Royal Republic has spent the last 18 months writing and recording their new album Weekend Man.
The band are currently on tour across the UK with Theory of a Deadman and it’s great to see them on the road once again. National Rock Review recently caught up with Royal Republic frontman, Adam Grahn, to talk about their new album, their songwriting process and the band’s plans for the rest of 2016.
NRR: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us here at National Rock Review, we really appreciate it.
Grahn: Our pleasure.
NRR: You released your new album Weekend Man, yesterday I believe. How are you guys feeling today? You must have been partying last night to celebrate?
Grahn: When you know that you have to get up at four o’ clock to catch a flight, it somehow takes a little of the juice out of your system. So we were like semi-responsible last night. I think we stayed up and went to bed around midnight I think, which is alright for a release date. Keeping in mind that this album was like the hardest one yet to make, so it definitely deserves like a “release,” but I think we are going to make basically this whole week as a release party week you know.
NRR: Could you tell us a little bit about the album and the inspiration behind it?
Grahn: Well, after the second album Save The Nation, which was a complete u-turn from our first album, we toured to death on the first album, we were sick and tired of it and we wanted to do something else, we just had to get rid of the old songs for a while.
So we did a U-turn against everybody’s advice, but we did it, and we had a lot of time to think, and we learnt a lot during the recording of that album and after that recording about you know, no matter which great studio you go into the album’s only going to be as good as the songs.
So we put a lot of focus on just getting the songs right, we wrote songs for eighteen months for this album. We went to the studio with seventy demos you know and really narrowed it down. So that was a major thing, and also I think more than ever, we know who we are now you know.
On the first album, I think a lot of bands, including us, basically will borrow from other bands that you like because that’s all you have really. Then it’s kind of a stretch for you know; this is the thing, and I think we really found it.
One of the first songs that we wrote was “When I See You Dance With Another” or that was the first one that really felt, this is us you know what I mean. This is trademark Royal Republic and then it’s a matter of like trying on t-shirts, just like trying everything on, that’s important to us too as well. Really making sure that we try everything before we throw it away. Sometimes you will find a shirt; that’s so ugly and annoying that you can’t help but love it.
So there were a few wild cards I would say on the album as well. In our case, a wild card is just a song with less distortion (laughing). I think people who know us from before will recognise the Royal Republic signature sound on there, but there’s also a surprise or two which for us is very natural but I think a lot of people will say woah that’s unexpected, some may like it and some may not.
NRR: You just released a new video this week for “Uh Huh,” could you tell us a little bit about that song and the concept behind the video?
Grahn: That came during a time where it didn’t go too well with the writing. We were stuck in a rut a little bit and it was like a couple of weeks or months even where it was just slow. I think it was during the winter and it was just bleh and Jonas actually came around with this Sixties-sounding song and it had a bass line, the bass line of “Uh Huh” which I liked, but it sounded completely different.
Then I was sitting down with the vocal mic and just trying to find some melody and I released breaks and just going Ahhhh, Arghhh Ha, and we looked at each other in some kind of like understanding like yes that was actually very cool. So it’s one of those moments where we say, nothing has to make sense and let’s just bullshit our way through the song and be done with it. So that’s what we did and we enjoy doing that. When you completely don’t care, that’s usually when it ends up being good, really.
NRR: Where do you find the inspiration for your songwriting?
Grahn: I think especially on this album, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. There’s always pressure from the outside, but living up to your own expectations I find is the toughest part. Writing the simplest songs can be the hardest and inspiration is like it comes and goes you can’t rely on inspiration alone when you are writing an album because you know it’s a stroke of luck.
Every once in a while, you get like ah, you can’t just write songs when you feel like this because then you are never going to be done with your album. So we really learnt that it’s not all about inspiration, we have to be able to work our way through it. Because some songs are like they just fall out of the sky like a piece of Ikea furniture you know (laughing), you have all of the parts and you get like an instruction manual and you just put it together in like ten minutes, and it’s like yes, done it makes sense.
