SKID ROW GUITARIST DAVE SABO SAYS “NO ONE FEELS COMFORTABLE WITH [THE] IDEA [OF A REUNION TOUR]”
The Aquarian Weekly: Skid Row will be hitting Irving Plaza in NYC as part of the band’s “25th Anniversary Tour,” but didn’t the first CD come out in 1989? If my math is correct, doesn’t that make this the 26th anniversary?
Dave Sabo: (Laughs) When we wrote this up, we were like, “Guys, someone is not doing their math really well.” Maybe it’s because we didn’t celebrate last year. (Laughs) It’s like—we’re late to our own party! It just seems so funny to be talking in terms of 25, or as you correctly pointed out, 26 years, to be talking in terms of that length in time that this band has been around and all the crazy highs and lows that we’ve gone through. It’s just amazing to me that we still get the opportunity to play music in front of people. It really is a really humbling thing for us to be honest with you.
When Rachel [Bolan, bassist/vocalist] and I first started the band, it was a case of, we were very much in the moment, we weren’t thinking much towards the future per se, with the exception of we wanted to write a great record and record a great record and go on tour, and that was sort of the extent how far ahead we would look. We weren’t great planners for our distant future. So, the fact that we’re still around and people can still have an appreciation for some of the music that we’ve created, it’s kind of mind-boggling and it’s humbling, and I also have such a great appreciation for being given the gift of being able to go out and being able to perform. And that’s because of the fans! However many or few; luckily there’s still enough of them out there that allows us to go out there and do this.
The Aquarian Weekly: In April, you guys dropped two bombshells in one day. First, the announcement on your website that Johnny Solinger was no longer with the band, leading many of us to believe there might be a reunion with that other guy, but the second bombshell came on Eddie Trunk’s show that former TNT singer Tony Harnell joined the band. Then a few weeks later, you released a new version of one of my favorite songs of all time, 18 And Life, with Tony singing, which pretty much shut the naysayers up. Why did you decide to go that route as opposed to just releasing a new song with Tony singing?
Dave Sabo: Well, we wanted to make some noise. There’s so much traffic out there as far as so much information being thrown at us every day. In order to be heard above the noise level that we exist in, you gotta do something that will hopefully turn some heads a little bit. So, we thought that if we just did this boom, boom, boom, hopefully people will notice.
Tony has a stellar reputation, he’s had success in his own right, so we felt that we needed to make as much of an impact in a small amount of time as we could. The last thing any of us wanted to do was make it a negative transition for Johnny or the band. Johnny spent a great amount of time in the band and there are a lot of good memories there. By the same token, we live in a different day and age, and for us, we had to really cut the cord and move on as quickly as possible, and I don’t mean to sound callous with that, but it’s more a case of survival. Plus, we had to start planning the upcoming year.
It got to a point where it just wasn’t fun anymore, and when Rachel and I started this band, we made a vow that once it became overwhelming and not as much fun anymore, we would pull the plug. With Tony there is a new excitement and a new energy with the band.
The Aquarian Weekly: I have to be honest, Snake, as a fan of Skid Row since first seeing you at Studio One in Newark and then a few months later seeing you open for Bon Jovi at the Brendan Byrne Arena, I was a skeptic of Tony Harnell fronting the band, but after hearing him at the Rock Carnival this past September, I have to admit that I was pretty impressed. I am a fan of the original guy too, but…
Dave Sabo: That’s awesome! You know, the funny thing is that most people think when talking to me or someone in the band that it might be sacrilegious to talk about our past. I’m proud of our past. Seriously, how could I not be? I think that would be incredibly ignorant not to be able to talk about it, but to be proud of what we accomplished. The five guys in the band, when we did the first record and stuff like that, was a different day and age, we were different people and whatnot, but it was a great time! Of course, as time went on, we grew apart and idiosyncrasies tend to come out, but this isn’t about why the original five guys broke up or anything like that. I’m proud of it. Seriously, without that, I don’t have a career. We don’t have a career.
So, I look back at much of that fondly, but sometimes you have to move on. Happiness to me is my spirit and my soul is more important to me than having dollars in my wallet. People may [not] believe that and that’s okay. Anybody who knows me knows that to be true. I don’t think you can place a price on happiness. We’ve been hit repeatedly over the years with, “Why don’t you do a reunion tour?” And you know what? I understand the question and I get it. I really do and if I were on the outside, I’d be asking the same question, but no one feels comfortable with that idea.
The Aquarian Weekly: What is Dave “Snake” Sabo listening to these days, musically speaking?
Dave Sabo: I find myself always going back to listen to Rival Schools. I don’t know if your familiar with them, but it’s one of Walter Schreifels from the band Quicksand’s band. Then the latest Machine Head record is great. I basically get up in the morning and take the kids to school; I’ll put on whatever random station is on and sort of gets me through waking up at 6:30 in the morning. There are a couple of unsigned artists like this young girl from Weehawken, New Jersey, named Chloe Baker. She’s incredible!
The Aquarian Weekly: You’ve been playing with Skid Row for the better part of your life; who would you like to collaborate with as part of your career bucket list?
Dave Sabo: Oh, man! There are so many people, alive and dead. To sit down with just people who are better at this than I am because I’m a sponge. One thing I learned as a kid was surround yourself with people better than you, and that’s how we started the band. In my own personal view, each member of the band has qualities that are better than my own. So, those are people I want to surround myself with. I’m a fan of ridding your life of negativity and I think that’s why we balk at the idea of a reunion, because we just don’t want to visit any negativity whatsoever.
What’s funny is, here is a person I never collaborated with, but we’re close friends and fellow Jerseyans, is Zakk Wylde. We never collaborated on anything together except for the excerpt I wrote for his book. That’s it! I never collaborated with Phil Anselmo either. We used to write silly shit in the back lounge of the bus, but we never wrote anything serious together. I would also have loved to have had the opportunity to sit down with a guy like Jeff Buckley or be able to get a guitar lesson from Randy Rhoads or watch a guy like Jimmy Page create in the studio…
Read more at The Aquarian Weekly.
Skid Row on their “25th Anniversary Tour” stop at Irving Plaza in NYC on November 4th