Class Action Suits

All dressed up? Well, you've got someplace to go. Royal Crown Revue is about to swing through the Valley.

SS: Right. The sailors wore blue and white.
NT: So where do you guys score the vintage clothes?
SS: Every time we're in some Midwestern town, we see these huge 5,000-square-foot antique malls and everybody yells, "Antique Mall!!" Needless to say, we've been late for a few sound checks! We used to do real well at the thrift shops but nowadays a good vintage suit might cost about $250. We still gotta have 'em, though!

NT: Royal Crown's look and vibe seem perfect for videos, but you're not on MTV. Have you even shot a video for the new album?

SS: Actually, no. We aren't played on the radio, except for a jazz station here or there, and you can't be on MTV if you aren't getting airplay. The record labels today are concentrating on bands that fit into specific categories. Even though we appeal to alternative or new-music fans, the industry doesn't know quite where to place us. They claim they are looking for something fresh, but they can't see that it is standing right in front of them. So instead they rehash the same formulas like funky Red Hots or cute female "folk" singers.

NT: Word is, Lollapalooza is trying to book you for this summer. Any truth to that?

SS: Nah, we're doing the [skate jam festival] WARP tour as one of the main headliners.

NT: Skaters dig you guys?
SS: Yeah! It's most evident when we go to Tahoe. You get the craziest snowboarders up there, and when we go up, the place is like sick--it's so packed! People are just falling off the stage, it's so full.

NT: You and a couple of bandmates did some stuff for the Swingers soundtrack, right?

SS: Yeah, Mando, James, Daniel and I were in the Jazz Jury, and there are three instrumental pieces on the CD.

NT: What did you think of the movie?
SS: I thought it was great! It was kind of bittersweet, though, 'cause Royal Crown Revue was actually supposed to do the film, but then the cost of licensing masters from our record label was too high for the film's ultralow budget. It's unfortunate, too. It would have been nice to have been a part of it. But then again, we don't want to be only known as a band that's derived from movies.

NT: Some of the spoken-word dialogue in your songs sounds like it's inspired by old gangster flicks.

SS: Well, Eddie [Nichols] is Mr. Film Noir, kind of a detective-novel, pulp-fiction guy. James has a great collection of pulp novels also. But books are better than movies to make your imagination run wild. I liked the films with James Cagney, though. He had the attitude--a lot of piss and vinegar.

NT: Royal Crown must be a hit in Vegas.
SS: Oh, yeah. We played two weeks at the Hilton when I first joined the band. I played blackjack the second to last night we were there, and at first I lost $600, then went back to the table with $100 and walked away six hours later up $3,000. I had $3,600 and was able to get an apartment in L.A. and buy a car and a new trumpet. Since then, though, Vegas has slowly been getting that money back.

Royal Crown Revue is scheduled to perform on Saturday, March 1, at Gibson's in Tempe. Showtime is 8 p.m. (all ages).

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