Q&A With Saliva’s Bobby Amaru

Pollstar checked in with Saliva a few weeks into the band’s 50+ date U.S. tour and chatted with singer Bobby Amaru, who took over as frontman in 2012.

Amura replaced Josey Scott, who had handled vocals since the multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated band began in 1996.

The rockers are gearing up to release their eighth studio album, Rise Up. Produced by Bobby Huff – who has worked with Papa Roach and 3 Doors Down – the LP is due out April 29 via Rum Bum Records.

Amura discussed bringing a new energy to Saliva’s live shows and even winning over some folks who weren’t always so fond of the band.

Interview below …

Photo: Scott Legato / RockStarProPhotography.com
Stars & Stripes Festival, Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, Sterling Heights, Mich.

So, you’ve been the frontman for a little over two years now. How quickly do you think fans adjusted to having you as the new singer?

Well, the fans that know have adjusted really well it seems. Especially once they see the show. … It seems like everyone’s really into it. Everything’s really going good.

But I still believe that there are some people that still don’t know. A lot of people kind of lose track or have families or whatever or aren’t into the music scene anymore and just kind of forget.

And there are probably some new fans that just got into the band.

Yeah, that definitely happened too. I’ve met people that have seen us and said, “I hated Saliva before.” And then they see the show and they’re like, “Yeah, you guys are great” or “The band is really, really solid.” Everyone’s been really cool.

Well, that’s really a compliment to your addition to the lineup. What do you think you’ve brought to the band?  
Definitely a new energy. I’m very energetic on stage and I think the live show is important. I think that was one of the things that the band felt was starting to suffer (with the original singer). It’s kind of not fair to the fans and the people who are paying to come see the band.  

And as far as recording and writing, I’ve been writing songs for a long time and really into that whole side of the music as well. We all put our heads together and we just wrote songs that we thought were good … [and] were going to have meaning. We just didn’t want to throw a bunch of rock songs on our record. We wanted to have a good balance and have certain songs have … different depth to them.

When you first started playing live shows with Saliva, was there initially a learning curve as far as getting the right vibe with the rest of the members? Or did you guys just click immediately?

I think we pretty much clicked. Obviously it took a little time to kind of get everything adjusted to where everything was just flowing. But it wasn’t too terribly long. It seemed to start flowing pretty quickly.

Saliva had put out seven albums before you joined the band. Was it daunting learning all the past stuff or do you focus more on the new material for the live shows?

The past stuff is … almost like covers. I definitely feel like I add my own things to them, but without taking away from what the song was. I mean I would hate to see a band that I liked just butcher some songs that I [loved]. So I definitely didn’t want to do that.

I wanted to stay true to how the songs were, just add a little different spin to it. The new songs that we started playing from our new record coming out, those actually became a little harder, I think. … We’re kind of still getting in the groove; everyone’s still kind of learning everything because they’re fresh.  

Yeah, I would say that the older stuff that we play is a lot easier now. It’s like second nature.

Photo: Allen Clark Photography

The new album, Rise Up, is coming out next month. I have a question about 2013’s In It To Win It because I read online that Rise Up features a bunch of songs from that release, which I understand is not available to purchase now. It was supposed to be a sneak peek for fans. Are all of the tracks from Rise Up featured on In It To Win It?

Yeah, basically it’s a new album cover and new artwork. … In It To Win It was definitely a limited release for the fans, something that we put online. We were just having a hard time with retail and getting it out when we wanted to last year. So instead of just waiting and waiting we [thought], “You know, we’ll just release it online and then when we actually solidify a release date, we’ll pull it off [online] and announce a release date.” So that’s how we did it. … I think that we all feel that we made something really good that needs to be heard. … We don’t care if we have to release it 10 times, (laughs) not that we would ever do that, but you know. Due to the circumstances that we were under, that’s what we did.

Was it the band’s decision to re-release it with a different title?

We felt like if we were going to re-release it, there are just things that you do differently the second time around.

I think 80 to 90 percent of all Saliva sales are always in retail, always in stores. They never did too well online anyway. … I mean, we even released the record online and we’d get hit up, people didn’t even know it was out. There [would be] somebody hitting us up on Facebook asking us about something they could go get on iTunes right then. And then … there’re people that want to go to the store and buy it. That’s kind of the way it is.

With the title, we wanted to change the artwork and change everything up. We didn’t want to keep it the exactly the same way.

I want to talk about the significance of the new title. What are some things that you or the band have had to rise up against?

That’s kind of a statement song. I mean definitely we feel like we have something to prove. And this band still has life left in rock ‘n’ roll and we’re not going away. It’s also one of those songs for other people too. It’s definitely [about having] no regrets – not regretting yesterday. That whole [philosophy] like tomorrow could be the end kind of thing. Don’t take life for granted. Rise up for the things you believe in. That’s how we feel.

So the songs on the new album were the first songs that you wrote with the band. What was the songwriting process like? Were all the members of the band involved?

