For Saving Abel, its new album, "Miss America", is a chance to showcase the band's Southern rock roots.
Since emerging from Corinth, Mississippi, in 2004, the hard rocking quintet has been known primarily for the multi-format hit "Addicted", which hit number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (and #2 on the Mainstream Rock chart) in 2008.
"Addicted" helped push the band's self-titled major labeled debut (which peaked at #49 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums) on EMI to gold status.
Saving Abel joined Rev Theory in opening for Puddle of Mudd at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe in August, 2008, and it returns to the Peak as a headliner Thursday evening, along with American Bang, Taddy Porter and Sugar Red Drive. Showtime is at 7 p.m.
"It's a beautiful place," said Saving Abel bass player Eric Taylor in a phone interview from Buffalo, New York on the current tour. "We got there right before daylight, and our bus stopped and we got to see the sun rise right before the mountains. It was a cool experience."
Saving Abel, which took its name from the Biblical story of Cain and Abel ("there was no saving Abel"), also includes vocalist Jared Weeks, guitarists Jason Null and Scott Bartlett, and drummer Blake Dixon. The band's sound has progressed since the last album, which also included "18 Days" and "Drowning (Face Down)" in addition to "Addicted".
"The five of us have found that we have grown," said Taylor. "We've definitely improved as songwriters and musicians. Some of the songs, there's no way we could have done those types of songs 2-3 years ago."
"Miss America" was released on June 18, has a distinctive Southern rock flavor to it on songs like "Mississippi Moonshine" and "Hell of a Ride".
"Some of the songs definitely do," said Taylor. "Our Southern rock roots show. I was big into the Marshal Tucker Band and the Allman Brothers. They were the ones that stood out to me. Our guitar player Scott is really into the Allmans. We definitely have that influence."
Barlett has been quoted as saying Saving Abel is creating the new Southern rock, and "Miss America" presents a good argument for that notion without waving the Confederate flag in one's face.
The first single, "Stupid Girl (Only in Hollywood)", was inspired by Marilyn Monroe, who was certainly not in the "stupid" category, according to Taylor.
"We were at the Grammy's in LA when we heard about this quote from her: 'A wise girl kisses but doesn't love, listens but doesn't believe, and leaves before she is left.' She wasn't a stupid girl, she was real smart," he explained.
"We look for inspiration everywhere. It's definitely there all the way around in everyday life. Musicians are lucky enough to tour around. We're blessed to be able to go to different countries and see stuff every day."
Taylor noted that each band member plays a part in the creative process. "Everybody in this band plays guitar, and we all kind of contribute," he said. "You can sit in your hotel room on the road and record guitar and vocals and come up with cool guitar parts to show the others."
With American Bang from Nashville and Taddy Porter from Stillwater, Oklahoma, the current tour has even more of a taste of Southern rock to the proceedings.Sugar Red Drive, from upstate New York, adds some geographic diversity.
Despite being in a band on the rise, Taylor related he doesn't think of himself or the other members of Saving Abel as rock stars.
"I don't like that," he remarked. "We are just five guys from Mississippi who play music. It's fun, but you have to enjoy it and not let it go to your head. Sooner or later, you have to go home and then you realize you are just normal people."
Saving Abel with American Bang, Taddy Porter and Sugar Red Drive will perform at Penn's Peak on Thursday, Aug. 19. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with showtime at 7 p.m. Tickets are $22 in advance and $27 the day of the show for general admission seating. Tickets are available online at www.ticketmaster.com, and Ticketmaster outlets, including Boscov's and Gallery of Sound, as well as at the Penn's Peak box office and Roadies Restaurant. Call (866) 605-7325 for more information.