Tauren Wells has been known for the past 12 or so years as the energetic frontman of cutting-edge pop/rock group Royal Tailor, but now, he wants to be known as a number of things: Father, husband, preacher, teacher, and yes--musician.
Wells has gone solo, effectively ending the Royal Tailor era while kicking off a new musical project that aims to balance the various callings he says God has placed in his life.
On Friday, fans will get to hear the first new music from Wells since 2013, with the brand-new song, "Undefeated" featuring Reach Records' rapper KB. The massively popular YouTube channel Dude Perfect--which has used Royal Tailor music before--got wind of the new music and insisted upon using it for their upcoming "World Records" video releasing Friday.
"We knew that 'Undefeated,' even before we finished writing it, was definitely a song Dude Perfect could use," Wells said in an exclusive interview with NewReleaseToday. "I'm super pumped. It slams. I really feel like it's a strong first move for people to listen and experience [my new music]."
"Undefeated" hits iTunes on Friday, concurrent with the release of Dude Perfect's video featuring the song. Check out a preview clip of the song here:
The hard-hitting, hip-hop tinged track is the first of a new crop of music from the moonwalking, vocal somersaulting artist. Recently re-signed to Provident Label Group as a solo act, Wells is gearing up for a radio single release in August, a six-song EP early this fall and a full-length project in early 2017.
Royal Tailor was a cutting-edge band in Christian music, having yielded two industry-leading pop albums with Black and White and the self-titled Royal Tailor. Mixing pop with rock and shades of R&B, fans of Bruno Mars, Michael Jackson, Maroon 5 and OneRepublic would all find something to love, and something they hadn't heard before.
The group rose to critical acclaim, garnering two GRAMMY nominations, as well as spots on some pretty large national tours, including Winter Jam and the Rock & Worship Roadshow.
"The band was successful, by our measures of success," Wells told NRT. "It was doing well, still growing. I felt like we had just put out our best album. Things were great, relationally, and obviously we're best friends. But to be honest, we were so tired."
Playing around 150 shows per year, Wells--a new father--found the demands of being a hard-climbing full-time touring artist at odds with a growing number of competing callings.
"My primary calling is to be a father in my home, a husband to my wife, to be present. My dad was always present, and I know that's a gift. Another thing I'm called to is my local church. I was so caught up and involved in serving others all over the world that I was missing the opportunity to serve right in my own city. I just got more and more uncomfortable with demands on the road."
Feeling burned out and confused, Wells said he had told one of his mentors that he was ready to stop doing music altogether, but was encouraged to pray and explore what the ideal artist situation could be for his priorities.
"I started thinking and talking with people close to me about reimagining how I could serve people with music and how I balance everything," he said. And that process of thinking and praying led him to a difficult conclusion of ending the Royal Tailor chapter in his life.
"When it came time to make that call, it was really hard, and I think it took the guys by surprise," Wells said. "Obviously that can never go well, but what I can say is that we all certainly want what's best for each other."
Royal Tailor played its last show together in Anchorage, Alaska, on August 6, 2015, and Wells said the only people who knew it was their last show were the four guys on the stage.
"It was so hard--literally, the hardest decision that I've ever had to make," he said. "I really want to emphasize how amazing the Royal Tailor journey was for me. You know, we had known each other since college, so it was a big deal that we were able to do this together, do the things we were able to experience together."
Wells said that while he has heard no plans to keep Royal Tailor going, the three other members of the band have found other creative outlets.
"Where Royal Tailor was at, it was also a good time to use it as a catalyst to step into something new," he said. "And now those guys are playing with country artists and writing songs and Blake [Hubbard] and Jarrod [Ingram] have become this production duo with cuts on NF's new album. They're doing very well making their own paths, and I celebrate that."
In addition to his own solo music, Wells has been busy building a new school of worship with his wife, Lorna, called Prisma, which recently opened its second location in Houston and expects to welcome a record 100 students this upcoming fall semester. Students there write and record original music (check out "UR4Us" on iTunes) and are tutored in the art and disciplines of worship leading, but they also give back, helping a number of churches develop worship teams and music programs.
Since leaving Royal Tailor, Wells also has been a sought-after speaker, preaching at events and churches all over the country--something he wants to continue in this new season.
He and Lorna are also expecting their second son, Lawson, any day now.
"People would ask me all the time how I balanced everything," he recalled. "I hated that question because I had no good answer. Now I'm able to step into a place where I can really fulfill each of those callings in the right way and give each the time they need."
As for touring, Wells says he plans to review each of those opportunities as they come his way, but as a whole, his pace will be far less frantic and demanding than he'd known with Royal Tailor, with a renewed focus on Spirit-led seasons.
Hinting at an upcoming fall tour, Wells said, "When I approach touring, I'm really going to consider the impact it has on my life, my family life and my other responsibilities. I think I'm just going to do it at the right pace. I no longer feel like I have to tour to get ahead; I'll just take the right opportunities at the right time."
Wells said he wants to stay connected to fans and supporters on this new path, asking people to find him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Lately he's been generating a following on live-streaming platform Periscope, where he hosts regular "Tauren Talks."