Royal Crown Revue
If you like your ladies in seamed stockings and rolled hair, your men with pomade and snarls, your brass big and juicy and your dance moved all swinging and swung, Royal Crown Revue are probably on your radar. Most popularly known as the band who soundtracked that terrifying/great movie The Mask , Royal Crown Revue are back and ready to rock ‘n’ roll again.
Daniel Glass, Royal Crown Revue’s drummer and one of the band’s longest-serving members, is chirpy down the phone line from New York City, where he (kind of) lives. “I spend a fair amount of time in both LA and New York,” he explains. “I live in New York with my girlfriend and I own a home in LA, so I kind of do a lot of work in both cities. We call that ‘bi-coastal’ here in the ‘States,” he adds happily.
But New York, New York… the swing scene in New York, that’s where all the cats want to be. Glass is pretty blasé about it all, though – far be it for such a cool cat to get worked up over something so early on in a conversation. “For the last ten years or so, I have done a lot of things musically that don’t necessarily revolve around the swing scene per se, but there is a certain amount of the swing scene out here and I do certainly play with those folks,” he explains.
“You know, so it’s kinda cool because being involved with Royal Crown Revue and the swing scene as it was when it was really big here in the ‘90s here in the ‘States has allowed me to kind of get to know a lot of musicians… so when I came out here to New York, I was able to kind of jump in with a lot of folks and start doing gigs. But they’re all not necessarily swing scene gigs, if that makes any sense.”
And with seventeen years drumming for one of the ‘States’ biggest swing outfits, featuring on all of their CDs except the very first one, Glass could be considered a stalwart of the US swing scene, really.
Recalling his initial audition for RCR in 1994, Glass laughs that I probably “wasn’t even born then”. Yes, I tell him, I am only twelve. “It just seems like a lot of the interviews I am doing, there are a lot of younger folks doing them, which is awesome!” Glass laughs, appreciating that music of an era gone by can still reach younger generations today – and perhaps that’s because their music shows diverse influences that connect with many different audiences, not just the aforementioned pomaded swing cats.
“The great thing about Royal Crown Revue and the thing that has made us so successful for 21 years is that we don’t deny the fact that we grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s and were very influenced by the music from that time period as well,” Glass agrees.
“We don’t just try to do some kind of a swing type of thing – that’s sort of a trap. We really try to put our own interpretation into the music that we’re playing. And do our own thing with it – so a song like The Contender is almost like a hard rock or a punk type of tune and I certainly play it that way. Then we’ll do a Sinatra thing which is more like a big band type of track, then we’ll do a really in-your-face bebop kind of thing, which is a whole other kind of vibe. Then we’ll do a New Orleans r’n’b riff, like a Little Richard thing or a Viva Las Vegas (early rock ‘n’ roll) thing.
“Just doing this one gig has allowed me to play so many styles. It’s really fun; it’s one of the great things about being in the band – one of the things I love about it and it’s kept things fresh. It’s also kept things fresh for the fans as well.”
It’s true that Royal Crown Revue are certainly in something of a grey area in terms of genre classification – you might be able to convince a friend to come to a show with promise of big band brass and swing dancing, but they’ll come out of that venue having rocked out and boogied down as well.
“[It’s] been really nice for us out in Australia ‘cause we put the same energy into our show that a rock band does – we really put it out there,” Glass remarks of Aussie audiences. “And if you’ve seen the band then you know what I’m talking about. We really try to rock the house as much as any rock band and I think a lot of people are really taken aback and you think, ‘That’s really a swing band.’ None of us really like that label because [it] has a lot of baggage as far as what people think of when they hear ‘swing band’.
“So if people give it a chance and they come out and hear Royal Crown Revue then they are really just stunned by what they actually experience cause it’s really hard to quantify; we kind of do our own thing.”
An interesting dilemma for Royal Crown Revue this tour is whether or not to play Christmas songs. With their last release Don’t Be a Grinch This Year featuring a heavily festive vibe, Glass is keen to play tracks from it despite the fact that the tinsel has been taken down.
“I’m glad you brought this up, because I want to play Christmas songs,” Glass laughs. “[The Christmas record] kind of actually took us by surprise. A lot of people will do a holiday piece as a throwaway, as something to have in the catalogue, and they just do half-baked versions of a lot of Christmas carols and that’s just not in our nature. We can’t just put something out without really Royal Crown-ifying it. So for our Christmas record… it’s actually got five original tunes on it. I’m really proud of it, because it’s not just an RCR Christmas record, it’s an RCR record!” he grins. “You almost wouldn’t know that it’s a holiday CD… And it’s kind of a bummer that it has to be seasonal, in my opinion.”
With their second show on Australia Day, Glass enquires about some other holiday etiquette matters – upon which he is duly advised to try and stage a barbeque outside The Corner, as is Australia Day tradition. So if you feel like celebrating Australia Day with Royal Crown Revue at Christmas, ‘tis the season indeed.
ROYAL CROWN REVUE return to their home-away-from-home Australia with two massive shows at The Corner Hotel around the Australia Day holiday – first on Tuesday January 25 and then again on Wednesday January 26. Tickets form The Corner box office, 9427 9198 and cornerhotel.com.