For the guys of the Nashville-based Blacklist Royals, 2012 was a bad year.
“2011 was really good for us,” said Nat Rufus, lead singer and guitarist, noting the group was coming off its debut disc and the Warped Tour. “And then 2012 happened. We had all these new songs written and the plan was to go in and record the new record, and stuff just started to not go great.”
For starters, the Royals’ guitar player quit after they played the South by Southwest music festival. Recording issues followed, as did “an absolutely brutal tour” of Europe for two months.
“Everything just kind of fizzled out,” Rufus said.
But things have been looking up in 2013. After that ill-fated tour, the Royals regrouped and hired new members, including Oklahoma City’s Brad Blanco on guitar. The new lineup will kick off its latest — and hopefully easier — tour Saturday night at VZD’s.
“It’s the same band name, but with new blood and life breathed into it, with Dirk (Mathews, bassist) and I stepping up and just re-igniting that fire,” Blanco said. “We were really wanting to hit it hard in 2013, and I think we got the right package of guys together to accomplish just that.”
As the band preps the release of its latest record, Die Young with Me, Rufus is quick to say that while fans still will hear the Royals’ “Americana punk rock” live, the new album reflects their growing sound.
“Over the years, we’ve expanded our sound and the new record definitely has a couple of familiar sounds, but it’s also definitely all over the place and really something new,” Rufus said. “We’re always gonna be a punk-rock band; we have our fast aggressive songs; but, especially on the new record, we’ve branched out and tried a lot of new, different things.”
According to him, Saturday’s show will be the most special of the tour.
“We got two OKC dudes that I’ve been friends with a long time playing in the band now. It’s their first show actually with the band. It’s their hometown show and it’s going to be a good tour kickoff,” Rufus said. “It’s going to be a good time — just laid-back. So come out and say ‘good-bye’ now, because those guys will not be back until July.”