The Royal They
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The Royal They

Band Rock

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


Here on campus, music usually doesn't take center stage. When you're competing with a nationally recognized football team and a basketball team that just beat fifth-ranked Connecticut, it's no wonder why. A look beneath the surface layer of buff and bronzed athletes, however, reveals an oft-overlooked area of Notre Dame talent. Although athletic prowess may not be their forté, there is a self-described "hefty and awkward" group of guys who can hold their own when it comes to guitars and drums. The band, The Royal They, consists of four members from Fisher and Alumni Halls: Drew Baumgartner on guitar, Bucket Cullen on bass, Phil Hewett on drums, and Nick "Husky" Williams, the token sex idol in the group and occasional lead vocalist. Scene Music Critic Julie Bender recently got to sit down with these guys to shed some light on the mysterious campus music scene:

Q. Your band has an interesting name, The Royal They. How did you guys decide upon this name for the group?
Bucket: It was a long process. It doesn't actually mean anything, but it took months to decide on a name. A bunch of ideas were thrown around - Optimus Prime Time, Push for Green - that sounded to political.
Husky: The Royal They was the name nobody hated. (laughs) The name I would have picked, though, is still St. Nick and the Baby Shakers.

Q. As far as musicians go, the Beatles were self-taught, and Moby is classically trained. Where on the spectrum do you guys fall with your musical backgrounds?
Bucket: I've been playing bass for a couple years now. I took a few lessons to get started, but now I mostly just play what I hear on CDs.
Drew: When I was starting out on guitar I took lessons, but now I've started to give lessons to other people.
Phil: (Counting on his fingers) I've been drumming for 12 years - started taking lessons when I was in 4th grade.
Husky: Well, I'm classically trained in opera singing (laughs). Nah, I sang in choirs in high school, just amateur things like that. I would like to point out, however, the rest of these guys are incredible on their instruments - enormously talented.

Q. How would you describe the type of music you play?
Bucket: I would describe it like a good mixed tape - you know, songs that are recognizable, but not overplayed.

Husky: Yeah, it's a lot of classic rock stuff mixed with songs recognizable from our middle school days.

Q. Do you write your own music at all? If so, how would you describe those songs?
Bucket: We've got a handful of originals and more on the way. It's got a different sound to it, but it's enjoyable.
Husky: It's eclectic, to say the least. I'd even say there are some blues overtones in it.

Q. Who are your musical influences?
Bucket: My big three are Primus, Bela Fleck, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers
Drew: Dickey Betts and David Gilmore
Phil: Carter Beauford of DMB, Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Tony Williams from Miles Davis' band. That guy invented fusion - he's awesome.
Husky: Mine would be Ella Fitzgerald, Britney Spears and X-tina.

Q. So, what music are you guys listening to now? What's on your turntable?
Phil: Red Hot Chili Peppers, the new Incubus, and the new Perfect Circle with Danny Carey on drums.
Bucket: I've been listening to a lot of Van Morrison lately.
Husky: Nick Drake, The Junior Varsity
Drew: Bread (momentary silence, then whole group laughs.)

Q. You're playing at Legends tonight, but where else have you played gigs before?
Bucket: Mostly off-campus parties and stuff like that.
Drew: We played at Stepan Center for the Relay For Life.
Phil: Also, last semester we did a show at Legends playing with ND Professor Don Savoie. It was a cool experience. He's a great musician.

Q. What do you think of the Notre Dame music scene?
Drew: Pretty bad. Personally, I saw people more interested in music and more talented in high school than here. What I like to say about Notre Dame is that "people don't know what they like, they like what they know."
Bucket: It's not as big of a scene as some other schools but there are some groups doing some pretty cool stuff here.
Husky: It's tough, because the nature of the school isn't conducive to bands. It's tough scheduling and finding time to practice. You do find some good campus bands, though, like Sudsberry Shore. They're really good.

