From Bach to Brexit, we get the lowdown on the B to Zee of Skid Row. More than thirty years after they first emerged as the original bad boys of rock, their youth may have gone, but they’re still driving audiences wild! We caught up with the band in Manchester on the first of their 5-date United World Rebellion UK Tour.
ANTIHERO: First of all, welcome! How does it feel to be back in the UK?
[Snake] Well, it feels great to be able to come back here. We’ve always had a really strong relationship with the UK audience, ever since we first came to play in ’89, and one of the great things about the fans here is they’re very loyal to the history and to the music and they’re supporters of what you do going forward, so we’ve just been really lucky, we’ve always gotten on really well and have had some of our best shows here. As the band evolves and as we’re creating new music it’s always great to be able to come back here and play as many shows as we possibly can.
ANTIHERO: How do you respond to the people who say that Skid Row isn’t the real deal without Sebastian Bach at the helm and that you’re just a nostalgia act now?
[Snake] Well, I think that’s shortsighted and I think that’s been said by people who have never heard Zee (ZP Theart) sing with Skid Row. I think that bands can have many iterations and this is ours, this is where we’re currently at and we haven’t felt this strong in a really, really, really long time. There’s going to be naysayers no matter what you do, but the fact is that Rachel (Bolan) and I started this band in 1986 and we’re still in it and it’s still ours and will always be ours. We’re all very proud of who we are in this day and age, but you’re always going to have naysayers and that’s okay – I don’t lose sleep over it, that’s for sure.
ANTIHERO: How did you know that Zee was going to be the right vocalist for Skid Row and how easy was it for him to fit in with other members who’d been in the band for decades?
[Snake] One of the great things was when Rachel first contacted Zee and we flew him in to Nashville to jam out with us, he was so well prepared and had fifteen or twenty songs – songs that we hadn’t played in a really long time – or at all for that matter, and it just showed how dedicated he was to getting the gig and so it was really simple. Aside from being well prepared, he just sang the songs really well and showed respect for the history of the songs, yet still, it was him, it wasn’t him doing an impression or an impersonation of somebody else. He owned those lyrics and those melodies, so that was the thing that really stood out for me. Just jamming in that room, I was like “Wow, he’s really invested his time!” Actually, we have a pretty strong work ethic and we’ve always been really hard workers, so to see him have that same sort of mentality without it being pushed or prodded, was really impressive to everybody.
ANTIHERO: Did you feel like you had something to prove, Zee?
[Zee] I had a job to do – and to do it as well as I possibly could. I love the music – I’ve been a fan since I was a kid – I grew up with their ugly mugs on my walls! My Mum warned me…
ANTIHERO: A little birdie tells us that you’ve got a new album coming out later this year – do you have a release date for it yet and can you tell us a bit about the record?
[Snake] It’s going to be a full-length album, which will form the third part of the United World Rebellion trilogy. We’re looking at a mid-summer release and we start recording after we’re done with these shows, with Michael Wagner in Nashville, which will be a great reunion. He’s been partially responsible for a lot of our past successes – he’s such a dear family member and he’s always been the one guy that’s been able to bring the best out of us. It’s really exciting because it’s the first record we’re doing with Zee, and so to see how he and Michael work together is something that excites everybody I think.
[Zee] Especially me!
ANTIHERO: You were the first hard rock/heavy metal band to have a record debut at No. 1 on the Billboard charts – do you think you can ever attain that level of success again?
[Snake] Sure! Why not?! Anything’s possible, especially now. To sit there and exclude yourself from a conversation like that I think is really selling yourself short. It’s not something that you’re going to bank on or expect, but why not?
ANTIHERO: What are your plans and goals for the future? Will you be touring again around the release of your new album?
[Snake, looking at Zee] You can answer this!
[Zee] Oh yes, I definitely can!
