Royal Thunder's Crooked Doors has been framed as break-up record, given that vocalist/lyricist/bassist Mlny Parsonz and guitarist Josh Weaver recently divorced. Subsequently, Parsonz's words have been reinterpreted by writers who don't know her, haven't met her and weren't part of the experience.
This, Parsonz acknowledges, comes with the territory, but it also means when you ask about the experience, she doesn't want to talk about it for two reasons: first, you don't know her, haven't met her and weren't part of the experience; and second, it doesn't tell you anything about the music, which is a gorgeous combination of blues rock, psychedelic meandering and subtle dynamics that has flourished and evolved substantially since its inception. The change wasn't calculated; rather, it came about when the quartet were in the studio, where they wrote the majority of Crooked Doors.
"We never really communicate much, but we communicate through how we play," Parsonz tells Exclaim! of the unintentional shift. "When it does happen, it's mostly how [Weaver] is feeling, maybe 'this part is too short, this is too long,' but that's about it. You know, I think the reason the album is so different from [2012's] CVI is because Evan [Diprima] is our drummer, and he wasn't on CVI but he was on the acoustic [CVI: A EP from 2013] and this album.
"And we've been touring together for a few years now, and I think that's a huge part. He's a totally different drummer and it forced us to tighten things up a little bit more in a good way, and pushed us to be better musicians. To bring out how he is awesome at what he does, it took a bit more effort. It pushed me to be a better bass player."
Everything on Crooked Doors is bigger. While the change between this album and previous isn't shocking for the Atlanta hard rockers, it is audible. Whereas CVI was grittier, Crooked Doors trades simplicity for a dynamism that is nevertheless subtle, integrating occasional piano and violin while skillful jazzy drumming gives the music space to breathe and contract. Lyrically, it does address the elephant in the room, but not in a way that people might think.
"I think with a lot of the whole relationship thing, I've stopped talking about stuff. A lot of people assume that certain songs mean certain things. I actually have read things where people have interpreted my words and said definitively, 'This is about this or that.' It's really interesting to me, but I guess that's just the way it is, but I have decided what little I have shared, people have taken that and turned it into something, and acted like they know what's going on, but they don't," says Parsonz.
"I'd rather focus on what you said, which was lyrics about letting go, or a sense of sadness. And yeah, there is. Over the years, I've let a lot of things go. It's not necessarily one thing, it's a lot of things. I've come to a crossroads with many things, whether that be in my personal life, my relationships, whatever, I've live that up to people to decide what they think. It's just hard to say a lot of things I want to say while being cryptic, and I wasn't able to be as cryptic as I was with things on CVI. I did want to be more honest, but that comes with a price."
Crooked Doors arrived this week via Relapse, and you can see the band's upcoming tour dates below.
06/05 Anaheim, CA - The Grove *
06/06 San Francisco, CA - The Regency Ballroom *
06/08 Portland, OR - Roseland Theater *
06/09 Seattle, WA - Showbox SoDo *
06/10 Boise, ID - Revolution Center *
06/12 Missoula, MT - Wilma Theatre *
06/13 Spokane, WA - Knitting Factory *
06/14 Vancouver, BC - Commodore Ballroom *
* with Halestorm, Rival Sons