It’s been two short years since America became “Addicted” to Saving Abel, now the boys from Corinth, Mississippi are back, and they’ve brought a friend. Meet “Miss America” the group’s follow-up to their self-titled Gold Record debut. The album lives up to it’s feminine moniker, in that, much like the women in my life, sometimes what I think they’re going to say and mean and what they actually say and mean, are two very different things. While “Miss America” gives us plenty of mental candy for our minds to chew on, I needed to go deeper and get inside of one of the minds behind “Miss America”… Saving Abel guitarist Scott Bartlett. Here’s how it all sounded when Scott and I spoke about everything from government, to ghosts, and believe it or not… galloping guitarists…
AWAY-TEAM: So the new album “Miss America” comes out on Tuesday (June 8th), congrats on that…
SCOTT BARTLETT: It’s very exciting man, I don’t think we know what we’re getting into, but either way we’re ready for it.
AWAY-TEAM: Ya know I’ve had the chance to hear it, I’m really digging it. In fact I was just listening to it today.
SCOTT BARTLETT: It’s eclectic, right?
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah man I love it.
SCOTT BARTLETT: I think it still sounds like us, but it sounds like a more grown-up version of us. I mean we just couldn’t be happier.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, I think you’ve got a hit on your hands here…So you guys have been touring alot, as you’re kind of known for, but you guys just played “Rocklahoma” this weekend, how was the reception there? I know “Rocklahoma” is traditionally more of an 80’s glam and metal festival, how did you find the reception there for a band such as yours?
SCOTT BARTLETT: It’s funny, we were kinda warned about that before we got there, so you can either cry about it and look for excuses, or you can just go out and rock extra hard. And I like to think that’s what we did because the crowd was actually very receptive. Ya know, everybody loves the classics, and everybody loves the 80’s, that’s an awesome era of music but, ya know, music does keep on evolving. So for any festival it’s good to… you know because they still had that element… I mean they still had Cinderella and ZZ Top, so basically they just expanded it because they’re trying to widen the demographic, so I’m completely supportive of that, and I think we rocked it. I think the crowd dug it.
AWAY-TEAM: I understand you guys have been playing a few of the new songs as well. What’s been the most well received of the new songs? Also, does that kind of showcasing play into what becomes the next single? Or how does that selection process go?
SCOTT BARTLETT: Well, there’s alot of different ways of looking at it. You have a lot of people to please. Ya know, how do you predict what song the fans are gonna like the most? Then you have radio, who is basically what made this band do what it did by spinning “Addicted” , and so ya know we kinda feel like we’d been bold with that one, and so we’re constantly trying to do it again. I don’t think there’s any particular process that works, it’s just thank God for us we have an album with 11 songs, and conceivably 11 singles. I mean, obviously we’re not gonna do that, but there’s something for everyone. When we play live, we just put our heart and soul into every one of the songs, and people always seem to dig it. But we have radio support right now for the single “Stupid Girl (Only in Hollywood)”, so because of the familiarity with that song, that seems to get the best reaction.
AWAY-TEAM: When I’m really digging an album, I tend to get a song stuck in my head. After playing them night-after-night, does that ever happen to you with any of your own songs?
SCOTT BARTLETT: Ummm yeah, but then it just becomes uh, I mean you gotta think with some of these songs like “Addicted” we’ve been playing it for four years so… we’ve played it so many times, it’s like ,you know, it’ll get stuck in your head, but you kinda wanna forget about it…
SCOTT BARTLETT: You really don’t want to get sick of your own music, like when you play it night-after-night-after-night, I mean the only blessing is that your playing it to different crowds, so they’re still just as excited. So that element of excitement stays up, but no, I try my best not to let our own music get stuck in my head ‘cuz I think I’d go crazy. (laughs) That’s not to say it’s not catchy, ya know Saving Abel definitely has a catchy kind of sound to it, and I think we owe alot of that to our producer.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, Skidd Mills is a great producer. I was talking to Andy Brewer (Taddy Porter) about working with him a couple weeks ago. I’m gonna talk to you a little bit about that conversation later on too. But, let’s talk about some of the songs on the album. The first track “Tap Out”, it seems to be fairly obvious it was kinda written as an anthem for MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). Were you guys specifically asked to write a song like this? Or was it more of a “Hey, this would be kinda cool..” and hopefully somebody in the MMA arena will pick it up?
