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Stacking The Deck with Better Royals
Friday, September 21, 2018

Stacking The Deck is a feature exclusive to Adam’s World where I bring packs of 1991 Pro Set Superstars MusiCards to artists, and we discuss who they find in each pack.

When you bring together a hip-hop soul man, a punk rock drummer, and a powerhouse female vocalist, you get Better Royals, the perfect soundtrack to a good time.

Klokwize (hip-hop soul man), Rich Stone (drummer), and Jenny B (powerhouse vocalist) (photographed L to R) are the trio that make up the Connecticut-based band – they add touring members Joe Castro and Point Blank for live shows – and they recently brought their good time vibe to The Acoustic in Bridgeport, CT.

The group performed songs off their self-titled EP, which was released this summer, and you’d have been hard pressed to find anyone in the audience who wasn’t fully embracing the groove.


I caught up with Better Royals after the show to open up some packs of MusiCards, and the artists we found sparked conversations about the unique way in which the group came together, their love of combining musical genres, and some of the members’ previous projects – one of which was a hair metal cover band.



MC Hammer

Why MC Hammer?

Rich: Because he’s too legit to quit.

Jenny B: Because those legs. Come on, the speed! Come on now.

Klokwize: He has hidden depth. He was hanging out with Tupac near the end, and he almost went to that Las Vegas fight.

I always wondered what he and Tupac talked about, and what they had in common, because they seemed to be fast friends.

Rich: For me it’s all about the show. He was a guy who could get up and rap, and dance. He had numbers for every song. He had a routine going, and that’s kind like what Michael Jackson did – create an atmosphere around each one of his songs. I really like that kind of thing. Especially as a young kid, seeing the parachute pants, and doing all the dance moves.



Bell Biv DeVoe

Klokwize: (New Edition) broke up and they figured this thing out. It’s pretty cool. It’s a testament.

Joe: Michael Bivens was in that squad. They had ARTISTS. They had true artists.

Klokwize: And they had to pick up the pieces when everything got crazy. They managed to pull out a whole ‘nother successful group. I take that as an example. That’s awesome.

So you’re saying if this band goes to shit you’re gonna take two of the members and make another successful group?

Everyone: {laughs}

Rich: That’s what he did! That’s what Better Royals is! When we first got together …

Jenny B: You can’t reveal this!

Rich: It’s a minor reveal.

Jenny B: OK, just let it fly, but you have to quote that Rich said this, and not me!

Rich: I remember being in a punk band, getting interviewed by this guy (Klokwize) for a battle of the bands. We’d played shows together, and he texts me like, “Hey man, I know you got your band, but I’m looking for a drummer,” and I was like, “Well, my band is moving to California and I’m not, so I’m your guy. I’ll be here whenever,” and we’ve been together every since.

He’s the kind of guy, he can find people to surround himself with that are similarly minded. It’s a parallel (to New Edition and Bell Biv DeVoe) – you pick up the pieces and figure out what you’re gonna do, whether it’s change your sound, or change your style. He can adapt to anything.

Jenny B: I was brought to one of Klokwize’s shows as a side event coordinator / promo person, and the guy who brought me, I told him I could sing, and he was like oh, cool. It wasn’t a big deal. I heard (Klokwize) on stage and I was like {whispering voice} “I need to sing in front of that boy. I must,” and someway, somehow, I sang somewhere for him, and ever since then …

Rich: It’s always been some version of the three of us.

{looking at Point Blank and Joe Castro} So you two may have to kill them to become full time members of the group.

Joe: Oh yeah. Obviously.

I’ve known (Klokwize) since I was like 10 or 11, so it’s always awesome to be able to be a part (of his musical projects). I play the background. You guys are awesome.

Jenny B: I’ve got some tears.

Joe: If you look at the musical splash Bell Biv DeVoe had, or New Edition had, if you look at what they did, it was a splash of hip-hop and R&B, or hip-hop and pop, and that’s exactly what (Klokwize) has been able to incorporate, whether it be Jenny, or whether it be the punk rock sound of drums. That’s what they’ve been able to take from that group – to be able to splash the music together, and make something new, but old.



Extreme

Rich: As a drummer I have a personal gripe because Extreme’s drummer, who is now Dream Theater’s drummer, Mike Mangini, he has the world’s fastest hands – why is the world’s fastest drummer in a band whose hit song had no fucking drums whatsoever?!?!

Also their lead singer was Gary Cherone, who was my least favorite frontman for Van Halen.

My buddy Blake, he plays out in Nashville now, he’s a kick ass guitarist, he was in my first band, it was an ‘80s hair metal cover band, and he turned me on to Extreme. He said, “You gotta listen to all these other songs.”

“More Than Words” was such an outlier for them.

Rich: Yeah, it was so not what they do. They were so kick ass, but you would have never known it from their hit song. It’s kind of a “don’t judge a book by its cover” type of thing.

We’re gonna rewind for a second. You said you were in a hair metal band?

Rich: Yeah.

What was that like?

Rich: Oh it was a time. Lemme tell ya.

Jenny B: It was a time of hair?

Rich: It was a time when I was able to drink an awful lot before I played, because from a drumming perspective it was very simple drums, but the guitarist, man …

I’d get wasted. I’d be sitting there just sipping on a bottle of Jack Daniel’s in the basement, practicing with these dudes. One guy was a Berklee guy, one guy was a Musicians Institute guy, and they would both shred with each other, and you’d just sit and watch them like, holy fuck, this is insane. That was the coolest part about it.

