If the abundance of explosive alternative rock thrillers on Royal Republic’s third album seek to remind us of anything, it’s this: Rock ’n’ Roll was never meant to be clever. That’s why “Uh Huh” speaks caveman, not Latin. That’s why “When I See You Dance With Another” begins with kamikaze drums and a man howling like he’s caught his fingers in a mousetrap. You won’t need a black belt in poetry to appreciate “Kung Fu Lovin’”, either. A brilliant and gloriously silly song comparing love-gone-wrong to a martial art, it lands its sonic drop-kick right on target.
Though the gutsy, fireball energy and sheer cockiness of 2010’s We Are The Royal and 2012’s Save The Nation put Malmo, Sweden’s Royal Republic on the map in some style, their latest opus Weekend Man is a bolder statement still; one that marks a great big ‘X’ where the treasure is buried. “Hearing these songs come together was a constant high”, says the band’s lanky, moustachioed frontman, Adam Grahn. “It took a little while, so we’re still processing the fact that the album’s actually done!”
Together with fellow guitarist Hannes Irengård, bassist Jonas Almén, and drummer Per Andreasson, Grahn hatched Weekend Man in Berlin, Germany. The group also recorded Save The Nation there, so the city, says Adam, is their “second home by now; our base of operations.”
This time out, dynamic German production duo Christian Neander and Michael Tibes oversaw recording at Fuzz Factory Studios in the city’s Kreuzberg district, the kind of neighbourhood where strange and wonderful things happen after dark. “Basically, it’s a safe haven for whatever crazy shit you’re into”, says Hannes. “You can walk around dressed as a UFO and nobody will even notice you crossing the street.”
Though Royal Republic’s Facebook page attests to their near-constant craving for Bratwurst while in Kreuzberg, each day, they would only indulge after they had ensured that another song’s chorus was killer. Hunger is clearly an energy; the kind of spur that can help a man desperate for a sausage deliver a bludgeoning guitar riff or killer drum groove with complete conviction.
“When Jonas first put the fuzz-bass on “Uh-Huh”, that was pretty bad-ass!”, recalls Per, asked about a high-point of the sessions, “and I think there was only one night when we had a total band meltdown and started yelling at each other.”
“We needed Christian and Michael to set the rules”, adds Adam. “I loved their personalities, because they’re not megalomaniacs, you know? Whatever the missing ingredients were, they helped us to find them within ourselves.”
“Also, it’s kind of an inevitable when you’re making a record that, just because you hear the stuff over and over, you sometimes think, ‘Man, this song sucks!’, but Christian and Michael kept us at it. Suddenly it would be like, ‘Wow! This is amazing! It was reassuring to know that our first instincts were correct.”
To fully understand Royal Republic’s drive for rock ’n’ roll redemption, you have to go back a bit. Before forming late in 2007, all four members studied at Malmo’s prestigious Academy Of Music. As Adam points out, this has ensured that the communication between them “is like lightning”, but for all their musical sophistication, there’s another key reason why Royal Republic rule: each member is one-hundred-percent in touch with his inner Viking.
“My whole education at university was about holding back”, explains Per, who has a masters degree in classical percussion. “It was always: ‘keep it down’; ‘cherish your sound’, but I just wanted to hit things harder and louder. When Royal Republic came along, it was a great release.”
“And the same for me”, says Adam. “After years of having to be perfectly in-time and perfectly in-tune, being in this this band has helped me to drag out all the grit, all the real emotion.”
One can certainly hear that on “Walk!”, another of Weekend Man’s plentiful stash of potential singles. Adam clearly relishes wrapping his tonsils around the song’s insistent command to, well, Walk!. With its ballsy, thrill-a-second riffing, you could say the song is a masterclass in simplicity. “We had to tread carefully so as not to stomp all over its initial genius”, says Hannes. “Is Walk! particularly smart? No. Is it freaking awesome? I’d say so!”
Listening to Weekend Man, you will also notice Royal Republic’s keen understanding of all that is great about pop music. Hooks abound, and no matter how gritty or guillotine-sharp the music, every melody has been designed to wrap itself around your heart.
“Personally, I’m a big Max Martin guy”, says Per, flagging -up the Midas-touch Swede’s productions for Britney, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson and all.
