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Royal Hunt

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“The reality is much better than my vision,” laughed Andre Anderson, keyboardist and founding member of Danish band Royal Hunt when asked about his intentions for the band back in 1989. “Back in the day… on one hand in ’88, ’89, I had a picture in my head of the band, and everybody wants to be a star when you’re younger. And at the same time, you’re thinking about the band and you watch other bands. The lifespan is about four or five years on average, so deep inside me, I was hoping that because I was listening to Rush and Deep Purple and Kansas, and all these kinds of bands, I was hoping to have this long, lasting career. But I never, ever imagined 25 years! I thought maybe 15 would be great, but 25… You know, when you are younger and you think by the time I’m 50 I won’t want to go on the stage, it’s not rock and roll, but it is. Believe me, it is. It’s still very much rock and roll (laughs).”

After recently celebrating a quarter of a century in Royal Hunt, Anderson says his desire for the band and music is still as strong after all these years.

“It is,” he enthused. “Obviously, how you feel about being in a band for 25 years depends on what kind of atmosphere you have with the band. I know a bunch of bands and some of them just can’t stand each other, but they have to keep going because it’s a good business so they have to keep doing it. That’s not the case here, fortunately. From time to time, you do feel like doing something else. I did a couple of solo albums and everybody in the band has done something on the side. They did a couple of solo albums or played on someone else’s album. When I’m in the studio, sometimes I’m writing music for television or movies or stuff like that. Nothing big, it’s more of a hobby. It gives me a different angle on music; different people, different musicians, but home is best. Every time I start working with Royal Hunt again and I see all the faces, I feel pretty comfortable.”

Royal Hunt has recently released their live CD/DVD 2016, continuing a process that has seen them release live albums in a ten-year cycle starting in 1996.”

“It’s become kind of a tradition for us,” Anderson chuckled. “We did the first one in 1996, then 2006, and now this one in 2016. All the guys in the band said, ‘Okay, it’s 2016, we’re supposed to do something’, and I know it’s so much work every time and you are depending on people. I can do video editing myself and I know how difficult the process is, so I was a little bit against it, but then we decided if we found a venue on the way – because we were on tour at the time – we could do it. So we started investigating it. The only thing I wanted was I didn’t want it to be a festival. I wanted it to be our stage and our visuals, so we checked that and then my preference was to do it on the second part of the tour because by that time the band is so tight as you have played so many shows you become almost a machine. We looked at the last part of the tour and we found Moscow of all places. They have a great video crew that are very experienced. There’s a nice stage with a big screen at the back for the visuals and we rented extra lights, so Moscow it was!”

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Anderson maintains that the fact the concert was recorded live for the package didn’t put any extra pressure on the band’s performance, partly because they are accustomed to it now and partly because the band were performing at their peak by that stage of the tour.”Everybody actually completely forgot about it,” he laughed. “That’s a great thing because when you’ve already played 25 shows you’re not thinking about those things, you’re just enjoying yourself. From time to time, you see some guy running around the stage with a video camera but you’re not thinking about it that much so it’s easier. One of the previous DVDs we recorded was a little harder because it was a one-off show so everybody was talking about the filming and the sound checking and the whole thing.

“Everybody actually completely forgot about it,” he laughed. “That’s a great thing because when you’ve already played 25 shows you’re not thinking about those things, you’re just enjoying yourself. From time to time, you see some guy running around the stage with a video camera but you’re not thinking about it that much so it’s easier. One of the previous DVDs we recorded was a little harder because it was a one-off show so everybody was talking about the filming and the sound checking and the whole thing. With 2016, we just did our soundcheck and recorded the show.”

As far as the actual recording went, Anderson concedes he did have a backup plan in place in the event that something went wrong.”

“We were cautious because I knew something might happen,” he admitted. “We recorded one show before this actual show in Moscow and one after as audio in case we had annoyances like feedback or someone dropping out. It happens. So we had two more shows as backup in case we needed to take a piece and insert it but the visuals took a few weeks with editing and finding the coolest shots. It’s never perfect, but we tried our best.”

