SALIVA – Only the Sickest Survive

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During the height of the nu-metal wave in the early 2000’s, a few bands stood tall above the rest and provided rock fans with something unique. Keeping their long record of success going last year with the release of their album, Love, Lies & Therapy, veteran rockers Saliva are one of those rejuvenated musical forces. The platinum-selling band is responsible for some of the most recognizable hooks in mainstream and active rock.

With Bobby Amaru on vocals, Brad Stewart (formerly of Shinedown) on bass, coupled with the talents of original members Paul Crosby on drums and Wayne Swinny on guitars, Saliva offers a unique blend of angsty hard rock and hip-hop.

Formed in Memphis, TN back in 1996, Saliva’s double-platinum-selling sophomore album Every Six Seconds, released in 2000, spawned the singles Your Disease and Click Click Boom. Their follow-up effort, 2002’s Back Into Your System, produced the hit Always, which peaked at No. 51 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Love, Lies & Therapy, Saliva’s tenth album– which dropped last summer– is the third to feature Amaru on lead vocals, following former vocalist Josey Scott’s 2011 departure from the band.

We recently had the chance to interview with Bobby Amaru about his transition as lead vocalist into the band, the band’s current tour and future plans.

When Amaru joined Saliva in 2011, he had some pretty big shoes to fill when he took over as lead vocalist when Josey Scott exited Saliva after fronting the band for fifteen years. And–  in a moment where fans often become very possessive of their lead singers– Amaru stood his ground, met that resistance head-on, almost using it as a challenge, and was ultimately welcomed into the group. Following his addition to the group, the band quickly became infused with new blood, energy, and spirit.

Bobby Amaru

“Bringing a different energy to the group was all I ever tried to do and make sure we just go out and kill it every night and try to do the old songs justice for the fans who still care about the band… but also, try to put my own stamp on them, as well. Never was I trying to be him or did I want to be him, but being able to get involved in the writing process and the production side and just try to keep the thing going. It’s been great, it’s awesome. It’s just cool, this tour we’re doing now… we’re five shows in. We have a couple days off… We’ve got 20 shows this run and we’re just grinding. But every show has been great so far. All the shows have been awesome. We have a small crew. We have like two guys that pretty much did everything for us, but now we actually have like ten people on the bus. It’s kind of different on this tour. We’re just trying to do the show better than it has been… We want to make it feel like people are getting their money’s worth. In order to do that, it takes more than just one person to set everything up. You gotta have different guys for different things,” Amaru explained.

Last year, Saliva toured alongside seven other early 2000’s heavyweight rock bands, including Trapt, Saving Abel, and Alien Ant Farm. Earlier this year, the band kept themselves busy with a successful run of first- time-ever acoustic performances.

Saliva is currently touring the U.S. on their Only the Sickest Survive tour, which is currently set to run through September—with more dates being added weekly, according to the band’s website.

“There have been a lot of shows outside (our current) tour. The ‘Make America Rock Again’ tour last year was great and that was different and cool to be a part of seven bands that were also pretty much the same era of music so got to make some pretty good memories there and had some good shows,” Amaru recalled. “Being able to go out and play music and just make somewhat of a living doing this, I think it’s great. I just want people who come to our shows to leave feeling like ‘Wow, that was a good rock show. It sounded good.’ And, typically by the end of the set during the shows, I always feel like we win them over. I always feel like those last five songs of the set are just like knock-outs, so I think that helps, a lot because it only takes one song to build a set and be like ‘Oh, oh, let’s go get a beer now or go outside for a minute,’ but being able to keep them drawn in and to be able to keep people’s attention is excellent. That’s what I kind of do.”

Saliva has acquired a pretty impressive resume of tour-mates throughout their near-20-year career– having toured the USA and the world with bands including (but not limited to) Sevendust, Aerosmith, and KISS. They’ve also appeared on the main stage at countless fairs, festivals and bike rallies – Sturgis, Rockin’ the Rivers, Daytona Bike Week, Rock on the Range, Welcome to Rockville.

Although Amaru currently serves as Saliva’s lead vocalist, he’s no one-trick pony. Like many musicians, Amaru has not only dabbled in—but mastered— several musical instruments. He has also drawn inspiration from some of the music industry’s most notable musicians, which has helped hone his performance skills when it comes to live shows.

“I was a drummer so I didn’t really like, think about… I like everything. I play drums and I play guitar. My dad was a guitar player, my grandad was a singer. So I think I was just such a big fan of music out of the womb,” said Amaru. “There was like Sabbath and Ozzy and even like, one of the greatest frontmen was Dee Snyder from Twisted Sister. That dude was on it when he played so people like that were interesting to watch as a kid because they looked like superheroes. Like Motley Crue, you look at their old videos and what kid didn’t think that they were cool? I think that has a lot to do with it but as I got older and I got into the whole 90’s stuff like the Alice in Chains and Soundgarden and all that, it changes your perspective of music. I’d say, as a frontman, it’s a lot of people that inspire you. It’s probably a little bit of this from that era and maybe a little bit of that. I don’t want to compare myself to anybody because I’m not them… but I think being influenced by all sorts of genres is what it’s all about.”

Longtime fans and new fans alike will have something to look forward to during the band’s most recent stream of live shows, according to Amaru, who says the band focuses on both their latest hits and the established fan-favorites during their set-list.

“As far as challenges go, it comes down to just being able to keep the wheels on the bus rolling and just hope you don’t break down somewhere,” Amaru said with a laugh. “With doing five shows in a row, you can’t afford to lose any of those. When it comes to playing in shows, people would think ‘Oh, you just want to play the new stuff.’ Me? No, you gotta give the fans what they want. We have a history with a lot of records and when you look at the sales from those records, you gotta really play mostly all that stuff. I’m the one that makes the set-list. When you think about it, that kind of how you give people what they want. We have shows in July and all of August and most of September, too. I know they’re putting all that together.”

For a full list of the band’s upcoming shows, visit Saliva’s website.

While the band has been called in all different directions throughout 2017, with an extensive number of live shows, Saliva has still managed to find time to put their music writing skills to work, according to Amaru—a fact which will very likely strike excitement into the hearts of their fans.

“August is pretty much booked and we’re still doing a bunch of stuff out West… and then we’ve been working on new music so we’ve got about eight or nine songs done that are in the process of being mixed. We’ve just been working on that, we’re in a transition right now where we’ll probably sign a new deal and we’ll have a release a single either by the end of the year or early next year,” said Amaru.

The group is currently writing for their latest record and optimistic a new track to be released late August 2017.
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