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Sometimes when you’re a chart-topping hard rock band, you have to be prepared for your frontman to leave to join the Christian music community. At least that’s what happened to Memphis-based four-piece Saliva. In 2011, after 15 years at the helm, lead vocalist Josey Scott exited the group to pursue a career in solo Christian music.
Many bands would have folded following the loss of their frontman, but Saliva pressed on, bringing singer and percussionist Bobby Amaru on board, not to fill Scott’s shoes per se, but to put his own stamp on the trademark Saliva sound. The band now seems stronger than ever and is currently on the road as part of a veritable who’s who of hard rock tour, “Make America Rock Again,” featuring Trapt, Saving Abel, Alien Ant Farm, Crazy Town, 12 Stones, Tantric, Drowning Pool, Fuel, Puddle Of Mudd and P.O.D.
When Saliva come to Brandt’s Harley Davidson Saturday, August 13, they’ll be the headlining act, taking a stage warmed up by local show openers The Warrior Kings, Gunslinger and The Cosmic Situation. And the show is free.
Saliva got their start back in 1996 when original members Scott, Dave Novotny, Chris D’Abaldo, Wayne Swinny and Paul Crosby competed in the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Grammy Showcase and advanced to the final round. Their strong showing in the competition enabled them to release their self-titled debut which caught the ears of execs at Island Records. It was their big break and the beginning of mainstream success for band.
In 2001, Saliva put out Every Six Seconds, and top singles “Click Click Boom” and “Your Disease” could be heard frequently on hard rock radio. Fans and critics responded well to Saliva’s twist on a melodic metal formula popularized by acts like Nickelback and Cavo, and the very next year Scott and Company released Back into Your System. It was this album that would have the name “Saliva” on everyone’s lips (sorry; we couldn’t help ourselves), mostly because it featured “Always,” arguably Saliva’s most recognizable and beloved tune to date, and “Rest in Peace,” a track penned by M?tley Cr?e’s Nikki Sixx.
A year after that, Saliva were opening for KISS and Aerosmith, having beaten out Mr. White Wedding himself, Billy Idol, for the honors. Do rock n’ roll laurels get greener than that?
Obviously, the dudes from Saliva weren’t done achieving. In 2006, they gave the world Blood Stained Love Story, not to mention the hit “Ladies and Gentlemen,” used by both Playstation and Wrestlemania to promote their separate causes. “Broken Sunday” and “King of the Stereo” also got their fair share of air time.
The course of rock n’ roll never did run smooth, and Saliva suffered some lineup changes during these heady years of fame. D’Abaldo left after a public squabble on the band’s website involving the ever-popular excuse “creative differences,” and eventually Jonathan Montoya came on to replace him. In 2010, Montoya left as well, and Saliva became a quartet.
Those years also saw the dropping of Cinco Diablo, Saliva’s sixth full-length album, and a greatest hits compilation. We know what you’re thinking – a greatest hits album almost always spells “doom” with a capital “D,” but in Saliva’s case, the album came more as a much needed shot in the arm after Scott’s time off for ulcer surgery. Soon Saliva were back in the studio, recording the last album featuring Scott’s vocals, Under Your Skin.
The album contained several singles that climbed the chart and one whose title we can’t print here that made it onto the soundtrack for Saw 3D. Not a bad ending for Scott, whose departure was mourned by the band but understood, too, for what it was – a move forward into new territory for Scott, and not at all a rejection of Saliva’s aesthetic or accomplishments.
Enter Amaru, a Jacksonville, Florida native and the former frontman for Amaru and drummer for Burn Season. In an interview with Anti-Hero magazine, Amaru agreed with the interviewer’s assessment that, since he joined the band in January 2012, they’ve largely dropped their hip-hop edge in favor of more mainstream rock sound, and that that move is particularly evident on the band’s latest album, Love, Lies, and Therapy.
“I don’t think the band was ever a hip-hop band. I think they had songs that had some of those elements in it, but then you listen to ‘Always,’ ‘Rest in Pieces,’ or whatever, and there’s nothing hip-hop to any of those. Even though on this record, there’s a song called ‘Go Big or Go Home,’ and that’s got some rapping stuff in it, that’s the only song on the record like that.”
Love, Lies, and Therapy is the third Saliva album with Amaru as lead singer. He first contributed vocals to the hard-driving In It to Win It, and then to fan favorite Rise Up. For Amaru, joining a band with so much history, being the new guy, in other words, wasn’t necessarily easy.
“It’s always difficult to replace a singer,” he told Anti-Hero. “I think that when I joined the band, it’s almost five years ago, about five years ago, that from then to now it’s like I can tell a big difference. Just in myself, and obviously there’s a confidence level that has raised as well. When I came into the band, I was like I didn’t want to be like the old guy. I wanted to bring my own energy to the band and my own thing to the band. That’s all I tried to do is focus on that and not really think about the negative, or anything else, or any disbeliefs from people. It’s actually been taken well. People dig it. One of the things you have to, I guess, see the band live to realize.”