The evening of December 19th at Bombshell’s Lounge in Orlando, FL was a night for this interviewer to remember. The show started with Dakota Black, a Southern Rock band from New Symrna Beach, FL. Their incredible sound from bassist Paul Baker and drummer Mike Pope laid the foundation for the infectious and solid guitar rhythms of Steve Mannocchi and Sean Harris. Lead Singer and Frontman Neil Keeran connected with the crowd with such enthusiasm and intensity. Dakota Black’s energetic performance set the stage and the crowd for the upcoming performances of the Revolutioners and Saving Abel.
I was fortunate to catch up Scott Bartlett of Saving Abel and Paul Houston of the Revolutioners for a one on one. The following is the interview with both the amazing individuals.
OB: What was it like for the band bringing in a new singer after Jared left?
SB: “It was scary as shit. Steven was new too. Steven and Scotty were a package deal from the band Trash the Brand. For us, I think the hardest part was, how do you replace somebody with all the success from a song like Addicted. There is only one Jared Weeks just like there is only one Scotty Austin and his voice is very original. The obstacle for us was, do we do like what Journey or Alice and Chains did (not saying we are as famous as them) and try to find a carbon copy of Jared or do we just go a completely different direction and we kind of went back and forth about that, we figured we own the band now and we own the name why don’t we try and do everything that we were never really able and go with a grittier and edgier more rock and roll in your face sound. We weren’t sure if the public would get it and dig it, and like you suspect there were haters at first but now the haters are showing up with Jack Daniels for us at the shows.
OB: The new album Blood Stained Revolution is a completely different undertone and direction.
SB: I hear pretty resoundingly that it is different, it’s still us, which makes sense because Jason and I still write all the guitar parts and Eric is still on bass and we worked with a producer who is a protégé of our producer who did all three of our albums whom I’ve known for years and years, his name is Justin Rymer and he used to play guitar for the band Twelve Stones and he really wanted to work on this album and it seemed to have worked.
OB: You guys did a lot of shows overseas for the troops. I know how you responded to the troops and the respect that the band shows for our men and women in Iraq, Japan even Cuba, but what was the response the troops gave to you?
SB: They responded with open arms. You know they are so starved for music over there, they are so starved for anything that reminds them of America So I really hate it when people talk about how they are supportive of the troops, but yet they don’t do anything for them it’s just like they are just trying to sell their CD’s. For us if they ask we go, I mean we declined a Motley Crue tour to go over there.
OB: It’s amazing how much you guys seem to give back
SB: I’ve mentioned this before it’s so real for us, it’s just a mutual respect and we’re proud to be Americans I mean we literally have kids half my age risking their life so that I can play rock and roll for a living and I go over there and they are thanking me with tears in their eyes it’s just really endearing .
OB: You have mentioned on your page that you want fans to enjoy unique experiences what is one of the coolest moments since you have been on tour that you have had with a fan?
SB: I had one fan come up to me and tell me literally, he like looked through my soul and said you are my favorite guitar player in the world and he was like will you show me the Drowning solo and I was like Fuck yeah I’ll show you the Drowning solo that’s the kind of thing that validates everything like the extra hours in my basement growing up, and doing things I shouldn’t have been doing. From that to people bringing us surrogate mothers, soccer mom’s in there 50’s saying “we know you don’t eat right out here so we brought you some lasagna. One woman implored me to do my laundry which I thought was kinda weird, and she explained to me that she was a widow and her kid just went away to school and she said you guys remind me of my kid is there anything I can do as like a mom? and I was kidding and I kinda threw it out there and I’m like yeah, I need my laundry done and she just stopped and said I would love to do your laundry and I was thought that’s weird man, but we went to the laundry mat together and we talked about her kid and then we Skyped her son. It was cool.
OB: You guys seem to be very humble, has there ever been a time or two where fans look for extra treatment more so than usual?
SB: There’s a lot of people that feel entitled, and usually its alcohol and hey that’s cool, it’s fine, I mean I get drunker than hell. If somebody says something within reason and you’re having a decent day, then stop your day and let them into your life for two minutes because it might make their day.
