The New Royalty is another up-and-coming band hailing from the New Brunswick area of New Jersey. Comprised of twins Nick (guitar) and Brittany (Bree, vocals) Iafelice, Ricky Joyce (drums) and Kyle Davis (bass), the band has opened for Big Time Rush and played venues with Kicking Daisies, Anson Li and more. I caught up with them, for one of my rare live interviews, at the JerseyStock music festival in late June.
ANTHONY: Let’s start with an easy question. How did the band come together?
BREE: We all met at a music school about, how many years ago? Five? Almost six. They were here originally, Nick and Kyle, I joined soon after because Nick’s my twin, you know. I went to a few of his shows and I really liked and got along with everyone. Really well, and ever since then we’ve been best friends.
ANTHONY: Do you feel like your style has changed over the past five or six years? You know, bands grow and mature?
BREE: We’ve changed a hell of a lot. Everyone does from the ages of like twelve to nineteen or twenty. We first started out as a cover band, and we really enjoyed all the songs. It helped us grow as artists. And then we started writing our own stuff and since then I guess we’ve changed a lot.
RICKY: We haven’t put anything out since 2010. So we’ve had a lot of time to work together and get tight as a band, understand how each other approaches music, and we’ve been writing together and then we’re going to be recording our first original stuff since 2010 this month. We’ve had a lot of time together to understand each other which helps a lot in the writing process.
Anthony: So let’s talk about that, that’s a perfect lead-in. How do you approach writing the new material?
RICKY: We all have different strengths. And we all know that. So, Bree’s really good at melodies, and Kyle and I work well at arranging, taking someone else’s idea and arranging it from a rhythm section point of view, and Nick is really good at all-around just throwing a really good guitar part on top of everything, like the icing on top.
BREE: We all have our different strengths, but…
RICKY: It all depends on who comes to the table with something first. She’ll come in with something…
BREE: It’s always different.
ANTHONY: So it’s a more organic method, it’s not one person is the lyrics, one person is the melody.
BREE: We all have those strengths, but we try…
RICKY: Like, I’ll try to contribute lyrics, and it’ll be a disaster. And I know that before we start.
BREE: Yeah, but it always helps. (Ricky laughs)
KYLE: I write music every day, whether it’s on piano, or bass or guitar, and even if it sounds like crap, I’ll write it out on paper for later. And recently I’ve been working with Bree on lyrics. But honestly, it’s up to her to make the melody. That’s not my strength.
ANTHONY: In high school I took a music theory class senior year with Mrs. Castronovo and … I’ve forgotten everything I learned. And now I find when I try to write lyrics, I look down and I’m like “well, that’s a really nice poem.” No musicality whatsoever. So I can sympathise, Kyle. Now, you guys are going back into the studio in August … but you’ve been playing some of the new stuff live, though. The song you played today, and I’m really bad at titles…
BREE: Not This Time.
ANTHONY: Is that going to be part of the new album?
BREE: We’re hoping. We all really like that song. It connects well with the audience.
ANTHONY: Yeah, it seemed to get a really strong reaction from the audience. I was standing at the back and the energy was strong. When I come to shows like this, I tend to hang back and let the screaming girls be up front. (Something Dan Geraghty from Hollywood Ending still teases me about.) But if you can sell it to me at the back and get me moving … it’s strong.
ANTHONY: Do you have any performances coming up in August or September?
RICKY: I’m so bad with dates.
BREE: We don’t have much because we’re really focused on writing and getting the new EP out. We’re playing the new stuff live, but we want to share it with our friends online. And we do have friends now in South America who love us, and we want to do it with them.
RICKY: I forget the dates, but in September I think we’re doing a benefit for Autism.
BREE: We love charities.
RICKY: The woman who is putting it together got Kicking Daisies…
KYLE: Oh, that’s in October in Montclair.
RICKY: I know it’s us, Kicking Daisies, she’s trying to get Hollywood Ending… And then there’s another one in November, another benefit for a company I work for. We’re doing like three benefits in October and November.
ANTHONY: Keep me posted and I’ll tweet and post about it.
RICKY: Thanks. Oh! We were selected to be on a Doors tribute album. So there’s two albums. One is just bands. The last time we heard, it sounded like the possibility that the Flaming Lips were also going to be on it. That might not be current. So we did “Break On Through.”
BREE: And it’s kicking!
RICKY: It’ll be on iTunes and maybe in stores in September.
