Broke Royals started working on its latest album, “Local Support,” in pandemic isolation. Each member added their thoughts individually. But when they finally united to record, drummer Colin Cross thinks they managed to capture the energy of togetherness on tape.
“It just kind of feels like a really fully actualized version of what we’ve been trying to do for a long time,” Cross says.
That electricity came through at Byrdland Records Friday night, when Broke Royals performed in celebration of the release of “Local Support.” The new album features 10 rollicking rock-and-roll tracks — and helps solidify Broke Royals’ connections with the community.
In the small space of Byrdland’s backroom, it was easy to see the joy in Broke Royals’ premiere night performance. That connection with an intimate audience was exactly what the band wanted for their big night, Cross says.
Now on their third album, Broke Royals’ members have gotten comfortable with their sound and their process. Their music is quintessential guitar-driven rock, diving into themes from pandemic isolation (“Revivalism”) to love and loyalty (“All I Have to Show”).
Singer and guitarist Philip Basnight aimed for a sweet spot between improvisation and planning on this album.
“I wanted to give myself a little bit of slack if that makes sense,” Basnight says. “Trust myself in the process a little bit more.”
That confidence came through clearly in Basnight’s charismatic performance. And furthering the band’s growth is the addition of producer Bartees Strange, who Basnight calls a “total dream” to work with.
But Broke Royals is developing more than just its sound. It’s also forging a new partnership with Byrdland that’ll last beyond the Friday show: Byrdland Records just launched a vinyl record label, and this October, the royal blue vinyl record of “Local Support” will be its first release.
The partnership came about organically. Joe Lapan and Alisha Edmonson, the co-owners of Byrdland, had talked about starting a label for years and got more serious this past year. When Lapan saw Broke Royals tweet about the band’s interest in making a vinyl record, he reached out.
“They really have a deep experience, and have really done some great things,” Lapan says of Broke Royals. “But at the same time, they’re still at that level where it’s great to continue to help them sort of gain visibility in the local market.”
Though the band just recently signed with Byrdland Records to produce the vinyl record, they’ve been working with Lapan and Edmonson for years.
And as a matter of fact, in what Basnight calls “a really weird, sort of cosmic thing,” the album closes on a line that describes a performance at Byrdland’s sister business Songbyrd Music House.
Broke Royals performed there in 2017. In the crowd, Rebecca Silverstein — Basnight’s wife, who’s since joined as the band’s keyboard player — danced her heart out, having as much fun as she could. Basnight wrote that visual into a refrain on “Local Support,” the last track on the album: “I’m in the band playing local support. Your hands in the air as you dance through the floor.”
That story sums up what Broke Royals has to offer: not just smashing rhythms and infectious energy but also deep community ties. The band embodies the dual meanings of its latest album title, engaging with the D.C. music scene while sometimes literally playing local support — that is, performing as the local opener for an out-of-town artist.
Signing with Lapan and Edmonson was just one more way to lean into the “Local Support” ethos.
“This partnership with Byrdland is just such a perfect fit,” Cross says. “It couldn’t be more local.”