On American Royalty's latest EP, Matchstick, it seems like there's more than one band playing.
Marc Gilfry and Billy Scher, two 23-year-old multi-instrumentalists who like to “fall down every rabbit hole,” and drummer Mat Ungson make up the band. They write psychedelic dance songs that venture down a spider-web of musical avenues: electronica, garage rock, blues.
Speaking with them after they spun a DJ set at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, Scher mentions that, both in their personal and artistic lives, they prefer to remain uncomfortable. “I think there is a real value in that,” he says.
And they seem to be walking the walk of that philosophy, with plans to pick up and move to New York at the end of the year. “At this point I don't want to stay anywhere for more than five years,” says Gilfry.
That free-floating openness to experience also manifests itself in their music. You can imagine them playing festivals, girls with flowers in their hair busting GIF-able dance moves.
They've been a band for about two years and have built up a solid Westside following. With so many buzz bands and producers coming out of regions east of the 101 (Teebs, Gothic Tropic, FIDLAR) it's somewhat unexpected to hear that they came up playing shows in Venice. (The Shrine are another notable exception.) American Royalty's label, Guns In The Sun, is based in Venice, so naturally they booked venues in the area. “We also lived in Venice because it was where we could couch-surf with friends,” says Gilfry.
At a show this year at The Townhouse, a basement venue in Venice, inebriated people were packed like sardines. They were falling all over each other, and the floor was sodden with sweat and spilled beer. It was a party vibe, and there was plenty of dancing.
People actually grooving without inhibitions was refreshing, as, too often, the new norm at shows is a sort of slack-jawed, glazed-eyed stare without any attempt at rhythmic motion. At their current residency at the Echo, they've felt a touch of frustration — a dance band playing for crowds that are often too “cool” to dance. “One time we were like, do we suck tonight?” says Scher.
When we saw them at the Echo a couple of weeks ago, they didn't suck. Far from it. The best song of the set was title track of off Matchstick. It borrows the phrase “strawberry fields” from the iconic Beatles song, but places it into a rollicking chorus with a bluesy guitar riff rolling behind it and plenty of synth magic. It's music to dance to, and yes, some people actually did.
American Royalty's residency at the Echo continues tonight.