In one of the rowdiest releases of the summer, The Royal Gospel by New Orleans’ own acclaimed Royal Southern Brotherhood is the latest remedy to what ails ya. Funk-tinged and slightly sinister the legendary Cyrile Neville and the boys in Royal Southern Brotherhood have crafted a record that straddles the line of chooglin’ on down to the psychedelia-swamp and remaining succinctly modern.
The Royal Gospel reminds one of a literal sermon- full of fire and brimstone at times while all the while rejoicing the sheer love of man. There’s a deep bond between the Royal Southern Brotherhood on The Royal Gospel, which becomes a palpable theme throughout – putting some trust in the hands of your fellow brothers and sisters despite having your feet held to the fire more than once. Neville is clearly in his element once again for the first time in ages, melding into the groove while guitarist Bart Walker lays down some positively miry licks.
“It’s a very spiritual thing,” Said Neville. “I kinda laughed, because Bart (Walker) was getting ahead of what I was even thinking. Last time, we actually got together in the room to do the demos. This time, it was all done by iPhone and stuff like that. But when you taste this musical gumbo, you’re gonna be very satisfied.”
The Royal Gospel is a record that puts to bed any lingering questions regarding the validity of the younger Neville’s dedication behind the kit and his due diligence to the RBS. It’s an album that promotes ressurection while giving the listening a wry grin – these boys ain’t goin’ nowhere.
The Royal Gospel drops on June 24th. Catch The Royal Southern Brotherhood on 6/24 at Bayou Boogaloo in Norfolk, VA, 7/08 at Callahan’s in Auburn Hills, MI and 7/09 at Kalamazoo Valley Blues Festival in Kalamazoo, MI. For more tour dates visit their site and to pre-purchase the album, find their profile at iTunes and Amazon.
– Jake Tully
Elmore Magazine: One bio for the Royal Southern Brotherhood mentions that with such a well-known and loved lineup, RSB “come pre-loaded with expectations.” Can you talk a little bit about those expectations—did you guys feel any nerves when creating your sophomore record about living up to the hype of the band and the success of the first release?
Cyril Neville: We were totally relaxed and focused when we entered the studio to record what’s become known as The Royal Gospel. And we can’t waste time reacting to any hype, one way or the other. As for expectations, I think our true fans expect us to continue growing, getting tighter and producing quality material and I think we accomplished that on this record.
EM: The members of the band are all hitters with distinct styles. Can you take us behind the scenes into the collaboration process? Is it easy going, or do you guys ever clash on opinions about both the music and how things should be run? How do you divide up the responsibilities?
CN: Yes, it’s pretty easy going. We started writing songs for this record as soon as Don’t Look Back was done. And we have a mutual respect for each other’s abilities and know that it’s no accident we’re in this band together, so whenever we’re together, on stage or in the studio, it’s a spiritual, egoless environment. On this record Bart and I co-wrote six songs; “Blood Is Thicker Than Water”, “I’m Comin Home,” “Everybody Pays Some Dues,” “Hooked On The Plastic,” “Stand Up” and “Spirit Man.” And I and Bart’s spiritual connection extends to my Son Omari! Omari brought us the song “Land Of Broken Hearts.” We loved it so he and Bart collaborated on it and the result is one of the rockingest songs on the record! It was special for me to get to collaborate with my Son again on an RSB record. He and I co-wrote “Let’s Ride” that appeared on the Heart, Soul, Blood cd.
Tyrone and I penned two together, “Can’t Waste Time” and “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire”. We constantly trade song ideas and every rehearsal/sound check we come up with fresh ideas. We record snippets of grooves and send them around so everybody can live with it for a while and conceive of ways to expand on it. A few examples are; we use cell phones, Ipads, computers to swap ideas, and sometimes I’ll get a hot idea and just make a voice memo and forward it to Bart. A few hours later I’ll get an email with his addition to the idea in it, and a song is born!
Or, like in the case of “Smoke” and “Can’t Waste Time,” Tyrone will come to my room on an off day on tour and play three or four ideas and I record them on voice memo. I then send the idea to Bart and we write lyrics for them. So we’re never short of ingredients for our Musical Gumbo!
EM: The Royal Gospel is “A Musical Sermon About Love, Unity, And Peace.” What inspired you guys to go in that direction with the album?
CN: Love, unity and peace are three things lacking in our world today. Three things that I think could change a lot of lives for the better! And we, Royal Southern Brotherhood, know that if you’re not a part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, and we choose to be part of the solution.
So I’d say The Royal Gospel is both a concept record and a general reflection on those themes. In song and groove, we express what we feel about things we’ve seen going on in the world in our travels together, in our quest to be part of the solution!
EM: How have things changed with the new line-up?
CN: The newest addition to the family is Darrell Phillips on bass. I can say that one word sums up what he brought to the mix – smoothness! As a matter of fact, that’s his band nickname, Darrell “Smooth” Phillips!
The combination of Yonrico and Darrell produced deep pockets and funkaliscious grooves that you feel all the way to the bone. This is a group of accomplished musicians, all with eclectic tastes in music, that can play in any style imaginable individually, and who spark each other to go to the nth degree as a group! No egos here!
Bart has been with us for two years now and Tyrone has been with us one year but when you hear them play together you’d think they’ve been playing together for a lifetime. They have styles that are different but fit together perfectly to create musical magic on stage and in the studio.
So when you add it all together, you come out with a delicious musical gumbo that’s impossible to resist!
EM: What’s different and what has stayed the same?
What’s different is there’s a solid pocket between Yonrico and Darrell that just makes everything mellower! We’re stretching things and leaving room for the grooves to breath, jamming a little more, so to speak!
But what has remained the same is our dedication to coming up with quality material that can stand the test of time. And the fact that the blues is the basis for and the roux of our Royal Musical Gumbo!
We continue to create songs that our fans will want to hear over and over again because they can relate to the lyrics as well as the grooves.
And putting on memorable performances that leave folks eager to hear and see more of, and rave to their friends and family about and to share posts on Facebook! In short, we plan on being around for a long time!
EM: Just throughout your career alone, you’ve toured extensively! What can fans expect from a live show from the Brotherhood?
CN: What fans can expect from our live shows is to have every human emotion touched with positive vibrations! They can expect us to perform for them like it’s the last show any of us will ever get to play!
They should bring two pairs of dancing shoes and expect to wear them both out before the night is done! They can expect to able to shout and make a joyful noise!
They can expect to be able to shake what their mommas gave them! They can expect to be able to let their hair down or take it off and let somebody hold it for them while they do their thing!
They can expect to be able to get their second line on, New Orleans style. They can expect a lesson in Bluesology 101! They can expect to be drenched in sweat and renewed in Spirit when the show is over! They can expect to fall in Love with us and our music and become fans, Loyal Royals, for life!