Royal Republic don’t believe in “guilty pleasures” – only pleasures, free of compromise.
Since meeting at the Malmö Academy Of Music in 2007, they’ve become Sweden’s most addictive rock’n’roll export; mixing riffy guitars, king-sized tunes and jet-packed beats with their own eclectic tastes and inimitable joie de vivre. Plus the kind of snazzy suits most of their contemporaries wish they had the balls to pull off.
National Rock Review recently caught up with Royal Republic’s frontman Adam Grahn to talk about the band’s brand new album Club Majesty, their forthcoming UK tour and their new record deal with Nuclear Blast.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. So first of all, you’ve got this new album coming out, which is called Club Majesty, it’s scheduled for release on the 31st of May. I just wondered, first of all, if you could tell us a little bit about what your starting point for the album was musically. Did you have a particular sound or theme in mind for the release?
Well not really. We always said that we want it to be as boundary-free as possible. I reference The Beatles all of the time in that manner that, you know, putting two songs like Yesterday and Helter Skelter, two widely different songs. You know, you can put them right next to each other. The only common thing they have is that they’re made by the same people, and performed by the same people, but they’re two widely different songs, but nobody really cares. It’s great music either way. So basically what we’ve been trying to do is basically free ourselves of any taboos. It’s like there’s no shame on this record. We went like everything we think like, oh, that’s funny or this is too much – okay, let’s do it. And that was kind of the mantra for this record.
You recently released a video for the song Fireman and Dancer. And I just wondered if you could tell us a little bit about that song and kind of the idea behind the video.
Yeah, I think it was the first that we finished writing actually. It kind of blew the doors wide open for the rest of the songs to be born. And it definitely set the vibe for the rest of the record and I think it’s a really good representation of the album as a whole as well. With the video, we again turn to our absolutely genius friend Leo who made the videos for the last album as well for When I See You Dance With Another and Baby, amongst others. Because he just has a way of, we trust him implicitly. It’s like, we had trouble finding somebody in the past that we felt like we could just leave this up to – you know what I mean? Like, we’ll leave this with you and we’ll just back off and call us when you’re done kinda thing.
But this guy has a way of just putting shapes and colours and tempos and cutting together to our music that we haven’t seen anywhere else. And the funny thing is we’ve made videos, you know, with insane budgets in the past with The Astronauts and Addictive and stuff like that with producers and directors from Berlin and London and Los Angeles. And this guy I actually found in my hometown, like you know, next to a pizzeria and just, you know, a student dorm and he makes the most amazing things.
So this video was basically just us showing up at a green screen studio and like shooting for seven hours and then we just we went on vacation and he came back exhausted three weeks later. Like done it, I made it and we absolutely loved it and there was no revisions, no changes, no nothing. He’s just amazing. I love it.
Just looking at the album title itself – Club Majesty, and then listening to the record there’s a bit of a party vibe going on. There are definitely songs that you want to dance to on there. Was that kind of your intention with where you were going with this record?
Absolutely, I mean I always felt like we had some sort of underlying dancy quality to some of our songs. Not all of them, but you know, even going back to Tommy Gun was one of those, like it had some kind of like almost electronic B5 in the DNA, both in Space Machine as well, and so on. And like I said, with Weekend Man, we feel like we kind of refined our sound, like this is what we are, this is the Royal Republic sound even more so than, you know, the sound of our influences or anything like that. So with Weekend Man, we kind of nailed that down and this is basically us building on that and using every tool we have at our disposal to make it interesting and cool for us first hand. And then for the listening public secondly. And that’s kind of how we try to approach it.
We know that people have expectations, everybody from a label to your existing fans, new fans, old fans and so on and critics have expectations of what you’re going to get. And that’s like, you know, no offence to anybody but you know, we are the band and we decide what is Royal Republic, and what is not. And this time we tried to, you know, where when given a choice to go left or right, where right would be the way to go if you’re a rock band. We just said, wouldn’t it be cool to go left at pretty much every turn, and basically do the opposite. And it was never like going against your instinct. It was more like following it and not being, you know, not hiding it one bit. And that’s something I would encourage, you know, a lot of people to do musically.
And, I mean imagine if The Beatles hadn’t, if they would’ve stayed with the formula they had for example, on the first couple of pop records there and you know, would we have a Sgt Pepper? Would we have a Yellow Submarine? And again, I’m not comparing us to the Beatles.
You mentioned there about influences. You mentioned about The Beatles. Which artists would you say sort of influenced your sound or direction on this record? Was there anyone, in particular, you were listening to you when you were kind of laying this down?
