INTERVIEW: MLNY PARSONS

THE SECOND COMING OF ROCK

AND ROYAL THUNDER BECOMES THE SAVIOR

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Speculation always exists anytime something important has happened as to when it’s going to happen again We see it all the time with software updates, new generation of phones, Jesus, cars, Consciousness. You name it, we’ve anticipated the “one up” sometimes even before the first one is released! Now, I’m all for improving things that make our lives on the planet easier, faster, convenient, you know? Like thank god that cars have air conditioning now and that having cold air blow on you whilst driving is now not a luxury or an add on. There’s something to be said for improvements.

Music is notorious for this - just as the first rock and roll song was heard, someone was trying to make it better. Economists can call this “free enterprise” or whatever the word is for this ingrained human competitive trait that makes us think ours is different, better, or life altering. Ok, I’m not saying that everyone sets out to do this with everything they do. Especially in music. What I’m saying is that there are moments that are dropped on the rolling ticker tape that records paramount moments that define what comes after that moment that creates a dramatic difference going forward, ya follow?

Imagine the Infinite Ticker Tape in the sky - mine looks like this:

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Now the above image isn’t reflective of anything from the annals of time, but imagine that when the band ROYAL THUNDER began; their moment of existence is recorded on this tape. See the circle in red? We’ll just pretend that is their mark, their blip of when they appeared in Time. (It’s rudimentary I know, but it’s just a visual aid so you know what I’m saying - er - typing...) And so by this stunning graphical display, you can see where everything before they appeared would not be the same as what came after they appeared, right?

So just keep the above visual as a reference point through the interview you’re about to read knowing that this Mark, their Mark is the beginning of why ROYAL THUNDER gives Rock a second coming, or I dare say, they are Rock’s (or one of) saviors.

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It was fucking early for me to be talking to anyone and I think Mlny (and no, that’s not a typo - that’s how she spells her name but is pronounced Mel-an-ee - just without any vowels) felt the same but we just didn’t want to say it because professionals get up early and aren't up late AF the night before having to be alert before 9 AM, right? Ya, nope. Even the morning grouch in me put on a happy face because I was stoked to talk to her and see if what I heard in the band’s music and Mlny, echoed in person - here’s what happened:

CB: So how’s your press morning so far, busy? Is your voice tired yet?

MP: This is the first one this morning so I am just starting out. I love your name by the way!

CB: Thank you - I like the mystery of a pen name - even though it’s not a mystery, people actually call me that or get my name wrong and everyone knows who it is. I’m going to grab some coffee so sorry for the clanking or background noise.

MP: I’m actually doing the same thing.

Our voices are both low and crackly and tired sounding and we’re both grabbing coffee to not only wake up but to soften the raspy, sleepy voices that were just coming alive.

CB: You're leaving for tour soon, right? I can’t wait to see y’all in Dallas - April 28th, I think.

MP: Ya, we leave Sunday. It’s nice that we’re doing a long run this time, like a month and some change. We’ve done short runs here and there, but it’s been a bit since we’ve gone out for a long time.

royalthunderCB: I want to talk about “WICK”, your second album as a band but debut under Spinefarm that this tour is generating support for. How is this album different from “CVI” (first record)?

MP: I remember with the EP even starting out that way, like with our little red Chevy van that the fucking Squirrel Nut Zippers had when they first got signed, it was really cool they sold it to us. We were driving around screen printing our CD covers, and t-shirts, driving around in this piece of crap van! We’d work all week and then go out on the weekends and play all over. We played a show with Havlena and they were on Relapse and they told them about us. Relapse released that EP for us. It was this really crazy next three years touring our asses off. Like, I can’t hold a job down, can’t finish college because I’m so damn busy touring. So, the difference being I can’t believe where we’ve come from then and how serious it is now - not from a point that it isn’t fun - but just that this is what we’re doing and it’s fuckin’ awesome. Like what we did (then) led us to this point. Ya know?

