Interview with Bobby Amaru of SALIVA
Interview by Mark Dean
We recently had the opportunity to talk with Saliva frontman Bobby Amaru. Saliva are set to release their tenth studio album, Love, Lies & Therapy, via Universal Music on June 10, 2016.
You’ve got a new album, Love, Lies & Therapy, due to be released shortly. Do you still get excited when new an album’s about to go out?
It’s always an exciting time because you’re not sure if people are going to like it or hate it. When you go and you make a record, you put a lot of work into it that a lot is going on. Obviously, you want your work to be taken well. You want people to appreciate and enjoy it. At the end of the day we play music, we make music, that’s what we do.
Since you joined the band, the band’s seemed to have moved away from their earlier sort of hip-hop sound that was present on some of the earlier albums. Was that a direct effect of you joining them, or it was a direction that band was going to move in anyway?
Well, I first got in the band, I’m thinking Saliva, old school stuff. They were kind of talking about how they had thought a lot of their later records started getting stale and very one trick pony kind of stuff. Maybe with that kind of sound. I wouldn’t say that they were like, “Oh, let’s get away from this hip-hop stuff or whatever.” I don’t think the band was ever a hip-hop band. I think they had songs that had some of those elements in it, but then you listen to “Always,” “Rest in Pieces,” or whatever, and there’s nothing hip-hop to any of those. Even though on this record, there’s a song called “Go Big or Go Home,” and that’s got some rapping stuff in it. That’s the only song on the record like that. I think that category put them … Yeah, we definitely, to answer your question, have moved far past that for sure.
Was it difficult for you going into an already established band?
It’s always difficult to replace a singer. I think that when I joined the band, it’s almost five years ago, about five years ago, that from then to now it’s like I can tell a big difference. Just in myself, and obviously there’s a confidence level that has raised as well. When I came into the band, I was like I didn’t want to be like the old guy. I wanted to bring my own energy to the band and my own thing to the band. That’s all I tried to do is focus on that way and not really think about the negative, or anything else, or any disbeliefs from people. It’s actually been taken well. People dig it. One of the things you have to, I guess, see the band live to realize that.
I managed to get a copy of … Well, not a copy, a link to the new album, today. It’s a brilliant album. Really instantly addictive songs. It’s really good. I’m just wondering if you could pick, maybe, a couple of songs off that and talk a little about them.
I’ll let you pick a couple, then, for me.
You want me to pick. Okay. I thought maybe you had a couple songs that you liked.
I liked that whole album.
I guess we should start with “Trust.” It’s the first song. It’s kind of, out of the gate, punch you in the balls kind of thing. It’s got heavy song. The message is pretty clear. It’s about somebody who fucked you over, and they keep doing it. Then you realize it’s like you got to … It’s a very repetitive situation and it’s not going to change. This record, I will say, was like being in therapy. It’s definitely stuff that I went through, in the past, in a relationship and stuff.
A lot of the lyrics, like a song like “Trust” for instance, was something that just came out that way. I didn’t sit down and, “I’m going to write a song about this,” or whatever. I just like, the music was done. Then I started just writing what I was feeling or what I was thinking. That’s what came out. Then when it’s actually done … When the song was over, I was like … I look at it, I’m like. “Holy shit. That makes sense, that’s exactly what I’m going through.” To sum it up, I’ve been in relationships where there’s infidelities and things like that, everyone has. I think it’s a song people can relate to.
If you could pick, let’s say … I’ll pick one name. What about “Loneliest Know”? What about that one, maybe?
“Loneliest Know” is a song that I had, and I actually wrote about eight years ago before I was in the band. It might be nine years. Shit, it might be 10 years. I think I wrote it in ’06 or ’07. I have a call-back catalogue of a bunch of songs like that. You know what I mean? Or Wayne actually, I was playing him some stuff when we were doing pre-production. I played him that song, compared to some other stuff that … He was like, “That’s the best. Damn. Let’s do that one.” Basically, we re-cut it, added a couple of things to it, make it sparkle a little bit. That’s one of those songs, another situation where you try to beat it into someone’s head that you’re there for them, and you would do all these things, but they just don’t see it. On the same page, it’s basically you’re going to be lonely for the rest of your life, or you’re going to step up and take initiative for what I’m doing, what I’m giving. The love that I have for this person.
