Interview with Sleaze Roxx website founder and former editor Skid

Date: August 20, 2016
Interviewer: Olivier


Interview with SkidSleaze Roxx: What prompted you to start the website Sleaze Roxx back in 2002?

Skid: Boredom. For a couple years, I would get laid off from work in the winter and figured I needed a hobby besides drinking. I always loved music, and in high-school was always the first one to discover new bands. In fact, my graduating yearbook write-up mentioned something about my long hair and my ability to pull cassette tapes from my jean-jacket. The cassettes got replaced by CDs, the jacket no longer fits… but the hair is still there even if it’s gone a different ‘colour.’

In English class during my final year, we had to write a weekly journal. Sometimes you’d be given topics to discuss, and other times were given free reign. When I was without a topic, I would write CD reviews on bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Alice Cooper. In fact, I remember writing about ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’ and the female teacher said something to the effect that I had a future as an album reviewer… and that she owned that particular LP herself. I always found that part funny… because this was a straight-laced woman who’s face would have cracked if she ever smiled, and here she was listening to Alice Cooper!

Sleaze Roxx: Did you have any experience creating and/or running a website when you first started it?

Skid: No. I had no idea what I was doing. I bought myself a book on html, the coding used for websites at the time, and taught myself. I would study websites who’s design I liked, figure out what the coding they used meant, and revamp everything to create something I felt was unique… because I didn’t want to outright steal someone else’s hard work.  It was trial and error really, but I had some free time and I enjoy figuring things like that out.

Sleaze Roxx: What were the main challenges that you faced when you first created and started running Sleaze Roxx?

Skid: I suppose just figuring out how to run the damn thing. Like I said, it was all trial and error, so occasionally I’d have an idea that I thought would be cool but then have a hell of a time figuring out how to make it work. I was just having fun, and had no real expectations, when one day a CD arrived from Sweden for review. That was the first time a band submitted material to me — it was Crashdïet’s original demo — and I thought it was great that someone across the ocean was asking for my opinion! However, as the website grew, it began to take up more and more time and sometimes felt more like a job than a hobby.

Sleaze Roxx: Who were Sleaze Roxx’s “competitors” when you first started with the website and how have you seen those sites evolve?

Skid: I don’t think I had any competitors at the beginning, because there were fewer websites catering to this type of music online. The Electric Basement was a cool site that closed shop around the time I started. I remember when it closed, the webmaster stated that he just wanted to become a music fan again… and that’s how I would later feel myself. There was also Metal Sludge, but they were more the TMZ of the hard rock scene, and Melodic Rock, but it focused more on the commercial rock side. Both of those sites are great, and are still living on, but my musical tastes centered more on the ‘dirtier’ side of rock… the gutter bands that didn’t get much coverage at the time. I do believe that’s how I carved a niche, because I’ve very close-minded when it comes to music… give me a 100 CDs by bands that all sound like AC/DC and I’d be happy!

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 2.37.26 PMSleaze Roxx: You’ve seen Sleaze Roxx grow exponentially in terms of people following and viewing the website, and I think you stopped keeping track of that in about April 2008. Are you surprised with how “big” the website got over the years?

Skid: I always kept track. I just stopped downloading the actual stats so no longer have those numbers. Yeah, I was very surprised how big the site managed to get, because it was really nothing more than me sharing music that I loved. At one time, according to Alexa ratings, the website was among the top 20,000 worldwide… Of course, there weren’t as many music sites around in those days, but it still made me proud. And when a young and upcoming band would say they got lots of traffic because of a review I wrote, it made everything worthwhile. I remember interviewing one musician who told me Sleaze Roxx and Melodic Rock were the only two hard rock websites that generated any traffic for him.

Sleaze Roxx: In your opinion, how have blogging and websites evolved since when you started the Sleaze Roxx website back in 2002?

Skid: Mainly that it’s easier to start and run a site/blog now. When I started Sleaze Roxx, you had to know html coding, which was time consuming and also a pain in the ass. But today, you can add content with a click of the mouse, so everything is easier and faster. Plus, with Facebook and Twitter, it became pretty much impossible to keep current because so much would happen while I was at work… by the time I got around to posting to the website, it was already old news. It was like the evolution from a magazine/newspaper to a website and now to instant social media.

Sleaze Roxx: What were your favorite things about running the Sleaze Roxx website?

Skid: I suppose just discovering and sharing great music with the readers. As the site grew, I would literally be overwhelmed with CD submissions from bands that few people would have heard about… and if something was worth reviewing, it gave those groups an audience they may have been unable to reach. But even better than that was interacting online with fans and people that submitted articles — some of which were far better than anything I could have written. To this day, there are a few people I met through the website that have become my closest confidants… knowing things about me that even real life friends don’t. And it all started because of a love for hard rock music!

Sleaze Roxx: The next logical question is of course what were your least favorite things about running the Sleaze Roxx website?

Skid: There were a few things that got tiring. The stacks of CDs I was meant to review would get me down, because I just didn’t have the time for them all… and if I got writer’s block, which often happened, the pile would simply grow and grow. Also you’d get the odd person, because of the anonymity of the internet, threatening me or spreading lies. I never let that bother me though, and nothing pisses people like that off more than silence. I must admit I did get a kick out of being called a Communist or having cancer wished upon myself… maybe I should quit smoking after all!

Sleaze Roxx: What are some of the things that you would do differently knowing what you now know in terms of creating and running the Sleaze Roxx website?

Skid: I wish I would have updated the website years back to make it easier to add content, but I just didn’t know how to go about it. I was wasting so much time cutting and pasting things onto ‘notepad’ templates that it took forever to get stuff online. I had taught myself the original coding, but between work, life and running the site, I just didn’t have the time to figure out a new system. I tried hiring someone to redesign the site but that was a failure and was one of the last straws for me… I was married to an old system of running a website and it was simply becoming tiring.

