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June 14, 2024

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INTERVIEW: Royal Crown Revue
Royal Crown Revue's Web Page

By: Alex Steininger

Alex: How would you describe your sound?

Eddie (vocals): Oh boy, start off with a hard one. It's combination of American roots music, but mixed with all the things we grew up with.

James (guitar): We like swing, we like punk music, we great up with all that stuff. Ska, alternative, all the stuff we grew up with.

Scott (trumpet): Led Zeppelin, everything! You can't deny what's out there in the world affects you.

Alex: That ties into my next question, what are some of your musical influences?

Scott: With seven different guys, your going to have a lot of different influences. Heavily jazz oriented, and heavily blues oriented. It's the same kind of question. You can't define it as one person, there is a wide range of stuff.

Eddie: I'll give you straight answer. For me, its like...

James: It's like books and movies. Hard boiled fiction, Humphrey Bogart movies, David Goodess books, Jim Thompson books, and all that stuff. It's heavily imperative. Oh...I'm sorry, did I step on your answer?

Alex: Is there any current bands, swing or not, that your into?

Scott: Yeah, it's endless. We had fun on the Warped Tour. The Descendants, NOFX, Hepcat, Social Distortion, pretty much the whole Warped Tour. I also think the new Foo Fighters album is great.

Eddie: Yeah, Social D. The Warped Tour was great, we played with a lot of bands we like.

Alex: Is there any swing bands that your into that are currently active?

Eddie: Sure! The Cherry Poppin' Daddies, and I respect them too!

James: The Flying Trio's from New York, it's kind of endless. A bunch of bands doing their own thing, doing their own styles of swing.

Alex: What are your band goals for 1998?

Eddie: Go to sleep!

James: Doing the Warped Tour next year...

Eddie: Put out a new album. A studio album.

James: Everything we do is like 95% hard work and 5% good luck, and you put in as much of that 95% as you can, but you kiss that good luck when it comes your way. We're on the road so damn much. Our goals are to take things as far as they can go. And that's getting kinda hard to find. We don't want to sound pretentious or anything, but world domination would be nice (laughter.) Seriously, our goals are to keep making good music, and get it out there, and hopefully it will work.

Scott: Yeah, get it out there. Like being on the radio, that's the problem. You want to get the music out there, and now days kids sit there and listen to the radio and here the same thing over and over. Now here's one more kind of music to present to you, and it has to go on MTV or the radio and it's like a lot of bands get accused of selling out when they hit that point, when they go through that median, but it's not selling out. It's not selling out. You plug your whole life away playing music since you were a child...

Eddie: It's what ever you want. If you want to be...the only time in the only time period I could see whatever selling out would be the really hardcore, the early 80's when everyone was into...the groups like Crass and everyone that was really political, I could see...those are the only groups I could ever consider selling out. The rest are just artists. The Ramones got big as shit, Blondie did a fucking disco beat to "Heart of Glasses" just like a punk song until the guy put a disco beat to it, then it was a big hit, and now she can do whatever she wants.

James: It's's not selling out. I mean, how many of those punk bands did it and still can't pay their fucking bills?

Eddie: All of them...

James: Sure, it's business. I mean, it's business. It's just business.

Eddie: Yeah, unless your rich, then you can go gig whenever you want.

James: No, I'm just saying it's still business. You still have money to manage if you have a bunch of it and all that. That's the misconception of it all. There certainly is a lot more credibility to bands that drive around all day and tour like NOFX and are never on the radio, but ultimately at the end of the day, do you think Mike doesn't have lots of money? That's the whole thing. It's really hard to define what a sell out is.

Scott: Nobody should be-grudge anyone who has made it and is successful. I mean, that's the ultimate goal. That's what you want in life. Have a nice place to live and give your kids the good life and all. That's if you decide to get married or whatever.

James: Your selling out...we'd be sellouts if right now we started playing third-wave ska and became a ska band. That would be questionable.Alex: Has Warner Bros. Records done a good job on getting your record out there and getting it on the radio?

Scott, James, Eddie: NO! (Laughter)

Scott: It took us doing a song for the Surfrider Foundation on the M.O.M. II album. And our management...

