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 wide variety of influences from Johnny Cash to Led Zeppelin, and everything in between, has helped to mold a sound that is uniquely theirs that cannot be denied. Their “Heartland Rock” 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 and the scorching sounds of seasoned musicians Dwayne Crawford (Bass), Jake Smith (Drums), Taylor Richards (Guitar) and Sean “Memphis” Hennesy (guitar/banjo), who combine to make Royal Bliss. Their journey is evolving and they are growing as a band that now seems to be making their way down a road pointing eastbound on I-40, all the way from Salt Lake City to Nashville, TN.
Royal Bliss started in a basement as kids who had a passion for music and a drive to succeed. Over the years their music has evolved from what would echo a late night frat party to now what they call “Heartland Rock”, a musical cocktail that mixes lyrical themes that celebrate American life, dreams and love, all the while paying homage to their southern and classic rock roots.
However, being a band for eighteen years has afforded them quite a story to tell with many twists and turns. They have weathered major label rock record deals, broken down buses, band member changes, weddings, kids, opened up a bar in Salt Lake City, called “The Royal” of course, and survived a devastatingly life threatening 35 foot fall off a building by lead singer, Neal Middleton. Middleton was told he might not make it through the night, and if he did, that he would be paralyzed, but Middleton was not about to give up. With a “mind over body” mindset, as he describes it, he fought his way back to the band, and together they continued on the colorful journey that is Royal Bliss.
They began as a rock ‘n’ roll band achieving early success with their music on several rock radio stations. In 2009 their Capitol Records debut "Life In-Between" charted on the Billboard top 200 and was #1 in Billboard Heatseekers. In 2012 their self-released "Waiting Out The Storm" reached #9 on the iTunes Rock Chart and hit #2 in Billboard Heatseekers. Then again in 2014, "Chasing The Sun" was recorded and released on their own label, Air Castle Records, with distribution through Universal INgrooves Music Group. On their latest album the alternative roots of the band shine on the album’s single "Cry Sister” that climbed the Active Rock chart to (#31) and was Royal Bliss’ 6th Single to crack the top 50 on Active Rock radio. In addition, they have toured with acts such as Buckcherry, Candlebox, Chevelle, Kid Rock, and Papa Roach, and have grown into seasoned and dynamic live performers with a solid fan base across the country.
“We have always done our own thing and been honest with ourselves and our music by singing about things that are real and happening to us and our fans. In recent years, rock radio has gone way heavier than what we do and we are finding that we haven’t changed direction but the industry and the boxes it puts artists in has. Royal Bliss isn’t doing anything different than what they always have done," says Middleton. Now, their journey is evolving and they are growing as a band that is now headed straight for Nashville, TN.
In an odd twist of fate, the newest member of the band, Sean “Memphis” Hennesy (guitar/banjo) was living in Nashville and came west to join Royal Bliss. Taylor Richards, an original member of the band said, “When Sean joined the band he brought a flavor that we never really had before, incorporating some finger picking styles into certain versions of our songs and contributing a new vibe. I guess you could say he brought a little Tennessee with him and it seemed to really work.” With Hennesy now in the band, joining seasoned musicians Dwayne Crawford (Bass), Jake Smith (Drums) and Taylor Richards (Guitar), Royal Bliss’ evolution is clearly undeniable and they remain a true and steady force, taking center stage and rocking out to faithful crowds and fans who love their music because it has never followed trends, compromised or lost sight of who they are.
This long and winding journey has now led them back to a couple old friends from Nashville who they met eighteen years ago while skiing in the Utah Mountains, veteran Nashville producers and hit-makers, Monty Powell and Anna Wilson. This husband-wife team recently built a state of the art recording studio in their mountain home in Utah. When they invited members of Royal Bliss over for an après ski party to see their new creative workspace, the conversation quickly moved from general catching up to a creative collaboration process. Wilson says, “I remember telling Neal how I always thought several of their songs could swing country with a different production approach. I could tell he was open to co-writing and exploring what we could create together, so I made sure he didn’t leave until we scheduled time to work together.” One song led to another and before long Powell, Wilson and Royal Bliss embarked on a creative journey that is flourishing and singing a tune that cannot be silenced. “It has been so strange to know the band for so long but not really be a part of their music until now.” Powell states. “We had written a couple things for their rock records in the past but now for the first time I feel I can really bring out my toolbox and expertise as a country songwriter to their process.”
This summer Royal Bliss will release their new 5 song EP entitled “The Truth” on June 2nd. It is a collection of original songs that bridge the gap between rock and country. The EP’s focus track “We’re All Livin’ The Dream” will see a video debut on CMT this spring. In addition, fans can catch one of their energetic concerts at several Live Nation country festivals this summer on their Boneyard’s Bloody Blend sponsored tour.