Salvo Are Ready To Take You On A Journey

When Salvo releases their upcoming album, The Traveler, they won’t just be releasing a collection of songs, they’ll be releasing an adventure.

Due out August 24th via Asbestos Records, The Traveler is a concept album, with a main character going on a journey to find more meaning in life. Each song is a story where The Traveler has an interaction with someone, and those interactions help him on his quest.

Salvo are no strangers to travels themselves, as they have a long history in music, although for much of that history the Birmingham, Alabama-based outfit was known as Pain, a good time band that made some noise in the ‘90s, including recording a song for Cartoon Network (“Jabberjaw”).

The group eventually disbanded, but singer/songwriter Dan Lord, and guitarist/songwriter Adam Guthrie, along with other members of the band, teamed up with some new additions, renamed themselves Salvo, and started releasing music again in 2019. The name change was partially out of respect to the former members of Pain that weren’t in Salvo.

With their latest project, Salvo are turning listeners into the ultimate travel companion.

I caught up with Dan and Adam to find out more about The Traveler, as well as what kind of knowledge they’ve gleaned from their own travels, and what everyone might be able to learn from their album’s lead character.

How much of your upcoming album, The Traveler, or at least the concept behind it, is semi-autobiographical? 

Dan: All of it, wouldn’t you say Adam?

Adam: At least a good bit, I’d say so, yes. Some right on the nose.

Dan: There are some fantastical elements, but Adam and I both agree that we would try to just look at the world, and look at the people that we knew, and the experiences we’ve had, and try and write that into the songs.

So each of these songs, while there’s this character, The Traveler, The Traveler is actually all of you, or at least the two of you combined. 

Dan: Yeah, or also Everyman, with a capital E.

Adam: There are certain songs that I think were totally fictitious, but do hold some truth to them, I’m sure, in someone’s life … at times mine.

There’s also the possibility that something you wrote for the album ends up being true later in your life. 

Adam: Absolutely. Unfortunately that happens quite often … or YAY that happens quite often.

Only write positive music! 

Adam: {laughs}

What have been one, or two lessons you’ve learned, and kept with you, from people you’ve randomly met during your travels? 

Adam: Never give up looking for happiness … or for something.

We’re talking about personal songs, or stuff that actually happened, there’s a song called “Crime of the Century,” that was written about meeting my wife, with some artistic license in there. That song is a dedication to us.

To be really personal, I was done looking, and then she came into my life, and that happened. That was part of my journey.

Dan: There’s a song on the album called “Mighty Old Man,” and that one’s about my dad, and my perception of him. God rest him, he died in 2012, so the song has kind of grown in depth for me. I’m just glad that I wrote it, because now it’s kind of like a little time capsule I can open up, and all the little things in it may not necessarily mean specifically much to the listener, but it all means something to me, every little reference that I make in it. So it’s kind of selfish, I guess, to that extent, but hopefully it will remind people of their own parents, and their relationship.

Is that a tough one to perform live? 

Dan: No, not at all.

I don’t like death, I hate death, but I’m at peace with the fact that it’s a reality, and my dad and I didn’t really have any hatchets to bury, or anything, so it’s pretty much all good. Mostly it’s kind of a celebration of him.

We seem to be in a time when people almost enjoy sewing the seeds of division. Do you think being more like your Traveler character is a possible way to combat this, and find more common ground? 

Dan: Man, I hope so.

There’s so much division, and so much hostility out there, that even the idea of … Adam, the Adam conducting this interview, maybe you’ve run into this experience, because you yourself have tried to bring this positive message out of your own struggles, you try to bring that out, and try to point that out, and that’s not always met with gratitude. Some people, they really like to hold on to the conflict, and I don’t like that, but I’m hoping that (the album) will reach a lot of people, and make them happy, or more reflective, or able to see outside that conflict a little bit.

What made you want to make “Anything Can Happen Day” (which is already out), and “Crime of the Century” (due out July 29th), the first two singles? Is there something about those songs that you feel will especially connect with people? 

Dan: “Crime of the Century” … I knew right away, when Adam was playing the demo for me I was like, man, that is such a great song. That’s such a strong, easy to like song. So we wanted to push that to the front, for sure.

Adam: I felt with “Anything Can Happen Day,” it really captures everything about the album. “Anything Can Happen Day” struck me right off the bat as an interesting song with several hooks in it. It’s the beginning of the journey for The Traveler, and it’s a good place to start, as well.

This feels like an album that lends itself to a visual element, whether it’s videos, or a graphic novel of some kind. Have you toyed with some visual ideas for it? 

Dan: Yeah, we have, and you’re right, maybe just by the fact that it’s a concept album at all, already we’re kind of thinking almost cinematically about it to whatever degree we can. We have a storyline in place, there’s a character arc of some kind, so I can’t help it.

Maybe we’re overreaching, but we try.

Adam: There was talk of a video game, if we could. We’re all on board for that. That, or anything with graph paper.

Dan: {laughs}

Back in the ‘90s the band was named Pain. Other than Salvo including some of the same members, do you hear any musical connections between Pain, and Salvo? 

Dan: Adam said it really well the other day when we were talking about this. I’ll try and paraphrase. Basically, we wanted Pain to keep going, but we wanted to be free to let it mature in a natural way, not just simply try to hold on to what we had done before, and keep trying to just crank that out over and over again. We wanted to be free to let it develop naturally, and I think it has. That’s why it was important to let there be a name change, even though I think that kind of trips people up a little bit.

Adam: In the beginning, when Dan came to me with these songs, (he said) “These sound like Pain songs to me,” and I agree, it sounds like Pain that’s evolved 20 years later in some regards. So having the name change has been liberating.

With the exception of the actual music aspect of things, being a musician in the present is damned near an entirely different job than it was back in the ‘90s. How much of your old knowledge do you still find relevant, or at least applicable somehow? 

Dan: Reaching the audience, that’s the biggest change that everybody’s having to adapt to. How do we get music out to people? That’s totally changed since the ‘90s.

As far as recording, and producing music, there’s obviously all kinds of technological innovations, but for the most part it’s Adam and I doing the exact same thing that we always did in recording a song, and coming up with a song. When he and I get together, and talk, we do the same thing (we’ve always done). It’s like we’ve invented a whole language, and any musician knows about this, when you’re working with another musician the whole communication process often breaks down to grunts, and, “Do that,” “No go back to that,” and lots of stammering that nobody else would understand at all. I’m pretty sure that in Neanderthal times that’s exactly how they were making music.

Adam: Yeah, the process has not changed very much. I will admit that we are in different states, so we get together when we can, and we communicate a lot over the web. Other than that the other thing is being on social media. We aren’t touring as much as we used to, so that has become crucial for us, like everybody else.

Speaking of touring, is there a plan to hit the road in support of The Traveler? I feel like based on both the name, and the concept of the album, you should be traveling at some point. 

Adam: Absolutely.

We are starting off with a big all-out blast of a show in Winston-Salem, NC, over Labor Day. September 3rd, they’re doing a street party in our honor. It’s some fans that have stuck with us through the years that are so kind, they want us to come and perform a show for them.

So we are putting out a shout out, and call out to everybody in the Northeast and beyond, anyone with plane fare, it’s gonna be probably the most explosive, longest show … it’s the longest set list we’ve done. I don’t want to give too much away, and I already have.

It’s gonna be well worth it. There’s going to be rock n roll karaoke, a band called Alternative Champs is opening, and there’s going to be a giant sanitized kiddie pool that holds like 400 kids.

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