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Interview conducted November 16 2013
Interview published November 19 2013

Metal Covenant met up with guitarist Dave "Snake" Sabo when the once world famed Skid Row together with Ugly Kid Joe and Dead City Ruins played Stockholm, Sweden on this European tour leg, in support of their latest effort, the United World Rebellion Chapter One EP. I was told that Snake had partied the night before until 7 a.m. and that he could be a bit tired, but as the professional he is, he took care of his duties and I got what I came for.

Tobbe: I've got a bunch of questions for you right here, so let's start with your new recording or your latest EP, United World Rebellion Chapter One. It's been 7 months since its release, so when you now look back at it, what are your reflections?

  • Dave: Well, I mean it's nice to be able to have new music out there to play and to see how people react to it. For us we need to find the right vehicle, the right delivery system, if you will. We didn't believe that the right way to do it would be to go in and record a full length. I think people's attention spans aren't as lengthy as they used to be. There's so much information out there, man. I mean, you're getting bombarded, left and right, and things are moving at speeds that have never even been approached before. So it's almost incomprehensible to keep someone's attention for a long period of time. So what worked for us, or what we felt will work for us, is that this way will hopefully associate the audience to a certain degree, and then release another one and then another one.

Tobbe: Well, that keeps you current.

  • Dave: Yeah, it keeps it fresh and something like that. It's a challenge in a sense that we haven't written all three. We want everything to be in line, so we want to be very present with what we're releasing. Right now we're really happy with that people are responding well to it, especially over here. It's a different way of doing things, you know. It gets us the opportunity to focus on a smaller number of songs, in a shorter period of time, for less money. It keeps cost down for the consumer as well.

Tobbe: But most consumers will buy all three I guess.

  • Dave: I hope so. I mean, that's the idea, but at least you're not laying out 15 bucks at one point. You know, spread over time.

Tobbe: So what moments are you most proud of on the EP?

  • Dave: I love Kings Of Demolition. It's a great song and a lot of fun to play live. We've been opening up with Let's Go and it seems to set the tone for the night for us. They all kind of hold a special place at this point, you know. We're gonna start playing This Is Killing Me soon live and we'll see how that feels after that. The whole process was really a lot of fun, man. To me it was one of those things where we got the opportunity to revisit and to reclaim the essence of who we were and are as musicians and as songwriters. It's basically that 16 year old kid that just stands in front of a mirror and pretends to be Ace Frehley, Jeff Beck, Eddie Van Halen or Randy Rhoads. That's the essence of who I am.

    As you go on through life, you get older and your problems or your situations in life can become overwhelming. It's still more overwhelming than it was for a 6 year old that had a 6 year old's problems. A girlfriend breaking up with you at 16 is as devastating as it is when you're in your forties. It's just that you have a different mindset. Our intention, which we were successful at, was to be able to push away the stuff, like we would do as a 16 year old kid. Sitting there, lock the bedroom door, sit in that room and play, man. That's what never failed you. You know, your music never failed you and that's what we got back to.

    When we write, we talk a lot. We have these conversations, Rachel [Bolan, bassplayer] and I. We sit down and just talk. We're very close, we're best friends. So it's one of those things where we both felt that very same need. You know, it's great, the houses are great, the cars are great, everything is great, man. We're very fortunate people, you know. Very fortunate to be able to do this for a living and we realize that. We're humbled by it and we don't take it for granted. That's all good, but in order to create music, you need to get a place of purity, and that's where the purity in what we do lies.

Tobbe: So if you just can pick one, you or Rachel, who's the best songwriter?

  • Dave: I think he's better than me.

Tobbe: That was a straight answer.

  • Dave: Well, I do. I think we both do things that the other doesn't do. And when we do them together we do them well, but I think he's better than me, yeah.

Tobbe: So will you try to support each EP with a tour?

  • Dave: Hell yeah. This is going on for another year or a year and a half.

Tobbe: Because I've heard that you will release the three EP's in a span of 12 to 18 months.

  • Dave: It's exactly what we're doing. The tour might even be longer. I mean, it's tiring but it's fun, man. This tour has been awesome. Everybody on this tour has been fantastic, everybody. You know, we all have our little sets of egos and stuff like that, but it doesn't get in the way of building and bonding with people. It's like, at this point of your life you never expect to be making friends and all of a sudden you are.

Tobbe: Could there be another three EPs when this chapter is complete?

  • Dave: We're focusing on this set of 3 if you will and then we'll see. The business can change all over again, but right now this is working well for us.

Tobbe: I wanna ask you a question about the song Monkey Business. You always play an extended version of it live and don't get me wrong now, but I don't like that. Will you ever just play it from start to finish.

  • Dave: Yeah, we'll probably do it tonight.

