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Interview with Josey Scott of SALIVA

Interview by Christopher J. Kelter - January 18, 2000

One of the up-and-coming acts to have the good fortune to shine with a major label in 2001 is the Memphis-based Saliva. I had an opportunity to talk with lead vocalist Josey Scott and he exuded Southern charm, boatloads of confidence, and a cool attitude. Although I didn't have time to ask a lot of questions, Josey Scott was very entertaining and forthcoming. Read on as we discussed the band's rise to a major label deal, trials and tribulations, and their Island Recording debut "Every Six Seconds."

Rough Edge: Well, I gotta ask: how does a band pick a name like Saliva and then conclude that it will work?

Saliva: I was in another band with Chris Dabaldo {Saliva's guitar player} and we knew that our situation with the people we had surrounded ourselves with was not going to work. We started to prepare for our next project; 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 sexual and had something to do with sexuality. 

Rough Edge: So swapping spit was on your mind?

Saliva: Well, saliva is a good lubricant! (laughter) Anyway, I was thinking in that respect that Saliva is a household word and you can't mispronounce it. When we started playing around town as Saliva the reactions to the name weren't very good. That just gave us more impetus to stick a foot in their ass and the name Saliva really became an identity. I'm really pleased with the way Saliva rolls of the tongue - no pun intended. That it was sexual and provocative was even better as opposed to something political.

Rough Edge: I'm glad the name of the band doesn't have a number in it like Saliva 121 or something.

Saliva: Yeah, band number 1211122. (laughter)

Rough Edge: Is it true that the band had only been together for a couple of months when you entered the Grammy Showcase competition?

Saliva: Actually, we'd only been together about six weeks. We got second place out of 6,000 bands. We would've had first place, but the band that won was a ska band and anything ska related was really flourishing at the time.

Rough Edge: Second place was the overall competition. Tell us a little bit about the build-up and winning the regional in Memphis, winning the semi-finals in Austin, and making finalists in NYC must have been a confidence booster. Tell us how that helped Saliva.

Saliva: Every competition did not go without incident. The first one here in Memphis was when we really introduced ourselves to the community. They literally said, "and the weirdest entry - Saliva"; they talked shit about us - Memphis traditionally shoots itself in the foot like that. But anyway we were in the competition with a bunch of bands that had been playing around Memphis for a long time and there was a blues act with a kid in it who was really connected. So we thought to ourselves, we're gonna lose this competition because somebody knows somebody. We really didn't worry about it, which probably helped because we didn't care if we won or lost - we were on stage to kick a little ass.

Rough Edge: Yeah, those kind of situations just let a band get really loose, get on stage with no fear, and simply do their own thing.

Saliva: Yeah, we weren't nervous or anything. We just played our asses off and we put on a show. There was no talking in between songs, we had pre-recorded AM radio bits between our songs, and we made it theatrical. We wanted to dominate. Whether we won or lost was secondary to showing everyone that we were the best. We had the songs to do it; in the short time that we had been together we wrote a lot of good songs. We just laid the mat down and let it all hang out. After the show, I was standing there with my mom and dad waiting for the results. I wanted to show both of them that I could dust myself off and succeed and that I didn't need to go back to school.

Rough Edge: So you were sticking to your dream and weren't letting go?

Saliva: Right. And when we were announced as the winners my parents were privy to the fact that I could do it - well, they knew I could do it. They had all the confidence in the world that I could do it. They were great stage parents - they took me to everything venue possible when I was a kid. And then we went off to Austin, Texas to the regionals - the kicker here was that there was a blues band and the singer was Stevie Ray Vaughan's nephew and they'd won the Dallas showcase. So the regionals are in Austin and Austin is their hometown! There were two other bands from Atlanta and Nashville. We weren't really concerned about the bands from Atlanta or Nashville, but we were really concerned about the band from Austin and they were talented! The band was tight and the guy's voice was awesome - a very modern blues kinda sound. With all that stacked up against us I thought we didn't have a chance. I thought we were done, finished - I could see it comin'. However, I really wanted to get to the finals in New York; I had promised my mom before leaving for Austin that I'd take her to New York. I told her, "I am going to win." The situation was like a storybook. 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. We got up there and stuck a boot in their ass! They had to call in police officers because the pit got out of hand. It was pretty cool. After the show we all thought we had potential to win. When they said, "The winners are five guys from Memphis; Saliva!" I didn't think I heard it right; I thought they said Saliva, but I wasn't sure. And then they announced us as the winners again and then it was... (Josey goes into a classic Frank Sinatra voice) "Start spreadin' the news..." (laughter). And then it was off to New York - and there's an interesting story about New York!

Rough Edge: Tell us!

Saliva: Remember the shooting at the top of the Empire State Building? We were there right before it happened! Me, the rest of the guys in the band, my best friend from home, and my mother were up there in the observation deck seconds before it. We were doing the tourist bit - taking pictures and stuff. We'd been up there for about an hour and a half and my mother needed to use the restroom. So my friend and I found a unisex restroom and my wise mother sensed something was wrong. She had a very serious look on her face and decided to wait. I'll never forget that moment. We got in line for the elevator and started to go down. We got to the bottom of the Empire State Building there were cops everywhere. I thought someone was going to blow up the Empire State Building! I grabbed my mother's hand and we got out of there. I thought there was a bomb in there. We went back to the hotel, turned on the TV. And we found out that guy shot all those people.

Rough Edge: Does the CD's title "Every Six Seconds" have any specific meaning?

Saliva: Yeah, definitely. Everything we do has meaning - from the album title to the picture on the album cover. "Every Six Seconds" speaks volumes to us about the attention span of Americans, the media, and sex. I got "Every Six Seconds" from a show that claimed that men think about sex every six seconds. The title is about sex, it's about God, the media, the world and the shape it's in today. It has prolific meanings.

Rough Edge: How was it working with producer Bob Marlette?

Saliva: It was magical. He is the sorcerer. He's an unbelievable producer. He's my teacher, my mentor, and my friend.

Rough Edge: It sounded like he was the perfect guy for Saliva in the studio because he has produced a lot of different styles of music. It seemed a good fit because you guys cover so much ground in your music.

Saliva: I know that when I go in the room with Bob Marlette I'm going to come up with something awesome.

Rough Edge: What's next for Saliva?

Saliva: We're going on tour in March and beating the United States to death. After that I hope we get to beat Europe to death.

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Copyright 2001 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:11 -0400