BREE: Keep an eye out for it!
RICKY: And, it’s like … you know Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist, just passed away, and this was all in the works before that. So now it’s like this weird coincidence that he passed and now this tribute album is coming out. And the second album is all famous keyboardists of the classic rock era to play the keyboard parts. So there’s Rick Wakeman of YES and the guy from Asia. So it’s going to be a big deal.
ANTHONY: Sounds like it. I’ll watch for it. Hopefully they’ll release it as a set and you’ll be out there with Rick Wakeman!
NICK: We also have the Christmas album. Our second one! We’re releasing another Christmas album. For some reason.
ANTHONY: Christmas music is popular. I wrote a Christmas book, The Firflake, about the first snowflake of Christmas and how the elves met Santa, and it sells a little bit every year.
RICKY: But, you know, every year it’s instantly marketable.
BREE: And it’s kinda helping us discover what we want to do, because you know, we’re covering songs that have been done several, several times. So we put our own twists on them, and it kind shows what direction we’ll be going into.
KYLE: Our creativity, you know, it really puts us on the spot.
ANTHONY: How can you take something that’s been done a million times and still sound like yourselves. You mentioned being really into charities, and that’s something I’m into, too, so let’s talk about what charities you support and how people can help you support them.
BREE: I personally support food pantries and stuff like that. And To Write Love On Their Arms.
NICK: We also used to work with this anti-bullying company called…
KYLE: Kicking It.
NICK: Kicking It. Trying to get kids aware of the harmful things that come from bullying. And there’s a bunch of stuff we do. There’s this thing called The Pajama Program, donating pajamas to kids who need them. We’ve done Make A Wish Foundation.
BREE: We donated, how much was it … $10,000…
RICKY: We were part of a big even that collectively raised like $10,000.
NICK: Our last charity was actually our CD release party for our last album. We donated all the money we took in to a middle school to help them keep their music program.
KYLE: It was actually my middle school, so that was kind of cool.
ANTHONY: Feels good to give back, right? I go back every year, I grew up in Mahopac, NY, and I do the American Cancer Society Relay For Life. And, you know, I could do events here in NJ because I’ve lived here for 17 years now, but it feels right to back and honor my parents, who died from different types of cancer, and my friends and family.
BREE: We did a show with the Cancer Society.
RICKY: We did a walk, yeah.
BREE: We’ve all been affected by cancer in our own way, so it’s something that’s important to us.
ANTHONY: Well, as a cancer survivor, thank you for helping out! Okay, the last question I ask in every interview: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?
RICKY: Holy crap. That’s a tough one.
BREE: I have one. And it’s not Twilight. (Band laughs) It’s still like a mystical kind of thing. I read a whole series called The Fallen. I think it’s good because it’s unexpected. I didn’t see the ending coming.
RICKY: I’m not a huge book person, so it took me a minute, but I remember reading this book called Mind Blindness. It’s a book about the perspective of someone who has autism, and the stereotypes and the labels attached with autism are not what they appear to be if you’re looking through the eyes of someone with autism, as far as what they’re capable of. It inspired me to go into special education, so yeah, it was an eye-opener.
ANTHONY: A life-changing book, then. Cool.
KYLE: I read when I have to. So in high school, I guess…
ANTHONY: By the way, comic books are also an acceptable answer. Just throwing that out there as a comic book fan.
KYLE: (laughs) I actually read this book, it was really interesting, Brave New World. It’s a futuristic book, and one kid is like from like a totally different culture and he really has to work, to hunt, to survive. And this other person who comes from a world where he doesn’t have to do anything. So they’re at different levels. And there’s “orgy-porgies” in there somewhere, so I’ll just leave you with that.
NICK: What, what did you call it?
KYLE: Orgy-porgy! It was very interesting!
NICK: I love it. (pauses) Oh, shit, it’s my turn. Uhm … Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess. It was really an eye-opener.
ANTHONY: You didn’t see the ending coming.
NICK: It made me interested in trying other foods, now I don’t knock other foods when I see people eating it. Made me more open to other people’s eating habits…
ANTHONY: Dan from Hollywood Ending’s answer to this question was Hop On Pop, so you’re in good company. Can’t go wrong with Dr. Suess. Thanks for chatting, guys. Can’t wait to hear the new music!
And here’s a video that’s about 1o months old, for their song “I’ll Remember You:”