Underdogs change the game
They turn the tables, defy expectations, and emerge victorious. The rise of SAUL resembles a classic underdog story. The band quietly clawed their way out of the Midwest and into the national limelight with six million-plus streams and the endorsement of tastemakers such as Revolver, Guitar World, Loudwire, and many more. The Iowa quartet - brothers Blake Bedsaul [lead vocals] and Zach Bedsaul [lead guitar, backup vocals], William McIlravy [bass, backup vocals], and Myles Clayborne [drums] - embody this timeless tale on their 2020 full-length debut, Rise As Equals [Spinefarm Records].
“Our approach was to completely come out swinging,” exclaims Blake. “That was our main goal. We wrote each song like it was the last song we were going to write. We focused on lyrical content that would mean something to everybody who heard it. We harnessed this positive energy out of real-life experiences.”
As the story goes, SAUL steadily grinded it out since 2017. In between sharing stages with the likes of Bush, Fuel, 10 Years, HELLYEAH, and Nonpoint, the musicians sharpened a signature style. Sonically, the boys struck an elusive balance between jackhammering polyrhythmic guitars and sweeping melodies. During 2019, the four-piece independently launched “Brother” (dedicated to their late brother Caleb) to #1 on Sirius/XM Octane as it took over radio across the country. Within a year, it eclipsed 3.7 million Spotify streams and 1.3 million YouTube views. The group continued their momentum with the band's Aeons EP as “Trial By Fire” surpassed 870K Spotify streams and 190K YouTube views. Along the way, the musicians pieced together what would become Rise As Equals - only to endure tragedy once more.
“Our mom was battling cancer at the time,” says Blake. “She passed away last year. We were struggling in the studio while she was at home and our dad was trying to take care of her and work full-time. It was tough, for sure.”
However, SAUL made it through. In addition to “Brother” and “Trial By Fire,” they will unleash “King Of Misery” as the lead radio single from their new album. The musicians co-wrote the track with Disturbed frontman and rock legend David Draiman over Zoom while in quarantine.
A chugging riff snaps into clean verses before a hypnotic and hard-hitting hook. “The song is reflective of our dad when our mom was in hospice,” he goes on. “He always joked, ‘I’m the king of everything. This is my domain’. At that point, he was the king of his domain, but he was also the king of misery at the same time. I’ve been listening to Disturbed since middle school. When David said he was a fan of our band, it was totally mind-blowing. It was a dream come true and a blessing to work with him.”
The boys also teamed up with powerhouse songwriter Erik Ron [Godsmack, Issues, Sylar] on “Here And Now.” Once again, detuned thrashing gives way to magnetic melodies “about rebuilding what we thought we were and starting over fresh.” Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose hopped behind the throne for the syncopated shockwaves of “Inside,” while “Looking To Fight” sounds a call-to-arms.“When times were down and we weren’t doing music, it was about my inner struggle being bitter at myself and my life,” Blake states. “It’s really personal. Zach and I agreed this would be our last hurrah if ‘Brother’ didn’t hit. Thankfully, it did.”
Meanwhile, the title track transmits a message directly to the group’s legion of fans affectionately referred to as “Equals.” Glistening electronics and keys pierce through thudding grooves as Blake screams, “This is my time, these are my people, standing with pride, you are my equals.” “It’s a mantra for the crowd,” he smiles. “It’s such a good feeling. We wrote it specifically for our fans. We all fight together. We’re all equals.”
In the end, SAUL stand for and with those equals forever. “Not only is this band a family, but all of our fans are a part of that family,” he leaves off. “We don’t stray away from that. When things get tough, stay positive, keep fighting, and do what’s right. We’ll never stop.”