I guess we always kind of listen to the same stuff. I’m not great at listening to new music, as in made in this decade. I find new stuff all the time, but it’s mostly like stuff from the seventies or sixties or, you know, way back. Through all of the albums that we made, my playlist didn’t really radically change a lot. It’s just like the influences were always there. It was just, we never really let them shine through the way we do now. I can’t really understand why, but I guess we’re at a place where we’re just confident enough, and we’ve been down this road a couple of times and we held up against pressures from labels and from critics. Everything from, you know, maybe you should change your vocal range or change the guitar sound or change the stage outfits and the attitude. This is our baby, we said from the get-go that this needs to be fun. We started the band because we wanted to have fun and music is supposed to be, you know, this is our little place that we go to and it’s become bigger than our place now. Now it’s a lot of people’s place. It’s a happy place. I mean, we want to keep it that way. So we need to feel good and be happy about what we’re doing. So that is what we’re doing. It’s very honest and pure, I guess.
You were originally intending to tour earlier this year, but I know like sort of scheduling and logistics and other things got in the way. I mean, is everything in its right place now? Do you feel, now is a good time to go and whatever was holding you back earlier on, is that all behind you?
It was a bit of a shit sandwich like it didn’t have a good option and it was just one we had to take. And I think, you know, it was about – it was logistics really. It was just getting the right people because they were fully booked because they are very good at what they do, but we don’t want to compromise on the quality of the mix or of the recording and so on and so forth. And I think when listening to the album, I think everybody that hears it will understand and agree that it was worth it – the wait.
Of course, it was a difficult position. We were supposed to go out in February. We were excited about it, we had like good ticket sales, but it’s just the album had to be out before we can hit the road again. So now it is out and I mean everything was done – I can’t wait. I mean these songs have been with us for a while, we’ve had the album for a while and I can’t wait to share it with people. I’m really itching. I have never been this excited about going on tour really as I am right now. I’ve missed the hell out of it and I can’t wait to take this record to the stage. I think it’s going to be magnificent. Really.
So good things come to those who wait. So none of this new material has been aired live yet. You’ve kind of kept it completely under wraps, is that right?
Yeah, I mean Fireman is out, obviously. But no, none of these songs have been performed. I think the first time we’ll do it on April 27, we have a first little sneak festival in Switzerland. But we’re hitting Download. Yeah, that’s one of the first ones. I think we have like three or four shows before that. So when we are hitting Download, everything will still be very fresh. Hopefully, we will learn how to play the songs by then – we will see.
Do you have a favourite song on the record and if so which song and why?
I don’t know. I mean your favourites change all the time when you’re making a record, but I think the songs that really stick out for me are like Fireman is very close to my heart – very proud of that. Under Cover, feel the same way about. Anna Leigh, especially with talking about, by scratching the boundaries of what is allowed in your band. It was like fuck it, let’s go all in because I know a lot of other bands that would have gone the opposite direction, on that particular choice of course. But like we said, this is all with no shame. There are no excuses. We are very, very proud of it and we stand behind it 100%.
I mean, you just mentioned you’ve got some shows in Europe and then you’ve got this headline run of shows in October in the UK. You’re going to be back in my neck of the woods again. I think you’re at Newcastle University this time.
You know, now obviously you’ve got five albums behind you. It’s going to be a difficult task to try and pick a setlist this time around. Have you thought about how you’re going to sort of approach that difficult decision? How are you going to introduce some new stuff into the set?
I mean we don’t see it as a difficult thing, but the most difficult thing right now is actually, because I should be saving all this stuff we want to play because we really feel like we have a pretty good catalogue at this point. Like I mean it’s not like we had a million songs – we’re not U2, but we have enough stuff. So that actually gets difficult to fit it in 90 minutes in a 90-minute set. Because we want to play Tommy Gun, we want to play Full Steam Spacemachine. We want to play these songs. We want to play pretty much all the stuff from the new album. And a lot of stuff from Weekend Man and maybe some special, you know, we are working on some funny stuff. So I mean we’re gonna work it out. That’s our job. That’s what we do. We love our job. So I mean, I’m not really worried about it. Right now I’m just bathing in excitement really. I’m just looking forward to getting this started. I can’t fucking wait.
In terms of the songwriting on the record what was the sort of themes and subjects that inspired you throughout the writing of Club Majesty?
