Legendary Rock Interviews: Q & A with Saliva’s Bobby Amaru

By John Parks

Platinum rockers Saliva burst out of the Memphis, Tenn., area to national success in 2001 with their second album, Every Six Seconds, and a series of chart-topping follow-ups. The band regrouped with new singer Bobby Amaru after original lead singer Josey Scott split to pursue a Christian music career a few years back and are set to release their latest album, Rise Up, April 29, and play a show here in Rockford this Sunday, March 30, at Murphy’s Pub, 510 S. Perryville Road. I had a chance to speak with Bobby about it all; read on …

Q: Thanks for talking with us, Bobby. You’ve been the singer for Saliva for a couple of years now and have played lots of gigs. How is the new tour shaping up?

A: We just started this tour, and so far, it’s going great and we can’t wait to see everyone again and have everyone get a chance to hear the new album.

Q: Bands have famously changed lead singers with various degrees of success over the years. Do you think it says a lot about the resiliency or character of the band that the other guys in Saliva decided to carry on with a new lead singer?

A: When you go to a show, most people connect with the lead singer because they’re connecting with the lyrics and all that, and sometimes it’s hard for some people to understand that there is a band around that singer — a band that’s been doing that music and living that life right along with that lead singer. Also, the thing about Josey is, it wasn’t like he was fired, he quit. He chose to leave the band, and you can’t fault the guy for that, just like you can’t fault the band for wanting to move on and keep the rock and roll thing going.

Q: Or blame you for taking the job or being yourself …

A: No , no, it’s just one of those things, man. We are Saliva, we love to play rock and roll, and this is what we do for a living and the fans have been and continue to be awesome to us and are the whole reason we do this — they are amazing.

Q: Obviously, you’re excited to have new music come out, but as a performer, is it a luxury to have the catalog and familiar radio tracks in the set every night?

A: Always, always.

Q: Good choice of words there.

A: It’s true, though. … There’s always those songs that can save a show, you know. There are always those songs that everyone has to hear. But from front to end, we try to have a high-energy show with nothing but highlights. That’s always the goal every night, whether we’re playing for 10,000 people or a hundred. I put on the same show and give it my all every single night because everyone deserves it.

Q: I heard good things about you from another writer who saw the band when you first joined. Do you feel considerably more comfortable as time has gone on?

A: Absolutely. Very much so. Obviously, I’ve been around these guys for some time now and have tons of shows under my belt, and it’s all become second nature, really, to me now. The challenge is in doing the new stuff. The old stuff is so second nature to us that now we are finding ways of adjusting the set and doing some of the new stuff. It’s fun, and we’re all getting more comfortable as a band as time has gone on. We’re definitely in a groove.

Q: The band worked with producer Bobby Huff before, right?

A: They did. They did some writing with him for the last album, Under Your Skin, in 2011. We were on the bus one night towards the end of 2012 and we were trying to figure out who we’re gonna go with for this next album, and we knew that we really wanted someone who could vibe with us in the studio and get in a room with us and a guitar and just bounce ideas around to try and create the best songs possible of this record. They were playing me some demos that they had done with Bobby Huff, and I was like, “Man, this sounds great … and the songs are great, everything’s good.” And he’s a Nashville guy with some really good credits on some good songs. We thought that would be the better route for a change, instead of going with some producer who’s just going to change all our songs and say, “Nope, you gotta do everything my way.” We were like, “No, we’re gonna make a record the way we wanna make it, so let’s just focus on the songwriting.” Every song, regardless of where it started from or came from, we all worked on it and made it what it is on Rise Up.

Q: Have you gotten your health and routine down to a science as far as dealing with the grind of being on the road for long periods of time?

A: (laughs). I don’t think anyone gets it down to a science, really, because when you’re out here on the road, it’s hard to live like you would at home. You’re in a different city every day. Some places you play in will have restaurants next door where they’re making you all kinds of really good food that might not be the best for you, but you just try to eat the best you can. You try to keep things as healthy as possible, but I have a tendency to enjoy Crown Royal a little bit too much at times (laughs). I can’t drink too much because it messes with my voice. I actually have heard a lot of singers say that when they stopped drinking it really did make their voice better or stronger. I don’t smoke or anything, and I try to take my vitamins and a Tic Tac every now and then to make sure everything’s good.

Q: Does it sometimes get difficult relationship-wise or family-wise being out on the road?

A: It can. I mean, I’m a dad, I’ve got two kids, we all have kids and, of course, it becomes hard at times when we’re away from them. But everyone knows this is what we do, this is the life we choose, playing rock and roll, and also this is how we provide for our families.

Q: And now, with the new album release and the weather warming up, I imagine you’ll be playing a lot of the big summer festivals. Are those big outdoor shows a lot of fun for you?

A: Every show is fun for me, but yeah, the outdoor shows in nice weather are always a good time. We have a lot of shows coming up this year and are gonna be very busy it seems for the next 20 years or so (laughs).

Posted March 25, 2014

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