Named after a cigarette brand, Port Royal didn't have the best start to their career.
Lead vocalist of the band, Lawson Doyle says it wasn’t easy when the group's lead guitarist left during the middle of their recording process. “I spent two weeks going absolutely mad, pulling my hair out and wondering what the fuck we were going to do,” Lawson says.
“At one point I definitely thought [the band] wasn’t going to happen and I thought ‘well, we’re going to have to go on a hiatus’.”
Port Royal had already worked hard to build a reputation within the local scene and Lawson thought it wouldn't have been the best move to make public the band were seeking a new guitarist.
Then he met Brennan O’Neill through a work colleague. “[Brennan] said he was into The Beatles and all of that. I caught him one day listening to The Beatles and I went ‘ahh interesting’,” Lawson says.
“I ended up having a chat to Brennan and I said ‘Do you play?’ and he said he did, so I said ‘do you play well?’ and he said 'oh yeah, I’m alright', and you can never tell straight away.”
Lawson ended up visiting Brennan at his house a few days before they started recording, exchanging and playing music they’d both been working on separately. Brennan had already been to a Port Royal show previously and was familiar with the sound. “Then about a week and a half into the band we had a deadline because we had Jack doing our PR and everything.
"We sort of said [to Brennan]: ‘How do you feel mate? Do you reckon you could go in there and do a track?' And he said: ‘You know what? Give me a go’ and so that lead guitar track was a week and a half into Brennan being in the band,” Lawson says.
The band of 20-somethings are launching the new single, 'Get Heavy', which channels old-school rock flavours with a new-age vibe, next month in Brisbane.
Lawson is still studying a Bachelor of Music at QUT, which is precisely where he met Chase Brodie, the group's bass guitarist/ pianist. “At first I didn’t like Chase at all, I thought he was weird,” admits Lawson.
“But then I noticed he had a Rolling Stones bag on and I said ‘Oh yeah, you like The Stones hey?’ and he said ‘yeah I like The Stones’. ‘Do you like The Beatles?’. ‘Yeah I love The Beatles’,” Lawson says.
After talking about their favourite bands, Lawson thought that Chase probably had his own priorities and goals. But it wasn’t long after that he found himself in a room with him having a jam session and creating new riffs. “Funnily enough, some of those earlier riffs are still in some of our songs now; they still make an appearance,” Lawson says.
Port Royal launch 'Get Heavy' at Woolly Mammoth (Brisbane) 13 May.