August 10, 2016 Interview – Bobby Amaru of Saliva
Following one’s instinct, most of the time will lead them in the right direction. Still clawing their way into Rock-n-Roll lovers’ hearts, American band Saliva show no sign of slowing down. While the band is celebrating their 20th anniversary since initially forming back in 1996, much has changed over the years, but what has remained constant is their tendency to rock, and rock hard. Often associated with the success of 2001’s Every Six Seconds and 2002’s Back Into Your System, Saliva has pumped out one record after another since, each branding their signature sound of blazing guitars as well as soaring vocals. Taking the throne as their new lead vocalist back in 2011, Bobby Amaru has kept the Saliva train rolling, and now, with their 9th studio album, Love, Lies, & Therapy, the band look to remind listeners they are still here. Recently we caught up with Amaru to talk his time in Saliva, the work behind their new album, performing live, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – It has been five years since you joined up with Saliva. In that time you have recorded two albums with the band and done some heavy touring. What has your time in the band been like to this point?
Bobby Amaru – It’s been awesome, it’s been a ride, a blast. We met a lot of really cool people along the way and it’s always good to go up there and know that people still believe in the band. You get to go and just make noise and do the Rock-n-Roll thing. It’s fun at the end of the day. At the same time, I feel like every night we are proving ourselves going out there and having to put on a kick ass live show.
CrypticRock.com – It seems as if a great majority of fans have really taken to you as the band’s vocalist and, as you have said in the past to me, being yourself is essential. You have to be yourself, be true to yourself, who you are. Does knowing that the fans have welcomed you make you feel more comfortable as the lead singer?
Bobby Amaru – I think definitely from 5 years ago to now, the whole band is a lot more confident gelling together. Things are just flowing good and people are just really going to live shows. I think that we are going out there and rocking faces. I would say it’s improved to my knowledge, as far as the fans go, definitely are a lot more accepting. Another thing is, we are not going anywhere, we are going to keep making new music. The record that we just released back in June is the first of more for sure.
CrypticRock.com – That is great to hear. This new record, Love, Lies & Therapy, is an extremely cohesive piece of music. What was the writing and recording process like?
Bobby Amaru – We did the record in Jacksonville where I live, which was easy for me because I didn’t have to go anywhere really (laughs). We started on it early 2015 and basically Wayne had an pneumonia scare. He was in a hospital for days and was out of commission for awhile. So that put off the process, we had a bunch of touring we had to go do in March. We only got about 5 songs done, then we were touring and trying to finish the record in between tours. It became a little difficult, but it was a blessing as well cause we ended up with songs like “Shatter Me,” “Breakdown,” and the Michael Jackson cover by not rushing the record in a 6 week process in the beginning. Who is to say we would have had those songs? The process was long, it took about a year to complete it. Then Universal got involved as well, we were stoked on that. There is definitely a whole new life and I think we have a new opportunity to get out and show people that Saliva is still alive and kicking ass.
CrypticrRock.com – Right, and as you said, it took a little while and that shows in the music. The lyrics seem to follow a similar theme in correlation with the album title. Tell us a little about the mindset behind the album title and topics discussed throughout the album?
Bobby Amaru – Well, love, lies, and therapy is definitely very universal, so people can relate to that. I think everybody has those 3 things in their life, or has at one point. The lyrics are, I don’t think they are something that haven’t been said or done at all. Like the Picasso of lyrics or anything like that, but at the same time, I think it’s all about writing something that means something to someone to relate to. I think songs like “Trust” and “Tragic Kind of Love” really affect people. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s really all about. We are making music and want to write lyrics that people can understand and get.
CrypticRock.com – Well, as you said, these are topics that anyone can relate to; they are universal. Of course it is not something that has not been said before, that goes with anything in life. Everything has been done before, everything has been said before. It is just about how it is approached and how it is conveyed. That being said, there is a sincerity conveyed in this record.
Bobby Amaru – Yes, I think that at the end of the day it’s all about real songs. That’s what we do, we write from the heart. With making this record, that’s what it was, we didn’t rush anything, the music was the way we wanted. I just started writing, it’s strange because I didn’t sit down with a pen and paper and immediately just write out a song. Sometimes it just came out of me and sometimes it didn’t. I had to be patient with it and it happened.
CrypticRock.com – Right, it has to come naturally. Speaking about writing songs, you guys write together as a band. Wayne has been there since the start of Saliva. Many would agree he really is an underrated guitar player. What has it been like working with Wayne?
Bobby Amaru – Wayne is unbelievable, he is my favorite guitar player in the business, and I’m not just saying that. I’ve seen a lot of guitar players play. So to me, go watch Wayne play on YouTube or go watch stuff live and go to his solo part. He’s just very fluent, man; he’s just on it. It doesn’t matter, he have a little bit too much fireball and he’s killing it more than that when he actually starts to go out of the box a little bit. Wayne is just a bad-ass. Seasoned, he’s been doing that shit forever. He’s got the Blues in him, he’s great. I can’t say anything more, the dude is just killer, it’s been an honor to jam with Wayne.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed completely. There certainly is a lot of diversity amidst the songs of Love, Lies, & Therapy, and it seems that the compositions are tighter than ever. Was it important to keep a balance between the heavier and more melodic elements?
Bobby Amaru – Well, we didn’t really set out to say, “Oh, let’s write a song like this, or let’s write a song like that.” We knew we had to have some heavy stuff. The first 5 songs were like the heaviest songs on the record; we had “Trust,” “Tragic,” “Bitch like You,” “Refuse to Lose,” “Go Big or Go Home.” Those are the 5 songs we wrote. Then I started thinking this is cool and all, but now the record needs something. That’s what I was stoked about being able to take our time because we were able to kind of figure out what kind of songs and placement we wanted. I think that “Broken Wings” is kind of a cool song. “Unshatter Me” is probably my favorite song on the record. Then you hear like the Michael Jackson cover, “Hand In Hand,” and “Breakdown.” Those songs just fit right in to what we are doing in this new era of Saliva.
