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Interview: Port Royal

Kylie Carns caught up with Lawson Doyle from the Brisbane band Port Royal. Lawson opened up about the hardest thing about being in a band, their latest tour and getting Oasis back together!
KC: You have just released your new single “Rock ‘n’ Roll is Dead” (one cracker of a single by the way) I’m actually curious to know your influences because it’s got a real 70’s old school rock feel about it, so can you explain how the song came about?
LD: Basically ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll is Dead’ is written influenced of the Led Zeppelin song ‘Rock and Roll’ so that 12 bar bluesy kind of vibe is what we really going for on the musicality side. The riff itself is a bit of a Led Zeppelin rip off, so I was trying to get that Jimmy Page feel from the guitar lick. Lyrically, it’s really like a Rolling Stones kind of vibe but it’s almost an ironic song. It speaks about working hard for this sort of thing in your life and then they say it’s dead. The key line in the chorus is ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll is Dead’, so its the kind of piece where you’re throwing it back to them. For as long as there’s people like us singing these kind of songs there will always be people like us around; and that’s a lot of that Rolling Stones kind of attitude.
KC: Speaking of your influences and processes, how do you go about writing? Does everyone contribute in the band or is it just yourself? How does the song writing process work for your band?
LD: Everyone has a part to play in the band. As the front man, I come up with most of the lyrics and ideas regarding the structure. In the case of ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll is Dead’, I took it to the band and we worked on the bridge section together and thought about where we want to go with that. So we worked out how to work this properly with the harmonica. It was a lot of work getting the cuts in the verse as well to be really tight and how that would flow with the rest of the song. Everybody definitely contributes their parts to it.
KC: So is that your creativity process? You come up with a riff or some sort of diddy and then you work on that or do you have a particular style that you aim for first?
LD:. It’s more I’ll come up with a riff and an idea and then that idea becomes the concept so to speak. So in the case of ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll is Dead’, it is about the death of rock and roll, so it’s a song that’s about anything in your life that might be of a minority, it’s not a popular medium so I was feeling that a fair bit, so I thought that’s what I want to write about and then I took that to the band and that’s when we sort of went from there.
KC:. You have released a few singles and an EP over the last few years. Is there a full album on the cards?
LD:We’ve got an EP recorded at the moment but we haven’t released it. We’re just trying to really plan on how we want to do our next couple of releases. We do have another single ready to go, but we are just figuring out where we want to go next in terms of our musicality, and coming from ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll is Dead’, I’d really like to get the EP out by August. We do also have some killer tracks that we’re writing at the moment that aren’t recorded yet. We’ve got the second EP that’s done and ready to be released but we are just trying to come up with a name for it. We are just trying to figure out where we really want to go; do we go sooner rather than later?
KC: How did your band get together and how did you come up with your name?
LD:The drummer (Connor Arnold) and I have been playing in a band for seven or eight years. We were high school mates. He was a completely different guy to me. He was into sport and I was more into my music in general, but we found this bonded love over music together and we always ended up getting dropped into the same groups as I was the only singer in the class and he was the drummer so we became a band before we were even a band. We played in the high school band together and that sort of went nowhere and we broke up and then for 6 months we didn’t have any projects together. Then we sort of got back together and decided we had too many good songs to write. I met the bass player (Chase Brodie) through University. He has become an integral part of the foundations but he was there at the first day of uni with a Rolling Stones bag on. He was a big dork but he’s real cool and he was different to everyone else and that’s why I gravitated towards him. He liked old school music that a lot of people won’t listen to. Our lead guitarist (Liam Morton), I have known for years and played in different bands. He wasn’t always in Port Royal but more recently his role became open and he was my go-to guy as I’ve know him as a great blues player for so long and his writing style is real different- he likes pop as well so his style is real catchy and contributed big time coming into this. And now it’s the four of us.
KC: What’s the ultimate goal for the band? Where do you see yourself in five to ten years?
LD: I think we all want to be living life well with touring and not really worrying about other peripherals so to speak. We’re just doing this tour at the moment and we are just leaving Sydney today. I would like our band to be in a spot in five years where we can all comfortably say we have a career. I’m playing songs for young people especially. Our big thing at the moment is that we want to write songs for guys and girls of our age and younger (as well of course the older generation), but songs that we can play for the next 20 years or beyond. In five to 10 years, we want to get to a point that we feel comfortable in saying that we have those songs.
KC: Well the music industry is a hard one to crack and there are obviously many bands that would give up before they’ve got to the position that you’re in now. So what challenges have you come across so far as a band and how have you overcome them?
LD: The most important thing obviously is the band staying together. There is a lot of things you have to give up like your time and your energy. A lot of people’s personal lives have a big impact on the runnings of the band or the progression and the longevity of the band. Lastly, a lot of people get better jobs and the hard thing I felt is the money dries up very quickly. You’re putting a lot of money out yourselves, that isn’t necessarily rewarded straight back to you which is really hard. You can’t expect other people to spend their time and their money and you really have to have a good group of people internally, that do believe in the bigger picture which may not be right in front of them then and there. The resilience is the biggest thing. That’s when you can sit through gigs playing for nine people in a room because we’ve done that and yet the following night we played Byron Bay and ended up playing to about 250 people.
KC: Just finally, your ultimate Festival line-up! You are the headlining act! Who are going to be your supports?
LD: That’s a tricky one. Locally we’ve got mates in so many good bands back in Brisbane that I’d love to see do well. I probably just chuck Wolfmother in there cause I just like them and I saw them in Sydney last night. There’s a band in Brisbane called “The Unknowns” because of the way they do 60’s rock’n’roll; 4×4 12 bar blues kind of feels. I’d have a band called ‘Stoker’. They are just young boys coming into the scene but have a Jimi Hendrix influenced, Cream/Eric Clapton style guitar psychedelic music that’s really cool and different. It’s not being done in the same way but they’re doing it. And I’d also have Oasis. I get the Gallagher Brothers back together. Now that could be interesting!
KC: You said that you’re doing a mini tour at the moment. Any chance of coming down to Melbourne and the rest of Australia soon?
LD: We will. We have some dates for Melbourne penciled in for September . That’s going to be the next job on the horizon at the moment. We need to get through the “Rock’n’Roll is Dead” tour and the music video is out, and then will be coming back to Brisbane in around 2nd to 3rd week in June. We will be slowing down with the out of town business. We really need to be strategic with our time as well down in Melbourne.
The Rocker Rag would like to thanks Lawson for his time!
To catch up on Port Royal’s latest tour dates and releases, visit their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PortRoyalOfficial/
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