SCOTT BARTLETT: I think it was just initially, we had the riffs, and then we were just thinking about it. I mean we all watch MMA, we’re definitely into it, we were just thinking about, ya know we don’t have any of those songs that are just angry. We started just throwing out words and just kinda thinking of a way to parlay that into a song, and umm, no, nobody asked us to do it. We’re not really one of those bands that would be asked to do that sort of thing, because we’ve got so much radio support. They usually look sort of “off the beaten path” , ya know, more hip, for lack of a better term. Saving Abel is kinda confusing like that, because we’ve commercialized ourself, which ya know is a great thing, but then when it comes to people that are looking for more obscure, heavy songs… we’re not that band. Which again, is a blessing and a detriment, but we gotta roll with what works best for us. We know how to write a kick ass rock song, I know that.
AWAY-TEAM: You talk about already having the riff for that song, I thought I detected a little bit of Iron Maiden in the opening of that. Is that correct? Are you guys Maiden fans?
SCOTT BARTLETT: Yeah, I used to cover “Run to the Hills”. I was in kinda like an All-Star session guy band in Memphis, we did some Maiden and some Kiss, it was more of a joke then anything, we called ourselves “The Circus Bears”. And whenever we did “Run to the Hills” we had five guitarists on stage, and when the riff started like “dun-di-di-di-di-di-di-di-di-di-di” we would all gallop…
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) That’s pretty cool.
SCOTT BARTLETT: But yeah, we definitely love some metal over here at Saving Abel.
AWAY-TEAM: You gotta rip that back out sometime. (laughs) I’d love to see you guys all galloping out on stage, even minus a couple guitars, it’d still be pretty cool.
SCOTT BARTLETT: Yeah, I’ve been trying to go as a Centaur for Halloween for the last few years… it’s just kind of expensive, and the costume’s kind of tough to figure out.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Now the uh, title track “Miss America”, that kinda completely threw me for a loop, it’s not at all what you expect it to be about. Nonetheless, it did make me feel proud to be an American. Tell our readers a little about the inspiration behind that.
SCOTT BARTLETT: Well the song itself is more-less a play on words, it’s not about “the pageant”, it’s about our soldiers that are overseas missing America. “I miss America, my Miss America”, the song itself actually chronicles three different perspectives of what it’s like being a soldier overseas… it’s like ya know, you can be a son who’s fighting and writing back to his father, you can be a husband writing back to your wife, or you can be a father writing back to your son. And it tries to look at it from all three of those vantage points, and either way, now that we’ve gone overseas and been there, we know what it’s like for each and every person… they all miss America. But they’re fighting the good fight for what we believe in as Americans, and ya know making it so that we have the freedom to play rock-n-roll music, so this album is for them.
AWAY-TEAM: Ya know, that’s something that I really found to be kick-ass, because alot of bands, um not so much any more, but in recent years have kind of been ya know, bashing the government and this and that but forgetting, you know, that we have troops over there risking their lives for us and it’s good to see someone like yourselves putting something out as kind of a “Thank You”. Ya know just to let ‘em know that they’re not forgotten, and give ‘em a little support… so that’s great to see.
SCOTT BARTLETT: Dude who cares if you’re a Republican or Democrat, I don’t even like to go there. Ya know it’s not really that relevant at the end of the day when you’re talking about it, because we’ve got Americans over there trying to stay alive for the sake of Democracy. So… it doesn’t matter who you vote for… just Support the Troops.
AWAY-TEAM: At the end of the day we’re all Americans.
SCOTT BARTLETT: Yup.
AWAY-TEAM: The first single, “Stupid Girl (Only in Hollywood)”, is that kinda based on the same girl as “Addicted” and some of your other songs? I mean, what’s the story behind this chick…
SCOTT BARTLETT: It’s kind of a cool little twist too, um, we had just gotten back from The Grammy’s, we weren’t nominated or anything but, we were invited to go to the parties and everything and ya know we’re kind of a humble southern rock roots band from Mississippi, and ya know I live in Memphis… Hollywood and L.A. isn’t exactly our scene, it’s fun, but ya know alot of the people, ya know “climbing up the list”, ya know “social climbers” trying to be in the right place at the right time for probably all the wrong reasons. And we took that concept, which isn’t just prevalant in L.A., but because it’s like the hub of music, and star, and glitz and glamour…so we took that concept and we applied it to, ya know Jared (lead singer Jared Weeks) is a big fan of Marilyn Monroe, who was not a “Stupid Girl” by the way, and one of her most famous quotes was “A wise girl always kisses, before she’s kissed; leaves before she’s left; and forgets before she’s forgotten”. It’s basically about a girl that goes out there to make it in the industry, and it’s just basically warning her not to fall victim to the pitfalls of that industry.
