Bobby Amaru harbors no illusions that Saliva fans are going to forget at the snap of a finger the only singer the band had for 15 years till he came along. But Amaru also knows he can only control his actions and talent behind the mic -- that everything else is inconsequential.
As long as the band's devoted followers give forthcoming CD Rise Up a chance, many are likely to find themselves firmly in Amaru's corner. And the rest should take care of itself.
The April 29 disc via Rum Bum Records includes 12 solid songs with Saliva's new vocalist, who joined the fold after original singer Josey Scott left the band. But unlike with a lot of groups, moaning and groaning over a change in vocalists would not best serve Saliva faithful. Amaru, who also plays rhythm guitar, puts his stamp on the material while at times sounding like Scott, who is more than a decade older.
San Antonians don't have to wait for the CD's arrival to judge for themselves. Saliva (Amaru, original lead guitarist Wayne Swinny, original bassist Dave Novotny and drummer Paul Crosby) will be at Backstage Live a week from tonight (details at bottom). Click on the band photo at the top to get a taste of the band in the recording studio.
Amaru, 30, phoned the SAMME last week to talk about it:
Q: Bobby, I've gotta be honest with you, and I know you're dealing with this a lot, but when a band changes singers for a guy who's been there originally and been there for 15 years, I'm sure a lot of fans have come across with a lot of skepticism. For me, the first time I heard this album, I was like, "Wow! This is solid all the way through." Every subsequent listen proves to me that every song is really strong. So I congratulate you for that. Do you feel every attention to detail and energy from the four of you guys has been transferred onto this record?
A: Oh, absolutely. We knew before we made the record, it was almost kind of like going back to the drawing board, like with the first record. We knew that we had to put everything into it. So we wrote a lot. There's a couple songs that were already written, but for the most part, we wrote as a band. We knew the direction we were trying to go. We weren't really trying to play it safe, I guess. We just really wanted to deliver good, solid rock songs, make sure there was depth.
Q: I know you joined in late 2012 thereabouts, but the record coming out April 29 will be the first time that many will have heard you. Approximately how many shows have you played with the guys, and do you still feel like the new guy?
A: Actually, I joined in 2011 -- December. We started touring February 2012. We toured all of that year. We signed our deal with Rum Bum. We started recording early 2013, and then we hit the road all last year too. We're about to do it all again with the record coming out. The new guy? No, not really, because I've probably done about, I would say 300 shows, maybe. Yeah. We've done a lot of shows. There's been a lot of really good ones. It's really just going out and proving yourself, show the people who are fans of Saliva that this band is still alive and kicking and trying to take it to that next level. We're not trying to give up or backtrack. We never want to backtrack. We're moving forward.
Q: I believe one of those shows was in Helotes last November at a place called Josabi's, not too far from here. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it, but does anything stick out from that one?
A: I do remember playing that one. Yeah, that was fun, man. All the shows in Texas are always fun that we do. I think it's one of Saliva's good markets.
Q: I think you have strong traces of Josey's sound without being a 100 percent clone, and your bandmates have said you put your own spin on the older tracks. How much of a challenge is it for you to strike that balance?
A: He and I have two different voices, two different people. It's really just doing my thing on it. I don't scrape too far away from what's done, you know what I mean? I think I do the songs justice to where people can tell the difference. I'm not trying to change the song melodies or anything like that. I just kind of came in and made them as if they were my own.
Q: I'm not going to debate whether you're the sexiest member of the band . . . (Bobby laughs; see video at top) . . . but you're definitely injecting some young blood into the band. What do you feel you bring to the table that the previous incarnation may not have had?
