Saliva singer's dark road brings him back to music -- and to the Lehigh Valley
- Joey Scott's Saliva will perform at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at The Gin Mill and Grille, 1750 Main St., Northampton
- Tickets, at $20 general admission in advance, and $40 VIP with meet-and-greet and early entry, are available here. The event is for ages 21 and older
- Also playing will be Death Valley Dreams, Time is Infinity, Intoxxication, Iron Core and more
NORTHAMPTON BOROUGH, Pa. — Josey Scott was a dozen years removed from his time as vocalist for platinum-selling hard rock band Saliva and struggling with grief and depression following the COVID-19 death of his 29-year-old son, Cody, when, he said, he had a profound dream.
"I was laying on the canvas of a boxing ring and I was looking at my body laying on the ground and I could see my arm and I could see the red boxing glove on my hand," Scott said in a recent phone call from his Tulsa, Oklahoma, home before his band Josey Scott's Saliva plays The Gin Mill in Northampton on Saturday.
“And I remember thinking to myself, ‘Somebody has knocked me the hell out!’ And I remember bringing the glove to my face and I saw blood on the glove ... and I was, like, ‘Somebody has just cracked me in the face and I am out! I don’t know what I’m doing boxing — I have no business boxing.'
“And then I suddenly felt a hand on my shoulder, and I felt my son whisper into my ear, and he said, ‘Come on, Pops. Come on, Pops, you gotta get up.'
"I was on a mission, man. I knew my son was trying to tell me from the other side, if you will, to get back up and to get back in the ring and fight. And that’s what I’m doing.”Saliva singer Josey Scott
“And I still get chills to this day talking about it. I can feel my son’s breath in my ear and I was trying desperately to turn around and see his face, and as soon as I turned around to see him, I woke up from the dream.
“But I took that as a message that my son was trying to tell me that he was OK and that everything was OK, but that I had to get myself up off of the canvas, and I had to get back into the ring and I had to fight.
"And I knew that that ring was the music industry."
Scott said he followed that spiritual advice, and now not only is he reviving Saliva's catalog of hits in live performances, but looking to make new music, as well.
After that dream, Scott, now 51, said, "I was on a mission, man. I knew my son was trying to tell me from the other side, if you will, to get back up and to get back in the ring and fight. And that’s what I’m doing.”
Leaving the limelight
Saliva, which formed in Scott's native Memphis, Tennessee, is best known for a run of more than a dozen Top 30 Modern Rock chart hits in the early 2000s.
It made its major label debut in 2001 with its album "Every Six Seconds," which sold platinum and produced the hits "Your Disease" and "Click Click Boom."
Its sophomore disc, 2002's "Back Into Your System," sold gold and broke Billboard's Top 20 overall albums chart, with the hits "Rest in Pieces" and the band's only No. 1 Alternative chart hit, "Always."
"Blood Stained Love Story" in 2007 had the gold No. 2 Mainstream Rock hit "Ladies and Gentlemen," and the group had a half-dozen more hits through 2011's "Badass."
Scott also co-wrote and performed the song "Hero," a theme song for the 2002 film "Spider-Man," with Chad Kroeger of Nickelback. That song hit No. 3 on the overall singles chart.
But by 2010, Scott said, he decided to leave the band "to be just a regular guy."
“I stepped away for my health, I stepped away to sort of clean up my side of the street a little bit. And I wanted to be a husband and a father for as long as I could."Saliva singer Josey Scott
"I wanted to raise my kids," he said. "And sort of, like John Lennon said, I couldn’t handle the merry-go-round anymore.
“I stepped away for my health, I stepped away to sort of clean up my side of the street a little bit. And I wanted to be a husband and a father for as long as I could and raise my kids to be a little older than they were.
“So if I did decide to go back into the music industry, they would be a little older and a little more ready to accept that and not so young, because I didn’t want to leave my wife at home with three brand new babies.
"And I just wanted to be a regular guy — raise my kids and be there for those moments that you can’t get back, you know, the birthdays and the Christmases and all that good stuff that mothers and fathers enjoy.
"And I wanted to work on my marriage. I adore my wife — we’ve been together for 20 years."
A road of tragedy
Scott said he settled into a life of service. In addition to his family duties, he said he became a peer recovery support specialist in Tulsa.
"I was working with veterans and homeless people, getting them resources, getting them into rehab and getting them clean off of drugs, and I just found a lot of fulfillment — maybe as much fulfillment as I ever found in music," he said.
"I was finding it just reaching out and helping people and seeing how I could make a difference — how I could use my little bit of fame or my little bit of, I guess, [the] notoriety that I had gained from being in Saliva for good, and being able to touch people’s lives in a different way and help them out of some really dark times. And that was pretty much the path that I had chosen to be on."
