Cleveland instrumental rock band Royal Beasts is working to connect with audiences through soundscapes rather than lyrics. The three musicians came together in the past year as somewhat of an experiment to see how they sounded together. They discovered an instant connection.
"We just started playing and quickly discovered we really speak the same language," said guitarist and synth player Jason Dunlap. He, along with bandmates Will Hooper and Alec Shumann, spent about 10 months studying and practicing together. Dunlap says the songwriting flowed naturally.
"We just broke things down and deconstructed our songs and reworked them and tried to piece them back together again."
Connecting without lyrics
The trio has been involved in other projects. Hooper, for example, is the guitarist for Cleveland indie rock band Ottawa. Hooper says Royal Beasts approaches songwriting from the same vein in which a lyricist would to tell a story with lyrics.
"If there's no lyrics, people can attach their own meaning to a song without being told that it's about something," Hooper said. "It's kind of freeing in a way to just worry about what the emotion of the song is and what the feeling is."
A live soundscape
The live performance is what really drives Royal Beasts. Dunlap says the band doesn't speak to the crowd between songs. They have just one microphone, and it's off to the side of the stage.
"If anything we try to keep an entire soundscape alive for the entire set. We have 9 to 10 minute long songs that have these breaks in between because it can be pretty intense at times."
The band also incorporates visuals into their performances. Each song is synched to psychadelic images or movie scenes that drummer Schumann triggers with a foot switch.
"We have written a set and we have rehearsed it from start to finish with our transitions with the visuals," Dunlap said. "Everything becomes these dress rehearsals and practice for us before we go play live."
Dunlap says he wants to continue to work to connect with larger audiences.
"We spend so much time wanting to get it right before we showcase it off to people. That's not something that we want to lose as we go forward. We have to keep that same mentality about ourselves of saying we have to put our best foot forward."
Royal Beasts plays a show Friday, March 22 at Mahall's in Lakewood.