(Expectant pause as everybody waits for Zee to answer)
[Zee] Oh really, you’re for real?! They never let me answer any questions because I speak funny! Well, most important first of all is just to get this record done and out there. The only way you can support a record these days is to tour and tour and tour and take it to the fans, so we will be back for sure – with the new record!
ANTIHERO: Zee, how does playing in the UK compare to playing in the US?
[Zee] I love playing in the States – every gig is different and I’ve got to say the same thing about the UK. I’ve played here so many times and it’s always a warm welcome, but in the States for me as a foreigner, it’s great, I love it out there.
ANTIHERO: What are your favourite songs to perform?
[Snake] There are certain histories attached to certain songs, so I love playing ‘Youth Gone Wild’ and songs like ‘Monkey Business’ and ‘Quicksand Jesus’. We’re doing ‘Let’s Go’ tonight, which is a blast to play, and I’m sure there are a lot more. I love playing ‘In A Darkened Room’ as well. We’ve written thirteen songs so far for the new record and that’s what’s exciting me at the moment – getting into the studio and jamming with everybody and seeing how those songs develop and what they will turn into from what they are now – that process is really exciting to me.
ANTIHERO: What are you listening to at the moment?
[Snake] I keep coming back to this band from over here called the Marmozets. I’m a fan! But I put my stuff of shuffle and it just plays whatever at random. I always come back to a band called Rival Schools as well, that’s Walter Schreifels from Quicksand’s band. And Maiden… I still always blast the first Iron Maiden album when I warm up.
ANTIHERO: Given that you must spend a lot of time together, do you always get on well with one another? And… what are your bandmates’ worst habits?
[Snake] I would say Rob Hammersmith’s worst habit is breathing!
[Zee] Yes, and farting! Breathing out of both ends!
[Snake] There have not really been any tensions within the band since we’ve been these five guys, maybe it’s because we’ve got a lot of experience under our belts and we just know how to deal with each other really well.
[Zee] You can instantly tell when somebody’s having that day where they just need a little extra space and it seems to come naturally to the five of us, in my opinion.
[Snake] I’ve known Rachel and Scotti for 32 years now, more than half our lives, and that’s pretty crazy. And so if we haven’t gotten sick and tired of each other by this point, chances are we’ll be okay! I think with any situation where you’ve got some newer people coming in, like Rob, who’s been in the band nine years now – that everybody is mature enough to understand everybody else and be respectful of each other when they need their space. We all go out to dinner together quite frequently and we travel together every day and we’re also on the phone to each other every day – we just enjoy each other’s company!
ANTIHERO: And finally, we’ve saved the biggest question for last… Brexit: Leave or Remain?
[Zee] Get the fuck out! They’re bleeding the UK dry!
[Snake] I have a hard enough time dealing with the United States and what we’re going through. I’m not a political guy per se and other people are far more educated than me, but from what I’ve read it seems like people in the UK feel as if their sovereignty has been stripped and you want to get some of that sovereignty back and the right to make decisions based on what the British people want and not what a conglomerate of countries want. And I understand that. I get that! I’m sure there are valid points on both sides and as far as world economies go, the EU works very well, but does it work for Britain? I don’t know.
[Rob] I think we have enough problems at home…
[Snake] Watching from a distance, it seems like people made a quick decision based on how they felt, you know like “let’s get the fuck out!” and then when they said “okay, that’s what we’re gonna do then!” they were like “Whoa, what did we get ourselves into here?!” That’s from someone who’s slightly oblivious to the whole thing, but it seems like a ‘be careful what you wish for because you just might get it’ sort of a situation.
Many thanks to Skid Row’s Snake, Zee and Rob for taking the time to chat to us. Horns up!
Skid Row have just announced that they will be appearing at Download Festival 2019! See https://downloadfestival.co.uk/
Scotti Hill (Guitar)
Rachel Bolan (Bass)
Snake Sabo (Guitar)
Rob Hammersmith (Drums)
ZP Theart (Lead Vocals)