April 7, 2016 | Traverse City – Scott Bartlett wasn’t sure how things would work out when singer Jared Weeks left Saving Abel.

Guitarist says band’s live show improved with Austin

The hit-producing rock band’s frontman left a little over two years ago to pursue a solo career.

The band brought on Scotty Austin to take over singing duties and hastily produced its 2015 record “Blood Stained Revolution” — all while performing 306 shows that year.

“Initially, I was horrified,” said Barlett, one of the band’s guitarists, along with Jason Null. “You always hear the horror stories of trying to bounce back from a new singer. It’s the hardest member to replace.”

The band also had to find a new drummer after Michael McManus in late 2013.

Bartlett said the five-piece outfit has moved onward and upward, and will be performing Saturday night at the Streeters Center.

“It’s just a better live show,” Bartlett said. “Jared had a phenomenal voice and still does. But the thing we have going for us now is it’s a rock show that’s aesthetically pleasing.”

Austin is more active on stage, and the band has drifted slightly from the southern rock sound it had, although that aspect is still there.

Saving Abel — which has played at Streeters several times in past years — has produced 10 top-40 songs, five of which landed inside the top 10, since its 2008 self-titled album went gold.

“Blood Stained Revolution” peaked at No. 12 on the U.S. rock charts, a higher placement than 2012’s “Bringing Down the Giant,” the band’s third and final album with Weeks at the helm.

“It’s tough to gauge,” Barlett said. “We’re in a time where people don’t buy records. … I think Scotty beats himself up sometimes, because album sales aren’t great. But the thing is nobody is selling records.”

The opening acts include Smile Empty Soul, the Veer Union and Kirra. Tickets are $15 in advance.

Smile Empty Soul’s hits include top-40 songs “Bottom of a Bottle,” “Nowhere Kids” and “Silhouettes.” Its new album “Shapeshifter” is being released this month.

The Veer Union — most known for it’s 2009 top-10 hit “Seasons” — released its fifth studio album “Decade” in January.

“It’s very refreshing that we were able to hang out with them after the show and there weren’t a bunch of egos,” Bartlett said. “It seems like it’s going to be a very positive run. … That goes a long way with me. We’ve seen it all. We’ve seen the egos; we’ve seen down-to-Earth people. We all know artists can sometimes be a nightmare to work with. My band prides themselves on being as humble as we can be, because we’ve seen the ups and downs of the industry.”

Bartlett said the band has three songs written for an upcoming album. In typical Saving Abel fashion, one of those songs is about sex, one is an up-tempo hard rock song and there’s a ballad.

Bartlett said Saving Abel hopes to release several singles and generate enough funds off downloads that the band can take time off from touring to record an EP and eventually a full-length album. That way, the album isn’t hastily put together like “Blood Stained Revolution.”

“It was rushed,” Bartlett said. “We needed to, to stay relevant.”

Saving for later

Hit songs for Saving Abel:

Year Title Peak

2008 Addicted 2

2008 18 Days 6

2009 Drowning 3

2010 Stupid Girl 7

2010 The Sex Is Good 1

2011 Miss America 14

2012 Bringing Down the Giant 13

2013 Mystify 27

2014 Blood Stained Revolution 35

2014 Love Like Suicide 22

2015 15 Minutes to Fame 45

Source: Billboard U.S. Mainstream Rock charts.

By JAMES COOK jcook@record-eagle.com Apr 7, 2016

Photo: Saving Abel guitarist Scott Bartlett performs during a show at Streeters Ground Zero Showroom.
Record-Eagle/James Cook