Royal Hunt - Interview
Royal Hunt is a perfect example of a band that sells millions of records around the world and is yet almost completely unknown in the States. With their new record "The Mission" Andre Andersen is determined to change this very frustrating situation, especially having an American singer John West in their line up. Being one of those people that have never heard about them before, because I’m more of a testosterone driven metal fan, I have to admit that Royal Hunt’s "The Mission" surprised me and become one of my favorite rock albums of 2001 and one of the most played ones between my extreme sessions. Well, it’s not just rock, it’s extremely top quality hard rock.
So, on what mission are you right now. Is there something more to it than just a title to the concept behind Ray Bradbury’ story "The Martian Chronicles"?
I don’t think so. It’s just a great story to write an album around. That’s basically it.
What made you choose Bradbury’s story "The Martian Chronicles" as a concept for your new album?
I guess because it’s really down to earth. Even though it’s called "The Martian Chronicles" it’s only a frame of the story, the scenery and stuff, but the main story is very down to earth, very human and interesting. It’s a great book. Most of the guys in the band read it and we kind of agreed that it would be interesting idea to make a concept based on the book. We never did that before.
Are all lyrics only based on the Bradbury novel or did you add your own, which were perhaps only inspired by it?
We tried to keep it as close to the chapters in the book as possible. Obviously there are some differences, points of view on some endings and punch lines in the stories but the basics we tried to write as much un-bogus as possible.
Was this album also recorded at your home studio, like "Fear"? Do you feel the most comfortable there?
Sure. We have every single thing we need here and more. So, why go somewhere else and watch the clock all the time? It’s very comfortable, it has a lot of room and equipment and we can as well record all our albums here. We tried to record some stuff in commercial studios but we didn’t gain anything. Other than that, we are not stressed out, we don’t have to watch the clock and we don’t have to depend on technicians or whoever is there. Everything else is this same in our studio. We already did many albums that way and everyone feels very comfortable with doing it this way.
Do you also record any other bands in your studio?
I did. Few years ago I produced many different projects here but I’m not doing this anymore. From time to time I might help some friends of mine but that’s it.
Is it a coincidence that all your vocalists are from the US (D.C. Cooper, John West), or is it a conscious decision?
It is a coincidence. Actually, both times we were looking for a singer in different places, not especially in the States. We looked in European countries like England, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden wherever but somehow both times they turned out to be Americans. On our last audition, before we got John West, we had so many singers... at least half of them, I don’t know if I should use this word, were famous or at least already recorded some albums. There were a lot of excellent guys there but somehow we picked John. He basically could sing everything and he has such a great personality that after few days I thought I knew him for years. For a band like ours who spends a lot of time together and tours a lot the social aspect is very important.
What happened to Allan Sørensen (drums)? He’s not listed as a member anymore.
Unfortunately he’s not. There were some problems inside of the band; you know it’s like in a freaking family, sometimes everything looks excellent from the outside but inside there is tension. From time to time those things are going to happen but in general we were very lucky with the line up so far. Sometimes someone leaves or gets kicked out and nobody likes it but those things happen. It’s hard to tell the specific reason but at the time when he joined the band he probably didn’t realize that it’s a lot of responsibilities, a lot of work and it’s not really well paid and that can get really discouraging. It’s really hard to tell...
Do you plan to add permanent drummer cause personally I’m not a big fan of drum machines?
Absolutely, right now we are looking at some candidates. We have around 100 CDs from different drummers and most of them are excellent. We try to pick someone who lives close to us because of rehearsals and stuff like that. With drummer we need to work almost on daily basis and he has to live close to us, at least somewhere in Germany.
Every artist is proud of its new album but is there anything you don’t like on "The Mission" and you would like to change if you had a second chance?
Everything [laughs]. It’s always like that. You do an album and you love every single note on it then when you’re done you master everything and you start listening to it about a week later and that’s when you start discovering all those small things that could be improved. Personally I hate listening to my own albums cause I always find something that I could change, replace with a better idea. And I think it’s a good thing, it’s like you are in the process of constant self-improvement. It would probably be a very sad day when I’ll listen to one of our songs and say, "It’s perfect, I can’t do it better".
What are those instrumental tracks before almost every song? Are you leaving parts of the story to listener imagination?
The whole thing is like a movie where from time to time the camera will go back and create a landscape, a mood for the next scene. So, those small instrumental tracks prepare you for the next song or make this connection for previous one to the next one. We never did something like this before and we thought that it was very a interesting and cool thing to do. Making them was real fun because at one point in time those small instrumental parts become more important for us than actual songs. [laughs]
You just signed a multi-album deal with Century Media. How did that happen?
They were very interested and they sounded enthusiastic... it’s one of those things I’m actually missing from a record label lately. Most of the labels are so depressed; everyone is talking about hard and tough times or how hard rock music is not mainstream anymore. When you talk to a record label you want to hear some enthusiasm, you want to hear fans if you know what I mean and that’s exactly how Century Media sounded.
For such a well-known band all over the world it has to be really frustrating not being able to tour here, especially for John West.
Absolutely, I understand him completely. In Europe we tour all the time... I grew up in Russia and last year we went there and played sold out concert in Moscow. We do everything to do this same for him in the States.
Any plans supporting this CD on the tour?
First part starts at the end of October in Scandinavia than we go to France, Russia and Israel. When we come back to Europe we’ll play in usual places like Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland... about 40 shows. Then we’ll start looking at what the situation is in the States, because right now it looks like we’re going to play 3-4 shows in South America, in Argentina and Brazil at least, so being so close we might jump in to States for a few shows. We are not looking for anything big... just something to start. And of course Japan and Korea for the whole month of February.
Before we end this interview I’d like to ask you about side projects. Most of you did solo projects in the past. Are there any going on right now?
John is working on his solo album that should be release around New Years and Steen is doing Cornerstone’s second album and so far that’s it.
Thank you for this interview and best of luck conquering the States in the future.
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A Life To Die For
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