Bobby Amaru replaced longtime Saliva singer Josey Scott, teaming up with guitarist Wayne Swinny, bassist Dave Novotny and drummer Paul Crosby on their latest release and 8th studio album Rise Up. Catching up with Bobby, we discussed his settling into Saliva and got a little personal. Read on to find out a few more things about the Saliva frontman, pick up their new album, Rise Up, on April 29th, and catch Saliva at Rothbury in June.
Author Marisa Williams: What is your home town, and is that where you live now?
Saliva: Jacksonville, FL; yea.
Marisa: As I do quite a bit of travel writing, I have to ask, as a Florida boy, what is your favorite place in Florida, and for those looking to do Florida travel, is there any place you'd suggest as a must-see?
Saliva: The beaches are really nice down south. I really like Clearwater. All those places are really cool. You got the amusement parks and touristy stuff, but I still find myself going to Islands of Adventure, and I'll probably take my kids to Disney at some point this year.
Marisa: How did you get started in music? Did you come from a musical family? What were your biggest musical influences?
Saliva: I got into music really early, like three years old. My grandfather was in music, a singer, and my dad was a guitar player, so a lot of the 80's hair band stuff. As far as influences, I was influenced by Headbanger's Ball and a lot of those bands. As you get older, you like other stuff; I got into like Alice In Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Pantera, Oasis and Brit Pop Rock, too.
Marisa: Stepping into replace another singer, I'm sure you had a lot of lyrics to learn along the way. Did you have any tricks to learning the songs? Do you feel comfortable with all the songs on all their albums, are there some that you are still learning, and did you have any issues trying to match pitch?
Saliva: Not really. Obviously the band has a whole catalog, but we're only playing the most popular songs and the new stuff, but it wasn't really... I can't say that it wasn't, because it's always challenging, but I just came in, wanted to do my thing, and not really change it. I'd hate to see a band I like butchering my favorite song. I just put my stamp on it.
Marisa: Did you feel any pressure, stepping in to fill the former singer's shoes?
Saliva: Once again, you always want people to like what you're doing. You just can't come in; you have to be yourself, not try to be the other person. That's where a lot of bands fail when they get a new singer, as they try to fill the shoes, but you have to bring your own thing to the table, like AC/DC, or Van Halen did. I mean, David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar are two totally different singers. You try to do the band justice, keep the sound, but try to evolve, try to reach a wider audience. There's lots of energy going on right now.
Marisa: How did the name of the album come about, and does it at all reflect you rising up to the task of fronting a Grammy nominated band?
Saliva: Basically, Rise Up is a statement record. We definitely know that you have to go out and prove yourself; there's only one way off the mountain, and that's down. Bands lose sight as to why they started, why they got popular, so we got back to basics, real rock and roll. The song writing was super important. We knew if we didn't have great songs, we didn't have shit. We knew the importance of Rise Up. It had to have everything, new stuff, old stuff, and stuff the band has not branched out to. We didn't want it to be stale. We want it to have that flow.
Marisa: Do you play any instruments, and if so how old were you when you learned to play them?
Saliva: I started playing drums about three, started guitar at 11, got into kinda playing around on the piano and other things. Singing was the one that came later. Kinda playing cover stuff on an acoustic guitar at a party, people kept saying I should sing, and that was kinda it.
Marisa: What was your first concert that you attended, and how did that compare to the first concert that you played?
Saliva: I was like five. My first concert was White Snake in 1988, and Bad English was opening for them. It was in Columbia, SC. How it compared to my first concert, well, my first wasn't until middle school, like 8th grade. We were a 3-piece, and we got to play the prep rally in front of about 500 kids. It was awesome. We were probably terrible, but at that age, it didn't matter.
Marisa: What was the first album you purchased?
Saliva: That's probably too hard to answer. My dad was a vinyl collector, so he had everything. I just remember looking at covers that looked cool to me and connected like that. Iron Maiden, Ozzy, and stuff that looked like comic books or horror movies, I really got into. I grew up with Nightmare on Elm Street, stuff like that. With Shout at the Devil and Twisted Sister, they looked like super heroes. I was into all that.
Marisa: How do you go about writing music? What comes first for you: drums, guitars, vocals or something else? Has the process of writing changed for you over the years at all?
