American rock band Royal Bliss announced the release of their video for single “Devil with Angel Eyes”. The band recently signed with FM Music Management and is currently playing shows, writing songs, and in the studio recording new material to be released during 2018 and beyond.
Hailing from Salt Lake City, Utah, Royal Bliss has been making their mark for years with a consistent work ethic of writing, recording, and touring that have helped build the success of the band. Their music speaks to the common man, tells a story and rocks out with a good party crowd, all the while being delivered by the inimitable deep and raspy voice of front man, Neal Middleton.
Music Madness caught up with frontman Neal Middleton to discuss the new song and video as well as life as a musician.
Music Madness: I had the opportunity to listen to and watch the new song and video for “The Devil with Angel Eyes”. Great heavy sound and then out of nowhere I hear this female voice.
Neal: The female voice was a last minute addition, and it’s our friend Rickae Robbins. We sent the song over to Lzzy Hale from Halestorm but it just didn’t work out time-wise as we needed to get the song done. ‘Cause I thought, Lzzy would be perfect on it, of course, and for my own selfish reasons, to get her involved but it didn’t happen.
Music Madness: Yeah, I don’t blame you.
Neal: It just added a cool element to the song. It’s like, the Devil with Angel Eyes and having you know, you’re thinking of a woman on the song a lot of the time. We went down to southern Utah to catch those scenes in the video, we rode for a while, and it fit the song so perfect. We have a whole story line, but when the videographer got that back to us, I was just like, it’s just perfect man. I don’t think we need anything else. Some live shots and just me on the bike. I thought it worked out well.
Music Madness: The video gave you that feeling of where do I go from here element to it that was cool.
Neal: Yeah, I think so, too. I mean, the cross roads, that’s really how people have their different ways to kind of focus, or meditate, or whatever. And for me, I love getting on a motorcycle and just riding it. There’s something spiritual about it. Hell, even being in the band, you know, I do a lot of the driving and I love driving, just reflecting on life, and just thinking. It’s therapeutic. So, its trying to figure out what the hell you’re doing with your life so you go and do those kind of things.
Music Madness: The video is just a small portion of the process; you got the writing, the recording, the touring and performing. Do you have a favorite part of the process?
Neal: Oh, man. Writing, I think can be frustrating but once you all come together, and you create this song, and you start vibing on it, especially when everybody in the band can come together and have that chemistry, then there is something magical about that. I relate it actually to being on stage and singing the song, having people be able to feel it. When you get this connection between the five of you and you know you have something special that everybody loves. Everybody loves the song for different reasons. You know, they love a guitar rift that they get to play, and the drummer loves this beat or fill that he gets to throw down and … So yeah, that writing process is awesome.
The studio can be stressful because you’re in the moment, but you also don’t have 1,000 people screaming the song at you or giving you the vibe and it’s just so much easier to get in to the moment, to feel the song, when you have a bunch of people, feel the energy of the crowd. The studio is not my favorite thing. Being in the studio recording is a lot of hurry up and wait kind of stuff. Then it’s your moment and you gotta just snap in to try to get the best performance and it’s not always easy.
That’s why I think a lot of times people are like, man, you guys sound better live then you do on record. That’s because of the energy, you know, you got the fans. We feed off the fans and that energy in the room and you can really get your emotion out. It’s like, on these songs, the audience is my therapist, I’m spitting out these lyrics about my life and telling a story, and it’s hard to tell a story to a microphone with headphones on.
Music Madness: How was it making the video? Is it a difficult transition going from the studio to in front of the camera?
Neal: Yeah, with this one, it was kind of cool because a lot of the scenes in the video were from the actual studio where we were actually recording the song. So, a lot of the different takes he used on that, he came and filmed the day that we recorded the song in the studio so there’s those elements in there. Which is neat, because that’s in the moment, you’re capturing the moment we recorded the song and then, we used the same studio to do a set up there and then a lot is just live shows.
The thing I love about this video, I think it shows Royal Bliss, as a band and our audience’s energy … I mean, we never really had that in a music video before, where it really portrayed the vibe of Royal Bliss and who we are. We weren’t even gonna release this song until the video came out and it kind of tied everything together.
