Royal Blood Explain Why They Flipped Off The Audience At Radio 1’s Big Weekend
Two weekends ago, singer and bassist Mike Kerr from the English rock duo Royal Blood made headlines by flipping off the crowd while exiting the band’s set at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend festival, following a perturbed rant about how no one in the audience for the pop-focused fest was responding to rock music. This was fun fodder for blog posts here in America, but in the UK it spiraled into a career-threatening pile-on, as media personalities and online randos alike mocked the band for their petulant behavior. (Think of it as the British equivalent of the public meltdown after Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift.) Today, in what appears to be an attempt at a face-saving gesture, Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher sat down with Radio 1’s Greg James to discuss the incident.
“Yeah, that really escalated,” Kerr said of public response to his middle fingers. Before conceding that what Kerr did was “stupid,” Thatcher added, “It was a moment of madness that has gotten out of control, I think. And we actually love the gig. We love playing music, and we love doing what we do. So it’s been a bit of a mad week to come out of this.” When asked to share message to people who were there at the gig in Dundee, Scotland, Kerr responded, “My message is that I meant no offense. We look forward to coming back. And applause is optional.”
Some other Kerr quotes from the interview:
I’m amazed, honestly, at how that escalated to that kind of size. I think walking off from that show I felt I was being entertaining in a way of trying to lighten the situation, perhaps. I was doing a performance where I felt a little out of place. I expected to be a little bit bemused and maybe confuse a few people, but not to that kind of scale. Yeah, pretty wild.
It was somewhat of a blip on my part because it would have taken me three minutes to think, “Oh, maybe these people don’t know who you are.” But I wasn’t going through that thought process. I was, like, very pumped backstage. And I actually really enjoyed playing. I had a great time. The ending, to me, I felt like a sort of pro wrestler. I was sort of walking off like — I felt like a sort of pantomime villain. I didn’t feel like I’d done anything morally wrong. I felt like a bit of a windup, honestly. That’s how I felt.
When I’m in that zone, there’s a part of my personality which only exists onstage. I can’t find any other context in which I’m that energized. I feel like I look different when I’m onstage. Like, offstage I’m very quiet and quite awkward. But onstage I sort of, I don’t know, part of me — it’s why I love it. ‘Cause 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. And I don’t mean any offense. My intention is never to alienate anyone or kind of push anyone away.
We’re very accustomed to playing to audiences that don’t know who we are. That’s not the first time we’ve walked out. That was actually our 599th show. So we’ve nearly got 600. It was nearly a clean game ’til right at the end.
Honestly it’s not worth destroying this band’s career over such a relatively minor offense, but it is pretty funny to see people take asshole behavior to task so enthusiastically. I recommend watching the chat below because watching these guys squirm as they answer the questions really elevates the experience: