Interview: Saliva singer Bobby Amaru talks Love, Lies and Therapy album

FRR: There are so many good songs, so much good material on this record. It’s a follow-up to Rise Up, and it’s your second record with the band. Can you tell me a little bit about what went into putting this record together for you guys?

Bobby Amaru: Basically, we did it ourselves. We did it here in Jacksonville where I live, and we were like, “let’s do this record the way we want to do it.” Originally, we were trying to get it done within two months, but then some stuff went down with Wayne, where he had like, pneumonia. So that kind of postponed it. We knew we had shows coming up, we were going to be on tour from March through May for two months straight. This is last year, this is 2015. So we were only able to get about five songs done before that, and then we had to go tour. And then it turned into, when we were done with touring, it’s like, “okay, we’ve got to finish this record.” It’s kind of like pulling teeth, but I think it ended up working out, man.

It took about a year, but once those five songs got to labels, like to Universal and stuff, that kind of put the fire up under us to finish the record because we were like, “Whoa, Universal picked it up, so we’ve got to get more songs.” So we were able to take our time with it and still tour and do things. Looking at it front to back, I’m glad we did it that way.

FRR: Awesome, man. There are so many songs that stand out to me, but one song that really stands out is “Bitch Like You.” I absolutely love that song.

Bobby Amaru: Cool, man! I dig that one too. It’s one of those songs that’s high energy, but it’s kind of cool. Cool verses, and when it blows up to that chorus it’s pretty killer.

FRR: It is. To me, it’s like “Sure Hide Crazy” mixed with “Choke” mixed with a couple other songs. It’s awesome, I cranked that bad boy up when I was at a stoplight today.

Bobby Amaru: What’s funny is that this whole record, Love, Life, and Therapy, I was going through a lot of relationship stuff. I was doing an interview with someone else, and I was telling them, lyrically, it’s not like I’m writing anything new or different. I’m just expressing myself, and people relate to that stuff. We ask them what they want, and it’s those relationship songs, whether they’re heavy or soft or whatnot. They always work because people connect with them, and that’s what it’s all about.

FRR: Yeah, and with an album title like this, you know going in as a listener that these are going to be some pretty personal songs. There’s something telling about that album title.

Another thing that stands out to me about this record are the ballads. Saliva isn’t really a band that’s been known for ballads, but the ones on this record work really well. “Breakdown” really stands out to me, “Loneliest Know,” it’s a different writing approach for you guys. Is that something you guys went in wanting to write? Or did that happen organically?

Bobby Amaru: No, like as I was saying earlier, the way we did the record was song-at-a-time, basically, vs. if we’d had like two months to get that record done, “Breakdown” and “Loneliest,” those songs wouldn’t have happened. Those songs came later. The first five songs we wrote were like, “Trust,” “Tragic Kind of Love,” “Bitch Like You,” “I Refuse to Lose,” it was all the heavier songs. Those were the first five songs that we did.

Then, we started realizing we needed some more depth, some more melody, we need girls to want to listen to this shit. That’s when the other songs started to partake, because we knew certain songs we had and what we needed to fill, so that was the approach. Like, “Unshatter Me” was co-written with a friend of mine, Nolan Neal, who’s like a super-talented dude out in Nashville.

He came to Jacksonville, and we went into the studio, and we did an acoustic version of it. We ended up building the music around it—around that song—that’s kind of how “Unshatter Me” happened. “Breakdown” was another song that was a co-write with a dude that was inn Iraq for eight years. He’s this really dope lyric writer. I have pages and pages of all these cool conspiracies. The way he writes lyrics is a lot different from the way I write lyrics, so it was really interesting to see how he paints the picture. It was very cinematic in its way.

FRR: Nice, man. How did you guys decide to do “They Don’t Care About Us,” the Jackson cover? How did you decide on that song for that amazing cover? How did you guys narrow it down to that one?

Bobby Amaru: We said, “let’s make a song that we’ll never be able to play live. It’ll be too awesome to play live, so we’ll suck at it. So let’s just make everyone think that we’re really awesome.” Seriously though, that was a song I wanted to do like four years ago with the band. I started influencing, saying we should do a sick cover song or something. The band never did any covers, I don’t believe.

FRR: Yeah, I don’t remember any.

