Twenty-five yearlong nightmare
The second EP of “United World Rebellion” is out and a proof that after 25 years Skid Row haven’t lost their passion or ability to rock and that they are still at the very top of their game. To see and feel this all you need to do is to see them live and you will be blown away by the pure energy and power of their stage presence and the way they deliver each and every song and Solinger is an amazing frontman and knows exactly what to do and how to interact with the crowd. I met up with the founders and spirit of Skid Row Rachel Bolan and Dave Snake Sabo to talk about the meaning of rock and roll, their new album, what it means to be in a band, friendship, life and Pantera.
HMA: The new record ‘United World Rebellion’ is split in 3 EP’s; does it have a narrative throughout it like one record?
Rachel Bolan: Yea, it’s definitely a theme, a lot of people ask us if it was a concept but it’s more of a theme than anything. Skid Row has always been a band to take a stance of standing up for your own rights and be the person who you are, don’t be someone that you’re not and this just takes it to extremes. It’s funny, the older we get we seem to find more teenage angst in us every year we get older.
HMA: So it is in a way like the last Down record, split in EP’s coming out at different times? It is not a common thing to do for a band.
Dave Snake Sabo: Yeah. I think there are more and more artists doing that these days and I just think that it serves the public better right now. Unfortunately we have so much information coming at us in every second of every day and it’s very difficult for people just to navigate through everything. We don’t have the luxury of time anymore, people in general. You used to be able to sit down and put your headphones on for an hour and listen to a record and those times don’t exist right now. Instead of over-inundating people with a large amount of music and then not having something out for a long period time, we felt it’d be best to just come out with a thirty, thirty five minutes of music. That’s cheaper to make so it’s cheaper to sell to them and probably more enjoyable because it’s a little bit less of a commitment from the guy who’s buying it and hopefully it leaves him wanting more and it makes it better for us because we enjoy the process better. It’s something different. We feel that we’re more creative and this way we can go back and deliver more music more frequently than we have in the past.
HMA: Do you actually think it keeps things more alive because you tour after every EP is released, so relatively often?
Rachel Bolan: Exactly and the reason that’s so true is because when we do full length albums, we get kind of lazy and obviously it was seven years between ‘Revolutions Per Minute’ and that first EP as Snake wad saying it’s a lot easier to write ten songs and pick your favourite five than to write thirty and pick your favourite ten and it does, It keeps things current, keep things fresh and it’s really exciting when you do things and the whole process is then a lot of fun.
HMA: It’s better for us, for the fans because we can see you more often than waiting for several years for each tour
Dave Snake Sabo: Exactly. That’s the whole thing too. And there’s also the thing that I like about it too and I’ve said this a bunch of times, but this last EP was the most fun I’ve ever had making a Skid Row record. After twenty-five years of making records, to say that, for me personally is like, that’s a personal triumph. That’s a victory to be able to, after all this time of making music with the guys that this particular EP was the most fun that I’ve ever had. It says so much about the relationships that we have and what music means to us in this day and age.
HMA: You guys seem really close, like a band that has a real bond together. You have been in the same band and you have been friends since the beginning. You are Skid Row. Do you think that is vital for a band to be close together?
Rachel Bolan: Twenty-eight years now.
Dave Snake Sabo: He hates it! I’m the thorn in his side
Rachel Bolan: Well yeah, it’s been a twenty-five yearlong nightmare! I’m waiting for someone to wake me up. We’ve spent more time around each other than we’ve spent with our own families; we’ve all gone through divorces and moved across country and stuff. We’ve spent so much time together, it gets annoying sometimes, where it’s to the point we start cracking our own jokes and everyone else is not in on it and we’re like “man, we got to stop doing that.” That’s just really rude.
HMA: So it is important for a band to be close together as people? There are some bands like Metallica that don’t even travel on the same tour bus anymore because they can’t stand each other
Dave Snake Sabo: Oh my gosh, absolutely, yeah. We made it a point early on when we first started the band was if it’s not fun anymore then we’re not going to do it. It has to be fun, it has to be enjoyable. You have to be able to go, at least from our stand point, you have to be able to go on stage and really enjoy being on that stage with the other people around you. So when that stops, when that isn’t happening anymore, you start doing it for the wrong reasons.
Rachel Bolan: That’s exactly why we took four years away from it. Because it just was something that became such a labour and such a job, that wasn’t fun. I worked a lot of jobs before Skid Row and the ones I didn’t like I quit. That’s why we wanted to take a break from it.
Dave Snake Sabo: We needed to. We also realized it was actually very good for us because not only as friends but as song writing partners and guys who started the band, we realized that after that time and separating from everybody that we love the songs that we wrote and that the band performed, but we just needed to figure out a different way of doing it and that’s why we got Johnny in the band and now Rob in the band. Because again, you have to enjoy it you know. I really don’t know how people can go up on stage with people that they hate I’m sure the paycheck can be great for a lot of people and I get it. I can’t do it man and I know he, Rachel, can’t do it and it’s disingenuous. This has been great for us because we all hang out together all the time and we’re constantly in each other’s fucking faces but we can handle it and we get along and enjoy each other’s company.
HMA: You two don’t live in the same State though, you (Rachel Bolan) live in Georgia and you (Snake Sabo) live in New York right?
Rachel Bolan: Snake move back to the east coast has been recently so I haven’t spent much time up there because we’re already working on the second EP. But when he lived in California, we were at each other places at least a week or two out of every month, once we started. We go to Atlanta now because we have a demo studio that we do stuff in and rehearsal room is right in Atlanta and I live there, Rob lives there and it’s easy for everyone to get to.
