Neal Middleton On Royal Bliss, Their New Album, 'The Voice'
Neal Middleton, the front man of Royal Bliss, spoke with Uinterview about their new album, Chasing The Sun. "We were just really open and together on this one," Middleton said of the band's new album. "We did it at home, we were relaxed. We got to go sleep in our beds at night. We got to go home and get a little nookie every once in a while to ease the stress."
The band funded their album through Kickstarter. "It was coming in the final week, and we were still way behind. We started getting nervous, but the fans came through at the end," Middleton said.
Middleton thinks that the band's hometown of Salt Lake City is underrated as a rock destination. "There's a lot of really good rock & roll out here," Middleton said. "We're not Mormon! We definitely party."
Middleton also spoke about his time on NBC's The Voice, labeling it a "strange" time for him. "It was a fun experience, I met a lot of amazing musicians, but I don't think I'd ever do anything like that again," he said.
Royal Bliss's new album Chasing the Sun is now available.
It was a record that we went into without labels or management or anybody really telling us what to do. It's the first record we did with Dwayne, our bass player, and Jake wrote the song "It Haunts Me." It was the first time him really bringing a song to the table. We were just really open and together on this one. Where there wasn't any outside influence. Where we were just writing our songs and everybody was really into this record because everybody had the most say that they've ever had on an album. We've always been through a lot and every year that goes by, the band evolves even more and I think in return our music evolves so all the experiences we go through and the hardships, the struggle of doing music in today's music industry world. It's tough. This record we did it at home, we were relaxed. We got to go sleep in our beds at night. We got to go home and get a little nookie every once in a while to ease the stress. I think it's the most mature record we've ever done and without influence from labels and other people that are looking or wanting us to sound a certain way. This record, we were able to be ourselves and sound like we want.
It was cool. We were really nervous to do it. We were hesitant to actually reach out to the fans like that. We were nervous that - what if it doesn't happen? What if we don't fulfill our goal? We were just like, oh man. It was coming in the final week, and we were still way behind. We started getting nervous, but the fans came through at the end. It was just one of those things that really justified what we've been doing for the past 16 years. The fans are still there and they want to hear more from us and we're doing the right thing. Plus, involving them, the fans got to pick out the album cover. So, the fans got to be really involved. We ask questions. We built a little secret group on Facebook that we could all be a part of and they can be a part of and a secret part of our website that they can be a part of to be able to download the record and get bonus tracks. So it's been really cool where we give them the album, and almost they've invested in the record, so they're excited about it and they want to see it succeed. It's cool to make them even more of a part of it than they already were.
"Drink my Stupid Away," is my favorite one. I don't know. It's a really deep song actually. When you look at the title it sounds like it's just another drinking song. But when you listen to it you're like - whoa! - it's heavy. Here I am a married man with two kids and being out on the road is tough. I wish I could tear myself in half and leave half of me here with my family and the other half out there playing shows for the fans. It's two things that I love, and that I love being a part of and it's hard to deal with it. So, sometimes I just drink my stupid away and drink all my worries and everything I've been stressed out about and just kind of lose my mind. So I just focus on being where I'm at at that moment. That one, it just kind of came together real well. I wrote that one with Joel Pack here in Salt Lake City, and I don't know it's one of those songs that I listen to and it hits me where every once in a while. On tour it'll be hard not to choke up singing that one.
So, basically I'm from Salt Lake City. Me, Taylor and Jake are all Salt Lake kids. Taylor and Jake are homegrown here from babies. Actually Taylor was born in Japan in the Navy. Dwayne our bass player is from Atlanta.
We've gotten that a lot through the years where we get that stigma of – 'There's rock & roll in Utah? No Way!' Yeah, there's a lot of really good rock & roll out here. I don't know, nowadays it's like fifty-fifty where fifty percent of the population is Mormon and fifty percent is not. But, yeah I definitely if you haven't been out here and seen what it's like I can totally understand that. We're not Mormon. We definitely party.