Bobby Amaru: So it was kind of a cool concept. Obviously, four years ago, I wasn’t thinking anything politics and all this stuff, it’s just crazy with the timing of this year with that song. I mean, I think that song could blow the fuck up, man, I think it could do something cool. I get asked about that song more than anything else on the record. Obviously, people are liking and digging it, so I guess that’s a good sign of a cover. Because it’s hard to do a cover, man.

That wasn’t an easy one, at all. But we kind of did it unique and cool. I was like, “I don’t want to fuck with his vocals, I want to make sure I’m doing the best I possibly can and match him as much as I can.” He’s in his own world, but I was able to get acapella vocals, and we took the music and built it around his vocals, then removed his vocals and I put my stuff in. His vocals on heavy like that was super cool. Just like, chills, it was so awesome. His version was already heavy, minus the guitars and loud drums and stuff. From his lyrical and melodic sense, his anger in the vocal definitely translated.

FRR: It paid off, man. How did Brad Stewart come to be in the band? Obviously Dave left, I think last year or the year before that. Now Brad is in the band, and he’s not new to the game at all, he’s been around. How did you guys hook up with him?

Bobby Amaru: Brad and I have been friends for a long time. Brad actually filled in for Dave awhile ago when Dave was having a baby with his wife at the time. It was like a no-brainer. He already knew some of the songs. He was with Fuel the past five years. A year ago, Brad lost his only brother, and they were very close, only one year apart. So it was a big deal for him, a big loss, very tragic for a lot of people. Fuel was going on tour and they were getting a fill-in or whatever, and some things just didn’t pan out. We wanted Brad in the band, we’d always wanted him in the band. We didn’t kick Dave out or anything like that; he was having issues of his own, going through a divorce and things—I don’t want to air his dirty laundry—things that were preventing the band from moving forward. We had to make a decision, and that was the decision.

FRR: Sad to see him go, man. But Brad is a great kid, obviously he’s familiar with the band. I’m interested to see the band play live with Brad, it’s going to be good.

Bobby Amaru: It’s in the hole, man. He’s an all-around great dude. He’s one of the funniest dudes—he literally the coolest guy you’ll ever meet, for sure.

FRR: That’s awesome, man. The final thing I wanted to touch on: the tour that’s coming up, Make America Rock Again, it is just a super-bill. It’s going to be the best night ever, there are so many bands on that line-up. How much are you looking forward to doing that tour? It’s awesome.

Bobby Amaru: It’s gonna be great, man! It’s going to be awesome. I think [there are] a lot of bands that have had some serious radio success and have been around for a long time. I mean, some of these bands have been around for fifteen years. When you think about it, it’s a cool idea, it’s a cool concept, but most importantly, for the fans, people want to get their money’s worth. Shit, you only have to pay $20 to see seven bands? $25 for seven bands? Great. It’s good to get that amount of music in for one ticket. It’s like a little mini festival thing. It’ll be cool. And it’s all the bands that weren’t on Danny Wimmer festivals last year.

FRR: True. A couple bands I think need to be on those festivals because so many of you guys have great albums, great singles, great songs out now. One question I had about the tour: with so many bands and so much back-catalog with all you guys, will there be shorter sets for everyone? How are you all going to get it all in?

Bobby Amaru: I don’t know all the logistics yet; I’ve heard a few different things. With some of the casino shows, every band’s max set is like 40 minutes or something like that. But there are only a few of those—they’re on a time thing, it only goes for like four hours max. They want people spending money in the fuckin’ casino, not here. I’m sure they’ll have it broken up and figured out.

If we’re direct support, we might do 45 -50 minutes, they’ll probably do an hour or more. Then the next night if it’s us, they’ll do the same thing. But we’re going to make sure it’s go, go, go. We’re gonna come out and rock that shit. We’re going to cram everybody with all the hits, from day one. We’ve also talked about switching it up—we might switch our shit up every night, man, instead of doing the same thing all the time. We might do a song in one city and the next city, and someone’s like, “oh shit, they’re gonna do that in my city.” I always find that cool.

FRR: Yeah, Hatebreed doesn’t even have a set list. I think Jamey just shouts out a song and they play it.

Bobby Amaru: You know what, I might take some notes from them, that’s what we might do.

FRR: That would be awesome. Dude, Bobby, thanks so much for taking time with me today.

Bobby Amaru: Absolutely!