UK Hard Rock band, Saving Scarlett, have made their official debut in Canada by having signed CD copies of their debut album, Hourglass, imported to Saskatoon's Collector's Edge Comics and Games; where it is now available for purchase.
Saving Scarlett - from left to right are Dave Johnson, Dave Brittain, Lisa Francis, Richard "Rico" Sheppard (ex-member) and Adam "Chevy" Cheverton
Hailing from the rural climbs of Haverhill in the county of Suffolk in England's East Anglia region, the female-fronted band strike the ear with similarities to bands such as Flyleaf, Paramore, and Canada's very own Three Days Grace; but it runs deeper than comparisons, as there's something incredibly unique to their sound, something that's hard to pin down and impossible to compare to the headline denizens of the Hard Rock genre.
Front cover art for Hourglass
There's something unique to Saving Scarlett as a wider package too, though. They're an unsigned band with no representation, yet to see, hold and hear the CD package of Hourglass, you'd be forgiven for believing them to be signed to a major label; beyond the musical and writing ability of the band, you're hit first by the visuals with a graphic design and art package on the album that looks major label thanks to a design collaboration with Daniel Holub of Make North and then, of course, you're struck by that impressive recording quality that sounds like the best in the biz.
To find out what makes Saving Scarlett tick as a band, what informs their sound, and why Saskatchewan residents should consider checking out Hourglass, I caught up with my age-old friend, guitarist and writer for the band, Dave Johnson.
MARK: Dave, thanks so much for joining us. First thing's first, before Saving Scarlett, you have a long history in the local Rock and Metal scene in rural West Suffolk in England. Can you give us a brief tour of that history up until the formation of Saving Scarlett?
DAVE: I had zero interest in music until a friend of mine, Pete, started playing in a band not long after school, I explained to him one day that I’d never be able to play something like a guitar to which he gave me a few quick taster lessons. That was enough to get me hooked on a path for many years practicing constantly to build my speed and accuracy. I was in several bands that created many memories, but nothing really more than that. I then started to offer sound engineer services to local venues to help build the local scene where I got to know many of the local musicians. Eventually, along with a team of friends of Pete (who we lost in a tragic car accident) joined forces to create the PIM:JAM festival which showcases local talent and has raised over £12,000 for charity.
M: Being as we come from the same town, I think I have an idea of what inspired the band name (I think it's something to do with a local pub we used to frequent in our late teens that supported local music); but what's in a name? What inspired the Saving Scarlett band name?
D: This is the part where I’d love to come up with some amazing story that inspired the name but, yes, you’re mostly right on the money there. The pub where most of us music lovers first started going to was called “The Scarlett Pimpernel” which went out of business. The studio where we spent many hours going over my hundreds of demos had a poster of Scarlett Johansson on the wall when we were finalizing the name, it’s like it was meant to be … *shrug*
M: I love the current album, Hourglass. The sound of Saving Scarlett is so unique, there's lines I could draw to Hard Rock and Pop Punk such as Canada's Three Days Grace or the American Paramore in certain elements of the sound; but it's impossible to pin down overall. The sound as a whole has some Metal-adjacent elements to it, some softer Rock Ballad elements and Pop Punk elements too. So, I was wondering if you could tell us what were the main influences on that Saving Scarlett sound when Hourglass was being written and put together?
D: Thanks man, to be honest I still struggle to define our sound. I wrote and recorded all the guitars on Hourglass so the music primarily follows my influences, which primarily consist of: Devin Townsend for the “wall of sound” approach, Disturbed for rhythm playing, Joe Satriani for the melodic side and of course early Paramore.
M: It's fair to say that you're one of the main brains of the operation within Saving Scarlett. What goes in to writing an album like Hourglass? Is it like Queen, where all members have their turn at the songwriting helm? Or is it more the case where there's a songwriting genius within the band? Or is it more of a co-op of ideas supplied by all members like The Beatles?
D: I wrote the majority of the album over an 8 month period after some traumatic life events and recorded instrumental demos using drum loops. We then decided on the best ones to take forward. Lisa (who was also going through some stuff at the time) went to work on the lyrics, which the other members tweaked parts to add their own flare. In many ways Lisa’s words and feelings she conveys on the album reflect quite closely my feelings and emotions at the time of writing.
M: Signed CD copies of Hourglass are available, for the first time in the entire province of Saskatchewan, at Saskatoon's Collector's Edge Comics and Games. What do you want Saskatchewan folk to know about the album?
D: I’m honoured that my little idea of creating an album as a fun project one day has somehow become a reality and has now made it half way around the word is absolutely amazing to me. Hourglass isn’t a concept album but it’s born out of the idea that, yes, time is limited, focus on the positives and not the past.
M: What's next for Saving Scarlett?
D: We’ve been writing lots of individual parts during lockdown, for us now it’s all about putting those pieces together as a group. I’m not sure what’s going to happen to live music after this pandemic, but my hope is that things will (safely!) kick off again in a big way! Huge thanks to the people like you guys who are willing to take the time and keep us small bands going!
A huge thanks to Dave for taking the time to chat with me, which - honestly - felt like catching up with a lifelong friend; because that's exactly what it was. I find myself in awe of the product that some of the closest friends of my life, such as Dave, Adam "Chevy" Cheverton, Dave Brittain and a more recent friend in Lisa Francis, were able to put out in Hourglass; breaking the mold of what's capable from an independent band in the process.
If you like what you read here, consider paying a visit to Saskatoon's Collector's Edge and picking up a signed copy of Hourglass for yourself.