Strange. It was a strange experience for me. I put myself out there, hoping it would gain some recognition for the band, draw some attention to the band, but then they didn't even mention anything about the band. The first season, I thought, was really respectful to music and musicians and people who'd been in the industry for a while. But then the second season, because the first season was so popular, became much more corporate and the labels more involved. It just ended up being, I felt, like I was playing a role, that was a character of myself. They wanted you to embellish on all these horrible things in your life. And really tell the story, but embellish the story. It was all true, but it wasn't about The Voice or the music. It was so much more drama and everything else involved and it was weird. It was a fun experience. I met a lot of amazing musicians, but I don't think I'd ever do anything like that again.
Well, I still have a lot of problems, physically, from that incident. I was in Long Beach actually. It will be my 11-year anniversary next week. It was when Easter was on Sunday, 4/20. I was down at Long Beach partying with some buddies. I was up on a balcony about 35, 40 feet up, and I fell off the back of the balcony and went down to the courtyard and hit an umbrella and then landed on cement. I tore my pelvis in half and broke my sacrum in half and I had a lot of internal bleeding. That night, they told my girlfriend at the time, 'He's probably not going to make it through the night and if he does, he'll be paralyzed for life.' And I was in ICU for a week or so and went into surgery and got put back together down there in Long Beach. I got most of the feeling back in my left [leg], but still to this day I don't have all the feeling in my right leg. I lost all the feeling in both for about two months. As far as being able to feel my feet and feel my legs and tell where I'm at. The left leg came back, but the right leg took another two years before I got most of the sensation. I can't feel anything from the back down. I can never feel my butt, because I got stabbed when I was 18 three times in the back. I lost the feeling in my butt at that point. So, I was kind of use to being numb on that side anyways. But it was tough. I was supposed to be in a wheelchair six months to a year. I stayed in the wheelchair for three months and then got out and started walking on a cane and had my second surgery because the first surgery they did wrong and then when I got back to Salt Lake, they had to go back in and double the size of all the screws and double the size and do the whole surgery over again, which was really hard to deal with. They were like they, 'You can not move for sixth months, or we can put these screws in and you might be able to move in three months.' So I was like well we'll just do it all over again so I can get back on stage. The guys in the band, we had no fallback plan. Music was our life, so there was no other jobs or education for anybody to fall back on really. So, I promised them I'd get back on stage. The local music community here raised a bunch of money for us so we could pay our bills until I got back in working order, which was really cool. Yeah, it was tough, we went back in the studio, we got sued at the same time, went back in the studio and did After the Chaos II. While we were in the studio, my drummer rolled his car three times, four times. My guitarist put a ski through his face and had his jaw wired shut. Taylor or Brant broke his ankle, there was an ankle broke in there. It took us a year to get that album done. It was a really hard, testing year for the band that's for sure. But we pulled through, and I think it made us stronger in the end.
Learn about business. I mean obviously, first and foremost, if you want to be in a band, unfortunately nowadays you've got to understand business, because you're not gonna make it if you don't. You have to have a passion for it, because it's not easy anymore. It's not someone signs you, you make a bunch of money, tour the world and have a blast. You have to have such an intense passion for what you're doing and what you're creating that you know there's so much other bull---- that goes on and around the music industry about learning the business, and so many people that want to take your money and pieces of your passion and pieces of your music, and pieces of your life your soul. So in order to not let them do that, you need to understand the business behind it. Labels and everything nowadays want to hire band or sign bands that are already a functioning company that have a good merch company behind them, tour support, have been out on the road, and you've just got to understand that it's a hard, hard life being in a rock band. It seems all like it's just fun and just the coolest thing in the world, and a lot of times it is, but if you don't love it, then that time on the stage won't mean as much to you and it won't keep you going. So, I'd just say first off you gotta love music, and then learn business, learn accounting, learn how to market yourselves, learn all the social media outlets. Practice, practice, practice. Never give up and make sure you know your craft.
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