"I’m just not interested in doing music anymore, I don’t think it’s for me, and I just sort of went with that."Saliva singer Josey Scott
Saliva continued performing after Scott left and has released five more albums, including 2018's "10 Lives," but didn't have nearly the success, and no Top 40 songs.
Scott said that in 2020, he explored the idea of a Saliva reunion with fellow founding members guitarist Wayne Swinny and rhythm guitarist Chris D'Abaldo (who left the band in 2005), but "COVID hit and that sort of blew up in our faces and we weren’t able to do that."
Swinny died this year of a brain hemorrhage, leaving no original members in the band.
Then in May 2021, Scott's son died.
"It’s unimaginable for any parent to have to bury a child and I just went into a tailspin after that with my depression and grief, as any parent would," Scott said.
"I was going through so much grief and guilt and just all the stages — anger and back into sadness about my son."
Scott said he told his stepson, Dylan, who also is a musician, "I’m just not interested in doing music anymore, I don’t think it’s for me, and I just sort of went with that."
And then he had the dream.
He said it started with his stepson again "encouraging me in the weeks before that. He was, like, ‘You know, we should get together and jam. We should just get together and just … he knows I’m a drummer and he goes, ‘You could play drums and I’ll play guitar and we'll just jam. No big deal, we’ll just play for music.’
“And I was, like, ‘Yeah, OK, well maybe we’ll do that.’"
'They remember who you are'
Josey Scott's Saliva, which also includes his son, Diamond Dylan, began playing shows in May, and he said, "It’s going really well, man. The people have been so receptive and very kind and sweet.
"There’s nothing like getting back out here and playing for the fans and realizing that they remember who you are," he said with a laugh. "And that your music has had an effect on people’s lives. It’s been wonderful.”
Scott said the band plays all of Saliva's hits — "the ones that people, of course, expect to hear."
“And then I take ‘em sort of down the road of music that has affected my life — like, I do an Alice in Chains song, and I do a Rage Against the Machine song, just to show them who some of my influences are, and then we do a beautiful tribute to [the late Foo Fighters drummer] Taylor Hawkins, and we play [that band's song] 'My Hero.'"
The group also plays "some deep cuts that only true Saliva fans would know ... things that I never played with Saliva when I was in the band from 1996 till 2010. Like, ‘Greater Than Less Than,’ a song that was on the first record that we never played live," Scott said.
"I’m planning on doing like a sort-of a rock ‘n’ roll country record, if you will."Saliva singer Josey Scott
Scott said he's already writing new songs and "I’m actually writing a new record now."
"I’m planning on going in the studio and recording a brand-new record that will surprise a lot of people," he said.
He said he will be "sort of shifting gears musically a little bit and taking myself sort of back to my roots, back to my Memphis roots and Tennessee roots.
"I grew up around a lot of … my dad was a country artist and a Gospel artist, and I’m planning on doing like a sort-of a rock ‘n’ roll country record if you will," he said.
“And I’m working on some new material right now and I’m working with a producer out of Nashville named Scatterbrains and talking to the producer who we recorded all our hits within Saliva — Bob Marlette out in California.
“So I’m really excited about doing some new material and we’re gonna see how it goes.”
'I want to be of service to those people'
Scott said his intent with Josey Scott's Saliva is that he wants fans "to hold on to exactly what they tell me every night.
“And the most popular thing I hear from them is, ‘Thank you so much. Your music got me through a really rough time in my life,'" he said. "They’ll tell me how your music got me through a really rough childhood with my parents. Or your music got me through a really bad divorce. Or your music got me through having a partner that was abusive.
“I had a fan come up to me, this girl came up to me one night, she said, ‘I just want to thank you for keeping the shotgun out of my mouth.’ And I was just, like, wow, and I hugged her and I almost wanted to cry with her — just seeing how emotionally charged these fans are.
"Music is medicine to people! It helps them get through their lives and helps them get through the tragedies that we all are gonna face."Saliva singer Josey Scott
“I believe that’s Saliva’s legacy and I certainly want that to be Josey Scott’s legacy — is realizing that nothing is more important than music being medicine to people. Music is medicine to people! It helps them get through their lives and helps them get through the tragedies that we all are gonna face.
“Somebody told me the other day — they said, ‘Life is a movie of tragedies, and the good times are the commercial breaks.’ And that just spoke to me so much, because so much tragedy has followed me [in] the past decade, and I hold onto the good times and see them as the little respites in between the next tragedy.
“And it’s not that I look at my life as some dark black abyss of a black hole, but I’m hopeful for the good things to come and I’m more prepared for the bad things to come.
"And if I can reach out and help others through those things that are undoubtedly to come, then I want to be of service to those people.”