“Music is more than just something you hear, it’s a feeling, and I’ve always said this and hopefully that I can be the one that’s quoted as saying this if it ever goes down in the books anywhere, but to me ‘Music is the only true time travel we as humans will ever know’.”
Rockers Saving Abel after two successful albums in their self-titled in 2008 which spawned the hits ‘Addicted’ and ’18 Days’ and ‘Miss America’ in 2010 with ‘Stupid Girl (Only in Hollywood)’ and ‘The Sex is Good’, have just released their third album entitled ‘Bringing Down The Giant’ and first on their new musical home at eOne, this I feel is their best to date and will hopefully slingshot them back to the heights they had in 2008 when ‘Addicted’ was taking over the airwaves.
In Flint, Michigan out on tour, about to wrap up a two month tour before a few days off and then heading straight back out again, we had a great long chat to Saving Abel guitarist Jason Null about the new album, the songs and the future.
Take it away Jason…
The title of the album and the song specifically, is there a hidden meaning behind it?
I don’t think there’s a hidden meaning if you know what I mean ha ha ha. On a serious note, the song was based on the biblical David and Goliath and that came about, a guy that we the privilege to do some writing with, he came to the studio and he just had a list of song titles or ideas and they were all picking out different ones, and I just basically left the room and went outside and smoked a couple of cigarettes and I’d written a song in my head probably within five or ten minutes. We called it a day shortly after, met back with the guy a couple of weeks later and they were working on this other song and I was like ‘Look guys, I’ve already got this song in my mind, let’s write it and be done with it and maybe then I can focus on what you’re doing.’ Once they started seeing what I was doing, what I wanted to do with the song, everyone just dove in and gave 100% and I think we turned out a great song.
David and Goliath that was the basis of the meaning of the song, and that just translates in to today’s terms with anything, if you’re bringing down the giant there’s always going to be a struggle and we hope, it’s like the classic Rocky Balboa story, everybody roots for the underdog, and it was brought to our attention that there was a huge campaign going on about bullying across our nation and throughout the world. Being less than 100 pounds in the ninth grade and buck toothed and coming from a poor type family, I was picked on a lot and I really related with it. Even my other guitar player, Scott, I think he’s around 300 pounds of pure muscle, he was the fat kid in school, he even knows what it feels like to be bullied and picked on so we just kinda went with that and made it our focus. Once we did that, we were envisioning videos and things of that nature, our new label were like, hey you guys just take it and run with it, we’re here to listen and give our two cents, in fact to help you with what you need. We ended up cutting a video in one of the schools in our hometown, my son is the hero in the video, one of his best friends is the bully in the video, lots of kin folk, the wives even make a cameo in it, we just had a really good time doing it, and hopefully with all of that, we brought the community together. Every school was invited to wear their own colours and things like that and we tried to make the video say, hey, everybody needs to do their part in standing up against this age old thing that’s been going on and it’s something we’re never, ever going to beat, but I think the message we’re trying to get out there with this song is, hey look, some kid could be having the worst day of his life and come home and maybe catch our video on TV or something and he could sit there and think, look, these guys have obviously experienced this and they know what it’s like, they’re doing just fine, they’re rockstars, if you want to call us that and they’ve survived it, so why can’t I? I think that’s just the message we’re hoping to push through, it’s just a part of life and you’re gonna be just fine, deal with it and keep moving forward.
How would you compare ‘Bringing Down the Giant’ to your first two albums?