Eddie: And our own record is getting out ordered by that record.

James: It's like a wake up call to Warner telling them we don't need them. We just need to stay on the road and do our thing. Word of mouth is what you need. This country is so huge, you need to hit a town three or four times a year just to stay present in people's minds. Which is's so impossible. It's unbelievable. How many places we were this year, and how many places we didn't get to this year, it's unbelievable. The western half of the country...and that's where television and radio work for you. It's very helpful. Your always going to have to keep working, but this way it's like someone is helping you do the little things that need to be done to please people, just for getting here. No complaints from us though. We just stay on the road, and drive around and drive around some more.

Scott: A label like Warner Bros. is great for an act that starts to pop or starts to hit radio. It's like the machine kicks in and forget it. It will just be all over the place.

Alex: So what do you guys do on the road for fun?

Scott: (holds up his sandwich) Your looking at it. EATING! It's fun. I like to eat.

Eddie: I try to ride my bicycle. Ride my bike and go check things out.

James: It's fun to go check out thrift stores and antique stores. Checking out record stores, but that's the nice part. All the places we get to see.

Scott: Hang out with friends that we don't get to see much because we're always on the road. That's why the Warped Tour was great. We were out there with all our friends, standing out somewhere laughing at each other.

Eddie: You know, if we have an early show we go out and hang out with the people. But basically, it's usually drag-cityville.

Alex: So what's your favorite city to play?

Scott: Portland's pretty nice. There is a lot of things to do. We like playing home. We never play home.

James: We're real lucky. Right now there is a lot of places that are really fun to play. They're fun to play for different reasons. Like last night in Eugene, the crowd got into it and they made more noise than...Like all gigs done that night are great. You know, Portland is already high on the list, but if we come here one night and it's smoking, and Portland will be even higher. It's hard to judge a favorite city.

Eddie: I like playing New York, because I like New York.

Scott: Austin, Texas is nice because we know people there. And the food is great. There's different reasons to go to different places. Like we go to Tahoe to go snowboarding...

Eddie: Right! It's really hard to pick a favorite place. But I'll tell you what sucks! (Laughter)

Scott: What sucks Ed?

Eddie: Santa Barbara, California! BLAGH!

Scott: It's not so bad, your only an hour away from home.

James: But it's an amazingly long drive there.

Eddie: I don't know, some places are just dead beats.

Alex: What goes into good music making for you guys?

Eddie: I like to create it, but I also like to tie it all in. Not just lyrics thrown in with riffs, or vice versa. I want it to be the whole package, like a story. Not necessarily...I'm not talking about the lyrics but the whole color of the... I don't know.

James: Like the record so not a concept, but you came up with a vibe and you end with that vibe. it's all cohesive, I think that's what your trying to say. At least that's what I think we're trying to do with Mugzy's Move.

Scott: It's like painting a picture with an ocean, and if you paint the ocean red it's not going to look right.

James: Yeah, it's hard to...for me music is something like what I see with doctors and stuff. Whatever you do with so much passion it's just like it doesn't even matter. Music is just another form of communication. Like if I went up and had a conversation with people that had doctors in engineering, I wouldn't really belong in the conversation. I might sit back and catch a few things and learn something by being quiet, but I wouldn't be in the conversation. Music is more like another way of speaking. If someone has something to say, they can express it in their music. Heavy metal, whatever, if they put a lot of passion into it and believe, than it shocks me and I end up believing. And that's good music.

Scott: When you play something and play it back and get a good feeling about it. You know, you start playing it back and you get such a good feeling, that's when you know you've created something good. When you got that feeling.

Eddie: There's also certain bands you love...I mean you love their music but hate the fucking people playing the music or you hate their live show. It's all a matter need to play great music and put on a great show. It's all a matter of entertainment.

Alex: So what do you guys hate and enjoy about the music business?

Scott: I love playing music and being on stage. I love playing the music we play, but I hate having to drive all the time and go drive everywhere to play. But I still love it. Like if I could walk out of my house and instantaneously be transferred to the club that night, I would hate nothing.

Eddie: I hate getting lonely.

