Royal Tailor: The pop, rock, R&B band confronting Lady Gaga excess

Wednesday 6th July 2011

Tony Cummings reports on Christian music hitmakers from Houston, ROYAL TAILOR

Royal Tailor
Royal Tailor

With a sound that creatively fuses pop, rock, hip-hop and R&B and lyrics that speak directly to the concerns and feelings of modern youth, Houston's Royal Tailor are creating a major buzz in the US. And with Cross Rhythms radio selecting four songs from the band's 'Black & White' album debut there's every possibility that Royal Tailor - consisting of Tauren Wells (lead vocals), DJ Cox (guitar), Blake Hubbard (bass) and Jarrod Ingram (drums) - are well on the way to connecting with an international audience. The band members grew up in church and are proud of it. Wells told, "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. 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 favour and allowed us some really incredible opportunities. There's no regret here. We're thankful for the church and we love the church."

After forming Royal Tailor, the band spent a year working fulltime at a church in Granite City, Illinois, mentoring the youth. Blake Hubbard explained, "We were personally working with these kids and dealing with their issues. 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."

In 2008 the band hit the road to begin the gruelling trek across America. Said Wells, "We played over 300 shows in two years. One of those shows was at the Moorings' church. Leeland and Jack Mooring's parents pastor in Baytown, Texas. So we played a show there and Leeland was actually there. He heard us play and we exchanged numbers and developed somewhat of a friendship over that next year. GMA week came up and Leeland asked if we were going and I told him we weren't able to go. And he said, 'Alright, let me call you right back.' He called me back and he said, 'You can't say no to this. We want you to come to GMA week. We're going to pay for your hotels and introduce you to people.' We went there. They put us up. They showed us around town and introduced us to tons of people. They invited us to their listening party for their label, Provident Label Group, and at that listening party they introduced us to Jason MacArthur, the vice president of A&R and he got our demo and lived with our music for a little while and really liked it. We started talking and now here we are."

Royal Tailor signed with Essential Records and began working with Aaron Lindsey, Chuck Butler and Daniel Kinner. Said Tauren about the resulting 'Black & White' album, "The overarching message is a call to action. 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: The pop, rock, R&B band confronting Lady Gaga excess

Said DJ Cox, "We feel like there's an identity crisis in our generation. 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."

On its release 'Black & White' was enthusiastically embraced by the industry though reviewers tied themselves up in knots suggesting certain tracks resembled various mainstream acts like Maroon 5, Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson. In fact, there was no sad evangelical plan to replicate current hitmakers. Said Wells, "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 favour 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."

The danceable vitality of 'Black & White' might be made for radio play but the group are only too aware that its lyrics are miles away from much of the material aired on mainstream radio. Said Wells, "This record is pressing against the flow of the mainstream market. 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."

A song that spells out Royal Tailor's aversion to pop poison is the song "Control" which makes oblique references to Lady Gaga, Kanye West and Katy Perry. The website asked whether the song was meant to be provocative. Wells responded, "No, it wasn't really a hit at them. What we're trying to do with 'Control' is - this is what happened. We were listening to Top 40 radio on our way into a writing session for this record. A song came on and it was like, 'Take your clothes off. Take your clothes off. Take your clothes off.' Literally, those were the lyrics, and then even the messages of other artists like Brittany Spears, 'Sin Is The New Thing'. Hearing all these messages, what we realized was that even outside of their message is how unapologetic they are about bringing their message to the front of people's minds. It seems like the attitude of the Church has become, 'Well, we're going to take our ball and go home and write worship songs.' Do we need those songs? Do we need songs that edify the Church? Absolutely! But at the same time, I don't think that we should be unapologetic about our Gospel or unapologetic about things happening that we disagree with in culture. That's what Jesus did. He confronted people, cities, Pharisees. It was the Church. It was sinners. It was everybody. He spoke the truth to them, and that's what we're trying to convey with our music - the truth of who Jesus is and the truth of who people are and how we live our lives and navigate our lives according to that truth."

