It’s a typical Monday in Columbus, and within the massive walls of BoMa stands a group of tattooed rockers, who carry themselves more like brothers than band mates. They stand around and joke with each other while waiting for their lead singer. A tall, Stevie Nicks look-a-like blonde approaches them and stands before them as they pose for the camera. They don’t look like a band that got their start playing in the Brewery District or at Campus bars; they look like a band ready to take the nation by storm. The truth is that they have, and they continue to, even as we write this piece.
But even with their continued rise to success, Columbus rockers Saving Jane have never let their egos get the best of them, and have never forgotten from where they came. Even After having a breakout top 50 single with “Girl Next Door” and selling over 100,000 records, the band still makes sure to make time for fans and keep a positive message in their music. The band hopes to start a “One Girl Revolution” with their newest addition to their signature “Rock that pops” sound.
The original revolution began when lead singer Marti Dodson decided she’d had enough with the music industry’s practice of selling sex rather than substance after seeing airbrushed photos of herself. So the band decided to deliver that message in-between their driving guitars and catchy hooks with Dodson’s powerful vocal chords as the catalyst for the revolution. Before the group hit the road, they stopped in and chilled with us at C Magazine about their new record, their inspiration and their Columbus roots.
You just released the album One Girl Revolution. What separates it from your previous releases?
Marti: I think just the level of awesomeness is what makes it different. No, really, we went back to a Rock sound, which our first album was a little bit more Rock and then we went Acoustic for a while, and now we’ve circled back around to Rock ‘n Roll.
This is your third album; was it any easier to go into the studio this time?
Pat: I don’t know about easier, but your expectations get higher every time you go into the studio. With this one, I think collectively we all really put everything we had into it and we had high expectations the whole time through. It was kind of stressful at times, but I think the final product was pretty delicious.
How much of it is experience based? You know your music, you play together—whether you’re in the kitchen, acoustic, live… But in the studio, are your nerves roused a bit in there?
Pat: Absolutely, the professional environment certainly brings out the jitters in anybody. There’s pressure involved every time you go in. You’re not just doing something for your friends to listen to; you’re trying to make a statement on a national level. So every second counts and it’s just a lot of pressure.
How much does a studio session cost when you get up into the big leagues?
Pat: Millions of dollars, no, I mean on our first record it was in thirties, the second it was in the sixties, and on the last album it was in the hundreds per hour. There’s probably a minimum of 100 hours on the simplest song.
The new album stresses sex over substance, real over plastic. Why did you think it was important to make this the theme of your album?
Marti: I think just looking at what’s going on in the entertainment industry in music and film and everything, it’s just all about sex and I just think there are other things that women have to say. I think there are more important things for little girls to idolize and role model. I just wanted to say something about that and do something different.
From a male perspective, how much of the music is dedicated to real versus plastic, artificial versus organic?
Pat: Well I think a lot of the industry is at least perceived contrived even from the consumers. I think a lot of people look at bands or they look at the songs and it just doesn’t seem real to them, it seems imaginary. We’re about as real as it gets. We’re a Midwest Rock band that is singer/songwriter driven. She actually writes everything. We actually play the instruments.
Given that the title song is very “girl power” and the majority of the band members are male, how do you guys relate to the songs and their message?
Pat: From my perspective the one thing about the way Marti writes is that it’s about empowerment. She happens to be a female, so it’s from a female perspective, but the songs are never about “let’s be a victim”, or “let’s cry the blues,” it’s about “life may be tough so get up and go after it”. I don’t care if it’s about a boy or a girl or a daisy, you just have to believe it.
After the success of your first album, did you find yourself running into a lot of those plastic people?
Marti: Yes. Just having traveled and having been all over the country at this point, the Midwest is a different kind of thing. The people here are different. We’ve been here so long and we still live here, so we still have that mentality. Midwesterners are very open, friendly and real and I don’t think we’re going to lose that. It’s not like that in other places, especially if you’re people who are really immersed in the industry or immersed in L.A. or New York or whatever. They don’t have that sense of reality.
If you guys blow up even more and make tens of millions of dollars apiece, aside from living near the industry, how many of you are going to maintain homes in Ohio?
Brandon: I think it all comes back down to the fact of no matter how much money you make at it, or what people think you are, you have to feel and understand what you’re doing and bring that across. So even if you make hundreds of millions of dollars and you have this super huge house, you still have to live in that house and make good music if that’s what you choose to do. So it’s kind of that thing that money doesn’t make music, people do.
Given that, when you guys had your first success and you continued to be successful, how did you manage to keep your feet on the ground with all the changes that were happening to you?
