Skid Row - A Return To The Grind
Interviewed By Keith McDonald
Skid Row literally exploded onto the scene when they
went from the local clubs right into a major arena tour with Bon Jovi.
With the help of the hits 18 and Life, I Remember You and the anthem
Youth Gone Wild, Skid Row, made up of bassist Rachel Bolan, guitarists
Dave "Snake" Sabo and Scotti Hill, drummer Rob Affuso and
singer Sebastian "Bas" Bach, ruled the MTV airwaves and went
on to sell more than 12 million albums worldwide. After internal
problems within caused the band to part ways, the new millennium has
seen Skid Row reunite for the KISS Farewell Tour. But they have added
new parts to the puzzle including new vocalist Johnny Solinger and
drummer Charlie Mills. I had the chance to speak to Dave who filled me
in the tour and new vibe they now have.
Speaking about their tour with KISS, Dave notes that
"itís been such a blessing. On a personal level theyíre my
favorite band" and that "I get to tour with them on their last
tour ever. It just freaks me out. On a band level itís been amazing
because it enables us to expose us to an amazing amount of people. When
youíve got a new member or two in the band, one of which is a singer,
you need to expose yourself to as many people as possible" which
can allow you "to convert the nay-sayers." As for any
disbeliveers Dave says "so far weíve been fortunate" and
that "there have been a lot of converts. We didnít come out with
the attitude that weíre Skid Row look at what weíve done, we came
out with weíre starting over and we gotta bust our asses every night.
We canít rely on the past" adding that of their set "we got
thirty minutes and we make the most of (it)". They havenít been
showcasing new material at the shows because "we havenít had the
chance. We just got a new drummer, Phil Varone from Saigon Kick, in the
band." Getting to learn "the KISS set plus the club set
weíre doing on off days" isnít easy. The band does "an
hour and forty minutes in the clubs doing twenty or twenty-one songs."
Even with their hectic schedule they do "have about four or five
There was no clear reason why Skid Row broke up in the
first place. "It was a million and one things" explains Dave.
"But what it came down to was that I could not and would not get
along with Sebastian anymore" that they would "butt heads on
everything. He showed no respect to the people who worked with or for
him." The reason we stopped doing it was it was so
frustrating" that it "wasnít worth it. For all the things
that was wrong with the band Iíll take full responsibility for"
because "I let it happen" that "maybe I could keep the
band alive for another year". The new incarnation of Skid Row has a
brand new voice that is the hardest part of a band to replace. Dave
explained how Johnny came into Skid Row. "We were contemplating
doing Skid Row again" but that "we knew weíd never be able
to do it with the original members. It just couldnít happen. Me,
Scotti and Rachel have always remained close and are the core of the
band. All of a sudden K-Rock (in NY) started playing 18 And Life"
which is "a station that plays Korn and Limp Bizkit."
Realizing there was no hope of reuniting with Sebastian "we figured
we wanted to do this with another singer and drummer" while they
"auditioned a couple people" for the vacant singer position.
"Then through the Internet a fan e-mailed Rachel "recommending
Johnny and provided Rachel with his website address that featured
"streaming audio and video. I was so skeptical" but he soon
realized Johnny "was really good. We flew him up in January for
three days and got along great . He went home" while that band
"knew he had the gig" yet decided not to tell him.
The members of Skid Row had a project right after the
band broke up called Ozone Monday. Dave explains that "It reached a
point where it couldnít go on any further" and that it "was
born out of the frustration of the last few years of Skid Row. We
wouldnít call it Skid Row, even though we had every right to, because
it was so far removed from (it) and we werenít playing any Skid Row
music that it would be a cheap way to get people interested in the band."
They "never released a CD" even though "Columbia was on
the verge of signing it. At the end of the day they said weíre not
going to do it" at which time Dave "decided it was time to
move on". But they will release a new Skid Row studio album
"in the summer of next year. Right now thereís a great vibe with
the band". Their record label, Atlantic, "said deliver us a
great record" while "thatís all we want to do. They saw the
band live in New Jersey and liked what they saw" and that
"itís basically what the new music is going to sound like."
As for the direction the music is heading in Dave adds that "I
think weíre at a point that maybe simple is better. As Rachel would
say high RPM, low IQ. We take great pride in our lyrics" while they
"donít want to write anything that brings people down. We want to
write shit that makes you feel good, music that makes you want to drive
fast, drink beers and pick up chicks." Itís also a great time for
hard rock as it has steadily made a comeback. "I think that
happened was the lines between genres of music now arenít so
distinct" as Dave sees "kids wearing Korn And Limp Bizkit
shirts coming to see Skid Row, Ted Nugent and KISS."
Skid Row has come a long way since their early days
playing local clubs in New Jersey. They even had a singer before Bas.
"We realized (the original singer) was not dedicated to the cause
at all. He would decide when and if he would show up at rehearsals"
and that Dave told him "I got an ideaÖdonít" which led to
their search for a new lead throat. "We got hooked up with
Sebastian through Mark Weiss" the photographer. They were able to
land their record deal and a major tour through Daveís childhood
friend Jon Bon Jovi. Despite their falling out years ago, Dave speaks to
Jon "all the time. All that shit is behind us" and that
"we realized life is too short. We were best friends before we did
business together" and that when they did "we didnít talk to
each other for a couple of years. I said letís not do business
together and stay friends" while itís "so much better
As for Sebastian, Dave does not speak to him anymore.
"I have no reason to" and that he "is a part of my past
that Iím very proud of but I learned a lot. His life and my life are
probably better off because of it." He also has not heard
Sebastianís new live album. "Whatís the point. Itís songs
Iíve written" and that to him "itís Sebastian in a Skid
Row cover band." Even though Dave thinks itís
"ridiculous" he hopes he "sells a million records"
because "Iíll make a lot of money." He also doesnít see
the original members of Skid Row getting back together. "I have no
desire to" and that "my life is so different since we called
it a day. There are certain things I canít do anymore. I canít be
subservient to someoneís ego." But Dave is looking towards the
future with his new bandmates. "The future is now. I look at
everything as the right here and now perspective. Further on down the
line" Dave sees "another Skid Row record and touring" to
promote it. "This has been a re-birth for us" and that
"weíre starting over" which "makes you work so much
harder." Hopefully things work out well.