Interview: Skid Row

Skid Row - Photo courtesy of Skid Row

Skid Row – Photo courtesy of Skid Row

Skid Row: a band name that conjures the sleaze of 80s metal, complete with fan-blown luxurious locks, tight leather pants, slinky guitar solos that make the audience writhe in rock’n’roll ecstasy, and choruses that demand sing-alongs. Conquering the UK and Europe once again on the World Rebellion Tour, the band gave its loyal fans what they have all been craving: a tour; a live connection with their favorite songs, from “18 And Life” to “Monkey Business” to “Kings of Demolition;” a chance to sweat alongside Skid Row. And somehow Dave “Snake” Sabo, one of the original members of the band, is still charmingly humble. Sitting in the green room at Huxley’s Neue Welt, Snake shared snippets of his life story and the philosophy behind the musical force that is Skid Row.

As the guitarist reclined and brushed his now greying mane out of his face, Snake reminisced on the role that music has always played in his life.

“It’s been everything. It’s been my voice, my air,” he explained. “It’s been the one thing that I could always count on throughout my entire life. It was like a savior if you will. It’s still the same to this day. When we are out here [Europe] and you are lying in your bunk and it’s four in the morning and you can’t sleep…it’s the thing that gives you the power to keep moving. It’s my faith. It’s my church. It’s my religion.”

As Snake continued, it became apparent that he fosters the same relationship with music as those that listen to his albums. Music is not just a means to a financial end; music is his true outlet. And perhaps that is why Snake never thought about doing anything else.

“Back in the day when we first started, we lived by the idea that you ‘don’t leave yourself something to fall back on, because then you will,'” he said. “For me it wasn’t really a conscious thought process, because I just dove head first into music with every bit of spirit and soul that I possessed. And passion. And it consumed me.”

Snake’s eyes glisten with the fire of creative passion and one is aware that this is a man who lives for every night on stage regardless of strenuous touring schedules, long drives, and irregular hours. Perhaps those even factor into his love of the lifestyle—embracing the chaotic and subcultural elements of his life. Being in Skid Row is not exactly the societal norm.

“Nothing else mattered. Relationships went by the wayside. But you pay those prices. And I just wanted to be able to be in a band and play music for a living. Who knew the grand scale of what it would become. And so when we started getting popularity in the late 80s…I always knew that all those things are fleeting,” Snake shared. “And I was raised in such a way that you appreciate everything you get and you are humbled by it. I wasn’t enormously changed by any success we had and I wasn’t enormously changed by any failures we might have had. I kind of all looked at it as a gift, and that was powerful for me and it was empowering for me to be able to see it from that sort of viewpoint.”

On stage, Snake embodies this and shares it with the audience. He interacts. He ignores the barrier between stage and crowd—as do the other members.

“I have so much gratitude towards the audience,” Snake effused. “And the fact that we’re still afforded the opportunity to do this for a living….” He stopped and smiled. His meaning didn’t need to be vocalized, for his facial expression was enough. And perhaps that is why the band has been around for 28 years (give or take a short period of disbanding and reforming). The fact is that the members have always made music for the right reasons, and when things were no longer fun and relations were strained and they “were in danger of becoming completely disingenuous to [their] original philosophy,” they simply pressed the pause button. Snake never wanted anything but positivity to be shared with the audience.

“I hope they sat there and saw a show that made them happy and smile and they walked away feeling that life was maybe just a little bit better for just a little while,” the guitarist said of the musical madness that is a Skid Row show—complete with fog machines and daunting stacks of equipment that provide arena rock sound wherever Skid Row might be. “And we were able to take away whatever maladies or disruptions or sadness…to be able to put a smile on someone’s face through something that you have helped create is an amazingly humbling experience for me.”

The band’s newest series of releases, “United World Rebellion,” will consist of three EPs, and is simply a continuation and maturation of the band.

“It’s the same theme that started in ’89 with ‘Youth Gone Wild.’ But now we’re old,” Snake said. “We’re not the youth gone wild anymore.”

Hearing Snake address the band members’ inevitable aging in a music world where an old age can also be seen as an expiration date for one’s relevance in the scene is refreshing, and it aligns with the humility that he has previously demonstrated. “I’m an old man gone berserk maybe. But it’s the philosophy of it. Not necessarily the actions of a young man. But the actions of people in rebellion: standing up for yourself and having a voice and utilizing that for the betterment of something.”

Before too long, it was time to exit the green room to allow Snake to mentally prepare for his show—though it seems like the man is always ready to wield a guitar and work a room—and he was given a moment to share any last thoughts. He smiled and shrugged his shoulders: “Thank you to everyone that comes and allows us to do this for a living.”