As an early Christmas present to the patient fans, Royal Jester released their second studio album, Breaking The Chains, early in December. PowerMetal.no had a talk with vocalist Mattias Lindberg about why the long break and what to expect from Royal Jester anno 2018.
Eight years after the debut you are back with your second album. How does that feel?
Mattias: It feels indescribably good! After all we went through, we could not have hoped for a better reignition of the band, and of our passion for this!
Before we talk about the new album, let’s go back to the beginning. The band was founded in 2008; who founded the band and what kind of band was Royal Jester initially planned to be?
Mattias: The precursor to Royal Jester, called Fallen Kings, was formed back in 2004. Calle Allard, Markus Åkebo – who later joined as bassist in Zonaria, and myself got the idea to form a metal band during a math lesson in school. A drummer called Johan joined in as well.
During this time, we didn’t take it too seriously. We mostly fooled around, wrote some songs and had a blast! A year later or so, we found Christer Viklund who attented the same school, which joined the band and the name changed to Prospect. We started to become a bit more serious in our ambitions at this time. We kept on rehearsing and then in 2007 we met Tommy Johansson of ReinXeed. We started hanging out, and since we had similar ambitions and taste in music, we decided to join forces. We joined his band ReinXeed, and he joined our band, that we now renamed Royal Jester. After a year or so, we both felt that we wanted to focus on our own bands respectively, so we parted ways. There were no hard feelings though; we parted as friends and understood each other’s aims for the future.
Regarding what kind of band RJ was initially planned to be, it was always supposed to be a power metal band. We listened to all kinds of rock and metal music back then, but power metal was number one for all of us. Our aims did get more serious step by step though.
In 2010 you released your debut, Night Is Young. Looking back; how do you feel about that album now, and how was the response?
Mattias: We are satisfied with our debut album Night is Young, although in hindsight there are things we would change if we did it today. It was our first time in a real studio, so we were lacking experience. But considering the circumstances, we are happy with the result! The response is kind of hard to measure, because we never even got to know the sales numbers from our record label. We noticed many people uploading our songs to YouTube, people adding us on Facebook and other indicators, but we couldn’t really tell how big the interest was.
What happened after that release? Did you tour?
Mattias: After the release in April 2010, we kept on playing live shows and writing new material and being active just as we had before. We did not have any real tour in that sense though.
After having released Night Is Young the band was put on hold, or what happened after that? Why the long break?
Mattias: The record label stopped answering us after the release of Night is Young. At first, we hoped it was just them being busy or something, but we soon realized they had totally screwed us. No reply, no money, nothing of the things we were promised in the contract. We looked at the possibility to raise a law suit against them, but a clause in the contract made us very uneasy to do so. Then Christer Viklund got an injury, which prevented him from playing guitar, and our bassist at the time also quit the band. It was a hard time for us, and disappointment combined with several other factors made us take a break. Which lasted longer than expected.
How is the band today compared to the lineup back in 2010? Who has left, and how has the band evolved musically? Is there a significant change in the sound etc?
Mattias: The lineup today is the exact same as back in 2010, which was a miracle that we could pull off, since we don’t even live in the same town anymore. It’s very emotional for us that we managed to reunite the band like this, and our comeback is also kind of a redress for what happened to us. We have evolved our sound and songwriting since then, but the new album consists of songs written from 2004 up until 2018! So elements from our entire musical journey so far are in the album.
Why did you decide to come back? What was the spark that set it off?
Mattias: The spark that ignited this comeback was me and Christer hanging out one evening, and we stumbled upon some YouTube videos with RJ songs that fans had uploaded. We saw that there were many comments on these videos where people said that they really liked our music and many seemed to wonder why we disbanded. We talked about this and contacted the other members, and we decided that we had to make another album. Our fans deserved it, and we deserved it!
How has the work with the new album been? For how long have you been working on the album?
Mattias: We started working on the album in August 2017. We looked at all our old song ideas and excerpts, and started writing new ones as well. We made home demo recordings of all ideas and sent them back and forth between each other, discussing which ones we liked the most. Since we live in different parts of the country, most of this was done via internet and phone contact, but we did travel to meet up a few times to rehearse and discuss ideas. We kept on working hard and in August of 2018, we finally entered the studio!
Did you have to start “all over again” regarding songwriting, composing etc., or have you all been musicians ever since the debut in 2010, but in other bands?
Mattias: We have been active in various bands since the breakup, but to different extents. We started to practice both the old RJ songs as well as the new ideas heavily from day one though, so we got back on track pretty quickly!
The album was financed by donors; were you surprised by the fans reaction to the comeback?
Mattias: Yes and no. We had realized that we had a lot of fans out there, but since it was such a long time since we released our debut album, it was hard to know how many would still keep their eyes out for us. We were positively surprised though when we saw all the wonderful response we got!
What can you tell me about the new album; what can the fans expect?
Mattias: This new album is really a huge thank you to everyone that has supported us in any way. We have learned that we have such awesome fans that don’t seem to give up on us! To sum it up: this album is for the fans, and it’s supposed to catch the feeling of a comeback! It also shows a song writing range from our earliest days to the most recent ones.
We touched the topic earlier, but how has the band evolved since the debut and how has that affected the songwriting? I guess you as both persons and musicians has evolved during the last eight years?
Mattias: We have evolved in many ways yes. We have a slightly different focus when it comes to the lyrics, and we have learned a thing or two about recording in the studio. We have definitely matured a lot these last 8 years.
Do you still have the same musically inspirations as back then (talking about what kind of bands you were inspired by) or have that changed?
Mattias: When it comes to our musical inspirations, they are actually pretty much the same as back in the days. We only apply them a bit differently.
The album is so far only released digitally. Are you planning on releasing it on CD?
Mattias: We would absolutely love to release the new album in physical format as well. We have no label today however, so we would have to take the entire process of printing and distributing CDs in our own hands. We have received many requests for physical copies though, so we are looking into it!
Is Royal Jester here to stay this time?
Mattias: That’s definitely our aim! We do live quite far apart, and we don’t have as much free time as we used to, so touring may not be an option right now at least. But we’ll keep being active and writing new songs, and then we’ll see how things develop. If this takes off in a good way, anything is possible!