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Interview conducted April 29 2019
Interview published June 9 2019

"I can't understand why someone wants to see me eat a burger."

Metal Covenant talked to vocalist/ guitar player Adam Grahn and guitar player Hannes Irengård prior to the release of Swedish rock band Royal Republic's new album Club Majesty [Street date May 31st].

Tobbe: I think you kind of play your own type of rock and in what way have you worked your style into the new album?

Adam: You know, the difference between the first and the second album [We Are The Royal, 2009/2010 and Save The Nation, 2012] was pretty significant and the same thing from the second to the third one, Weekend Man [2016], and somewhere around the third album I think we kind of stuck the flag in the ground, like "This is our place, where we sound more like us than our influences.".

And this new album is just an expansion, you know. An upgrade, I would say, where we really have teared down all kinds of walls. There are no inhibitions; if we want a saxophone, you're damn right there's gonna be a saxophone, and if we want this drum, you're damn right there's gonna be that drum. No doubt about it.

Tobbe: Is it possible to look for something specific before you start with an album, or do you just try to record the best material you can?

Adam: Well, the thing is our writing and recording process go hand in hand and we kind of record each album twice. First time ourselves and then a second time with expensive microphones. That's basically how it works, because we don't do iPhone sort of demos. We don't do that type of demos, but we make an album ourselves and then we live with it a couple of months before we actually start recording it one more time.

And with this record we have actually taken quite a few tracks from demos, because some things you're just able to record once. You can try to do it 1000 times more, in front of a U87, and, like "It's gonna happen now!", but it never becomes the same, you know.

Tobbe: Is a band's progress so important, really? Or is it just something bands say to come out kind of cool?

Hannes: We have basically never sat down, or had a band meeting before an album recording or before we have started to write songs for an album, like "Now we're gonna make this type of album…", but we have started to write and what has come out has come out, and it was exactly the same with this record.

I understand what you mean and I know it sounds cliché, and especially if you have made an album that maybe isn't as good as its predecessor, like "We needed to grow. That's important.", but for the 4 of us it's important that progress equals advancement and helps keeping it fun, you know. I mean, whatever you do, if you repeat it too many times, in the end it becomes boring. It doesn't matter what it is.

(Adam:) There are always two sides of that coin and people will always think in different ways. There are people who think we should have made 3 more of We Are The Royal. There are always people who will think it's the best one. Then there are people who think Save The Nation is the best one and those who think Weekend Man was great. And then there are those people who think the new record is totally different from Weekend Man, based on the two songs they've heard, which I for example don't agree with.

I mean, AC/DC found their formula pretty quickly and has fed off that pretty well, you know. One thing doesn't have to exclude the other. There's not just one way to do it. There's no key to it. And especially today, I think, when things change so fast and the whole music industry is in such a huge constant change. It has changed so much just during the 10 years we've been a band, you know.

So the record companies, the ones you used to lean on, like "They know what they're doing.", but they don't. No one knows what will happen the next day. People try, you know "This is in. I will aim for that, because that works.", but you will always be second to the ball and always fall a little bit behind if you're trying to do that.

So in my opinion, the only thing I think you can do is keeping this fun. It must be fun and if that happens to coincide with someone saying "Sweet! This is in.", then it's great. We have always done what we actually want to and what we feel is what we need. And for some reason it has worked out so far. We're constantly getting bigger. It hasn't even started to level out. It's just growing and that's kind of sick, you know.

(Hannes:) I think one of the reasons why we're growing is that we do what we want to and do what we think is fun. And as long as we do that, we will be able to bring forth exactly what we want to bring forth, like some sort of joy and positivity.

Tobbe: You have filmed a couple of videos and tell me about them.

Adam: First we filmed Fireman some time ago and then we recently filmed another 3 videos in 3 days. The director for all the videos is our good friend and colleague Leo Åkesson, who made videos for us on Weekend Man as well. He's a genius, and he's from Karlskrona like me, a small town.

But anyway, we have worked with well-known video directors, you know, in Berlin, in London, and flew them in from here and there, and with big budgets, and then you find your ultimate match at Hantverkargatan [Craftsmen street] in Karlskrona, next to Aladin's pizza. You know, a guy with so much talent, and a small computer, and no means at all, but he has a vision and he has a way of thinking.

