"It’s because of people like the guys of Hotel Royal that they say some are just 'born to be stars'." - Lithium Magazine
"[Hotel Royal] played a well constructed proportion of rock with a bit of blues, pop with a bite and lead singer Chris Hepburn’s Mick Jagger-like mannerisms sealed the deal..." - Exclaim! Canada
Televisions features, newspaper spreads, and competition titles are among Hotel Royal’s shortlisted accomplishments, alongside performing with legendary Canadian acts like Sloan, Lighthouse, David Wilcox, and April Wine, and touring south-western Ontario with iLL Scarlett...You’d think the Whitby-based quartet were pro, yet this is all within one year of releasing their debut EP, which features five clean and completely original retro, funk, and swing inspired garage rock hits.
On stage, Johnny Gregson, twins Chris and Andy Hepburn, and new addition as of 2012, Kaylan Szuch, compose an explosive, wickedly consistent, and airtight working unit regardless of the circumstances. They understand that it takes more than just the right music or just the right look to make an impression, and they demonstrate this understanding with unconcealed passion for every aspect of their roles:
"Though I’d never once heard of this band, it took all of a few seconds to gain my full attention. Lead singer and guitarist Chris Hepburn, who was completely soaked in sweat by the second song, didn’t seem to care one bit that he was performing for a crowd of less than ten people. Instead, he gave us everything a packed house deserves and more.” – Fazer Magazine
Hotel Royal continues to move forward with a simple yet proven philosophy: they play what they want for those who want it, even if they don’t know it yet.
After two highly rewarding years in Durham region, the band spent most of 2011 recording their first full length album, which is due to be released later this year - beginning with the release of their first single, "Love Junkie" in January 2012.
With hometown success, new music, and a new keyboardist on board, Hotel Royal is looking forward to bringing their fun and fresh style to stages across Toronto and beyond.
Chris Hepburn - Guitar, Lead Vocals
Andy Hepburn - Drums, Back-up Vocals
Johnny Gregson - Bass, Back-up Vocals
Kaylan Szuch - keys, Back-up Vocals
Hotel Royal EP
Released: December 2009
All songs written and performed by Hotel Royal
Lyrics by Chris Hepburn
1 - Wasted Youth
2 - Bang Bang
3 - She Don't Mind
4 - Are You In It For The Money?
5 - Sleepless
Love Junkie Single
Released: January 2012
Written and performed by Hotel Royal
Lyrics by Chris Hepburn
Hotel Royal Headlines Hits 'n Giggles Website Launch Party
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March 18, 2011 Toronto’s newest online entertainment magazine celebrated the launch of their webs...March 18, 2011
Toronto’s newest online entertainment magazine celebrated the launch of their website at Velvet Underground. Their vision is to help promote and provide valuable exposure to the community's independent entertainment artists. The event featured live band music and comedy acts from one of Toronto’s most coveted stand-up comedians, Bryan O’Gorman.
Hotel Royal w/Rebel Emergency at Sound Academy
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February 10, 2011 It was a total party atmosphere at Sound Academy last Thursday night as some si...February 10, 2011
It was a total party atmosphere at Sound Academy last Thursday night as some six or seven hundred people enjoyed a night of rock, reggae, and cheap beer with Rebel Emergency, Hotel Royal, Stereokid and Hisland. The back half of the venue was set up like a bar, with tons of seating, ping pong and foosball tables that were never left unoccupied. In fact, the party was already well underway when I arrived only half an hour after doors opened at 8:15.
The live music started with Hisland, followed by Stereokid whose get-up-and-jump-attitude got everyone moving and ready for more. Their cover of “Give it Away” (Chili Peppers) was a very well received highlight of the night and complimented their funky rock reggae sound. I’ve seen Stereokid before open for Rebel Emergency before, one crazy summer night last year, and it was a ton of fun.
I’m a huge fan of the following band, Hotel Royal, who played one of their tightest and most energetic sets for one of their biggest Toronto crowds yet. Being a newer band from out of town, it was something else to see so many people feeling their music and the raw rock ‘n roll spirit that, along with extremely well written songs, make Hotel Royal’s performances so memorable. No doubt they’ve made some new fans, especially those dancing from atop their friends’ shoulders!
As for Rebel Emergency, these guys are without a doubt on the brink of blowing up. Within a few seconds of their set, I was being shoved and showered in beer by a rowdy crowd of adoring fans, to the point where I had to give up and retreat – the very reason I don’t bring a camera to big concerts, so there’s my logic. On top of that, Rebel’s sound is so crisp and satisfying it ought to be famous. The amount of control between guitarist Geoff Willingham’s leads and Roddy Colmer’s vocals is something you have to see and hear to believe – they’re just fantastic.
The guys previewed several new songs off their upcoming album, which is still in the recording phase, as well as played several favourites off their highly successful debut album including “Love Aint Free”, “Sunriser”, “Wander Far Away”, and “Summer Gold”. Toward the end of the show, Roddy brought out the infamous Rebel Emergency surfboard, having the crowd surf him out to the centre before attempting to stand, which he did but not for long. After an hour long high energy set and all that cheap beer, you have to give the guy credit for trying. The show ended in total party spirit, with the stage packed with fans singing and dancing to the last song.
