EU talks with Monster-Man Guitarist Scott Bartlett
The boundary line between Tennessee and Mississippi connects more than just the states. It’s the metaphorical border that marries southern roots with the driving force of hard rock. That “Tennessippi” sound is the foundation of Saving Abel, a “swampy, dirty and southern” rock outfit with members hailing from – you guessed it – Tennessee and Mississippi.
Saving Abel recently embarked on its 2016 tour and stops March 13 at Harmonious Monks in Jacksonville Beach. The band is test driving a new, unreleased song “Monster” that is the core element in its new VIP package called “The Monster Package”. The package includes admission to the show, a photo with the band wearing a special “monster” mask, meet and greet, limited edition autographed poster and original, handwritten lyric sheet for the song “Bloodstained Revolution”. (www.officialsavingabel.com)
Guitarist Scott Bartlett spoke with EU Jacksonville about making music that matters, giving back and doing what it takes to keep the machine humming. Bartlettt is driving in blinding rain, trying to maintain a signal long enough to finish the interview. It’s all part of the process but it’s no less frustrating when you’re trying to get from point A to B without skidding into oblivion.
Saving Abel formed in 2004. “We can fight all day long about where Saving Abel came from but we know it came from two places; Tennessee and Mississippi,” and early on relied on the DIY aesthetic to get noticed, doing self-promotion, recording their own demos and tossing them onstage at other band’s shows. Despite a series of early lineup changes, the hard work paid off and Saving Abel cranked out favorites like “Addicted”, “The Sex is Good”, “Bringing Down the Giant” and “Miss America” and played festivals like Rocklahoma, Rock on the Range, Sturgis Throttle Fest, EarthDayBirthDay and Daytona Bike Week.
The band began headlining their own shows, supporting other rock acts including Three Doors Down, Buckcherry, Shinedown, Nickleback, Avenge Sevenfold, Papa Roach, Seether, Hinder and Brett Michaels and appeared on the Yahoo Live Concert series twice in the last year.
Bartlett says Saving Abel manages its own social media and talks directly with promoters and radio stations and is committed to sharing a personal connection with their fans, near and far. The band played 306 shows last year, sacrificing time away from their families to bring music to the fans that continue to stand by them, supporting causes like Autism Awareness and military veterans. They even traveled into war-torn nations to play for the troops stationed in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay as part of USO tours despite objections from the label.
“For everything that we preach about being hard working Americans, it’s not fair if we don’t practice what we preach,” Bartlett says. “Every one of our families has at least one member in the military. The first time they asked, we said yes and it sort of snowballed into a no matter what and I think it was because we got to look into the eyes of the soldiers. When you have a 19-year-old soldier at the Walter Reed Hospital who doesn’t have legs and I’m there to play by his bedside, it takes on a new meaning. For us, it was very honest and brought us back down to earth.”
Bartlett says Saving Abel is redefining what it means to make music that matters. If that means saying no to a paying festival spot to play free for the troops, that’s a sacrifice the band is willing to make, as long as they maintain a relationship with their fans.
“That’s the double-edged sword. We have to pick and choose our battles. Yes, the Saving Abel machine is what we do for our fans but it’s for us, too. We get to do what we love for a living but it’s very taxing,” he says. “We’ve endued a lot over the years from labels and managers to lineup changes, but we are stronger and tighter than ever as a band and I’m very proud of where our future is going and I know our fans will be there for us. I just want them to know we appreciate it because it couldn’t have been done without them.”