Scott: We never get to the point where we can have girlfriends or wives.

James: Your always uprooted and everyday your...

Eddie: Yeah, it's like I'm going to wash my hair today in the toilet, because I badly need to wash my hair.

Scott: Yeah you have desperate days like that. Some days are more extreme than the others. Everything is so extreme. Everything is either great or bad, there's not much middle ground. Your either having the best time of your life or it's just shitsville. That's the problems with extremes. Another point is that your always on the road and you need to have people like managers, agents, booking agent, and a lot of people that...I don't want to say...take your they don't deserve it sometimes, but it's tough.

Eddie: Yeah, while your playing sixty times a month these other people are taking money off the top, and they're fucking in bed sleeping while your working.

James: Ultimately, the bands the commodity. You have to pay for the bus, the management, your employees, and when it boils down after taxes and you've paid everyone the harsh reality of it all is there is nothing left for you. But ultimately if I didn't love it and think that this is what I'm supposed to do, I would do something else and love it.

Eddie: That's what I hate about the music business. All the tied-in bullshit. I was just talking to this band out here and they're like, "we don't have a manager, but we want to tour!" You can only go so far. You have to's just a game. They won't talk to at this level if you don't have this manager. They will not talk to you at this record company if you don't have this person. This magazine won't talk to you if you don't have this A & R person talking to them. So everybody's in business.

Scott: Then your out on the road for two months, and all this stuff has to happen. This existence, your out on the road, and back home all this shit has to happen while your away. Stuff you can't do, it's impossible. Bills have to be paid, someone has to go talk to the record label in person, so your forced to higher x amount of people for x amount of dollars. But it makes it work, so it's fine. Otherwise...

James: That way your forced to make choices. It's just choices and you want to move forward. You don't have to do anything. You can have a day job and on the weekends play music and love it just as much. Then you don't have to go through as many things. But personally, I love it so much I can't imagine doing anything else. Even though, I will admit it gets miserable sometimes. And I go look at my friends who have straight up days jobs, and I'm like fuck it. It's hard, but not that hard. It's a different kind of hard. Like you just get tired. The thing that makes it really hard, no matter how tired we are, this might be the only time this town will get a chance to see us, so we're the kind of person that will feel guilty if I don't go out there when I'm tired and still give a 110%. Even though it's not in me, it hurts my soul to have to go out there and not do as good as I can. That is what is hard.

Eddie: That's why we have done so good. No matter who bad we fucking feel, we still go out there and try super hard. Some nights I'm throwing up and I still go out there and give it my all. That's why a lot of bands...not a lot of bands, but some who are very popular and are like, "fuck this place!" But you know what? That doesn't cut it. Nobody gives a shit about those bands.

Scott: Yeah like Liam from Oasis, if that's his name. Whatever it is, his back was to the crowd and he's smoking a cigarette. What the fuck is that? How fucking fucked up can you get to treat your audience like that, and they're the ones who have put you where you are. You come to a show, why even play music if it's such a drag?

James: Sometimes it's not that. Sometimes your so there has been instances I thought we all were going to fall off the stage. Sometimes you start out tired, but the crowd is all into it, so you get in a zone and it all goes away. I don't think we get bad crowds, we just play a style of music that not everyone is used to, so these kids don't know how to react. We come to a town and there is 500-600 kids who are used to slam dancing, and they don't know what to do. And if we're tired on top of that, oh boy!

Scott: We just need to sit back and remember we made the choice to come out and do this, and these kids just drove from their house, and have spent a good chunk of money for must kids, to come see us. That's what keeps us going.

James: There has been times were I have been so tired I felt like falling asleep on stage, and the crowd just gets behind us, and we can't fall asleep for two hours after the show we're so pumped.

Alex: If you could change anything in the history of the band, would you?

James: No, because it's all learning.

Eddie: Even if you could change things and still know without having to learn?

James: Well, no...we didn't have anyone to follow, because for such a long time there was nobody playing the music we were playing. We didn't always make the best decisions, but no I wouldn't change a damn thing. We learning something every time we went through it, as painful as it was, so we wouldn't change a damn thing. I'll never do a lot of it again, so that's good.

