With a new album on the horizon and a single that's been quick to climb the rock-radio charts, Saliva singer Josey Scott should be in higher spirits. He's certainly pleased at the early response to "Survival of the Sickest," and he's more than satisfied with his band's identically titled fourth album.
But approach the subject of Saliva's place in the music scene, and this Southern boy gets downright ornery.
"We're tired of kissing people's asses, and we're tired of keeping our mouths shut," Scott said. "We don't give a f--- no more. We ain't trying to make no friends, except for our fans. We made an album for our fans. We ain't trying to play with anybody else in the sandbox. If they don't like us, we'll kick them out of the sandbox."
The agitators that draw Scott's ire include cynics who continue to write Saliva off as rap-rock also-rans; the business personnel who once surrounded them, all of whom have been fired for not acting in the band's best interest; and the so-called "cool" bands supposedly on the cutting edge of the next musical movement.
"I don't think American kids are really into it," he said, citing the Vines and Strokes as examples. "American kids wanna get in the mosh pit. They wanna get dirty. Chicks wanna show their t--s. They wanna rock. They want something that kicks ass, and the Strokes and all that sh-- ain't gettin' it done. I'm not trying to cut them down, I'm just saying you gotta get the job done, man. When you walk onstage, you gotta get the job done. You gotta rock the f---in' party, and they don't do it. They never have and they never will."
Scott's venom toward the Strokes isn't without a personal stake. According to Scott, Strokes singer Julian Casablancas had a chance to befriend him but shrugged it off nonchalantly.
"I was at the VMAs and walked by the singer for the Strokes," Scott explained, "and I give everybody their day in court, so I said, 'What's up?' to him, and he looked at me and sort of goes, 'Hmmph.' He's just lucky my girl's son was with me, I would've broken his jaw. Whatever. F--- him."
But it's a certain Vancouver vocalist who really makes Scott's blood boil. He and former pal Chad Kroeger are responsible for the hit single "Hero," off 2002's "Spider-Man" soundtrack, and both appeared in the video. For services rendered, Scott was paid $5,000, though he claims they had a handshake deal stipulating that he would receive $40,000 for his studio time, and another $40,000 for the video.
"They [screwed] me on that song," Scott said. "I want the whole world to know it. They made millions off that song and threw me $5,000? That was foul, that was wrong, and that's bullsh--. They would have paid a janitor more than that. ... I can't even pay for my flights and my hotels with $5,000. What the f--- am I gonna do with $5,000? That's bullsh--."
Because Saliva and Nickelback shared a manager, Scott said, he didn't think it was necessary to have everything written down in a contract. But even if there had been a written agreement between them, "the Memphis way" dictates that there probably wouldn't be some pencil-necked lawyer on Kroeger's doorstep right now serving papers.
"We don't work like that in Memphis," Scott explained. "You renege on a contract, you don't see subpoenas and lawyers getting in on it. You see my ass getting on the plane with a baseball bat and going to see who's got my money."
A Nickelback spokesperson wouldn't comment on the dispute.
Scott channeled all this volatile energy into Survival of the Sickest, whose first single sets the tone for the rest of the album. Both are testaments to Saliva's success and longevity — they've sold more than 1.4 million copies of 2001's Every Six Seconds and 2002's Back Into Your System — and neither answers to anyone or anything but their fans.
"It's an American rock and roll record," Scott said. "It kicks ass and it's got what our fans like. It's our heart and souls. [Our fans] have always liked us simply being ourselves. We'll never try to be like the Vines or the Strokes or any of that other bullsh-- out there."
Survival of the Sickest is due August 17.