Royal Thunder Return to New Heights on Fourth Album ‘Rebuilding the Mountain’

Royal Thunder’s second album Crooked Door documented the end of a marriage between bandmates singer and bassist Miny Parsonz and guitarist Josh Weaver. Following the release of Wick in 2017, the band parted ways, and the years that followed were some of the most transformative for the Georgia rockers, most notably Weaver, who became sober. The chain of events eventually led Royal Thunder back together and to assemble their fourth album Rebuilding the Mountain. 

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“The music came at a time when we needed it,” Weaver tells American Songwriter. “The band had broken up prior to COVID. I also got sober prior to COVID, so it was a very concentrated time. There was a lot of stuff going on in that time period, and getting sober, the addiction dissolving right before that, and COVID happening, all of the songs came from a place of self-reflection and just nowhere to run.”

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In the years after Wick, the band barely wrote anything new, says Weaver. Guitarist Will Fiore left the band shortly after the album’s release, followed by drummer Evan Diprima.

“I probably had one or two things written, but I thought for sure that we were just done,” says Weaver. “We were partying and alcohol became more important than the music, so all these songs came from a place of emotion, of losing and grieving that part of my life, and grieving the loss of making bad decisions and burning everything in my life. The songs came from a period of loss and working through a crazy time during COVID and a lot of stuff that I think we had all personally gone through prior to that.”

He adds, “There’s a range of emotion from sad to happy to dark to raunchy.”

All those ends and more slope along the 10 tracks of Rebuilding the Mountain. Produced by the band and Tom Tapley, and recorded in West End Sound in Atlanta, the album also marks the first time the band has recorded live together, evident around the hardened pulses of “Drag Me,” and psychedelic wails on “The Knife.”

Rebuilding the Mountain climbs rougher peaks on punching “No Here-No Where” and the indie measured “Twice,” before picking up again on “Pull.” Running at just over five minutes, 30 seconds, the lengthier “Live to Live” is a track Weaver says helped drive the entire album. Moving from the ripping “My Ten,” fuzzed out Fade,” and metal of “The King,” the album closes on the downtempo “Dead Star.”

A metaphor for reassembling, building themselves back up, the album title is one Weaver found while watching old TV Westerns on a loop after a night of partying.

“I’ve always gravitated towards strings of words that have grabbed my attention,” says Weaver. “I remember I had been partying all night and was up into the morning hours with the TV on, and there was this Western on.  I don’t even remember the story completely, but it was a mountainside that had been mined, and one of the characters said something along the lines of, ‘It’s time to rebuild the mountain.’”

He adds, “That just clicked with me. For some reason, it resonated, and I just wrote it down, and ever since then, I think it was speaking to me. I knew that there needed to be a change, deep down, even if I wasn’t ready to face it at that moment. And it really framed what the album meant, and what it means, with us rebuilding our lives, the band, and everything that surrounds that.”

Rebuilding the Mountain is about redemption, reconciliation, and reconstructing something from scratch again. Building themselves back up during the pandemic in 2020, Diprima rejoined the band, and Royal Thunder continued on as a trio.

“We all made amends, and it was terrible losing him [Diprima],” says Weaver. “It just wasn’t right. We tried other drummers after him, and it just didn’t click, so immediately we just got right back to it and started demoing once we were together again.”

Throughout the past decade, from Royal Thunder’s 2012 debut CVI through now, Weaver believes that songwriting has compressed within the band. “I feel like I can say a lot more in a shorter amount of time versus past records,” shares Weaver. “I think it’s a direct correlation of trimming a lot of the fat out of our lives. There’s a lot of looking at it and going, “Some of the songs didn’t need to be eight to 10 minutes long to get the point across.” 

During the CVI era, Weaver says the band was also on the verge of “creating bad habits,” just one of the repercussions of youth. “We didn’t drink as heavily, and the music was definitely number one at that time, but slowly that drinking and partying slowly crept up through the years,” he says. “The difference between now and then is that the music is number one again, and we have clearer heads than back then. We’ve gotten older, and we’ve lived through life experiences and hopefully learned something.”

Weaver continues, “When you’re younger everything is turned up to 10, and there’s less focus. Now, there’s more focus, and our vision is stronger than it’s ever been.”

Photos: Justin Reich / Courtesy of Freeman Promotions

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