Scott: If we went back and changed something we might not be here today. We might not be where we are now. It's the way destiny works.

Alex: What are the highest and lowest points you've experienced as a band so far?

James: The Warped Tour was definitely a high point.

Scott: Opening up for Kiss...

James: That was just a fluke.

Eddie: It sure was a high point when we got out of there alive.

James: I was never a Kiss fan, but it was a high point because it was weird. That was a high point, but I think a high point for me is getting to where we are now. We're touring, we're self-supportive, we have a bus, and we're pretty comfortable.

Eddie: Nobody believes us that we opened for Kiss. They're like, "no way. Get out of here."

Scott: We're getting a little radio.

James: Yeah, so being on the Warped Tour was a high point. We got to hang out with a lot of our peers.

Scott: It's a weird thing about being in a band, I don't know, it could be the mindset or whatever. But like first we were being approached by labels, then we got signed and were like, "now what?" Then the record gets released, and then what? Then we want to tour, now what? Then the radio, then what happens? The only thing I can complain about is wanting more new material to play. That's the only thing. That's it.

James: Right now, we're at a high point. Maybe fourteen months and forty-five hours a day, that would be nice!

Eddie: Than we'd be touring that much more!

Scott: I guess we'd have to. There would be two more months of rent to be paid, and that much more food to eat.

Alex: Any road experience that stands out in your mind?

James: We met James Brown in Vegas. That was pretty cool.

Eddie: We once had this piece of shit bus that looked like a fucking tank. We parked it in one of the worst parts of New York for two weeks, and nobody even touched it. It looked like it should have been condemned. After three thousand dollars worth of repairs we decided to junk it. We were so fucking pissed, the junk yard ended up giving us only $200 for the piece of shit.

Alex: So what made you guys want to create music?

Scott: Somewhere, sometime, someone stuck it in my soul and said, "here, be cursed."

Eddie: Yeah, but we love it!

Alex: What inspires you guys to write songs?

Scott: A lot of songs come out of desperated situations. It's amazing how much you can write when your sad and depressed. You can never write when your happy and everything is going GREAT! Your on a tropical island...I don't see how bands can go to tropical islands and write their next album.

James: You never know man, maybe we can write a happy album?

Scott: Reggae and rocksteady is so happy, but Eddie over here writes about "Trouble In Tinseltown," which is about a shithole part of Hollywood.

Alex: What do you want the listener to get out of your music?

Eddie: Whatever they want. I want them to get a smile out of the show though.

James: We're not trying to make any political statement, but maybe we can get them to think a bit? Like "Hey Pachuco!" and let them know what happened in the past will probably be the same for the future. I don't know, did you set out to make a statement when you wrote that, or did it just...I don't know, did you really want to give them a history lesson and make a point?

Eddie: Yeah! It's all tied in, it doesn't have to be one thing. Give something to think about for awhile.

James: Whatever they want you know. If they want to get one thing over another out of the music, let them. There's only two kinds of music: good and bad. Each person decides for themselves.

Scott: There are so many bands out there that are like "sad-core." They are just so miserable, and trying to prove that their life is more miserable than yours. But, ok, does that make you feel good when you listen to that?

James: For some people, yeah it does. That's why I say there is only two kinds of music. Your into it, or your not. It's a free world, you can do what you want. It's important that people say what they want to say. They're just exercising their powers to be.

Scott: I'm not proposing they don't like that music, we're just offering something else. Or for those people that don't want to listen to that kind of music all the time, it's just another choice. It's like a different book to read or program to watch.

Alex: How did your appearance in The Mask come about?

James: The director heard "Hey Pachuco!" and liked it. Supposedly he wrote that whole scene around that song. Sometimes lucky chances just happen for you. It just happened out I guess.

Alex: How did the deal with Warner Bros. Records come about?

James: We just started touring for like two or three years, and then it came to the point where we just stuck it out and stuck it out in L.A. for like two years playing at this place called The Derby. This was like five years ago, and we started playing The Derby.