The singer wanted to be in a Scorpions band, for sure. He was Russian, and had a very thick accent, he would come down the stairs and be like, “We are the Scorpions!”

Jenny B: I’m so sad I missed this.

Rich: Dr. Roxx Heavy Metal Jukebox, that was our name. We did one show, in a dive bar in South Windsor. That was my first show ever.

Jenny B: And I friggin’ missed it!

Joe: I’ve seen a lot of different groups, and a lot of different bands, and it’s crazy to see the people (Klokwize is) able to find that connect and believe. It’s almost like sports, because people believe in the coach, Klok, and they believe in what his mission is, and you guys make it your mission, as well. I think that’s what makes it more than music. It makes every show a little bit different.

Rich: You know, we were in the basement recording Hood Hippie I had my girlfriend, who is my fiancé now, with me and we were sitting there, and you (Klokwize) were so big on “Boogeyman Blues,” like, “I gotta have this song, I gotta have this song.”

Klokwize: Yeah, I fought for that record.

Rich: And we’re just kinda like OK, whatever. I played drums like, I’m just gonna put a stock beat with the hi-hat on the off beats instead. I just did boot and cats for like five minutes, and made a beat.

He’s got his cell phone on and I’m like wow, look at this rapper.

Klokwize: I was writing on the cell phone.

Rich: He spits the second verse, and when he was done we were all crying. I was like whoa, this dude … it’s not just bars for the sake of bars, he’s thinking about his shit. That was when I knew, when I saw the emotion and the energy that was put in to that song, that was a game changer for me. That’s why I’m still here, man! I can’t go away!


Klokwize: Hood Hippie was a crowning achievement.

That was a while ago.

Klokwize: Yeah, and you covered it. I’ll never forget that you put me in a RapReviews Top 10 of the year. I’d read that site since I was 12. If it told me Reasonable Doubt was hot, I went and bought Reasonable Doubt.

Hood Hippie, the one that was made in a basement in Manchester, CT, it was in a RapReviews Top 10. That’s so cool.



Ozzy Osbourne

Rich: Remember the time Klokwize bit the head off a bat?

Everyone: {laughs}

Klokwize: Ozzy’s a cool example of, he’s a brand, and he found a way to be himself and still make it commercial. That’s pretty cool. It’s a rare talent.

Rich: You guys remember when Ozzy was on the reality TV show, and no one could understand him? There were rumors going around at that time that he would forget lyrics, and that he was bumbling through sets. I went to Ozzfest that year, I think it was ’03 or ’04, and obviously he’s headlining, it was like a Black Sabbath reunion type thing, and he was on point. He sang everything really well, didn’t forget any of the lyrics, and they were reaching back into some of their old catalog.

I think a parallel I could draw is like the perception you get of someone – kind of like the Extreme thing – versus how they actually are. Again, going back to these two {points to Klokwize and Jenny B}, the first time my fiancé met Jenny, she did not like Jenny.

Jenny, you were a threat?

Jenny B: I am not a threat! I keep my legs shut! Well, in front of these boys anyway.

Rich: The first time (my fiancé) Siobhan met Jenny, Siobhan was like, “Who’s this girl? I don’t know what her deal is. She seems kinda threatening. She’s really chummy with you, and I don’t really get it.”

Jenny B: Because I like hugs … a lot.

You’re Bayley from WWE.

Rich: Then she got to talk to Jenny one on one, and Jenny was exactly the same, and she was like, “Oh wow, that’s just how she is. Never mind then.”

I totally get it. It’s that we all present versions of ourselves.

I feel like I’m my most normal self when we’re rocking out on the stage, and I can get into it. That’s when I’m truly myself.

Jenny B: There’s only one version of me. One that hugs a lot, and sings a lot. That’s it. That’s what you get.

Joe: Honestly it’s scary how close people become through music, and what you said is so true. If we can bring that back to artists, I grew up on rap music and R&B, I’ve never sat and rocked out to Ozzy through a whole day, but if you can say with a straight face that you do not want a little bit of his badass in you, or that little “I don’t give a fuck,” you’re lying, dude. That’s showmanship.

As a rapper you can’t do that, which is why it’s so impressive that Klok can do that with you guys. For him to go up there and (do a song) like “Dance Floor,” for him to go up there and have the balls to do that … that’s not a rapper.



George Michael

Klokwize: This is music with arms and legs. Nobody sang like him. He sang with Whitney Houston, he sang with Mary J. Blige. I have never heard someone, especially a British guy, someone that’s sort of an outsider to that type of music, sing next to Mary J. Blige like that.

Joe: Klok likes George Michael because he’s a pretty boy, but he still has an edge to him.

Klokwize: This is the frontman Olympics. This dude could stand in front of anything and just have charisma. He was just music, and swag.

Jenny B: The way his vocals sound for a male singer literally made me want to be born a man.

You could hear that man’s soul when he sings.



INXS

Jenny B: If I could only listen to one song for the rest of my life it would be “Never Tear us Apart.” I am obsessed with it. I want to live inside that song. That song is my entire life. I want a love like that forever.


For more Better Royals, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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