When The Royal Concept first presented themselves to the world, there they debuted a grainy vacation video of four Swedish guys hanging out and drinking coffees in the Mediterranean. It might not be necessarily the most cutting-edge of videos, but if it anything it shows that having fun on the road and having some sort of chemistry is important to any band these days. Which is why The Royal Concept was founded; they played in other bands for Sweden’s biggest acts like Veronica Maggio and Robyn but in the end they just wanted to play their own music, hang out and have fun. We spoke to David Larson and Filip Bekić about the adventures and mishaps of The Royal Concept from obtaining prostitution visas in Lebanon to their Christmas wishlists.
November 25th, 2013
Photo + Words: Peter Quincy Ng
Hey guys! It’s been great to hear from you. How has your tour been so far?
Filip: Been very good, we’ve seen all corners of North America. It’s been very cold in Canada but I enjoyed it, we had a great show in Montreal
David: We’ve had two great sold out shows in Boston and New York. Texas was very warm.
Now you guys played in a number of different acts from Robyn to Veronica Maggio, how did you guys get together and decide to form the Royal Concept?
David: We were studying in college in Stockholm – it was a jazz college. We were all jazz students, and we grew kind of tired of being educated in music all the time and to have to play with other artists to make money and we figured we might try to start a band. It was me and Filip in the first place, we were writing songs since we were in high school.
Like I just mentioned before you guys played in a number of different acts before and the sound you guys do as Royal Concept is pretty different. How do you draw influence from your previous experiences and how does it fit in with what you do now?
David: We have a lot of synthesizers on stage; our live show is pretty different from our record. We have a lot more synthesizers and a lot more improvisation and stuff. We were part of buildings Robyn’s live set-up with a lot of synths and computers so we kind of took that idea and wrote it into this band. We think that’s what makes our live show so special, so she’s been a bit part of us. It’s pretty nice because everyone is an awesome musician except me I can’t play anything.
Filip: Aww… that’s not true!
David: But it’s cool I can write a melody on synth and I can just tell Filip to play it on guitar. I think our education has been very good for us.
You guys are frequently compared to the Phoenix, what do you think of that comparison?
David: First of all it helped in the beginning ‘cause a lot of blogs wrote that and everyone tweeted that we were similar to Phoenix, so we owe them a lot. Sound-wise we wrote our first two singles “Gimme Twice” and “D-D-Dance” and there were similarities even though we never listened to them.
Filip: They are a very cool band to be compared to, but as time has moved on we feel we sound less and less like them and we sound like The Royal Concept, and now there’s (these) comparisons that they sound like us.
David: We’re probably really happy about that one.
Filip: It’s a circle man!
Sort of going back to the first question it’s obvious you guys get along very well, after all I remember your first unofficial video was shot on an iPhone with you guys on vacation together. What some rules you guys have about traveling together and how do you keep the peace on the road?
David: That’s a very good question. We have a therapist in Stockholm, he’s a very good friend of ours and we go to him and call him and tell him about stuff. The most important I think for us to get to know each other very well and to be respectful because we’re different and it’s very important to him (pointing to Filip). It’s important about the consequences and how to deal with problems the right way, so if I’m pissed at Filip I tell him immediately, like when that’s not cool and we’ll figure it out. I think that’s the key. But we’re mad at each other all the time and we can laugh about it! If we didn’t have the same sense of humor we would have been destroyed by now.
Does Filip agree with all of that?
Filip: Oh yeah, the humor part – very, very important.
David: Like take our drummer (Povel) – he’s a very, very special person and can be very, very annoying but the thing you think is annoying can very funny. You can always laugh at it and it’s been than being irritated about it.
Well I’m sure going on tour is not all rainbows and butterflies right? That track “Naked and Dumb” sounds like one wild trip how exactly did that happen?
David: It was a girl that we met. She was from Brazil, she came to Stockholm to one of our shows and she just showed and then we rehearsed and showed up almost everywhere. She was a stripper but we didn’t meet her in a strip club or something, but we know she was a stripper. That’s why we have a phrase including a strip pole in our song. I wrote the song but I couldn’t write the lyrics to it, so I showed it to Filip and he came back to it with the lyrics a day after and I when I read it I knew it was about this girl. It was kind of funny, so we let it be.
Sounds like the time you guys had to get an artist visa in Lebanon.
David: That was a prostitution visa; apparently it was cheaper for the promoter to give us a prostitution visa instead of artist visas which is very sad, because when we crossed the border everyone looked at us. We knew that noticed that something was wrong.
Filip: Yeah they sort of looked at us like we were famous
David: (Laughs) No, it was because they thought we were four prostitutes from Sweden.
Filip: We had to stand in a special line in immigration
David: For us it’s nothing to laugh about but at that point it was pretty funny.
So you guys have already been touring abroad quite a bit. What are plans later down the road?
David: This tour finishes around Christmas then we’re doing Christmas around here. Then we’re going back to Europe to play some shows – Spain, for example and Germany! Then we’ll have one week off, the first time in a long time. Then we’re planning on going back here.
Anything you guys are looking forward when you get back to Sweden?
David: Food, healthy food!
Like Kalles Kaviar?
Filip: yeah but that’s not healthy!
David: But of course we look forward to seeing our families but food is our most important thing. Filip is not Swedish he’s from Croatia though.
Filip: But I miss my mom’s food!
David: I miss your mom’s food!
Filip: But I miss your mom’s food too!
One last question Christmas is just around the corner, what should your most hardcore dedicated fans get you for the holiday season?
Filip: That’s a hard one.
David: He or she should…
Filip: Like collectively one gift for the band?
Each member gets a present I guess.
Filip: Well I know Povel our drummer wants one of those special kind of pillow things that are like a triangle.
He really loves sleeping that much?
Filip: Oh he really loves sleeping.
David: Yeah more than anything. Magnus would probably like a ticket home to Sweden because he has his newborn nephew. For two of us an apartment in Los Angeles would be quite nice.
Filip: I would like a Frank Sinatra box set
Well I’m not going to lie I don’t have anything for you today.
David: That’s alright! Well I’m not picky, about the apartment I can sleep on the floor. I just like the heat. I like the cold too, I’m from Sweden, but since I’m from the cold I like warmer places
Well thanks for the answers! Sorry I have no gifts!
David + Filip: Nah, thank you very much
Check out their latest video for “On Our Way”: