After more than 25 years of world touring, hearing their multi-platinum hits on the radio, and sharing the stage with some of rock’s most iconic bands, one might expect the members of Skid Row to be pretty self-absorbed and perhaps jaded by the rock and roll lifestyle. That just is not the case for the New Jersey quintet that was founded 28 years ago by guitarist Dave “The Snake” Sabo and bassist Rachel Bolan. Sabo is a very down-to-earth and genuine guy, and he shares that he and the band feel humbled and honored to still be making new music for the fans, touring for a living, and enjoying the life they have chosen.
On August 5, Skid Row will release the second installment of its United World Rebellion EP trilogy. Chapter II is Rise of the Damnation Army. The seven-track EP contains five new original songs; including the first single, “We Are the Damned”, and two covers from their heroes in Queen and Aerosmith. This month, Dave Sabo took time out to chat with Metalholic about the new EP as well as sharing some of his memories from recording the band’s eponymous debut album, released 25 years ago.
Sabo and Bolan met in Garden State Music Store music store where Snake worked at the time. The two immediately found a kinship that has lasted nearly three decades. Guitarist Scotti Hill was added to the mix as well as vocalist Sebastian Bach. Sabo’s friend Jon Bon Jovi took an interest in the band, helping ink them to a deal with Atlantic Records. He also convinced legendary guitarist Gary Moore to sell the rights to the name of his old band, Skid Row, to the young group. The guys then entered the studio with producer Michael Wagener (Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue, Alice Cooper) for their monster self-titled debut. The album broke the band globally with hits like “Youth Gone Wild”, “18 and Life”, and “I Remember You”, all of which still receive regular radio airplay. The record sold more than five-million copies and they became video staples on MTV and VH1.
Skid Row’s sophomore effort, Slave to the Grind was also produced by Wagener, and yielded more hits, including the title track, “Monkey Business” and “Wasted Time”. Slave to the Grind was a faster and heavier record than the debut. The album went to #1 on the Billboard charts and hit multi-platinum sales like its predecessor. The title track was covered by current hard rock sensations, Halestorm, on the band’s 2011 ReAniMate: The CoVeRs eP.
Following the Guns N’ Roses formula, Skid Row then released an EP, B-Side Ourselves, of bonus live tracks and covers in 1992. It would be three years before the release of the band’s third album, Subhuman Race, which was produced by Bob Rock (Metallica, Aerosmith, Motley Crue). The new album followed the evolution of the previous record, getting darker and edgier. While it sold multi-platinum, the grunge explosion buried the record’s exposure. A year later, Bach would be fired from the band, and they would then take a three-year hiatus before returning on the cusp of the millennium with new frontman, Johnny Solinger.
Skid Row 2.0 released Thickskin in 2003, and Revolutions Per Minute in 2006; the latter marking the return of producer Michael Wagener. In 2013, after seven-year break between albums, the band signed to Megaforce Records and released the self-produced, United World Rebellion: Chapter One, as part of a trilogy of EPs. The critics were generally impressed with the band’s return to form. Next month, they release Rise of the Damnation Army, United World Rebellion: Chapter Two, which was also self-produced.
In our 30-minute interview below, Sabo discusses the band’s decision to self-produce and to record EPs rather than full records at this point in their career. He also shares his thoughts on celebrating the 25th anniversary of the debut record, working with Michael Wagener, and he reveals his favorite track off the new EP.