Royal Southern Brotherhood Get Funky With 'They Don't Make 'Em Like You': Exclusive Song Premiere
Losing two high-profile guitarists would torpedo most bands. But Cyril Neville feels his Royal Southern Brotherhood is, if anything, even stronger with the new tandem attack of Bart Walker and Tyrone Vaughan (Jimmie's son and Stevie Ray's nephew) in place for founding members Mike Zito and Devon Allman on RSB's upcoming third studio album, Don't Look Back.
"We wanted to just let people know that this is a band and we intend to keep this train rolling," Neville tells Billboard about working on the album, which is available for download on May 26 and on CD June 9. "Everything had question marks around it. After (Zito and Allman) it was not so much a question of 'Who?' but 'With who?' We knew we were going to keep moving forward. There never was a time that we thought it was going to completely go away; it was just a little anxiety of not really knowing who those people would be."
Neville was introduced to Walker, and he says it was an immediate fit. "I sent him a couple ideas and the first (song) he sent back was Don't Look Back, and my soul rejoiced," Neville recalls. "I know then that I had a kindred spirit." He adds that "They Don't Make 'Em Like You," whose lyrics were inspired by Neville's wife, is a case study in how he and Walker work. "He would send me these 12-bar snippets, and as soon as I would hear them I'd be like, 'OK, man, let's flesh this out' and he'd stretch it out and that's how that and a few of the other songs happened," Neville says. "That (song) in particular, I loved it 'cause it had that James Brown feel to it. I'd just been watching that James Brown movie (Get On Up), so I was totally in the mood for that."
Listen to "They Don't Make 'Em Like You," which Billboard is exclusively premiering below.
Neville says he's also happy that the Don't Look Back album -- produced by Tom Hambridge and recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala. -- "has a lot of different types of grooves and different types of pockets we established that shows the depth of the musicianship. Not that we didn't have that before, but there was just a different style, a different feel in it. This kind of took a sharp turn towards the kind of funk and more groove-oriented things. This record has that feel to it that you can tell it was a band record. You can tell from the fatness of the grooves and the deepness of the pocket this was a labor of love for everybody, with the determination this was going to be the best Royal Southern Brotherhood record so far. You can tell from the performance we were having big fun."
RSB is currently on the road, with an itinerary of mainly festival dates booked into October, with a couple of shows slated for that month in Australia as well. "This (lineup) kicks it pretty good live still," Neville says, "and we're only getting better the more we play together. I don't think anybody who sees us is going to be disappointed."