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TUESDAY CONVERSATION: Tauren Wells of Royal Tailor
Every once in a while, an artist comes along that shakes things up and challenges the status quo within the Christian industry. You don’t have to go too deep into Royal Tailor’s debut album Black & White to figure out the Houston-based band is one of those artists.
Whole Notes had a chance to talk to lead singer Tauren Wells about its unique sound, it’s vision for today’s students and how growing up in the church shaped the band members as individuals. Check it out in part one of this interview:
Bonham: How did the band come together to develop such a uniquely diverse sound?
Wells: It’s just all of us being who we are and coming together and making something that we’re proud of. What I really love about our band is that we didn’t go into the studio and think, “I wonder what secular band we could be a Christian version of.” We believe that believers can create the template and they can make something new or as original as possible. I think we’re blessed and God has given us favor to do that. We all grew up listening to a lot of different stuff. In this band, you’ve got everything from bluegrass to black gospel. You never know what somebody’s going to answer when people ask what the influences are because they’re so varied. We just are who we are and we do what we do.
Bonham: It feels like you guys put a bunch of stuff in a blender until something unique came out.
Wells: It’s a very tasty smoothie.
Bonham: Were you aware of the fact that you guys were mixing together a compilation of sounds that was fairly unique to the Christian market?
Wells: Oh yeah, absolutely.
Bonham: So are you guys all from Christian upbringings?
Wells: Yep, we all grew up in church. We all grew up loving God, going to church. Blake’s mom is actually the music minister at her church. We all went to Bible college. Blake, DJ and I went to Indiana Bible College and Jarrod went to Gateway College of Evangelism.
Bonham: I always enjoy talking to people who grew up in church and aren’t bitter about it.
Wells: No, I’m very thankful. It’s the church that kept me. I had a very influential student pastor, David Morehead, who really inspired me and made me realize that there’s a calling on my life and to embrace that and to chase my dreams. God has really shown us favor and allowed us some really incredible opportunities. There’s no regret here. We’re thankful for the church and we love the church.
Bonham: There have been a lot of comparisons made between the band and some other artists out there. You do share some of the same sensibilities with Maroon 5. Your vocals at time bear an uncanny resemblance to Michael Jackson. Are you humbled by those comparisons or do they frustrate and maybe annoy you?
Wells: We’re very humbled by it. We’ve been given some great comparisons to other artists that our sound evokes. One thing I think that’s kind of funny about it is if you asked any of the people we were compared to if we sounded like them, they would probably say “no.” It’s like this. I don’t know if you’ve ever had this experience. Someone will come up to you and they’ll be like, “You look just like my brother!” Then you see the picture and you’re like, “Oh, we’re both humans.” It’s kind of like that. The biggest thing is when we get compared to Backstreet Boys. To me, that’s a stretch, mainly because we’re not a choreographed dance band and we all play instruments.
Bonham: Do you think the varied comparisons pop up because of how diverse the band is from one song to the next?
Wells: Yeah, and I think that’s cool because (listeners) can identify with it and really appreciate what we’re doing.
Bonham: Having read your blog, it seems pretty obvious that you see this as a calling. How does that translate into your performances and your lifestyle away from the stage?
Wells: Well, we believe that student culture and culture as a whole has suffered from the symptoms of a visionless life. We are dealing with a myriad of issues that are all coming from two core dilemmas. One, it’s visionlessness as far as getting a true glimpse of who Jesus is and what He’s about. The second thing is getting a vision of who we are in Christ and what that means for our lives. If we can give people a vision of those two things, who Jesus is and who they are, then we can effectively create change in the world. In everything that we do in live performance and message in between songs and story thread videos and small group resources and student ministry resources, everything that we do is geared towards showing people who Jesus is and who they are in Him and inspiring them to connect the dots between the two so that they can be an effective world changer for the cause of Christ in their own unique way. They can use expressive art or science or whatever they want to communicate Christ to the culture.
To follow Royal Tailor, check the official band site here.
Click here for part two of Whole Notes’ interview with Royal Tailor lead singer Tauren Wells.