Alone no more
The Royal Jelly's Marc Del Chiaro channeled the fear of a solo career into a bigger, better group effort
Local musician Marc Del Chiaro had always wanted to make a solo record—something on which he could play just about every instrument and vocal part. And after 15 years of playing in local bands, he finally accomplished just that with the folk-influenced rock album Dreams v. Reality, released in 2012. For the album release show, Del Chiaro gathered up some musician friends to back him up and make a big event of it because even though the record was billed under his name, Del Chiaro found he wasn’t comfortable playing by himself.
“A solo CD release show would have been a drag,” Del Chiaro says now. “It was billed as ’Marc Del Chiaro,’ but in all fairness, it was The Royal Jelly.”
The band’s name was inspired during rehearsal banter, and after that initial show, it’s the name Del Chiaro started using for performances. They played a handful of shows, with an ever-rotating lineup, until 2013 when Del Chiaro had the opportunity to travel through South America with his girlfriend. The trip lasted four months and after he returned to Sacramento, Del Chiaro discovered many of the musicians with whom he’d previously played were now busy with other projects. All but one that is: Shawn Tindall, the bassist who’d played his release show—and whom the musician really barely knew at the time.
“Everyone had lost steam, but I was still in tune with [Tindall],” Del Chiaro said. “He [told me], ’We got to revive this.”
Eventually, the pair recruited guitarist Colin Viera and drummer Spencer Mowery to play in The Royal Jelly reboot and the band played its first gig last October.
The band’s new incarnation featured a heavier, more driving sound—something closer to Del Chiaro’s primary influences: ’90s grunge bands such as Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Foo Fighters.
But, unlike the those acts Del Chiaro grew up on, The Royal Jelly plays songs that have a looser feel—ones that are rich with a sense of open space. The musician credits his bandmates with the shift.
“There’s structures to the songs … but there’s a lot of room for interpretation,” he explains. “The people I’ve put together, and the way they play with one another, allows for sonic space. It’s almost like jazz in a way, where there’s space for people to step up and make cool things happen and everyone can hear it.”
When The Royal Jelly started playing again last year, the musicians largely worked off their frontman’s songs. Now, as they’ve played together longer, they’ve started writing new material as a group. There’s no album yet, but Del Chiaro hopes that changes soon as they take their individual influences—heavy alt-rock, folk, indie-rock—and distill them down into a single unique sound.
“I don’t have any qualms with making a super diverse record [that confuses] people … as to what to call this band,” Del Chiaro says.
And when it does comes out, he adds, he’s actually excited to actively promote it—a noted departure from how Del Chiaro felt about that solo endeavor. In fact the once-shy musician’s even decided to “bite the bullet” and make a web page.
“I want the music to be more accessible and I want my friends that I play with to shine,” he says. “I want to put out a really solid product and that’s what I want people to know about.”