There’s stuff for everybody; you got your heavy songs, our melodic songs as well. You have to change it up sometimes. Change it up for the best, it’s not like we are going to say, “Oh, we are going to experiment and we are going to go write some Pink Floyd stuff.” Which would be absolutely amazing, but it wouldn’t make sense for this band. I think there are a couple songs on the record like “Hand in Hand” and “Breakdown” that the band has never really tapped in and done before, but I don’t think it’s a negative thing at all. People hear those 2 songs, they could be one of their favorite on the record.
CrypticRock.com – Right exactly, like you said, it all fits, it is all natural, and it is not forced. The record is very balanced because of that reason. You had mentioned the Michael Jackson cover, “They Don’t Care About Us,” on this album. It is quite a socially charged song. What inspired the band to cover this track?
Bobby Amaru – I wanted to do that song like 4 years ago when I was already almost a year in the band. I was like, “Man, we should do a really cool cover,” and I just always liked that song. Very heavy for Michael Jackson, you might not hear a whole ton of guitars and a bunch of music in that song, but it didn’t need it. His message and his beats alone in it was great and that’s how we did the song. I got an a Capella vocal of him tapped out to bpm and we wrote the music around it. I have a version of our music with Michael Jackson’s vocal line, it’s fucking awesome. It’s just that heavy because it’s basically 1 vocal, it’s so cool and it really proves how great he was as a singer. His delivery approach is unlike anybody else. Now it is like alright, I have to literally do it just like he did it or I will get completely fucking roasted. I was up for the challenge for sure, but I definitely wanted to make sure that it was real and it wasn’t something we had to go tune and stuff. It’s definitely one of those songs that was challenging.
CrypticRock.com – You definitely did it justice. It is all about the delivery with the lyrics because they are very charged and emotional.
Bobby Amaru – I don’t know why another band has ever thought of doing that song. You know what, I am glad they didn’t. We got it now.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely. The live performance has always been a signature for Saliva. You kicked off a tour in July, which continues through much of September and October prior to you heading over to Europe. Choosing set lists is always a difficult task. Is it safe to say this current run will be a healthy dose of the new album?
Bobby Amaru – The thing is we did the run July for around 3 weeks. Now we are on the Make America Rock Again! tour, so we are out for 3 months straight. We definitely have the rest of the year cut out for us. As far as to answer your question regarding the songs, we are probably only going to stick with 2 or 3 new songs because there is just so much back cataloging, singles and such. Songs I still enjoy playing. You have to play those songs. We will play a good 3 new songs, the rest will be all the older stuff.
CrypticRock.com –That is cool. It would be exciting to hear more of the new music. These are really good tracks and people really need to hear them, hopefully more people will buy the record.
Bobby Amaru – We haven’t gone too far into it as well, it could be 4 songs, I don’t know. We might come up with an idea the way we do “Breakdown” or something on acoustic only. We might do something different, you never know, we will keep you guessing.
CrypticRock.com – It is always good to have that anticipation like that. Someone who loves music and has more than likely attended more than a few concerts in your life, what was your most memorable concert experience and why?
Bobby Amaru – Dude, I’ve been seeing concerts since I was like 5 years old. My first concert was Metallica and Queensrÿche. I saw Whitesnake back in the day. I’ve seen so many bands. Ozzfest 98′ was really cool because there was a lot of bands on the second stage that ended up becoming something such as Incubus and System of a Down. These were bands that were playing at like noon on the second stage, and look at where they are at now. You got to see a lot of really cool stuff, Motörhead headlined that year on the second stage, Tool was the direct support for Ozzy and Megadeth. There were so many cool bands. I would say that’s probably one of my most memorable, as a fan.
Another would be seeing Pantera. I’ve seen Pantera a few times, that was always great. I hadn’t been to a concert in awhile because I had been touring so much. Anytime there is a concert or whatever, such as Mötley Crüe comes to Jacksonville on my birthday and all my fucking best friends and I could not go because I was on tour. I never even got to see that tour at all. I was a big fan of them growing up, at the end of the day it is what it is. I got to see Tool a couple months back in Orlando and man, it was unbelievable, it was so good. The musicianship and just the way it sounded was so good. If I could give it a 12, I would give it a 12.
CrypticRock.com – That is great that you have those experiences. There is nothing like a live show. You know it as a performer and you know it as an attendee in the audience. My last question is pertaining to Horror films. Last time we spoke, you told me you love Horror movies. Have you seen any Horror movies recently that you enjoyed?
Bobby Amaru – I just saw The Conjuring 2 (2016) recently and I was blown away. I was telling somebody, that’s going to be the biggest movie this year as far as a Horror movie goes. It reminded me of an updated The Exorcist (1973). I watched a little bit of the documentary on what it’s about. If you haven’t seen The Conjuring 2, go and research the story of what the movie is about, it’s just freaky. What I liked about it is it wasn’t just a build up with scary shit at the end. I jumped about 15 times in the whole movie, it was crazy.
CrypticRock.com – It is one of the more anticipated Horror movies of the year. It is so tough with newer movies; you are built up for them and excited, and a lot of times you are let down.
Bobby Amaru – The problem is a lot of them, the big production like Warner Bros., really want it so bad to be PG-13. You got the people who create the movies fighting them on it. It is because they want to sell more tickets, and I get it, but the fact that it’s rated R, that movie had to be rated R. There is no nudity or anything like that, it’s just how intense it is. It is not suitable for kids. I actually enjoyed it better than the first film.