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Ken Wallis Chats With Montreal-Based Singer-Songwriter Justin Saladino


By Ken Wallis.



The Justin Saladino band features hard-driving guitar work that is equaled by thoughtful and reflective lyrics. This trio hails from Montreal with Justin Saladino on guitar, Denis Paquin on drums, and Gabriel Forget on bass. When these three professional musicians get together in the studio, the results are stunning. No egos here, just co-operative music blending of talent. They have released their second full-length studio album, Honest Lies.


Ken Wallis interviewed Justin Saladino for the radio show BluesSource Canada. The following are excerpts from that interview, edited for brevity and clarity.



Ken Wallis

Justin Saladino has a brand-new album out, it’s called Honest Lies and Justin is joining us. Justin, thanks for coming on the show.


Justin Saladino

Thanks for having me.


Ken Wallis

First of all, I've got to ask the ultimate question. Honest Lies. Where does the title come from?


Justin Saladino

So, it’s kind of a paradox, oxymoron. I don't know which one would be exactly the correct term, but it came out of the songwriting process, and I found it kind of tied together the album. Obviously, it was written for a song in particular, the title track, but it's really about deception with oneself as well as sometimes we kind of want to do this with my life, I want to be with this person, I believe this, I believe in this. But really at your gut level that's not the case and so I was kind of talking about that.


Ken Wallis

You put a lot of emotion into your lyrics, don't you?


Justin Saladino

I think so. Once an album is released it’s a bit revealing and vulnerable but that's what art's supposed to be.


Ken Wallis

And this is your second album after your first album, Fool's Heart. Do you feel there's quite a difference between this album and your first one?

Justin Saladino

Yeah, there's still a common thread for sure and I do think that they both sound like me. If I can be a third person observer, this one's a little bit more rock for lack of a better term. It's just harder hitting, edgier. Some of the vocals and the songs are more on a rock thing, whereas Fool's Heart maybe had a bit more of like a funky R&B thing to it.


Ken Wallis

How did you go about creating the songs for this album?

Justin Saladino

Some were pulled a little bit from the past, going through the archives lyrics and musical ideas sitting in the phone, but otherwise we were quite busy before the pandemic. We did a live album and we were just trying to write as much as possible and just kind of letting inspiration hit me, rather than writing 50 songs. It was a bit more of putting in the work and doing the demos, but letting songs kind of hit me.


Ken Wallis

And you hand-picked a producer for this album.


Justin Saladino

I did. From Winnipeg, but living in Montreal, Ariel Posen. An amazing guitar player and singer and songwriter in his own right. That was a great pleasure to work with him.


Ken Wallis

And how did you two collaborate on this album?

Justin Saladino

He produced it. He helped refine the arrangements on the album. He was there for every step of the way in the recording and mixing and mastering. He was really hands-on and did a great job. I just kind of reached out to him. I saw we had a mutual friend in Montreal and that mutual friend has a studio full of old vintage gear and guitars and amps and mics and everything else, and so we ended up doing it there. The stars kind of aligned.

Ken Wallis

And the first cut on the album, Sink or Swim, basically is referring back to the pandemic, the lockdowns, and a lot of that what you did during the lockdown. How did you cope with it?


Justin Saladino

A lot of times I really locked myself in my room to practice. I tried to reconnect a bit with my younger kind of child self with music. My first EP was in 2016 but there was music before that. I started playing shows in Blues Festivals at 11 years old. There's a bit of a loss of that pure connection to just doing it because, and not because, there's an end result. I just got back into the room and practiced and it was quite therapeutic honestly.


Ken Wallis

I have to ask you a couple of questions about your past. You performed in the Keeping The Blues Alive At Sea with Joe Bonamassa. How was that?


Justin Saladino

It was amazing. Playing shoulder to shoulder with guys like George Thorogood, Tyler Bryant and his wife Rebecca, Samantha Fish, Keb Mo, and Jimmy Vivino.


Ken Wallis

That must have been quite an experience. You've also played at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. What was that like?


Justin Saladino

That was really cool. It's pretty overwhelming. There's just so many acts and so many bands. I have that experience to thank for a lot of the work that I'm doing in the US right now with Maggie Poulos, Mixtape Media, my publicist. We're going to be doing a US release in January with Bob Laul, Serious Bob Promotion. And this is all through William Biff Kennedy. One thing connects to the next I suppose, a great experience.


Ken Wallis

Is there one song on the album that speaks to you the most?


Justin Saladino

Yeah, and it changes. Sink Or Swim is always my obvious, this is the song of the album. As a fan, again third person view, I really love Fan The Flames because I think it's very unique and just edgy and dark. I really love Let You Go. There's just something about it for me that I'm proud of and I just enjoy it.


Ken Wallis

I think it's remarkable that the album comes out as the Justin Saladino Band, not just Justin Saladino. You obviously like playing with your band members.


Justin Saladino

Yes, and I like giving them credit where credit is due. They do a great job. We went into the studio and my bass player and drummer tracked the first nine songs in the first day. These guys are monsters. They're really great musicians and you can listen to that album as many times as I have, and you'll find that they did a great job. They're right up there with the best. It's really impressive.


Ken Wallis

I just saw a posting online for one of the Blues Festivals that's coming up this summer, The Orangeville Blues Festival. It’s the first one off the mark. Have you got any plans for this summer, any festivals or any touring?


Justin Saladino

We're just starting to work on it, so it's still a bit fresh. We've got a first U.S date landed in Omaha Nebraska. I don't have a list yet to share but we're in discussion and we'll be hitting it hard in the New Year.


Ken Wallis

Well hopefully you're going to get to Ontario this summer, I'd love to catch you live. Again the album is called Honest Lies, The Justin Saladino Band, and Justin where can folks get a hold of your album?


Justin Saladino

So the best place right now, because I'm working independently at this point, is Bandcamp, or you can go on my website Justinsaladinoband.com. You're going to see the store and it's going to bring you to my bandcamp store, which also has sweaters and t-shirts, and yes CDs and the digital downloads and all that stuff.


Ken Wallis

It's been great chatting with you again Justin and all the best for the future.


Justin Saladino

Thanks so much I appreciate it.





Website: www.justinsaladinoband.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JustinSaladinoBand

Instagram: www.instagram.com/justinsaladinoband




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