Hi André… always a pleasure to have you on Grande Rock. Once again you did an excellent job on the new album “Dystopia”!
A: Thank you very much. Nice talking to you again and thank you for appreciating the work we did on “Dystopia”.
Almost 2 years after “Cast in Stone” you’re back with a new studio album. Hence what are the main differences and the similarities between the two album (the previous and the new one)?
A: Obviously the concept behind the new album: “Dystopia. Part 1” is the first half of the concept album inspired by the great Ray Bradbury’s book “Fahrenheit 451”.
I see this album almost as a theatre/movie soundtrack/rock opera in a way (a few reviewers noticed the “almost cinematic” sound/feel of the album). After all – it’s a concept album so you can allow yourself to go a bit farther left or right with a musical piece like that compared to a “regular” album.
That and an inclusion of a “larger scale” orchestration and – most importantly and quite unusual for Royal Hunt – appearance of a few guest singers “playing” various characters: Mats Leven, Mark Boals, Henrik Brockmann, Kenny Lubcke and Alexandra Andersen.
I also think that all the guys in the band: Jonas Larsen, Andreas Passmark, Andreas Johansson and – as mentioned previously – DC Cooper outdid themselves on this album. Their performances are simply off the charts on this one.
And what about the songwriting process? Judging by the studio videos that you’ve released, you had a nice time on the studio despite the whole “covid-19 paranoia”, right?
A: The actual writing/recording process went – mainly – as usual: raw ideas composed on piano or guitar, demo recordings, ironing out details/arrangements and then the tracking process at NorthPoint Studio here in Copenhagen. But eth the ongoing pandemic some of the guest singers recorded their parts “remotely” but – as I know all the guys personally – it all went down smoothly.
Do tell us a few things about the guest appearances on the album. We even got the chance to listen to the original Royal Hunt singer Henrik Brockman on the album.
A: We’re been privileged to feature performances by Mats Leven (The Art of Dying), Mark Boals and Alexandra Andersen (I Used to Walk Alone), Kenny Lubcke (Hound of the Damned) and Henrik Brockmann (Snake Eyes), while DC Cooper performed the main character throughout entire album.
Is the album title “Dystopia” inspired by the incidents that take place in our time? Why did you come up with the specific album title?
A: As I mentioned earlier, “Dystopia. Part 1” inspired by Ray Bradbury’s book “Fahrenheit 451”, which is often described / referred to by critics and readers alike as “dystopia”. I simply “moved” the general idea to our time, making the idea more contemporary.
Since this is a concept album, is it easy to give us a hint about each track?
A: Since “Dystopia” is a concept album it would take me several pages to describe songs individually (and lyrics are included in the booklet), so I’d rather say that – in general – the listener will experience a Royal Hunt album, where our signature sound is embellished with even more intricate orchestrations and remarkable performances from the band and from our outstanding guest singers.
Did you take care of the recordings and the production again? How do you prefer to approach the sound of every new album each time? You’ve told me in the past that you’re an “analog guy” mostly.
A: I’ve had my ever expanding and substantially equipped studio for decades… at different locations around Copenhagen. All our albums have been recorded here – it’s where we all feel comfortable recording and have plenty of time to experiment (as I have collected quite a bit of gear over the years) with different sounds & arrangements etc. It’s very liberating to work when you feel like working and not to have time constrains of any kind. As for the sound: yes, I prefer the “analogue sound” and I’m still using all that old/tube gear to create/process sounds yet computers and other digital gadgets are being used, as well in order to make the band sound more contemporary. Combining the old with the new, so to speak.
The album was released once again by “your own” NorthPoint Productions. It seems that you do not bother to work with any labels anymore like you used to do in the past. Why’s that?
A: We’re doing it ourselves simply because we can. NorthPoint Productions started as an extension of my studio where all our albums being produced. We started with supplying our previous record labels with additional pictures/EPK’s and other visuals, maintaining our social media presence and such. Later on we moved into digital distribution while establishing our own platform as well. Public relations followed and – finally – we took over the actual production and physical distribution (through various distribution companies) and became an all-in-house label, controlling all aspects of mechanical, publishing, licensing & merchandize activities, working closely with our management (Michael Raitzin/Majestic Entertainment) and Warner Chappell Publishing.
What are your expectation expectations from “Dystopia”?
A: We’re expecting “Dystopia. Part 1” to do very well and – according to the massive amount of positive reviews from the press and our fans – we managed to create an album which connects with people. It’s very flattering and equally satisfying to see our work being appreciated by so many.
Since all the touring has been postponed… what do you think of the virtual live shows in general? Personally, I prefer the real live show and I still remember your Athens show in 2018. It was spectacular! Great memories!
A: Thank you, we’d like to play Greece again. I’m definitely not a fan of the “online live shows”, but I do understand that for some bands it could be the only way to connect with their fans and to air some of their new material. Let’s just hope that this pandemic is soon to be gone and the “real” live shows would finally return.
It’s been almost a year since the corona-virus thing! What do you think of it? How much has it affected the music business and people’s lives so far?
A: The inability to tour is by far the worst part of this current situation. It’s a devastating blow to everybody involved: musicians and their crews, promoters, PA/lights renting companies, bus companies, venues… the list is endless. We’re not even started to count the “casualties” yet, but it already looks like the damage from this unfortunate situation will be much more severe than we’re all projecting at the moment.
What’s new from your other project N’Tribe?
A: Not much at the moment as Jonas and I were pretty busy with Royal Hunt, but as soon as our schedule will permit that – we’ll be back with N´Tribe to spread the simple joy of “the old school rock ‘n roll” around us.
It’s time for our “strange questions”!!! Which is the first album that you ever bought and do you still own it to date?
A: Deep Purple – “In Rock”. The original one has been played to death through the years (but I still have it), now I also have a couple of newer vinyl versions of it.
Do you think that the streaming services have helped the band and music business in general?
A: Yes and no: it became easier for bands to reach their audience, but it also devaluated music massively.
If you could “erase” one thing from modern music, what would it be?
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words:
A: Rockstar: Fans…
Classical Music: Amazement…
Music Realities: Curiosity…
Which is the composer/songwriter who influenced symphonic metal music the most?
A: In my opinion J.S.Bach.
Which is that band that you’d like to be part of (any time & era)?
A: Right now I’d very, very much like to play with Royal Hunt again – we haven’t been in our rehearsal room together for over a year by now.
Which is the most underrated musician or band of all time?
A: I’m afraid that one of my favorite bands – SAGA – has not received enough attention and praise for their marvelous works (albums and live shows) through the tears.
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
A: I’d give them Royal Hunt’s “Dystopia. Part 1” and make them come back to pick up “Dystopia. Part 2” next year.
Which character from the “The Lord of the Rings” or “The Hobbit” would you be if you lived in Middle Earth?
A: Sorry, not a fan of that particular franchise, so – no idea, but if there’re other Earths: Middle Earth, Upper Earth, Southern Earth and so on… I’d pick the one with the best weather and become a bartender.
Finally, we’ve come to the end André. Thx for talking to Grande Rock webzine. Say anything you feel like saying before we close. Take care dude!
A: Thank you very much. I’d say check out our latest album “Dystopia. Part 1” on any digital platform of your liking… you can start here or even better: get a physical copy of the album, they’re easy to find wherever you live. In any case: visit us here and get to know our music, read all the relevant information about the band and – eventually – the upcoming tour dates. Cheers…