"You have your chosen family in life, and then you’ve got your blood brothers. And this band is my family": How Royal Thunder came back from the abyss

 Royal Thunder group portrait
Royal Thunder group portrait

It’s been a long six years since we last heard from Royal Thunder. But now the American hard rockers have re-emerged, slimmed down to a trio of vocalist/bassist Mlny Parsonz, guitarist Josh Weaver and drummer Evan Diprima.

Their new album Rebuilding The Mountain, a belated follow-up to 2017’s Wick, is a powerfully diverse, atypically concise set of tracks thatsuggest the band have been through an intense period of soul-searching during the interim. Parsonz opens up to Classic Rock.

Why so long since the last Royal Thunder album? 

Personally, I went through a time of hiding from myself. I felt this overall sense of loss and disconnect and uncertainty. So I just buried myself in getting fucked up, just to distract myself from the pain and feeling like everything had been stripped away.

What do you think was the root cause of all that?

During the pandemic, Evan left the band and Josh was unsure about whether or not he wanted to resurrect Royal Thunder, because it had pretty much died. I didn’t even know if he wanted to continue making music with me. It’s not so much that being in Royal Thunder is my identity, but it was the thing I did that made it possible for me to express myself – spiritually, emotionally, creatively.

And suddenly I had no outlet. I felt suicidal, just so lost. And the way I was expressing myself was by being probably the most annoying person you can imagine – like a really loud, Bart Simpson psychopath.

How did you turn that around?

I think the whole point in going through pain or hardship is there’s an option. You can use it to push yourself to surrendering your ego, which then pushes you to a higher level, your true self. I’m thankful to see that all pain leads to something good, if you allow it. Now, for the first time in my life, I’m actually feeling consistently happy. I’ve really just cleared out all the bullshit and all the noise.

How did all that play into Rebuilding The Mountain?

Initially I was hearing this music that Josh and Evan were writing and I was afraid of it, because the songwriting was very different. It wasn’t ten-minute songs, it wasn’t long intros. But when I really embraced it, I actually think it might be my favourite album we’ve ever made. It’s just a reflection of where we are in our lives.

Live To Live seems to be a key song here. Fabulous guitar solo as well. 

I think of Josh’s guitar playing in terms of The Beatles’ While My Guitar Gently Weeps. I’m like: “Dude, that solo’s got weeper vibes!” It’s so evocative. The song is a lot to do with acknowledging some things I went through in my childhood, reconciling with your kid self. But I’ve yet to really look it in the face. Live To Live still has little secrets that even I don’t know.

So does Royal Thunder feel like a complete band again? 

Yeah. Now I feel like, man, this is it. This is where I’m going to really put all of myself into. And being more present, because I’m not fucked up, is a whole other level for me. You have your chosen family in life, and then you’ve got your blood brothers. And this band is my family. The music is what keeps us connected.

Rebuilding The Mountain is out now via Spinefarm Records.