Amsterdam Kegger Series Presents: Rebel Emergency, Hotel Royal, and Stereokid
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February 10, 2011 Toronto’s favourite rock reggae act Rebel Emergency headlined the Amsterdam Keg...February 10, 2011
Toronto’s favourite rock reggae act Rebel Emergency headlined the Amsterdam Kegger Series at Sound Academy on Thursday, February 10 for a crowd of over a thousand friends and fans in a beach keg party type setting. The band played a solid hour set which included several new songs from their upcoming album (which is still in the recording phase) as well as a handful of favourites off of their highly successful debut album.
Earlier in the evening, Stereokid warmed up the crowd with their funky, high energy rock reggae including a solid cover of “Give it Away” (Chili Peppers), which was followed by a mind blowing and truly memorable set by Whitby garage rockers, Hotel Royal. The crowd reacted to the upbeat performance adoringly, girls dancing atop their boyfriends’ shoulders like a tried and true rock ‘n roll concert.
Rock 'n Roll with Hotel Royal
December 10, 2010 see link
Interview with Hotel Royal
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July 17th, 2010 It’s because of people like the guys of Hotel Royal that they say some are just “...July 17th, 2010
It’s because of people like the guys of Hotel Royal that they say some are just “born to be stars”. In an overly saturated local scene, Hotel Royal continues to beat every disheartening odd, leaving loud and lasting impressions everywhere they go. Their astoundingly tight performance, classic sound, and smart fusions have led them to open for high-profile bands and land first place prizes just two short years after forming. After playing a set at The Duke on Queen St. E. last Saturday night, I caught up with Chris, Andy, Johnny, and Nick to find out more about the guys with the musical Midas touch.
Vanessa: I wanted to do this interview because I noticed there’s not too much information on you guys anywhere, so I have a lot of basic questions.
Chris: Yeah, we’re a fairly new band. We’ve got our MySpace up, we’re just about to record new stuff, and there’s going to be a whole lot of information coming soon. Right now, we’re in the process of getting new recordings and merchandise out. All the good stuff is coming soon – more information.
Vanessa: Very cool. Ok so let’s start with a total background history: how did Hotel Royal form, where did you all come together, when, etc.?
Chris: Well, me and Andy, we’ve been playing in bands forever. Then, about two and a half years ago, we met Nicky our keyboard player and Johnny our bass player, and we formed Hotel Royal. We got it from – well it’s the name of a strip joint in our hometown. The funny thing is that I’ve only been there once, but we named [the band] after that because growing up around there, you see all walks of life going in and out of it, from the scuzzy people to the rich people. So I just thought it was a nice title and it worked well for where we came from, which is Whitby.
Vanessa: So the name encompasses a lot of what you’ve seen and experienced?
Chris: Yeah, yeah, it encompasses where we came from and what we’ve experienced growing up. And, I thought it was a catchy name, as well.
Vanessa: Awesome! I was going to ask about your name next, so there you have it! Now lately, say the last six months or so, you guys have been getting more popular, opening up for bigger bands, winning competitions and stuff. Have you had any particular strategy or focus, anything specific you’ve been working hard on to get you to this point?
Johnny: I can’t say we’re very strategic. We just write, record, play.
Chris: And keep playing.
Andy: I think the more you play, the better you get as a band. Like if you play a hundred shows, you’re going to be a lot tighter than if you just played two or three shows. So we’ve played more and we got tighter.
Chris: I think all of our hard work is coming to fruition now because, in the beginning, we took about a year just to hone our songs and stuff and not even play shows. We were a band but we didn’t play any shows for a good year. That’s kind of why we’re gaining recognition more recently, all of the working on the songs and then getting out there with them. Things have been going great recently, I can’t complain!
Vanessa: So who writes the songs?
Andy: Chris writes the lyrics and he’ll come to us with a riff and we’ll jam on it. If it sounds cool, we’ll take it from there and, you know, rearrange parts, this and that.
Chris: I like the idea of having input from all of the members. I come up with an idea and these guys take it to another place and make it Hotel Royal and not just…a song that I wrote. It makes it the whole band.
Vanessa: So it’s always a group effort.
Chris: Yeah...yeah! I like it that way.
Vanessa: When you guys perform, you’re really tight. You can tell it’s not just something you memorise and play. You’re all feeling it.
Andy: We jam together, yeah!
Vanessa: [to Chris] So, what do you write about? I mean, a lot of the songs seem to revolve around typical life. Are they true stories, your observations...?
Chris: I do a lot of people watching. I guess, like you said, I write about observations, stories, I guess fictional stories because some of the stuff I’ve never been through, but it could have happened in a past life! [Laughs] But yeah, stories I’ve heard from other people, a couple are real experiences. For the most part I like telling a story that takes you to another place that you might think you’ve been before.
“Bang Bang”, for instance, is about walking around and kind of trying to find somewhere to go, find where you belong. [The song] is kind of like a metaphor for feeling like you don’t belong and I think a lot of people feel like they’re wandering around trying to find that place.
Johnny: It’s not so personal so that other people can relate to it.
Chris: Yeah, I like when people can find their own story. Whatever I write about doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be about that. It’s whatever they interpret, they can put their own spin on it and that’s what it means.
Vanessa: You could say then, that you intend for people to find a way to relate to your music rather than trying to express a specific message.
