Rachel Bolan, founding member and bassist of heavy metal legends, Skid Row talks touring Australia in 1990 and 2018, welcoming former DragonForce vocalist ZP Theart, as well as the multi-generational appeal of the band’s music. Have a look!
So let’s start off simple, how’s things in the Skid Row camp?
Things are really good man, we are riding a good wave right now.
Nice! I feel like this late 80’s/early 90’s metal revival is really cool, especially for someone like me who never got to live thoseglory years, is this current resurgence something that’s helped Skid Row come back into the limelight?
Yeah man. It’s pretty cool that bands from our era are doing well again, I guess its just part of the course that certain genres and if certain bands from the genres make a big enough impact when they originally come out, they have the luxury of doing it again and I’d like to think that we are one of them. It’s awesome that we still get to go out and play rock and roll for a living. That’s pretty fuckin’ cool that’s for sure.
Absolutely man! Last week, I took my Mum to a Mr. Big and Extreme concert and we weren’t the only family there. So have you started seeing multiple generations at gigs because your music resonates with people my age now as well as the original fans?
We do! I was born in the 60’s, my first rock concert was KISS in 1977 and every time they’d come through I’d go see them and a few years into that I’d noticed that there were people there with their kids or younger siblings and at that point I was like “man that’s really awesome”. Now 30 years into our history, its happening with us. We are seeing people with their younger brothers and sisters and we are seeing parents with their kids on their shoulders and we all think “Wow, this is pretty cool, not every band can do this”. But the fact that we’re one of those bands and the fact that their parents get them into that music, a lot of stuff goes through your brain when you see shit like that and it’s pretty damn cool.
With you guys are coming back to Australia in October for the first time since 2014, and the first time with new vocalist ZP Theart, are you excited to see the reception Australian crowds have for him?
We are really looking forward to it and he’s really excited to get back to Australia. We’ve been through Europe, the UK and around America a few times with ZP and the reception for him has been amazing for him. The great thing about Australia is that rock and roll has always had such a strong presence, and it still does to this day, that you know when you get on that plane to tour Australia it’s going to be intense because rock and roll is so alive and well down there.
On the topic of Australian tours, you’re no strangers to our shores, with your debut tour here being in 1990. But it was your 1993 tour with Guns N Roses that was a massive landmark for international acts coming here; with 80,000 people going to each show in Sydney and Melbourne. Did you guys ever expect that pandemonium of that tour?
No, we did not. We had been out with the Gunners for a while and you never knew what was gonna happen with them, but we didn’t expect the craziness that ensued in Australia in ’93. But it was going their the first time in 1990 on our own that I remember fondly and it was just insane. We were your age, 23/24 year old kids coming out of New Jersey, granted we had been to other parts of the world, but to get to Australia on our own blows our minds still to this day. We’ve always had such a good time in Australia, I even made friends on that first trip that I’m still friends with to this day, so I’m looking forward to getting back down and hanging out with everyone.
That’s all so crazy to think about. I was looking at those 1990 tour dates, and you were playing and selling out 6-7000 capacity venues on your first trip to Australia. Being in your early 20’s at that time, you would never have thought that kind of thing would happen from just one album.
No you wouldn’t. Back then there was no internet, Spotify, or iTunes. You just had to rely on what your manager said and we had no idea what the initial reception to our band would be. You’re always apprehensive when touring a new country. To us, Australia at the time it was a world
away, and to play those kind of places, we were blindsided by that, in a good way.
Back to the modern era, when you guys were picking ZP as the new vocalist for the band, did you take into account how he sang that back catalogue of Skid Row, and not just the classic 80s and early 90s songs, but the newer material too. Or were you more focussed on how things would sound when you write new music together?
All of the above, really. When he came in it was “first thing, is he actually going to be able to sing our stuff?” And when he came in and did it effortlessly we could check that box and be comfortable with that. And another point of that was “is he going to make them his own?”, which he did. He stayed true to the songs for the most part, but makes them his own and you’d think he wrote the songs the way he sings them on stage, and how animated he is about it. So all those things came into consideration, and so far all those boxes are getting a solid tick in them for sure.
And on the topic of new music, what was the idea behind the “United World Rebellion” series? Was it so you could write music every so often and not have to release a full length or just something different for the band?
It was something different. It’s not really a full on concept idea, its just a basic theme, which is a little different. But mainly, we wanted to do an EP. We thought “maybe we can do one now and then do another one six months from now” but that didn’t work. We had singer issues and what not, but when we come out with the third instalment, it’ll be a full length record and it’s going to be done with Michael Wagener who did out first two records [“Skid Row” and “Slave to The Grind”]
and “Revolutions Per Minute” [the band’s last full length release in 2006] so we are all very excited about that!
‘Slave To The Grind’ is probably my favourite mix of any heavy album of all time, so I amlooking forward to that, but sticking to that album, it was the first metal album to debut at number 1 on the Billboard charts at a time when hard rock and metal was still ruling the music world, do you think it’ll ever have a resurgence or do you think it’ll stay more of an underground scene like it seems to be now?
It’s hard to say really. Its hard for a band, who has been around, especially from our era to come out, put out new stuff and have it be excepted. There’s something about the whole era of our music, from the business standpoint, isn’t taken seriously. From a fan’s standpoint, it’s memories, nostalgia and having fun. So you have that working against each other. So which one would I take more? I’d take the fans having fun. If we put out a record? Cool, we’re getting our creative rocks off and we’ll write some cool songs and people will hopefully get into it. I don’t really care if the music business pays attention, as long as people dig it and we play a song and they like, that’s cool by me.
Hell yeah! Well that’s all from me, Rachel. I can’t wait to finally see you guys in October.
Not a problem man, make yourself known, we’ll have a beer!
Skid Row are on tour this October, suss out the dates below:
Thursday, 18th October
Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane
Friday, 19th October
Prince Bandroom, Melbourne
Saturday, 20th October
Manning Bar, Sydney
Sunday, 21st October
Astor Theatre, Perth
Tuesday, 23rd October
The Gov, Adelaide