Skid Row (Dave "Snake" Sabo)

We’ve caught up for a little while with Skid Row guitarist Dave “Snake” Sabo  for an interesting chat over the phone about the upcoming new material and the past, present and future of the legendary band. Here it goes!

Article by Chiara Frizza - Publish on: 15/05/13

Hello Dave! How are you doing? How does it feel to be back on track? We haven’t heard anything new from Skid Row since 2006..that’s quite some time.


Oh I’m fine, thanks! And… it feels really good to be quite honest, like you said it’s been a long time… we have a tendency to be like that, for some reason. We have so many things.. I mean, every one of us has a lot of things going on as well within music, and even outside of music, so.. the fact that we live in different parts of the country as well makes it difficult to get together as much as we would like to. And plus, we tour, constantly, and for Rachel and I, when we’re touring we find that for some reason it’s really hard to write on the road. A lot of people somehow can do it, we’ve attempted to do that since the beginning of this band and we failed (laughs) and also I think that sometimes you just can’t force things. If it doesn’t feel right, then it just doesn’t feel right. It’s not that we didn’t sit down and write songs, we did, we wrote quite a bit, it’s just that we weren’t getting to the point where we wanted to be, for a while, and then all of a sudden, somehow, boom! We got to the point where we wanted, we felt really strong about what we were creating so we kept writing and writing and writing. In that process, we ended up coming up with a lot of really good stuff, we had actually written the whole for so many albums, pretty much, and then as we kept writing we felt that the songs we were creating from that point forward were more representative of what we wanted to release.


Your new EP “United World Rebellion” –Chapter One is going to be released in Europe next month, but it has already hit the stores in North America. What can you tell us about it?


Well, it was a really cool process, and it’s an ongoing process because we’re going to be releasing three of these mini-albums over the course of next year or so. I think by doing it this way we alleviated a lot of the pressure of having to come up with fourteen or thirteen great songs.


Ok, so this is basically why you decided to split the release into more EPs rather one album?


Not really, honestly I think the biggest reason is that we wanted to have a continuous flow of music to be released to the public instead of having just one-shot release of.. whatever, fifteen, fourteen songs, and then that’s all the public has for a year - year and a half. That’s what you used to do, that’s the way it used to be done, and it worked, for a while. That’s what people used to do and obviously still do it that way. For us, we felt it would keep everything really fresh and in the forefront of Skid Row fans’ mind, if we just had a steady stream of music being released we would always keep –hopefully – people interested in what we were creating and what they would be getting in the future as well.


If we take a closer look to this release… this new material sounds pretty interesting, some tunes reminded me of old Skid Row but at the same time there’s something new and fresh. Am I right?


Ah..yeah! The great thing about music is that it’s personal to the person who listens to it. There’s no right or wrong way to look at it, it’s the interpretation of the listener. How it affects the listener is a very personal thing. I might look at it completely different, I loved to hear that because that’s where we’re coming from with it, that’s what we think as well so I’m happy that you see that as well. We’ve kind of revisited what influenced us in the first place, started re-engaging ourselves in a lot of the artists that we listened to growing up, and sort of finding that communality we had when we first started working and writing together, Rachel and I, realizing we still love all that music we grew up on and listened to on the road when we’re touring, a sort of common ground. From that point, we just started letting it go and having fun, not putting pressure on each other and not worrying so much about the outcome, just letting it happen. And when we were able to do that, basically throw our egos aside and just enjoy the process of what we’re doing, just thinking about the song and not worrying over people liking it or not, you know.. nothing like that, just creating music for the love of music. You know, songwriting is a very, very selfish act (laughs) in a good way, because you’re writing music for yourself, first and foremost. We’ve always believed that once we start writing for other people, then it becomes contrived. Then it becomes almost like writing music for a person’s movie, or something like that. It’s not your vision, it becomes someone else’s vision. For us, it’s always been about writing for ourselves first, and then you hope people who listen to it are somehow affected in a positive way by it. But at least, it’s got to be genuine, it’s got to be pure, and in order for it to be that way, we had to be writing for ourselves. We had to be able to express what we’re feeling and convey what our thoughts and emotions are. As long as you can do that, as long as you’re being honest with yourself through the creative process, then we feel we’re on the right path.


skidrow_intervista_2013_02You’ve already been playing some of these songs live on your tour. Are you getting a positive feedback from your fans on these new songs?


Yeah! We did nine shows in the UK and a couple in Czech Republic just a couple of weeks ago, and… yeah, the response has been a lot better than I thought it would be for music that no one’s ever heard, and I think it’s because, like I said it’s genuine and the energy that we have performing these songs it’s very palpable and people can sense that, that you’re not just going through emotions, that you’re really passionate about what you’re doing. That comes across the band to the audience, and then back. For me, it’s been nothing short of amazing seeing how people reacted to us playing the new songs live.


Do you have any favourite song from the EP?