Yeah, every song that we wrote we’d all collaborate on it. There were a couple songs that I wrote with a couple other people. Or ideas that I kind of presented. But for the most part everybody [was involved]. We spent two weeks in a room writing together. We had about 25 songs total to choose from. It was good! It wasn’t too terribly tough or anything. We all had an understanding of one another. If someone comes up with something that was great, we go with it. That’s how songs are made, you know. The process worked well.

Were there any tracks that you wrote before you joined the band and then presented to the group?

There was some riffs, ideas and things that I had before. In my past I’ve probably recorded like 100 songs. … There were actually talks of using some of those songs but I just didn’t want to do it. It was my decision to say, “No, I want to focus on us, all writing together and us doing this.” I didn’t really want to just dig in the vault. It’s almost like this easy way out.

Who knows, maybe the next record will [include some of those songs]. … Then we can all collectively go through all that stuff if we want to.

I can see why it would be important for the first album that you record with the band to be a collaborative effort.

Yes, because that’s just the way the band’s always worked. But I mean, if anyone brings in an old song, whether it’s an old song or already completed, a great song’s a great song, no matter where it comes from.

Do you have a favorite track from the new album to play live?

“Lost” for sure; “Rise Up,” has been going really good too. They’re all good, even “Army’s” great live. … I think “Lost” is definitely the one that tends to stand out the most.

What stands out for you about it?

It’s different from anything Saliva has, especially in the live show. It’s just that point in the set where the mood kind of goes down but it’s still positive, especially in the end.

Are you still involved with your solo band or as a drummer for Burn Season?

Well, as far as the solo stuff goes, I haven’t had time to do any of that because when I’m not touring and working with Saliva, I’m a dad, I’ve got two kids. And then also, I do a lot of producing and production work in Nashville. I work with other artists. So I stay pretty busy with other things.

For Burn Season we put out some songs and stuff here and there over the past few years. Sometimes [we’ll] just get in that mood and we’ll write a few songs, bang them out and just throw them online.

You mentioned you have two kids. How old are they?

My son is 6 and my daughter is 2 and a half, going on 25.

That’s a fun age.

Oh man, I’m telling you. Especially little girls at that age, they say the craziest things, it’s hilarious. They’re just funny.

Anything you wanted to add at all?

I’m glad to be doing this. I’m grateful that I’m alive today and get to play a show in Monroe, La., tonight.

Photo: Allen Clark Photography

Upcoming dates for Saliva:

March 21 – Morgantown, W.Va., Schmitt’s Saloon     
March 22 – Hagerstown, Md., Hard Times Cafe     
March 24 – New Bern, N.C., Diamond Club     
March 25 – Elizabethton, Tenn., Bonnie Kate Theatre     
March 26 – Louisville, Ky., Diamond Pub & Billiards     
March 27 – Westland, Mich., The Token Lounge     
March 28 – Steger, Ill., Another Hole In The Wall     
March 29 – Ringle, Wis., Q and Z Expo Center     
March 30 – Rockford, Ill., Murphy’s Pub     
April 1 – Eau Claire, Wis., Hipps Pub     
April 3 – Williston, N.D., Dk’s Lounge     
April 4 – Dickinson, N.D., Bernie’s Esquire     
April 5 – Fargo, N.D., The Venue     
April 6 – Minot, N.D., Original Bar & Night Club     
April 8 – Spearfish, S.D., Czar Bar     
April 9 – Cheyenne, Wyo., Atlas Theatre     
April 10 – Billings, Mont., Club Carlin     
April 11 – Great Falls, Mont., Hideout Lounge     
April 12 – Idaho Falls, Idaho, Pepper Tree     
April 13 – Jerome, Idaho, Diamondz Event Center     
April 16 – West Hollywood, Calif., Whisky A Go Go     
April 18 – Tempe, Ariz., Club Red     
April 19 – Las Vegas, Nev., LVCS     
April 20 – Grand Junction, Colo., Mesa Theater & Lounge     
April 21 – Colorado Springs, Colo., Sunshine Studios     
April 23 – Lufkin, Texas, Beach Bar     
April 24 – Oklahoma City, Okla., Chameleon Room     
April 25 – San Antonio, Texas, Sunset Station Lonestar Pavilion     
April 26 – San Leon, Texas, 18th Street Pier     
April 29 – Reading, Pa., Reverb     
April 30 – New York, N.Y., Santos Party House     
May 2 – Virginia Beach, Va., Farm Bureau Live At Virginia Beach (FM99 Lunatic Luau-) May 3 – Arbutus, Md., Fish Head Cantina     
May 4 – Stanhope, N.J., Stanhope House     
May 5 – Bristol, Conn., Bleacher’s     
May 7 – Buffalo, N.Y., The Waiting Room     
May 8 – Columbus, Ohio, The Exclusive     
May 9 – Fort Wayne, Ind., Piere’s Entertainment Center  (Appearing with Gemini Syndrome)     
May 10 – Athens, Ohio, Athens County Fairgrounds
June 6 – Winfield, Kan., Winfield Fairgrounds (Rock N Country Festival)     
June 13 – Rothbury, Mich., Double JJ Resort (Sandy Corley Memorial Run)     
June 22 – South Bend, Ind., St. Joseph County Fairgrounds

Visit Saliva.com for more information.