• Q&A

Q&A: The Last Royals

written by: on January 9, 2013

Some bands fit a certain mold and are comparable to any given band from a specific genre. Some bands break molds and stereotypes. Then, there are bands that just make music. On its debut release, Twistification, The Last Royals solidify itself as the latter.

One minute listeners are dancing, the next they’re leaning in closely to listen as vocalist (as well as guitar/keys) Eric James pours his heart into their ear. Paired with drummer Mason Ingram, the duo set out to create a “soundtrack for the urban lifestyle.” They hit the broad nail on its head. The guys recently exchanged a round of Q and As with Pop ‘stache as they prepared for the release of the album and a January residency at Rockwood Music Hall this month in NYC (January 8th, 18th and 25th).

Pop ‘stache: How did the band come together?

Eric James: We were working with some mutual friends on a compilation album for a local non-profit and I had been on the lookout for a drummer who didn’t realize how good he was.

P’s: Mason is from Austin, TX.  Eric is from Philadelphia, PA. You guys live and record in NYC, though, correct? Does the city influence your writing? Do you ever do writing back home?

EJ: Yeah, we both live in Brooklyn.  All the songs but one were recorded right here.  The city absolutely affects how I write. Most New Yorkers experience moments when you feel like you’re getting kicked in the teeth all day long. Other days the city has a beautiful rhythm and a cadence all its own. That idea of road-trippy grooves coupled with darker lyrics has been my current mode of study. Two of the tunes were written in other places.  I wrote “Good Day Radio” while visiting the town I grew up in outside Philadelphia and “I Hate California” was written in New Mexico of course.

P‘s: How does the song writing process go for you guys? Who leads as far as lyrics and music?

EW: I conceived most of our record in laptop world, aimlessly by myself.  It wasn’t until I started collaborating with another human that things seemed to make sense.  Mason has yet to turn in any lyrics.Perhaps, the world isn’t ready for it yet.

P‘s: Eric, with you conceiving most of the album by yourself, did Mason coming aboard dramatically shift the direction of any of the songs, or even the entire album itself?

EW: In many ways, yes.  Mason and our producer Mike Beck are very conscious of making things feel human.  They obsess over it.

Fortunately, they were able to extract the necessary flesh and blood from my lonely, digital demos and build something real, I hope. 

P‘s: There’s a lots of imagery dealing with love on the album, both won and lost. Are these moments about a particular girl?

EW Most of them are about one particular girl, yes. But, I’m not a typical love-song writer. I don’t really have that type of heart. For me, the woman, the muse, the object of desire or depression, whatever you call it, is the foundation to the song. That’s Poetry: 101.  Sometimes you get done with a ‘love’ song and realize its just a primal cry of your own insecurity. 

P‘s: I’ve seen a lot of comparisons to other bands, but I feel like you’re a little too eclectic for those. I do think there are sounds that remind me of other bands. “Crystal Vases” has almost a Say Anything/Max Bemis vibe, “Only The Brave” could be a Killers’ single if they’d thought of it first. Do you think about these things in writing?

EW While I’m writing lyric and melody I usually think I’m a genius who just found a new precious metal. Then I’ll bring it to the band and they’ll sing along popular melodies to my chord progression and make jokes about the nine things it sounds like. So, there’s nothing new under the sun of course. We do make an effort to not listen to any other music once we start the recording process. It either makes you too proud or utterly depressed. My personal top 3 musical influences would have be McCartney, Lennon and Dylan. How unique of me.

P‘s: What process do you enjoy more: touring/playing shows or song writing and recording?

Mason Ingram: Can’t say really. It’s 2 different worlds.  You’re never fully happy with the outcome of either so you just bounce back and forth like a perpetual motion machine.

P‘s: What’s the best moment you’ve had as a band, so far?

EW: A few years ago at CMJ we got to share a bill with Daniel Lanois. At one point I asked him to move his amp to make room for mine and he thoughtfully obliged.

Ps: How does the new album differ from previous work?

EW: Most of my stuff in years past has been solo music so its been amazing to build these new songs with a team. It feels like people in a room playing music as opposed to one dude doing everything not so excellently.

P‘s: What are your goals for the new album?

MI: We hope people will feel the arc that we tried to create.  Its fun and brutal and youthful. I hope people don’t take us too seriously, and that we sell millions of copies, of course.

P‘s: Would you rather people hang on every lyric or just dance?

EW: Great question. Depends on if there’s seats or not.

P‘s: Do you have the tour planned as far as dates and cities?

EW: We’re focusing on a New York residency for January and waiting to hear about touring schedule, hoping to be out before and after SXSW in March.

P‘s: What are your favorite cities to play? Does touring influence your songwriting or will it, you think? Will you be working on future records while touring or do you like to keep each its own?

EW: Anywhere in the south is usually a blast (except Nashville).  I’m fascinated by Southern culture and how kind they pretend to be. I’m sure touring will be great for writing, but only time will tell.

I’m probably more inclined to come home and write instead of doing it all on the road.  I’m not that coordinated.

P‘s: What are your goals for the upcoming tour?

EW: We want a big tour. We want to be so damn successful that we can get a hotel room to sleep in instead of asking people if we can crash on their couch in exchange for a free t-shirt.

P‘s: Well, if your hotel falls through for a show in Tampa, I’ll still gladly exchange a couch for a t-shirt. Never close the door on options.

EW: Done. That’s as good as $50 in our pocket.

P‘s: Finally, do you really hate California?

EW: If you believe the theory that a “true song’”when its written is a “true song” forever, then, yes.

 The Last Royals debut album Twistification is out now on Ooh La La Records.