Oh, wow! I love… oh well I love all songs, obviously! I love playing the first track, “Kings Of Demolition”, it’s such a fun song to play. It’s powerful, it’s heavy….so, at this point, Thursday April 25th, that’s my favourite song right now. That can change in a matter of days! (laughs)


I’ve read some reviews in which “United World Rebellion” is compared to the albums you wrote in the past. Is it frustrating to have every new release compared to your early works and do you think these comparisons make any sense at all?


Oh, man…(laughs) it depends, it’s not frustrating, I totally understand it! I mean, everybody unfortunately is judged on the work that they’ve created, up until this point in time. Unfortunately, that’s life. Especially when you play in a band and you tour, you make records and release music you’re constantly being judged, fairly or unfairly…that’s just the nature of the beast. You know, I don’t really let it get to me. I’ve read negative reviews sometimes, you know, there’s so much hatred out there sometimes on the Internet that it’s almost mind-numbing that people can be so vicious, then I realize a lot of people boast their balls when they’re anonymous, you know?


Yeah, it’s much easier when you’re hiding behind a screen.


Yeah! It’s like “Could you be able to say that to my face?”, you know, “Would you be able to spew that hatred directly to my face?”. When I look at it like that, I realize that they’re both sides of the coin: there’s haters and then there’s people who love the band 24/7 and I love that, it’s great. I just have to make sure that I’m happy with what we’ve done within myself and as long as I know that we did the best that we could do and that I really, really love what we’ve done, then I can deal with the rest of it. I won’t be second-guessing myself. So as long as I know we put every ounce of our creative being into this EP, which we did, and know that we worked as hard as we possibly could, which we did, and that I love this record, which I do, then everything else… I kind of just let it fall off my back, the good and the bad. ‘Cause if you got to read one, then you’ve got to read the other, you know? If you’re going to read of someone, how much they love it, you’re going to read of someone how much they hated it, too, and… that’s life, that’s the way it is, it’s just so much more prevalent now in the Internet age where I think people misuse the public forums, without thinking about the impact that it could possibly have. Words are very, very powerful, and I think that because of the Internet and social media, people are a lot quicker to spew hatred without thinking than maybe it used to be in the past. Oh, whatever! It doesn’t affect me, I’m so proud of this, and I’m so happy and humbled that we get to do this, that I get to play with the guys in the band, that all the other stuff… if I wasn’t centered and I didn’t knew what was important in my life, then it would bother me, but… it doesn’t! (laughs)


Well, that’s good if you don’t feel any pressure,  that you have to somehow be up to your legacy.


The only pressure I feel, in all that I see and it’s the only one we put on ourselves, both of us –I mean, Rachel and I – is: always respect what we’ve done, respect our past, respect our history, but also respect the band name, respect who we are as individuals and make sure that we’re writing and performing our music from a place of passion and love, and that’s not contrived in anyway whatsoever, and it’s never been and never it will be. That’s the concept we live by.


Do you think people have a different attitude towards Skid Row nowadays, if compared to the 80s? Do you think people somehow treat your band differently because of the line-up changes and everything?


I think more so in the United States than somewhere else. It seems to me that in the United States people are way way more fixated on different singers or different members than on the body of work that you’ve created, regardless of who’s in the band. I think that a lot of times because there might be a different band member singing new songs and they could be dismissed quicker, because it’s not the original band. I find that especially judging by the response that we’ve just got in the UK and in Czech Republic and basically across Europe from people that we’ve spoken with during interviews and stuff. It doesn’t seem to mean as much as it does in the States. People seem to be more loyal to bands, they seem to stick to the bands they’ve grown up with longer than maybe they do in the United States. I think it’s not that prevalent anywhere else.


Do you think it may be also depending on the fact that Sebastian Bach is having his own solo career, so that people somehow compare the two things?


I think that’s just human nature. To me, it’s like “My gosh, music is such a universal thing that there’s room enough for everybody!” (laughs) I wish people would realize that you don’t have to take sides, you know… it’s never been about that, I’m like “Hey man, I wish the best for everyone.” I want everyone to be successful, everybody’s got families, everybody has to make a living, so I want everybody to be successful. I wish people could just be a little more interested in music for the music and what it is and not comparing it to this or that or whatever. Either you like it or you don’t, don’t bias it because it’s not this person singing. If you like the songs,  the way it sounds, then great, but don’t have pre-concept notions of it before even giving it a chance. It’s like… to me, I love all AC/DC. I love all Van Halen, (chuckles) I love all Iron Maiden. But that’s me, you know. I can’t tell people what to do or how they should approach music or anything like that. That’s just me. Like I said, it’s not a competition or anything. I’m very happy to play in this band, to be a part of this band, to create music with this band, as it is now in 2013.


