Saving Abel: 2009 Interview with Randy Hall of The Rock Tribune

I recently had a chance to interview Jason Null of the up and coming sensation Saving Abel. We talked about how the band came about, the rigorous life of touring, and where he sees the band going from here.

Randy: Can you explain how you guys all came together to form Saving Abel?

Jason: I had several bands in my hometown of Corinth, Mississippi, and I had put out a couple of cd’s…Jared was a fan of one of those bands. I had showed up at a mutual friend’s house one night, it was just a huge jam session; a lot of people in there playing there instruments and stuff. Jared came up to me, and introduced himself and told me he was a fan, and that he liked my music. He asked me if he could sing one of the songs, and if I would play it on guitar, and I agreed. He got up and sang…I just couldn’t believe it…that he was there, and all these musicians were there, and nobody had nabbed him up yet with his voice that he had. So we just pretty much exchanged numbers that night and it was a gradual process…over the next few years he and I got together from time to time and wrote. Once we felt that we had something special with the music, we would be singing it to our selves during the day, and then we thought,

“Why don’t we go track this stuff just to make sure we get them down so that we don’t forget it.” Once we decided to do that I had remembered Skidd Mills, a producer out in Tennessee. I remembered hearing some of his work years ago when I was actually having a record mastered at a studio. So I just called him up, tracked him down and he agreed to do some acoustic demos. So we went up there and did that, and he was interested in what we had. A few weeks later, Skidd called me and said he would like to do a couple of songs with us…a real recording with a full band. That turned into a full record. Actually, Blake’s brother played in some of my earlier bands, and I knew their father was a musician, so I figured Blake was probably on an instrument. So I called up Blake’s brother and asked him if Blake was playing anything, and he said, “Yeah, I’m actually playing drums”…and so I invited Blake out. Scott was actually doing session work in Memphis and Skidd called him in to work on a couple of the songs that we had at the time. I had actually met Scott one time but I didn’t know who he was at that point. I told Jared “He’s great, let’s hire him if he wants to join the band,” so we offered that to him and he took it. Eric is actually our second bass player. He saw an ad on MySpace that we had put out saying that we needed a bass player. Jared and I had scheduled tryouts for the position and Eric was just the right one. And I believe Jared knew Eric previously. Corinth is a real small town and all of its surrounding areas are small as well…so everybody kind of knows everybody in a way.

Randy: So everyone but Scott came from or around Corinth, Mississippi then?

Jason: Right…Scott was living in Memphis for the last 10 or 15 years. He’s actually from Baltimore.

Randy: So prior to hooking up with Skidd, it was only you and Jared who wrote all the music and recorded the demos?

Jason: We actually started out to put a band together when we first started writing. We had all these songs written out for electric guitars, and we were trying out drummers and bass players. We could never find

anybody that was dedicated enough or good enough or just committed enough just to say, “Hey, I will even show up for practice.” So there was about a year that went by where Jared and I really didn’t talk a lot, and then one day I was working and my phone rang. I picked it up and it was him…He asked if I wanted to get together, drink a couple beers, and play some music. I told him yeah, and he told me to bring over my acoustic this time. He said he didn’t want to do the electric stuff this time, and wanted to try the acoustics and see what we get. So I took the acoustic over and we wrote 2 or 3 songs that evening, and it just kept going and going. So that’s where it really started for Jared and I…doing the acoustic stuff and being able to go out and gig without having to have a full band behind us.

Randy: Did any of those early songs make it onto your current album?

Jason: The first song that Skidd heard by us was a song called, “Beautiful Day,” and I think that’s probably what got his attention initially and it made it to the major release. There were a couple of songs on the independent release we did with Skidd that we tracked that turned out really well. But once we recorded “Addicted,” that’s when we really became Saving Abel. That song kind of defined us, so we chopped a lot of the older tracks that were more southern rock, and wrote some heavier tunes like “In God’s Eye’s” and “Get Out Of My Face”.

Randy: Is it possible that we may see some of them older tracks released in the future?

Jason: A couple of the tracks from the EP actually made it as B sides. From what I’m hearing, we have already had T.V. spots. N.C.I.S. had a track called “After All” the other night on their show. I think there have been several things like that going on; it’s just been so much that I haven’t really dug in to see what was actually happening. But, absolutely…I would love to think that some of those other songs would make it to another record some day. Like maybe as bonus material on a record or something.

Randy: How quick did all of this happen? From you and Jared first getting together with Skidd, to actually cutting an album…

Jason: It started in the beginning of 2005, and we tracked our first demo March 15th of that same year.