So was Wells aware of Katy Perry's background as a Christian artist? "Yes," he responded. The interviewer then suggested that the song spoke about Katy Perry's story and to the story of any young person who might aspire to achieve fame or popularity. Said Wells, "Yep, that's exactly what we were trying to do with that. It is by no means a shot at Katy Perry or any of those artists. If the opportunity was there, we would be friends with those people. Our heart breaks for them and we want them to realize the gravity of what it is that they are doing. They have tremendous influence. They have a tremendous voice to speak to people and when they speak, people listen. If there was any way to get them to say more positive things to inspire people, especially from a biblical viewpoint, then that would literally change the world - literally." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


Reader Comments

Posted by Donna in Ohio @ 12:27 on Oct 27 2017

I have seen this band they are for the Lord and helping the youth Penacostals do dance before the Lord and praise the Lord I believe the Lord has shown some of our people over the years that There are some in all beliefs that are very judgemental The word says not to Jude others When we had this band at our Church all youth Praised the Lord with them and Adults did too .They were a good band.

Posted by Kalei in Philippines @ 16:43 on Jun 23 2014

It's not about who sings.. It's about the message of the song.. What it tyies to convey to listeners.. As long as it's lyrics are spiritually edifying and uplifting, why not?

Posted by Diego in United States @ 03:36 on Nov 7 2013

So, how are they in any respect disagreeing with what Katy Perry promotes by covering her song Roar on YouTube? Their version is now #2 in a vote on Ryan Seacrest's website along with bands that hate Christ . I heard about the cover from "Christian" radio, not the show itself. Don't tell me it is an opportunity to get people listening to their music so they can find Christ; because if so they would put a message for Christ in or under the video explaining that is why they covered it on YouTube. How can it be anything other than that they actually enjoy her music & aren't that put off by her beliefs (just watch the official video to Firework if you want to see her views) or because they wrote it to receive attention for themselves & not for Christ. I guess it's like their lyrics in Make a Move, "What good are words when this world hurts?" Why use words to get Christ's message out, when you can use the songs of ungodly artists & make a move over to secularism? They said something above that you must admit if you are honest seems hypocritical in light of making the Roar video- "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." How can this band say "Our heart breaks for them and we want them to realize the gravity of what it is that they are doing." and then turn around & condone it by promoting their songs. I used to like their music, but I can't anymore as I just don't understand & nothing you say can justify or explain it. They say you should challenge the culture, but they have become one with it by this & I say they should be challenged & I pray for them to see this & come apart & be separate & for the rest of you which will of challenge me when you should go to your knees & God's Word about it. Rom 12:2

Posted by Brandi in Southern, IL @ 05:31 on Mar 12 2013

Amazing Group!! I am thankful there are still some Godly role models out there. I was raised upci and still attend a upci church to this day--I don't think it is about denominations it is about a Relationship with Christ and so thankful that these young men are not afraid to stand up for what we believe and to share the Gospel of Christ with the world--even through music and dance.

Posted by ARB in MN @ 16:50 on Apr 24 2012

I know personally, this group has made me realize that I can listen to music I truly enjoy and be praising God at the same time. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with traditional gospel, hymns, or praise and worship music; and every now and again I enjoy listening to these types of music. But I'm a young adult, a believer for 13 years, and the music I grew up with is very different from what is played on my local Christian radio station. I enjoy praising God with a music that has a beat and rhythm. Also, this type of music is widely accepted among young people, which means young believers might be able to get their friends to listen to it without their peers judging them for listening to that "Jesus-freak" music, high school is hard enough without being ostracized for your beliefs. If even one young believer can convert a friend or peer because of music like this then it's accomplished its goal and you can bet God and all the angels in heaven are rejoicing. Besides, none can know Gods will, he might have put these people on this earth for the specific purpose of forming this band to create this type of music to reach that one person who might not have otherwise been reached.

Posted by Maggie in Houston @ 16:47 on Aug 8 2011

It truly puzzles me how a Pentecostal person can look, act and sing songs such as this. Pentecost has always taught against worldly dancing, mod dress and worldly music and this goes against every teaching. You cannot join the world to reach them. It is sad that there are no longer any Godly examples. Seems all of the Pentecostal youth want to dress, live, talk and act like everyone else in the world. It sincerely disappoints me to see this trend among the Pentecostals, whom I have always looked up to. Where does this young man attend church and how much does he get to go while he is on the road?