In the studio, its always weird recording a video because you’re listening to play backs sometimes and trying to not look like a douche bag whenever you’re singing. It’s like, do I totally look like a dork, trying to rock out where I’m basically lip syncing? Every time I do a music video where I’m singing, I try to sing it as hard as I can so it looks real, and it is real, to a point. But that was the cool thing about this one, because it actually captured a lot of the moments of me actually tracking the song. All of us actually tracking the song. So, that was what was cool. It’s like I almost want free time and record a song, and it’s cool.
Music Madness: How would you describe your sound to people that aren’t familiar with your music?
Neal: Man, I always considered it just good ole rock and roll. I always look at it like a pizza where people are adding different ingredients. We’re very diverse and our writing is very different, too. We don’t sit down to write a specific song. It’s whatever mood we’re in that day; it’s kind of what lyrics come out of me, what I want to talk about, and what I want to sing about.
If we’re in a bad mood, or like last year, we had a rough year, so a lot of these new songs we’re writing are a little bit more aggressive. They’re more heavy rock and a little bit angrier because we have some angst in us again. You’re gonna find songs that you can’t relate with really, but I guarantee you every record there’s gonna be at least a few songs that you relate with. And every album that we do, we’ll write 50 damn songs, and make sure that the best 10 or 11 or 12 make the album, and we put as much time in to every single track as the one’s that we consider might be a radio single, or might be a popular song.
We make sure every song’s awesome. I mean, we still strive to write a road trip CD. It’s hard to come by anymore where every single song tells a story and people can relate to it. You get to the next track, and there’s something you love about that track that was different from the track before, and they don’t all sound the same, but you can tell it’s the same band.
I think we’re really diverse in our sound, and having the two different guitarists, Sean, who used to be in Candlebox and Taylor. They have completely different flavors and the songs we write are ours. We write everything, so I think you can tell a lot of what we do, and you get this vibe of authenticity in our music that you don’t get in a lot of other bands.
Music Madness: Absolutely, I can see that. I was listening to a few of the tracks and I got that southern rock kind of sound and then a classic rock vibe.
Neal: Yeah, it’s kind of how we’ve been. I think it’s a good thing and a bad thing, a lot of people tell us to pick a lane. But we’re a band that’s, shit, opened for Keith Urban and we’ve opened for Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie. So we’re a band that kind of fits anywhere and that’s been the coolest thing about Royal Bliss, and the thing that I’ve enjoyed about not just picking one lane. Like, oh, you can only play with metal bands or you can only stick to this one genre. We enjoy music in all spectrums, but it’s always Royal Bliss, no matter what we do, it sounds like Royal Bliss.
Music Madness: Outstanding.
Neal: And we put our flavor in to everything, it’s just where we’re at in life, at that particular moment, on how we write. So yeah, you’re gonna get that southern rock vibe. You’re gonna songs that, shit, sound like Jimmy Buffet. You’re gonna get songs that are heavy and they’re totally like a metal song, you know what I mean? We never want to limit ourselves in how we write. I know a lot of bands get stuck in that niche of, oh, this is us, and that’s the only way you can sound forever. But I believe you need to evolve as a musician and a person. I think that’s what’s kept us around for so long is cause we continually evolve.
Music Madness: Well, you guys have been doing this for what, 20 years?
Neal: Yeah. We’re coming up on our 20th anniversary. Actually, yesterday was the 20-year anniversary of our first show.
Music Madness: That is crazy.
Neal: Crazy, right? Blows my mind.
Music Madness: Crazy cause I read some of the shit that you guys have overcome; falling off balconies, flipping cars, and all kinds of crazy shit.
Neal: Yeah, we definitely have a story. It’s incredible when you dig into it. From record labels to managers to booking agents to … dude, I fell off a building, I had to learn how to walk again, in the middle of our career.
A bunch of people have gone through shit in this band. That whole year, you know, I fell off a building and was paralyzed. I couldn’t use my legs and then that same time frame, we were in the studio, our guitarist put a ski through his face. Then my drummer rolled his car, leaving the studio, four times and he was jacked up. I mean, it’s so many things that we just keep fighting through and it comes down to just loving what we do. I don’t wanna do anything else. We love playing music. We love performing. We love our fans.
Our fans are the ones that have kept us alive for this long and it’s great to see it continually grow. It’s like we gain new fans daily. We’re taking the long way around the mountain, but I’m glad we have, cause we’ve seen a lot of bands take the shortcut up to the top, and then we watch them fall down, quickly.
