The bands 32-year legacy has been one for the books indeed, however, a new dawn is rising and with the induction of former DragonForce frontman ZP Theart being made official just over a year ago, the co-founding member Dave ‘Snake’ Sabo has never felt more excited and positive about Skid Row.
Taking some time out from fellow bandmate and co-founder Rachel Bolan’s Nashville based studio, Sabo kicks back and gives Overdrive the low down on the new EP and the up and coming UK/Ireland tour that kicks off next month in Dublin’s Academy on March 2nd.
OD – Firstly, let’s get a studio update on the new EP (the final instalment of ‘United World Rebellion’) where are you guys at right now as I heard that you were just about to enter the studio?
SNAKE – Myself and Rachel (Bolan, bass) are here in Nashville where Rachel lives and has a studio. We’re working on some post-production stuff at the moment. We have a small rehearsal space in East Ashville, which is really great as it’s like jamming in someone’s living room. I got down here a couple of days ago to write, which I’ve been doing now for a while.
I come down here once a month and Rachel and I just get together and write and start working on new ideas, so we don’t really have a definitive timeline as to when we will actually be recording the record.
OD – Have you even spoken to any producers as of yet, or is it too early for that?
SNAKE – We actually spoke to Michael Wagener (Ozzy, Kings X, White Lion, Extreme, Dokken) about the record and he’s totally up for doing that, so we just have to make both schedules work and obviously we have a lot of touring that we are doing this year, so, I don’t know if we’re gonna be able to go in a do it all in one shot, or just by doing a few tracks at a time.
OD – I’m sure you will figure something out.
SNAKE – Yeah, totally! We’ll make it work for sure somehow (laughing). We are just so psyched to be working with Michael again, so much so that it’s really energised us and we’ll just do whatever we have to do in order to make it work.
OD – I understand that you all live in different places now, especially with ZP living in the UK. How does that work for the band?
SNAKE – Yeah, Rachel has been living in Nashville for about three years now and I’m up in New York, Scotti (Hill, guitar) in L.A, Rob (Hammersmith, drums) is in Atlanta and ZP (Theart, vocals) is living in Manchester. It’s kind of crazy, but we make it work (laughing).
OD – Of course this will be the first studio recording with ZP (former Dragonforce vocalist) who replaced Tony (Harnell, TNT). From the outside, it looks like things are really flowing in a good way with ZP. How are things working out with regards to him being involved with the new material?
SNAKE – I couldn’t agree with you more! ZP’s been such a welcome presence within the band. Number one, he’s a good guy and a very positive person that doesn’t get thrown off the rails. He’s got a very positive outlook on life and that in itself has brought so much to the inner workings of the band. For me, having that energy around has been fantastic and has had a very profounding effect on us all.
OD – In some ways, it was a surprise to find out the ZP was involved with Skid Row but in a lot of ways, vocally speaking, it seemed like a perfect choice. Do you know what I mean?
SNAKE – Yes, totally! I mean he’s coming from a Power Metal band (DragonForce) and now he’s doing this (laughing). He’s all about the band and the idea of making Skid Row bigger, better and stronger. ZP’s also very respectful of our past, he understands where we came from and our body of work, which he shows great reverence towards. That’s huge for us, man. This is just all just part of who ZP is and his natural personality. He’s a really good guy and a total team player.
OD – With regards to the older material, having had Matt, Sebastion (Bach), Johnny (Solinger), Tony (Harnell) and now ZP, do you find that he’s kind of making it his own and injecting his personality into the classics?
SNAKE – It’s more than just that. When ZP first came in to jam with us, he knew our catalogue, as well, if not better than we did, because it’s what he grew up on and also, what he would use to warm up with when he was gigging with DragonForce.
He didn’t come in cold to Skid Row, he knew it all! We said to him “you sound like you’ve been singing these songs for years” and he replied, “well, I have!” (laughing).
OD – Do you feel that he’s got his own identity within the older Skid Row stuff?
SNAKE – He’s got a very large personality, that’s for sure. However, he really knows where these songs have come from and pays huge respect to each and every one of them. He wants to do the tracks as they were originally recorded because he’s very aware that the people in the audience want to hear the songs the way they were recorded. ZP is very interested in paying respect to the legacy but also doing the best job that he can when performing them. The bottom line is, ZP loves the material and it shows.