Tobbe: Oh, you will, because you always extend it, man.

  • Dave: Sometimes we play the solos and sometimes we don't.

Tobbe: That's one of the world's greatest songs and when I hear the extended version I say "Oh fuck, this is taking the edge off it". I want it like bang, bang, bang, bang.

  • Dave: Sure, I understand that, cause we sometimes feel the same way. There's nights when we go up and say "Let's fucking bang it out", you know.

Tobbe: You always end your shows with Youth Gone Wild. Do you sometimes get tired of that?

  • Dave: No, I'm so thankful that we have that song.

Tobbe: Yeah, I know. It's a killer song and it works great as a closer too.

  • Dave: Yeah. You know, I hear people in other bands talking about "Oh, I'm sick of doing this or that song". But not me, man. I'm so proud of what we've been able to create over the course of the last 24 years. That would denigrate the spirit of that song.

Tobbe: So who picks your setlists?

  • Dave: We kind of all do. Mostly it's Rachel and Johnny [Solinger, vocalist] talking about it a lot, but we all go through it at the end and, you know, a little changes here and there.

Tobbe: You were talking about 24 years. Do you long back to playing arenas again like you did in the early nineties.

  • Dave: You know what, the thing that we're able to tour is cause people wanna see us. We're so humbled by it. So that's why we're doing this, cause people do wanna see it and I think that people are really pleasantly surprised by this package and how strong it is. All 3 bands go out every night and leave it on stage every night and it's inspiring.

Tobbe: You played on a cruise ship from Stockholm to Finland a couple of times and also the Kiss Kruise and a few more. Do you got a thing for ships?

  • Dave: We prefer land much better. Playing on cruises every once in a while is okay. The Swedish one is fucking hilarious, because people are so fucking hammered. Oh, my God. And you see these guys dragging these 50 gallon garbage bags filled with beers. Gotta be 600 beers in there and they stumble up steps and they're talking a language I've never heard of and I know it's not Swedish, because even Swedish people were looking at him and "What the fuck is that dude talking about?".

Tobbe: In the early nineties, did you ever look forward or did you take it day by day?

  • Dave: Back then I worried so fucking much about everything, man. I really did. I kinda look back at it and I missed out on a lot of opportunities as far as experiencing different cultures and different places that we were at. You know, towards the end, there was so much tension going on. A lot of toxicity in the band. Really the thing you wanted to do the most was to get away from it, and so we did. Had we not done that at that particular point, we wouldn't be here right now. That's a fact.

Tobbe: One question about Sebastian Bach. Did he actually write anything significant on your albums?

  • Dave: To be totally honest, yeah. I mean, he contributed to things here and there. There is no doubt, you can't deny it. But to the extent that what Rachel and I would put into a song, no. I mean, Rachel and I spent 3 months on Quicksand Jesus. So to sit there and say that he didn't contributed anything, then I'd be lying. But to sit there and say that he contributed equally as we did, that would be a lie.

Tobbe: Okay, that was all I needed to know. When you released Subhuman Race, did you actually think that that album would hit as big as the two first did?

  • Dave: We were asked this question the other day, in a sense. I was amazed that we actually even finished the record. That was an accomplishment in of itself. Due again, there was a lot of toxicity and it was hard, man. It was really hard and it wasn't very enjoyable and when you don't enjoy what you're doing, the results are there forever for people to judge. There's a lot of cool stuff on it, there's no doubt. A lot of really cool stuff, but some stuff seems unfinished. I look back on it now and I don't ever wanna be in a situation like that again.

Tobbe: Is that why you hardly play anything from it nowadays?

  • Dave: No, not really.

Tobbe: Because there are good songs on it.

  • Dave: Definitely, definitely. I mean, we play Beat Yourself Blind once in a while. Every once in a while we do Breakin' Down or something like that. But, you kinda look at the setlist and you have like 16, 17 songs and obviously you wanna do new stuff as well, but you also wanna do the things that people really, really wanna hear.

Tobbe: Okay, this was like 20 years ago and if we take a look at your guitar play, what differs from then to now?

  • Dave: I think I have more passion for the guitar now than I did then. For the guitar just as an instrument. I get more joy out of playing it now. I think we began as a band to intentionally impose restrictions upon ourselves and it seemed like I did to myself as a guitar player. Being out here and playing with these guys, you know. Everyone is a great guitar player and they're all different, so therefore they're inspiring. Scotty [Hill] is really inspiring. He's been picking up like this chicken picking, finger picking thing on acoustic and he's like really jumped into it. He's so passionate about it and that's inspiring to me. Not necessarily to play that same style, but to play.

    (Rachel has entered the room and sits behind me with his computer.)