I wouldn’t really compare it so much business wise, you know when it come to the business side of it, the way we had to do things to either album, but I would compare it to our first album as we actually got to go back and do what we love to do and that’s sit down and write music and create. Jared moved back from Atlanta, back in to our small little home town so we could be very close, and have those opportunities to call one and other up at midnight or 10am in the morning and say, oh dude, I just had this great idea, do you want to get together and smoke a little bit and see if we can write a song? That really reflects and I think you’ll see a difference in this record as opposed to our second release ‘Miss America’ in which was basically written by us in the back of a tour bus via us sharing video files, and audio files back and forth to our producer. I think you’ll really see that in this record, you’ll see that we had a lot of fun, there’s some fun songs on there, there’s a Christian song on there called ‘Parachute’, there’s a rocker on there called ‘Bringing Down The Giant’, we’ve got a country rock, Southern rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd / I don’t know if you can even put these two in the same sentence together, but Keith Urban type song on the record. We just had a lot of fun with it, I went to this church gathering and after it we had a cook out and we ate, all the guys got together in the back and there were upright basses and banjos and mandolins and old Martin and Gibson guitars and everyone just started singing old country songs and hymns and stuff like that, I brought out my guitar and sat in with them. That inspired me to do something like that on this record, you’ll hear that on a song called ‘Pine Mountain (The Dance of the Poor Proud Man)’ which is basically an interlude in to a really rockin’ song called ‘You Make Me Sick.’ Just like I said, with that time, and having that kind of time on our side, I think it will compare more to the first record than our second record. It’s definitely Saving Abel there’s no mistake about it but I think it’s our best work yet.
I agree, it’s so well balanced…
Yeah, that’s what I’m saying, there’s something on there for everyone. Like I get it, I read this review from one of these metal magazines on us and they didn’t really get us, but they were saying, if you like this kind of music then you’ll probably like this record. I was thinking, I was at Vinnie Paul’s house a week ago and he asked us to sit down in his house for his birthday and do a three song acoustic gig. We’re sitting there in front of one of the greatest, one of the pioneers of metal as most kids know it today and he’s singing our music to us, that just goes to show that you’ve got people, these kids, I call them kids, I’m a little bit older than most of these crowds we draw to our shows, and I just think people need to be more open minded. Like we were saying, I think it’s a very diverse album and I think there’s something on there for everyone, even if you are just a hardcore rocker or an old school metal head or something, or you’re kind of an eclectic type guy and want to hear something like Ralph Stanley or these old bluegrass folk musicians. Hopefully that’ll bridge a gap, it’s always cool thinking you might put a record like that together, and it’s kinda got that Johnny Cash feel where it’s got a song about everything on it.
You mentioned ‘Parachute’ before which has to be by far my favourite track on the album, was there a specific story behind that one that you can recall?
Yeah. During the time off that I foresaw coming up and knowing that we were probably going to switch labels, I knew that we were going to have a little extra time and I didn’t want to be dead on my feet, and I knew that I wasn’t going to be at the studio writing and recording 24/7, I knew that people were going to be taking vacations and things of that nature. So, an old friend of mine Jonathan Montoya who was the original guitar player for the band Full Devil Jacket, he went on to play with Saliva for six or seven years and he left Saliva just a couple of months prior to Josie leaving to go and pursue a Christian career. John and I were friends and we’d always talked about getting together and doing something, but I was sitting with him at the bar in Jackson, Tennessee when he got the call from Josie to go and join Saliva and I was like, well there goes my hopes and dreams of that ever happening you know? That was probably as close as I was going to get to making it in this business, a few years passed, I get the word that John had left Saliva and it just so happened that Josh Brown who was also in the band Full Devil Jacket who went on to form the Dove winning award band ‘Day Of Fire’, a Christian rock band, they were going on hiatus, so we put together this Christian / secular type rock outfit called ‘A New Rebel’ and we rocked that to and did a five song EP, did it for fun and did some shows and stuff in between everybody’s normal schedules.