A: Probably in the beginning, there was a lot of energy, and everything was really great, and everyone was happy or whatever. That's kind of a formality. You go up one side and down the other. And it just kept going and falling, and I don't really think the guys were considering losing it. You get into Rock N' Roll because it's fun. This business can really f--- with you to make you literally want to kill yourself at times. That's just kind of the way it is. It's a sad thing, the way it is. But I think what we're doing now is definitely a brand new energy, as far as what I bring into the band as well, bringing a young aspect as well. It's something that they wanted. They definitely didn't want to get someone that was too young or too old, I think. Just finding the perfect medium.
Q: You were the drummer for Burn Season. What's the biggest benefit of being knowledgeable about drums or another instrument in general that can help you from a vocalist standpoint?
A: I always played drums my whole life. That was my passion growing up. Then I started playing guitar and piano. I just wanted to learn everything. Singing was one of the things that actually came later. I never really knew that I could sing. It wasn't something that I took too serious until maybe about 10 years ago. Well, not at least 10 years ago to get serious, but you know, just kind of jamming covers around campfires and parties with friends, that kind of stuff. I enjoy both. I enjoy entertaining, period. Whether it's on the drums or on the mic. Kind of like the Dave Grohl Syndrome, I'll call it.
Q: Fans have received a taste of the title track to Rise Up, as well as "Redneck Freakshow." For me, I think "In It To Win It" and "No One But Me" are other highlights, and you've shown you can sing the slower stuff such as "Lost," "1000 Eyes" and "Closer." Is there one song on the new record that is the most meaningful to you and why?
A: I would say "Lost." And "1000 Eyes." "Lost," I wrote with a buddy of mine. It was kind of done before we did the record. He went to rehab, and he's been clean four years. Lyrically, overcoming addiction and that whole "lost for the last time" thing. Just waking up and saying, "I'm done with this s---." It doesn't have to be drug-related. It can be relationships or whatever everyday affairs people deal with. But it's definitely one of the songs that I think lyrically, being down and overcoming. And "1000 Eyes," what's cool about that is it's one we wrote after "The Walking Dead" show. A lot of people don't know that, but we had a lyric video done for it that you can see online on YouTube that's pretty cool. Total Rob Zombie-type thing. We wrote that for the show, based off that. That's why "1000 Eyes," it's like, "Where do you get that title from?" Zombies, man!
Q: "She Can Sure Hide Crazy" has the line "I didn't see the psycho coming." I don't know what your writing involvement was for that one, but is that from personal experience or generally speaking?
A: That would be Paul's ex-wife. He just wanted to write a song about her in general, I think. And that fit. It's what we came up with.
Q: When you joined the band, did you have any kind of initiation session or pranks played on you?
A: No, not really. These guys have been doing this, man, for a long time. They've been through their fair share of pranks. Don't get me wrong. Paul, he's a prankster and the joking type. But I don't know if it's in any band's best interest to haze a new singer. It's one thing to haze the drummer or guitar player, but if you start hazing the singer, that's never good because he always has a way to get you back. He will figure out how to get you back. When you go to take that sip of water on stage, and it's filled with nothing but vodka . . . those are the things.
Q: Speaking of vodka, how much rum do you guys get from Rum Bum?
A: Ha! I don't know if I can answer that. No -- basically, the guy who owns the label, Luis, he's from a Bacardi family. Obviously, there have been times where they've come out on the road where we're at, and they'll go to the store, and they'll go buy like, all Bacardi products. We're more, I would say, beer and Crown types.
Well, Bobby, I thank you for taking the time. I'm really excited for you guys to get this record out and live shows, especially here in Texas, because I think this is a really solid record. You've been a terrific addition to the band, and I know there's good things going forward for you guys, and I wish you luck.
Yeah, thank you, man, appreciate it!
- WHO: Saliva with Last We Fall, The Taking, All Sides Equal
- WHEN: Wed. March 12 (doors 7 p.m.)
- WHERE: Backstage Live (1305 E. Houston St.)
- TICKETS: $15 advance, buy here.
For more exclusive SAMME interviews with new singers who recently joined their bands, and other related Saliva coverage, click on the "Suggested" links in blue below.
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