Denmark-based progressive metal band Royal Hunt was first thought of in 1989 by Russian born Andre Andersen. Their first release was in 1992 Land Of Broken Hearts.
With many line up changes, the band is back with their 14th studio album, Cast In Stone. The album releases February 7th, 2018 in Japan and February 21st, worldwide.
I had the chance to collect a few questions for an email interview with founding member Andre Andersen. I found his responses quite interesting. Enjoy the read.
Interview with ANDRE ANDERSEN of ROYAL HUNT
1 – This is the second release with the current line up. What has the band been up to since the release of Devil’s Dozen in 2015?
We played LoudPark (Japan), ProgPower (USA) and Rockingham (UK) festivals; released a double live album, Cargo, went on tour in the spring of 2016; released a live DVD, 2016, and – only a few weeks ago – completed mixing and mastering of our 14th studio album, Cast in Stone, which will be released in February… so we’ve been quite busy.
2 – In 2016 Royal Hunt toured throughout Europe, Japan, and one show in the United States. Any plans for a tour to support the new album? Will it take you to countries you have not been before or even back to North America?
Every year we’re adding a couple of new places where we’ve never played before: over the last few years, we added Taiwan, Ukraine, Hungary… just to name a few.
As far as North America goes – I’m not really sure if the market is there for touring with the kind of music we’re playing; I’m not an expert but as far as I know we’re yet to receive any serious offers from US promoters – except for ProgPower festival in Atlanta, of course – so, unfortunately, no plans to tour over there at the moment.
3 – You have done two shows in the United States. How was that experience the first time and then coming back six years later after the first time?
It was equally great both times: the festival is very well organized, great line up and very enthusiastic and supportive audience… it was a pleasure to be a part of the event (both times) and we’d like to do it again sometime.
4 – February 7th, 2018 the new album Cast In Stone will be released in Japan on King Records. When will this be released for the rest of the world and will it also be on King Records?
The album will be out on February 21st through NorthPoint Productions – our own label run by a few amazing people, which – actually – already operated for a while but this time will also take over the distribution worldwide (except Japan/SE Asia). We have the pre-ordering campaign already in place: just go to www.royalhunt.com and pre-order your copy as is or with any kind of extras you might find interesting.
5 – Where did you record the new album and can you tell us about the process?
The album’s been recorded in my studio – as usual: we know the place, we know the gear and we all feel comfortable there, which is the most important part.
But this time around we were fortunate to not have any specific deadlines – I started writing songs all the way back in 2015. Having an opportunity to work on them for a while, go out to play some shows, come back and continue writing/re-writing, switch to working on a live album, go out again and so on was priceless – I didn’t have that kind of luxury since… well, ever.
Same with the actual recording: the ability to experiment with different sounds/setups, possibility to come back weeks later and redo some parts, change the arrangements and so on… I hope the listener will notice the added variety and experimentation which we inserted into this album – while staying true to the original Royal Hunt – style/concept.
6 – With you being the only original member and the songwriter, is anything different with the songwriting on Cast In Stone?
You evolve (for better or worse): I can’t write songs as I did 10 years ago… not even last year for that matter. Your focus shifts every time: what’s the story behind this album? How do you set the mood? Does the music covey the lyrics clearly enough or should you reinforce some parts? Will it come across to the listener as you’ve planned? There’re so many aspects that change from album to album depending on what you’re trying to achieve.
And not to forget the most important part – I’m extremely fortunate to work with a bunch of insanely talented guys: Andreas, Jonas, DC, and Habo are all bringing their very own “thing” to the table and it got spread all over these tracks… always something unexpected yet undeniably great.
7 – Where do you get your inspiration for your songwriting?
Everywhere: it could be a book you read, a headline that catches your attention in the newspaper, a movie you watch and even somebody’s phrase you happened to overhear while buying groceries – it doesn’t matter, really, as long as it ignites something in your head: a musical part, a sound, a song title or just sets the mood for a yet-unwritten-song somehow.
8 – With the new tour will there be something different for your longtime fans?
Maybe pulling out some rare songs that have not been played live or on a rare occasion?
There’s a certain danger in being a 25-year-old band as your fans already picked their favorite songs; you know their wishes, you start following them and – all of the sudden – your set list becomes stale. I see lots of bands – my personal all-time favorites – playing, basically, the same set year after year and that scares me (with regards to our own setlist).
So we have a basic principle: at least 3 new songs, 5 or 6 fan favorites (changed around every tour), a few of our personal favorites (changed naturally as it’s all a compromise each time) and a couple of “deep cuts”… so yes, there’ll be a few “surprises” this time around as well.
9 – Every band has their favorite songs they play live. What songs really stand out for you that you love play live?
I’d say “Lies”, “Hard Rain’s Coming” and “A Life to Die For” are my personal favorites at the moment.
10 – The fans and promoters spoke up and you answered. In 2011 the request was fulfilled with D.C. Cooper coming back into the band taking over vocals. How did this come about with talking to D.C. to join the band again?
It definitely wasn’t something that we’ve pre-planned in any way, that’s for sure. We just released our 10th album – simply called X – and Mark Boals (our singer at the time) couldn’t do the tour due to his prior commitments… well, stuff like that happens from time to time.
A bit later we’d been offered a bunch of good gigs and somebody suggested – considering the circumstances – to do something different, a kind of an “in-between/reunion/greatest hits” set.
Both fans and promoters were asking for it for years so we decided to give it a try – I got hold of DC and we agreed to do this “one-off” – thing (as we thought about it at the time), mainly just to go out there and have some fun as both him and us were available and missed being on the road.
I must admit that – in the beginning – I had my reservations about this whole ordeal (and I’m sure that DC had his as well) yet the moment we met in the rehearsal room it all fell into place immediately… just as if we never had this break for a bunch of years. So here we are – seven years later.
11 – Where and when was the first Royal Hunt live show?
Obviously, it was in Copenhagen and I’m pretty sure it was in a club called Musikcafeen. Not sure about the date but I’d guess on late ’89/early ’90.
12 – Most memorable show you have played and why?
I’d say headlining the Pusan Festival in South Korea: the most beautiful setting for a concert I ever participated in. A huge stage facing the sea, gorgeous sunset, 25, 000 people in front of you and a completely insane amount of pyro they planted everywhere on, above and under the stage… literally everywhere. The stuff was so powerful (and there was so much of it) that the entire stage started shaking so violently that I was seriously expecting it to collapse at any moment… it didn’t, but I’m sure it was pretty close at times.
13 – How do you feel about playing the large outdoor festivals vs the small club shows?
Of course everybody wants to play stadiums all around the globe but I’d say both settings have their own specific charm: large stage gives you an opportunity to put up a bigger production and get that sense of grandeur yet a smaller club gives you that feeling of intensity, that very primal drive, so to speak … so I’m enjoying both for different reasons.
14 – Your first live concert. Who did you see?
Rainbow… and Blackmore signed my ticket… how cool is that?!
15 – If there was one band or artist you wish you could see or could have seen who what that be?
Pink Floyd… never saw them live and I’d probably regret it for the rest of my life.
Royal Hunt is:
André Andersen – keyboards
DC Cooper – vocals
Andreas Passmark – bass
Jonas Larsen – guitars
Andreas HABO Johansson – drums
Shawn “Animalize” Irwin