Marti: First, I’d like to say that I think people think we’ve made a lot more money than we have, but I don’t know, like I said we’re all grounded here in Ohio and we all have homes and people to come back to. You don’t lose you’re head over stuff like that. Our fans have given us everything. If they didn’t buy the records, or if they didn’t call the radio stations and request it… we wouldn’t have anything without that and we all recognize that.
Pat: If you want to stay grounded, come to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. You’ll feel stupid and humble in a minute.
On all of your albums your songs tell stories of heartbreak. Is that where a lot of the inspiration comes from?
Marti: I sound like a horribly depressed person if you listen to the albums [laughs]. Yeah, I think for me, especially since I’m doing the lion’s share of the writing, I write when I’m in pain. When I hurt, that’s when I want to sit down and create something. If I’m happy, you know, I want to watch TV and eat a cookie. It’s just when it comes for me.
You’ve been labeled as “Pop Rock”, but barring all labels, how would you describe your sound?
Marti: That’s what I call it. I mean it is Pop Rock.
Did you guys ever imagine when you were growing up and learning your instruments and listening to your favorite bands that you would be playing Pop Rock?
Pat: No, not even close.
Brandon: I think all of us came from different influences than what we’re doing now, which is kind of cool about what we’re doing now. I think it all boils down to anything that has soul or meaning, that’s worth you doing this—all the sacrifice that it takes. This is what we chose to live for when you chose to live for it. So I don’t mind playing Pop Rock, if this is Pop Rock.
Dak: When I met Pat and Marti it was amazing. I never thought I would be in a female-fronted band in a million years and I met these two and it was just amazing. I heard the song writing and that was it, I was like, “let’s do this.”
Jeremy: When I think about Pop Rock, I don’t think about Saving Jane. I honest to God don’t necessarily enjoy Pop Rock, but I really love this band and if that’s what we’re classified as doing, it doesn’t matter. I really like this band a lot.
The new album has a lot less acoustic tracks on it and seems to have more of an edge. Why did you go back to that?
Marti: I think we’ve always been that band live. We’ve always been a guitar-driven live band that is a little bit more Rock than Acoustic and I think we wanted an album that represented that.
Brandon: In Boston, somebody stole Pat’s acoustic guitar, so that pretty much explains it.
Pat: That’s true, they stole my acoustic and then we had to be a Rock band.
Given the state of the music industry and how much of it is driven by online, did it surprise you that the number of people who just chose to download “Girl Next Door”?
Marti: Yeah, we had 600, 000 people download the demo. You never know what’s going to be successful. You write something and you think “this is it” and it’s not. Then you write something that you had no idea and that’s the one that makes it.
So when you’re writing that song. Where were you, and what exactly are you doing?
Marti: For “Girl Next Door,” I was driving around. I seem to do a lot of writing while I’m driving, and I brought it to band practice and told them what I kind of wanted, that I wanted it to be more Rock and I just started singing and they started playing.
How long did it take you to write that song?
Marti: I wouldn’t even say an hour.
What is the single thread that you can sew through most of your tracks?
Marti: I think that it’s just real life. That’s the thing that is common in every song; it’s something that everybody experiences.
Has your show changed much since you’ve grown?
Dak: It’s a big difference. We learned a lot from just playing shows and being a cover band. The three of us were a cover band for a long time outside of Saving Jane, and you can be more lapsidazical with that. With this, though, we’ve got to be playing.
Who was the person that was on the poster in your room that you idolized growing up?
Jeremy: Ronnie James Dio.
Pat: Muhammad Ali.
Brandon: Jimi Hendrix.
What’s the first thing you do when you get back to Columbus?
Pat: To be honest, just lay on your own couch for 20 minutes.
Dak: The scheduling is crazy, they tell you when to wake up and when to do everything. When we first got back last year, just to sit down on the couch was ridiculous. To turn on ESPN and just sit there was amazing.
Pat: On the road, there’s beds and there’s chairs, but there’s no couches.
Dak: We would get a sweet bed, but they’d be like “you’ve got 20 minutes to shower and then we’re out of here.” We’d be like, “We just checked in” and they’d say, “We’re driving through the night.”
Jeremy: I’d look at the bed for 30 seconds and then pretend like I slept on it for 3 hours.
Marti: Didn’t you actually fall out of the bunk when you were on the bus? Jeremy’s a sleepwalker. I don’t know if he fell out of his bunk, but he certainly got out of his bunk and into Pat’s.
Pat: I woke up and I thought it was kind of a big joke. The curtain opens up and Jeremy crawls in, and Jeremy’s known for being the jokester of the group and I’m expecting everyone to start laughing and there’s no laughter. Then I look out and everyone’s in their bunks and I’m like “Jeremy, what are you doing here?” and he goes “It’s alright.” I was like “No it’s not, get out!” and he was all mad for a second and then he went back.
Jeremy: I was mad at him because he was in my bunk, but no one believed it.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you on the road?