Chris: Yeah, exactly! I’m not trying to be overly poetic, I’m just trying to get people to actually hear the story and not just blur it with metaphors. I like people to understand and get what I’m trying to say - if they can relate to it, that’s a bonus for sure.
Vanessa: What would you say your favourite Hotel Royal song is?
Chris: Mine would probably be “Bang Bang” because it’s upbeat and everyone gets to sing in it. I like the vibe; it takes me to a cool place. It encompasses our style really, it’s got the rock, but it’s also got the swing and the blues. So I think that’s my favourite song.
Andy: I would say my favourite song is one yet to be written. [To Johnny] Try and follow that answer! [Others laugh] So if I were to give you a real answer, I’d have to say “Are You In It for the Money?” It’s a classic; it’s like one of the first songs we ever wrote too. I think it stands the test of time.
Johnny: Yeah that was the first song I really got into.
Vanessa: [to Johnny] And what’s your favourite?
Johnny: I’m going to agree with Andy, for once. You can quote me on that.
Andy: [Laughing] For once! I should mark this on the calendar. What about you, Nicky?
Nick: “Rebel Yell”.
[Excessive laughter – Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” is Hotel Royal’s only cover song]
Nicky: Naw, I think it’s Love Junkie, our newest track. Like [Chris] said in the beginning, there’s some new stuff coming that we’re stoked about.
Vanessa: It sounds like Johnny and Andy don’t always agree; any major arguments?
Chris: [Laughing] To be honest, bands argue like any family, like any people who are passionate about something. I guess what it all comes down to is realising that the band is bigger than any stupid argument. You just keep on going.
Vanessa: Any major challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Johnny: Accepting each other’s differences and learning how to work with one another.
Chris: Yeah, and just being able to find members that are stoked to play and are as passionate as you are. You have to find those core members and know they’re into it because otherwise you get these guys playing with you for two years and then they back out, which I’ve experienced.
Andy: I think one of the biggest challenges with music in general is finding the right people and sticking around.
Vanessa: Earlier this year, in January, you guys opened for ill Scarlett and then later in April, you opened for Sloan. Tell me a bit about those experiences, working with those bands.
Johnny: I think they stole my bass cord. Sloan! In case you’re reading this! [Everyone laughs]
Chris: They were nice guys. You know, we grow up in Canada, seeing Sloan on Much Music and hearing them on the radio, so just to play the same show as them, it was very cool. And with ill Scarlett, they got big and we were happy to play with them. It was good times all around for sure, both shows had good turnouts.
Vanessa: Who’s the best band you’ve played with so far, or favourite band to have played with of all your shows?
Johnny: Creekwater Junkies.
Chris: For me, Sloan.
Andy: I’d have to say Hello Beautiful. Good buddies of ours.
Nick: Yeah, I’d say them too.
Vanessa: And who would you like to play with?
Chris: Danko Jones!
Johnny: Yeah, Danko Jones.
Chris: Jimi Hendrix, if someone could exhume him. [Laughter] No, I’d love to play with Danko Jones, hometown boy. Fun rock ‘n roll and he’s from Toronto. It’d be a good mix I think.
Vanessa: Awesome. And you guys recently won Bandwarz. Tell me a bit about getting involved in the competition and what it was like to win.
Andy: We weren’t actually originally supposed to be in it. Then we got a call saying another band had dropped off the bill and that we could fill their slot. So we did and, fortunately, we were able to advance that night. And, yeah, we won.
Johnny: Kind of happened by accident.
Chris: It did happen by accident. There’s this stigma attached to Bandwarz about competing with each other. And you can’t really judge bands and all the different genres, I mean, how do you judge apples and oranges? We entered anyway just to play a show and we ended up winning. We got great exposure, we got some newspaper articles out of it, some good TV out of it, so hey, it worked out.
Vanessa: And what exactly did you win?
Chris: We won some money, we won some recording time, free t-shirts, a photo shoot, and tattoos…. well, gift certificates for tattoos.
Vanessa: That’s a little suggestive! ‘Congratulations, go get inked!’ [Laughter]
Chris: So yeah, it was good. Bandwarz is cool, we walked away with a lot of stuff.
Andy: The people that were running it were really cool too. Becky, she’s been putting on shows in the area for a long time. She’s cool.
Vanessa: Very cool, so you can say Bandwarz gave you guys a nice boost.
Andy: The recording time for sure, we’re using that to record in the next couple weeks.
Johnny: It’s a nice little package to push us forward - the photos and t-shirts.
Chris: The cash helps pay our jam space rent. Yeah, it helps for sure, us poor guys.
Vanessa: [Laughing] Seems like there’s a big correlation between being a creative talent and being broke.
Johnny: That’s “Are You In It for the Money” right there.
Chris: Yeah and that’s why I wrote that song. Yeah sure, the money’s nice in the beginning, but at the end of the day you can’t just be in it for the money or you’re not going to be in it fully. It’s cliché but it’s true to an extent that money can’t buy you happiness. I mean, I’m broke but, I like what I’m doing, I’m having fun, so does it really matter?
Andy: Rock ‘n Roll ain’t lucrative!
Vanessa: Great answer and I agree. I have a question specifically for you, Chris. At first I thought it was just me, but apparently a lot of people are noticing a striking resemblance to – you already know who I’m going to say – Mick Jagger. How and when did this start?
Johnny: It’s those big ass lips.
