Royal Hunt are somewhat of a celestial myth to people Down Under, a mystical band that produces sublime metal doused in illustrative lyricism and symphonic tones. They’re a band that has yet to appear on our shores despite a career that spans over 20 years and a catalogue of 12 albums, which have spurred millions of sales worldwide and an international fan base. The quintet will finally hit Australia this April, making its Sydney debut at the Factory in Marrickville. “I’ve never been to Australia before – I can’t wait to meet everyone,” says vocalist D.C. Cooper.
Originating in Copenhagen in the late 1980s, Royal Hunt were the creation of keyboardist and composer AndrО Andersen. While Cooper speaks with a formidable sense of humour, Andersen offers a few quips of his own. If he won the lottery, he says, he would buy “a bigger house closer to the sea, a bigger studio in the house, an absurd amount of vintage gear for the studio, a newer Harley, a personal tour bus, a lifetime supply of Jack Daniels, and another lottery ticket.”
Born in Moscow in 1961, Andersen discovered he had a natural proclivity towards music at a very young age. He began his musical education at the age of five with piano lessons before graduating to guitars and whatever else he could touch during his teens. At age 14, Andersen discovered and defined the three major influences in his life – classical music, classic rock and progressive rock.
“Classical music has always been a major influence to me because of its beauty and virtuosity,” he explains. “Classic rock, for its sound and attitude, and progressive [rock] for its elegance and complexity.” With these three influences in mind, Andersen began writing music he wanted to listen to, shaping the inevitable sound of Royal Hunt: a sophisticated hurricane of noise layered with rapid guitars and elegant narratives about life. “Don’t trust, don’t fear, don’t beg,” is the band’s motto, according to Andersen. “It just worked for me.”
Despite Royal Hunt’s global profile, their dynamic has had an unsteady history. Andersen is the only member who has been there since the band’s genesis, and has maintained its integrity since ’89. Currently the band comprises drummer Allan Sњrensen (Cornerstone, Prime Time), bassist Andreas Passmark, multiple Copenhagen Guitar Battle winner Jonas Larsen, and Pennsylvania-born vocalist Cooper (Silent Force, Amaran’s Plight), who received classical training under renowned opera teacher Charlotte Coleman.
The relationship between Andersen and Cooper has not always been as amicable as at present. When the vocalist signed on with Royal Hunt in 1994 – before the huge success that came withMoving Target(1995) andParadox(1997) – he was not expecting to be fired four years later without any notice. It was through a blog post by Andersen that Cooper discovered he’d lost his place in the band. In interviews afterwards, when the blonde vocalist was asked about these events, he maintained a polite pragmatism.
Cooper was invited to rejoin Royal Hunt in 2011, before the recording ofShow Me How To Live. “I am where I’m supposed to be,” says the vocalist now, quoting his self-prescribed axiom. “[It’s] my own advice to myself. It means, enjoy what and where you are in life because that’s the way it’s supposed to be in the big plan of life. If you don’t like where you are, you have the power to change it or embrace it.”