Last Friday, the day before their tour was scheduled to start, Saving Abel released the news that singer Jared Weeks was leaving the band and starting his own solo path. We were lucky enough to be one of the first to get an interview the “new guy,” Scotty Austin, to learn about how the first show went and see what is in store for Saving Abel.
On Stage Review: Scotty, you played your first show as the new front man of Saving Abel at The Machine Shop last night – how were you feeling?
Scotty Austin: It was exciting! I was a little nervous. It’s amazing to see so many people that can hate me that don’t even know me.
On Stage Review: Looking at the band’s Facebook page, it seemed like there was a lot of good feedback from fans!
Scotty Austin: Well I went around before the show and met everybody. I just like to hang out with people so I went out there and told them, “Hey! I’m the new guy!”
Scott Bartlett: It was a really good strategy because it was the first show and we love the Machine Shop; we’ve played there like 10 times. We actually bought drink tickets from the bar and we just like tried to soften the blow to the fans.
Scotty Austin: Yea, we bought everyone drinks.
Scott Bartlett: ‘Cause you know Scotty’s a southern gentleman so he’s out there acting up and cutting up with the fans. And they were like, “Alright we don’t want to like you but we do.”
Scotty Austin: But I do think it was short notice; the fans didn’t have time to take in the damage that was just done to their soul.
On Stage Review: With the press release going out the day before you first took the stage was there any confused and pissed off fans in the crowd?
Scotty Austin: There wasn’t. There may have been but by the time we played they had a great time. We lit that place up!
Scott Bartlett: Yea we had so much footage and in it you couldn’t even hear us over the crowd. Scotty is a lot more animated too. You know Jared was always really good at talking and hyping up the crowd, but this guy was all the way out there, like high fiving, down in the pit with the fans.
Scotty Austin: I’m just grateful to be here, and that’s what I told them! I was like, we’re doing a family portrait because I want to remember this and all you guys forever.
On stage Review: Has this been overwhelming at all?
Scotty Austin: Its surreal, it felt like at some point I’d wake up and realize I was in my underwear or something. I was afraid I’d wake up and be like oh shit I knew I all this was a dream.
Scott Bartlett: The other thing about Scotty is that he’s a performer. He’s been preforming since he was five years old so he is comfortable doing this in front of a lot of people. You know in the movie “Rockstar” where Mark Walberg said “I used to dream of doing this…” Scotty just told it like it was. He kept saying “I can’t believe I’m up here.”
Scotty Austin: Yea, you guys think you’re surprised?
Scott Bartlett: He said something really funny, he was like (to the rest of the band), “Hey I’m not trying to say like this show was better or worse than anything, but I’ve seen you guys play a lot and I’ve never seen you smile so much on stage.”
On Stage Review: That’s a killer way to start it off!
Scotty Austin: That’s what music is about.
Scott Bartlett: Sometimes this turns into work so you’ve just got to shake things up, and that’s what we’re doing now.
On Stage Review: Do you want to bring the band in a different direction? Because you know sometimes new front men join a band and just keep the same sound.
Scott Bartlett: Well our first rehearsal he came over to our house, it sort of clicked that it wasn’t Jared anymore.
On Stage Review: So it felt completely different?
Scott Bartlett: Well we were sitting there playing “Addicted,” and I thought “that’s not Jared, that’s fucked up” cause I’ve never heard it without him doing it, unless I’m singing it and it’s a demo or something. So we were just sitting there and Scotty said “Was that bad? Do I sound like Jared?” but then it just all made sense and I said, “None of us want you to sound like Jared, we’re excited to be changing things up.”
Scotty Austin: Jared’s got like an R&B edge to his voice, from a singer’s perspective that’s what I pick up out of it, and I’m just a straight cock-strong mother fucking rocker. If people don’t like me then I hate it for them because I’m just a normal guy who likes to sing and play music.
On Stage Review: That’s what you don’t want, to sound exactly the same as Jared. You want people to see the new elements the new singer is bringing.
Scotty Austin: I don’t sound like anybody I think that’s why I was picked for this.