Chris: [Laughing, hands covering his face] It’s not intentional, but everyone knows Rolling Stones and lots of people grew up listening to them or their parents listened to them. So I guess after hearing I look like Mick Jagger for so long and listening to them for so long, it just happened subconsciously. Rolling Stones is one of my favourite bands now, so it just seeps into my performance and it’s a great compliment to be told I remind people of Mick Jagger. He’s a great performer and a great musician.
Vanessa: Awesome. So you and Andy are obviously twins.
Vanessa: Took me a while to figure out how to tell you two apart, then I noticed tattoos.
Chris: [Laughing] Yeah, we can’t switch the tattoos.
Vanessa: Do you find it an advantage to work with your sibling?
Chris: It is an advantage, but obviously you take the good with the bad. We started playing music ten to fifteen years ago together and after finding Johnny and Nicky, we started Hotel Royal. Obviously, brothers fight and sometimes it’s hard, but I think it works out for the best in the end. And we’ve got the Van Halen thing going; you know, drummer and guitarist [laughs]. Not to compare us to Van Halen or anything!
Vanessa: Johnny, I’ve noticed more than once, you have a mean set of air splits. [Laughter] Do you practice that?
Johnny: I don’t practice...
Andy: It just happens!
Johnny: Speaking of Van Halen, it’s kind of a throw back to David Lee Roth. [Laughter] You know, its fun, but I have to use them sparingly or else Andy gets mad at me.
Andy: [Laughing] Just don’t overdo it is all I ask.
Johnny: Three times a song is pretty cool. [Everyone laughs]
Vanessa: What would you say is your favourite venue or best show you played?
Andy: I liked the Drake.
Chris: We’ve had a lot of good shows, but I like playing our hometown so I’d say Karma Nightclub. We didn’t form in Oshawa but there’s no venue in Whitby, so Oshawa’s kind of our pseudo hometown. Whenever we play there, it’s great, lots of people come out. It’s a good venue.
Johnny: The Sloan show was a big show. I look forward to playing all the Toronto venues.
Chris: I’d love to be able to play the Opera House or Phoenix or…
Andy: Massey Hall! Gotta dream big!
Chris: [Laughter] We’ll get there one day.
Andy: You could play anywhere, like you could play a parking lot but if there are a thousand people there, it’s gonna be killer right?
Vanessa: Yeah, totally.
Nick: Karma’s good, it’s perfectly sized. Like Johnny B’s was too big. Without a thousand people, it seemed like a ghost town in there.
Vanessa: So what’s next? Any tours planned?
Chris: Yeah, we plan on touring after getting these new songs recorded. We have about six songs we’re going to be doing and getting out to as many people as we can, getting out and playing a lot of shows. We’ve got new merchandise coming out too.
Johnny: Phase Two.
Vanessa: Getting bigger and better.
Chris: Yeah, bigger and better in Hotel Royal Land. We’re not in Texas anymore! [Laughter]
Vanessa: What would you say is the biggest compliment you’ve received as a band?
Chris: I would say when someone tells us they see something fresh. It may not seem like a crazy compliment, but to me, it’s like saying we’re different from all the bands out there. It makes me feel good every time. It’s like we’re doing something new to them. You don’t want to repeat what’s been done, but you do want to take influences from it.
Andy: When a musician comes up to you, like one of the bands you’re playing with, it’s like a show of respect.
Chris: Yeah, it’s good to get recognition from your peers.
Vanessa: Being a local indie band and having played music all your lives in different bands, what would you say is the biggest threat to – for lack of a better word – struggling musicians?
Chris: Hmm, I’d think it would be, I guess, ourselves.
Johnny: Inner turmoil.
Chris: Yeah, it’s so easy to give up and to think, ‘There are so many bands out there; why do they need us?’ But at the end of the day, if you think you’ve got something fresh to say out of all these bands, you just have to keep on going. If it’s in your heart and it’s your passion, you have to follow it. You can’t give in to yourself, and you just do it despite all those doubts.
Vanessa: You guys obviously spend a lot of time together practicing, recording, playing shows and such. When you do have leisure time, do you tend to spend it together? Any other activities you all enjoy doing together?
Andy: We’ll go to concerts, check out some live shows.
Chris: Yeah, we go to shows, listen to some vinyls.
Chris: We’ll play video games and such. But we like our own time too. Nicky likes to hang out with his wife and I like to hang out with my cats. [Laughter]
Johnny: I just got a motorcycle!
Vanessa: Awesome! So my last question is what is your opinion of the current local music scene?
Chris: Oh wow, I could go on for hours about that. There are a lot of bands out there and I think people can’t be afraid to start a scene. Someone has to start it, but everyone just wants to follow. It’s so easy to just be like: ‘Oh I won’t go to the show.’ There has to be a scene built, like Sunset Strip back in the day. It’s slowly but surely coming I think, but the scene has to have bands working together for the most part, setting up shows. Like us, being from Whitby, we can help bands coming from Toronto, and they can help us when we’re coming to Toronto. You’ve got to work with your peers. We’re all striving for the same goal.
Andy: I think as far as talent goes, the scene is doing well. There are a lot of good bands. I just think it’s unfortunate that, where we’re from, venues are closing and not opening, so it’s hard for everyone to get to play.
Chris: Yeah, it’s a struggle sometimes to find good venues. Bands can get together and find venues to play. When you have everyone helping each other out, you get bigger numbers and the bigger the numbers, the more damage you can do.