As well as providing fans with ten-year live updates on the band, Anderson says the live recordings also serve as a snapshot of the band in regular increments.

…continued below…

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“The first one in ’96, for me, was excellent,” he beamed. “We’d never thought about a live album. The first album came out in 1992, so in 1996 to do a live album and video, it was a little bit too early for me. But we went to Japan and the record company said they had a crew there to film some other video show for a big name band so we could use their gear, so it was kind of by accident. It was like everyone’s here, let’s do it. And then in 2006, we kind of pre-planned it, and obviously, this one. You listen back to the last decade and think it sounds so horrible (laughs) . You have a ten-year gap and we’re releasing albums about every second year (we’re pretty stable in that department), so we have four albums to pick from in those ten years. So, yeah, it’s like a snapshot, and of course, every time you look back, you always say, ‘Yeah, that’s pretty good, but the new ones better.'” (laughs)

Royal Hunt have been blessed with a fine array of different vocalists throughout their career, with the most popular being current frontman, D.C. Cooper who is in his second sitting in the band after first singing from 1994 to 1999 and then rejoining the fold in 2011.

“Maybe that came about because we got older,” Anderson laughed of the circumstances that had changed to entice Cooper back into the drivers seat. “The thing with us is we’ve had so much controversy. Back in 1998/1999, we just couldn’t live together under the same roof, if you understand what I mean, or even in the same band. There was just so many tensions. The legend is it was just between D.C. and me, but the whole band was involved. There was so many tensions there, and not just involving D.C. He had to leave and we got different singers, excellent singers. We had John West, we had Mark Boals, and then when we realised things with Mark wasn’t working out –  nothing on a personal level, he’s just a busy guy and has so many projects – and we started thinking if we should even continue. There was no question on that, everybody wanted to continue so the position was a new singer or what? At that time, D.C. and our then drummer started talking on social media and that’s how it all started. He was kind of a little bored and we were looking for a new guy, so it was like, ‘why don’t we try again?’ We did a little trial and got together to jam and see what it felt like because we knew how it would sound. It was how it felt and it was so funny.”

 

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“D.C. said he wanted to come back and we went to Denmark and we started playing, and he said it felt exactly as though he had left yesterday. Even though half of the lineup was different, the whole atmosphere and everything was exactly the same but in a positive sense. What was planned as a little nostalgic comeback thing and a little tour turned into more. We didn’t plan on D.C. staying, we just planned a little tour playing old material and having fun with no grand plan behind it. We played a few shows and it felt right. You know how it goes. After a month or so the manager asked us if we were doing a new album and what D.C. was doing, so we did an album and the next tour and all of a sudden… it’s quite interesting and unexpected, but it’s nice to have him back.”

Royal Hunt’s last studio album was Devil’s Dozen in 2015, so going by their output of an album every two years, one could surmise that a new album wil be in the offering this year sometime; a fact confirmed by Anderson.

“Yes, absolutely,” he affirmed. “It’s not a secret (laughs). We don’t have a plan with record companies and the whole thing but we’ve started working on it. We need to spend a couple of weeks with Andreas [“Habo” Johansson], our drummer, working on drums because I have material more or less written. I don’t know when it will be released but I would guess around New Year, December or January, perhaps. We don’t have a commercial plan for it, we’re just working on songs.”

While still in the preliminary stages, Anderson says the basic sound of the upcoming album will not differ a great deal from previous recordings, although he maintains that each album has different elements to its predecessors.

“Every time we do an album, we do little twists and turns,” he offered. “One gets a little heavier and another a little more symphonic. We stay with what I call the ‘Royal Hunt sound’. Over 25 years we’ve established pretty much our own… I wouldn’t call it ‘style’ but the sound and the way we play things and arrange things. Of course, we’ll stay within these borders but we’ll always make some changes. There’s a particular song that’s a little bit more progressive and one is maybe a little bit more poppy. I don’t know, it’s hard to predict; but it’s always something a little different but still within the same sound we’ve established over the last 25 years.”

Written by Kirs Peters

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“2016” is out now via Frontiers Records

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