That’s what, I think, has helped us stay together this long is … the hard times that we fight through it, it makes us stronger as a group, as a family. I think, without a lot of those moments, we may have stopped doing it years ago. It makes it exciting and you prove to yourself that you can rise above whatever challenge. I think that’s what happens to a lot of these younger bands. They hit the first bump in the road, they start losing members, and they break up. Man, we’ve gone through walls, and freaking mountains head first, and we just keep fighting. ‘Cause we believe in our music, and yeah, there’s no other option in the world. We play rock and roll and that’s what we want to do until we die.
Music Madness: Yeah. That’s not a bad thing, that’s for sure. All right. So you guys just kicked off a tour.
Neal: Yeah, we’re getting going back on the road but we’re not doing like a steady two-month tour, but we’re gonna be doing some acoustic sets out in the Midwest. Then, we’re hoping, to jump on a few tours this summer. We haven’t been back down south, in Florida or South Carolina or any of those places.
And with this single, it’s getting great response all over the damn country and we’re getting ads in markets that we’ve never gotten ads in. I think the song; also, it fits well in the south. You know, a lot of people, a lot of the stations down there are like, ah, man, this is perfect for our listeners. So I really hope that having a single on radio will generate us to actually get on a tour. We haven’t been on tour with somebody in a long time. We just kind of do our own headlining runs through the Midwest. Up into Michigan, and now it’s like, all right, I wanna go out with somebody. It’s fun to be on tour with different bands. Especially when you get along with them.
Music Madness: Yeah, well, you’ve been on tour with some big bands, too. You had mentioned some, and then I saw, you have been on tour with Kid Rock, Skynyrd and Buck Cherry as well.
Neal: Oh yeah. Yeah, we played a lot of shows with those guys. Candlebox and Hinder and Papa Roach and it’s fun. But we haven’t been out like that in a long time. So now our focus is like, all right, let’s get a good agent cause we do everything on our own at this point. We’re starting to work with FM Entertainment, which is awesome.
Music Madness: Do you think doing everything in-house is due to being gun shy from the bands previous experiences?
Neal: Oh yeah. Yeah for sure. It’s hard to trust people in this industry man. We’ve been burned so many times from every possible scenario. Every person that you would possibly work with in the entertainment business or the music business. You get burned and it’s tough, cause you work so hard for something, you don’t wanna give up a percentage of the money that you make to somebody else. Especially if they’re gonna screw you in the end.
Yeah, we’re definitely gun shy with that. But, you know …
Music Madness: Hence, the new song and video, right?
Neal: Yeah, exactly and “The Devil with Angel Eyes”, man. That’s those industry people that try to change who you are, and tell you what to be, and give you all these promises. But really, at the end of a day, they just want your soul and your money. I think the group that we’re working with right now is really a group of good dudes that genuinely want to help and have the same vision we have for where this band can go and where it should go. So, we’re feeling really good about this year.
Music Madness: If you could put together your own tour, who would you love to tour with and blow that shit up.
Neal: Shit. Pearl Jam. I’ve always loved Pearl Jam. I would love to get out with those guys. Foo Fighters. I mean, I was a ’90’s kid so I loved Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Candlebox. We did tours with Candlebox, love those guys. Yeah, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, and like, man, you know who else would I throw on that? It’d be weird, but 311. It would be cool.
Music Madness: You were talking about Lzzy Hale earlier. Have you seen that tour that she’s got her headlining tour for this summer? Wanna talk about a kick ass lineup?
Neal: Yeah. All those bands are awesome. We played with most of them. Yeah, we played with Halestorm back in the day, a lot, too, which was really cool. Loved, oh man, that whole crew, we loved Halestorm.
Music Madness: They just put on a great show. She is just the ultimate performer, you know. She gets after it and she is a bad-ass guitarist.
Neal: Oh yeah. She’s got a hell of a voice on her, too. I mean, she’s just an all-around bad ass. The whole band, they’re really nice, and talking with them a couple of times in Nashville. Just great, great, people. I hope that we can get on the road with them at some point in the future.
Music Madness: There are a lot of great bands out there these days and they put themselves out there for the fans. However, on the flip side we see great bands that have lost that loving feeling with their fan base. I think it takes away from the whole experience for people and disconnects them from the music.
