This Ain’t Royal Crown Revival!

Jazz is not safe music. Sex, drugs and experimentation, that’s what jazz is all about, and few modern artists get that. Royal Crown Revue have been slaves to this music since their inception in the early ‘90s. Though they are often lumped in with the swing revival fad that followed, Royal Crown never succumbed to playing the role in which they’d been cast. These boys have kept it together, drawing influence from all over the musical spectrum and always finding a way persevere through whatever rough time came their way.

SLUG: What made you want to start playing your own jazz style?
Eddie Nichols: Let me dig back. What was going on at the time was all the retro music: rockabilly and blues, and I started drifting away from that. I thought, ‘there’s more to American music than this,’ and believe it or not, I didn’t have the knowledge of jazz, so it was kind of like reinventing as we were learning. When we were learning chord changes, we’d go ‘Hey, that sounds like something ‘40s.’ We had our own clique of guys wearing these clothes and working on these ‘40s cars, and it kind of grew out of that.

SLUG: The level of musicianship in the band is outstanding. How did you get such great players?
EN: We had it big time you know, getting signed. The whole scene went off, and became a fad, essentially. And after that petered out, we found it difficult to keep going. We’d lose members, and things had changed. So we started looking around town and got lucky. A lot of them are New York-trained. Mark Cally, the guitarist, I don’t think I could play without him––he’s so good. And Dave Miller our bass player–– he’s a father now, and he teaches music, so we can’t get him all the time. We have our regular standins that help us out, but Dave is something else. We’ve been very fortunate, and hopefully as things are picking up we can afford to keep these guys satisfied.

SLUG: Jazz is so demanding for musicians. How do you stay sharp?
EN: You gotta keep up on your chops, you know, but these guys push each other. That’s the great thing about it.

SLUG: Is there a conscious effort on your part to separate the band from the ‘90s revival that went on?
EN: Yes, as a matter a fact. It seems to not matter so much anymore as time has gone by. Things move in cycles, but we’d still like to knock loose of the whole swing moniker.

SLUG: With the recent surge of kids getting into psychobilly, and those kids getting into vintage music, do you try to win them over?
EN: It’s always a hope, but, you know, we get these fans that come up to us and say, ‘I’ve been seeing you since I was 10 years old,’ so we get these people that stick with us, and it happens everywhere we go.

SLUG: You yourself have some punk rock history. Why is it that everyone that gets into jazz and other kinds of vintage music has some punk rock background?
EN: It all comes from the same place. It’s a natural progression. It’s something I’ve noticed, that you get into punk and as you get older you get into the blues, and all this other stuff, but God bless those guys that are still 55 and have mohawks.

SLUG: Yeah, but you know Mike Ness from Social Distortion or whoever doesn’t go home and listen to GBH, they put on some Louis Armstrong to just kick back and enjoy.
EN: Some of ‘em do listen the GBH all day, though. As a matter a fact I just saw GBH, and they still put on a great show.

SLUG: Any new year’s resolutions?
EN: A million of ‘em, buddy. I’m just one big walking bad habit.

Royal Crown Revue have weathered the storm and come out of it all the wiser. The time is now right for them to add masses of people to there devoutly loyal fan base. They’re not going anywhere––they’re going everywhere. Their journey brings them to ring in the New Year at The Depot Dec. 31 with two sets one at 10:00 p.m. and one at 11:30 p.m.