Randy: When did you guys finish the album and start touring?

Jason: We finished the major release in September of 2007, and we signed the record deal in October of 2007. Then we hit the road in November of 2007 and we’ve been gone since.

Randy: Where did the name Saving Abel come from?

Jason: That was me…it was late one night and I was on the computer…there was nothing to do, and I had already done the MySpace stuff, and answered emails from people that were giving us attention. I had been reading the Bible a lot at that point of my life, and for some reason the story of Cane and Abel was on my mind; I had just gotten into it, and for some reason I just Googled Cane and Abel, and there was a couple of lines that came up and one of them read, “there was no saving Abel from his brother Cane.” And I just read this again and again. It was just stuck in my head, and we actually needed a band name. One of the records was done, and we were working on more stuff. We had gigs booked, and all the players in the band were in place at the time…and we just basically needed a name. It was really easy,…actually, once I ran it by everyone and we all agreed it was a decent name, I tagged it and we went with it.

Randy: Because of the name, do you guys ever get misidentified as a Christian band?

Jason: Yeah, we get that all the time. People ask us if we are a Christian band, and my response is, “we are Christian guys, but we play rock n’ roll.”

Randy: Where is “Addicted” on the charts right now?

Jason: It was #7 on the pop charts last week. That was kind of a defining moment when I opened up the magazine and saw I had passed up Britney Spears.

Randy: How was that? When was your first “Wow, we are actually doing this” moment?

Jason: For me, it was probably our local radio station in Memphis, Tennessee, and I remember it well. We were either gigging up there, or we had been to the studio…I was coming out of Memphis late one night and I didn’t have the radio up…I was talking to a friend of mine that was in the car and I just saw on the LED on the radio “Addicted” by Saving Abel, and I just turned it up. It was really the first time I had heard it on a major station like that. I just turned it up loud, lit up a cigarette, and listened. To get airplay on a major station like that was a big thing. This was just one of the times. Another was playing for about 50 thousand people at a festival in Kansas City. I think Jared also recalls this as being one of his fondest memories. Just looking out and seeing the sea of people and they knew “Addicted” and were singing it back to us.

Randy: What kind of a feeling is that, having thousands of people singing your song back to you?

Jason: Sometimes it’s like any job and you just have a bad day…but for the most part it is really rewarding to see that going on, seeing things progress and the record’s selling more, and they know more of the songs other than “Addicted.” That’s a huge payoff to not have just that one song that people know you by.

Randy: Who wrote the songs for this record?

Jason: For this record, I wrote the majority of the stuff on there. Jared, thank God, came up with the chorus for “Addicted.” It was really just a joint effort from me and Jared, because at the beginning it was just me and him and a lot of that stuff was songs that made it to the record. But we did demos of stuff that our drummer wrote, which turned out great. We just didn’t have enough room on the record for them. Scott wrote some stuff with me as well; in “Out Of My Face,” he was crucial in laying down the guitar parts. Skidd, our producer, has played a major role in that too. But to answer your question, I believe later on everyone will be more involved in the writing process.

Randy: Was a lot of the writing based on real life experiences or kind of tongue in cheek?

Jason: “New Tattoo” was actually based on a true story. I was out of high school and decided to take a road trip with a buddy of mine. There was a young lady stranded on the side of the road not to far from where we were headed in Panama City, and I ended up spending the week with her. She got a new Tattoo and that’s always been in my mind to tell that story. “18 Day’s” we had done a military theme based video for that song. This song was actually written as a Christian song, and when we had decided we weren’t going to go in that direction with we kind of reworded some stuff so it can actually be taken in a couple of different ways. I kind of like that idea that people can listen to something and get different things out of it. For me, I will listen to a song and I will take a wording or a phrase completely different than say, Jared would.

Randy: You guys have both the hard and heavy songs to the more ballad type of songs. Was this intentionally done when writing the songs?

Jason: Absolutely. Yeah it was intentional. We wanted to put something on that record that no matter who you were, whatever type of music you listened to, whoever your favorite band was, there was enough different flavors on this record that there was something that you would want to listen to. For instance, the song “Beautiful Day” was in our head as being a really good song that may even cross over into possibly the Country Genre. Who knows?

Randy: What is your favorite song to play?

Jason: To play live, hands down, it’s “In God’s Eyes.” We do a huge intro with that…we just have fun with it and it’s just a fun song to play. I have heard mixed opinions on this before, but I would think as a whole, it’s probably the band’s favorite song to play as well.