Q. Are you guys serious about the future of the band? Do you think you'll stay together for the long haul?
Bucket: Well, we haven't even been together for a year yet...
Drew: Yeah, our equipment was locked in a closet for a few months there.
Bucket: We have discussed possibly putting together a demo tape and seeing what the response would be. We're open about it.
Husky: I'm graduating this year, but I'll be living in South Bend or Chicago, so I'll still be in the area to keep playing with these guys. This summer we may try to get together for Summerfest in Milwaukee. Three of us will be around here, but unfortunately Phil will be back in - The Notre Dame Observer


Discography

Self Titled Demo, Tracks including:
1. My 23rd Problem
2. You can't Tackle Jerome Bettis
3. Lonestar
4. Tricycle Knees
5. The Ballad of Wendy Peffercorn
6. Hey, Requiem

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

The best way to describe the band, as a whole, is to break down each member's individual influences and imagine how they'd combine together. Phil, our drummer, is a jazz drummer at heart, learning many jazz standards. He refined his contemporary style by practicing Chili Peppers licks. Recently he's been perfecting styles similar to Carter Beauford and Abraham Laborial, Jr.
Husky, our vox man, honed his craft by MCing a local karaoke in his home town. While there, not only did he perfect his stage presence, but also began stretching his vocal range, nailing a flawless "Let's Get it On". His personal favorite band is Better than Ezra, but oftentimes listens to anything and everything to expand his abilities. Recently we've been covering "Take a Piece of My Heart" by Janice Joplin.
Drew is a dead ringer for all the great guitar players you've ever heard. He does spot-on versions of a number of guitar standards, many of which we usually include in our setlist, such as "After Midnight", "Fire", and "Layla". His influences are all the classic guitarists of years past- Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix, the Allman Bros., Led Zeppelin, etc. The list goes on.
The first basslines Bucket learned were Les Claypool's songs on "Frizzlefry" by Primus. After honing his chops there, he moved on to Red Hot Chili Peppers fare -to this day the band still covers "Aeroplane", a crowd favorite. Additionally, Bucket also studied under Dave Stoltz, bassist for the Dickie Betts band and former contender for Berry Oakley's spot in the Allman Brothers lineup. Recently, he's been spending his time studying Jaco Pastorious and Victor Wooten, although more Victor than Jaco, because he is more talented in slapping and muting than he is in chordal collections.
Between the four of us, we try to combine our sounds and influences to make something unique while not overbearing other members of the band. Particular showcases of the bands talent can be seen in "The Ballad of Wendy Peffercorn", "The Lonestar Song" and "Tricycle Knees".
What you'll hear in our demo is an effort we're proud of, yet we feel we can do better. Our two most popular songs, by far, are "The Lonestar Song" and "The Ballad of Wendy Peffercorn". These songs reflect our first effort as songwriter's with each other, and since this recording in the summer of 2004, we've began delving deeper into the songwriting process and playing to each other's strengths. Currently we are working on our next batch of songs, which guarantees to be better than our first demo, which was recently evaluated by a Talent Executive from Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
The two things we stress most as a philosophy are musicianship and live performances. Every member of the band who plays an instrument doubles as an instructor, and, as a result, we're always looking to create new innovations and challenges for each other to work through. As for our shows, we have never played a venue that we weren't invited back to. Whether playing at a backyard kegger in our early days or headling a marquis event, we are always eagerly asked to return. Oftentimes we exude such energy on stage that the band is completely exhausted or even injured the next day- whether it be a scraped leg from a stage-slide, or a lost voice from belting out lyrics. We do not disappoint.
We have a solid fanbase, tshirts, and a mailing list, all of which are extremely popular. Currently we are designing a website which will soon have songs available for download and concert info. Our band has been reviewed and interviewed in several local publications, all of which note the contagious energy of our stage performance. Any concert posters, publicized reviews, and t-shirts or t-shirt orders are available upon request. Furthermore, you can find us listed on Pure Volume (www.purevolume.com/theroyalthey).