Rock It: New Saliva vocalist Bobby Amaru talks comeback, show at the Hideaway

Posted on November 14, 2013

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Rock It: New Saliva vocalist Bobby Amaru talks comeback, show at the Hideaway

Saliva (Photo Provided)

Saliva (Photo Provided)

Byline: Rachael Mattice

It wasn’t an internal band brawl, nor drugs nor even monetary mishaps, but rather the classic “lead singer solo career diversion” that drove the former lead vocalist of Saliva, Josey Scott, to exit the band in 2011 for a career in Christian rock.

With the voice and leadership of Saliva gone, the future of the band’s existence was questionable and foreboding. At least, until Jacksonville, Fla., resident Bobby Amaru received a phone call to fill the vacancy. Replacing band members is usually accepted by fans once the dust has settled for the group, but filling the frontman role is extremely challenging and comes with a lot of responsibility. Criticism can be both harsh and welcoming.

Amaru quickly established his own personality with Saliva and began touring immediately. The revamped Saliva will stop at the Hideaway at 8 tonight.

A band’s checklist before touring with a new musician usually includes working on a record together. Saliva released the single “In it to Win It” through Rum Bum Records, but still has no solid release date for its eighth full-length studio album, although it is coming “sometime in August,” according to Amaru. Because Amaru will still have to sing such Saliva classics as “Click Click Boom,” “Always,” and “Rest in Pieces,” I asked him about his own life before the band, how he is handling the stress as the new vocalist and Saliva’s comeback.

Question: What has been going on with Saliva lately?

Answer: We signed our deal with Rum Bum Records in December and made a record in the end of January and it was just mastered. The record is finally done and the single is at radio. We just started touring and are promoting the single and get things moving in the right direction.

Q: What were you doing before Saliva?

A: I did a lot of TV music and wasn’t doing any band stuff. I was in a band called Burn Season for awhile, playing drums, and signed a deal in 2001, but the label folded.
I was doing the TV music thing and had fun with that. Then I got the phone call to do the Saliva gig and it seemed like a good opportunity. At that moment, I had already stopped playing for a few years. I wanted to rock.

It was my full-time job and all the background music with TV. I would and be told they would need five rock cues or five pop cues. I got into recording and production years ago, right when my band got a deal with Elektra Records. I always loved putting things together. My buddy started that company and I spent years building the library.

Q: Replacing a vocalist is difficult because you are the forefront of the band’s sound. How have you overcome the stress and obstacles from labels and fans alike?

A: I thought about all that stuff before I started. You don’t just replace a singer – fans get pissed off and are never going to like it. You have to point out what makes you different from that guy. If you make the band exciting and fresh then it can work. If you are trying to fill the shoes of another guy, it’s never going to work.

Where is your identity at? I think my songwriting background and experience has really helped with disbanding in the direction we went in. We needed to make a rock record that is different from the past few records. We heard the band was getting “light” so we wanted to make a real heavy rock record.

I also just try to go out and sell it every night. It’s my time, I’m up there with the band trying to sell the show. No matter what, somebody will always come up and ask me what happened (to Scott). Most of the fans are extremely receptive and I’ve gotten some awesome compliments and am just trying to stay humble.

Q: What was your first live show like with Saliva?

A: I was nervous because we only rehearsed one time before the first show, one time, and we didn’t even rehearse all the songs. The road will break you in. I wasn’t nervous being on stage, it was more like ‘Is someone going to mess up?’. The turnout for the February 2012 show in Arkansas was great.

Q: You’ve been in this band as the frontman for awhile now; what have you learned about the band and becoming a new member of a well-known rock band?

A: I got into music to fit in and be creative. I never got into music for the wrong reasons. It’s just a good opportunity to do something cool and be proud of. I know this can be gone tomorrow and (I’m) just enjoying it.

Q: What was it like working with producer Bobby Huff for the new album?

A: He was great. He is not a known producer at all really; he’s a writer. He had done some demos with the band for the last record and the old singer wasn’t present for the demos so they had some other guy singing in place. I was so impressed with the demo.

We didn’t want ballads; he has a fresh style and ideas. We knew if we went with someone like that we would be cranking out songs left and right. We wanted someone who would care and be on the same level as us, basically a fifth member. Some of us already had songs written, but we had written about 15 songs with Bobby that we narrowed down to seven.

Q: The Hideaway is a smaller venue, does Saliva plan to interact with fans tonight?

A: I like smaller venues better. You get to be up close and personal to people. You can actually see us having fun and we aren’t egotistical jerks.

Q: Who are a few of your music idols?

A: Being from Jacksonville, I love old school Skynyrd. I also love AC/DC, Pantera, Oasis. If I could have a drink with somebody it’d be Robert Plant. If I could have a beer with any dead rock star it’d probably be Jim Morrison.

Q: What is the most meaningful tattoo you have?

A: I have a skull and heart on the right side of my arm, it has my daughter and sons’ initials. My granddad was a singer and passed away a few years ago. On my left arm, I have a tattoo that is basically a hand coming out of the ground holding a microphone. I also just got a living dead girl on the inside of my arm.

Q: If Saliva was inducted into the Rock Hall, what piece of memorabilia would you want to personally contribute or recommend for display?

A: I’d shave my head and donate my hair (laughs). No, I wouldn’t do that. Maybe a guitar.

Q: What is an ultimate goal for you in upcoming years in the music business? How do you want to expand on your career?

A: It would be nice to be able to write music in Nashville and collaborate with other artists. I would love to work with Dave Grohl and switch up the instrumentation. That or go to an island somewhere and just live. 

Admission is $22 and tickets can be purchased at The Hideaway.

To buy Saliva’s new single “In It to Win It,” visit iTunes.

Mattice is a producer and music journalist for the Journal & Courier. She can be reached on Twitter @RachaelM_JC.

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Posted in: "Rock It" Column