Randy: You mentioned earlier about you and Jared sitting down with the acoustics and writing music. Has there ever been a possibility of you guys either doing a live acoustic set or maybe even an acoustic album?

Jason: We are actually doing our first acoustic gigs this week. We did one last night (12-4-08) and we’re doing another one tonight (12-05-08) in Nashville. I would absolutely love to do that later on. I would love to go back and revisit some of the songs when it was just Jared and I, and we were called Shade of Grace then. I would love to do an acoustic record.

Randy: How long have you guys been touring off this record?

Jason: We have been booked solid since November of last year (2007). We got about a two and a half week break for the holidays. It was about January 15, 2008…we left to go on tour with Days of the New. Then it was just one tour after another. We didn’t even go home in between some

of the tours. We would just meet up with the next band in another city and go on tour again.

Randy: How are you guys coping with making your first major record, to being on the road now for over a year, with shows still booked for at least another four or five months?

Jason: It’s not hard for me, speaking for me personally. I do have a son, Ethan, who just turned 7 this last summer at home that I do miss…and of course I have family that I miss as well. But it’s what I have always wanted to do. It’s what I love doing. I love playing music, and now I’m actually doing it on a professional level to where I can actually pay my bills with what used to be my hobby.

Randy: Do any of the other members have wives?

Jason: Eric is the only one who is married and he has actually a new baby girl that was born in January, and he spent one week with her before he had to hit the road again.

Randy: So with that, how’s the rest of the band coping with rigorous tour schedule?

Jason: As far as I can see everyone doing just fine. Jared’s a diabetic and sometimes that can be hard for him. And sometimes just staying healthy on the road, period, can be hard for us all. That’s probably the only thing that we’re all doing differently now than we used to do. I would work out 5 days a week, ate healthy, and I weighed about 40 pounds heavier than I did when I first went on tour. I mean, you can’t help it when there’s that bottle of Jack Daniel’s sitting there. You have to open it and drink it and then the next thing you know it’s gone. Then you’re waking up at 2 p.m. the next day and its show time. You get off stage and there’s that Jack

Daniel’s staring at you again. M.I.N.: Right now, you guys are on tour with Shinedown and Avenged Sevenfold, getting ready to wrap that up, correct?

Jason: Shinedown, Avenged Sevenfold, BuckCherry and yes, I do believe we have performed our last show with that tour as a whole for now. And I hear, nothing confirmed yet, that we may go back out on the road with Buckcherry after the first of the year. So that might be why no January dates have been scheduled yet on our site yet.

Randy: Then you guys headline your own shows for about a month, then head out on tour with Nickelback and Seether, correct?

Jason: That is correct. We are totally looking forward to that tour as well.

Randy: Which band do you personally look forward to being able to play with one day?

Jason: I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the guys from Seether, and doing gig’s for them. They are great guys and I am definitely looking forward to seeing them again, but I would have to say Nickelback is a dream come true. Getting signed and everything leading up to this is sometimes hard for me to believe…that I am actually going to go on tour with Nickelback. With that even being said when it even came up to Puddle of Mudd and Theory of a Deadman; I remember buying these records 2 years ago. I was standing in line to catch a show for these bands and now I’m playing with them. It’s all been kind of surreal for me at this point, but Nickelback for me. Unless I can tour with Van Halen, at this

point is probably my pick.

Randy: Have you ever been to Chicago?

Jason: Been several times…we used to play the H.O.B. in Chicago and we absolutely love it there, and coming from a musician’s standpoint, the H.O.B. is one of the best venues to play.

Randy: Where do you see yourself in 7 years?

Jason: Hopefully releasing our greatest hits and planning another tour. I just can’t imagine us not out there jamming and rocking hard. I eventually would like to produce and be the man behind the board, but I’m no where near ready to lay down my guitar for that just yet.

Randy: If you could tell your fans one thing, what would you like them to know?

Jason: God bless them for buying the record and supporting rock and roll music. Thank you for coming to the shows and being fans of Saving Abel.

Saving Abel is on tour right now to promote their self-titled debut album, which is available in stores and online. They are a great listen for anyone who appreciates music, and just good old rock and roll. Visit their website here for a list of upcoming shows near you.

Jared Weeks-Vocals

Jason Null-Guitars

Scott Bartlett-Guitars

Eric Taylor-Bass

Blake Dixon-Drums

www.facebook.com/savingabel

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