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Royal Blood respond to Big Weekend viral video controversy

'It was a moment of madness that has gotten out of control'.

By Emma Wilkes

Royal Blood press shot, 2023
(Photo: Tom Beard)

Royal Blood have spoken out about a video of frontman Mike Kerr becoming frustrated with the crowd at Radio 1 Big Weekend going viral.

The Brighton duo performed in Camperdown Park in Dundee over the Bank Holiday weekend and sparked debate online when Kerr became annoyed with what he deemed to be a lack of crowd participation.

“I guess I should actually introduce ourselves seeing as no-one actually knows who we are,” Kerr had said. “We’re called Royal Blood and this is rock music. Who likes rock music? Nine people. Brilliant.”

Later, Kerr remarked, “We’re having to clap ourselves because that was so pathetic,” before turning to the camera and asking: “Will you clap for us? Will you clap? You’re busy. Can you clap? Yes, even he’s clapping. What does that say about you?”

At the end of their set, Kerr threw his guitar to the floor and left the stage sticking both middle fingers up at the crowd.

Now, Royal Blood have commented on the situation in an interview with Radio 1’s Greg James. When James remarked that the duo had had “a shocker”, Kerr agreed that the situation “escalated”.

“I’m amazed, honestly, at how that escalated to that kind of size,” he said. “Walking off from that show, I felt that I was being entertaining in a way of trying to make light of the situation. I was doing a performance where perhaps I felt a bit out of place. I expected to sort of be a little bit bemused and confuse a few people but not to that kind of scale. Pretty wild.”

“It was a moment of madness that has gotten out of control, I think,” added drummer Ben Thatcher. “We actually love the gig. We love playing music and we love doing what we do, so it’s a bit of a mad week to come out of this.”

Asked how they were feeling about it all, Kerr said it was “somewhat of a blip on my part”.

“It would have taken me three minutes to think ‘Maybe these people don’t know who you are’, but I wasn’t going through that thought process. I was very pumped backstage. I actually really enjoyed playing, I thought I had a great time and the ending to me, I sort of felt like a pro wrestler. Walking off, I felt like a sort of pantomime villain; I didn’t feel like I’d done anything morally wrong. It felt like a bit of a wind-up honestly, that’s kind of how I felt.”

Kerr said he had watched the clip back. “When I’m in that zone, there’s a part of my personality which only exists on stage. I can’t find any other context in which I’m that energised. I feel like I look different when I’m on stage. Offstage I’m very quiet and awkward, whereas on stage… that’s why I love it, there’s an energy to it and I guess it’s very easy to get swept up in that energy. And honestly, it’s quite fun.

He continued: “I don’t mean any offence. My intention is never to alienate anyone or push anyone away.”

James told the band he thought that the crowd were “into” their performance and said he could hear them cheering. “We’re very accustomed to playing to audiences who don’t know who we are. That’s not the first time we’ve walked out [to that]; that was our 599th show,” Kerr responded. “We nearly got to 600 – it was nearly a clean game.”

“Mike walks out the pub like that. It’s not unusual,” added Thatcher. “It was just stupid.”

Asked how it felt to be “the main character” on social media for the day, Kerr said: “I’m not on social media so I was getting graphs sent through the post”.

“It wasn’t nice,” Thatcher said. “I can’t lie about it, it’s not nice to see things like that. There are some funny things that go up, but most of it is pretty nasty. That’s a totally different thing I think.”

“I meant no offence,” Kerr concluded. “We look forward to coming back and applause is optional.”

Royal Blood’s new album Back To The Water Below is out September 9. The band are set to open for Muse on select dates later this month and will embark on a headline tour in October.