OB: And they’ll never forget it
SB: Exactly. you gotta remember that. Growing up we had idles too usually people that want some outlandish thing they are like Super Fans and if I had a chance to meet Slash growing up and he would’ve stopped his day just to talk to me that would’ve changed my life. So, you just gotta remember that and don’t be arrogant. I’d also like to say we have five alpha males in this band but we’re not arrogant we walk around with this humble confidence and we are blessed. Lightning just struck twice for us with this. I mean it struck 17 times when Addicted hit, it was like hitting the lottery it just kept climbing the charts and then we were off to the races and it got really scary for a minute.
OB: You have the new label Tenessee Whiskey out now also, how is that working out for the band?
SB: You know it’s funny, I don’t know I mean we’re owners of the label literally, but we are so focused on the touring side of this business right now.
OB: That’s where you make your money.
SB: Right, that’s where you make your money and then your merch is contingent on bodies in the room, so that’s our main stream of revenue in a time where people don’t really pay for albums but we knew that our fans needed new music from us and we weren’t on a label so we just decided let’s start one and it seems like a viable option and our manager was like you guys can pull this off you have a lot of fans. The hard part is what’s your objective with the label? Do you want to go sign a bunch of bands? Like what do you want to do? We just want to grow organically it’s like planting a seed and watering every little bit you can.
OB: Where would you want the label to go?
SB: I think in a time when music is so fickle and strange I don’t really want to risk even answering that because I just don’t’ know the industry is constantly changing if we can just stay hip to the times and stay hip with the music we’re gonna be fine because we got fans. The label was a means to putting out our record. Scotty had a good point the other day. We cracked into the top 50 with Blood Stained Revolution not the album but with the single and what that does is it says on the charts what label you’re with. There are a lot of labels out there and there’s only 48 charting other than us. So it’s like things are happening. If a major label were to call us tomorrow, I don’t know what I’d say we’d have to have a long talk and then a vote.
OB: Are you looking for a specific genre for the label?
SB: There is literally no method to the madness. We have one, what’s beautiful if you buy the CD it comes with a companion CD which is each of our side projects like Trash the Brand which is Scotty and Steven’s band and then I have a solo EP out, Jason has a project on there and the Revolutioners who open for us is on there, they are the only band we have signed and they asked what do you guys want from us and I responded with I don’t know
On that note did you take Revolutioners under your wing? How did you end up signing them?
They are close to our home and they opened for us a few times and we thought these guys are bad ass and when our manager came to us and said would you consider signing anyone else . The main stipulation when you sign a band is you’re going to help them grow. I know our business model is working but we sold a shit ton of records because we have a shit ton of fans conversely other bands don’t have that. We’d like to be able to help them with that but we can’t help their fans buy their records. What we can do is take them out on tour with us, make sure they get fed and they are taken care of and we show them the ropes of what a real hard American southern touring rock band does and that feels pretty good.
OB: So, how is it being on tour with the Revolutioners?
SA: They’re great. Again, we’re humble, but we’re still kinda in the 80’s we’re decadent hedonistic fun rockers. We make sure the party happens every night. We will stay at the bar until they throw us out. I mean that is not a Euphemism that is literal.
OB: Do you have any advice for upcoming local bands?
SA: Be in it for the right reasons. You have to be good at networking and you have hit to the times. There is social media now which makes it a lot easier.
OB: What are your right reasons?
SB: This music bug hit me and I can’t stop it makes me tick.
OB: I’m sure each of you had regular nine to five jobs before you became popular, at what point did you decide to quit your job and play music full time?
SA: I was just done teaching. I felt like I was becoming sort of a hypocrite because I would come down on my students for not practicing and yet I never did what anybody told me to do. We had that talk and we were about to sign our deal and decided this was a chance of a lifetime, are we going to have a job holding us up and we all had sacrifices to make. Steven quit his job after being with us for a month; he was a troubleshooter for Toyota. There are sacrifices that had to be made.
OB: Where do you see the direction of the band going?
SA: We are going to have to keep touring that is where we grow our business. We have big plans for the Blood Stained Revolution video you’ll start seeing that a lot more we’ve been talking about what the next single will be. We’re not going to know if Blood Stained Revolution is going to go climbing into the top 20 until the second week of January after the holidays.
Thank you Scott Bartlett for taking the time to talk with Scene and Heard with LizM of OrlandoBands.com, I wish you luck with the new album Blood Stained Revolution and the new label Tennessee Whiskey.
For more information on Saving Abel check out http://www.savingabel.com/.