Interview: Royal Republic

This is an interview with Royal Republic guitarist, Hannes Irengård, which took place on 2nd November 2011, before their show at Southampton Joiners. It was conducted on behalf of RADIO SONAR.

Needless to say, some of the naughtier subjects were showered with so many expletives, that they didn’t make the broadcast. Once ‘bleeped’ it wasn’t worth being there any more. As a result, you won’t find those answers anywhere else!

Lots of questions about other musical taste was asked for the sake of the radio show, so that clips and songs could be played. This is also why we descend into irrelevant Swift and Bieber territory, a running theme at the station at the time, getting opinions of the public music enemy number one at the time from as many genres as possible.

Just a word of warning: Don’t get too excited about discussions of a new album, as he is discussing their 2012 album which has since been released. Also, very special thanks to Swedish pal Nils for help with pronunciation! Without that help, the conversation would have been significantly more embarrassing.

This is a full transcript of the interview. Enjoy. 

Their 2010 debut album (L-R Jonas Almén, Hannes Irengård, Adam Grahn & Per Andreasson)
Their 2010 debut album (L-R Jonas Almén, Hannes Irengård, Adam Grahn & Per Andreasson)

How are you today?

I’m good. It’s raining, which always gets me depressed, but I know what it’s like being from Sweden and all. You guys have some really depressing weather, don’t you! It’s grey and it’s raining…

It’s always the way with Britain really. It’s always a marsh. Anyway, you’re on a European tour. How far into that are you now?

We’ve been on the road for five weeks now, and we have three more weeks to go. It’s a tough run, but it’s been so good so far. We’re still alive and somewhat healthy at least!

So how has Britain been serving you? Have you been having fun here?

This leg has actually been above expectations, at least crowd-wise. Last time we were in the UK there were between 50 and 80 people showing up. This run there has been a couple of hundred every night. So, we’re super excited about that and happy to be back here. I don’t think we have played Southampton before. This is our first time here, but I’m sure it’s awesome.

Whenever magazines and websites refer to foreign bands, their nationalities are always mentioned, often before the band’s name…

Yeah, ‘Swedish rockers Royal Republic’…

How do you feel about that?

I don’t mind. Sweden is well known for a lot of good music. We have a good heritage and a lot of awesome bands come from Sweden. I’m quite proud of being Swedish in that sense. But I don’t want the music to be judged on the fact that we are Swedish. It shouldn’t matter, so as long as people are open-minded and do not apply the fact that we are Swedish to the way they ‘get’ the music, I’m fine with it.

In a similar vein, and I apologize for bringing this up, but every other article about you mentions The Hives. Does that bug you at all?

(Laughs) Well, in the beginning, we got the Hives comparison all the time. I was sick of it, fed up. I was like… ‘come on, they’re Swedish and they play punk rock, but we’re not the same band!’. I like to consider us a bit heavier than the Hives. There were posters around the town saying ‘the guys from Royal Republic rock like The Hives’. We were so, super pissed off with it. We were trying to do something of our own. Our own sound and our own band. But being a super-big Hives fan, that has all changed because now things have started happening for us. We have our own fan base and people love us. Now I’m kind of proud of that comparison. To me, The Hives are one the best commercial bands in a whole lot of years. Sometimes when I listen to The Hives, I think ‘fuck, I wish I had written that riff’. So nowadays it’s kind of an honour. I hated it at first, but now I’m over it!

The Hives: Not Royal Republic
The Hives: Not Royal Republic

Who would you like to be compared to?

Having someone compare us to The Who would be the greatest honour. It’s just brilliant in every sort of way. Their music, the live performances, the sound of it. We are, or at least I am, a big The Who fan, The Kinks, Cream and stuff like that. I’m actually a blues rock kind of guy. The things that we listen to are super, super different.

If it’s ‘super different’, how would you describe your own music?

Hmm… this is tough. I would say that it’s a mixture between punk, pop, rock and blues. The album is just 36 minutes of pure energy. That’s what we’re mainly about. Who knows what the future might bring? The next album might be emo rock with political… (laughs). No, it won’t be anything like that stuff. It’s high-energy rock party music.

So when you started out, did you think ‘this is the style that we are going to make’, or was it something that fell into place? That’s quite a concoction.

We started out like doing mostly Danko Jones influenced music. Then this kind of thing kind of developed. It wasn’t a conscious decision. It wasn’t like ‘OK guys, I want to start a party band and our songs are gonna be about partying, getting drunk and getting laid’. It was never like that. It just happened. We just found our sound along the way. We were happy about it, so we stuck with it.

Do you want to carry on ‘sticking with it’, or would you like to let it change?

I hope it will change. Not too much though. I don’t want us to be one of those bands who keep repeating themselves and making the same shit, album after album. I want to go some place not too far away. I want to move on. I want to grow. We’re almost four years old now. Things have happened and we’ve made an album. There will still be a lot of good energy and good fun, so for everyone who likes the We Are the Royal album will not be disappointed with the next one.

The second album in question...
The second album in question…

Is it in the works now?