During your live shows you still play many of the songs taken from “Slave To The Grind” or “Skid Row”. Do you feel that this is what the people want? That many people – I’m not saying all of them, but many anyway – come to your shows mostly because they want to hear the old hits rather than the new ones?


Oh sure, of course! I mean, absolutely! I mean, that’s how people got to know us and that’s how people became fans of the band through that music initially. Some people are just discovering us now, but… I mean, yeah, we’ve been so fortunate to sell a lot of records, which means that a lot of people were positively affected by what we created, so sure they want to hear those songs. Again, I’m proud of our past, proud of being able to help create those songs and being a part of creating the band with Rachel and creating the music that we did during the time period with the original band members. But I’m proud of the whole history of the band, I’m proud of all 24 years of it, not just the first 12 (laughs)


skidrow_intervista_2013_03Has your fanbase changed over the years? Is it made up mostly of adult fans who grew up with your music or are there many young kids as well?


Well… it’s interesting, I’ve seen this growing older and creating new stuff, keep the band name up there and such, the people who discovered us 20-something years ago are now turning on their younger brothers and sisters to us or their kids onto us, bringing their kids to the shows or their younger brothers and sisters, so… kind of passing it down the line, much in the same way like I had for all the brothers and my brother did that with me. I love that, I think it’s killer. I love seeing people of my age in the audience, I think it’s awesome.


Back to your EP once again – the lyrics pretty much deal with the same topics as always. Is your music still fueled by the same things, do you get inspiration always from the same things or has this changed over the years?


Well… both I would like to think that a lot of it is still the same, but I think that it’s actually grown, just because of more life experiences. We’ve been so fortunate to be able to go around the world and see so many different cultures and have so many different experiences that not very many people get to have, and that affects you in a great many ways. All those things, unconsciously or self-consciously have a part in your creative process, somehow they find their way in there, but the basic ideals that we live by, the basic process as a band, is pretty much still the same. A lot of lyrics that we write –Rachel writes a great many of the lyrics – deal with metaphors, so it offers the listener the chance to come up with their own interpretation, which is what we’ve always wanted to be the case. We want the listener, as an individual, to have their own interpretation of what we’re creating, hoping that we affect the people who listen to our music in a positive way. What we’ve always maintained through whatever we’ve written is about unity and community, but it’s also about being an individual, doing good by others, being a positive influence. Even when things don’t seem to be in the lyrics or even in the song titles… a song with the title “ This Is Killing Me”, it’s so funny because I look at that as “It might be killing me, but it hasn’t killed me” so I look at it as a positive thing that we face a lot every day in our lives, and it how we get past those things that creates the people that we are. It’s about getting past obstacles in life, it can be very, very difficult, it can seem almost impossible, but… it’s always possible. We’ve faced so much adversities as a band, again, going back to haters and stuff like that, and we just pushed forward, it doesn’t stop us and actually, a lot of times it’s inspiring.


That’s pretty much how I see the thing as well about “This Is Killing Me”, because when I first listened to it, it reminded me of “I Remember You” because of the structure, but the theme of the song is completely different, it sounds like something maybe you wouldn’t have written in your twenties.


Yeah, definitely not. There’s no way we could have. We’re still the same persons, but we’re different... that’s 20-something years ago. The essence of our being is still the same but we’ve just grown because of  the experiences and things we’ve encountered. It’s a different world out there, I mean the world around us is completely changed drastically, it’s amazing if you think about it, or well I do think about it every once in a while, I think about being on a tourbus in 1989 and what that was like then, compared to what it is now. Life is completely different, but that’s the way life is. No, we wouldn’t have been able to write that song 20 years ago. No way.


What can be expect in the next EP-releases? Are they going to be pretty much like this first chapter or there will be something new? Can you already tell us something about it?


Well the great thing about this process is that we’re touring and writing, touring and writing, so like I said it’s an even flow, it’s really, really cool, I like doing this a lot. I think there will absolutely be a common thread that it’s going to run through all three of these mini-albums, without a doubt. We’re kind of unison, Rachel and I, with what we’re writing about,  it’s a kind of continual process as opposed to the past, when we would write a record and then tour for the next two years, and then write another record. Well.. a lot changes in those two years (laughs) and that’s what we’re avoiding with this process. Not having to wait another two years before making a record, just going about it in a constant manner.


You’ve been touring the UK and some other European countries as you said, now you’re touring the US. Do you have any plans for more shows in Europe?


Yeah, absolutely! They’re coming in as we speak, we will be at Sweden Rock Festival, we’ll be having shows around there as well… we’re just at the beginning of a year-and-a-half process, it’s going be releasing the EP, touring on it, then releasing the next, touring on it, it’s going to be a constant flow of touring and releasing music, so in the next year and a half we will have been pretty much everywhere.


So we can hope for some Italian shows as well?


Oh absolutely, without a doubt!


Oh that’s great to hear! Good, so that was it. Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview!


Thanks to you, it was an absolute pleasure talking to you! Bye!

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