“We want to make people laugh and smile. We’re not death metal.”
Royal Republic, a band whose repertoire includes ‘Underwear’, ‘Kung Fu Lovin’’, and ‘Full Steam Spacemachine’, know where they stand.
“We’re not about telling you what to do or how to do it. We just want you to come out, forget the bills and your kids, and have a good time with us,” explains Jonas Almén ahead of a sold-out London headline show.
“Basically if we’re able to make people forget about their worries and problems for 90 minutes, then we feel like we’ve succeeded.”
It’s safe to say, then, that their Friday night takeover of The Garage is an unparallelled success: sweaty renditions of kickass rock songs like ‘Walk!’ and ‘Baby’ interspersed with frontman Adam Grahn discussing the relative merits of ‘McGyver’ and ‘Inspector Morse’, dishing out romance advice, and leading the audience in a twisted take on that old playground game ‘Simon Says’ – culminating in some 600 people crouching on the floor as he slowly opens a can of beer and drinks.
But for all their high-energy onstage antics, the Swedes take what they do seriously.
“You’re not allowed to fuck up because everybody has a phone up,” says Almén. “Those days of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll are all over for rock stars, because imagine you buy a ticket for £20, and they come up completely shit-faced, not able to perform. I’d be furious.
“So we’re the most boring band on the planet backstage. Everybody always wants to know what’s happening there. Nothing, I can tell you. Before a show, we’re like bears – we hibernate and then, when it’s time to go on, we’re like: ‘Spring is here!’. We save energy to be able to play,” he says.
And once the band – rounded out by lead guitarist Hannes Irengård and drummer Per Andreasson – hit the stage, those larger than life personas come naturally.
“In the beginning, we’d go in there with the mindset of blowing the audience away,” Almén admits, “but now that we’ve toured a lot and that energy is built into the music, we’ve just got to do it. It comes naturally.”
It doesn’t hurt that they have a solid repertoire, drawing heavily from their latest album, 2016’s ‘Weekend Man’.
“We love the album,” says Almén, “and everybody feels it’s our strongest. It’s the album that sounds most like Royal Republic in our opinion, because with the first one you’re just trying to find yourself. Then you tour to death on the first album and on the second album you’re sick and tired of yourself, so then you do the U-turn and do other stuff where people are like ‘What the fuck?’
“And, finally, before we started writing ‘Weekend Man’ we had this mindset of wanting to make a great party album.”
It’s a mindset that’s certainly worked in the UK. Since the album’s release they’ve supported Theory Of A Deadman – “We love doing support shows because you get to do the best 30 minutes you ever can” – and played at Download. Now they’re on a nationwide headline tour – and a world away from their first visit to London.
“It was a small showcase we did for some record people – to impress them – and a bunch of other random people pulled in from the street. We were a bit nervous, like ‘I wonder if our lyrics are too simple-minded or stupid’ but apparently they like it as much as the other European countries.
“So it went very well – apart from ‘Tommy Gun’, the final song. There’s a part before the chorus where Hannes plays this riff, but suddenly his guitar stopped. I had no idea what happened until I saw him walking back up onto the stage,” laughs Almén.
“He’d noticed someone in the crowd was filming him, so he started playing the shit out of the riff and missed the end of the stage and just fell down.”