Royal Crown Revue: "Our instrumentation and look says "classic," but when you walk out of Royal Crown Revue show, you feel that punch in the stomach like you would from seeing a great rock band"

  • Spanish version.

  • We feel very lucky that Royal Crown Revue will be visiting our country by the end of November. So before the awaited event, Daniel Glass, drummer, very kindly answers some questions.
    This time, the gig venue in Madrid is at a theatre (Teatro Lara) a very appealing idea given that RCR are very theatrical themselves. What can we expect from it?
    It’s cool, because the tour will include lots of new material from our new live DVD "It's Vegas, Baby!", which was shot last year in the Elvis Presley showroom of the Las Vegas Hilton. We wanted the show to be like taking a walk back into the days of the REAL Las Vegas, when the place had class and folks dressed up smart to see Sinatra, Basie, Sammy Davis Jr and Louis Prima on the Strip.
    We’re also supporting a brand new Christmas CD, called “Don’t Be A Grinch This Year!” We’re really proud of this recording and can’t wait to play some holiday material for the Spanish fans.
    Also, we’ll be bringing our newest singer Jennifer Keith to Europe with us for the first time. She has an amazing voice, and is a classic beauty like many of the movie stars of the 1940s and ‘50s. She and Eddie do a lot of duets together – very similar to the old style Louis Prima/Keely Smith show. It adds a very cool new dimension to the band.

    You are the holders of the Swing Revival crown (obviously ;-)), bringing the American Root music and style to an international acclaim, do you feel proud of this?
    Extremely proud. It amazes me that I can go to Moscow or Madrid or Buenos Aires or Tokyo and meet a 20-something kid who got excited about classic culture and roots music from listening to an RCR album. It also makes me feel old.

    You formed in 1.989, stepping out from all the musical trends of the moment, coming from the punk scene, and wanting to pay tribute to all that American music from the 40’s, what is it about that decade that is so fascinating?
    We grew up in the '70s and '80s, and were very influenced by music of that time - Punk, Ska, Hard Rock, etc. However, along the way, we developed an appreciation for the older stuff as well - there is a such a treasure trove of great stuff out there that was recorded prior to 1960. We all became serious students, not just of the music but also of the culture in general. All of that stuff comes out when you see an RCR show.
    The 1940s was a very iconic decade - full of some of the best and worst times. Everything was built to last back then - cars, clothes, and values and morals too. I have some vintage drums from that time that are amazing! But people also suffered a lot with the effects of the Great Depression and World War II. There was a lot criminals and gangsters of the period, and people didn't have the comfortable life that most of us do today. Some of our music glamorizes those times, but points out the bad with the good.

    And what is RCR method of work?
    We write a lot of original music, or we try to arrange the older style songs in our own way. Our traditional way of approaching the music is to combine various forms of classic American music - Swing, Rhythm and Blues, Bebop and Rockabilly - with a presentation that is very high energy and in your face. Our instrumentation and look says "classic," but when you walk out of RCR show, you feel that "punch in the stomach" like you would from seeing a great rock band. We make people understand that music made before the 1960s is powerful staff – it “rocked” just as hard and was just as rebellious as the rock music of today.

    Today’s music seems to blend into a main stream path that lasts five minutes and does not sound new. Do you think we are living a period of lack of inspiration or is there really very interesting new things but is difficult to get to know them?
    I think that if your ears and eyes are open, you can access a lot of great new music that’s out there today. The Internet is great for that. Unfortunately, what passes for the “mainstream music industry” is mostly just corporate garbage that is designed and sold like McDonald’s hamburgers – fast food that tastes good, but doesn’t have any nutritional value. Also, for many artists, it’s tough to really say anything “new” in the 21st Century – it’s kind of all been done before. This is why I wish newer musicians would look farther back than the ‘60s for their inspiration. There’s so much great music back there that can really give young artists some cool new ideas.

    What music do you listen to?
    Everything – Frank Zappa, Count Basie, Muse, Foo Fighters, Beethoven, Mel Torme, Billy Childs. There’s such a great menú of sounds out there. Why would I just want to eat the same food every day??

    You live in L.A. right? What is the music scene like nowadays?
    Very healthy, compared to many other places in America. There’s a huge new rockabilly scene now – especially among Latino kids. The Orange County roots scene is thriving. Ska has made a big comeback, also with very young kids. There’s a big retro swing dance scene all over California – from San Francisco to San Diego, and those dancers love authentic big band and even traditional jazz. I do a lot of those kind of gigs as a sideman when I’m not working with RCR.

    You have a whole act, it is not only the music, but the attitude, the spirit, the lifestyle, the clothes which are fabulous by the way, where do you get them from? Do you have them custom made?
    We have been students of retro music and culture for many years now – going back to the late ’80 and early ‘90s when you could find amazing gabardine suits at the second hand store for like $20. When we toured the States, we used to stop at every antique mall in the Midwest – all of which were full of amazing staff, whether it was vintage clothes or dimestore novels or old records instruments. I have an amazing collection of old tie clips and cufflinks that you wouldn’t believe. We also have a few friends in LA who custom design suits for us.

    Thus, adding to your fantastic look, your excellent musical skills you have gained fans of all kinds, from punk rockers to older people, from ska kids to rock a billy. Is there a formula?
    If there’s any formula, it’s very simple – in order to become a great band you have to do your homework, put in the practice, and bust ass every show you do. We don't try to follow "market trends" - we are who we are. If we are successful, it’s because we have worked really hard to understand the subtleties of the music, and we strive to consistently deliver quality albums and concerts.

    You also have been constantly collaborating in television (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gene Simmons Family Jewels...), films (The Mask), radio and supporting big names (Bette Midler among many more) along the years. Any more collaborations in sight?
    Well, we have a terrific rhythm and blues singer guesting on our Christmas album – Vicky Tafoya. She’s popular on the LA scene and has toured in Spain in the past. We are also working some very high powered trumpet players these days – Mark Pender works with TV host Conan O’brien here in the Status, he’s on our Christmas CD. Also, Lee Thornburg – a legendary studio trumpet player who has worked with Tower of Power, Chicago, Etta James and many others. He’ll be on tour with us in Spain. You never know when the next collaboration is going to happen. Always happens when you least expect it.

    I can’t help asking about the US Senate Elections, even if we don’t know the results as I write this, very possibly we will know by the time you read it, so whatever the results are , what is your opinion?
    I hate what is happening politically in this country – there are facist elements taking hold in the US that now control the media (via FOX “News,” which is pure right wing propaganda). Americans are not very educated and therefore don’t really understand the actual issues – they vote based on commercials they see on televisión. In this latest election, corporations spent literally billions to essentially “buy” their candidates a job. And they managed to convince the voters – through lies and distortions - that our troubles are Obama’s fault (even though he has actually started to clean up Bush’s fucking mess), and that they should vote to give more tax breaks to the extremely wealthy. It is a very, very scary time.

    Finally, what are the near future plans? Any new album in the way?
    As I mentioned, we have a brand new Christmas Record, which we’ll have with us in Europe. We’ll also be selling a live DVD “It’s Vegas Baby.” We plan to record a new studio record in 2011.

    Thank you very much for your time. Can’t wait to listen the roar of the Royal Crown Revue!
    Thank YOU!

    Tx: Arancha R.