Interview with Mlny from Royal Thunder
schedule supporting their debut “CVI,” a record that landed on many critics’ Best of 2012 lists. Their bluesy, riff-driven guitar rock is complemented by Mlny Parsonz’s unforgettable, rough-edged vocals. Mlny and her husband, guitarist Josh Weaver, formed what would become the four-piece Royal Thunder (rounded out by Josh Coleman and Evan Diprima) back in 2004, so their “overnight success story” has been years in the making. After some setbacks in mid-2012, including illness and vocal stress, the band got right back on the road, with 2013 finding them once again on a cross-country tour, this time supporting Norwegian metal giants Enslaved. Mlny took time out of her hectic schedule of writing, creating and playing with the band to discuss her lifelong love of music as well as what the future may hold for Royal Thunder.
How do you plan to spend last month of 2012?
Ah, I can't wait to get back in the van and hit the road. We've been practicing and working hard
to get ready for these next few shows. The last month of 2012, it's a very intense month. We
have a lot of planning being done for 2013--I'm not a planner, so my head is spinning.
I've been immersing myself in playing and I feel the next wave of new material surfacing. We
have been working on a new song. It's about that time for us... I can't wait for the new album!
I've been collaborating with folks in my spare time. I did some work with Spirits and the
Melchezidek Children, from our home town in Atlanta. I think they are the next Atlanta band to
keep an eye on. Great people, great music.
Royal Thunder released “CVI” via Relapse Records in May 2012, but I just have to ask
if the band has already started working on new stuff. Do you like the friendly tradition
of recording a split-album or two with some of cool bands with whom you’ve shared the
Ha, well... I guess I already went there in the previous question! As far as the album splitting, I'm
down with whatever. I would love to see us do a split one day with Caltrop from North Carolina
or ASG. Those bands have a lot of heart and soul and that's what I am drawn to. Caltrop has
almost brought me to tears, while watching them live. That's the kind of art/music that I want to
partner our music with.
I know it’s a kind of metaphysical question to ask you, talking about the reasons for Royal
Thunder’s success, but anyway – how did it happen from your point of view? Just one EP
and bang, you’re signed with Relapse Records. Some bands can’t even dream about success
All of this started in a living room in 2004. It slowly made its way to the trio you hear on our
EP. That was Josh Weaver, Jesse Stuber, and I. There was never a sense of overnight success
for us. We had been at it for years! It's just that no one really knew about it outside of the people
who were coming to the shows we would play in our living room or the basements we played
every weekend. We all lived together for 5 years and practiced almost every waking hour. We
toured in a van and played small clubs and not many people were ever there. We did all of our
CDs by hand. We were our own merch people--still are! We really put our blood and sweat and
tears into this band. We worked so hard for so many years. We love doing this! We had all been
in the music scene since we were teenagers so to finally have someone pay attention and hear us
express ourselves through music was a dream come true.
On hooking up with Relapse, we were playing a typical show out in Nashville at the Muse. It
was pretty much bands watching bands. We have always said "no matter what, we do this for us,
not for anyone else, so it's 100 percent, every night, no matter who's watching,” so that's what
we did. The word got back to Relapse from the band Javelina (a Philly-based band), and the rest
is history. They offered us an opportunity and we took it! It's been a really amazing journey. It's
been a blessing to our band. If you never give up and you have no plan B, something has got to
give. Always push, even when it's hard as fuck; if you love it, prove it to yourself.
Royal Thunder has truly become a professional band, and tours and interviews like this
are necessary elements of such a creative job. Do you happy with this way of living? Does it
interfere with your personal life?
I feel very at peace when we are on the road. I feel at peace, being a musician. I feel at peace
being an artist, and a starving artist at that; that's ok with me. I get to express my heart and spirit
when I make music, I feel alive and free and real when I play. I feel grounded and I have a sense
of "doing what I was made to do." I know how to adapt and how to be uncomfortable, I know
how to push through and this lifestyle has given back to me, what I have put into it. It has always
been my dream to live in a gypsy van and be wherever, whenever. So I lucked out! I've always
dreamed of just "being in a band" and making my living doing what I love. As far as my personal
life goes? This is my personal life. It's with me. I'm in it.
You have an image of a graveyard in the cover art for “CVI” and it’s one of most popular
symbols in rock music, along with skulls, witches and hellfire. Do you like old school rock
symbolism or do you have something new for the modern scene?
This photo was taken in the most famous graveyard in our city, by our friend and photographer
Kevin Griggs who has been taking photos in the metal scene here in Atlanta, since we started
out. It wasn't meant to fit a trend in any way. Josh W and I just love the darker side of things. I
remember dressing up as a witch when I was a child in mid-July, casting spells (all imaginary)
out of an encyclopedia while walking down the sidewalk in Jersey! Meanwhile Josh W is
dressed up as Dracula drinking a glass of water with red food coloring in it, during an off season,
in Georgia, while his mom is boiling the skin off of a goat head for him after he begs her for a
skull while shopping at the farmers market. It's just who we are, and what we like. How we've
always been. How we will most likely be when we are old.
You talk about Royal Thunder’s music as “post-apocalyptic blues.” Is it because of your
Southern groovy sound or is it somehow reflected in your lyrics?
I imagine the post-apocalypse and us setting up our gear amongst all the debris and carnage
while the last of the fires fall from the sky and explosions are going off deep in the distance, and
we just play and look around and feel everything that's happened. That's what I mean when I
say "post-apocalyptic blues".
Do you have any favorite rock or metal lyrical topics? Sometimes I have a problem with
music because of stupid or too-trendy texts, yet I know that’s not a problem for most
musicians and listeners.
I can't say I do. I listen to the music and let it tell me what it's trying to say. It never fails--listen
and be open, it will make you feel something. I try to live in the moment with each song; it's like
meeting someone new and trying to figure out their sign... You will see it eventually.
You were touring a lot, crossing the USA here and there. Are there big differences between
the states? Where did you feel the most enthusiastic welcome?
That's a tough question. I'm not a complainer or a diva--none of us are--so as campy as it sounds,
it's always good if you’re looking for the good and at the good. You can't get all wrapped up in
your demands and desires. A club is a club is a club. Same goes for the city, show or whatever.
I wanna play, I wanna take people to another place within themselves. I can do that anywhere!
It's a privilege to be able to do this with my life...Yeah, we’re human, shit ain't always gonna
be "high,” but we try to keep a good attitude.
This might not be the most brilliant question, but do you care about your appearance
during gigs? I guess it could be difficult after a long roadtrip.
I dress the same on and off of stage, really. I basically wear the same thing every night and wash
it in the sink at the club or the gas station. Fancy, huh?
Mlny, you have Spanish roots--don’t they call you to visit Europe with Royal Thunder?
What are the chances to see you in Old World in 2013?
Yes I do! My mother is from Spain--a small town, Galicia. All of my family on her side is still
over there. I visited every summer for two months at a time from the time I was born. I am very
close to my family in Spain. They support me endlessly! Especially my Tio Chemo. I would love
to play in Spain and see them! It will happen in 2013, that's my belief! I'd love nothing more than
for my bandmates to experience Spain and be totally spoiled by my kind and loving family. My
abuela can throw down on some cooking, looking forward to that.