With bands like the Alabama Shakes and St. Paul and the Broken Bones, the Southeast has harbored a hotbed of a retro-soul resurgence, and Alanna Royale has been quickly rising amongst its ranks. The group has already become a local favorite, thanks to impeccable musicianship and the deep, soulful vocals of the band’s namesake, Alanna Quinn-Broadus. Alanna Royale will be bringing the sounds of their latest release “Achilles” to the Oakleigh Garden District Dec. 13. As Quinn-Broadus strolled through the French Quarter before a gig, she was kind enough to take time to give Lagniappe readers insight into the band as well as their new album.
SC: What’s it like on the road for you and the guys?
AQB: Well, I have to say that this is probably the absolute best group of people to go on the road with. All of us have very distinct personalities. There are some bands where everybody wants to party all the time or get drunk all the time, or everybody is quiet all the time and wants to chill and read a book. We’re a little bit of everything. It’s pretty awesome, because we have a lot of dynamics, and we all understand and respect the dynamics. So, there’s never a dull moment, but it’s very fluid, I guess. We’re a good group. A lot of guys in my band are very funny, and we have a good time wherever we go.
SC: You’re out promoting your new album “Achilles.” How does it feel to be able to spread these new sounds around?
AQB: It feels amazing. When you’re working on the record, it’s going and going, and sometimes it feels like it’s never going to be done. You get a bunch of work done, and you’re like, “Oh God! We still have so much left to go!” There are songs on this record that are some of the first songs we ever wrote in the band. We didn’t really have a big amount of shit to pick from. We had 14 songs to choose from, and we had to have 10 for the record. This is everything we had and all the material we had. I was really happy to put the record together, because for years, people were like, “Do you have an album?” And we were like, “No, we don’t.” We’ve been on the road since the beginning of the band. Within six months of us playing our first show, we were on the road. So, we never had a chance to stop and take time to write and work on a record. So, finally being able to have it out and done not only feels like an amazing accomplishment, but it also sent us straight to the moon about our second record. We’ve already started writing and coming up with concepts and themes. The first one got me excited for the second one. The second one is going to be even better.
SC: You know, that answers another question of mine. A lot of retro-soul bands right now seem to come out with an album, hit the scene hard and gradually fade. So, it’s nice to see you guys working on a new one.
AQB: I don’t know if you know this, but when we started playing together, we didn’t even know each other. We were thrown into gigs together. The first show that I played with our trombone player Diego was the first time I ever met him. He came as we were getting on stage to play. We sent him over PDFs of the charts of the songs. He walked on stage, and I was like, “Hey, man, I’m Alanna.” He was like, “Hey, I’m Diego,” and we just started playing. For everyone to be like, “Why don’t you have more songs or an album?” We didn’t even know each other. We had to work through getting to know each other and breaking down those barriers and getting a feel for each other’s personalities before we could move forward musically. You can’t write this incredible record with a stranger. That took a lot of time too. We’re down the road two years. We’re stronger, and we’re a better live band than we’ve ever been. The songs are getting better and better. It’s going to be awesome.
SC: As far as coming up with songs, how do y’all compose with so many members? Is it spontaneous, or does everybody have their own jobs?
AQB: It usually starts with me or Jarred, our guitar player. We’ll get a certain groove or feel and bring it to the table. Everybody digests it and adds their own layer to it. Even when we have an idea pretty flushed out, it’s never gonna be the same way. It wouldn’t be an Alanna Royale song. It would be that one person. With all of us together, it’s awesome. We start a song, and it can take a spin and be something totally different within three hours. Then, the next rehearsal, everyone sits on it for a minute, and then someone says, “Yo, what if we do this?” and the song takes another spin. Then, it levels out, and we’re like, “Cool, let’s play this song live.”
SC: Your album was named “Achilles” after you lost your voice right around the album’s creation and realized that it was your Achilles Heel. What’s it been like keeping your voice up to par? What kind of measures are you taking these days to prevent it from happening again?
AQB: Before, I didn’t have a strict vocal coach. I had someone that I was seeing here and there. I didn’t realize that the damage was coming. I took care of myself, but there were a lot of things that I didn’t know about my instrument that I really should’ve known before I was going out every night talking, yelling and singing. I’ve been studying with the same voice coach, since my injury. She has changed my voice and changed my life. Now, I’m able to talk all the time and yell and have fun and not have to feel so secluded because she’s got my voice healthy again. I see her whenever I’m home, and we do Skype sessions. Even coming forward and saying I had a vocal problem was a huge step, it was really hard. It’s hard to admit your weakness publicly. It sucks to focus an album’s theme around it. We just wanted people to see where we were coming from with this record.
SC: How will you be spending your Christmas holidays?
AQB: I am going to finish out the rest of this tour and come down to Mobile, then get on a plane and go to Boston and see my in-laws and my family and relax!
Date: Saturday, Dec. 13, 8 p.m.
Venue: Callaghan’s Irish Social Club,
916 Charleston St., www.callaghansirishsocialclub.com
Tickets: $8 at the door
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