by Nick Palmisciano We need to step up. All of us....
Ranger Up Interviews: Saving Abel
Editor’s Note: Ranger Up sends out a big thanks to Bear Frazier for helping us land this interview.
Recently I had the privilege to interview Saving Abel’s lead singer Jared Weeks. It was a phone interview which immediately made me somewhat nervous as I am not much for phone conversation. However, before I even knew it, he had virtually taken over the entire conversation. I got Rock Starred!!
And it was awesome.
Saving Abel all started in Corinth Mississippi in 2004 when Jared was learning to play guitar at his friend Kevin’s house and in walked Jason Null the other founding member and lead guitar player.
“We were having a little party he came over and that’s where I met him. He picked up Kevin’s little sister’s shirt and, the first thing he ever said to me, he said ‘If you put this on right now I’ll go buy you a six pack of beer’ I didn’t end up getting my beer that night but yeah I thought it was pretty funny.”
After that initial meeting, it was some time until they actually got signed. They would still work their daytime jobs (his, a phlebotomist) and they would write music whenever they weren’t working. During one of their recording sessions while they were recording the song Beautiful Day, Skidd Mills walked in and shortly thereafter they started a production deal with him. From there Jared grabbed a couple childhood friends, Eric Taylor (bass) and Blake Dixon (drums), threw in Scott Bartlett and they had the full band. About a year after they recorded their first big hit Addicted, they were signed to a record deal and went on tour for four and a half years with a multitude of bands. I inquired as to which band was his favorite to work with and practically before the words had left my mouth his answer was already 3 Doors Down.
“My favorite band to tour with, we didn’t really tour with ‘em, we’ve done, I’ve probably met ‘em 20 times, 3 Doors Down is my band. That’s the band I always refer to. Once I figured out those guys were from Mississippi, where they did their Kryptonite album, I knew we at least had a chance you know, that’s why we went with Skidd. What’s really funny; when we went with Skidd at the 747 studios, he co-owned that studio with Paul Ebersold, the guy who produced 3 Doors Down’s first album. I didn’t know that for the longest, till I stared hanging out with Paul and I thinks it’s kind of cool how things connect in weird ways.”
He also cited the Nickelback tour as “amazing” as it allowed them to see a lot of the behind the scenes action of a large scale rock tour.
“Well I got to meet Lynyrd Skynyrd, but I never got to tour with ‘em. Ever since I was little, the first song I ever learned to play was Freebird man, we did a cover of a couple Lynyrd Skynyrd songs in a set, you know, acoustically, but I got to meet those guys one year a couple years back in Connecticut, and I was like a fat kid in a candy shop man! I was like a little kid; I couldn’t even shake their hands I was freakin’ out. I’d love to go on one of those rock and roll cruises they do with Lynyrd Skynyrd and 3 Doors Down, let’s do it!”
Of the many tours Saving Abel have been on, some of their favorite have been USO tours to Kuwait, Iraq, Cuba and other lovely destination hotspots that America likes to send its best and brightest. Both of Jared’s brothers, one a Marine and one a Soldier, have had the joy of deploying to Afghanistan as well and he says,
“Just to hear them come back and have them say ‘your words, they helped me in some of my toughest times out there’ it makes me happy. It makes me feel good about what I do.”
They were far from the only military influence upon him.
“I had six uncles growing up, two were Army, two were Marines and one was Navy. It’s always been a part of our family. My grandfather was shot in the Korean War, he lived, but he fought in the Korean War. I’m a diabetic and they don’t want me, but I feel it’s a responsibility of mine to shake [veterans’] hands and say thanks, you know, and that’s what we’re trying to get everyone else to acknowledge. We wouldn’t have the freedoms, the rock and roll, and the good times at the festivals, any of it if it weren’t for these men and women. That’s really all I want people to understand, we owe a lot to them, whether we think we do or not, we do. That’s the bottom line.”
The trip to play at Guantanamo Bay particularly sticks out to Jared as being a unique privilege that he as an American, feels very grateful to have experienced.
“We went to Guantanamo Bay and actually got to swim in the ocean there, right in the bay and it felt like a real privilege to be able to do something like that, because Cuba is Canada’s number one vacation spot, but Americans aren’t allowed there, you know what I’m sayin’? We felt very blessed, and very lucky to be on a very short list of bands that were allowed to play in Cuba.”
Not surprisingly however, while the aforementioned countries were an honor to visit, they were not his favorite country to visit.
“Dude, I like India! We were there during the Happy Holy Festival. What they do is they throw this powered paint everywhere; it’s a festival of colors. It was amazing. It looks like you just grinded chalk down and throw this powdered paint everywhere. Yellow, purple, blue, any color you can think of. We did like five cities in like six days there or something like that.”
“These little kids were throwing all this paint and they were having such a good time and they started rubbing it in my face. You know, I’m a foreigner, I’m like ‘hey, this is cool, I’m relating to these people! They’re getting along with me!’ So we get done and we’re walking down the street; my face has got powdered pink and purple paint all over it, and I’m like ‘well how else are you going to get it off? You wash it off with water right?’ Well, that’s totally not what you do. I ended up pouring a whole bottle of water on my head trying to wash this stuff off and everyone’s looking at me going ‘no no no no!’ it turns out once you add water to that paint it just seeps in to your skin pores so my face was purple and pink for like three days afterwards. Imagine me having to explain that to all the people on stage, you know. It was fun man; it was a good place to be at a good time.”
If you happen by the Chicago Hard Rock Café, you can actually see the exact purple and pink shirt he wore that day. (It started as a white shirt…)
Currently they are on the second leg of their promotional tour for their new album Bringing Down the Giant. Their lead track of the same name has a video that imparts an important message they wanted to put out.
“We did the video on bullying, how violence begets violence. That’s not the message we wanted to put out you know, sometimes the bully just needs a hug. Basically, here’s another example: Bringing Down the Giant for me, we all have our giants, we all have our things that keep us from being who we could be naturally, or who we’re supposed to be, who we think we should be. There’s always something that goes on. My giant is diabetes. I’ve been diabetic for about 15 years now. Eric, our bass player, his girlfriend has a little girl named Jersey and she’s been battling cancer for the past 8 months, in and out of radiation and she’s such a cool little girl to be around, I love the girl man. She’s my hero. We just found out two weeks ago that she is cancer free, and to have her actually walk up to me, and this girl’s eight, nine years old, and to have her walk up to me and say ‘cancer was my giant Jared and you helped me’ I almost started crying. She’s been through a lot in such a short amount of time man and she’s going to be stronger for it later. As far as Bringing Down the Giant goes, of course bullying is an issue that people need to address. It sucks that it still goes on, but I mean, we’re humans, that’s what we do. But yeah, that’s basically where we got the name from and to put it out as the first single we thought would be awesome because we want to bring attention to all the things that we just spoke about.”
If you happen to be stationed in Okinawa, Japan they will be heading out your way September 13th and will play on September 16th at Camp Kisner. If you’d like to check out their other tour stops or even listen to their new album for free, head on over to http://www.savingabel.com/ and check it out!