Hard-rock band Saliva beat the odds on multiple fronts. Formed in Memphis in 1996, the group made the leap from indie act to major-label, double-platinum success with its 2001 album, Every Six Seconds.
In the decade since, Saliva added more charting singles to its set list, including “Rest In Pieces,” “Always,” “Ladies and Gentlemen,” “Family Reunion” and WWE theme song “Survival of the Sickest.”
Maybe even more impressive than the band’s radio hits and gold and platinum albums is the fact that Saliva has kept most of its original membership intact. Although original guitarist Chris Dabaldo left in 2005 (to spend more time with his family), the other guys - singer Josey Scott, guitarist Wayne Swinny, bassist Dave Novotny and drummer Paul Crosby - sustained their will to rock.
“I guess the four of us are just the most diehard of everybody,” Crosby said last week. “We refuse to give up.”
Be that as it may, being successful is an excellent reason to stay together.
“We’re gonna do it until nobody asks for autographs or buys a ticket anymore,” Crosby said.
Crosby and his bandmates also happen to like other.
“We’re all best friends,” he said. “And we love music, we love our fans.”
But even success has its disadvantages.
“A lot of sacrifice comes along with it,” Crosby said. “It’s great because it’s what you always wanted. At the same time, you’re away from your friends and family a lot.”
And what if Saliva hadn’t gotten a record deal and a following? Would Crosby still be on a bandstand somewhere?
“I can tell you right now, without a doubt, I would be playing in some band, somewhere, even if it’s just playing shows on the weekends in a cover band,” he said.
When the members of Saliva came together in Memphis 15 years ago, all of them had much music experience. In all of those pre-Saliva groups, the musicians who ultimately formed Saliva were the most committed to music.
“We were always the guy who was totally, 100 percent in,” Crosby explained. “It wasn’t a hobby, it was a passion. Everybody else in those bands, they loved to play but they didn’t take it nearly as seriously as we did.
“We got frustrated because the other guys were blowing off band practice. But then we met each other through these other bands. After those bands disbanded, we came to the realization that, ?Hey, if we get together, we’re the guys who want the same thing.’
“So, if there’s someone in your band who’s not giving 100 percent, do yourself a favor right now - get rid of them. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.”
As more evidence that Saliva’s dedication paid off, the band released a milestone CD last year, Moving Forward In Reverse: Greatest Hits. Strategically, too, the collection provided a new Saliva disc between 2008’s Cinco Diablo album and 2011’s Under Your Skin.
“We realized, ?Hey, now would be the perfect time to put out this greatest hits record,’ “ Crosby said. “Because three years is a long time to go away, it’ll give the fans something to hold them over while we’re making our next record.”
Under Your Skin also allowed Saliva to realize a years-long ambition to work with Howard Benson, the Grammy-nominated producer whose clients include My Chemical Romance, Three Days Grace, Papa Roach and Creed.
“It seems like everything Howard touches turns gold and platinum,” Crosby said. “He’s a genius. He brings stuff out of singers that you don’t hear on any of their other records. That’s what I’ve always really, really loved about him.”
Even pre-Benson, Crosby held much respect for his band’s singer, Josey Scott.
“When it comes time to write songs, he always pulls the rabbit out of the hat. He comes at you with catchy phrases that no one else can think of. Honestly, he’s underrated. He’s one of the best singers in rock.”