The last interview of the night rolled around as Sauchiehall Street began to darken. Royal Republic’s tour manager, Ole, led me through the backstage warren of the ABC for the final time tonight and introduced me to the band’s vocalist and guitarist, Adam Grahn. He’s excited to talk about his band as they hit the road supporting Theory of a Deadman’s latest UK run and it turned out to be a great night.
First of all, welcome back to Glasgow. This is the second night of the tour, how was last night?
Thank you. Last night was very good. We released the album on Friday and we were in Berlin. We’d been there for about a week, flying around Germany and Europe, doing some promo; talking to people. It’s kind of a tragic fact but we’ve never had an actual release party. This is our third album and we still haven’t had a proper release party. We always just went straight to work. This is a great album and we spent a lot of time making it so we have to go out a little bit. It was a long trip yesterday. Today, we rested so I think tonight’s going to be really good.
And for those who may not have heard of you before, how would you describe the band’s sound?
It’s funny, I should really come up with a good for this one because I’ve had the question a number of times now. Call us what you want. Put whatever label you want on it, really. We find it very hard and it’s not like [faux pretentious voice] “It’s too complicated to label”. It’s not like that, it’s just I don’t really know! Rock is very wide, obviously. We called it Chuck Norris rock back in the day, kung fu rock, variations thereof. I don’t know, it’s rock, like I said, put whatever label you want on it. As long as you like it, we don’t really care.
You’ve released a new album this weekend, what can you tell us about it?
I can tell you it took about…twenty months, all-in, from the first writing session to the mastering. It’s our third album, we learned some things along the way. I think it’s the most Royal Republic-y album Royal Republic has ever made in the way that we felt after the second album was a bit rushed. We were just sick to death of touring on the first album and we needed something new, we really needed to move on. But then there was just touring, the dates kept rolling in and it was good and it was in demand so wed had to roll with it. We kept writing on the road and as you may know, it’s hard to write songs in settings like this. So we learned we really need to take the time to get the songs right because no matter what studio we go into, what producer we work with, we need the songs to be right. That’s the foundation of everything. We put everything off, we didn’t tour for eighteen months, we did one or two shows. We spent twenty months on the songs and I think it was worth it in the end. We had a much clearer vision overall this time. We know who we are now; we know what we want to sound like. On the first album you go “I’m going to sound like this or that” because that’s all you know. Then we toured our asses off for five years and I think the sound has come through that and song-writing-wise, it’s broader, wider, I would say, than before. We don’t like to box ourselves in. It’s like trying on t-shirts or something. You try every t-shirt in the world, every t-shirt in the store until you find the right one you like and to like it. You have to like it, even though it’s covered in poo and it’s too short and got tears in it. There are a lot of signature Royal Republic songs on the album. There are also a few wildcards if you want to call them that; in our case, a wildcard is just a song with less distortion. I think there will be plenty for the fans to enjoy who have been with us from the beginning and there’s also, I think, something that people who are new to us will really enjoy as well. We’re really happy with it. That’s a very long answer, sorry!
Weekend Man is the band’s third album, how has the band changed since you first got together?
Sound-wise I think we did a bit of a round trip. The first album was pretty much monkeys with guns. Musically, when you look back at it, it was a bit disorganised. Just a bit [makes machine gun noise] all the time. Then we felt on the second record “Fuck this, being happy all the time, let’s go grunge”. We needed to get that out and we did, against everybody’s advice. Then we did the Nosebreakers thing which was us, the acoustic thing, with banjos and ukuleles and scarves and boots which was amazing. We did a sold out European tour with that. Basically all these things influenced the sound, before we were writing this album; we sat down and said “What is our core? Where is the core of what we do?” And “When I See You Dance With Another”, the first single off the new record was actually one of the first we wrote where we felt “Yes! This is us. This is our recipe. This is classic what we do!” On a personal level, we didn’t really know each other when we started the band; we all just went to the Academy of Music in Malmö. We all knew how to play our instruments and worked as musicians before so that was already in place. So when I started the band, no way was I gonna grab my friend who I play football with just because he’s my friend and go “You put your finger here, hit it twice and then you move it over here and then you hit it three times”. No way. We just put the music first. It was really weird whenever we met and stuff, playing; it was always like “Alright! You guys wanna go watch the game” and it was like “I don’t like football”. There were definitely some chemistry issues in the beginning but we kept at it with the music being the common thing and now we’re family, for better or worse. Making this album was really good for us in a lot of way; it was a terrible experience! In retrospect, it really brought us closer together and we feel really unified with the release of our third album.
Who are your influences?
I grew up in a family of musicians. Both my parents were musicians when I was a kid; they never really hit it off. They had the chance before I was born with a Swedish record label, like a big one! They passed the contract up and I found out that one of today’s biggest Swedish artists, he’s pretty old now, he got the same deal. I’m out there doing what they didn’t get to do, it’s not because of that but still…I would say a lot of it is thanks to them. They introduced me to The Beatles and Zeppelin and Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, that kind of stuff; very guitar-orientated but very pop approach and AC/DC. I was never really a classic rock guy. I think Metallica was the first thing I broke into on my own when I was about 11 or 12. I was playing the guitar and drums at home. And I remember sitting up one night, waiting for Metallica to play at Woodstock 1999. I was sitting up in the middle of the night and they came on and it was the first time I actually saw them, back then there wasn’t YouTube, it was a special event. I saw James Hetfield come up, pre-rehab James Hetfield and it was just…wow! He was just spitting on the audience and they loved him and he did whatever he wanted to them. The power, the megalomania, you know. I got really turned on by that more than the actual playing. I was like “Wow! What a thing!” That planted the first seed of me thinking “I should do that”. But it wasn’t until years later I was actually started singing when I was like 15 or 18 or something.
Who would you like to tour with that you haven’t already?
I thin we would love to go on tour with Danko Jones. We’ve been pretty close a couple of times, too; we met a bunch of times. They were a huge influence when we started the band. We went to see their concert in Malmö and we met after their show and we were fanboying with our little home demo. It was just before we started recording the first album [laughs]. I know now that you tend to not listen to all of those demos that you get from people nowadays. I think that’d be really cool, we met the guys a bunch of times and they show up at our shows now which is really amazing, at festivals and so on. They’re always there and they’re really great guys but I’m hoping that’s going to happen.
Other than playing music to people every night, what do you enjoy most about touring?
I guess that is the pay-off. That is why you do this. It’s not because you get to sit on a bus for five hours a day or you get to sit in a dressing room and you get to hear [makes distortion noises] for three hours before you go on. Once you get used to this, it’s the most lethal drug in the world. I can’t really describe it, it has its dark sides and its shitty moments where you miss family and you miss home and all the classic stuff but I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
What are the band’s plans for the rest of the year?
Back on the road! We’re doing this UK run with Theory of a Deadman, we have some Swedish shows coming up in the Spring which is really great, we haven’t spent a lot of time in Sweden in a long time. We’re doing a bunch of festivals, I think we’re doing like thirty or forty, it’s going to be pretty good. And then a full-on European run in the Fall. Hopefully with a return to the UK, I can’t really expose the details yet but I’m pretty confident we have something locked in. We’ll have something locked in very soon.