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Thursday, December 27, 2007 - 11:35
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Bakersfield, CA, 93301
Royal Crown Revue comes out swingin’
Drummer Daniel Glass is all about work, baby, work … catch them live at Fishlips on Dec. 29
By Matt Muñoz, Bakotopia.com Editor
During the mid ’90s, the swing revival was in the air — and hair, for that matter.
The slicked back, suited gent look of the ’40s and ’50s — as well as the glamour gal look of vintage Hollywood — was back, but with a punk rock edge suited for the present day.
In 1989, one of the best bands to bring it back with authenticity and a live ferocity was LA’s original kings of gangster bop - Royal Crown Revue.
From LA to San Franicisco, to New York and back, underground clubs were filled with a speakeasy vibe, and enough acrobatic lindy-hopping to make jaws drop and amaze. Swing music was the new punk rock.
Soon, the “suits” at big record labels began taking notice, signing bands left and right, suiting them up in Disneyland-style zip-up suits and glued-on goatees. The cool factor soon began turning to cheese.
If you caught movies like “The Mask” and “Swingers,” you may have caught a few glimpses of that moment in time. Retro cool was back on the radio, too, with a little “Zoot Suit Riot” here and “Jump, Jive, and Wail” there…
But as with any “revival,” all things peak only to be buried again. Bands with their heart in the right place stick around past the easy money-making scams of big-time record labels.
Royal Crown Revue was one of just a couple of those bands to make the cut, and rightly so. Make no mistake, buddy - these guys are the real deal.
RCR members: Eddie Nichols - vocals; Mando Dorame - tenor sax; Jim Jedeikin - bari / alto sax; Scott Steen - trumpet; Mark Cally - guitar; Dave Miller - bass; and Daniel Glass - drums, are about to make their Bakersfield debut at Fishlips downtown on Saturday, Dec. 29, at 8:30 p.m., with special guests Latin-skasters Mento Buru.
Drummer Daniel Glass spoke via telephone to Bakotopia from his house in LA to talk swing, opening for KISS, drum history, and why Australia is the place to tour if you’re Royal Crown Revue.
(RCR drummer - Daniel Glass)
Matt: How is the music biz treating Royal Crown Revue?
RCR: “Really well, we just came off a six-week tour of Europe and a two-week long sold-out Australian tour.”
Matt: Royal Crown Revue formed in ’89, the swing revival hits in the mid-’90s, how was that time period for the band?
RCR: “It had its good points and its bad points. We had a great run when people were just knocking down our door. We were on Warner Bros. Ted Templeman, who had produced the first five Van Halen records, was producing us - and some big tours. It was great, and we made some money. The downside was that with it becoming kind of a trend what had originally been cool about it got cheesy really quickly, and that kind of screwed it up for us. We had been doing this years before there was a retro/swing movement.”
Matt: How do you keep the swing sound fresh on the scene?
RCR: “We try not to label ourselves as ‘swing,’ because we draw from what we call ‘classic American music’ - ’20, ’30s, and ’40s. It could be Benny Goodman style swing, ’50s Frank Sinatra style, a Bobby Darin thing, or Louis Prima. We’re always trying to push the boundaries beyond what people would think that we would do in our show, and I think that’s why we’ve kept going for so long. I think when people see the band, it’s a lot more than a one-dimensional experience.”
Matt: Actor/director Jon Favreau, who directed “Swingers,” has said he discovered the neo-swing movement with Royal Crown Revue, but Big Bad Voodoo Daddy ended up getting the movie. Why didn’t you get the gig?
RCR: “We were forced by our label (Warner Bros.) to turn that movie down. That was sort of a big bummer for us. They wanted to license a lot of our tunes, and at the time that movie was Jon’s personal project, had a really tiny budget and no one had any idea it would be what it turned into. We got talked out of it, but we’ve never been talked out of anything again.”
Matt: But you did get “The Mask” with Jim Carrey …
RCR: “Yeah, ‘The Mask’ was the first movie to put that whole concept of the zoot-suited gangster, swing, big band type of thing on the radar screen I guess.”
Matt: Didn’t RCR open for KISS during their ’96 reunion tour?
RCR: “Yes, it was like pandemonium.”
Matt: How does a swing band score a show with KISS?
RCR: “We happened to be touring on the same route that KISS was on, so everyday we were either on the same day, or one day earlier or later. In Denver, we had the same promoter. Our show was the night before, and they had brought KISS’ management people down to check out our show, and they loved it. They gave all of us and our crew front row center tickets to the show the next night, and we were all completely blown away. We kept in touch with the management, then one day we get a call, ‘We got two nights in Omaha, you want it?’ We were like, ‘Hell yeah!’”
Matt: How was the crowd reaction?
RCR: “It was crazy, we just decided to go out there and give ’em everything we had — all of our really heavy duty numbers. I remember Eddie just walked out and said, ‘Give us 20 minutes, and we’ll give you KISS.’”
Matt: That was so punk rock…
RCR: “Yeah, but it was really scary, like the gladiators being fed to the lions or something. There were a few fans that were just holding middle fingers at us the whole set, but we got over on ’em both nights and got a great response. We hung in there, and held our own.”
Matt: What have been some reactions to your music from some of the older jazz greats?
RCR: “James Brown saw us a couple of times, and he loved the band, because that’s what he grew up with. He grew up with Louis Jordan music in the ’40s and some of that early R&B in the ’50s before he got started. We’ve played some jazz festivals where some of the old-timers just dig it, which to us is like the biggest compliment. So it makes me happy that some of these guys that I looked up to as my heroes, that we have their blessings.
Matt: What’s the title of the latest Royal Crown Revue CD?
RCR: “It’s called ‘El Toro’ and it came out earlier this year. It’s a six-song ep, and very eclectic. There’s a cover of Neil Diamond’s ‘Solitary Man,’ which is a great tune. We kind of take it and do our thing with it. The title track is a combination of Spanish guitars, mariachi horns, and bull-fighting songs, mixed in with like a crazy kind of punk rock, really heavy groove.”
Matt: You also have a book titled “The Ultimate History of Rock ‘n’ Roll Drumming: 1948-2000.” How’d you put it together?
RCR: “In the last six, seven I’ve interviewed probably 60 different legendary drummers, like Louie Bellson, and Earl Palmer. All of the most important rockabilly drummers, like WS Holland, who played on ‘Blue Suede Shoes,’ and DJ Fontana, who played with Elvis. The book sold out quick, but you can order some through my Web site: www.danielglass.com.”
Matt: The Royal Crown Revue live show is definitely something people have to experience. Are your shows still energetic?
RCR: “Oh yeah, we’ll play for one hour 45 minutes to two hours sometimes. You know, if we get the love back from the people, that’s why we like going to Australia all the time. We’re rock stars over Down Under!”
*ROYAL CROWN REVUE & MENTO BURU LIVE!*
-SATURDAY, DECEMBER 29TH, 2007
-FISHLIPS, 1517 18TH ST.
-6 P.M. DOORS / 8:30PM SHOW / 21&OVER
-$25 (OPEN DANCE FLOOR) / $150 TABLE FOR 4 WITH
APPETIZERS AND BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE
-DETAILS, CALL 661-324-2557
Originally printed in Bakotopia Magazine, Issue 18, 12-27-07