ROYAL HUNT have established themselves as one of the premier
progressive rock groups in the world and have done so strictly on their own terms. You
wouldn't have to listen to the group's entire catalog to get an understanding of what this
unit could do to popular music had they only the desire. To be progressive and yet
palatable to a wider, less snobbish audience is something that only a handful of groups
have ever managed with any longevity, DREAM THEATER being the easiest group to use as an
example of this hypothesis. Still, ROYAL HUNT's conquered territories all lay
outside of that one big prize, America. You can be the King of Poland but that won't
get you a glumki in Chicago and these guys know this and don't mind telling anyone who
will listen that it is frustrating as hell. And today they continue to soldier on
with perfect faith that what they are trying to do will, someday, reach a larger audience.
"MOVING TARGET" is actually a couple of years old
now but has just been released in the States through Magna Carta records. Even I
thought it was the much anticipated "new one" but as you will read that one is
still yet to come and when it does you can be assured that it will be trademark ROYAL
HUNT, progressive rock with pomp, circumstance and a whole lot of melody.
I spoke with DC Cooper last year for the "PARADOX" album and he had hoped that
the band would make it to the States but that never happened. Will you make it over
for this record?
No, unfortunately. The U.S. is a huge problem for us. In a sense we are doing
well outside of the U.S. but the problem is, everybody asks us if we are going to tour
there and it looks like it is almost impossible. It is annoying. Especially
having an American singer. It is probably very frustrating for him because he wants
to play, at least his home town, he is from Pittsburgh and it is kind of expensive to come
over and play just one show! (laughs)
You are very successful in both Europe and the Orient so you can
put on a full production when you play there, right?
That is another thing. We have accepted it, I mean, we have talked to our record
company and our management here and we have said "Fine, you don't have to pay through
your nose." And we agreed to go out on a simple small club sort of tour with no
production of whatever, just to start somewhere. We didn't take the whole production
through Europe until four or five years ago so it was not a big deal but they still were
whining about how expensive that it is. I don't know that much about the American
music scene. The only input that I have got is through DC and every time that he
comes to Europe he goes like "Nothing is happening!" So, I don't know how the
situation is but if the chance is there we will go. We will go to the clubs, we
I know that there are people that will come out to see you but I
have to agree with DC's sentiment. If you did play here you are talking about
playing in front of a couple of hundred kids instead of a couple of thousand and it is
really too bad because you guys have produced some great music.
Yeah, and I understand that lately we have been getting some fans in the States, I mean,
it is not that many but the scene is still very underground. It is kind of hard to
reach these people because they may be able to read about these bands in magazines and
stuff like that but they wont be able to listen to it on the radio so, it is kind of hard
but we are doing what we can.
The last record was very much a conceptual kind of thing, if you don't mind that term?
No! That is fine.
Is that something that you have tried to continue on this new record?
No and that is something that is interesting because you talk of "MOVING
TARGET" as our latest album and it is actually not!(laughs) It is our previous album,
the one before "PARADOX!"(laughing)
It is! It is just being released in the States later.(laughing)
Well, I feel pretty silly now! The artwork is all new and so I thought that it was
the latest thing.
Yeah, completely! So, to put the record straight, "MOVING TARGET" is the
previous album that we released before "PARADOX" but for some strange
reason Magna Carta released it right now so, I guess it is a new thing in the States.
So, if this is an older album are we going to be getting another new one soon? I
mean, one that is new to the rest of the world and not just me? (laughs)
(Laughing) Awe, stop it! We are about to start recording on the new album in about
two months or something. So far we don't have a release date or anything but I would
say sometime in March probably. This time we will try to do an impossible thing, we
will try and release it at the same time everywhere. Maybe not the same day but at
least the same month!(laughs) It is such a strange situation but we are getting used to it
so it is OK.
I would guess that Magna Carta is doing the honors in the States and you have somebody
else issuing it in Japan and Europe?
Yeah. We have SPV in most of Europe and PNR in France because they are very strong
on hard rock there and the scene in Europe is like, the hard rock and progressive rock
scene is getting stronger and stronger. The last two years it has been growing so fast
that it is unbelievable. We are really excited about it. We have JVC in Japan and
Rock Brigade in South America and they are doing a fantastic job.
The cool thing about Magna Carta is that it is a very credible record company to be on
here. They just don't issue anything that is crap just to make a buck.
Oh, I have heard about that. I have heard that it is like, fans go to the record
shop and picking up albums not by the name of the artists but by Magna Carta's name.
If Magna Carta put it out it is probably something good.
O.K. So, we are talking about a piece of history here for you. And I guess
that there couldn't have been any kind of continuing theme from the "PARADOX"
Basically, no. It kind of collects some headlines and puts it on an album. The
whole thing is kind of inspired by the whole media thing. We tried to imagine one
individual trying to be a target for the media and all that the media is trying to do is
to sell, trying to convince, they are trying to do this and that so, I guess the songs
became based around that.
Since these were kind of snapshots of where you were at the time has your perception of
things changed since you recorded them?
Not much actually. Basically things are the same. I guess that America is a
little bit different because you can spend six months examining your President's dick but
basically it is the same!(laughs)
That is interesting. Europeans don't seem to be too interested in this whole affair
with our President but we can't get enough of it.
That is something that people would talk about for like two or three days and then it
would be forgotten because it is so irrelevant. I think that the thing that he did
and the whole situation, I mean, he is the President and he has so much stuff to do
besides that! It is weird because the media is so concentrated on that.
I don't know what to really say about this situation but I do think that it is kind of
cool to have this guy running our country who is the first rock and roll
President. I mean, every other guy who has run the office has been a grandfatherly
kind of guy and Clinton is, he seems ready to party!(laughs)
It is kinda cool because most of the Presidents, they are a kind of father figure.
He is definitely older but at the same time he is doing the same stupid things that
we do, which is kind of cool.
You are the driving force behind ROYAL HUNT. Do you have a vision for the band and
which way it should be headed and has that vision changed over time?
We do have a plan, in a way. When we started the band, ten or maybe only eight years
ago the whole idea was to do something a little bit different. You always have AOR
bands and you have your progressive bands like DREAM THEATER and stuff and I grew up on
YES and GENESIS and KANSAS and STYX and stuff like that so we tried to do something that
is a little bit more complicated and progressive but at the same time, wrap it in
something a little bit more accessible to the public. The big sport for us is that
every time we have a beat which is like some irregular time signature or something like
that, we color it with some simple singing line or something like that so that it won't be
like we are standing in the middle of the stage saying "Mom, look what I can
do!" It gives a little bit of color. Like other bands we want to be big
and sell a lot of records and play big places and we are working at it. We are
getting better every year and that is basically the plan, to get better. And then to
introduce people to some kind of music that we feel is interesting.
A lot of those bands that you have mentioned are still floating around and, I think, that
they have passed their productive stages for the most part and are now just living off of
past glories. Should the time ever come that you feel like ROYAL HUNT isn't being
artistically productive will you put it out to pasture?
We are trying really hard not to do that and it isn't really hard for us anyway because
from day one everybody is very involved in the band, like we don't have anybody who is
just "in the band." We are all the time working on new ideas, musical
ideas and lyrical ideas and stuff like that and I don't think that will ever be a danger.
We are just focused on trying to do an album that is better than the previous one.
For as long as we have the spirit, we will be fine.