The Amazing Royal Crowns – Interview

The Royal Crowns

An interview with Jason “King” Kendall (vocals), Nate “Super 8” Moir (drums), Jack “the Swinger” Hanlon (bass), Johnny “The Colonel” Maguire (guitar)
by Mark Phinney

This has been a fast-paced and successful year for the grease-geared Royal Crowns, and it’s fun to watch the ride. These boys always make me proud and punchdrunk with the razorlaced intensity of their music. With a debut CD out on their own Kingdom records and shows that are filling the clubs as usual, they’re on a crash course with another hot year of fun, progress, and gasoline- spittin’ tunes. I chatted it up with the boys at TT’s on a chilly afternoon in December, and got to the blue-collar root that is the backbone of my favorite move – the amazing sound of The Royal Crowns.

It’s been a big year for you guys; a lot of changes all around, band lineup and such.
Jason: Well, it’s been a year of focus, of things not becoming seasoned. Nate is with us now, writing with us, and he’s in it for the long haul. It’s a totally comfortable feeling, and it seems that in the past year we found our market, too. I mean, for a long time we were playing to all these different situations, and we still will, but we’re having a real good time playing these punk shows.

Nate, is this a different and fun place for you to be in?
Nate: Yeah, it is. I was always playing in punk bands, so swing and rockabilly was something new for me, but I’ve adapted with no problem, especially with these guys. It carries the same intensity as punk.

Has there been progress in the recording department as well?
Jason: Well, we had a 7″ release this year (“Fireball Stomp”), a different version of “Shiverin'” on the Burning Love soundtrack, and a split 7″ with the Bouncing Souls. We’re gonna pick and choose for the singles. We’ve got a lot of good stuff left from the sessions, just a lot more material in general, and at the moment, enough for another album. We always want to be recording, and now that we’ve put this thing out ourselves we want to see what happens with it, have a label look at it or whatever. We’re already into a second printing as well.

Something that always stands out for me in your music is the imagery, that roughboy, wrong part of town appeal. It’s like a soundtrack in your head.
Jason: That is very true, the imagery is very romantic. It’s straight-on rock, but things like “King of the Joint” are right on. That song is about me sitting in a prison waiting room waiting to see my dad, and that’s what it evokes. My dad, back then, was the king of the joint. I mean, now he’s a very sweet guy, but back then he was a very rough guy – white t-shirt, greasy hair. It’s working class, very working class. I remember seeing all these bands with great vans and equipment, and we had nothing, we had to scrape. Johnny sold every piece of furniture in his house to buy his guitar. We worked our asses off to get to where we are, it’s a blue collar thing, and it’s all about remembering where you came from.

Johnny: It is also about appreciating it too. Earning it, and never forgetting that fact, if you’re given something, you don’t forget what it took to get it. That’s why we did the CD ourselves on our own label.

This was supposed to be released on Sike Records.
Jason: It wasn’t really a screw up; it was more the desire to put it out ourselves. We’re still going to do something with Sike, we’re still going to stay associated cause we think they’re great, and we love ska a lot. We’re just having so much fun doing it ourselves right now, and it gives us so much more control over it. I talk to a lot of bands that don’t even know what they’re own distribution is, and that just baffles me. And the only way to learn is to do it, we didn’t know going into it, and now we do…

It was also a great year in terms of the press for you guys as well.
Johnny: Oh yeah, that Flipside piece was great, we got a lot of letters from that. We love mail. It was great when Flipside put us in their top ten of the year for 1996.

One key point that I see not only in your live shows but on the CD as well was a formula from open to close, how you open with “Shiverin'” and close with “Swimmin’ in Drink.” It’s a nice pattern.
Jason: It’s funny, I know a lot of bands that discuss sequence for days, and oddly enough, we came up with the sequence in ten minutes, but you are right on with what you’re getting at. We did give thought to it – instrumental in the middle, yes, end it on a cool swingin’ note, yes. And like we were saying before, we recorded in two days and a lot of changes took place during and after, like the reworking of “Shiverin'” and so on.

That Do The Devil team up is so sweet, there’s a story behind that, I’m sure.
Jason: Those guys are just so great period. We’re good friends and we always hop up and play with one another whenever we can, so they came down to the studio and we were there for seven hours trying to fit this horn section in (Springheeled Jack), and they just popped it out. They’re amazing guys and musicians, very tight, lots of fun.

One point I always hit on with you guys is the fact that you’re very much about the “show.”
Jason: There’s nothing worse than going to a show where they’re all jaded hipsters standing at the bar with their arms folded. We like to get right into peoples’ faces, we don’t want any inhibitions there. I want to stir up that crowd and say, “Hey, we’re doing it, so can you.” Shit, man, we used to go see Boss Fuel, probably one of the best bands to ever come out of Providence, and just dance our asses off.

Nate: I think people are getting sick of this sitting around thing, it’s getting old, and now they’re ready to go out and have fun again, get up, and into the music. It’s just a great attitude with these kids coming out to see the shows more so than some of the other scenes in town.

Jason: I see it as rockabilly equals punk, punk equals community, and it’s right there for all to see.