HMA: You said before the message from Skid Row is to stand up for your own rights and be who you really are, but what do you think about the fact that the rock and metal scene is more mainstream now. Do you think that this takes something away from the real rock and roll attitude and lifestyle?
Rachel Bolan: We live in our own bubble, we don’t really try to follow trends or pay attention to trends. We just do what Skid Row does, we just write what we feel and we play hard and we tour a lot and we’re living the American Rock ‘n’ Roll dream. We don’t really pay attention too much. With a band that’s been around for as long as we have, it’s weird because with America anyway, we have friends that work in radio that have high positions at radio stations and they’re like, “if you guys were a new band this week, you’d get played every two minutes,” but because of the way the business is, this is the business side of music. People don’t want to hear new stuff from bands from that era and it’s a shame because bands like Motley will put out a new record and stuff like that, and AC/DC. All these great bands put stuff out and you never get to hear on the radio.
HMA: I believe the mystique of Rock ‘n’ Roll is gone in a way, the passion behind it all, form the way you had to research music and bands to destroy your own t-shirt an make your own alternative clothes.
Rachel Bolan: Yeah now you can just go buy a pre-ripped t-shirt, yeah that’s what happens when something get really popular.
Dave Snake Sabo: You know what I think what started us in the band in the first place and what got us together as friends was our awkwardness in being sociable. We were socially awkward, even inept, and we needed to find our voice and that wasn’t through sports and it wasn’t through this or that. We found it both through music and that was the thing that we gravitated towards and we were able to express ourselves through writing songs and playing music and I think that I’m thankful because it still exists. That’s where we came from. You know, Rachel had the nose ring in 1986 and no one had that and that was just his inner personality and trusting itself and now we just do it in other ways to our music but I still think there is still a great wealth of individuality out there that is still attracted to what we do through our music and what we say because we are essentially that person. That’s where we came from so I still think it exists.
HMA: You played with loads of great bands, Pantera, Motley Crue, what’s one of the craziest things that happened on tour?
Rachel Bolan: I’ll never forget when we did take Pantera out, you know, they were new, they were kids, never been on a big tour before and they were opening for us and Dimebag was… Remember when he was on that stretch of yours, just trashing every fucking dressing room that he went in. There would be half inch of water from the coolers and everything would be broken and I just put my arm around him one day and I go, “Dude you know you have to pay for this right?” And he goes, “what?” And I go, “all these rooms that you’re thrashing, this is going to come back to you at the end of the tour, we’re certainly not paying for it, your guys aren’t going to pay for it,” He’s like “oh hell man.”
Dave Snake Sabo: They were so much fun man
Rachel Bolan: They were. They were a blast.
Dave Snake Sabo: We go out to a club and then come back to the hotel and sometimes we’d be staying in the same hotels or motels for that matter and they’d be in one of the guy’s rooms and they got paper mache and they’d be making these giants pot leaves that they’re going to wield on stage
Rachel Bolan: A four foot joint.
Dave Snake Sabo: It was just that, it was crazy
Rachel Bolan: Slave to the Grind was out so we were headlining the radios at that point. We took out Pantera, then we took out Sound Garden and we had both of them on at the same time and that was just awesome.
HMA: You (Snake Sabo) manage bands like Down and you (Rachel Bolan) produce bands, is that something big and ongoing?
Rachel Bolan: If someone asks me, I haven’t done anyone for a major label in years but I just like helping new bands, anything I can do to help, I’ll just send them Snake’s way and hopefully he could help
HMA: Is it your own label?
Rachel Bolan: I don’t have a label, people just like, “hey man, I liked what you did with this band can you help us out?” Even if it does not come to producing and it’s just creative, helping arrange and stuff like that. I love seeing that, when a band is creating and I love being in that environment and I just love producing bands but I have to like them. A lot of bands come to me and it’s just not my thing and I’m not going to pretend just for some paycheck. I can’t do it, because it won’t be right for the band or for myself.
HMA: That is great is all about the music.
Rachel Bolan: It’s all about the world of music.
Dave Snake Sabo: It’s the truth
HMA: And you, Snake manage Down, can you tell me a bit about that?
Dave Snake Sabo: The way I look at it is that I don’t even look at myself as a manager, I look at it as a friend who’s going to help their friends and make sure that they don’t get screwed over and luckily I’m part of a company that has enough of a legacy and a history and strength to be able to provide that backbone. The one great think about working as a manager when you’re a guitar player in a band, from my particular standpoint is that, hopefully I’ve gained some wisdom throughout all these years and the artist will always know that I will always be on their side because I’m them and it’s just that we’ve been through so much as individuals we’ve both been very, always been interested in learning, in educating ourselves, still to this day. It’s very important and we will take what we learn and be able to apply it to other situations and help your friend out. That’s how I am. I’m a buddy who helps out other buddies.
HMA: How long have you’ve been managing Down?
Dave Snake Sabo: Nine years now.
HMA: When is the third instalment coming out? And will you tour after that?
Rachel Bolan: We hope to have ‘United World Rebellion’ chapter 3 out next summer and yes, we will definitely tour
HMA: Sadly the time has run out. Thank you guys so much and sees you next time.
Interview by Manuela Mattera – Copyright 2014 © Heavy Music Artwork. All rights reserved.