That being said ‘Parachute’ I even dedicated it to Josh Brown specifically in the record, because he was a very big help with me on the road, after almost five years on the road without a break at all, and us becoming friends, his faith was a lot stronger than mine at that point of time and we just had a lot of prayers together and the guy gave me the light, the path to see, not to be ashamed to pray with my family before a meal and things like that, that I used to have that I didn’t have anymore. He just became a really close and dear friend of mine, on a friendship basis and a spiritual basis, I’m not going to say religious, but spiritual basis. The song, if you listen to it, the song is called ‘Parachute’ and the line basically in the chorus is that if I jump, are you going to be there to save me in case my ripcord doesn’t pull? That’s just basically what the song is about, and Jared and I also started out as an acoustic duet called ‘Shade of Grace’ and about 50% of our original music was faith based also, so Jared really bought in to the idea putting a song like that on the record. With that being said, Skidd Mills has pretty much made his name with recording bands like ‘Third Day’, winning Grammy’s from recording with them, you know, ‘Audio Adrenaline’, just a lot of the new age Christian rock bands that have come out in the past fifteen years. Nobody in our camp basically had a problem with putting a song like that on there, the song basically wrote itself and I think you said it was one of your favourite tunes, and it’s one of my favourite tunes for many, many different reasons. Mainly because of the actual true story behind the song you know?
I do love it when songs have stories behind them rather than simply manufactured…
I think every song that we have on the record, it’s not just a manufactured thing, everything has a meaning, even down to the banjo thing I was telling you about called ‘The Dance of the Poor Proud Man’ and I played that for my Dad who used to take me to what we’d call Community Centres and they’d have a lot of bluegrass and stuff like that and I don’t know if you know the style of Buck Dancing? It’s basically just stomp your feet type thing, I don’t really know how to explain it, you just have to YouTube it, Google it, Buck Dancing, but he taught me how to do that at a young age and that kind of music. He asked me, well what do you call that little ditty and I actually didn’t have a name for it, and where we were raised was up on this hill with all these pine trees and we called it Pine Mountain, and growing up poor like we did, not a lot of money, I mean we were fed, don’t get me wrong it wasn’t nothing like that, we didn’t go hungry or anything. I basically gave it that name because of my Dad, ‘The Dance of the Poor Proud Man’ so everything even down to that, like you said, everything has a meaning and a reason.
You’ve recently joined the family at eOne, what was it that drew you to their ever growing roster?
A lot of things man, the number one thing was they seemed like the most wiling group of people anxious people to work with out of talking with several different labels, and going back to some of the labels that came up, afterwards and were like, sorry dude, I missed the boat, I should’ve been on top of you guys, I should’ve signed you and they shake your hands and that’s the end, and you never know what the future holds and then it just so happens the future’s here all of a sudden and you look back at all the hands you shook and you’re making the calls and you’re talking to people. What it boils down to at the end of the day, it wasn’t like I had to send 30 emails and make five or six calls just to set something up with the guy that’s in charge of everything, I can just call the guy and if he’s busy he’ll say “Man, I’m really swamped right now, I’ll hit you back and it you don’t hear from me, hit me back.” It’s just one of those situations, and they’re very easy to work with, we’ve got the chance to meet them all last week, went out for dinner and nobody showed up in sports jackets and suits and ties and things of that nature, the guys all had long hair and piercings and tattoos and they were just like us, they looked and acted the part. All that, it makes sense when I actually saw them, it made sense to me why they came across the way they did in our conversations over the phone and via emails and things of that nature. They are the world’s largest independent, and with that being said that says a lot, so I’m just really thankful that number one, we scored an independent and got out from under the major, and number two, I’m very thankful that it was eOne, I think we made the right decision.
You’ve never made the trek to Australia, what do we have to do to make that happen?
You are correct, we have been many places for the U.S.O., we’ve been to Canada many, many, many times but we’ve never actually got to tour Europe, see Australia, places like that, and we just did get word that we’re going to do one show for the U.S.O. in Okinawa in September. That being said, the first thing I shot back to management was just go ahead and book a tour, even if it’s the bigger cities, let’s try to get everything that we can get in that area since we’re over there, so keep our fingers crossed and I’m gonna keep on it too and hopefully we’ll get down there and see you guys.
I hope so, there is a fan base down here, I mean how does it make you feel that a song like ‘Addicted’ still gets radio play down here?
