ABOVE: THE ROYAL CONCEPT
Upon first encountering Stockholm natives The Royal Concept’s catchy debut single, “Gimme Twice,” you might be tempted to compare them with the French band Phoenix. But keep listening: after hearing the band’s self-titled debut EP, you’ll realize The Strokes’ best work might be a more apt comparison. Stockholm natives David Larson, Filip Bekic, Magnus Robert and Frans Povel (who’s previously toured in Robyn’s backup band) have been exploring their take on indie rock since high school, when Larson and Bekic performed as a duo.
These days, The Royal Concept makes its own priorities clear: the foursome wants to make sure they’re known for being a great live band. After selling out their own shows in Stockholm, the group has ventured to the US to tour with Wolf Gang and Atlas Genius. This year, they’ve also changed their name (adding the “Royal”) and released a self-titled debut EP. Their debut album has been pushed back since its original October release date; but they expect to release it soon.
We spoke with David Larson and Filip Bekic about those Phoenix comparisons, making a name change, and getting educated by Robyn.
HOMETOWN: Stockholm, Sweden
NAME CHANGES AND NEWSFEEDS: Bekic: Basically, we thought about a name change for a while. There are several reasons, but what made us actually do it was, another band released a bad EP the same week that we were doing it. They were also called “The Concept,” but their EP kind of lost our newsfeed on Spotify. It was the hottest thing going on our wall. We didn’t want to be associated with them, so we changed the name.
ON BEING MISTAKEN FOR PHOENIX: Bekic: We think it’s a compliment. Phoenix is a fantastic band. So far, most of the people have only heard one song of ours. Some have only heard five—from the whole EP. You have to listen to the whole EP. Like, “In The End,” for example, Phoenix wouldn’t even be close to that song. We have our own sound. We know that in time when we will present more songs and when people see us live, there won’t be any more comparisons. We take it as a compliment.
INFLUENCES THAT BROUGHT THE BAND TOGETHER: Bekic: We love Rufus Wainwright, St. Vincent, and Daft Punk. We all have different influences within the band, but there are some bands that we all unite in, like The Strokes, for example. We all grew up with Paul Simon, The Beatles, and all kinds of music. David and I were a duo in the beginning. Povel came along and brought in some electronic influences like Daft Punk, Justice, and stuff like that. We kind of emerged that into our rock-‘n’-roll-ish guitar-driven sound.
STANDING OUT IN THE SWEDISH SCENE: Bekic: I think it’s because we can combine songs like “Gimme Twice” and “In The End” in a five-track EP and still make it one unit; it’s something that makes us special. I also think that for a lot of bands, it’s more about attitude, image, and to sound and be cool. To us, we just want to show people how much we love to do this. We want to show them how great we are; we want them to come to our shows and show them that we have a lot of energy and that we love to play music. I think that in this world right now, it’s pretty uncommon that people do that. I think that’s going to change.
CREATING AN IMAGE: Bekic: We haven’t thought that much about image. Maybe that’s one of our things. We just are who we are. One thing that’s very important to us is that people think we’re a great live band. That means the most to us. I mean, today, there are so many click tracks and backtracks. All of the dancing and the DJ scene have changed the whole live concept; people just don’t play live as much anymore. We’re actually doing it. We’re actually doing all of the electronic stuff, live samples and loops; all of the technical, electronic stuff, but we do it live. We change it at every show. It’s really important that people see that.
IN GOOD COMPANY: Larson: Now, we’re playing with Morning Parade and The Wombats. We have a few more gigs with them. Then, we’re going to head out with Wolf Gang. We’ve also played with Alex Clare and Walk The Moon. I think we’re going to play with Neon Trees too. Lots of things coming up.
BEING BROKE AND MAKING MUSIC: Larson: Filip and I met in high school. We went to a jazz high school in Stockholm. Then we went to college in Stockholm and met Magnus, our bass player. The few of us got so tired of being educated, that the only thing we wanted to do was play rock-‘n’-roll. We felt like we needed to drop out of school, so we did. We called Povel, the drummer, to ask him if he wanted to produce our album. He did. When it was time to pay him, we didn’t have any money. So, we offered him a place in the band. So, then we were poor.
LEARNING FROM THE BEST: Larson: It would be fun to play with Robyn. I’ve been standing behind her, a lot of times, so it would be nice to stand next to her or a little bit in front of her. She taught us a lot of stuff. She taught me a couple of moves. Just her energy, and a lot of the electronic stuff we’re doing live is something we did together with her in the beginning.
THE ROYAL CONCEPT’S DEBUT ALBUM WILL BE OUT IN SPRING 2013. THE BAND’S SELF-TITLED DEBUT EP IS OUT NOW. FOR MORE, VISIT THEIR WEBSITE.