Tale Of Two Cities

31 March 2012 | 12:10 pm | Staff Writer

They recently made the move east back home and now Royal Baths are heading way south for the first time.

Royal Baths' guitarist Jeremy Cox laughs heartily when asked if the press rumours of them leaving their hometown of San Francisco for the bright lights of New York a few months back were due to them being out of sync with the garage rock that's so de rigueur in the Californian city. His band's sound might be a bit darker than the standard San Fran fare and the lyrical matter a tad bleaker, but according to Cox there was a lot more to their relocation than them feeling unloved or under-appreciated.

“I don't know, there were a lot of factors,” he muses. “I think people choose to focus on that because we didn't really necessarily reflect what was being focussed on in San Francisco, from an outsider's perspective. I definitely felt like we were doing something different to what's being paid attention to, but I didn't feel like we weren't fitting in. The scene there is very welcoming of a lot of different types of music – for instance Thee Oh Sees took us on our first tour and then Ty Segall took us on our second tour and The Fresh & Onlys on our third tour – so it's a pretty tight knit community.

“It wasn't like we were shunned or anything, but when we did come to New York we felt a little bit more at home and felt that people were a little more receptive to what we were playing and seemed pretty excited about it. In San Francisco, there's a lot going on there, but there's not too many people involved in the music scene; it's a bit of a small town in comparison. It's a beautiful city and people are very creative there, but it's hard to get outside of that bubble sometimes.”

The band – the creative core of which is rounded out by Cox's songwriting partner and fellow guitarist/vocalist Jigmae Baer – have just released their second album Better Luck Next Life, a much more full-band affair than its 2010 predecessor Litanies. “It was an organic change if you will,” Cox offers. “When we recorded Litanies it was mostly just Jigmae and I kind of building layers on the record, recording one track and then seeing what we wanted to do for the next one. But Better Luck Next Life was recorded after we did three tours – we developed a lot of those songs on tour – and we have a different line-up with a new rhythm section, so it kind of got more intense sounding and I feel like it sounds a lot more like what we sound like live than Litanies does.”

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However, ask Cox about the band's influences and another clue about their decision to relocate to NYC emerges. “I think in the beginning we definitely had some bands in mind, but we weren't trying to emulate anyone,” Cox tells. “We don't really want to change for the sake of change; we like to do it naturally as it comes to us. But when we were beginning this project it was heavily influenced by the Velvet Underground, which a lot of bands cite as their influence so it's sort of a vague reference at this point. But also stylistically we were listening to a lot of Delta Blues music – like Skip James and Blind Willie Johnson – and I had been finger-picking a lot in an open-tuning, which I think is why a lot of people refer to us as 'drone-sounding music'. Also on the other spectrum there's The Fall and the punk aspect of their music. I feel that it's necessary in music to push things and be excited about what you're doing.”