Some songs you just have to fuckingÂ beat and work on for four months and only when you put the final nail in it, it’s like now it makes sense, ok hmmm it was worth it. So there was a lot of those like different ways of songs coming to life. So you can’t really rely on inspiration alone, you need to use your knowledge and skills to just build songs or put songs together.
NRR: What’s your favourite track on the new album?
Grahn: We went around doing promo this week and visited a lot of radio stations and we played it to people we know and trust and like and every song on the album is somebody’s favourite. Usually, it’s like you know you have two songs that everybody mentions and this is like really everybody has a different favourite. Of course, you know the singles have gotten a little bit more attention.
They change all of the time for me personally you know. I would say “Follow The Sun” for me is a very proud moment. A lot of the songs are just bullshit; it’s nothing in there. It’s not Oscar winning lyrics but it’s fun, and it makes me happy. And there’s “Follow The Sun,” which is a song about always wanting more and never being happy and content with what you have and what you’ve accomplished and you always want more, and you miss it.
Like John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans,” or something like that. So it’s like looking in a mirror and talking to yourself and I think sometimes you hit that thing where you know everybody can identify with and so I’m really proud of that one.
NRR: Obviously, tonight is the first night of the tour with Theory of a Deadman. You guys must be looking forward to hitting the road with them?
Grahn: Yeah, yeah definitely. It’s been a while especially since we were able to come to the UKÂ because Europe is a big place and once you are in that whole circus it’s hard to get out sometimes. We needed, like I said, a lot of time for the album so mainly we are stoked about being back here. We kind of left it unwillingly with the last record, we had a switch of labels and it wasn’t really sorted out. There was never really a good time to come back hereÂ like we couldn’t really motivate it unless we had a new record. So now the new record is out and we are back and we are really looking forward to it.
NRR: With a shorter set tonight, how do you go about picking a setlist for a gig like this?
Grahn: It’s actually really hard, it was always hard to fill the set with like good stuff, well maybe not these kinds of support sets but we always loved playing the support slot. Like half and hour of really just squeezing all of the dynamite into 30 minutes, because we do that really well I think. We can just choose the goldies you know (laughing) and really make a show out of it. So it’s kind of the ideal situation for us really.
NRR: If you could choose any artist to cover one of your songs, who would you choose and which song?
Grahn: Tom Petty, I would like to hear Tom Petty take on “People Say That I’m Over The Top” that might be a really cool mashup. It’s one of the more energetic songs on the album. Tom Petty is a real hero, I haven’t met him and I haven’t seen him live yet, he’s always been in my ears you know since I was very young and I’ve been really hooked on Tom Petty lately. I actually was for the duration of the writing and recording of the album as well. I got infected by his …he’s got kind of an anti-music industry vibe, which I really like and think he’s really cool, so I look up to him.
NRR: What else do you have in store for the rest of this year?
Grahn: The road, finally again, it’s been a while like we’ve said. We spent the majority of 2010/11/12 and 13 being on the road, constantly. Almost 150-200 shows a year, so we got used to that. Then we went home, because we spent too much time on the road, so then we wanted to go home and do all of the things that you can’t do on the road like meet family/friends and do barbeques and play Playstation. So we did that and we did that for too long and now we are just itching and it feels like everything is just itching to get back on the road.
So there will be a lot of festivals. We are playing Download so that’s surely going to be a highlight. We’ve got a lot of great festivals around Europe and then we are currently scheduling a headline tour, a major big long European tour and we are returning to the UK. I can’t tell you the dates at this second because it’s still being finalised, but there will definitely be a return to the UK in the Fall and hopefully with a band that we are really psyched to have as support.
So we are really looking forward to hopefully a great year on the road, a lot of shows, a lot of good meets and a lot of good music. We are really looking forward to it.
NRR: That’s great. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak to us and good luck with the album and the touring and everything that you’ve got going on this year.