MIKE Kerr of Royal Blood reflects upon the last three years as the “wildest time of my life”. He can say that again.

Since the release of the fearsome duo’s selftitled debut album in 2014, singer and bassist Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher have toured the world, partied with Jimmy Page (the Led Zeppelin legend attended Ben’s birthday celebrations) and scored a second number one record with this year’s How Did We Get So Dark?

It’s a far cry from the pair’s struggle to get gigs when they were growing up in West Sussex; Kerr in Worthing, Thatcher in Rustington. The rock-obsessed friends formed Royal Blood in Brighton in 2013 after Kerr returned from travelling in Australia and began to write songs.

There have been downsides to their astronomical rise in profile, though. The intense work schedule after the release of their debut eventually got on top of Kerr and Thatcher and they were both hospitalised after falling ill. Their propensity for partying probably had something to do with their state of exhaustion, too. You get the impression that the duo revel in the idea of rock and roll excess, but Kerr, speaking four dates into yet another extensive European tour, says they’ve had to scale it down somewhat.

“It’s about learning to pace yourself,” says the singer before Royal Blood return home for a huge gig at the Brighton Centre. “It’s like when you start drinking and you get paralytically drunk. That was the first time we had been out on tour. We went from doing three or four night tours in the bands we were in before this to being one of the busiest bands around. Eventually that catches up with you and you learn your lessons. But I wouldn’t have done it any differently.”

Needless to say, it took some time to re-acclimatise to real life after the touring rollercoaster had finally ground to a halt. Upon returning to Brighton, Kerr and Thatcher found it difficult to live at a slower pace. Although Kerr, rather surprisingly, adds that he is rarely recognised in his adopted hometown.

“It’s just a bit weird to be honest,” says the frontman, “because you’re in that routine of travelling all the time and being in this adrenaline-fuelled environment. There is always some kind of pressure. When you come off the road, you don’t have any of that – it’s just about getting back to normal life again.”

Kerr concedes that he and Thatcher “definitely needed to come home” after years of “intense, non-stop work”. Not that Royal Blood were ever going to stay still for too long, though. While Kerr stresses the importance of taking a sabbatical from the rock lifestyle, he always had one eye on revving up the engine once more. “It needs to stop at some point so you can make another record and do it all over again,” he laughs. “So that’s what we did.”

The result of the renewed writing efforts was How Did We Get So Dark?, released in June this year. Stylistically, the album stays close to their debut and Royal Blood’s signature sound; Kerr’s snarling, thunderous basslines match Thatcher’s booming beats every step of the way in a cacophony that seems carefully crafted to fill massive venues like the Brighton Centre. Kerr denies that he and Thatcher had such arenas in mind when they set about writing the album, though.

“We’ve never been in the business of designing songs around which way we think our career is going,” he says. “We always think it’s dangerous to do that. It’s a bit dodgy when bands start playing stadiums and start making U2 rip-offs. If anything, we wanted to get edgier and punkier.”

While Royal Blood have won praise from rock royalty – Jimmy Page predicted they would “take rock into a new realm” – Kerr and Thatcher looked away from the land of six strings for inspiration for How Did We Get So Dark? The album was made in Brighton, London and LA, where Kerr’s girlfriend at the time was living. Kerr calls the process of releasing a followup record “lose-lose”, in that you are always trapped between wanting to replicating what made the debut successful and the obligation to progress your sound.

Royal Blood got around this conundrum by “reminding ourselves we don’t make music for other people – we do it for ourselves”, as Kerr says. “The mentality was ‘**** everyone else’, we’re going to do what we want to do and make the record we want to make.” The pair were in no great rush to complete the recording; quite the opposite. “At one point we realised, ‘hang on a minute, it’s great that people are asking where the record is’,” says Kerr. “It’s better to be talked about than not talked about.”

Kerr has said before that pop and rap artists are the ones “taking risks” in the industry, ahead of guitar bands. Today, he elaborates on how Royal Blood cast the net wider than rock and roll in the process of expanding their sound. Notably, the production of How Did We Get So Dark? was inspired by some modern hip-hop.

“I think to be a rock band in 2017 you can’t just compare yourself to other rock bands. Most people listen to all kinds of music now – they just like good songs. To us, a Kanye West record is sonically superior to most records out there. That’s why we’ve referenced hiphop. If you hear a hip-hop song coming out of a car driving by it sounds way better than modern rock bands; it’s bass-heavy, aggressive and huge.”

Of course, those are all descriptors that apply to Royal Blood. From humble beginnings Kerr and Thatcher have become a true rock and roll success story and one Sussex can claim as its own. Kerr remembers frenetic early gigs at The Haunt and The Royal Pavilion Tavern (where Thatcher used to work behind the bar) in Brighton. The singer has “pretty special memories” of gigs in the city, but also that it could be difficult to judge his band’s true popularity from such occasions.

“All of our friends came to every gig, which made it hard to tell if what we were doing was any good or not,” laughs Kerr. “But those events seemed a good signal that something was translating.”

Kerr had worked in a “load of mad jobs” as well as behind the counter at cafes before he began composing songs for the project that would become Royal Blood. It didn’t take long for music industry figures to start sniffing around. “In six months we went from playing to friends to having meetings with agents and publishers and record labels,” says the singer. “It all started ramping up pretty quickly.”

Kerr remembers simpler times. “The only business meeting we’d had before all that was about the £500 we’d spent recording [debut album songs] Figure It Out and You Can Be So Cruel in a studio. That was as far as our horizons went, really. We didn’t have any ambition – it was something we were doing because it was fun to do.”

In a sense, not much has changed about Kerr and Thatcher. Yes, they’ve shifted tens of thousands of albums, won the approval of rock legends and topped the charts, but their fundamental enthusiasm and ethos has remained the same. Only a few weeks until we can all revel in their scintillating brand of seaside rock.

Royal Blood, Brighton Centre, November 29, 6.30pm. For tickets and more information visit brightoncentre.co.uk or call 08448 471515