Interview with Neal Middleton of ROYAL BLISS Januray 18, 2012

January 26, 2012 by: admin

January 18, 2012


Air Castle Records

Neal Middleton (Vocals)

Salt Lake City, Utah

By: Shauna O’Donnell

Hi Neal, thanks for talking with me today. How are you?

I’m doing really good. How are you?

I’m doing good. You guys are on tour with Bobaflex right now. How are things going?

It’s awesome, we love those guys. We did the same kind of tour last winter with them as well. It’s a good combo. Every single member of Bobaflex is rock through and through. They are a little bit heavier than us, but it just works and we all get along really well. We are sharing the crew on the tour and we let a couple of their guys stay on our bus with us. Everyone is working toward the same goal, so we have had a blast and the shows have been really good.

You guys are like family, both of you are signed to UEG.

Yeah, exactly, we are both with UEG and we are both with New Ocean Media. We are a brother band.

Has anything exciting happened on the tour yet?

Well, it’s been what you call exciting. For us, five minutes out of Salt Lake City, the trailer fell off the back of the bus. It ripped the chains off and started skidding down the road. Luckily, our driver saw it, he slammed on the breaks and the trailer went flying into the back of the bus. We were able to catch it and nothing got hurt. When we got to Idaho Falls, a fan fixed up everything for free and welded all our parts back together. That was nice because I thought “Oh Shit! Here we go again.” Last year when we did Wintour, we had all sorts of crazy shit happen to us. It was break down after break down and weird event after weird event.

The cold and the snow make it a lot more difficult to tour in also.

Oh yeah, way more difficult. On our way to Portland out of Seattle yesterday or the day before yesterday, Seattle got eight inches of snow. We were heading up a hill on solid ice, we had to stop because there was an intersection at the top of the hill and when we stopped the bus slid completely down the hill. We jack-knifed between the two curbs. (Laughs) That was kind of fun.  That is just about all the exciting things. We’ve had some really good shows with some chaos in between, but we have been out two weeks now. It’s weird how it goes by so fast.

You will be out with them until March right?

Yeah, we go home and do our CD release on the 24th and then we start heading back east.

Will you be playing any summer festivals this year?

I don’t know yet. We are trying to work our way into Rock on the Range. We had such a good time playing that a couple years ago. I know Bobaflex is on it, so we are trying to work that. We love doing the summer festivals, so we are going to try pretty much every festival that we can get on.

Have you only toured the states or have you been overseas yet?

We have only done the States. We are working on some things in Amsterdam, there is a festival over there in June. We would really like to get over to Europe or Australia and do a couple two or three week jaunts. That is on our list of things to get done this year.

Australia would be amazing!

I would love it!

I don’t blame you; I’d love to go to Australia myself.

You can come with us and be our tour manager.

That is a really good idea, we should work on that. On January 24th you will be releasing your latest album Waiting Out the Storm. Now I know that the band has been through some serious tragedies over the past thirteen years. Is this album a reflection of all that? Not just the bad times, but the good times too.

Yeah I think so, you know I think this album is a lot more matured than our others. You can see the evolution and the growth of the band as musicians and as people. The older you get, the more life happens. From the lyrics to the melodies of the guitars, it is a little bit darker. There are some fun songs too. We’ve had a good time, so you have to rock out every once in a while.

There were a lot of firsts going on when writing the album. You became a father, you worked with Brian Virtue and you were not on a label to name a few. Do you consider this album to be like a new start for the band?

Yeah to a point, it’s kind of what we always wanted to do and it just kind of happened this time. We have always wanted to be in control of our own destiny I guess. We are the label and we are doing everything on our own. We are writing songs that we want to write and we are recording songs that we want. We are also working with who we want. We were always like “We are never going to sign with a major label” and then when we signed to Capitol we kind of lost track of what our main goal was when we started out in the first place. Without even thinking about it we ended up in the situation of where we always wanted to be in the first place. It definitely feels like a new start because it is ours again and we can make it or break it. If it fails then we only have ourselves to blame. It’s on us and I like the responsibility and the whole experience of it all. You learn a lot doing it this way.

It’s nice having control over every aspect of the band.


Is Air Castle Records your own label?


Do you plan on expanding that venture and maybe signing other bands?

