Classify them as glam metal, heavy rock, hair metal, or whatever you want. New Jersey bred outfit Skid Row have been around since the 80s and they’re still stronger than ever before, albeit a couple of line-up changes. The current era of the band fuses contemporary metal with foundational ‘Sunset Strip’ sounds.
Skid Row are hitting Aussie shores once again this October and the band are just as stoked as fans are so long time bassist/backing vocalist Rachel Bolan spun a quick yarn with us to tell us what we can expect for this tour compared to the last one, which sported Johnny Solinger on vocals – recently replaced by ex-Dragonforce front-man ZP Theart.
“Well, you’ll be amazed with how well everything is working right now, the machine that we’ve become since ZP joined the band” he excitedly jumps ahead – “you’ll hear the classics that you expect to hear, we’ll probably throw some stuff off of the [United] World Rebellion EPs in there, and maybe a deep track or two.”
Bolan is no stranger to partying downunder and assessing the quality of our metal community, and at the moment he’s quite proud. “Rock and roll is so alive and well everywhere in Australia. In parts of the States, not so much. Maybe some parts a lot but not in other places, but Australia seems to be just so consistently into rock and roll [to the point] that whenever we see it on the calendar, we get pretty pumped up.”
Of course besides touring, the band are always hungry to write, record and release new music, and they’re trying to close a chapter on a musical journey they’ve been embarking on for quite a few years now. “The third instalment (and final instalment) for the United World Rebellion trilogy is going to be a full length record and we’re doing it with Michael Wagener, whose producing it.” This producer has a strong track record with Skid Row so they can’t go wrong.
“Michael did our first two records and also our fifth record so we’re all really excited about that. We’re starting pre-production in a couple of weeks, and then in between the shows, we’re going to work on getting this album recorded and try push it out before summer in 2019.”*
Wall of Sound disclaimer: That would be the American summer to our freezing Aussie folks wearing scarves and beanies in some parts currently.
In a digital world where auto-tune is standard practice and mixing pre-production to death, rock and roll may often lose its raw touch, but Skid Row play things a little old school, so you may not expect a feature from T-Pain. “We’re simple guys and we like organic stuff, so we don’t go for the auto-tune and stuff like that. Bottom-line, if it’s a great performance but may be a little out of tune, we say ‘fuck it, leave it where it’s at’ – I’ll take a great performance over perfection any day.”
The organic approach to rock and roll has seemed to work for the band for a few decent decades so why dispel the magic. In fact, if you jump into your time machine (or scroll through Spotify, each to their own), and check out their self-titled album from 1989, you’ll nod recognisably to tracks like ‘18 and Life’. Our writer Ricky Aarons was of course very curious about this hit based on his name, with the infamous opening lyrics – “Ricky was a young boy”. Bolan tells us how the song came all about.
“It actually started out that we had a character that we named Ricky, the name fit in and we got it from Snake’s (guitarist) older brother. The song had a different lyrics at one time and ended up going in a different direction, so we just kept. Ricky became that guy, like everybody knows someone like Ricky, and his name just rolled [off the tongue] better than ‘Ralph was a young boy’ (Rachel laughs amusedly).”
Of course at Wall of Sound, we are a bit of sticky-beak and sometimes point our shnoz all up in another people’s business – so we threw in the name Sebastian Bach. “I usually say next question but you seem like a really nice guy (he giggles). Journalists always seem to sneak his name into an interview that has nothing to do with him, so that’s that. Skid Row is Snake, myself, Scott (Hill, guitarist), Rob (Hammersmith, Drums). and ZP – and that’s Skid Row, so that’s the only Skid Row I’m concerned about.”*
*Wall of Sound subtly moonwalks back to 2018.
Like many musical groups, there’s always opportunities being sought to explore and experiment with alternative styles of music and the bassist has been flirting with the idea too. Right now I have a solo thing I want to do but right now it’s all Skid Row and I don’t know if I’ll ever get to that other thing by the way things are going because we’ve been so busy” which Bolan is not complaining about at all.
“Over the past three years I’ve moved to the Nashville area so I’m writing with a lot of different songwriters and it kind of puts me out of my comfort zone, ‘cause writing rock is cool, but writing with country writers is a bit daunting, especially if they’re seasoned professionals – but I love the challenge.” At the moment the rock and roller can keep his solo work at bay because right now “everything is Skid Row – eat, sleep, breathe, and shit Skid Row.*
*We at Wall of Sound endorse bowel health and advise readers to shit Skid Row at their own discretion.
So yes, Skid Row are keeping pretty damn busy. “We have a lot of shows scheduled, I think we have about ninety planned for the rest of the year. We have one weekend off between now and Australia, and things are pretty packed out, to the point that we said ‘okay, if we want to do a record, we gotta stop taking shows and just push them to next year” which the musician exclaims is “a really good problem to have.”
In conclusion, Rachel Bolan emphasises that the upcoming Aussie tour is going to include “all that pent up aggression that people expect and they’ll hear the classics that they expect. We’ll probably play some stuff off the trilogy and some deep tracks too, it’s just going to be a lot of fun and a lot of blood, sweat and loud rock and roll.”
Interview by Ricky Aarons @rickysaul90
Skid Row return to Australia this October via Silverback Touring
Skid Row – United World Rebellion Tour
Oct 18th @ Eatons Hill, Bris
Oct 19th @ Prince Ballroom, Melb
Oct 20th @ Manning Bar, Syd
Oct 21st @ Astor Theatre, Perth
October 23rd @ The Gov, Adelaide