Yeah, I keep a facebook, my personal facebook and I try to respond to it as much as possible, but it’s not uncommon for me to get Australia, Germany and some of these countries that you think you’ve heard of them before but you’re not really even sure where they’re at until you look it up and you’re like oh that’s right by Brazil, or something like that. It’s not uncommon for me to get a couple of those a week just to say hi and if that’s the case and you do that math oh how many I get just from the States alone, we’ve got to have followings in places like that. I can’t wait, that’ll be a dream come true for us, another mark it off the list if we can come and see Australia. There’s something about Australia, I don’t know what it is, Australia and Ireland I think maybe my ancestors are from one of the two areas, there’s something about the culture and a lot of the times also, my accent is pretty thick and the later in the night and the more I have to drink, the lazier my tongue gets. We were on tour with ‘Sick Puppies’ on one of our first tours, those guys are native to Australia and everybody thought I was part of the crew, they thought I was Australian, asking ‘well what part of Australia are you actually from?’ and I’m talking I’m out in LA doing shows or up in Boston, Maine or upstate New York, I thought it was funny so I went ahead and played the part saying I was from Australia.
What do you think it is that sets Saving Abel apart from the 4,000,000 other rock bands out there at the moment?
I think, basically across the board, we just write really good songs and I believe that from the bottom of my heart, because I never really considered myself a great guitar player, most of what I know on guitar came from me sitting down and trying to write my own music. I think that’s one of the main things that sets us apart, but I think the reason for that is, a lot of things in to play but it all comes down to our heart and our passion and for just loving music. Music to me is more than something you just hear, it is a feeling you know what I mean? That’s why we have all these different genres of music and that’s why when I’m in a certain mood I can put in the 80’s greatest ballads and get a six pack of beer and hit a dirt road and waste a couple of hours, you know what I mean? I’m about to go take a jog when I get off the phone with you, and I’ve got everything in my jogging playlist from Candlebox to Helmet you know what I mean? Music is more than just something you hear, it’s a feeling, and I’ve always said this and hopefully that I can be the one that’s quoted as saying this if it ever goes down in the books anywhere, but to me ‘Music is the only true time travel we as humans will ever know’, and the reason I say that is, I can be riding in my vehicle sometimes and a song will come on that maybe I haven’t heard in a while but it will automatically take me back to how she smelled sitting beside me, what the weather was like that day, you know what I mean? Automatically I can go back to that moment for a brief three and a half minutes or however long that song is, so I hope I answered your question man.
So, the rest of 2012, you mentioned touring and a little time off, but what else does this year have in store for you?
What we’re praying about is that we’ll make it over to see you guys. We’re not sure what tours are going on, who will be out, who will be doing what and the business is just kind of like that. We’re very blessed, we got in the business on the tail end of when it was actually taking a dive, it goes back, we can blame it on the economy or whatever, but the truth is, people are just not spending money, I don’t know if that’s because they don’t have it or want to spend it, or penny pinching or whatever. Things have changed a lot, so we really don’t know, we just hope we can keep touring somewhere and if we come to Australia and see Europe and England and Ireland and all these great places that I’ve only ever seen on TV well that’s just another dream come true, and I hope it happens. It’s something like if we get on a tour with a band like Mr Big, still sells out 30,000 seaters in places overseas you know, that would be a blessing to be on a tour with them over there, I would love that. Me personally speaking and I think I’d be speaking for the band, we’re hoping that we do see an overseas tour and finally get over there and meet the fans, like you say in some cases, could be waiting five years to see us, there are fans that have been since ‘Addicted’ came out.
Thank you for your time Jason, and hopefully we’ll see you here one day soon.
Hey, Thank you for the time man, it was awesome talking to you
Band members: Jared Weeks – Vocals, Jason Null – Guitars, Scott Bartlett – Guitars, Eric Taylor – Bass, Michael McManus – Drums
Latest release: Bringing Down The Giant – (July 17 – eOne)