Reply by Lynn in Texas @ 23:06 on May 8 2014

I took my children to one of his concerts at my church. Once we got there we were very excited. The music started and everyone began praising and jumping up and down. My son who was to the left of me began to feel sick so we stepped outside and sat in the car. As he was sitting in the back seat I looked at him and his face looked very concerned. I asked him what was wrong and he answered, "I just heard God speak to me." I turned and asked him, "What did you hear?", He replied "God said "they can't be trusted." I then began to question myself and immediately my eyes opened up. Why can't they be trusted? Because they are leading the youth down a very dangerous path, one that leads to the world. After this incidence my children were very saddened that a brother in Christ would go to this extent just to become famous and loved. He definitely wants to be like Michael Jackson in his dance moves. Please Royal Tailor if you read this, there is still time but you have to give up the fame. Don't you know it will be worse off for those who know the truth to lead others down the path of sin. If we are weak then Satan will take down even those who are in the church.

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Reply by Greta @ 01:50 on Dec 10 2013

I am a 12 year old Pentecostal and your comment has deeply upset me. If you so choose to call yourself Christian you should be Christ-like. Your statement that "Pentecost has always taught against worldly dancing, mod dress and worldly music and this goes against every teaching" has a small ring of truth. We are taught to dance for god, dress modestly and sing no songs of the devil. God created everyone equal and the bible says, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." (Matthew 7:1-5 KJV). You have judged these young men harshly with a mote in your eye, I pray, that you cast it out.

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Reply by Krys in tx @ 11:13 on Feb 7 2012

This is an old comment so I dont know if you will even recieve this but i read ur message and was absolutely mortified. Pentecastol is NOT going to save anyone, it is just a man made religion. When Jesus told the desciples drop your nets he didnt say drop your nets and follow the Pentecastols he say drop your nets and follow me. The Bible teaches us to be modest not that we HAVE TO HAVE OUR SKIRTS TO THE FLOOR AND SHIRTS TO OUR CLAVICLE AND SLEEVES TO OUR ELBOWS. And even with that said in Pentecost different states has differ standards. And who are u to say whats worldly dancing to God and praise to him? I think you forgot the scripture that say JUdge not lest ye be JUdge. I Pray that you can really realize what u say before u put it. U never know how God has used these AWESOME young men who served Christ in many forms and fashion as well as went to IBC and had growth and learning. its about the world of God ! NOT religion. relationship with Christ, yes the body to but the body does NOT tare up someone like u just have . I dont know if ur young and nieve or simply old and stuck in ur ways but i Pray you open ur eyes to whawt God says in his word .

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Posted by KL in KY @ 02:46 on Aug 3 2011

I think there is a lot of back in forth from this band. For example the song control talks about breaking away from pop culture and takes hits at famous pop artists but then they dance like these artists. How is that being different from the world or Christ like?? Please dont say David danced because I am pretty sure he did not have a choreographer that danced with Brittany Spears, Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, etc… It’s okay to bash these artists but compare yourself to maroon five which mainly sings about sex. Talented yes…but there are too many contradictions in what they say and what they do.

Reply by ARB in MN @ 16:42 on Apr 24 2012

I'm sorry but I don't think there is anything wrong with the way this band performs or dances. For starters, they didn't compare themselves to Maroon 5, the interviewer did. Secondly, to be Christ-like means to act and do things like Christ would do them. Christ was out in the trenches so to speak, if R.T. can reach more young kids by dancing the way they dance, then showing them a whole new world away from all the sex, drugs and drinking; then let them dance a little hip-hop every now and again. They are setting themselves apart from their mainstream counterparts by how they live faith/Christ-filled lives everyday. They are reaching the un-reached by appealing to kids that enjoy that kind of music and maybe don't listen to anything else. Third, to say that these people are essentially hypocritical just because they dance the same way kids now a days dance is ridiculous. You're right, David didn't dance the same way as Brittany Spears or Justin Beiber, but you can sure bet he was dancing the same way as everybody else of his time.

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Posted by Debbie Sneddon in Paducah, KY @ 18:59 on Jul 6 2011

Loving me some Royal Tailor, love the CD, speaks so much truth!!!!

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