Interview with Royal Republic: The making of an album is the worst time to be in Royal Republic

In Interviews by indiespect

Royal Republic are currently on festival tour with their fourth record «Club Majesty» which was released by the end of May this year. After their sauna-set (more than 30° C) at the Openair St. Gallen 2019, singer Adam Grahn and guitar player Hannes Irengård took time to talk about various topics. One of them was, why the making of a record is the worst time to be in the band.

Royal Republic are:

Adam Grahn (vocals, guitar)
Hannes Irengård (guitar)
Jonas Almén (bass)
Per Andreasson (drums)

Indiespect: Just a few hours ago you played a great show at the main stage of the Openair St. Gallen 2019.

Adam Grahn: We have a warm show before. Great and warm. I was looking out from the side stage five minutes before the show and there was nobody in front of the stage. The sun was just beating down. I was thinking: I would do that. I would not get out there, seriously. People were just hanging by the bar in the shade. But they came and that’s a cool sacrifice. We’re very thankful. And they will all have three degrees burns on their shoulders, tomorrow.

Indiespect: What have you been up to since the show finished?

Adam: We went for a dip in the river.

Hannes Irengård: Which was awesome! That was great. Really cold when you get in there but when you dive under it was freaking awesome. And we had a cold beer.

Adam: It was fifteen degrees in the water. That’s less of the temperature we’ve had on stage. Somebody said that they measured the temperature on the floor and it was 62 degrees. That’s like a sauna for real.

Royal Republic

Jonas Almén, Per Andreasson, Adam Grahn, Hannes Irengård (from left to right) ©Leo Akesson

Indiespect: You said that your hair spray dripped in your eyes. That was no joke?

Adam: No, that was no joke. It’s an old joke but it’s true. It has happened many times.

Indiespect: You’ve supported Die Toten Hosen on several occasions. Tonight’s headliner are Die Ärzte. That’s something like the Beatles and the Stones.

Hannes: Really? There is a rivaly going on?

Indiespect: They played with it a bit some years ago.

Adam: Yeah. I think they are pretty friendly with each other. But it is like Stones and Beatles.

We were backstage partying and then Campino walks in. I had no idea who this guy is.Adam Grahn, Royal Republic

Indiespect: Do you get to know them as well?

Adam: Actually, I’ve not had the pleasure of hanging with Die Ärzte that much. I might have met them once or twice. I’m saying I might. For us as Swedes it’s always hard to keep track of the German rockstars. Because they’re not rockstars in Sweden. When we first met Die Toten Hosen I had no idea that it was Campino that I was meeting and it was kind of strange. We met at Rock am Ring in Germany, in 2011. We just played Rock am Ring for the first time and were all just: woo-hoo! Party on, we made it. So we were backstage partying and then Campino walks in. I had no idea who this guy is.

Royal Republic

Royal Republic during their performance at Openair St. Gallen 2019.

Indiespect: And you threw him out?

Adam: No, no. He came up to me, shook my hand and he was like: hey, nice meeting you. That was a fucking great show. We should totally play together. I’m thinking in my mind: who is this old dude and how did he get in? We talked for a while and he looked like an old blues guitar player to me. Then I saw my manager on the other side of the room who is from Germany. He was waving like a flight controller and was like: Adam! Aaadam! You’re fucking everything up. He came up and introduced us and since then it has been a great great relationship for us. Personally and professionally, they’re really nice people. They really take care of their support bands. It’s very much like a punk vibe where everybody is equal.

Indiespect: Will you be able to check out Die Ärzte tonight?

Hannes: I think we’re leaving pretty early.

Adam: The bus is rolling at 9. We have to go to Bulgaria where we’ll be tomorrow.

Indiespect: You don’t see these old men, then.

Adam: No, I guess not (laughs). But I’m sure we’ll have more chances, hopefully.

Some people jump with joy when they hear a saxophone and some people just shoot themselves.
Or they shoot the saxophone player.Adam Grahn, Royal Republic

Indiespect: On your latest record, «Club Majesty», you’ve used the saxophone. That’s an instrument not every rock fans loves. Some even hate it.

Adam: No?

Hannes: I’ve never heard that before!

