WHEN VOCALIST JOSEY SCOTT ANNOUNCED HIS departure from Saliva in 2011 after a 15-year run, the end seemed nigh. “We were all thinking that the band might be done,” recalls founding member Dave Novotny. “We went to our storage unit to clean out all of our amps and drum sets that had built up over the years, and at the end, I was like, ‘Maybe we should leave just enough to go out on tour—just in case we find a singer.’” A couple of weeks later, Novotny and the remaining members of Saliva were auditioning singer Bobby Amaru, who’d been recommended by one of their former lighting techs. “He sounded great,” attests Novotny, “so we got him on board.” With Amaru in the fold, they recorded In It to Win It in 2012. In one fell swoop, Saliva did the seemingly impossible— it changed singers without skipping a beat.
Saliva was formed in Memphis, Tennessee in 1996, but really burst onto the scene in 2001 with its Island Records debut, Every Six Seconds, which featured the single “Click Click Boom.” Along with bands like Slipknot, P.O.D., and Drowning Pool, Saliva was at the forefront of the nu-metal movement. Produced by Papa Roach/3 Doors Down/Tim Finn producer Bobby Huff, the band’s latest release, Rise Up, is chock full of Saliva’s signature motifs—big hooks, guitar swagger, and plenty of low end from Novotny. From the immediacy of the title track and the slow build of “Choke” to the rollicking “Redneck Freakshow,” Novotny’s bass kicks hard and the band seems reenergized.
Rise Up appears to be a re-release of last year’s In It to Win It minus a few songs. What was the reasoning behind that?
When we first released In It To Win It, our new label, Rum Bum, didn’t have distribution, so it was just an online release. Once they got distribution in place, we decided to give it a proper release.
Rum Bum is an indie label. Are there any benefits to being with an indie, versus Island, which is a “major” label?
There is a lot more freedom with Rum Bum. They just let us be us, whereas Island was always making suggestions about who we should be.
The music industry has changed a lot since Saliva’s inception in the late ’90s. What are some of the challenges a band like Saliva faces nowadays?
It’s a constant re-evaluation of where we are and where we need to go and what we need to do to get there. Mp3 downloads and Spotify seem to hurt album sales. Who’s going to buy an album when you can pay less than the cost of a single album and have access to 20 million records or whatever it is? Also, all the festivals that have popped up in the last few years can hurt ticket sales for individual bands like us that are out on tour. It’s a rough world out there these days.
It seems like you’ve become more involved in the songwriting process recently, particularly as the lineup has morphed.
I always wrote songs, but my stuff was often a little “out there,” especially for Saliva. Over time I’ve learned to temper my writing a little more towards mainstream and radio. It’s always a fine line between doing that and trying to remain true to oneself.
Do you write on bass?
I usually write on acoustic guitar.
So were you a guitar player in a previous life?
I actually started out on drums, went to guitar, and then to bass. It’s been a strange learning process because I still think in terms of guitar. Things that I naturally hear don’t work that well on bass, so it’s a bit of a fight to strike a balance between the two.
Does that battle get sorted out in the writing or recording process?
I pretty much know what I’m going to do once we get to tracking, but occasionally something will come up in the moment, in the studio. My strategy is quite simple: I just keep on trying different things until I find something that works.
Sliva recently played Dubai for American troops stationed overseas. Do experiences like that continue to motivate you to tour?
Of course! But the main thing is that we just love to play and have that connection with the fans. Even if the band falls apart, I’d still play and write songs at home and do something, maybe try to produce. I just love music.
Saliva, Rise Up [Rum Bum]
Bass Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay
Rig Ampeg SVT-VR head & 810AV 8x10 cabinet
Strings, etc Stainless steel DR MR-45 Hi- Beams, Avalon U5 DI