In the years following its initial formation in 2004, Saving Abel has seen some changes. When former vocalist Jared Weeks made the decision to pursue a solo project last December, vocalist Scotty Austin was asked to step in after his former band opened for Saving Abel. “My band opened for Saving Abel and the next day the manager called and said ‘You’re our new lead singer!’ Of course I said what anyone else would say… ‘Who is this??,” laughed Austin about his initial disbelief at the offer. “Jared had wanted to do a solo project and the guys weren’t done rocking. We’ve been on tour ever since. It’s been a whirlwind!” Lead vocalist Scotty Austin, lead guitarist and backing vocalist Jason Null; rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist Scott Bartlett; bassist and backing vocalist Eric Taylor, and drummer Steven Pulley make up the Saving Abel fans know today.
Of course, these changes brought a period of adjustment for Saving Abel and fans. “When we started practicing, they all just kind rolled in with some beers. It was kind of like we were starting a garage band. The first night, after I’d gotten complacent with the idea that we were just a band making music, we pulled up to the Machine Shop in Flint, which is one of the most bad-ass rock clubs in America and I saw a line of people down the road to get in. The show was sold out the first night. As we were walking in, people are going ‘You’d better show us! You have big shoes to fill.’ I was so nervous but everybody was cheering. That moment can’t be explained or recreated. I’m sure the only thing that would probably come close is when drug addicts explain their first time using a heavy drug and never experience it again because it was so life altering,” described Austin.
Despite recent lineup changes, there are elements of Saving Abel that remain unchanged. Throughout the band’s career, they have made an ongoing effort to perform for U.S. troops– both oversees and at home. Their songs 18 Days, Drowning, and Miss America were each written and dedicated to the U.S. military. On Veteran’s Day, Saving Abel will continue their effort to show tribute to those in the military with the release of their upcoming album, Blood Stained Revolution via the band’s independent label Tennessippi Whiskey Records (aptly named through the combination of the members’ home states and their love of Jack Daniel’s.)
Some of the inspiration behind the band’s involvement with the troops has risen from personal experience. “I was raised by a Vietnam Veteran, my step-father. I have two brothers that were in the armed forces, one in the army and the other in the navy. I couldn’t join the military because I’m epileptic. So I want to do my part by trying to make sure the heroes are appreciated for what they do. Because I actually see first-hand the stuff they have to go through and what they do for us, and they don’t make enough to do what they do. So I always make sure that they are appreciated at our shows,” said Austin. “I’m so proud to get to sing every night and that the military has kind of taken us as their own and it’s just overwhelming with all the love and support. I’m so glad to be a part of this.”
When asked about his inspirations with the troops, Null said, “Meeting them, our troops. Especially in their environment having performed in war zones. We are gone a lot but our families are just a phone call away, and sometimes that is a luxury for our men and women. I could go on and on, but in short its respect and love,” In the past, Saving Abel has performed for troops in locations such as Iraq, Qatar, Cuba, Japan, and India.
Austin said that the band’s goal to make a difference often goes beyond their efforts with the troops. The band also started a pledge campaign, for which part of the proceeds went to Autism Speaks, a nonprofit organization for autism advocacy. “I have a three and half-year old son that’s been diagnosed with autism and it strikes home to me. Once again, now that I have an opportunity to have a platform to maybe help somebody in this world I wanna do something that could,” said Austin. “I want to make sure he’s taken care of regardless, so I promise to give it 110% at every show anybody ever comes to see,” Austin promised his fans.
The band’s members hail from Mississippi and Tennessee, which allows them to bring a unique southern touch to the music they create. When asked about the story behind the band and their name, Null, one of the founding members, said “[We’re] just a group of country boys that get to support ourselves doing what we love. I have always tried to give God credit for my talents and when naming the band I knew I wanted a name to reflect our upbringing and faith. No, we are not a Christian Rock band. Well, in Johnny Cash’s words, ‘I may only be a C minus Christian, but I am one.”
Saving Abel’s distinct southern influence could be heard in their first album Saving Abel and in their 2008 hit single, Addicted. The band’s occasional use of the banjo and mandolin in songs like Pine Mountain (The Dance of the Poor Proud Man) give a nod to the heartland while grungy guitar riffs and bold lyrics rail against all stereotypes. These influences echo on from the band’s previous albums and can be heard in their latest single and title track, Blood Stained Revolution. These self-proclaimed “high-strung rock and rollers from the South” blend a southern sound with all of the edge hard rock has to offer.
The songs on Blood Stained Revolution are described on Saving Abel’s website as largely uptempo and upbeat and are said to pay homage to some of the bands which have inspired the musicians, such as Guns and Roses, Tool, and The Allman Brothers. The album is also said to be “a continuation of Null’s mainstream southern rock hit writing abilities with a new-found energy being provided by Austin.” “These guys, they’ve been a successful band for a long time. I think I’ve brought a new excitement and a new energy because it’s all new to me. We’ve grown a lot,” said Austin about his enthusiasm for the upcoming album.
So, what changes should fans expect to hear in Blood Stained Revolution? When asked, Null responded, “If you listen back on our other records you know that one song never defines our sound. It was the first record as a whole and now, as our catalogue grows, our fans should be able to listen to our latest efforts and reflect back on an earlier recording. With that said, I wouldn’t say a major change, other than the obvious of having a new front man.”
For those eager to jump into Saving Abel’s upcoming album, the official lyric video for their latest single, Blood Stained Revolution, can currently be viewed on YouTube. The band’s website also features samples of a few of the songs to be released.
Saving Abel has been touring non-stop throughout 2014 and is scheduled for shows well into 2015. Even with the band’s growing success and rapidly expanding fan-base, the band makes an effort to stay in touch with the fans that have helped shape them along the way. “We’re normal guys that like to make music. That’s why we travel so much. And we’d love for people to come out and see us. Meet us, we’re very approachable. Tell us your opinion on the music,” said Austin. “We want to continue to make music and we can’t do that without people listening. And connect with us on Facebook. That’s the one thing we get to run ourselves. If you send us a message, we’ll see it and do our best to respond.”
Aligning with their aim to keep in touch with fans, the band is also raising money to continue touring and promoting their record. The band describes this on their site “as a thank you to those who can help us we spent a lot of time coming up with cool ideas so that you can get as close to the band as you want or enjoy really unique experiences with us. We spend most of our time on the road and would love to have you guys join us to make OUR lives cooler!” Some of these opportunities include dinner with the band, meet and greets, and signed merchandise.
It seems rock fans have a lot to look forward to in the future for Saving Abel. Between the upcoming release of Blood Stained Revolution on November 11, 2014 and an ongoing list of shows, fans will have plenty to keep themselves satisfied. With their ability to create high-energy music and their dedication to making a difference in the world and in the lives of their fans, Saving Abel is sure to continue making their mark on the world—all the while, never losing focus of where they came from.