Adam: What do you mean? (laughs)

Indiespect: Did you use it because of that?

Adam: I think a bit of both. I just thought it would be fun to pick up a brand new instrument that I have no idea on how to play it or to create sounds even. That’s where it started. Then, we wrote Fireman & Dancer, the first single of the new record. We came to the time where we thought: It’s time for a solo part. Guitar solo? Nääh. Let’s try this and see how it works out. So, we did and sent it of to our manager. He called back and said: this is a great fucking song but you can not under any circumstances ever put saxophone on a record because the radio won’t touch it. Then we started putting saxophone on every song, to kind of fuck with him. But then we ended up really liking what it brought to the table, soundwise. When we write and record we don’t like to limit ourselves to two guitars, one bass and one drumkit. We just want to put on whatever we want. We figure it out later on how to actually do it live. Then there is the thing like you said. It’s kind of a love and hate situation. Some people jump with joy when they hear a saxophone and some people just shoot themselves. Or they shoot the saxophone player.

Hannes laughs.

Adam: But I’m on the side that jumps with joy.

Hannes: That’s why the saxophone is not on stage. Because Adam is afraid of getting shot.

Adam laughs.

The saxophone stays in. Royal Republic don’t follow the advice of their manager.

Indiespect: Your influence is quite open and you like to test out new genres. In 2014 you’ve had a project called Royal Republic and the Nosebreakers where you played covers of your songs in an acoustic country version. Now that you used saxophone could you imagine on doing something similar with jazz or anything like that?

Hannes: Oh man, if you give us like ten to twelve years – sure!

Adam: We cover every style. I think we like to consider ourselves as a band that doesn’t give a crap about genre boundaries. I don’t give a shit.

Hannes: Especially for the Nosebreakers thing. We were basically Royal Republic covering Royal Republic. The cover band is free to do whatever they want with the Royal Republic songs. Anything might happen. Not sure if there will be a lot of free form jazz, though.

Indiespect: You don’t have plans to do anything like this in the near future again?

Adam: I’d say that is a plan that is very alive and well at the moment, actually. There will be news about it in the next year at least.

I think we like to consider ourselves as a band that doesn’t give a crap about genre boundariesAdam Grahn, Royal Republic

Indiespect: I saw an interview with Face Culture of you both where you said that you didn’t like each other in the beginning.

Hannes: I wouldn’t go that far, but yeah.

Indiespect: You said that Adam is to loud and Adams said that you’re..

Adam: Too chill.

Hannes: But look at us now. We’re basically the same.

Adam: Still doing interviews. Ten years later.

Peter Morén

The heat can’t stop Royal Republic.

Indiespect: So, it wasn’t that hard?

Adam: I mean it was hard. It’s still hard every now and then. But I guess part of growing together is that you learn to accept each other.

Hannes: I don’t think there is one serious relationship ongoing for a couple of years that is not hard. They’re all difficult whether it’s your wife, your kid, your bandmates, your dad, your mum, your siblings, whatever.

Adam: Your manager is the hardest one. Like Hannes said. It wasn’t easy finding common ground in the beginning. The only thing we’ve had in common was our love for music. There was a certain kind of chemistry that blossomed three minutes, every time we play, and then it just died two minutes after we’ve finished the song. Any band will tell you that it becomes a family away from home. I mean, we’ve just been through the making of an album, which is the worst time to be in Royal Republic. It’s the hardest thing we do. We hate making albums. It’s painful. It’s a little bit of fun as well but mostly just pain.

I don’t think there is one serious relationship ongoing for a couple of years that is not hardHannes Irengård, Royal Republic

Indiespect: It might be fun when you find something that really works.

Adam: Yes, when you crack the code. But we beat each other up a lot. I don’t tell Hannes that he sucks or anything. But everybody’s flaws become very clear. There’s nowhere to hide. The weakness is of the songs or of the parts you play. You really have to face them and head on. It’s just a perfect set-up for arguments.

Indiespect: Is it more difficult in the writing or the recording process?

Adam: I’d say mainly in the writing. I don’t think that it’s so much that we fight with each other a lot. It’s just the emotional rollercoaster that everybody individually goes through. I rule, I suck, I rule, I suck. I’m never gonna write a good song again, this is the best song we ever wrote. That’s the way it goes for a long time. Then, like I said, your manager comes in and says that song that we all love sucks. And then we say: fuck you, it rules. And the saxophone is staying (laughs).