    (Dave continues): Rachel never practices, never. And it sucks. Seriously, the truth about it is that the guy never practices unless we practicing with the band and he goes in and does a Stone Sour record, 29000 songs in 5 days. Like the Skid Row EP, the EP was like a half a days work for him to play bass on. It was like we started it at like 2 and we're done at 6. (Rachel:) I'm not that damn good.

Tobbe: Not really?

  • Dave: It's the truth. It's fucked up, man. Fuck, he never practices, pulls a bass out and fucking walls are flying out of the case. 7 songs done in fucking 4 hours. Meanwhile I'm struggling with an acoustic part for 7 hours and I wanna smash a fucking… (Rachel:) It's only 4 strings. (Dave:) You only play one.

Tobbe: Where do you see the band in ten years from now?

  • Dave: Well, if you had asked me that twenty years ago, it would have been "Probably not together". Ten years ago, it was like "All right, we're fucking back on track and it feels good". When you're surrounded by people that you enjoy making music with and that you have a genuine respect for and yeah, pretty much the same vision. I mean, we all have differences of opinions and we have our disagreements and arguments, but never anything like it was at one point in our careers, so I don't see any reason why this thing has to stop at any time soon. Just the fact that we're in Stockholm in the middle of November of 2013 when we started this band in 1986. That's 27 years. Fuck, man.

    (This coming part about Rob is not to be taken too seriously as Dave had some good laughs about it.)

Tobbe: Yes, you've been like a solid unit now for 14 years.

  • Dave: 14 years with Johnny in the band, yeah.

Tobbe: You've changed your drummer a couple of times.

  • Dave: Oh yeah, we're like Spinal Tap.

Tobbe: So Rob Hammersmith's days are counted now?

  • Dave: Yeah, right. Tonight might be his last show.

Tobbe: I'll tell him later.

  • Dave: Right.

Tobbe: So if you will try to be a bigger band again, how much effort will that take from you guys?

  • Dave: Well, I mean I think we put every bit of effort into everything that we do. We certainly don't look at anything like as "Okay, this is good enough". Never, never, never, man. It's always been, you know, you reach for everything that you can see in your mind's eye. We've been fortunate enough to achieve so many great things in our career and there's been so many highlights. Things that you look back at and "Holy shit, we did something" you know, and we still are.

    I think the only thing that we can do is continue to work as hard as we do and continue to write the best possible music that we can and perform better than the best of our abilities every night. We're really, really cognizant of the fact that money is so tight these days, so the fact that someone is willing to take their hard earned money and buy a ticket with your name on it, fucking we don't take that shit lightly, man. That means the world, you know. It's such a compliment and that doesn't get by us. It doesn't get lost on us at all. So you have to respect that and that's what we do.

Tobbe: But you guys can't be compared to new bands. You have a solid ground to stand on already. You play mostly for fun, I guess, but it's hard for new bands to make any money, if not impossible.

  • Dave: It's really hard, man. There's so many reasons why. I could go on and on about why that's happening and stuff and why very few bands break through. But the thing is, in all actuality, that people will discover greatness. If you have something that's fucking great, they will discover it, somehow, someway they will.

Tobbe: Do you guys ever talk to Rob Affuso [ex-drummer]?

  • Dave: So funny, you're the second person in the last week that's asking. I live in New York and so does he. Every once in a while we get together in New York or we run into each other at an event or something like that. He went to school to MYU for marketing and promo, so that's what he's been doing. He does booking for bands for corporate things. I saw him not too long ago. He looks great, he's doing well and it seems like he's happy. He's a great guy and we shared some amazing moments in life together, so I'll cherish that.

Tobbe: So what ever happened to Matt Fallon [Skid Row's original vocalist with whom no albums were released]?

  • Dave: Good question.

Tobbe: There's nothing on him. I've been searching the internet and there's nothing. He's played in Anthrax and he's played in Skid Row, but that's it.

  • Dave: I have no idea. I couldn't even tell you. I saw him briefly once at a Christmas concert that I was a part of in New Jersey years and years ago. This was in the late nineties and he was there because his friend was doing security. I talked to him for two seconds maybe and then I went and played and that was the last I saw of him.

Tobbe: Which is the best song you ever recorded?

  • Dave: I don't think we have yet. I mean, there's some good ones, but I'd like to think that we haven't yet.

Tobbe: And you're back with long hair again since a couple of years.

  • Dave: I'm just fucking lazy.

Tobbe: Oh yeah. I thought your proper days was over or something. Well, man, that's it for this time.

  • Dave: Awesome. That was a lot of fun. I appreciate it.

Tobbe: Thank you, and thank you very much for taking your time.

  • Dave: No worries.

See also: review of the gig the same night
See also: review of the EP United World Rebellion: Chapter One

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