Vanessa: That’s a very good way of looking at things. Bands shouldn’t view one another as competition.
Chris: That’s the thing. You know, everyone wants the deal, but if you work together, you could still get a deal. It’s not about worrying about their music or what their writing; you do your music the best and they do their music the best and if people like you both, you become allies.
Vanessa: Absolutely. Anything else you wanted to mention about the band?
Johnny: Waiting on a video grant, maybe.
Chris: Yeah, we’re trying to get some grants for a video, always booking more shows, and writing new songs. But, it’s fun for us just to jam together. If people like our songs, it’s just a bonus.
Whitby Band Wins Bandwarz 2010
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Jul 04, 2010 - 04:30 AM DURHAM -- Hotel Royal took the Bandwarz Cup last month, raking in a lot o...Jul 04, 2010 - 04:30 AM
DURHAM -- Hotel Royal took the Bandwarz Cup last month, raking in a lot of loot for winning the 17th Bandwarz contest.
Eight groups gave it their all at the battle-of-the-bands final showcase, held at The Music Scene in Whitby, with The Kardiak Kids from Whitby finishing second and Oshawa-based Viva Mars placing third.
“Playing Bandwarz was a great experience for all of us, there is a great number of local talent, and it’s a great way of bringing bands together,” said Hotel Royal lead singer Chris Hepburn in a press release. “We want to thank everyone who came out to see us play at this year’s Bandwarz. Without the support, this would not be possible.”
As the 2010 title holder, Hotel Royal received $1,000 in cash, a recording package from The Music Scene, a photo package from D.D.P Studios and other prizes.
Whitby’s Hotel Royal rocks Bandwarz Week 2
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Apr 07, 2010 - 04:30 AM OSHAWA -- Hotel Royal has reserved a room in the Bandwarz final showcase....Apr 07, 2010 - 04:30 AM
OSHAWA -- Hotel Royal has reserved a room in the Bandwarz final showcase.
The Whitby-based foursome, Chris Hepburn, Andy Hepburn, Nicky Pahman and Johnny Gregson, wowed the judges at the Karma Lounge on March 28.
“They had a great polished sound,” said Alexis Ward, a Bandwarz judge for more than a decade, in a press release. “Hotel Royal worked their fans and the stage and really rocked out and enjoyed the competition, can’t wait to hear them in the finals.”
For its part, the band said winning Week 2 was no cinch and they plan on cranking it up even more for the final showcase.
“There was a lot of talent tonight; we didn’t know what was going to happen,” stated lead singer Chris Hepburn. “We just left it up to the judges. We’re bringing it, to the finals.”
The bands that didn’t advance can still make the finals and win the big prize. Visit www.rogerstv.com and vote for your favourite among those that didn’t win one of the weekly showcases.
Bandwarz 2010 continues on April 11, featuring reigning champ Lead Sled Rocket. Also taking the stage are The Myzt, Wake the Fallen, High Decibels, In Your Dishonour, and Angel Falls.
All the shows are at the Karma Lounge, 394 Simcoe St. S., Oshawa. Tickets are $10 in advance and available through participating bands, or $12 at the door on show day. The doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the music starts at 6 p.m.
Hotel Royal on DAYTIME (Rogers TV)
April 1, 2010 see link
Indie Night In Canada
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010 – Saturday, March 13, 2010 [...] The last band to go up at Hard Luck ...Wednesday, March 10, 2010 – Saturday, March 13, 2010
The last band to go up at Hard Luck on Wednesday night was Hotel Royal from Whitby, Ontario. Though I’d never once heard of this band, it took all of a few seconds to gain my full attention. Lead singer and guitarist Chris Hepburn, who was completely soaked in sweat by the second song, didn’t seem to care one bit that he was performing for a crowd of less than ten people. Instead, he gave us everything a packed house deserves and more (not to mention his uncanny resemblance to a young Mick Jagger). Aside from this, Hotel Royal’s performance was really, really tight. They closed off with an absolutely flawless cover of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” – which quite literally left us all wanting more, more, more!
Hotel Royal Single Release Party at Horseshoe Tavern
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By Elena Maystruk Photos by Vanessa Markov http://hotelroyalmusic.com/ From the sound of thei...By Elena Maystruk
Photos by Vanessa Markov
From the sound of their instruments to the soles of their shoes on stage, the members of Hotel Royal have a natural presence. The crowd’s response reflects the band’s do-it-or-die energy as they throw themselves into their music.
After a host of previous shows and media attention, Hotel Royal is moving forward, continuing to take their music to the big city and work towards future albums. Last Saturday was definitely a good night to continue their breakthrough into Toronto’s indie rock scene. Among a pile of music lovers at Horseshoe Tavern, this Durham Region band was the headlining act.
“Love Junkie” is Hotel Royal’s quirky new single, which has the retro feel of “Ballroom Blitz” and reflects the band’s usual jazzy, rock-and-roll inspired beats but with a louder and sharper sound. In an interview, singer Chris Hepburn explains the song was born while he was messing around with a riff on his guitar and then later co-written with Jesse Smith from Cauterize. They really pulled off an original song without going completely out of their comfort zone and stayed true to the signature aspects of their music that fans have come to expect.