CB: Ya, that would be an awesome feeling to know this is what I’m doing, what I’ve meant to be doing, ya know? Like there’s always that moment of limbo, maybe in the beginning, I’d guess like “am I doing the right thing” or am I letting down people - but like it all leads to now. The time is now, right? How scary is that for you or exciting or whatever the feeling is behind what you’re doing now. What does that feel like?

MP: Ya, no really! It’s never been scary. I walked into it pretty young, like i my 20’s and I’ve never wanted to have a conventional lifestyle, ever, like at all. I've always done things, like my parents are like “are you seriously going to do that? Are you seriously going to get that tattoo?” It was always (my answer), “Ya, this is what I’m doing.” There was never a question I’ve been very comfortable stepping out and losing material things, jobs, relationships, but it’s never felt wrong. It’s to the point of me saying to myself, this isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. I’ve always felt so damn right about this. Like meeting Josh, I was 16 and we’ve been playing music together since we were 18. We’re total musical soulmates. I completely know we’re doing the right thing. People we’re meeting along the way, I’ve had the same feeling about them, like dude this is - we’re supposed to know each other for the next 30 - 40 years.

CB: When I saw the press release coming out the picture of y’all in the bed, I kept it in my inbox kinda intrigued, but didn’t like immediately listen, right. I dunno I’m a visual person and the promo was memorable - but it didn’t make me immediately jump in. Then I saw something on Facebook when y’all were in New York so I clicked the video and was like going to listen while did something else. But when I heard you sing, I popped the window up and was like “what the fuck is this???” Instant fan, loved it and haven’t stopped listening since.

So when you see someone doing what they’re supposed to be doing right like you were saying, and you know it’s right - like when I heard y’all I was like this is straight up. She is no bullshit, she IS what she’s singing; from the jump. Like I think it’s “April Showers” that I felt this from - isn’t that the second song?

MP: Ummm...

CB: Ya sorry, I don’t have my notes in front of me - I’m that journalist, the one scattered and disorganized for the interview or half asleep because it’s 9 AM with little coffee...

MP: Well, I am like that musician that’s like, “I don’t know what song you’re talking about; I don’t know what the 2nd song is...”

We totally snicker a bit because we knew what the other meant.

CB: Point being - I knew from the minute you started singing: this girl is for real. When did this become apparent to you or when did you know you were doing what was meant for you to do; like tell the world your story?

MP: I never really meant to do anything or didn’t set out to do anything lyrically. I think who you are just comes across when you’re making music - fake or not. Like who you are is in your music - angry, sappy - whatever. It's just a part of who I am. I don’t have any real interest in bullshitting. And now I’m doing this thing that is very fucking real to me and my bandmates.

CB: I think that totally comes across in your music, at least on “WICK”. It’s so honest and real. Ya know?

RoyalThunder1doug moore invisible orangesMP: To be honest, a lot of the music industry is kinda bullshit. There’s a lot of bullshitting going on and I saw it early on and I was like “I never want to take that route - I never want be one of those kind of people.” I can say this, and I can speak for my band we’re not here to suck anyone off or climb some ladder - or to have some two year plan of how many records we can sell and to be honest I don’t even read reviews, I barely get on Facebook. It’s not about “are people liking us” - it’s never been about that.

CB: Has music always been a part of you or your identity? Or who you wanted people to see or know?

MP: I never expected to be a singer, I guess. I ran around singing Whitney Houston songs as a kid. I knew I was going to play music, I played the piano. I knew when I started playing guitar, I saw Nirvana (on TV) and said “I’m gonna be in a band”. I always was, from the time I was in middle school, I was in these stupid little bands, doing crazy stuff on stage for shock value. Anything I could do - but as far as a singer. I never thought that. It was always the most terrifying thing. When I was a kid, I’d tell my dad I had a new song that I wanted to sing and I’d get my guitar but I’d make everybody turn around and close their eyes, and I would turn around and have to close my eyes. It was terrifying and for whatever reason, I wanted people to hear it and I did it. But my dad would turn around and look and if I opened my eyes to see if anyone was looking, my dad would be like “this is stupid! Why are you making us turn around and why are you not looking?” I’d be like “turnaround!! Don’t look!” So I didn’t think I’d be a singer for that reason.

