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Saving Abel brings chart-topping rock to fairgrounds
Friday, September 25, 2009
Story last updated at 9/25/2009 - 10:32 am

Like a lot of musicians, most of the guys in rock band Saving Abel couldn't wait for the day when they could tell people that they used to be from Corinth, Miss., rather than claiming it as home.

Lead guitarist Jason Null is the exception, but at least he's got a darn good reason.

He has an 8-year-old son from a prior relationship and, the way he sees it, it's hard enough finding time for his boy with the demands placed on a touring band that is steadily growing in popularity. Thus, moving further away makes no sense.

Recently married, Null "bought a little house in Corinth" and is in the process of having it remodeled.

He added, "I try to give my son as much time as I possibly can. Besides, I tend to dig just raking the yard when I want to relax, although it's never long before I pick up a guitar.

"And hey, I'm always down for my mom's home cooking."

That said, Null was fairly shocked to learn that the Wikipedia web site has listed Saving Abel among the famous residents or natives of Corinth.

True, he was surprised that Saving Abel had been noticed. But as someone who grew up in the small town of 14,000 that has four creeks and no rivers, he wanted to know what famous people were from Corinth.

Listing them didn't help: Early American aviator Roscoe Turner, screenwriter-actor and novelist Thomas Hal Phillips, artist and poet J.E. Pitts and educator Thomas K. McCraw.

Saving Abel does sort of stand out, musically speaking.

Null would be more likely to salute the name Skidd Mills.

It was, after all, Mills - who had worked with Saliva and ZZ Top - who liked what he heard on "Beautiful Day," the first song Null and singer Jared Weeks had written together.

Null said he and his partner knew what they were doing. The duo had booked some time at Mills' studio, just hoping that he'd hear them play.

But Null stayed nervous.

"Once we got with Skidd and he offered us a deal," said Null, "there still was this two-month gap before we actually started recording. And you know, anything can happen during those two months. Just because you're offered a deal doesn't mean it's going to happen.

"That was the longest I'd ever waited for anything. I actually set a date in my head, and I told my fiancee that, if it didn't happen by then, it wouldn't. And we got the call to record on the day before that date."

Saving Abel plays rock; make no mistake about that.

But Weeks and Null began as a duo called Shade of Grey, and had written and performed Christian rock up to a point.

Indeed, Null said, "That was one reason we sort of focused on Skidd - because he'd also worked with Third Day and Audio Adrenaline."

Null also came up with the band's name. "Growing up in Corinth," he said, "was like growing up in the Bible Belt. No matter where you were, there was a church close by.

"I never sat down and read the Bible from front to end, but one night, I'm not sure why, I Googled the story of Cain and Abel. And I read a line from a Christian magazine that went, "There was no saving Abel from his brother Cain.

"I tossed out Saving Abel as a possible band name and, to tell the truth, it was the very first one we could all agree on."

Null claims he drifted very early to music because there was "nothing else to do" in his home town. "Eventually, it was either play music or just run around in the back yard.

"My older brother had a guitar, and I generally would wait for him to leave home and then I'd knock it out of tune for him. Then one day I came home and my bicycle was missing off the back porch. It turned out he'd traded my bike for a guitar."

The first song he learned, at age 6, was "Johnny B. Goode."

He said later, "I started off getting into old country and old rock. My brother got me into '60s and '70s bands, then there were the hair bands, and I moved through Metallica and Candlebox and the Seattle sound. I personally had so many guitar heros and posters and a huge CD collection.

"If I was forced to pick inspirations, I'd say AC-DC, Candlebox and Johnny Cash."

None of whom came to Corinth to play.

In fact, Null still is catching up on seeing his favorite bands play. Asked who he most wants to see perform, he said, "Definitely AC-DC. Luckily, we've had the privilege of playing shows with a lot of my favorite bands. Like we got to be on the same bill with Aerosmith at a show in Sturgis (S.D.)."

Saving Abel released its self-titled debut in March 2008, with "Addicted" soon shooting up the charts. A ballad called "18 Days" followed - and that song took a new direction when one of the band's fans combined a recording of the song with images of American soldiers fighting in Iraq and coming home.

The slide show wound up on the Internet.

Null said, "I called Jared and said, 'You've got to get on your computer and look at this.' We had no idea that soldiers get an 18-day leave after being deployed. It just hit us that these guys are losing their lives, and maybe this is something we can do to draw attention."

Saving Abel combined was able to shoot its own video in San Francisco aboard Navy carrier USS Hornet.

Null said, "What hardly anyone knows is that '18 Days' was an older song and originally had been a song about faith. I just re-worded it a little."

Look for Saving Abel to have a slightly heavier sound on the next album, It has made the jump from support act to headliner status.

As for the brother who helped Null get his first guitar, he's been paid back in spades.

"He now tends to keep all the guitars I send home," said Null.