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Royal Thunder are currently dealing with a stalker. In the Atlanta band's case, the culprit isn't a human being they could press charges against, but rather a trio of numbers that has long followed them into the strangest corners. "Right before we left on tour, I had to go get a tag for the van. My ticket number to wait in line was 106. I recently bought some tubes for my amplifiers, and the total was $106. Yeah, it's crazy. It's everywhere, man," guitarist Josh Weaver says, citing just two of the many examples.
"I don't know what it means," he adds. "All I know is that it's pretty cool. Like I tell everybody, it keeps me on my toes and keeps life kind of interesting."
Weaver's way of discussing this peculiar phenomenon exemplifies how much he tends to analyze things (i.e., not very much). He's fascinated enough by this mystery that his band's recently released debut record is titled CVI (106 in Roman numerals), but he hasn't come up with any theories as to why the numbers keep popping up or what they ultimately represent. He doesn't have much to say about such topics as his band's specific influences, what he'd alter about his group or why there's been a proliferation of highly respected metal bands stemming from Georgia since the early 2000s (Baroness, Kylesa and Torche among them)—a class Royal Thunder will likely join in time. He speaks good-naturedly in the short, straightforward sentences of a guy who is more interested in the act of rocking than any of music's other trappings.
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While Weaver's feet are planted on Earth, the band's sound drifts much further upward. Royal Thunder craft mountainous, doomy-but-not-doomed sludge metal that has a palpable hard-rock aftertaste. Come to think of it, "royal thunder" is a good descriptor of their rugged-but-rich sound. "I hear the comparison that we're a '70s-throwback band. More than anything, I do love the tones of the guitars, and I do go after some of those tones," Weaver says, mentioning the importance of standards such as those performed by Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Black Sabbath.
Meanwhile, the key vocal element comes from Mlny (pronounced "Melanie") Parsonz, who roars with a headstrong, elastic voice that would ace a Joan Jett karaoke competition. Aside from being Royal Thunder's vocalist and bassist, Parsonz also happens to be Weaver's wife. "It's always been one of those things where when we're playing in a band, we're playing in a band," he says, "and when we're not, we're doing our thing."
"Doing our thing" sums up Royal Thunder's m.o. When they formed around 2004, they were all instrumental. Since Parsonz joined, they are no longer all instrumental. Details about the group can be pleasantly condensed to facts without elaboration, which probably sits fine with a man who has relatively simple goals for his band's future. "Honestly, at this point, we're just very content and happy with where we're at," Weaver says. "The main thing I want to see is us get on big tours and long tours so that we can travel the country."
Of course, the length of their first epic tour will probably be 106 days.
This article appeared in print as "All Rock, No Talk: Royal Thunder create a bold sound that prefers to not be overanalyzed."