The Last Royals Talk "Twistification"
Wed, 10 Jul 2013 10:17:33
The Last Royals Videos
The Last Royals make indie rock so triumphant it's downright regal. Tiptoeing between lithe acoustic moments and shimmering almost-danceable melodies, the group's latest offering Twistification weaves together moments of palpable emotion and divine instrumentation. It's as unique as it is undeniable, and it's worth diving into again and again.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Eric James of The Last Royals talks Twistification and so much more.
What ties Twistification together for you?
As you can hear, we bookended it with a song and another version of that song at the end. I would say that the common thread is wrapped up in the name itself. We wanted it to be something that moves people. It's not necessarily dance music by any means. We wanted it to be fun. We wanted it to be something you could put on at a party or feel good driving a convertible in the summer to. It's not meant to be as self-aware as some of the modern indie rock of today is. Now, I love that, but we wanted it to have a cadence to it.
Is it important for you to tell stories?
It's not as if I wrote eleven songs to all tie in with each other, but there are a few tunes that were part of an old idea that eventually got redone when Mason and I started the group. There are three or four songs that used to have different titles. They were named different days of the week. To that end, I had this idea. I live in Brooklyn, but I lived in Manhattan at the time. I thought, "What would it feel like to create seven songs that each encapsulated what a Manhattan night might feel like on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday?" Yeah, many of the songs do have a specific tie down to a story.
What is that story?
For one thing, in New York, you're constantly bumping into the craziest characters in the English-speaking world, whether it be the super wealthy Upper East Side-r who you pass every day on the street and you're dying to know what life is like for them at home or work or the destitute homeless guy with one leg on the subway. What is going on here in this society? It's an intense overload to be around this city day-in and day-out. I just tend to write it into music. For example, "Crystal Vases" is about a crazy Upper East Side rich lady who I made up. It could be anyone up there. There are other songs about the jet-setting rich finance guy who has to live in Soho because it's cool. Those things aren't written in the lyrics, but I try to visualize a character for each song. Ultimately, like most writing, the author is really writing about himself, but just overlaying it on fake people.
What does "Barefoot Winter Waltz" mean to you?
I don't like to go into super specifics, but the imagery is from the apartment my wife and I had years ago. We were going through a really hard year. It was one of those seasons where in a relationship you often just have to decide to love each other. It doesn't simply happen. You have to work at it. That imagery of a dance came about. We had this crazy little studio apartment. The dude who owned it put in this really rickety loft. There's a line in there about a makeshift stairway. I probably could've built it myself. There was no way it was up to code. The whole apartment was a piece of junk. It was dirty, but it was a really powerful year of rebuilding our life together and choosing to fall back in love.
What influences you or inspires you outside of music?
I read a lot. I tend to read pretty nerdy stuff like a lot of history books or books about sociology or science. Like many people, I'm enamored with things that seem slightly old or out-of-touch therefore we probably perceive them to be hip. I love to read travel writers and put myself in the position as if I were well-traveled. I read some poetry. I don't overload on it. I read things more on the empirical side of things than just reading straight poetry.
If you were to compare Twistification to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
That's a good one. I think a good thirty-percent of my pop influences probably came from when I first saw Back to the Future as a kid. That's probably in there somewhere. That rebellious skateboarding Michael J. Fox guy is my idea of the pinnacle of a hero in the back of my head [Laughs]. Maybe it'd be Back to the Future meets The Princess Bride. That'd be like the high school hero meets the romantic sarcastic comedy. What would be the last thing to tie it together? Footloose [Laughs]. They're all eighties movies of course.
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