Obviously, then there’s a surprising cover song choice. The Michael Jackson cover on there, who’s idea was that?
Oh man, yeah. Did you dig that one?
Certainly enjoyed that, it remained true to the original, and you didn’t try to change it around that much.
I was always a fan of that song. Just always liked him. Everybody when they think about Michael Jackson, they’re obviously Thriller and all that stuff. I never ever thought about covering one of those songs from the ’80s. I was always like, “They Don’t Care About Us” was a great song. Was so heavy in its own way, and his message, and everything about it was so real.
I don’t want to … I’m going to stay humble on this, but I just don’t think that any band thought about doing it because it’s kind of impossible to fucking do that song. It really is. It was a pain in the ass to do it. It would be a pain in the ass to play it live. He was brilliant. He was a genius. You know what I mean? To do the song, I was like, “If we’re going to cover this, it’s going to be done right. We’re not going to mess with it or fuck with it.” It’s got to be, at least vocally, it has to … it’s got to shine. I didn’t want to mess with it a whole lot and stuff and all that. I wanted to keep it real. I think that the message … It was heavy enough, you didn’t need to change it. The way he did it. Added the music to it, man, like around it.
It does work very well. Okay, over the years you’ve done many roles, singer, drummer, producer. Which role are you most happy playing?
Well, I enjoy entertaining, man, just all around. The producing thing’s fun because I’m home and you are not on the road and involved in travel. At the same time, it can get kind of old. I start jonesing, man, and I want to be on stage. I like being on stage. Whether I’m playing drums or whether I’m playing guitar, singing, I definitely … As a singer there’s a lot more just weight on your shoulders. There’s that. At the same time, it doesn’t really have an effect on me or anything. I enjoy doing it all, man. Definitely, my job with the band is being a singer. I’ve got to step up and do that.
What was your direct involvement on the album in terms of its production?
The production, yeah. I produced this record. We did it all in Jacksonville. We did it all here, where I live, in Jacksonville, Florida. We had to take breaks though, because we would go tour. That’s how we made a living. When you take down time to record a record, you still got to make money. We would go, we would tour and do all that stuff. We cut back and did some more stuff. I helped source the different mixers. That’s what I did. That’s the thing, I could mix it, and I did kind of co-mix it with one of the mixers on it that a buddy of mine here. I enjoyed sending it out to people, the tracks, and being like, “Here. You mix it. Put your thing on it.” Especially, “Trust.” Kane Churko, he’s mixed and produced so much stuff like all the In This Moment stuff, and Papa Roach, and Disturbed, and all that. When that song came back, I was like, “Fuck.” Just blown away. It was so good. I enjoyed sending the stuff out to other mixers and having them put their thing on and send it back.
Album promotion obviously then leads on to tour dates. I don’t think the band has really sort of played much in the UK over the years. I feel that’s a very good rock audience and potential market for the band in that area. Do you have plans, or are you aware of any touring plans that are going to come across to the UK?
We would love to. We would love to that. I mean, that’s the thing. That’s one of the things I will address today to our manager and our booking agent. We’ve been trying to get there. We understand that it’s a very big rock market, and people are very into rock there. I think we’d do very well. I think we’d fit right in over there. It’s just really getting there and making it happen. That’s what we got to do. We just got to stop talking about it and do it.
Just a final question, Bobby. I’m sure you’ve done many interviews, but who would you like to sit down, yourself, with and interview?
Who would I like to interview? Ah man, I’ve never been asked that one before. That’s a good one. Shit, man. If I would like to interview somebody, who would it be?
Maybe a personal hero. It doesn’t even have to be in music.
Yeah, man. That’s a good one. I’ve never been asked that. I’ve never thought of that. Dave Grohl would be cool to interview. It’s just because he would like … You know going into it … I wouldn’t be nervous, because I know going into it, he’s cool as shit anyway. It’s like, “Ah, whatever, you know. You just roll with it.”
Thank you very much. As I said, it’s a great album. Hopefully, you’ll get over to play some dates in the UK soon.
Absolutely, man. Mark, it was a pleasure to talk to you.