Remembering Grand Royal, the Beastie Boys' Brief, Brilliant Magazine
Adam Yauch will be remembered first and foremost for his genre-altering music career, but the artist better known as MCA did much more than that. In between and sometimes overlapping with his Beastie Boys gigs, Yauch was a filmmaker, an outspoken activist with the Free Tibet movement, playful letter writer to The New York Times, and, from 1993 to 1997, a magazine publisher. Along with his bandmates, Adrock and Mike D, Yauch helped create six issues of Grand Royal, a glossy response to the 'zine culture that came to define part of Generation X.
Grand Royal wasn't the smoothest running magazine. According to fan site Beastie Mania, the second issue hit newsstands an entire year late. It was well intentioned though. "We didn't sit down and think, 'Hey, lets make a magazine,'" Mike D told Select Magazine in 1997. "It was more pathetic than that. We had all of these people writing to us (using the address listed within the Check Your Head liner notes) about the band and we weren't getting back. We had this simple ambition of a newsletter, but then we saw a couple of other bands' fanzines and they were just like, This is what the band is up to now and this is what they'll be doing. We were like no way! So we made it into a proper magazine." The band printed only 7,500 copies of that first issue but circulation quickly grew to the tens of thousands. The magazine was a mix of music, culture and random things the Beastie Boys thought was cool like kung fu, demolition derby, and Moog synthesizers. It was a chaotic endeavor and after cycling through several editors, Grand Royal went to an online only format in 1997. Copies are pretty available on eBay, but they are not cheap.
It's tough to find articles from Grand Royal, but you might like this Q&A with clothing manufacturer Ben Davis or this interview with Ted Nugent, Mad Man. Adam Yauch's name makes it onto the cover of the first issue. Here's a an interview he did with the Dalai Lama. And even though it was a year behind schedule the second issue does sport a pretty impressive cover.
Then things get a little psychedelic for Grand Royal. Issues three and four…
The final two issues look more like album covers than magazines…
As with so many Beastie Boy ventures, Grand Royal came to define a certain 90s-era cool and we can't imagine a current group that could pull off anything like it.