Saturday, May 7th, I was invited to The Roxy on the sunset strip to photograph Royal Teeth during their set. About a year and a half prior to this I met the stand-in drummer, Austin Perez, outside of his gig opening for Bombay Bicycle Club in New York City. Austin joined Royal Teeth on their most recent tour around the country while their permanent drummer is at law school, and invited me out to see them while in LA briefly. The rest of the band consists of Nora Patterson, Gary Larsen, Joshua Wells, and Thomas Onebane.
I caught up with the group and some friends in the greenroom before their set, which was great to experience their dynamic. They’re a close group of young adults who enjoy joking with each other, talking about music licks, and cats. The majority of Royal Teeth are from Lafayette, Louisiana, and have extremely (extremely!) charming accents. Nora, their lead singer, seemed timid and soft-spoken while applying her makeup before their performance, but as soon as she stepped on stage she became a powerful presence. The group moved around and their fans seemed really engaged. The audience sang along to their catchy songs and danced around, filling the room with a warm energy. Their set included songs from their current album ‘Glow,’ as well as their new song ‘Kids Conspire.’
Their performance was lively and energetic, but what inspired me the most was their drive to keep going and do things themselves. During my interview with Nora and Gary, their other lead singer, they revealed that they’ve had a bit of a rollercoaster ride on their journey through music and the industry. Despite being asked to perform on American Idol and having a song played in a commercial, the band wasn’t exactly welcomed with instant attention. Record deals and management have fallen through, and for now the group remains independent. Nora took on the heavy task of tour managing for the first time, in addition to creating posters and merchandise for the group; all of this while on tour and worrying about the one million other things that come along with being a music group.
Stories like this inspire me because it shows that youthful hope is not in vain, despite the cynicism of adulthood. Even though I overheard a few conversations expressing concerns and worries about income on tour, it is still very obvious how much this group loves doing what they are doing. Despite rarely getting sound checks, abrasive clicks in their headsets, and having to manage everything themselves, Royal Teeth continues to push forward in their music careers. For now they are able to live off of their music alone and dedicate all of their time to it, but this might depend on their success in the upcoming months or possibly years. Royal Teeth has so much potential and heart it would be upsetting to see them fade to the back in the impossible music industry.
Currently the group is on a brief two week break before they begin the East Coast leg of their tour. Then it is off to work on some new music, taking things day-by-day, and embracing spontaneity. Both Gary and Nora expressed their excitement to go home and see their cat, and Nora confessed she is a bit of a homebody. Life as a musician seems to be a Catch 22 to the group though; while on tour they miss home, and at home they miss the road. Listening to the group members reminisce about their stories on tour, I can see that they are enjoying what they are doing for the moment. I look forward to seeing where Royal Teeth is in a few years, and I hope they continue to keep up with their drive.