OD – There’s no doubt that you have been through your fair share of vocalists, so it’s great to hear that things are working out with ZP.
SNAKE – Like any band, there are highs and lows. We have had our fair share of miserable periods, some shorter than others, but they are miserable none the less. The resiliency of a band is determined as to whether you can get past those miserable periods and make it through the damage to the other side. You can just sit back and let it destroy you, just give up and not fight for what you believe in. It’s like being married but with more people in the mix.
OD – Now, you have had some career. Over 30 years to be correct. You’ve been involved with the scene since way back when you were working as a bar manager and in (Steel Fortune with Matt Fallon formerly of Anthrax). Being part of that history and exciting explosion, opening for Metallica and Anthrax at Willies (nowStarland Ballroom) have you ever considered putting all of this into some sort of context with a book or documentary of some sort?
SNAKE – Rachel and I started the band back in ’86 (pictured below) as well as the stuff that I was doing beforehand with Steel Fortune. Regarding the idea of doing a book, I have far more interest in reading other peoples stories than telling my own.
I just don’t know man. Don’t get me wrong, I have so many stories that could fill a number of books from the stuff that went on during the tours, the business side of things etc but I guess I just don’t have a lot of confidence in myself in believing that people would be interested in a story that I have to tell.
OD – How so?
SNAKE – I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me, but right now, it just doesn’t seem right. Perhaps sometime down the road a little, but for now all I want to do is get the next album finished and play live (laughing). I’m just hoping that I’ll have a lot more time left on this earth to do something like a book (laughing).
We have so many great stories and tend to reminisce a lot with each other when it comes to the distant past and the recent past. At the end of the day, as much as this is a business – and it is a business – we still have to provide for our families and keep a roof over our heads as well as the people that work with Skid Row. In order to work at the top level, you have to enjoy at what you’re doing and I can say that we are really enjoying Skid Row live right now, so right now is not the time to open a pandora’s box of stuff. We just want to concentrate on moving forward and creating new music, friends and memories.
OD – Most people would not know that Skid Row was out there on the Bon Jovi (Slippery When Wet) in ’86 with Matt Fallon before Sebastion came on board. With reference to the timeline, does it all kind of seem like a rollercoaster when you look back on it, because you blew-up in a huge way?
SNAKE – All the time! All the time man! Rachel and I were in the studio the other day, working on a lyric and we were remembering back when we lived at home and were trying to write music in our bedrooms. We were so young and stupid! (laughing)
It seems like centuries ago and feels like it for sure. To look back to that period of our lives and then to see where we are right now with everything in between, it does seem like a rollercoaster ride. I take great pride in the fact that we have been able to maintain this band through all of the shit that’s happened over the years. We’ve managed to create music all along the way from the start back in ’86 to present day while still going out to play to venues full of people that still want to hear our stuff. That to me is just mind-blowing!
I certainly had no idea that any of this would last as long as it has. I guess when you’re a young 2o-year-old you don’t think that far ahead. In order to be the biggest rock band in the world, you have to keep it together along the way (laughing) and that was something that we had never thought about ever!
OD – The legacy of Skid Row is a fascinating one, to say the least. This band has been through a considerable amount of ups and downs. Do you feel that you went through some kind of brutal trial by fire when things started to explode?
SNAKE – We’ve fallen apart at times, but never broke. We’ve always been able to reassemble things and figure out how to put things back together and forge forward. I am certainly very proud of everything the band has done from the inception of the band until now. It hasn’t all been good all the time, as with every band, there are things that will test you along the way. There have been long periods of time where there was a lot of pain and suffering involved but the body of work and the time spent with each other has been something very special and beautiful to me. I hope we have had a positive impact on people out there and continue to do so going forward.
OD – With reference to the question that you get asked the most (which I’m not going to ask), does it piss you off that people just can’t get past the fact that you guys are moving forward and are content with what you’re doing rather than getting Sebastian back. Why is it that you think people are obsessed with this, seeing as it’s been talked about to death?
SNAKE – I’ve to say thank you! You have no idea how fucking old this is, man. It’s refreshing to have someone from the media that see’s it for what it is. Your opinion is part of a very small percentage of people that work in this business and it’s just so refreshing. When you’ve been a part of something for 32 years, like Rachel and I have when we started Skid Row, you’ve got to be held accountable for everything that has happened.
