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A Dirty Dozen with KENNY PAUL MANN from ROYAL HORSES – January 2021

| 7 January 2021 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Rock / Americana band ROYAL HORSES has released A Modern Man’s Way to Improve. The band’s debut record, A Modern Man’s Way to Improve was selected as an official release for Record Store Day 2020 and is available to download and stream on all platforms. Featuring lyric-driven melodies that pay respect to the musical genres that helped shape the New South, including 70’s rock, early blues, rockabilly, and folk, Royal Horses has managed to create a name for themselves the old-fashioned way – one high-energy performance at a time. The trio often bends genre norms while blazing a new path for themselves in modern music. The result is a gritty, yet powerfully-unique sound built on the strength of an undeniable musical chemistry.” We get upright bass player Kenny Paul to discuss new music, reflection on his past, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

We just released our debut album, A Modern Man’s Way to Improve, on all streaming platforms on Dec 4th. It’s funny you should ask, because even though we have listened countless times, we still find little nuggets of sound we have never noticed. The entire album was tracked live with mics, and there is some really interesting bleed over we left in for listeners to find here and there. I won’t tell you specifically, but the track “Ruby Do” has some really fun stuff buried in it.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

It was a family thing for me, and I’m sure I can say the same for the other two guys.  We all grew up around it, in some fashion. My grandfather and mother were both classically trained pianists. My mother played a huge part in my passion for music and performing. She was a young, single mom in my early teens, so she took me with her to see live music more times than I can remember. She put me on the path. I was a proud “band nerd,” but I still remember the exact moment I decided that I needed to play a guitar. I can thank a song for that. At around the age of 12 (1990ish), I remember putting on Led Zeppelin II and just listening to “Whole Lotta Love” on repeat. I was floored. That song changed how I viewed guitar. The next move was begging mom for one! Shortly after, I realized I had bass guitar fingers.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

I’d say Prince was my earliest musical influence. I became quite obsessed with ‘the purple one’ at a young age. My musical taste started gravitating mostly to heavy music in my early teen years, and from there I branched off into such a wide variety of lyrically focused music. It’s all connected.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

As I mentioned before, Prince was my first musical love. I still watch live performances all of the time. The guy was an absolute master of the stage. Also, it didn’t take me long to realize that not only was John Paul Jones the most talented member of Zeppelin, but one of the greatest overall musicians out there. Chris Wood of The Wood Brothers has been a huge influence to me as I’ve continued to dive deeper into upright bass techniques. Tom Waits has always been a huge influence on my songwriting. I’d have to round this top 5 out with our front man, Shelby Kemp. The way I perceive and perform music has changed greatly since we started working together.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Right now, my honest answer is Thundercat! I think this guy continues to move the bar up higher when it comes to music production and what you can do with a bass guitar.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Royal Horses music is difficult to describe, and that’s a good thing. I think we pull from a lot of elements of Southern music and make it our own. We don’t often get compared to a lot of bands. It happens. I can’t think of anything that’s made me cringe so far, but my absolute favorite has been “you guys sound like a cross between The Flying Burrito Brothers and Led Zeppelin.” I hope that’s accurate.

7. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

Performing live. Whatever length of time the set is, 30 min, 4 hours, there is nothing else going on in my mind. It’s all about making a connection with my instrument, my bandmates and the audience.

8. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

We spend a lot of time together, and we love each other. These tasks tend to rotate. Most of our hanging out is done on the road. I will say that our drummer, Daniel Firth, and myself are food experts. We are gas station candy experts, specifically. We constantly surprise each other odd or rare candy.

9. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

For whatever reason, I’ve never been the type of person to get star struck. I have met a handful of famous people and musicians. I’d say the closest was meeting Adam West. The guy was Batman, through and through… just a super cool guy to be around.

10. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

I feel incredibly lucky to play music full time. It’s the dream job of dream jobs for me. However, I also brew beer. I previously owned a brewery for about 5 years, closed it in early 2020 and have been brewing again for a small brewpub in Hattiesburg, MS for the last few months. I consider myself very fortunate to get to make money doing things that I’m passionate about. Luckily, I have a great wife that doesn’t seem to mind us being broke most of the time.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I have made plenty of missteps, we all do. I’m sure there are more to come. I can’t say that I would change a thing.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

This will likely sound so cliché – The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. I’m not a huge fan, the album doesn’t necessarily mean a lot to me, but Brian Wilson has always fascinated me. The guy was/is a mad genius. The Pet Sounds sessions were particularly interesting. The level of composition, forward thinking and artistry that he poured into those sessions is insane. It literally advanced the world of music production forever.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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