Yeah we’ve talked about it and we’ve talked to an investor about doing the same thing, getting involved and making it a bigger indie label where we bring on other acts and put them through the Royal Bliss process. We have a fleet of vehicles now that we’ve saved up. We could take bands out on the road with us and do it in a way that it would benefit bands and musicianship without trying to control their lives. We would give them guidance, so that they are making money and not out on the road hating it. I would want them to work for it; otherwise you don’t appreciate what you work for. You have to build your fan base and your allies.

You worked with Brian Virtue on the record. I think he is so cool.

He is awesome and it was a great experience working with him.

How did working with Brian come about?

We did a tour with a band a few years back and they were friends with him because he did one of their records. They gave Brian one of our albums and he really liked it. He actually Myspaced me back when Myspace was still working. At that point I wasn’t on very often and I remember randomly opening a message from him. He said “I really like your sound and I’d like to be involved with your next record because I think there is something special here.” I was like “That’s great man, thanks a lot.” We had that first conversation and we got along. He liked what we wanted to do and it was kind of him that was a big pushing point for us to get out of our old management deal and do things the way we wanted to. It was a big turning point because he was like “If you guys want to do that generic commercial rock stuff and write songs that are aimed at specific radio then I don’t want to be involved. If you guys want to write a Royal Bliss album where the songs are what you want to do with no filters on radio, just writing songs that you love, then I want to be involved.” I was just like “That is awesome.” We were getting to a point where we were twelve years into it and we were still struggling to make money. I would do whatever, I would write whatever song is going to work for radio and it was almost like I was selling out. After that conversation I was like “No, I’ve got to stay true to the music, stay true to the fans and do what feels right.” At the end of the day if we sell two records at least it is a record that I am proud to be a part of.

Well said, who designed the album cover?

It was a girl named Alexis. Our drummer has always done all of our graphic arts in the past and this is one of the times that we actually hired it out. She worked with us and asked us what our favorite covers of all time were, we came up with a list of what our favorite album covers were and that is what she came up with. It was perfect, we absolutely love it. It says a lot looking into it deeper.

What are you guys doing in the way of music videos?

I don’t know. “Crazy” is the new single and we have had a few people talk about doing a music video. There is a guy out in L.A. that is involved with the Art House Restaurants and we absolutely love the Art House Restaurants. He wanted to do a music video for “Crazy” or “Wake Up” and we wanted to do it, but if we sold it on ITunes all the proceeds would go to a charity, so we are trying to figure out a charity that would want to be involved. Right now we don’t really have a huge budget for it, so we are just doing live footage videos, webisodes and things like that. I don’t have $30,000 to go spend on a cool music video right now. I’d rather people just see what we look like when we play live. That is where we get the most energy.

If you were to meet someone who had never heard the band before, what song would you tell them to listen to that best expresses what the band is all about?

That is a tough one. It depends on the person. I think “Crazy” is an awesome song; it is one of my favorite songs on the record. One of our old ones “Devils and Angels” is probably the best to describe Royal Bliss.

A friend of yours Mark Molle wanted me to ask a question. He wants you to tell me the story behind the writing of the song “Monster.”

There are a couple songs on this record “Monster”, “Smile” and a few others that were influenced by the record industry. “Monster” tells the tale of Royal Bliss to a point where it’s a tough life being out here and working with people who want to push you in directions that you don’t want to be pushed. Also, not being able to quite break out and have that big hit, not having a label or not having these people in the industry open the doors for you. I was always kind of getting shunned by all the heavyweights even when we signed to Capitol. Capitol got bought and Jason Flom who signed us left the label. No one at the label wanted to step in and help us. It is one of those things where they caused us to learn how we can do it on our own and they created this kind of monster in us where we are going to kick this door down and we are going to make it happen. We are going to do everything that we always wanted to do in this industry. It is kind of because they always never took us seriously and didn’t want to believe in us. We believe in ourselves. We are going to do it our way and be the biggest band in the world.

Well you are on your way.

(Laughs) We are trying. If we are the biggest band in Utah, then I’m happy with that too.

You are so funny. Thank you so much for the interview. Before I let you go is there anything you’d like to add or say?

Thank you and support your local bands! Support the young up and comers that need the fans there to help them so they can believe in themselves and continue to make real rock n roll music.

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