I did scream in like metal bands and then I got this opportunity. When Royal Thunder was instrumental, I was always there and Josh was like “you’re going to sing in our band and you’re going to play bass”. And I was like “I’ll play bass but I am not singing. I am not singing!!” He was like “you’re going to and it’ll be great!”. Then all of a sudden, I was in the seat and here I am.

CB: How do y’all write a song - is it a collaboration or each person will write their own piece?

MP: I write the lyrics and vocal melody and Josh or Will brings stuff and we just go from there.

CB: I relate to that story when you were a kid. Singing your own stuff is fuckin’ hard. It’s like you’re standing in front of strangers raw or naked. It was like taking my skin off. What I love about WICK I get that - the songs are a part of you. I get the feeling. Like in the songs, I feel the feelings or identify with the emotions. I think that’s what makes your music so kick ass because it’s from the bottom of your fucking soul, right?

MP: Yeah. I mean, I just think there was a time I remember wanting; to be honest. Like I can’t track something if I’m not there in that moment. Like it could be a perfect take and if I was thinking about food or something, I go back and redo it to be in that moment or to be there. I can’t live with it - it sounds crazy or over the top - but I can’t live with it if I know I’m not there. That’s huge for us and part of how we are. Like even the producer will stop and say, “I just don’t believe you -- let’s take a break and come back. You’re somewhere else.” Being honest in general, is important for Royal Thunder. You know that phrase, “always tell the truth, you’ll remember the truth but you’ll forget your lies” I just don’t have time to bullshit myself or anyone else.

CB: Is it difficult to know that you’re exposed, out there, real and people see that? They see you?

MP: I used to be hesitant, still being honest but hesitant a little nervous about it in the past. I’ve always been pretty open but by the time I got to “Crooked Doors” it was like “fuck it - I’ve got some shit I really wanna say”.

CB: How did fans or people respond to that honesty?

060915 royalthunder 02MP: Like in the past I worried about it. I just stopped worrying about it and I couldn’t believe the response. Like the record before I was unhinged, emotional and like floating around. I was making an effort to ground myself. And by the time I got to “WICK” I was in a different place, older and was responding to things differently. I was grounded and knew I had decisions to make - like I was a little more pissed off, honestly but in a good way or a healthy way.

CB: Like the process or feeling those things you’re writing about or an artist writes about - you process them differently and I’m guessing you use music to help you process your experiences. Musicians are sensitive people and we process these thing we experience through our craft. Like a butterfly in a cocoon, waiting to come out.

MP: (long pause) Ya. (another pause) Maybe. I mean, it wasn’t like this (music/Royal Thunder) was some platform for me to make people hear what I had to say. It was more like “I’ve go shit I have to work out”. Maybe someone will listen, and if it helps them that’s cool but initially it’s like this is how I deal with shit, this is my outlet. Like getting on a motorcycle - those are my mind eraser moments. I’m able to process and think and get everything I need to get out of my head, out.

CB: Personally speaking, what I feel is like when I got to “The Well” I was like - wait. What the fuck am I listening to? You jumped or the band jumped in my head and relayed what I have felt or gone through recently and put it to music like there all my feelings were in like a stage production on this record. You know? I even wrote “where did voices like Mlny come from? When did the universe become so vast that people can seemingly miss bands like Royal Thunder. She is so godam good that he birth should have been a global event.”

I start laughing because I’m kinda embarrassed about saying this to this humble creature on the other end of the phone. I wasn’t coming across as being trivial or trying to blow smoke up her ass nor do I want her to be embarrassed by the effect she has through her music. Interpretation of music is so personal at times, you know? Or maybe she was like, "Who is this person I'm talking to?" Ha! 