It is, yes. We’re writing songs right now actually and working our asses off making demos on this tour! We’re getting there, but it’s a slow process. The second album is super important. That’s what everybody tells us and we know it from experience. It has to be awesome, truly awesome from the first second to the last. We set the standard kind of high, and we need to top it, but I think it can be done. I think it will be a good album. But I don’t have a date. It’s going to take a while. It’ll be out next year. That’s about the best guess that I can make!

Do you have a set plan and deadlines, or do you just let it take you wherever?

It’s all planned a long time in advance, and we do have plans about when it will be recorded and stuff like that, but there is nothing that I can tell you about without being killed! Either I get killed or you get killed!

There is no good transition for this, but oh well. I won’t be forgiven for not dropping in a stupid question. Which do you prefer, cats or dogs?

I hate cats. I hate them so fucking much. When I was a kid this lousy fucking cat just jumped right up and scratched my entire fucking neck from here-to-here (demonstrates the length of the scratch. He has every reason to hate cats ‘so fucking much’). Since then, I’ve just hated them. It’s safe to say that I’m a dog person!

Wow. Here, and in your press release, which called your sound ‘uber-fucking-cool’ you certainly say ‘fuck’ a lot.

(laughs) We say ‘fuck’ a lot! When I speak Swedish, which is my mother tongue, I very rarely curse. But as soon as I start speaking English, it’s ‘fuck’ all over the place! I don’t know why. I think it’s something to do with me being a huge Guns n’ Roses fan when I was like 8-years-old. I love the word ‘motherfucker’ and I love saying ‘fuck’, but I never do it at home, and I never do it in Swedish. Adam (Grahn, lead vocalist and guitarist) is the king of the nasty words.

Well, that’s always the way with learning a new language, isn’t it? The first words you look up are ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, counting to ten and ‘fuck’. And not necessarily in that order either.

Yeah! And then it’s ‘cunt’, then it’s ‘cock’ and all that kind of stuff. It’s a stupid word because it doesn’t get you anywhere. You might get a laugh out of it. You can’t be loud and start a conversation with ‘cunt’!

You are getting a lot of attention on YouTube. How did that feel to first see one of your video tick over one million views?

It feels brilliant! The most weird thing so far was when I was back home and had a real hard time falling asleep, so I was lying in bed going through all the channels. Click, click, click, click. And I ended up on MTV and they had this countdown of the best rock videos at the moment and at number one was ‘Tommy Gun’ by Royal Republic. Then my face came up on MTV at number one on a rock chart! It was super weird! That was an amazing experience. I watched MTV when I was young, and all my heroes were on there, and I was like ‘just imagine being on MTV. That’s got to be the best thing ever’. And one day I just found myself on there and it was overwhelming.

Having asked about your loves, I can’t resist asking about the other end of the spectrum. Who do you really hate in the music world?

I have a burning, passionate hatred towards Taylor Swift. That so-called country star is just super lousy. She can’t sing, she can’t perform and everything about her has this kind of attitude (pulls arrogant face to rival that of Piers Morgan). I hate it. I hate Taylor Swift and you can print that!

Hannes isn't a Taylor Swift fan. Still, he did a wonderful impression of this cocky pose.
Hannes isn’t a Taylor Swift fan. Still, he did a wonderful impression of this cocky pose.

And it’s not really ‘country’, is it?

Exactly. When you’re watching these country award shows, there is not one single country artist on there! It’s all just pop music. Country, to me, is Hank Williams, that kind of stuff which is just awesome.

That’s just the case nowadays. A constant stream of ‘brand new’ 13-year-old stars who appear out of nowhere…

Well, there are a lot of kids out there who watch things like America’s Got Talent. There are lots of kids with these amazing voices. They sure know how to sing and they can hit all the high notes. But when you are 12, you can’t express anything. You might have a good technique and you might be gifted, but there is nothing behind it, and that kind of pisses me off.

And inevitably, in between the love and the hate. Do you have any guilty pleasures?

I don’t think I have. I’ll stand up for everything that I listen to. I’m a big Bob Dylan fan, but I love listening to Cypress Hill and Eminem and gangsta rap things. Not Taylor Swift though!

What about Justin Bieber?

Ugh, I have nothing to say about him, except this. He had a minor role in CSI. I love that series, but I couldn’t fucking take it when Justin Bieber was on it. It was just embarrassing and I had to turn it off! I can’t blame him for being so successful. He must be doing something right! I would love to have two billion views on YouTube, and all I can do is congratulate him on his success, but I don’t have to enjoy his work!

Justin wasn't welcome on CSI, but this moment seemed to go down a treat.
Justin wasn’t welcome on CSI, but this moment seemed to go down a treat.

If it’s any consolation, he did get shot at the end of that CSI episode.

Maybe he does! I didn’t make it that far!

Anyway, is there anything else that you would like to say to entice listeners one last time?

They need to come and check out a show. So far there haven’t been that many people walking out of a Royal Republic show at least somewhat happy about it and have a bit of a smile on their face! So come check it out, and I hope you enjoy it!

Thank you for your time.

Thank you for being here.


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