Scott Bartlett: We had a talk about this. Our talk was that yes, this does happen and yes, it’s always a tough blow at first but sometimes people persevere. I mean there’s always going to be haters. Like how Alice in Chains did it, it was amazing when they came back but it was weird to hear someone else singing like Layne Staley. We didn’t want a carbon copy of what we were because, in my world, there really is only one Jared Weeks. I love the guy to death, but we don’t want another Jared, we want to push the band in another direction.
Scotty Austin: And Jared is going to continue to sing so that would be crazy for me to sound just like him! Then there would be two of us out there.
On Stage Review: Was there ever a time where you doubted yourself about being able to take on such a big project?
Scotty Austin: I believe I can do anything until I’m proven wrong.
On Stage Review: We love that attitude!
Scotty Austin: I don’t care if people say I can or not, actually I prefer it sometimes because then when I win people can’t believe it. If people expect a whole lot out of ya you can’t really impress them.
Scott Bartlett: Everybody likes the underdog.
Scotty Austin: Yea and when they think I’m going to lose the worst thing I could do is just prove them right.
On Stage Review: Scotty was in a band called Trash The Brand who opened for you guys- how did talks about him joining Saving Abel come about?
Scott Bartlett: We had the same management so it was a seamless transition.
Scotty Austin: Yes we opened the show for them once and then the very next time I was up there I was playing with them!
Scott Bartlett: What’s crazy is they live 80 miles up the road. See, I’m in Memphis and the rest of the guys are in Corinth, Mississippi.
Scotty Austin: Yep, and I live right in the middle.
Scott Bartlett: Memphis was obviously a huge music scene, it was the birth place of rock n roll but Jackson, Tennessee is not a huge music city, Corinth is not a huge music city, but everybody knows each other. We just started bouncing names off each other and we were like wow we know all the same people, how did we not meet before?
On Stage Review: The Universe works in mysterious way and now it seems like everything worked out just the way it should!
Scott Bartlett: I agree with that!
On Stage Review: You just have to roll with what life gives you. I saw a comment on Facebook that said, “Why don’t you guys just start a new band?” and you guys had a great response to that.
Scott Bartlett: Because we’ve built 600,000 fans already.
Scotty Austin: When one guys leaves that would be wrong to end something with the rest of them willing to stay and fight it out.
On Stage Review: It’s great how you guys had the courage to say we’re not going anywhere, so here, meet Scotty Austin.
Scotty Austin: Yes, and it ain’t easy to do that either. Usually I’m really confident because people just expect me to be me, but they come here and they’re just like “He’s not Jared.”
Scott Bartlett: You know how you can poke someone on Facebook? There should be a Facebook bitch slap button.
Scotty Austin: Yea Facebook is hilarious. One of the comments on it was “What’s up with the scarf?” Um, we’re in Michigan, it’s freezing, and my neck was cold!
On Stage Review: “Crackin’ the Safe” EP came out a few months ago and it was pretty different from “Bringing Down the Giant.” Can we expect the new music to be even more different?
Scott Bartlett: We’ll have music for you in a week! We actually just tracked a song.
Scotty Austin: It is definitely different!
Scott Bartlett: It’s a little heavier which is good because that’s the direction we wanted to go. I feel like what everybody was doing for a while was just chasing trends. We came out with a hit song about a blow job and our lives changed. We rode on the success of two other hit singles, I mean we’ve had 7 top ten singles in 6 years, and that’s not too bad.
On Stage Review: That’s not bad at all!
Scott Bartlett: We were being shaped and molded by producers and co-writers to try to change along with rock and now the rock industry is sort of in a weird place, so this is an interesting time for us to just say fuck it and be us.
Scotty Austin: And I don’t listen to music really. I just play what feels right.
On Stage Review: Scotty, who were some of your inspirations growing up?
Scotty Austin: I played in a gospel band! I grew up in it with my family. I started on the tambourine, and then I started reading music right when I learned to read. So my inspiration would have to be my grandfather.
On Stage Review: Can you tell us about that one moment or album that changed your life and made you who you are today?
