Skid Row

In a surreal Designer Magazine survey 9 out of 10 cats said the rock band they'd most like to see on UK soil was Skid Row. It's been over seven years since the band last played the UK and although for the past three of them they've been touring the States with the likes of Kiss and Poison a UK tour always seemed remote. On a tour which proved "Rock Is Not Dead", the Row along with the Ga Gas and Hurricane Party rocked the UK to it's senses and introduced us to new frontman Johnny Solinger. Designer Magazine caught with original member Dave "Snake" Sabo to talk about the new album, the early days and everything else you could possibly want to know.

Q: 7 years ago you last played England. It's like WTF Skid Row back in the UK?
A: Over 7 years ago. It's been a long f**king time man. It's one of those things where you don't know what to expect and you know it's going to be a hard road and what not. Either you're up for the challenge or you're not and we definitely have been. We spent a long time making the record we wanted to make and we have so much confidence in it that we felt we could go anywhere and people would dig it.

Q: It is a long time. I was only 18 seven years ago.
A: Shit, I don't even know what I was last year. We had to go through all that other turmoil in order to get to this point. If it wasn't for all that shit that we went from those years to now, we wouldn't be here right now. We wouldn't have been able to get Johnny to fill in the band and make the record that we made and go on the road and see people actually respond. It's a very humbling experience to be honest with you. You just don't know what to expect and when you have sold out shows you go god damn it's amazing.

Q: It must have been amazing for the fans. Over here at the very least we thought we'd never see you guys again?
A: You disappear and sometimes peoples memories are very short, but one of the things we found out in Europe and the UK is that the loyalty factor is much higher that it is in the States. In the States it's like you can only feed someone so many Big Macs and then they move on to something else.

Q: On the new album there's a real sense of having 3 distinct styles - the ballads, the melodic rock tunes and the really heavy rock. Did you want to cover this spectrum from the outset?
A: I think that all of our records have been like that through and through. They've been very diverse cos there's so many different personalities in the band. For us we try to express as much of that as we can. If we weren't able to do that, if we just stuck with one direction it would be very disingenuous to ourselves and to our audience because there are so many different sides.

Every record has the heavier side and the lighter side. Our first record had "Youth Gone Wild" and "I Remember You". Then "Slave To The Grind" and "Quicksand Jesus". And "My Enemy" and "Breaking Down". On this record you have "Hit The Wall", "New Generation" and "See You Around" and everything in-between.

I think that we will continue to be who we are and continue to do what we do without being pretentious or presumptuous because songwriting in itself is a very self serving process. If you go into the audience wants that or the audience wants this you're kind of pandering and we've never been about that. If you write the best record you can and you're happy about then you've done your job.

Q: Going back to the live shows the first big comeback tour you actually did was with the legends Kiss. How was that for you?
A: It was trial by fire. Johnny had joined the band and six weeks later we were out with Kiss. It was one of those things where not only were you playing with your idols, I mean they're the reason why a lot of us started playing, but you're basically showcasing a brand new band and you're relearning everything from each other. Just relearning who these people are and learning about people for the first time. Who is this guy Johnny, the singer of our band, and seeing if we can live together and travel together and be cohesive and bond. And all those things occurred. That's why that tour was such a blessing. It gave us that opportunity to sit there and play in front 20,000 people a night and go this is who we are right now and we're still relevant. That's all you can ask for you know.

Q: Were you aware you risked becoming a nostalgic band rather than a current band by touring with the likes of Kiss, Poison and Def Leppard?
A: We were continuously working on our record and released it while we were on the road. We were never about nostalgia. We were about paying tribute to our past obviously, but also saying this is who we are in 2003, this isn't a one-off thing and this is a continuation of our careers. That's why were so adamant about playing new material and getting the word out of who we are.

But I mean we've always been the underdogs anyway. We relish that position. We excel in that position because it's inspiring for us, it lights the fire and you want to go out there and truly prove everyone wrong. For so many years people have tried to break the roar of this band and whether it's bad press or business wise it never occurs. Taking time off from each other was sort of a rebuilding process for us as individuals and as friends and once we were able to get to that point again where we realized how much we love each other and how much we respect each other that we should do this again.

Q: The current climate of high street stores in the UK is adopting this pseudo punk look and trying to attach a small amount of rebellion to an otherwise safe brand. Do you worry that metal bands like Skid Row, Kiss and AC/DC will be adopted soon in a similar fashion?
A: Hey, if someone's willing to buy it. We're willing to sell it!!!

Q: I guess it's always easy to look back, but moving forward is the difficult thing to do?
A: I don't really have any interest in the past, other than I respect it. I respect what we've done and I'm very proud of what we've accomplished but that was then. I don't even hang my records up on my walls because it doesn't make any sense to me. I lived in my house for 12 years and finally one of my friends came over and hung them up because they were sitting in the corner getting dusty. I'm proud of it, but I don't need to be reminded of it. And it's all a matter of perception because you can sit there getting caught up in oh my god look what I once had. I'd rather go great I accomplished something but this is far more important.

I'm so happy with this band and the whole tour that the issue of will they get the original guys in is not even up for discussion. That was then and this is now. We knew this was going to be a slow build and a slow climb, but were in it for the long haul and we know how good this record is.

"Thickskin" is out now on SPV
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