SAUL – Their Fans Rise As Equals
By Dave Schwartz
We first spoke with Zak Bedsaul about 18
months ago. Saul’s first single “Brother” was
burning up the charts and the world awaited this young band from
Sioux City, IA. Today, their first full
length record, “Rise As Equals” is out but the pandemic has made
the world a different place. We caught up
with Zak Bedsaul to learn all that has happened and all that
DB: Let’s get going
on the interview. First of all,
congratulations on the new record, “Rise As Equals.”
As you know, the album is about to come out.
I would like to hear all about the new record.
ZB: Yeah, we’re
really excited about it. This is our first
full length album. Before that we were only
doing 5-song EPs. I think that was the goal
for my brother Blake and myself and the band – to get signed to
a label and put out a full-length record. So,
everything kind of worked out in our favor.
This is a bangin’ CD. We worked with a lot of
awesome people on this record and we’re really excited to put it
DB: We last spoke
about 18 months ago. Your song “Brother” was
on SiriusXM in a big, big way. I recall the
tone of your voice during the call. Your
level of excitement was justifiably high. I’m
interested in hearing what has happened since to that regional
band from Iowa that blew up all over Sirius.
ZB: “Brother” really
started picking up on SiriusXM. Then we did a
full-on radio campaign and the song went to a bunch of FMs
across the country. As an independent band we
debuted at #28 on the media charts which is a big accomplishment
– especially since this was our first single.
We got the attention of a lot of record labels.
Spinefarm was one. They hit us up,
flew us out to NYC and rolled out the red carpet.
It was an awesome experience. We got
to know the team really well and they treated us like family.
They took us out to eat, and then we started talking
business. Out of all the record labels,
Spinefarm seemed like the best fit for us.
So, we signed with them the middle of last year.
They immediately wanted us to return to the studio and
finish the full length. We went back in and
finished a handful of songs with our manager, Chris Dawson.
He worked with us on our “AEOS” EP as well.
We went in and started working on the record.
About that time, we released “Trial By Fire,” our
follow-up single to “Brother.” It did pretty
well. It debuted at 30 on the media charts.
And then everything sort of went dead as Covid hit.
We were all set to release “Rise As Equals” earlier this
year and then, obviously the world stopped.
So, then the label asked us to go back into the studio and write
a few more songs. So we went in and wrote
four more songs. “King Of Misery” was the
very last song we wrote with David Draiman (Disturbed).
DB: You mentioned
“King Of Misery” which is your first single on this record.
It must be exciting to be able to write with someone as
established as David Draiman. Please talk
about how that opportunity came together.
ZB: So, it turns out
that our A/R rep from Spinefarm also works for a management
company. A few years back he was working with
Trivium. Trivium wanted to do some co-writes.
They already knew the manager of Disturbed so they
reached out to him. So, our A/R guy asked if
he could get ahold of Draiman, would we like to do a song with
him? We were like, are you really asking us
that? (laughs) I don’t
know of anyone that could even say “no” at that point.
So, he reached out and David got back to him.
It turns out that David knew all about our song “Brother”
and had heard it on SiriusXM and was actually a fan of the song.
It was completely surreal.
DB: It must be cool
when a band can have that fortune. There’s
really no other way to look at it. You had
several guests on this record. Drummer Morgan
Rose (Sevendust) sat down behind the kit for a song or two with
you. I see that as a spectacular opportunity
for a young band to have so many seasoned musicians join you on
an album. Talk a little bit about the many
things you can learn from being around so many talented people.
ZB: Yeah, talking to
seasoned vets like David Draiman and Morgan Rose and you know,
we actually did a song with JD, the guitarist from Ice Nine
Kills. We really look up to those guys and JD
is a phenomenal guitarist and songwriter.
You know, there’s always one thing in common that these
bands tell us. Be humble, be respectful and
make sure you treat this as a business because, it truly is.
We pickup a lot of things like that.
The main thing I like talking to people like that isn’t even
about the music. It’s about the business and
how we can better ourselves. But obviously
it’s nice to jam with people like Morgan Rose!
DB: I absolutely get
it. A lot of bands are reaching out to fans by streaming shows.
What have you guys been doing?
ZB: Yeah, we’ve done
two streams this year. We did one by
ourselves – out of our garage actually! (laughs)
And then we had an opportunity. Our
booking agency, SPG, hooked us up and we opened up for Clutch on
a live stream. So, that was pretty cool.
DB: I agree.
It’s cool to have those opportunities.
As you have mentioned, Covid has hurt the music business
significantly. You talked about holding the
release of your album for a few months, what was that
conversation? We’re you just hoping for a
better vision of the future or just holding it back until you
could go out and support the new record?
ZB: I don’t think any
of us knew just how bad Covid and the shutdown of the country
was going to be. So everyday was a little
different for us. Slowly but surely you could
see how everything was drifting. We had an
idea that the record company would be calling.
Lo and behold, the label reached out to us and said that
we needed to have this conversation. We saw
it coming and weren’t even really that upset about it because,
with Covid, you can’t really point fingers at anyone.
So it was alright and it gave us the opportunity to go
out and do the four additional songs. We had
finished the record but these last four songs made the record
that much better. So, we’re cool with it.
DB: It sounds like it
was time well used which is fortunate for everybody.
With 2020 coming to a close soon, we’re all hoping for a
better 2021. Has there been any thought by
the band about touring – getting out on the road?
ZB: Yeah, absolutely.
We’ve been talking to the label and management and our
rep, Eric Powell at SPG. It’s really hard to
have a serious talk about touring because we don’t know when
things will open up. But we still have to
finish the Hellyeah, All That Remains, Butcher Babies tour.
That all got postponed earlier this year.
I’m assuming that that’s all going to loop back around.
And I would like to go out and do some headlining shows.
You know, just to show that we can go out and support our
own record, hold our ground. That’s one thing
that we don’t want to be pigeon-holed in, that we’re always the
opening act for the bigger bands on tour. We
want to go out and show that we can hold our own ground and do
DB: That makes
complete sense. I never considered the
perspective that you just presented. I
know that there is a long list of bands that got stuck in that
opening act role and trying to break free of it must be
ZB: Yeah, it’s very
challenging. Booking agents will say – we
know so-and-so will do the opening spot for this price.
Once you’re stuck with that reputation, it’s hard to get
out of it. It’s hard to put your foot down
because there are so many great opportunities that come out of
opening for the bigger bands. The people, the
merch sales, but at the same time, unless you are spectacular or
it’s down properly you can find yourself overlooked by fans just
there for the main acts.
DB: I agree with you.
Younger bands like yours need to grab onto opportunities
but the situation has to be a win/win.
I want to thank Zak Bedsaul for sharing
a moment with DaBelly. Be sure to check out
the new record, “Rise As Equals.” And watch
all of Saul’s socials to keep up with the band.