Neal: Yeah, I think so too. That’s why we’re always adamant about going out and talking to the fans. I mean, without the fans, you’re nothing. At any level. Whether you’re one of the biggest bands in the world … But especially at the level we’re at. And below that, where you gotta take of the people that are spending their hard-earned money to come out and watch you play shows. That’s just what it comes down to. They work their asses off, and then they have this event, based around you and your life, where I work my ass all week … Especially people that travel and come see you. You need to get out there and say thank you and thank you for putting food on my kids’ table.
Music Madness: So tell us about the whole Voice experience. Did you enjoy it?
Neal: Yeah it was season 2 and it was weird. I went through like four auditions. They had me down in Los Angeles for three or four weeks cooped up in a hotel and just a weird, weird, process. I thought, hey, it might help Royal Bliss out, if I just make it a couple rounds and they gave me a bunch of press on it, which was neat. I mean, there was like 40 or 50,000 people that auditioned and only 86 of us made it, as far as I got, which for me, I felt pretty good about that. I was like that’s a feat in itself and they didn’t turn around because I was rocking it out. They don’t want a rocker down there. They want somebody to sing pop songs but I’m extremely grateful that they did not pick me up, because I don’t know that Royal Bliss would still be alive if that’s the case.
Yeah, it was a whirlwind, for sure. I’m glad I did it, cause I learned from it but, I would never do something like that again.
Music Madness: Tell the readers about Royal Bliss. What are your favorite tracks to perform live?
Neal: Well, we’re a band that plays from the heart. We got some soul. We got rock and roll. Obviously, we have been around this long, because we love it. Royal Bliss…we’re true. We are five guys that love to play our instruments. We work our asses off at it.
There’s a lot. Even the songs that are old like “Devils and Angels” is one of our older songs that’s the song that kind of blew us up and that one, still to this day, it’s one of the oldest songs that we still play, but I love it. It still rings true to me. I let the guys jam out in the middle so it’s fun for me to step aside and listen and watch the band just go off. So that’s one of my favorite ones.
“Cry Sister” is a blast and this new one, “Devil with Angel Eye” especially as it gets known by people. My favorite part is when the audience is screaming back at me, the lyrics. “Crazy” is another one that is a good mix of Royal Bliss, right there. You got mellow, you got love, you got angst, you got hell yeah, let’s party.
Music Madness: What’s with the Irish song, man? Were you guys on a drunken Irish bender? Or was that a St. Patty’s Day thing?
Neal: Well, it was funny, when I was a kid, my parents showed me that CD. It was an old sailor song that was on a CD called” Saturday Night at Sea” and it was all old sailor tunes, and that tune came on. I think I was 19 years old when I first heard it, and just loved it. I’m like, oh my gosh, this thing is amazing and then the band started picking it up and playing it for St. Patrick’s Day every year. We were in the studio, and I was like, let’s just throw down a quick version. We threw down a quick version of it, and it was just awesome. I mean, right now, it’s funny; it’s one of our top plays on Spotify. But, you know, it’s just a fun drinking song. If that song doesn’t make you wanna party, I don’t know what song will.
We’re a band that likes to have a good time and though we have our serious side, we’re kind of all over the place. We like to have fun. We’re just dudes at the end of the day. We have our deep songs that make you think, make you cry and we have our songs that make smile and drink.
Music Madness: Hey, there is nothing wrong with that. And everything in between. Right?
Neal: Yeah. Exactly. Everything in between.
Music Madness: Outstanding. All right, Neal, man. I really appreciate it. Hopefully, we will be hearing a lot more from you guys sooner than later and good luck, keep it going man.
Neal: All right brother. Thank you so much for taking the time.
The video can be seen here: http://loudwire.com/royal-bliss-devil-with-angel-eyes-exclusive-video-premiere/
Upcoming Tour Dates:
5/9/2018 The Original Bar Minot, ND
5/11/2018 Tanglewood Greens Menomonie, WI
5/12/2018 Red Rock Mankato, MN
5/18/2018 Toadz Cedar City, UT
5/19/2018 Salt Creek Sports Lounge Nephi, UT
5/26/2018 Redneck Revival Fest Conesville, IA
5/27/2018 Bratfest Madison, WI
7/21/2018 The Machine Shop Flint, MI
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