June 2013 Royal Bliss Neal Middleton interview by Todd Jolicoeur, photos by mintypics.com
ToddStar: Neal, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule for us. We appreciate it.
Neal: Thanks for taking the time for us.
ToddStar: If it is okay, I would love to jump right into discussing your last release, Waiting Out The Storm. What can you tell us about that disc, that most people may not know on the surface?
Neal: Originally it was to be a completely different record. We had written around 40 songs for the album and the people we were working with did not feel we had the record we needed. We loved the songs and left those people to do the record "WE" wanted to do.
ToddStar: The song has several strong tracks, my favorites being “Monster,” “Bleed My Soul,” and “Crazy.” Are there any songs looking back that you really still favor? Are there any songs you wish had come out different?
Neal: I always felt "Wake Up" was such a strong song that never quite got the vibe it deserved. That song meant a lot to me and still does. But who knows we own all our songs and it might get another shot at another time.
ToddStar: Having been at this for about 16 years, do you still feel and hear the growth in this band?
Neal: Yes we are currently working on songs for a new record and I feel like these new songs really show the maturity in the band and their musicianship as well as songwriting. We are a band that has continued to make progress in all aspects of being a band. It has just been a slow climb, but a climb non the less. we will be showcasing some of the new songs at The Machine Shop on the 13th.
ToddStar: If you had to describe the sound of Royal Bliss to someone who has never heard of you, how would you do that?
Neal: Just a good rock band, That plays with passion, You can tell we love what we do when you see us play. Its rock that you can understand the lyrics, and tell a bit more went into the writing of the songs. They are all ours.
ToddStar: When performing live, do you find that you mix the material evenly from all of your releases? Are there any songs from your earlier releases that you feel will always be a part of your live show?
Neal: "Devils and Angels" is one that I don't think will ever go away, as well as "I Was Drunk." Those two seem to be our classics that continually get requested. I think all the songs still seem to fit together well.
ToddStar: Speaking of live performances, you have a show coming up in Flint, MI at The Machine Shop on June 13. You have played there at least 10 times over the last 4 years or so. What keeps you coming back to The Machine Shop?
Neal: Its a great room and we are treated well there, There seems to be a magic in that room and every show we have played has been one hell of a time, Also we have made a lot of great friends in the area. Its like a family reunion every time we come back.
ToddStar: What are some of the favorite memories related to The Machine Shop that stick out in your mind?
Neal: Wow there are too many to think of. In the past we have always made the newest crew guys dress up as women, and that always a good time. I always seem to be sick when I get there but somehow Kevin brings it out of me, with a little help from whiskey. Last time we played was our bass players birthday and we made him play the last tune with his pants down. To be honest as I sit here and think about all the amazing times I could really fill a couple pages. We love that place.
ToddStar: Regarding touring, if you could pick possible pairings for an ideal tour, what other bands would you like to see Royal Bliss out on the road with?
Neal: Foo Fighters and Alice In Chains would be a good start. Those are two bands that seem to have a similar passion for the music they play. Got a lot of respect for those bands.
ToddStar: What is next for Royal Bliss? Are there plans to record and get new music out to the fans and public? Any big tour plans coming up?
Neal: We are half way done with a new album, so be prepared to hear a few new songs on Thursday. As far as touring goes I think it will depend a lot on when we release the new record. Hope to do some fall touring this year.
ToddStar: You were a contestant on The Voice in 2012. Is this a precursor to a solo career or thoughts of a solo release?
Neal: To be honest I would love to do a solo record at some point; it has been a dream of mine for awhile now. But I will always be the singer of Royal Bliss - they are my family.
ToddStar: If there were one piece of music in the history of time that you wish you had written, what would it be and why?
Neal: "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Just an amazing song that will last forever.
ToddStar: What is the meaning of life?
Neal: To live it, experience all you can - don't be afraid and try to do something you love that makes yourself and others happy.
ToddStar: Other than making sure everyone checks out your website and Facebook page, are there any other current projects or sites you would like to promote?
Neal: Our Youtube channel is pretty interesting, We have some new things on the horizon that are pretty exciting so stay in touch.
ToddStar: Thanks again for taking the time and we look forward to new Royal Bliss and the tour date this week in Flint!!!
Neal: Can't wait to see you all.