Hannes: By the way, the saxophone stays in (laughs).

Adam: It’s just a lot of pressure from ourselves. I think, everybody that works with us in one way or another, kind of figured out, that we’re not gonna listen to them either way. They’ve tried for many many years. Different record companies have tried. We only stayed with one record company for each record. I think, it’s a weird time for them as well because they don’t know what to expect. They need their money, they need to sell the records. If we sell a couple of records – fine, cool. But looking from our perspective as a band, we see the growth of the band in shows. It’s still growing with every record and every tour and hasn’t flat out, yet. There are still more people coming. We’re pretty fine with being in this position. We also figured out that if we would sell out and by selling out I mean listen what other people think we should do, it doesn’t work. We decide what Royal Republic is. And we need to love this because it’s 80 percent of our life. The time we spend on the road, the people that we meet. We need to be able to stand for what it is that we do and fully enjoy it. The people around us have slowly but truly accepted that fact. They trust us enough to let us do our thing and say: we talk about it when you’re done.

Club Majesty

«Club Majesty» is the fourth and current record of Royal Republic. It contains 100% more saxophone than the previous releases.

Indiespect: Do you know if you will stay at the same record company for the next record?

Adam: I have no idea. Feels good so far.

Hannes: I have a good feeling about Nuclear Blast, though. I think, Nuclear Blast being a heavy metal label, I’m kind of hoping that they’re at least somewhat into the whole idea of working with a band for a long period of time and not being set on huge singles and making fast money. They’re growing with a band. And that’s what the whole rock scene, especially the metal scene is about.

Adam: And that’s what kind of happened. The first record label we signed was Roadrunner, a sub-division of Warner. That was a great team. Great people and we had a real good chemistry.

Hannes: That was awesome.

Royal Republic started their career in 2010 with the debut record «We Are The Royal»

Adam: They really invested in the whole thing. They spent the money to help us. We didn’t get rich but they spent it on pushing the album, the marketing, the touring.

Hannes: We were so familiar, we were actually friends.

Adam: That was cool. Then we kind of got forced to move on from that. They got shut down rather.

Indiespect: Alongside many Swedish artists, you’ve created a brand of itself. The Swedish rock scene is almost as well known as the UK scene. But you said that you were afraid when you first toured the UK. What do you think is the main difference?

Adam: It was just really uncomfortable to go there for the first time because the UK has been and is the growing ground for so many amazing bands. They have a very cool tradition. I think we have the same in Sweden with ABBA, Roxette and all kinds of stuff that stood the test of time. For me it was more lyrically. Our lyrics are bullshit. There’s nothing in it.

Our lyrics are bullshit. There’s nothing in it.Adam Grahn, Royal Republic

Indiespect: But they’re meant to be like that?

Adam: Yes, it’s not that we try to make Shakespeare.

Hannes: That would’ve been the biggest failure ever.

Adam: Yeah. But never say never. I have no idea what the next album is gonna sound like. None of us does at this point. So we’ll see. Maybe the next album is like Bon Iver. Royal Republic goes Bon Iver.

Hannes: I can’t wait for that (laughs).

Indiespect: You’re a really good looking band. Who needs the most time to prepare himself before going on stage?

Adam raises his hand.

Hannes: That’s Adam’s hair, basically. Usually, I’m the last one to finally get to stage. That’s just because I take a lot time in general. But Adam’s hair is like…

Adam: Yeah, it’s a bitch when it’s warm. Hannes is always the last one out of the dressing room. He’s also the last to get started, like preparing. I put my suit on one hour before the show. That’s my signal to get in the mood. Okay, you’re going to play a show and your body is getting ready. And when somebody says: One minute till intro, then Hannes goes to take a piss, you know. Then he returns to the dressing room because he forgot his headphones. But he’s never late. He always makes it. We haven’t been late on stage once in almost a thousand shows.

Hannes: Impressive, right?

Indiespect: It really is! Thank you very much for your time!

Adam: Thank you, it was a pleasure.