While I completely agree with what you’re saying, as it’s been talked to death on so many levels, nothing has changed! I guess I understand why people want to go there as it’s an easy byline.
OD – I just don’t agree with it and can’t understand why people can’t just let it go and appreciate the present. If you were gonna get back with Sebastian, it would have happened already, so let’s move the fuck on from talking about it.
SNAKE – I’m not gonna lie to you, it’s actually exciting to hear you talk like that because you totally get it! Thank you. I don’t disregard our past in any way because it’s what got us here, but let’s just concentrate on the present. It’s like talking about an ex-girlfriend that you dated 20 years ago. Why bother? I’m all about moving forward and concentrating on the stuff that I’m doing or about to do.
Ther’s a certain thing that happened the other day. I used to be a lot more active on social media, and have said some things that, shall we say, were not the best at the time. So, I basically just utilised my time to promote our shows or any new albums or videos coming out for us or any of the other artists that I’m working with.
Every once in a while, I’ll throw something up online that may be from a political point of view or whatever. When someone says something so unbelievably stupid, you’ve just got to call them out on it, but that’s a rare occasion for me. So, that being said, I found myself on Facebook as our tour dates had just been announced and saw a comment that was dissing our current line-up and stating they didn’t want to be any part of it because it’s not what it was 2o years ago. I usually don’t let stuff like this get to me, but this was just really below the belt stuff and it bothered me.
So, now I’m thinking to myself, “I’m sure this guy’s divorced and figure out who he was married to and just lay this guy away!” (laughing) I would have been so easy to just unleash hell on that person, but I decided that there is just no point. It’s all just negative energy and leads to nothing but bullshit at the end of the day.
So, to hear you say this and just focus on the here and now – I greatly appreciate it.
OD – Next month (March 2018) will see you kick off a string of 16 dates in Ireland and the UK. Are you eager to get out on the road as I’m sure with ZP living in Manchester, this will be a chance for you all to reunite as a unit?
SNAKE – When I just stop for a moment and look at the fact that we are about to embark on a 16 date tour of Ireland and the UK in 2018, that just get’s me so hyped man! Getting to do this after all of this time is just incredible, to say the least. It’s not Wembley Stadium shows this time around and that’s okay. The idea that we get to play music to people across Ireland and the UK 16 times in the month of March, is amazing to me! (laughing)
I’m talking to my friends who I’ve known since high school and they’re like “Holy Shit dude, that’s so fucking cool that you’re back in the UK again!“. I get to play music that I love with my good friends night after night. It’s a great feeling.
OD – You’re here in Ireland and the UK next month (March 2nd) for a string of dates, will we be hearing tracks from the forthcoming new EP and if so can you give us a couple of titles?
SNAKE – In all honesty, we are not gonna be playing any new material as it’s just not ready as of yet. The creative process is still very much at the forefront with regards to the new stuff, so we’re just gonna concentrate on our back catalogue for these up and coming dates.
OD – So, the new stuff is still a ways off from being completed?
SNAKE – As I said before, I’ve been coming down to Rachel about once a month to work on the material. We would write a bunch of stuff and work through the ideas in his studio, so we haven’t had an opportunity for all of us to get together and work on the material/ideas as a unit just yet.
OD – I guess you will be able to try out a few things during the soundchecks while on tour, seeing as you’re all together?
SNAKE – Yeah, we tend to do that anyway and have done that for years. In fact, Rachel and I have tonnes of stuff from soundchecks over the last few decades. A lot of material has been born from those jamming sessions during soundchecks.
OD – Finally, what is the one album that you keep returning to over and over as a source of inspiration?
SNAKE – It’s got to be KISS ‘Alive‘. That album has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. That album has been such an important part of my life. It taught me how to play the guitar and has been the soundtrack to many moments in my life. I love it!
Skid Row will be kicking off their Ireland/UK dates in Dublin’s Academy on March 2nd with support from Toseland. A limited amount of tickets are now on sale via Ticketmaster priced at €30 (inc booking fee). For more information, please check with promoters, MCD.
© www.overdrive.ie 2018