Lyrically, we rarely know what we’re talking about. All the words are just playful. We have this great melody and now we need some vowel that fits. That’s how Fireman came about anyway. I mean Under Cover, for example, was that we got a request from a big-time condom manufacturer, one of the biggest in the world to write a song for their new product. Like they build the commercial around the song. So obviously this whole like, ‘I’m going under cover, you know, anytime, any place we’re going all in, it’s a win-win. All it takes is two, I’m going undercover with you.’ You know, you can hear it in different ways obviously, but we said let’s just keep all the cheese always the same way we treated the music and the sounds like that in the seventies and eighties. Let’s just, you know, write.
And then there’s Anna Leigh, if you analyze it, I guess you could see that we have a lot of songs about dysfunctional love and also about just insane like love and lust. And I don’t really know where the hell it comes from to be completely honest. We just simply follow the vibe, that’s what we do. Usually, the music comes first and then, you know, we just fill it up and make it work. And people can maybe interpret something or find meanings. I heard a lot of people, I met people live and stuff, at the meet and greets and interviews who said, you know, that interpreted our lyrics in ways that I was like – oh really? I truly never thought about it that way, but it totally makes sense – kudos. So, they might mean one thing to us, but generally, we’re just a feel-good band. We want to make people forget about whatever it is that they need to forget for an evening and just come and spend an evening with Royal Republic and we’ll try and pick you up, you know?
So last year it was also the 10th anniversary of the band, you know, this is now your 11th year. I mean, what would you say has been the pinnacle of the highlight of that time with a group? Do you have any particular favourite memories?
Like there are so many. We actually said before the 10 year anniversary, we said the idea of having it was that we never celebrate any of our milestones. We’re just too busy working, we still haven’t had a fucking release party for our first record. I mean in the process of just making the first record. First, there was the celebration of – hey, we made a record. I mean, how cool is that to begin with? That’s amazing. And then like, oh, they played All Because of You on the radio in Stockholm – wow. And then like, hey, All Because of You is Number One on the radio in Stockholm – wow. And Tommy Gun is number one on MTV in Scandinavia – wow. You know, but we never really stop to celebrate because we just kept looking forward and like taking the next step always. And now we just started like, hey, we gotta do something. It was 10 years ago that we played our first show and that’s what the 10th-anniversary concert was all about.
So I mean, next year it’s the 10th anniversary of the first album. I will see what happens then. Right now we’re just focused on this. But I mean, sorry, I was elaborating here. I mean, there are so many great moments. I don’t know – I feel very good with making this album as of now. Like this, I feel like we might be at our peak so far, at least with this album. I feel very, very confident. And I don’t mean confident in the way that I know it’s going to be a hit. I mean, just like there it’s foolproof in the way that we truly, truly loved this record and we stand by it 100%. And so far the reactions we’ve had have been overwhelmingly positive. I’m excited to be in the band right now. I’m really happy to do this for a living.
This is a brand new record with a new label in Nuclear Blast. How did that come to fruition? How did the deal come to fruition and you know, how’s it going with those guys so far?
We met them through our management, we knew some of the people from way back when the demos of Club Majesty were around. We made the whole like demo album first. And that’s what we usually do when we started like sending it around to people. We sat down with Nuclear Blast and they just really, they were one of the labels that really laid out like a thought through plan. And the people seemed – we were just really, really compatible, for some reason. And they gave us a lot of artistic freedom, which is what we need and we demand basically. We basically said like, this is our album, this is what we look like, this is how we think, are you on board? Or like, no, there was no discussion about, you know, the band is the band and you do the business. Because the business – we don’t like business. We want to be in the band and we want to play, we want to write. That’s what we want to do.
So it was just all quick really. We share a vision for this album and for the band and we’ll take it from there. We’ll see. I mean, we’ve had one new label for each record and we’ve been on the big ones too. We’ve had, you know, we had Warner, we had Road Runner, we got Universal – and a few bands have managed to have that track record in four albums high. Do you know what I mean? So we’ll just see. We’ll do our best to, you know, to make this work. And, you know, we’ll see in a year – right now it feels very good.
Club Majesty by Royal Republic will be released on Friday 31st May via Nuclear Blast. In addition to a high-profile appearance at this year’s Download Festival, the band will be touring the UK in support of the album throughout October.
Royal Republic UK Tour Dates
15.06. UK Donington – Download Festival
18.10. UK Norwich – The Waterfront
19.10. UK Nottingham – Rock City
20.10. UK Glasgow – The Garage
22.10. UK Newcastle – University
23.10. UK Hull – The Welly
24.10. UK Leeds – Brudenell Social Club
26.10. UK Manchester – Academy 2
27.10. UK Birmingham – O2 Academy
28.10. UK Bristol – Trinity Centre
30.10. UK Southampton – Engine Rooms
31.10. UK London – Electric Ballroom