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Members include Paul Crosby, drums; Chris D'abaldo, guitar; Dave Novotny, bass; JoseyScott, vocals; Wayne Swinny, guitar. Addresses: Record company--Island Records, 825 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10019, website: http://www.islandrecords.com. Website--Saliva Official Website:http://www.saliva.net.
Veterans of the Memphis, Tennessee, rock scene, the members of Saliva came together in September of 1996. Within months the group had won an important local talent competition and took off for the semifinals of the Grammy Talent Showcase, sponsored by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Although the group had only been together for a short time, it put on an impressive set that took it to the final round of competition. Despite losing out on the grand prize, the exposure brought the band to the attention of several major record labels. After releasing its self-titled debut in 1997 on its own label, the band signed with Island Records. Saliva's major-label debut, Every Six Seconds, appeared in 2001. Led by the modern rock hit track "Your Disease," the album earned a gold record for sales in the year after its release.
The members of Saliva had played in various Memphis-area bands for several years before singer Josey Scott and guitarist Chris D'abaldo decided to form a new venture in the summer of 1996. Scott hailed from a musical family that included gospel and country singers and musicians at least three generations back. "My dad was a country gospel artist when I was a kid," Scott explained in an interview with MTV.com, "and he taught me how to play the guitar and taught me about how to sing and about harmony and everything like that. And I hated it when I was a kid, but I ended up loving it and appreciating what he had taught me because he had taught me how to become familiar with my own voice, and he taught me about layering and the harmonies.... My dad was a big musical influence on my life earlier on."
D'abaldo's influences included more straight-ahead rock 'n' roll bands such as Mötley Crüe and Black Sabbath. The duo added Paul Crosby on drums and Dave Novotny on bass; another crucial addition was guitarist Wayne Swinny, who also provided rap vocals to the group's sound. As Scott related on the Island Records website, "I couldn't believe what came out of this guy [Swinny]. The beauty is that for all of his ability to rap and his hard edge and his look--he looks really aggressive and scary, almost--when I saw him sit down with an acoustic [guitar] and play this beautiful, melodic stuff with great hooks and melodies and incredible vocals, that really did it for me. I knew this was a band that could do something really special."
Scott and D'abaldo had already agreed upon the name for the band. They wanted something that was simple, yet distinctive, that would convey the emotional meaning that permeated the songs they were writing. As Scott recalled in an interview with Christopher J. Kelter for Roughedge.com, "We started to come up with different ideas geared for the next project that we were going to be working on. As far as the name Saliva was concerned, I was specifically trying to think of a name that was already a household word, that was a human truth, and ... had something to do with sexuality." He added, "I'm really pleased with the way Saliva rolls off the tongue--no pun intended. That it was sexual and provocative was even better as opposed to something political."
Just a few weeks after Saliva came together in September of 1996, it faced its first major challenge when it entered the Grammy Talent Showcase sponsored by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Playing against four other Memphis bands at the New Daisy on famous Beale Street, the group did not think it had a chance at winning the first round of the competition. In addition to its unusual name, the band was essentially making its debut as a new act on the Memphis scene. "We figured hometown politics alone would keep us out of the running," Scott told MTV.com, "and the other bands were really good bands and we were just starting out. We didn't take it really seriously--we just thought of it as a good opportunity to play and get our chops up live." The band focused on putting together a tight set of original songs it had written in just a few months and added some prerecorded radio tracks to play between songs.
Much to its members' surprise, Saliva won the Memphis competition and went to Austin, Texas, for the regionals. Once again the group considered itself the underdog of the lineup, which included bands from Atlanta, Nashville, and Dallas. "I thought we didn't have a chance," Scott admitted to Kelter. "I thought we were done, finished; I could see it comin'." As in Memphis, however, the band's theatrical stage show won over the crowd in Austin. "The situation was like a storybook," Scott recalled. "The Nashville band played first, the Atlanta band played second, and then the Austin band played to a packed house. It was a 'hometown show'--a classic 'hometown show.' Then it was our turn.... They had to call in police officers because the pit got out of hand. It was pretty cool."
Saliva won the regional competition, but at the final round in New York City it was defeated for the grand prize. The exposure of the series was invaluable, however, with several record labels expressing interest in signing the band. Despite the pressure to sign with a major label, the band decided to put out its own independent release first. Saliva, a 13-track collection, appeared in 1997. A mix of rock, rap, gothic, and industrial sounds, the album confirmed Saliva's place among contemporary alternative metal bands such as Staind, Helmet, and Korn. It became a regional favorite and sold about 10,000 copies.
After signing with Island Records, the band went into the studio to record its major-label debut. Every Six Seconds was released in March of 2001. Scott wrote the lyrics to all 12 tracks on the album; as he told Billboard, "I had an opportunity in all the different songs to say everything I wanted to say about life, about truth, about love and relationships--just all of the human conditions from death and mourning to the complex sort of burdens that life had to offer, and how to rise above that and dust yourself off." Scott's approach received mixed reviews from critics. A writer for MegaKungFu.com called the album "a rockin' good time" and the group "one of the few bands that make it that has a clue about how to write a song!" Alyce Wilson of the Wild Violet website took another view of the album. "You can almost hear the agent behind the scenes, crying for a marketable hit.... And that's the problem. This album screams, 'Make me famous.' Even the album art features a preteen Saliva fan, who can be seen sporting such merchandise as a Saliva necklace, mini-backpack, and a Saliva poster in various photos."
In addition to the radio-friendly "Click Click Boom," the single "Your Disease" became a breakout hit from Every Six Seconds and hit Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks top 20. The track details "how things can go bad real fast when there is manipulation and sex involved," Scott told Billboard. "People's emotions can get pretty tangled. I'd say a lot of our songs are relationship-oriented, and not just because everybody can identify with it, either. It's about being honest." Based on the strength of "Your Disease" and the accompanying video, Every Six Seconds earned a gold record for its sales a year after its release.
The band has continued to build its fan base through its energetic live shows. "It's our secret weapon, man," Scott told Voxonline, "We want to give fans their due.... I want people to come away saying, 'Damn! That was worth my $7.00!' ... I want to give them a live show that sounds a lot like the record as well. I hate going to shows and the band plays some way-out version of their hits, when what you want is a really good, rockin' version of what's on the album! With Saliva, that's what they'll get."
by Timothy Borden
Group formed in Memphis, TN, 1996; performed in Grammy Talent Showcase, 1997; released debut album, Saliva, 1997; signed with Island Records, released Every Six Seconds, 2001.
- Selected discography
- Saliva , Rocking Chair, 1997.
- (Contributor) Dracula 2000 (soundtrack), Sony, 2000.
- Every Six Seconds , Island, 2001.
August 17, 2004: Saliva's album, Survival of the Sickest, was released. Source: E! Online, www.eonline.com, August 24, 2004.
- Billboard, March 10, 2001, p. 34; May 5, 2001, p. 95.
- "Hot Spit: Interview with Josey Scott of Saliva," Roughedge.com, http://www.roughedge.com/features/salivaview0101.htm (April 14, 2002).
- MegaKungFu.com, http://megakungfu.com/cdreviews/saliva.shtml (April 14, 2002).
- "Saliva," Island Records, http://www.islandrecords.com/saliva/html/bio.html (April 14, 2002).
- "Saliva: The Cure for Your Disease," MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/bands/archive/s/saliva01/index2.jhtml (April 14, 2002).
- Voxonline, http://www.voxonline.com/alternative/saliva/saliva_interview.htm (April 14, 2002).
- Wild Violet, http://www.wildviolet.net/saliva.html (April 14, 2002).
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