Dak: We got stalked by a 50-year-old man from state-to-state. It started in Ohio and he followed us through New York and into Boston and Pennsylvania. He would show up with fake credentials and a clipboard and security badges.
Marti: He would call ahead and say he was our security and he wanted to know where my dressing room was. That was weird, yes.
Brandon: I would say the weirdest thing was getting ripped off in Arkansas.
Pat: It was actually on my birthday, we were in Arkansas at Little Rock, playing at the Arkansas State Fair and we come out the next morning to leave and the back doors of the trailer are open and all of our gear has completely vanished. Then it was a sweet 12-hour silent drive back.
Brandon: We get home and we found every single piece of gear on eBay.
Was it weird having your song covered on a Kidz Bop album?
Marti: Yeah, it was funny because they changed some of the lyrics, like they took at the line “I just want to hit her” and changed it to something like “I just don’t like her.”
Brandon: I’d say the Sims was a little weirder.
Marti: Oh yeah, they put it in the Sims game and I had to re-record it in Simlish, which is their imaginary language and there’s no translation for it, so they have made up a language. So the guy that’s in charge of the Simlish sent me the lyrics and the pronunciations and it took me like six times because I was just dying laughing because it was like flippy floppy boo. It was ridiculous.
Who’s got the coolest ink out of all of you guys?
Brandon: Jeremy, he has the notes of Ronnie James Dio’s “Holy Diver” on his arm. He actually has musical notations on his arm to a Ronnie James Dio song. That’s got to be the tops.
You guys have been together for eight years, a long time for any band. What is the secret of keeping it together, and has losing band members like Kris Misevski hurt or helped your cause?
Pat: I think you just have to keep everyone else in mind. It’s not always just about you. If we don’t look out for each other, nobody else does. Once we got out on the road, we really tightened up as a group. It’s one thing when we lived in town and we would meet for practice and for gigs, you don’t really get to know how everybody lives. Out on the road, though, you just have to make allowances for everybody.
Dak: This band is the first band I’ve ever been in that was like a family.
You have a real day off, how do you spend it in Columbus?
Marti: I’m going to work out, because Columbus is the only place I ever exercise. I never do it on the road. I’m going to do that and maybe go to the mall because I know where all the stuff is.
Pat: I frequent the bike Paths. So I get up in the morning and I ride my bike up and down. I like to go downtown to get some coffee and just watch traffic go by. That’s my day.
Brandon: There’s a magical place called Penn Station where they serve a Philly cheese steak and I like to go there and catch a good movie in the theater, perhaps the Arena Grand. That’s about it.
Dak: I’m actually lucky enough to have a Wii, and Xbox 360 and a Playstation. So I just sit around all day and play video games. Golfing is fun, too.
Jeremy: Frisbee golf. I really enjoy a nice brisk game of Frisbee golf and Chipoltle.
Do you ever get tired of playing your music?
Marti: Honestly, no. I thought that I would get sick of doing the same songs, but it’s a new audience every night.
How did you react the first time you were recognized by fans outside of Columbus?
Marti: It’s kind of shocking because we were all just dorks and we’re just down to earth kind of dorky people. So when people are screaming when they come and see your face, I’m turning around and am like “What? What’s wrong?”
Pat: It’s always like somebody wants you to sign their pants. I’m always like, “My signature isn’t going to make these more valuable. You’re mother’s just going to get mad at you for having some strange man write on your pants.”
Dak: The baby! We had to sign a baby. This girl came up to us and was like “Sign my baby!” It was an actual real live baby. I went to go sign the baby on its shirt and she was like “No, sign the baby!” That’s crazy.
Best song ever?
Dak: “Rock ‘n Roll All Night and Party Everyday.”
Jeremy: “Holy Diver”—Ronnie James Dio.
Marti: “Midnight Train to Georgia.”
Pat: “Thunder Road.”
Brandon: “The Streets have No Name”—U2
With bands like Modest Mouse, Chili Peppers and even Cake, what is it they have or are doing that allows them to play and grow together for decades?
Jeremy: Sweet bass players.
Pat: I think it’s a common goal. I don’t care if it’s two people or ten people, if everyone is working towards the same end result, you can work together as long as you need to and you’re going to grow. Our common call is to kick ass!
How would you define your writing style in two words?
Marti: Journal entry.
Do you guys have a dream venue?
Everybody: Madison Square Garden.
Marti: Red Rocks in Colorado.
Jeremy: Maybe like the Whiskey in L.A. when it was big.
Brandon: I would say Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.
Marti: This might sound really cheesy, but I’m really sad that Germain closed before we got to play it, because I always wanted to come home and play there.
Saving Jane return to their hometown to perform at the German Village Oktoberfest on September 28th at 10:30 p.m.