They played in front of a full house with a new spin to their sound, brought by new keyboardist, Kaylan Szuch. Szuch brings a cool, earthy, and romantic infusion to the music, complimenting the bands otherwise over-the top-performance while also accentuating an important aspect of the band’s performance: their intuitive communication with each other on stage.
The show was a hit, though when the band played a cover of The Kinks’ “All Day and All Night”, I was so much more into their unique work! It’s not that I don’t love the song or how they played it, but they could have gone without playing even this timeless classic and offered up another original song instead.
Live, this group shows off the talents of each musician not only through their stage presence but also through the sheer enjoyment they show while playing. There was not an ounce of shyness in this bunch when they took the Horseshoe by storm!
Interview with Hotel Royal January 2012
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By Elena Maystruk Photos by Vanessa Markov http://hotelroyalmusic.com/ Hotel Royal members Ch...By Elena Maystruk
Photos by Vanessa Markov
Hotel Royal members Chris Hepburn, Kaylan Szuch, Andy Hepburn, and Johnny Gregson are used to packed houses, and the turnout on Saturday night at the Horseshoe Tavern was no exception. Sharing the stage with four other bands, Chris (vocals/guitar), Kaylan (keyboard/percussion), and Johnny (bass/vocals) sat down to chat before closing the show with their new single “Love Junkie”.
Elena: It’s good to meet you guys. What has your experience in Toronto been like so far? Are you enjoying it?
Chris: Nice to meet you too! I love Toronto! I think we need to play more in Toronto. It’s a great city, good music; hope to experience more of it for sure.
Elena: Have you been received well?
Chris: Yeah! When we play here, I find people are more open than in the suburbs or wherever. We’ve been received very well, it’s going great out here in the city, I like it.
Kaylan: This is my first time actually playing a show in Toronto and I’m totally excited! I’m not from the big city. Plus Zeppelin played here!
Kaylan: Yeah, so we’ll be on the same stage as Jimmy Page! I just have to remember that when I’m playing.
Elena: I know you guys just released “Love Junkie”. What was that creative process like?
Chris: “Love Junkie”, well funny enough…at first it was more of a joke, just a riff I thought was cool. I didn’t have any music around it. Then the actual song was co-written with Jesse Smith, he used to be in a band called Cauterize. It was the first song to be co-written and it just kind of came together.
Elena: Do you guys plan to release another album?
Chris: Oh yeah, definitely! Tons more albums! We just made “Love Junkie” as kind of a teaser to get people excited for the upcoming releases. We’re going to release another song soon and kind of keep the ball rolling.
Elena: Can’t wait! Speaking of music and performing, I read a review once about Hotel Royal playing for a room of only ten people and yet the reviewer said you gave it your all! I think that’s pretty admirable.
Chris: I think that just comes from the love of playing music regardless. I mean I have just as much fun dancing and singing to myself with a radio as I do playing in front of thousands of people. It’s nice to have a lot of people at a show but if there are not, the people who are there deserve a good show too.
Elena: Your website says you play music for all ages, does that mean you try to leave certain things out of your lyrics?
Chris: Well I don’t censor myself personally. (laughs)
Johnny: None of our songs have cursing or anything like that really, but if there is, it’s ad libbed. (laughs)
Chris: Yeah there’s no cursing for the sake of shock or anything. I think it’s “all ages” because everyone can kind of get up and dance. Like a lot of bands these days have a lot of anger I think, and are angst-ridden you know. I think it’s just that anyone can really appreciate a good groove. But no, we’re a rock ‘n’ roll band and I don’t think it should be censored.
Elena: For sure. Would you guys like to say anything else?
Johnny: Hotelroyalmusic.com! Get your free music. And we’re putting out a video for “Love Junkie”.
Chris: Well, now that we’ve got “Love Junkie” out the ball is just going to keep rolling and rolling. Well keep putting out music!
Kaylan: I hope we kill the show tonight!
Hard Rock Rising Battle of The Bands Toronto Finals
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By Vanessa Markov Photos by Vanessa Markov http://www.hardrock.com/ In 2009, Hard Rock Café l...By Vanessa Markov
Photos by Vanessa Markov
In 2009, Hard Rock Café launched an international battle of the bands called Hard Rock Rising in support of independent artists around the world. The competition works in conjunction with Hard Rock Calling, an annual festival held in Hyde Park, London, England that began only a few years earlier in 2006. Past headliners and supporting acts of these festivals include The Who, Aerosmith, Neil Young, Pearl Jam, and Paul McCartney, and the grand prize of the Hard Rock Rising battle is a supporting slot for the headliner of the upcoming festival.
This is the second year in a row that I’ve followed the Canadian leg of Hard Rock Rising, watching thousands of Canadian bands being whittled down to twelve in the preliminary online voting round. It’s very exciting to see those twelve bands from all over the country battling it out over three live qualifying rounds at Hard Rock Café Toronto, followed by the final battle wherein one of the three finalists is crowned the Canadian representative and moves on to the worldwide voting round.
This year, those three finalists were Be Astronaut of Montreal, Hotel Royal of Oshawa/Whitby, and Skellig of Vancouver Island. Just like last year, and I’m sure every other year, these three bands were incredibly diverse in style and even more talented, all supercharged with lethal amounts of adrenaline and anticipation, which made for one hell of a show.
