayed in their rehearsal space for about a year writing and tweaking this set of songs. The patience paid off for the band at their first live performance last month at Mahall’s. While supporting two of Cleveland’s rising bands, Royal Beasts stole the show. The crowd was mesmerized and silent before exploding into applause after the final note. This was applause that felt like the result of actually being entertained, not just supporting your friends creative project.
While the Mahall’s crowd went wild over Royal Beasts, the band doesn’t exactly fit into a neat little box. Despite this, Guitarists Jason Dunlap and Will Hooper are more focused on creating a sound that people actually enjoy instead of just trying to fit in an already built-in sonic scene.
“It’s pretty accessible music, we’re not at all restricted to a genre,” Will answers without hesitation.
“I think people will find themselves being moved by the music in a way they aren’t used to, because there is no frontman coaching you,” Jason adds.
After releasing a video from a live radio studio session, the members of the band received some positive feedback which helped chart the immediate cause of action for the band. “People started reaching out to us and encouraging us to release more material and play some actual shows,” Jason says. “We knew we were ready to start pushing forward and get our name out there.”
The egg is about to crack. Royal Beasts are on a couple of locally-influential and internationally-recognized bills this summer and are already rubbing elbows with the founder of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. With the amount of talent, discipline, and proficiency that this band exhibits, the band is almost guaranteed to become bigger than most local acts.
Try not to get caught only in the melody and time changes; Royal Beasts knows exactly how to get heavy and simple. If there’s one thing this band does, it’s flirting with the differences between acceptable beauty and uncomfortable, immense chaos through the use of classic tone and carefully-processed noise. The album can serve as perfect background music, a body of work to be meticulously studied, and anywhere in between. This city is growing up musically, and Royal Beasts are the beginning of the next phase.