AWAY-TEAM: Right. Okay, so back to the whole “Addicted” thing, I mean ya know that was the song that kind of broke you… maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like a lot of the songs may be about this same girl. It seems there was kind of a major love/hate relationship going on there…
SCOTT BARTLETT: Well, see the beauty of it is, ya know we all write alot about girls obviously, and I mean that’s one of the more prevalant concepts that you see in songwriting, and there’s always a love interest somewhere. We’ve all been through those relationships, and we all write lyrics, so it’s definitely not all about the same girl.
AWAY-TEAM: That’s the beauty of music, you can take what you want from it.
SCOTT BARTLETT: Exactly, and then ya know whoever listens to it can take from it, can take from it whatever they take from it. It doesn’t matter what the artist’s intention was, as long as whoever’s listening gets something cool out of it.
AWAY-TEAM: So, as I told you before, I was speaking with Andy Brewer (lead singer of Taddy Porter) recently… he told me a little story about you guys…
SCOTT BARTLETT: Uh-oh.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) He couldn’t remember where it was, so I’m gonna give you a chance to fill me in on that, but he said that uh, you guys were supposed to stay in a hotel that was rumored to be haunted, and uh, he didn’t name any names but he said that you guys were a little too scared to stay there? You wanna give me your side of that story?
SCOTT BARTLETT: I don’t really remember that. We’ve stayed in our share of quote-unquote haunted hotels, but if you’re scared you can just get drunk and pass out in there, ya know.
SCOTT BARTLETT: Hopefully you wake up. (laughs) I honestly don’t remember that. I don’t know what he’s talking about, should I?
AWAY-TEAM: I don’t know. (laughs) I don’t know, like I said he didn’t go into details, he just said “I couldn’t remember where it was… but man those guys are superstitious, and they were afraid to stay in this hotel…”
SCOTT BARTLETT: Well there had been a couple of hotels, like you know there’s that one where Jeffrey Dahmer did his thing… but we’ve stayed there like four times, I mean…
AWAY-TEAM: Like you said, just get drunk and pass out.
SCOTT BARTLETT: (laughs) Yeah, I mean that’s all we do anyway. Why bother changing for a bunch of ghosts?
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Yeah, just give ‘em a beer… Well hey Scott, thanks for your time buddy. I don’t know if you got a chance to check out my review of your album, but the album is killer. I know it’ll do well.
SCOTT BARTLETT: Dude, I appreciate it. You know we’re all a little nervous, but excited, so ya know, especially from somebody that actually reviewed the album and knows what they’re talking about. That means alot. Thank you.
AWAY-TEAM: I mean, I’d only tell you the truth, and I’m really digging it and I think you’ve got something on your hands here.
SCOTT BARTLETT: (sighs in relief) Thank you…thank you so much…
AWAY-TEAM: No need to be nervous anymore…(laughs)
SCOTT BARTLETT: I’ll just go do what I do best man.
AWAY-TEAM: Get drunk and pass out? (laughs)
SCOTT BARTLETT: (laughs) Yeah, after the show. I like to think I rock first, then I get drunk and pass out after. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: Well hey bro, hopefully we’ll catch up again if you guys make it here to Florida. I don’t know if that’s on the agenda yet, I haven’t seen it but…
SCOTT BARTLETT: We’ll definitely be down there this summer. Stay up on the website for the latest info. http://www.savingabel.com/
AWAY-TEAM: I surely will. Thanks again, it’s been a pleasure.
SCOTT BARTLETT: Likewise. Later bro.
“Miss America” hits stores this Tuesday June 8th. Saving Abel is currently on tour with We Are the Fallen, American Bang, and Taddy Porter. For more tour info, as well as merchandise and music, visit http://www.savingabel.com/main.aspx
Thank you to Scott Bartlett for so graciously giving me his time, and a special thanks to Julie Lichtenstein and Steve Karas at SKH Music for making this all possible.