And it's the first time that we felt safe enough, as the control freaks we are, to just completely let go of the visual part to him, because he gets it, and he has connected in some way. On Fireman we were just in a green room and everything else in that video is just ideas from his brain. And the other 3: He has come up with a concept to each one of them. We were in Berlin and shot for 3 days in a building, in different rooms.

Tobbe: What does a video mean today, in terms of impact? Back in the day there was MTV and now there's YouTube and stuff.

Adam: It's funny: We had a number 1 song on MTV, right at the time when MTV stopped meaning anything. Tommy-Gun hit number 1 and everyone in our generation just exploded, you know. Everyone called "Fly me in, you fucking millionaire." and I was like "Hey. No money…". And it's the same there; you're always in second place if you try to follow a template or a concept.

I mean, who the hell might know what goes viral? There's no music television today, but when we grew up there was ZTV, MTV and partly VH1. You know, Gangnam Style. Who the hell saw that one coming? But it came, and it just exploded, so it has a huge impact, but exactly what makes something go so big, I guess no one knows, because then everyone would do it.

Tobbe: How much do you control the band's social media?

Hannes: It's a disaster. We get to hear that all the time, how much we suck at it. I think we have a problem with understanding and almost accepting how everyday things might be of interest to people. At least that's the way I feel. Our management often tells us "If you go out and eat, if you're shopping clothes, if you're on the beach drinking a beer, take a photo and put it on the web. People want to see that.".

You know, in my world it's completely… I don't understand. I can't understand why someone wants to see me eat a burger. But obviously people want to see that. I think that's part of our problem.

Tobbe: We're approaching the 10th anniversary of your first record. Is there a reason to celebrate that one, with something special?

Adam: Yes, there are many reasons. But, besides sucking at social media, we also suck at celebrating success. We're great at partying, but we don't take much notice of those great milestones, like everything from Bandit Radio picking up our first single All Because Of You in 2009 to selling out Palladium in Cologne and playing in front of 4000 people. It opened an ocean of possibilities, so I don't even know where to start.

You know, we've never even had a release party and when Tommy-Gun went number 1 on MTV we didn't even celebrate. We always look forward; more, more, more, better, better. But there are loads of reasons to celebrate that album, really. So something might happen; some kind of celebration. Actually, last spring, we did celebrate that it was 10 years since we did our first gig and we did a special gig in Karlskrona. We played for 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Tobbe: Back in the day when a band had been around for 10 years I saw them as veterans on the scene and how do you guys look at this matter today? Maybe you still feel like newcomers in a way, even if you have a couple of albums out now.

Adam: I was in a phase, when we started with We Are The Royal, and I was, like, 25, where I was like "Lars Ulrich was 27 when Metallica released the black album. We're falling behind. We must pick up the pace.". But on the other hand, everything is so uncertain and things are not what they used to be and it's rare today that rock bands with a bunch of 18-year-olds sign those million-dollar deals.

And on top of that being able to keep the band together. Most bands like that just crash. When it goes so fast and so great, you just become a complete nutcase. It's almost like we become complete nutcases by doing this, even on our level, I'll tell you that.

(Hannes:) To do things take a longer time today as well. I mean, back in the day you released an album, a successful album, and then you saw the money coming and then you just hang out on the poolside drinking piña colada, you know. You released the album to be able to tour. Now you must tour a whole lot and for a long time to be able to make everything work.

Tobbe: Are the rock bands today actually just as good as the classic bands and in fact the only difference is that they played rock music before today's bands played rock music?

Hannes: Interesting, and I think only time can tell. (Adam:) You know, I asked a manager if Bohemian Rhapsody was a hit at the time it came out. I haven't seen the movie, but it wasn't a hit back then. It wasn't so cool then, you know. But I guess that today a lot of people would say that it's one of the greatest songs ever. The Beatles, Queen, Led Zeppelin, etc., were pioneers in a way and opened doors that we now walk through. But like Hannes says, time will tell.

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