MP: *nervously laughs* Thank you.

CB: The record (WICK) is like a journey. It plays out in my mind like my life, like currently. I could feel how you were feeling and totally identified with them. Who was that person, you mention Whitney Houston earlier, who put you where you are where you wanted to be on stage?

mlny liveMP: Um, I’ve never tried to emulate anyone or anything like that. Not that you’re implying that but I think nobody can do a better you than you. When I say this, I think for me I pretty much looked up to any artist that could make me feel something. And my first artist that I remember them making me feel something was George Michael. I was a kid and I would hear him sing and it was just very real for me. I remember listening to Elton John, Billy Joel you know feeling a lot of that kind - like Queen. Freddie Mercury quite possibly - in my opinion - was the best frontman of all time. There was something so honest and real. There wasn’t a performance I saw on TV or heard, that he wasn’t giving everything. Nirvana was the band that stuck out the most when I got older. I was becoming me, a teenager; what can I do, what kind of trouble can I get in today, what can I do to piss my mom and dad off - and I saw Nirvana and was like “I can do anything I want? I can be in a band like that? And act crazy...cool that’s what I want to do.” And I know for a fact that is what changed Josh. That’s the whole reason we are both playing music - that was our common ground.

CB: Dude - I love that you said you were influenced or whatever by people like Elton John and George Michael. The other day I was telling someone about you and the band and trying to explain y’all and I said - I shit you not - “they have a Queen vibe to them, Theatrical and she’s like a chick Freddie Mercury” - no joke! They asked what genre or sound and I told them y’all were classified like stoner rock or psychedelic rock. But I don’t buy that at all. Like y’all are straight up rock, to me. And for real, it’s like “WICK” is this magnanimous production - you can see the theatrics, it’s full and there’s nothing missing.

Glancing at the timer on my recorder, I see that our time is almost up 28:34 - just as Mlny says...

MP: I think I have another interview in a couple of minutes. But if you need to finish this, I can call you back after my other ones are over, I mean cause this is awesome! I keep forgetting this is an interview and feel like we’re just talking on the phone; not being rude -

CB: No, I’m done, I have what I wanted to cover. But no, I know. You can call back, if you need to add something or whatever, I mean I’m like just talking to you like I would a new friend or something!

We exchange pleasntries and that is where this interview ends.

As abruptly as I found Mlny and Royal Thunder my time with her was over just as quickly. I’ve had a couple of days to mull our conversation over and I even went back and listened to it in the car on Saturday doing errands (which I rarely do because of time constraints). What I can say about Mlny and ROYAL THUNDER she is so genuine; it’s almost blinding. This light shines so bright through her personality it makes the Royal thunder music even more convincing.

RoyalThunder June23 1024x651I can also say that while I knew I had enough for my article introducing this band to readers to gauge a foundation of sorts, and I knew she wouldn’t call back. I did secretly hope that she would just so we could talk some more, you know? I found her ability to really talk to a total stranger on the phone and truly give a part of herself in a way that completely complemented ROYAL THUNDER so badass. And I sat here thinking of how to describe the 30 minutes; awesome, amazing, cool, inspiring, real - were all words that came to mind. But I chose badass not to be trite or trendy - but because that is what she is. Badass.

When you check this band out, I hope you remember little points of our chat. And that you see where this four piece brings a savior-like essence to Rock; an industry that needs a kick in the ass and the results from a loud AF clap of thunder - ROYAL THUNDER. Lastly, I hope that this little peek into Mlny and her music causes a reaction in your heart and that it will ring in your ears just like the music will ring long after you've stopped listening. 

Til next time - MRML - Cherri

ROYAL THUNDER WICK COVER

"WICK" drops in stores and online music outlets this Friday, April 7th. Pre-orders are being taken now from:  

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