Eddie: Actually, a lot of people approached us. Like the first few years we started, people were approaching us. This guy came in and was like "let's make a record boys." And I just started fucking laughing at him, and that's like the worst thing you can do. He was like the world's cheesiest, "I love you baby!," A & R guy. He was famous as shit. He was blond and had the cocaine coming out of his noes, and he was famous as shit. This guy is really famous.

James: He was just so stereotypical. But of course, nothing happened. So we started playing The Derby every Wednesday night, and there was such a buzz about us in L.A. People were coming to see us, and we were packing the place. We're talking a line around the corner. This was like five years ago, there was no "Swingers" movie. So it just so happened our A & R guy, Ted Templeman, came down to see us and he was the one that stepped us and said, "I want to do this thing."

Alex: He's your A & R guy and your producer, right?

James: Yeah, and he's still our A & R guy. He did Van Halen records and stuff like that.

Alex: Will he be producing your next album?

James: I don't know, we'll see. He will definitely be involved, but to what degree we don't know yet. A lot of that depends on material, and all that.

Scott: He realizes we have a good grasp on using sound and all that.

Alex: You must have some power around the label if your A & R guy is doubling as a producer.

Scott: Yeah, it's not a bad thing. It's a good thing. But there are a lot of people above him that have much more in the final say. But yeah, we do have some attention from someone who has the power to give it the attention and backing to take it to places it needs to be. It's like the autistic kid who needs special attention, we make up for the unnoticed with someone who has some power.

Alex: How has "Mugzy's Move" and being in The Mask affected your fan base?

James: It hasn't changed a lot.

Scott: Touring and press...

Eddie: But the fan base is like...if your near and dear to the scene...there was some punk bands in San Francisco in the early 70's the dropped out, literally dropped out of the scene because the Sex Pistols were into it. And there are some bands who play there last show and that's it. They're gone from the scene. We've had groups of people that were from the beginning with us who were very much into it because it was very exclusive, and when we started getting bigger and bigger they dropped out. Some leave for good, and some of them come back. But it's all a matter hasn't changed that much. If your in it for a long time people will leave and then come back around and be like, "your still playing? Wow!" and get back into it.

James: There's one thing good I can say about being on Warner Bros. is that they have decent distribution. If someone wants the record, they can usually get it. But that's about all that has come about. Most of what has changed us has come from constant touring.

Alex: Besides "Mugzy's Move" what have you recorded and released?

Eddie: Our new album...

Scott: Our new album, we haven't talked about the new album, "Caught in the Act?" It's a live album that just came out. It's something we put together for the Warped Tour so we could put something out that kids could afford. It started out being a four song EP. Warner Bros., because they weren't in the position to give us money for tour support, said we could go ahead and do our own album to sell at the Warped Tour.

James: We just went out and recorded one show one night.

Eddie: "Kings of Gangster Bop" was our first thing that was out on B.Y.O. Records, then we did a Christmas single that was very cool. If you ever see it, grab it, because I guess it is now out of print. Then we did an independent tape when we had the new guys, and that's probably nowhere. I don't even own one.

Scott: It was like, we have two new guys in the band, and the quality of the sound has improved. Here is what it's like...

James: We though we'd put it out as an indie record, but then we got signed. We sold a lot of them, but it was more of just a show thing. It paid for gas and running the van.

Scott: Just to give everyone something new to listen to.

Alex: How has your sound changed since your first album compared to now? Has it gotten more diverse?

Eddie: Sure.

Scott: It got a lot better.

James: The reason it got better was that we added some more people and became a three horn band, and started to grow a lot.

Alex: So, what do you have to say to those people who think your just a nostalgia act?

Eddie: Fuck em!

Scott: Come see us, and take a harder listen.

Eddie: Yeah, come see us a show.

Scott: We love that kind of music...

Eddie: We give a nod to it all the time.

James: The style and dress we wear on stage, I didn't invent it. I got into the band when they had been dressing like that, so it was like the thing. I just recently before that had been exposed to the vintage style of dress. I mean, look at it. So much care is taken in making it, you just don't see that anymore. It also came from the fact that since we're going to be on stage, we should look different than the audience.

Scott: Yeah, and a lot of bands will go up on stage and look like the audience, or they'll even look worse than the audience.

