“I’m stir-crazy by nature,” says Saving Abel/A New Rebel guitarist Jason Null. “A month at home and literally I’m writing music in my head from the minute I get up until I go to sleep. The wheels are always turning and it’s healthy for me to keep working.”
When Saving Abel finally took a break from their seemingly endless tour schedule, Null found himself with time on his hands and a desire to create. “Any good thing will eventually be bad for you,” he reasons, “and when we’re home, even if we have the urge to call each other and jam, it’s impossible because everyone goes separate ways. So it’s healthy to do other things not necessarily having to do with the band that we're involved with.”
Instead, Null gathered former Day Of Fire/Full Devil Jacket vocalist Josh Brown and former Saliva guitarist Jonathan Montoya to lay the groundwork for A New Rebel, a project that he began recording at producer Skidd Mills’ Sound Kitchen studio in Franklin, Tenn., in late fall 2010. Full Devil Jacket bassist Kevin Bebout and drummer Keith Foster finalized the lineup earlier this year.
“Jonathan and I were friends long before Saving Abel and Saliva,” says Null. “We’ve been in contact throughout the years. I got word that he left Saliva and I hadn’t called in to check on him, which I should have done. I was going to go into the studio to record my own songs during the winter, and I thought about Jon and how I’ve always wanted to do something together. I called him and he seemed in good spirits. We both said, “Do you want to get together and jam?” We talked about who we’d like to have sing. Jon and Josh were in Full Devil Jacket years ago. I love Josh’s voice; he’s the poster child for metal rock and roll. We saw an opportunity. We’re all Southern boys who live 40 minutes away from each other. Jonathan lives in Jackson, Tennessee, which is 45 minutes north of me, and Josh lives in Nashville, which is a common meeting place, so it made sense for us to get this started. There was no pressure to release an album, no pressure from a label, it’s all on our terms and there’s nothing to overcome, so it’s a very relaxed mood and everything flows.”
There was speculation that music from A New Rebel would be available shortly before last Christmas, but the search for the right rhythm section caused some delays and by the beginning of 2011, Saving Abel was back on the road.
In February, says Bebout, he and Foster were rehearsing Full Devil Jacket when they got together with Null and were “absorbed into A New Rebel. We wrote six songs in two days, and our first rehearsal lasted eight or nine hours. The second one went on for six.” With fans waiting for music, Bebout notes, “We’ve got five songs recorded and we’re looking to master in the next few weeks. The main thing is getting the songs to radio.” After that, he says, “It’s world domination!”
The band’s sound, says Null, is heavier than Saving Abel. “We want to hit hard with good rock and roll with an edge. I’m not saying that’s never been done, but these are different types of songs with a different sound.”
Once again, Null finds himself in a two-guitar band, which he enjoys. “Recording guitars with Jon is very easy,” he says. “His words to me were, ‘You write and I’ll learn it later.’ Everybody has their way of working together. As far as our styles, Jon and I actually play a lot alike. We sat with our acoustics and traded licks back and forth, and we could tell that we grew up with the same stuff. There wasn’t one riff either one of us played that was weird to pick up on. It works well for us.”
Null’s approach to the instrument doesn’t change much with A New Rebel, save for perhaps turning up the volume. He’s using the same setup that has become his standard with Saving Abel. “I’m recording dry into the board with my PRS guitars,” he says, “and getting a thicker sound with a singlecut, like I use onstage, whereas in the studio I used a singlecut with a tremolo. I’m endorsed by Diamond Amps, and I’m always happy to bring them in and fire them up. As far as my playing, I’m getting back to my roots. I’m a riff player by nature; I come up with them naturally and it’s fun to get back to that. I grew up playing guitar and I remember when I would waylay on my mom and dad to go to the grocery store on Sunday evenings so I could turn up my amp. I’ve never listened to only one genre of music, so you’ll hear diverse sounds in this band, but it’s heavier and more raw. It’s an interesting change for all of us.”
Lest there be any concerns, A New Rebel’s members aren’t walking out on their other projects. Full Devil Jacket is alive and well, as is Bebout’s other band, the humorcore group Holy Crap.
Null, of course, has no plans to leave Saving Abel. “It’s my baby,” he says. “We are not breaking up. I am not leaving. I got the ball rolling on that project. I found Jared and it was a blessing that he wasn’t already taken. It would require blood, sweat and tears for me to leave that band.”
Learn more about A New Rebel by visiting the band's Facebook page.