On its new record, the new Saliva passes the taste test

Metal band has new guitarist and a new album to share.

By Joel Francis
The Kansas City Star

Local Saliva fans will get their stockings stuffed early this year.

Its new album won’t be in stores until January, but the hard-rock band will preview material at its concert Friday at the Uptown Theater.

“This tour is awesome because we get to test the waters and see what reaction we get (from the new material),” said Saliva drummer Paul Crosby. “They (the fans) are all singing every word to ‘Ladies and Gentleman,’ which has only been on the radio for a month.”

Saliva has been opening its concerts with another new song, “Black Sheep.”

“ ‘Black Sheep’ is a great start to the show because it has a great groove and it’s heavy,” Crosby said. “We’re only playing two new songs in the set, but the fans seem to be liking them.”

Crosby describes Saliva’s new album, “Blood Stained Love Story,” as an amalgamation of the band’s first three albums.

“It’s like all our records combined into one, but better,” Crosby said. “If you liked anything about any of the others, you’ll like something on this one.”

Few of the tracks display the nu-metal trend that Saliva rode onto the airwaves a decade ago.

“Our songs now are more towards straight-ahead rock than (a) hip-hop orientation,” Crosby said. “If you listen to our three records, it’s obvious how we’ve changed.”

Some of those true-life changes — marriages, births, divorces — were expected. The abrupt exit of longtime guitarist Chris Dabaldo last summer, was not.

“Considering how I was driving down the road, and the DJ came on (the radio) and said, ‘Chris Dabaldo has quit,’ I guess you could say it was shocking,” Crosby said. “I pulled over and called everyone else in the band; nobody saw it coming.”

He’s excited, however, about the band that emerged after Dabaldo’s defection: Crosby, singer Josey Scott, guitarist Wayne Swinny, bassist Dave Novotny and new guitarist Jon Montoya.

“Chris’ leaving definitely didn’t hurt us. It seemed to make us a stronger band,” Crosby said energetically. “Jonathan Montoya came to us from Full Devil Jacket. He’s a better player and entertainer. Our shows are now better, and our sound is now better.”

And while new material is sprinkled in the set, the new version of Saliva also plays old favorites, from the early swagger of “Your Disease” to the straightforward rock of “Rest in Pieces.”

“It’s totally fun. They’re still there in our set,” Crosby said. “We’ve written a lot of different kinds of songs, which makes it more fun for me. I’m not just playing the same style all night.”

The versatility of songwriting styles may explain why Saliva can still draw a decent crowd when many of its nu-metal contemporaries are struggling.

“Most bands only get one or two (albums); this is our fourth,” Crosby said. “I believed in this band from the beginning. I could tell from being in other bands that everybody here had that mindset and wanted it.”

That determination has served the band well the last decade.

“It’s all up to the fans, but I really don’t know why we’ve lasted,” Crosby admitted. “I like to think it’s because of the good music we write. We have evolved and grown a lot. There’s a natural progression. We’re more mature and older.”

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