Scotty Austin: Well my family played gospel, so I had never heard an electric guitar strum with distortion. I can remember the moment… I was in middle school and they did a career day where they show you all the different things you can do, and one of them was music so I signed up for it. I heard the band director of my high school later, he had an electric guitar, and he hit an e-chord. He hit all six strings with distortion, and it was the most amazing shit I had ever seen. Before that I didn’t even like guitar. I thought guitar was lame and then that moment ended up changing my life.
Scott Bartlett: Yea Scotty’s a shredder. We’ll get him up there! We may or may not bust into AC/DC tonight, but if we do he’ll shred for you.
Scotty Austin: Ha! But yes, that moment changed everything. I can remember exactly where his hands were sitting on the guitar, that e major chord. It gives me chill bumps now just thinking about it…
On Stage Review: Amazing! We love hearing about people’s musical “what the hell just happened” moments.
Scotty Austin: …and then I heard “Appetite for Destruction” –
Scott Bartlett: Yep, that’s my album too!
On Stage Review: US TOO!
*Group high five!*
On Stage Review: What do you think sets you apart from Jared stage presence-wise?
Scott Bartlett: You’ll see it tonight. Sometimes it’s better for it to be an intangible sort of vibe.
Scotty Austin: Yea I’m like a Chihuahua that’s pissed off just barking at folks.
Scott Bartlett: Scotty’s got like a Jacoby from Papa Roach persona.
Scotty Austin: Yea, a little bitty dude with a big ass attitude!
Scott Bartlett: He’ll go nuts on stage! I saw him on the drum riser last night, and he was perched up there like a bird.
Scotty Austin: See, in my last band I was tied to a microphone stand, because I was also the guitar player since Trash the Brand was a three piece.
On Stage Review: So now it’s like the chains are off… YOU’RE FREE!
Scotty Austin: Exactly! So now I’m like okay, solo time uhh what now… !? It’s nice because before I’d be like shit I have to stay here! I couldn’t go too far with the guitar. Now I can run back and say “Hey drummer! What ya doing?!”
Scott Bartlett: I noticed that last night, you’d lock in with me and I’d be like, “Crap, I gotta go back over here now!”
Scotty Austin: I know your pain!
Scott Bartlett: You know it too well. We need some of those 80s moves where you hold the microphone up and we do that thing (leaning back and singing together).
Scotty Austin: Yes! Music is about having fun to me.
On Stage Review: When you get that hour you’ve got to make the best of it. It’s your chance to channel all those feeling from the day and just let loose.
Scotty Austin: That hour is magical to me.
Scott Bartlett: Well the element that he’s bringing is great. You know with Saving Abel we toured so much and were under so much pressure it did start to feel like a job, you know? So just to shake it up now, it’s awesome.
Scotty Austin: And I’m so excited!
On Stage Review: Yea, we definitely feel your energy already and you’re not even on stage yet!
Scotty Austin: I am pretty energetic! And I’m loud and full of shit. That pretty much sums me up there. And that describes good old Rock n’ Roll, which is what I think I am. It’s crazy about the stress level, though. I caught a cold last weekend and lost my voice in middle of the week and I still haven’t recovered; I usually have a real high register and now it’s down. I know that’s weird to say… only singers say that shit! My throat doesn’t hurt but my high end is really kind of dampened.
Scott Bartlett: He also had to record the new single while he was sick.
On Stage Review: How did that turn out?
Scott Bartlett: We’ll let you guys hear it once [the recording] goes off.
Scotty Austin: I sing a lot higher pitched than Jared did. He was like a baritone I think. But we’re just a bunch of guys that like to play music, and I can’t be Jared.
On Stage Review: Well that’s good. We like that you have your own energy and personality.
Scotty Austin: Right. I don’t want to be Jared; if I did I would have already done that.
Based on the last things he said in the interview, we know Scotty Austin is his own person and he is more than ready to turn the page and try to start something new with Saving Abel. He has his mind set in a great direction and from those 20 minutes we spent with him we know he’s determined. Fans may be hurt and bitter about the sudden change in lineup, but Scotty is ready to prove himself to all.