Hotel Royal played the first set of the night that, even though the amount of times I’ve seen this band live is well into the double-digits, blew me away with a stage presence that I had only seen glimpses of before. Led by the maniacal Chris Hepburn, whose looks and character are best described as the product of a steamy night between Mick Jagger and Bon Jovi, the band didn’t play their typical dance-party-inducing blend of rock, pop, and blues at the finals – the music played them. And there’s nothing more exciting than four highly attractive musicians feeling their music more than ever before. It’s so sexy, so intense, so rock ‘n roll. The best way I can describe Hotel is like a rough yet crystal clear diamond that, once cut perfectly and professionally, will reflect light in such a way that will simply mesmerize anyone in its vicinity.
The second band up was Skellig, who I’m glad I got to see during the qualifying round because it gave me a point of comparison at the finals. Made up of a married couple and their son, another father and son duo, and a couple others both young and older, Skellig is a tried and true family band. Their Celtic-inspired country rock sound was more fun than intense, and their sunny smiles and 60s-hippy-like dancing are much suited to family-festival style atmospheres. Just like Hotel Royal, Skellig amped it up to the next level at the finals, showing everyone that they could have even more fun than thought possible, and the result was envy-inducing. Could you imagine being on stage, rocking out with your mom? How badass is that?
The champions of the night were Be Astronaut, a creative three-piece from Montreal that I was beyond excited to meet and see live. When I heard that they won their qualifying round, I went online to scope ‘em out and immediately felt this strong gravitational pull sucking me into every note. It was love at first listen. For the first time in quite a while, my full attention was commanded as I listened to their entire EP, and then again, and again, and again…until I started waking up with their songs stuck in my head. Live, guitarist Guillaume Théroux’s vocals are (impressively) exactly as recorded, and his modest, heavily accented stage banter added a friendly, lovable charm to the otherwise serious-looking bunch. I can’t really pinpoint a genre of rock for these guys other than I feel like their tunes belong on rotation at the hottest rock clubs in the country, and I bet it won’t be long until that happens.
I’ve noticed that a lot of people in the industry are against band competitions because it supposedly pits musicians against one another, but I don’t really see that happening among bands that have any common sense at all. One thing I’ve learned about Hard Rock Rising is that, while winning the grand prize is a thrilling opportunity, there are really no losers. Bands are provided with priceless advantages like having their music downloaded by hundreds and even thousands of voters, meeting and building relationships with bands from other cities, and interacting with professional judges who usually have more to offer than a winning score. I personally watched Hotel Royal’s stats soar throughout the voting period, and the show offers have been pouring in nonstop since they won the qualifying round. For these reasons, I highly recommend this competition to all bands seeking new ways to promote themselves and network, all while having the time of their lives at the legendary Hard Rock Café. Nobody knows how to party like a rock star like Hard Rock staff and patrons!
Worldwide voting beings in early April, with 86 bands from 86 cities competing for a chance to open for Bruce Springsteen at Hard Rock Calling 2012. Check the Hard Rock website for more details, and to find out how you can support 2012’s Canadian representative, Be Astronaut.
The Bandwarz 2010 Champions are...Hotel Royal!
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Eight bands from across Durham Region paraded their best show for judges at the Bandwarz 2010 final...Eight bands from across Durham Region paraded their best show for judges at the Bandwarz 2010 final showcase on Sunday, June 13th at The Music Scene, with Whitby’s own HOTEL ROYAL winning the Bandwarz Cup at the 17th annual battle-of-the-bands contest, consisting of Chris Hepburn (vox/guitar), Andy Hepburn (drums/vox), Nicky Pahman (piano/organ) and Johnny Gregson (bass/vox).
"Playing Bandwarz was a great experience for all of us, there is a great number of local talent, and it's a great way of bringing bands together. We want to thank everyone who came out to see us play at this year’s Bandwarz. Without the support, this would not be possible," said lead singer Chris Hepburn.
As Bandwarz 2010 champions, Hotel Royal received $1000 in cash, recording package from The Music Scene, a photo package from D.D.P Studios, a merch package from Shift Blank, and gift certificates to Lost Anchor Tattoo.
HOTEL ROYAL will also benefit from publicity, including being featured on the Bandwarz 2010 television show, which will be broadcasted on Rogers TV on Saturday, June 26th with additional show dates TBA. The show will also feature performances and interviews with the other seven contestants in the Bandwarz 2010 final showcase: 2nd Place winners The Kardiak Kids, 3rd Place winners Viva Mars, 4th Place winners The Joint, Escaping Anxiety, Kings in Vain, Wake The Fallen, and Shark Week.
Bandwarz is Durham’s original rock music contest for bands looking to make their mark on the music industry. The contest offers independent and unsigned bands the opportunity to showcase their talents in front of music industry representatives and booking agents.
Rock the Ribbon Fundraiser at Hard Rock Cafe Toronto
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Review by Jaymin Proulx Photos by Vanessa Markov www.theapolloeffect.com www.maryroseobsession....Review by Jaymin Proulx
Photos by Vanessa Markov
For the month of October, Hard Rock Cafe is hosting a series of events in honour of the pink ribbon and to raise funds to find a cure for breast cancer. To kick off Pinktober, three bands brought their musical chops to the stage and entertained the top floor of the bar, where a dark mod theme hung in the air. Guitars hanging from the glass showcases as well as black and white pictures of guitar legends are testament to the music allure of the bar.