“Yeah, songwriting-wise, I’d say one of the strengths of Royal Republic is our healthy lack of respect for genre boundaries”, adds Hannes. “Whether it’s a Taylor Swift song or Led Zeppelin one, we draw on what we like and try to make it our own.”
Given that each member of Royal Republic is more than capable of bringing a finished, high-quality demo to the table on their own, there was no shortage of material to choose from when it came to deciding what to record for the new album. Using the studio “as an instrument” more than they ever had before, the Swedes stretched-out a little this time, spreading their wings.
“We enjoyed making something that was a dynamic journey”, says Adam, “So you have these new adventures, these great little wild-cards along the way, stuff like “Any Given Sunday”, “Follow The Sun”, and “American Dream.”
“Some songs fall into your hands out of nowhere”, and “Follow The Sun” was one of those”, he adds. “I guess the words are open to interpretation, but to me the message is crystal clear: It’s easy to have unrealistic expectations for your life, so every now and then you just have to stop and appreciate what you’ve already got.”
Asked about just how far he and his bandmates have come, moreover, Royal Republic’s frontman sums-up nicely: “When we started out, it was almost laughable how different the four of us were. I’d be like “Hey! Did you guys see the game last night?’, and they’d go, ‘[Quietly] No. We don’t watch football…’ Today we’re a family – with all that comes with that – and I don’t think any of us would change it for the world. We’ve made a really strong Royal Republic record that’s totally true to ourselves, and we can’t wait to take it on the road.”
With the release and reception of his album Audio Paint Job, Ayron Jones has had a season of fervent media recognition in 2017. This coming after a year of intense creativity and many personal changes for the gifted singer/songwriter/guitarist.
“There’s nothing more American than rock ‘n’ roll,” Jones told the Seattle Times, “And in this time period, we need it now more than ever. Regardless of who is responsible, there’s divisiveness in this country that we’ve never seen since the civil-rights era. Rock ‘n’ roll embodies that American blues soul and spirit. Our generation, as millennials, has forgotten what it means to play rock ‘n’ roll.”
Featuring his most confessional and rocking songs yet, Ayron also embellishes with fiery blues licks and booming hip-hop vibes. The 14 track Audio Paint Job, showcases Ehssan Karimi on drums and Bob Lovelace on bass. This track, “features the vulnerable and lilting vocals of singer Scarlet Parke, the humbling strings of composer Andrew Joslyn, and the deft, upright bass playing of Evan Flory-Barnes.” (Times)
The title of Audio Paint Job has multiple meanings for Jones. “It’s a story about my mental and spiritual transformation through music.” That internal movement can be found in the dizzying array of styles and sounds through the album’s confessional narrative arc. The ferocious heavy rock contrasts the honeyed nuanced ballads impeccably. Audio Paint Job evokes a wide range of expression in songs that Jones feels will speak to the diverse musical taste of the current times.
Jones credits his relationship with previous producer Sir Mix-A-Lot with introducing him to professional songwriting. He also credits him with eventually moving him ahead to better compositions. However, it was co-crafting the sophomore release with Barrett Martin (Mad Season, Screaming Trees, Tuatara) and Jack Endino (Nirvana, Soundgarden, The Gits) that elevated the new sound to match the seriousness of the song topics.
After Jones released his debut he sought out Endino to ask if he would be interested in recording his next album. In doing so, he was led to do a recording project with Martin. “I grew up in Seattle so I knew Jack Endino and Barrett Martin were Seattle rock gods.” He was then enlisted?for a band Martin played in that was put together by Emerald City legends Mike McCready and Duff McKagen, called The Levee Walkers. The Seattle super group is based on the Mad Season creative template but has five different singers from around the world replacing Layne Staley. Martin?offered to record Audio Paint Job and Jones went for it, with Endino doing the mixes.
Jones has gotten and given a lot of thrills opening for major acts such as Guns N’ Roses, B.B. King, Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, Rahkim, Jeff Beck, Robin Trower, Spearhead, and many more; and at festivals like SXSW, Sasquatch, and Bumbershoot. He describes the feeling like no other, being on stage front and center with thousands of people watching. He is elated that his feeling that 2017 will be a bust-out year is coming true. “I’m extremely grateful and anxious to see what’s next.” This is only a testament, which confirms big things are ahead for Ayron Jones.