Saliva: For me, it's always started with a riff, concept idea, writing vocals after that. You strum something, get a melody, get the lyrics, or come up with a cool song title, and base the song off that, too. With the band, it just clicked. Rise Up was a song I had in my head already. I knew it had to be arena rock football sounding riff. When the riff came, got the groove and started drawing out lyrics.
Marisa: What is your favorite musical technique?
Saliva: I just love the art of it, the creative process. That's really it. Music is the only thing I know how to do. I can't change a tire on a car. It's definitely an art, something not everyone can do, so that's technique enough. Of course, Wayne has a whammy bar, and when he uses it, that's awesome to do a dive down every now and then.
Marisa: What for you is the coolest thing on your latest album, as far as musical technique goes?
Saliva: We have a song called 'A Thousand Eyes,' and that riff is the most sickening thing ever, it's just so cool. We did a lyric video for it, and it has clips of zombies in it, and its really cool.
Marisa: What is the scariest thing about being on the road?
Saliva: Right now, being in Billings, Montana, because there's a bunch of weirdos. You're in a different city everyday, and you don't know if you're in a safe part of town or not. It's what we do, but scary. You're life is in the hands of a bus driver. Nothing is safe out here, at all. Have life insurance.
Marisa: I can definitely feel you on that. I toured on Ozzfest in 2002, so that was a whole eye-opening experience for me.
Saliva: Did you just ride on a bus, or?
Marisa: No, I actually worked on the tour. It sounds bad, but I was what they called a Harley Girl, so there was a bus, but since I had a decent driving record, I actually had to drive between a couple tour stops, too, driving one of the trucks, not the bus, which ensured that my laptop and camera were safe, as I was a journalist back then, too, and had all my equipment with me. Things could get shady, so yeah, it was interesting, but getting back to you, what has been your best, or worst, tour moment?
Saliva: There's been a lot of great tour moments, being able to share the stage with cool bands, popular bands, that's amazing. We played Sturgis with Candlebox, and I got to sing on stage with them, so that was awesome. Getting to meet a lot of cool people is fun. We're going to Abu Dabi at the end of May. I'm sure I'll be able to add that to the list. We're doing a military U.S. base, and I feel safe with them for sure. You go anywhere outside of America, and there's money to be made; there's a demand for it.
Marisa: What's your favorite way to travel and why?
Saliva: My favorite way to travel is obviously a bus, as far as touring goes. I'm not afraid of planes too much, think it's safe, but the thought of being locked up somewhere, like that disappearing flight from Malaysia... It's definitely by a bus.
Marisa: What's your favorite place to travel to, and is there anywhere you have not been to that you would like to go to?
Saliva: I really, really want to go to like Amsterdam or visit the world. Japan would be cool, Australia... We're going to do a lot of overseas stuff, so hopefully I'll be able to visit those places. I go to Nashville a lot, so I like to do work out of there and stuff, too.
Marisa: What's your biggest musical fantasy?
Saliva: I would probably like to have been the drummer for Led Zeppelin back in the 70s, like in Wembley Stadium in 1975. That'd be awesome.
Marisa: I have a couple personality questions that I ask everyone. They might sound like hogwash, but I promise, there is a psychological basis to the answers ;-) First, if you were an unicorn, and you could be any color but white, what color would you be and would you have any special powers?
Saliva: I would be a blue unicorn, and my special power would be to teleport to anywhere I wanted.
Marisa: If you were yogurt, what flavor would you be, and how would you be served?
Saliva: Definitely strawberry banana, for sure, and I would definitely be served just like any yogurt is.
Marisa: Any advice for musicians starting out?
Saliva: My advice is really to surround yourself with positive people, who are driven and share the same passion that you do. That makes for the most successfully bands.
Marisa: Where can people find more and connect with the band?
Marisa: Closing thoughts and additional comments?
Saliva: The new record will be out April 29th. The Saliva fans are why we doing this; without the fans, we have nothing. I really feel we put our heart and soul into this record, and I hope people can connect to it.
The author of more than 100 books, Marisa Williams earned her Master's in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University. For more by Marisa, visit www.lulu.com/spotlight/thorisaz. Follow her at www.twitter.com/booksnbling.