James: That's cool, if that's what you want to do. But for us, we wanted to bring back the show part of entertainment. We wanted it to be a show again. Four years ago, nobody showed up to our shows in suits. Now you turn on the TV, and every band in the world is wearing suits.

Scott: If you look at music in the 60's, music in the 70's, style and music go hand in hand. Everywhere there has been a big movement, there is a fashion with it. And it's not like we better dress this way or we won't have an identity. I don't know...but I don't dress the way I do just because I think we won't be successful if we don't dress the part.

James: It wasn't done out of that. It was done out of the fact that this music has an identity. We also twisted the fashion, because we'll wear a 60's shirt with 40's suit. And then we would wear our pants higher.

Alex: What do you think caused the revival in swing?

James: People were ready for something new.

Eddie: It was buried for awhile, but people like good music!

Scott: People come up to us and are like "I brought my mom down" or "I should bring my mom down, because it would be really weird for us both to enjoy the same band."

James: I think people are looking for something to do, and they see this as fun.

Alex: Do you see the revival as an on-going thing?

James: It's been on-going, there always has been people into this type of music. Some people will grab onto it and be a fan for life, and others will never get it and keep buying Yanni records. They just won't be involved. But like everything all depends on...

Eddie: It will fall out of the mainstream once it hits a certain point, but there are clubs all over the world that people have been going to for years. Like The Derby, if it was just a click, it should have been dead years ago. People want to get dressed and go have a good time. We aren't really that big in the swing revival. We aren't playing the fancy swing clubs or anything. We aren't swing dance oriented. It's not like...well a few times we have been stuck in this situation, but usually it's not like this. It's a ballroom dance club and everyone is going to come out and swing dance. No, it's usually come out and have fun!

James: If you want to come out and do a couple dance or slam dance, do it! For us, we just want to be Royal Crown Revue, regardless of the genre. You either like us or you don't. You either want to see us or you don't.

Scott: You watch a Batman movie and your like, "is it set in the 40's and 50's or is it in the year 2040?" You can't tell. It's transcend time. That's what we'd like to do, just transcend. We're not the 20's, 40's, 50's, 60's or the 70's, but we do have influences from the 40's, 80's, and 90's. It's swing sure, but it's not swing. It's not swing, because were not playing something from that period. We're not copying it from that time period.

James: As far as the scene goes, I think it's going to be short lived. As for a big huge movement, I don't even know if it will ever get there. Squirrel Nut Zippers are something totally different. They're not really part of the West Coast and everything that is happening around here. They broke and probably sold a million records. They're a good band, and I like them, but that song was just a fluke and it worked for them. Regardless, even in ten years I don't think we'll be making the same records, regardless if the scene is huge or not.

Scott: I don't want to parallel or anything, but let's just say for the lack of better reference, I'd say Squirrel Nut Zippers are like Nirvana. Nirvana took off, and then other bands that were into a similar vain, and they still had that style but it got a little different. Swing is a whole style like grunge, because one band made it, then another band made it, then another, and so on.

James: You can make that generalization because you weren't in the scene, and don't know what was going on in that scene, but I wouldn't say it was just them. There was a lot of bands that got passed over.

Scott: There isn't just Squirrel Nut Zippers, there are all kinds of bands all over doing this, but it only takes one to break...

James: Sure.

Scott: But where is grunge now?

James: It still exists. But the one band left as far as being one of the big spearheads of that movement, Pearl Jam...but who cares? But it will be short lived.

Alex: If you could tour with any band, who would it be?

Eddie: Kiss!

James: I don't know, that's a really hard question.

Scott: Doing the Warped Tour, and having it be a package is pretty hard to beat!

Eddie: We played with Hepcat, and it was great.

James: If we could do a bill...this is a dream bill in a sense for me. We're playing a show at home with 22 Jacks, then Hepcat, then us. If we could tour with that line-up, it would be great.

Eddie: We've talked about No Doubt.

James: I don't know if we dream about that bill, but if it happened it would be cool. I mean, it would be very helpful and all, but as a dream tour, I don't know.

Alex: Anything I left out that you would like to include?

Eddie: Only thanks man!

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