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Take a generous helping of soul...splatter it with bouncing rhythms, blistering guitars, engaging vocals, stellar musicianship and catchy pop melodies that make you want to move--all textured with the truth of God's grace--and you have Royal Tailor.
Rarely has music collided with ministry in a more explosive mash up than on Royal Tailor's Essential Records debut Black & White. Fusing pop, rock, R&B, hip hop and worship into a distinctive musical blend, Tauren, Blake, Jarrod and D.J. deliver the Gospel in a high-energy style that makes audiences want to dance, pray, shout and sing along.
"We like to get down," Tauren says with a smile. "That's how we roll. If you ever spend any time with the four of us, you will be dancing. If it's the Electric Slide, the dougie, free-styling or whatever, at some point we're going to turn up the music, and we're going to have a good time. That's just who we are."
With a sound that evokes Bruno Mars, Maroon 5 and a hint of Michael Jackson, Royal Tailor captures audiences with an infectious musicality, but this young band is about so much more than innovative music.
After meeting in Bible college and forming the band, they spent a year working full time at its church in Granite City, Ill., mentoring and teaching the youth to sing, play and take over worship services. "We were personally working with these kids and dealing with their issues," says Blake. "Every Saturday morning at 10 o'clock we'd do a thing called 'Making the Band.' We'd split up and do music lessons and teach them how to play in a band."
Jarrod adds, "When we left to go on the road, they'd be doing a whole concert themselves. These kids would seriously blow you out of the water.”
When Royal Tailor hit the road and began performing 300+ shows in less than two years, the band left behind an on-fire group of young worshippers ready to share their gifts with the church. During that process of equipping the youth, the members of Royal Tailor also learned a lot about themselves. "For a whole year we worked with student ministry. We put on conferences, put on all kinds of things for the church," says Blake. "I think we learned a lot about our calling and what kids were really going through."
The year Royal Tailor spent mentoring youth at its church was a pivotal time for the band as a group and as individuals. "It grew us as a band," says Jarrod. "That year really shaped us and drew us closer to God also as individuals because we were challenged."
"We all lived together, so we'd question things and talk about things," adds Blake. "We were going through the Bible asking: 'What does this really say?' It was a time when we found out who Royal Tailor really was."
When the band felt called to move into a new season, progressive worship band Leeland helped Royal Tailor make the leap from acclaimed indie band to a major label record deal. Leeland and Jack Mooring had heard Royal Tailor's music and became fans. They passed along the band's 5-song EP to Provident Label Group's Vice President of A&R Jason McArthur, who signed them to a record deal. Soon Royal Tailor was in the studio working on its debut album with producers Aaron Lindsey, Chuck Butler and Daniel Kinner.
"The overarching message is a call to action," says Tauren. "A lot of our songs have to do with being Christ in the world. We want to create a culture where students are doing the ministry. They are creating the ideas. They are dreaming the dream, and then they are actually going out there and doing those things."
Royal Tailor's ongoing interaction with youth informs the music on its debut album. "We feel like there's an identity crisis in our generation," says D.J. "Everybody is searching, and we want to give an identity to those searching for Christ. We want to give them the truth. The songs on this record take you through a journey of faith and boldness. We encourage youth to have faith, step out, and be who they are. Believe in God even when it's hard. Sometimes you hear really cool music, but there's not a lot of meaning to the words. We feel if they are going to be listening to the music and singing along, why not be singing along with songs that build you up in your faith and give you strength and hope."
Royal Tailor's message is not only resonating with young people, but with all ages. "It's a great feeling when you write a song and you see people write back saying, 'This really impacted my life and encouraged me,'" says D.J. "We thought we were only appealing to a younger crowd, but we've had parents come up to us almost every night and say 'Thank you! This is awesome! My kids love it, but I love it too.'"
The band's first single, "Hold Me Together," is a transparent prayer for strength from our heavenly Father that is resonating strongly with audiences. "Gravity (Pulling Heaven Down)" offers a unique perspective on life's challenges by reminding the listener how difficult times draw us closer to God. “Death of Me” carries a bold message of repentance and dying to self wrapped in an infectious groove that makes it hard to listen and be still. “Make a Move” is a joyous call to action that encourages believers to share the gospel. “Love is Here” is a soulful, percolating anthem about embracing salvation.
The band hopes its positive songs will shine a light in the darkness that pervades much of mainstream music and culture. "This record is pressing against the flow of the mainstream market," says Tauren, who also works as a youth leader at a church in Houston. "We have nothing against mainstream artists, but some of the messages and values coming out of mainstream music today are poisoning the culture. We hope to be a remedy to that, to stand up against that and show people this is not normal. There's something greater for you than just partying. We hope to press back against that and create some awareness and awakening in our listeners."
Though their music is energetic and fun, Royal Tailor is serious about ministry. "We want to communicate the Gospel," says Tauren. "People need to hear that there is a savior, a rescuer who can reach down and take them out of whatever circumstance they're in. They need to know that there is a God who loves and cares for them, but they also have a destiny, and that destiny requires action. We have to walk in purpose and understand the ultimate call that God has for us. We want to create cultural influence that emanates throughout the body of believers. We want to show people that there is something greater to live for than yourself."