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
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
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
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?
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?
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?
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.
Tobbe: Oh, you will, because you always
extend it, man.
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?
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
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
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.
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
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?
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
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.
Tobbe: You've changed your drummer a couple
Tobbe: So Rob Hammersmith's days are counted
Tobbe: I'll tell him later.
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.
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
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
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]?
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.
Tobbe: Which is the best song you ever recorded?
Tobbe: And you're back with long hair again
since a couple of years.
Tobbe: Oh yeah. I thought your proper days
was over or something. Well, man, that's it for this time.
Tobbe: Thank you, and thank you very much
for taking your time.
of the gig the same night
of the EP United World Rebellion: Chapter One