Mike Kerrs’ Gear – Royal Blood’s Man of Mystery


Don’t expect any “here’s the secrets of my sound” instructional videos from Mike Kerr. The bassist–frontman half of the British power duo Royal Blood (drummer Ben Thatcher is the other half) doesn’t want anybody to know how he creates enough musical thunder to equal two or even three players. That especially holds true for journalists nosy enough to ask him about his effects. “I’m not gonna talk about my gear,” he tells me. “I don’t talk about my pedals, ever.”

“Well, I know you use an Electro-Harmonix POG2 and a Z.Vex Mastotron Fuzz,” I venture, to which Kerr counters, “There you go then. So you know all you need to know.” I bring up the matter of Kerr’s “mystery pedal,” the identity of which he swears he’ll never disclose. He dangles a carrot, sort of: “I could tell you, mate, but then I’d have to kill you.” Repeated attempts to wrangle more info are met with silence. In other words, “No further comment.”

Part of the reason why so many people want to divine the recipe for Kerr’s sound is he makes such an implausibly monstrous musical racket—a nearly solid-wall mix of bass and guitar tones—all by himself. But whereas most power duos are based around the guitar-and-drums conceit, Royal Blood is a six-strings-free entity. Bass isn’t Kerr’s first instrument; the Worthing, England, native didn’t even start playing the instrument until several years ago. He and Thatcher (who hails from the neighboring town of Rustington) had knocked around together in several bands in which he played keyboards, but after he picked up some side money to play bass on a session, Kerr decided to stick with it. “I never thought about the guitar,” he admits. “I thought the sound I got out of the bass was cool, and everybody plays guitar, so what’s new about that? There’s less to discover on the guitar, less to explore. I didn’t think there were many bass players with a cool sound, so why not give it a go?”

Royal Blood came flying out of the gate in 2014 with its self-titled debut, an action-packed winner that combined the combustible qualities of stoner rock and the low end of EDM. But the band also had a thing for widescreen pop hooks, and tracks like “Out of the Black” and “Little Monster” brimmed with melodies that buried themselves in the thicket of your senses. Kerr and Thatcher build on that formula with their sophomore release, How Did We Get So Dark? It hits every hit as hard as their debut, but it also offers a few new considerations: “She’s Creeping” hints at spiraling psychedelia, and “Hole in Your Heart” (on which Kerr pounds out an infectious riff on a Fender Rhodes Piano Bass) indicates that dance rhythms lurk not so deep in the hearts of the strapping, walloping duo.

“We’re trying to grow, but we want to do it naturally and honestly,” says Kerr, who allows that he’s just now coming to terms with the idea of being a bass player. “It wasn’t really in my comfort zone at first. But here I am. I’ve done it a few years now, and I kind of feel like, ‘All right, maybe I am a bass player.’ Well, perhaps more of a bass guitarist than bass player.”


  • Fender custom Jaguar Basses
  • Fender Starcaster


  • Fender Super-Sonic 22 combo amp
  • Fender Super Bassman head,
  • Fender Bassman 810 Neo cabinet


  • Electro-Harmonix POG2 Polyphonic Octave Generator
  • Z.Vex Vextron Series Mastotron
  • Boss LS-2 Line Selector
  • Boss PS-6 Harmonist
  • Strymon Flint Tremolo & Reverb


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