The history of Hard Rock Cafe begins in the 1970’s, when Eric Clapton used to frequent a quirky diner in London, England and requested his favourite spot be saved with his red Fender Lead II guitar. That led to Pete Townsend of The Who to do the same with his Gibson Les Paul, asking that he too have a spot reserved with a sign stating, “Mine’s as good as his!”
Presently, The Hard Rock Cafe’s bars include over 70,000 items over 163 locations in 52 countries around the world.
The Apollo Effect began the night with an influence that can be described as a cross between modern influences like Our Lady Peace, Oasis, and Finger Eleven, as well as older bands such as Duran Duran. Their dark, edgy demeanor shadowed with classic new wave, modern rock, and brit pop drew the audience in. Although a small bit of nerves began the set, the band relaxed and moved the audience with an excellent cover of Pink Floyd's “Another Brick in the Wall,” leaving the set solid.
Show organizers Mary Rose Obsession came next and reminded the audience of a mainstream alternative rock sound similar to Incubus, Linkin Park, or Fuel. Lead singer Daniel Grandinetti has a striking resemblance to Brandon Boyd (lead singer of Incubus): a skate-influenced, long-haired, slow and steady vocalist that pushed the frontier with philosophical laden lyrics written by fellow guitarist Chris Bundas.
Hotel Royal truly brought the roof down with energy and relentless vigor. Retro funk and garage rock coupled with an enthusiasm that interacted well with the crowd and did not go unnoticed. Their songs danced, jumped and convinced Hard Rock Cafe that youthfulness can both own the scene and take the industry seriously.
Mediazoic Studio Interview and Acoustic Performance with Hotel Royal
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On Tuesday, February 6, 2012, HnG favourite Hotel Royal dropped by the Mediazoic Studio down at 75 S...On Tuesday, February 6, 2012, HnG favourite Hotel Royal dropped by the Mediazoic Studio down at 75 Sherbourne for a full feature interview and live recording. The result was well over an hour’s worth of getting to know the band, their music, thoughts, and silly antics as new HnG Radio personality Vanessa Vai (who is already being affectionately referred to as the female Howard Stern) and myself lead the interview in hopes of bringing out the best of the beloved band and show the world why we love them almost as much as we love beer and grilled cheese.
Tune in below to hear the best moments of the interview, have a laugh with us, and listen to four of their most popular songs including an exclusive acoustic version of “She Don’t Mind” recorded right then in studio, as well as the history and making of each song.
We had such a blast recording this and we hope you have an equally good time listening!
A huge thanks to Greg and Noah at Mediazoic for making it all possible, thanks to Hotel Royal for a memorable evening full of cheap laughs and priceless moments, and a heartfelt thank you to all of our listeners for tuning in to HnG Radio.
Hotel Royal at Rock the Ribbon 2012
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It’s that time of year again when everyone “rocks the ribbon” in support of Breast Cancer Awareness ...It’s that time of year again when everyone “rocks the ribbon” in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and what better way to support the cause than by paying to hear some awesome live music? I checked out Hard Rock Cafe Toronto last week to show my philanthropic side, as well as my crazy-dancing/loud singing/rocking-out side, to donate to a great cause… and have fun doing it too. First up was The Apollo Effect. The crowd was still arriving slowly at the beginning, so unfortunately this band did not get the crowd recognition it deserved. I hate when that happens just because a set starts earlier, but it speaks volumes about a band when they still bring the live energy in front of 20 people or 20,000 people, and The Apollo Effect definitely did just that.
Click on the tuner above to open your mind to The Doors of Perception
After a short break, Mary Rose Obsession entered the stage with an always great performance and lively music to get the crowd bumping. MRO performed a new cover of Alex Clare’s “Too Close”, which was very well done to say the least. The song has some great lyrical content and a backbeat that makes it truly worthy of the popularity the track is gaining. It’s always a gamble to cover an upcoming hit for fear that it may be overdone (*cough* Gotye *cough*), but Daniel Grandinetti’s vocals kept up with Clare’s and also put his own spin on it, which I really enjoyed.
Mary Rose Obsession at Hard Rock
Once all of the raffling for different prizes was finished, it was time for Hotel Royal. I was sitting there with my friend finishing our beers and anticipating staying for maybe a song or two before heading out. Boy, was I wrong. All of a sudden, lead singer Chris Hepburn starts singing and I am blown away. This band has such a great stage presence and I was up front dancing within seconds! As I mentioned before, it really defines a great band from a good band when they bring a performance like it’s their last every time, regardless of the crowd size. If you left before Hotel Royal hit the stage, you should be kicking your own ass right now and I strongly suggest you check them out at their next show. With a lead singer that reminds you of a young Mick Jagger and an overall sound that has a hint of The Hives with a twist, Hotel Royal truly made my night.
Hotel Royal at Hard Rock
So, the lesson here boys and girls? Don’t leave a show just because it’s a week night and the venue is clearing out. Grab another drink and hold out for what could be your next favourite local band…I know I was happy I got that extra beer.
1) Bang! Bang!
2) Strange Language
3) Workin' for the Devil
4) Love Junkie
5) She Don't Mind
6) Message From the Queen
7) You Really Got Me Going (Kinks cover)
8) Do What You Want
9) Are You In It For the Money?
There are no upcoming dates at this time.