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 2.42.46 PMSleaze Roxx: What would you say is the weirdest or oddest thing that you encountered while running the Sleaze Roxx website?

Skid: One was the first interview I ever conducted, with Asphalt Ballet’s singer Gary Jeffries. I had sent him the questions, and if I remember correctly, he was having computer problems. Next thing I know, an envelope arrived in the mail with pages and pages of handwritten answers! I thought it was the coolest thing, although it also meant I had to type all the answers out with my hunt and peck technique.

The interview I did with Rock City Angel’s Andy Panik caused me some grief. During the conversation, he accused Tom Zutaut [of Guns N’ Roses fame] of coming on to singer Bobby Durango, making Tom look like a real creep. Of course, this all turned out to be a lie, but in the meantime Zutaut contacted me and threatened legal action if I didn’t post a retraction… and I was fine with allowing him to tell his side of the story. Oh yeah, Gene Simmons’ lawyer also threatened a lawsuit if I didn’t delete something posted about his sex tape.

Then, there were a couple guys who found my personal phone number and called… one to bitch about another website and the other to complain about a band he was involved with twenty years ago. All I could think of while these fools were rambling on was ‘What does this have to do with me???’

Sleaze Roxx: Sleaze Roxx seems to have gained a lot of notoriety over the years and certainly helped to promote a lot of younger bands. One recent example that comes to mind is the Florida based group Dirty Skirty who recently posted on Facebook that they could have never made it without Sleaze Roxx. Ex-L.A. Guns and current Angels In Vein guitarist Stacey Blades even posted a Sleaze Roxx CD review in a few pages of his 2009 released book ‘Snake Eyes: Confessions of a Replacement Rockstar.’ Looking back now, are you surprised with the impact that Sleaze Roxx has had from the time that you started it?

LA Guns Covered album coverSkid: I suppose so, but the L.A. Guns thing was kind of funny. Stacey Blades put the review in his book because it was positive, but later I reviewed their covers album ‘Covered In Guns’ and trashed it… because it sucked and if I couldn’t be honest with my readers, I had no sense writing. Blades saw that review and posted something to the effect of ‘who gives a fuck about Sleaze Roxx’ on the band’s forum. I had to laugh, because a positive review was worth putting in a book and a negative one came from a site that didn’t mean shit. Personally, that’s my biggest beef with the newer crop of websites today. They simply kiss ass. I understand it, because they are reviewing material from their idols, but I never got star struck. I love the music these musicians release, but don’t consider them close friends or people that I had to try and impress. The only ones I wanted to impress and stay true to were the loyal readers of the site… and I think that’s why it grew into what it became — because of honesty.

Occasionally, I got grief for the majority of my reviews being positive. I admit in the early days of the website, I was way too kind, but as time went on, I just wrote what I felt and if an album was average, it often didn’t get written about. For me the easiest reviews to do were for albums that were exceptional or absolutely horrible… the ones in between, I struggled with finding the right words.

Sleaze Roxx: On December 23, 2015, you indicated in a Facebook post recapping your year that the website had started to “lose its lustre” for you earlier in the year and that you were prepared to “pull the plug” on it before I asked whether I could continue with it. Thank you so much for allowing me to continue it by the way! In hindsight, you had provided many hints to me in the past that you were getting tired of running the site but I never ever thought that you were thinking of pulling the plug. For how long had you grown tired of running the site and contemplating shutting it down?

Skid: The thought would cross my mind every time I had writer’s block… but 2015 was the year I knew it was finished for me. I just didn’t feel like spending all of my spare time in front of a computer anymore… and as the submissions by other contributors began building up, I got further behind, and the further I got behind, the less I felt like doing. Plus I think I was getting burned out on music to be honest. For years, I would get hundreds of CDs, between what I bought myself and what was sent my way, and I found it was getting harder and harder to get excited about new music. I don’t agree when people say the music of yesteryear is better than today’s. I think it’s simply that the music we grew up on holds so many memories for us. I remember losing my virginity to Kix, having my last run-in with the law to Dirty Looks, and celebrating a drunken late night birthday with Dangerous Toys. As I age, what memories can I associate with the next generation of sleaze bands? Waking up and going to work? Having a bowel movement? It’s not quite the same is it.

So I knew it was time to step aside, and because I didn’t think anyone would be interested in continuing the website, I was ready to shut the door. When you asked if you could take it over, I was pleasantly surprised. I asked a few close friends what they thought. A couple said if the site was getting me down, it was time to give it up, while others said it was my baby and I had to keep it. It was like letting go of a child I suppose, but it was time. And when I did that, I also decided to keep my nose out of things and let you carry on the name how you saw fit. At first, I wanted to hold onto certain parts or offer too many suggestions, but I soon realized that the site was going to become someone else’s dream and it was best just to step aside. So even though I don’t have anything to do with the website these days, it’s nice to see Sleaze Roxx articles show up on my Facebook or Twitter feeds and know that’s it’s still going strong.

Sleaze Roxx: How did it feel when you finally ended up letting go of the site and do you have any regrets?

Skid: It turned out to be the best thing for me! I’m enjoying music again and am even revisiting some hobbies that got pushed aside over the years because of the website. I’ve also done a bit of travelling and am scheming to do more in the near future… so letting go has really made me realize how much of my time the site used to consume.

Sleaze Roxx: It’s time for you to plug the new look Sleaze Roxx [laughs]. Seriously speaking, it must have felt weird when I showed you what the new Sleaze Roxx website would look like because aside from giving me some tips on what to continue and not continue with the site, you didn’t have any input on the website’s redesign. What did you think when you first saw the new redesigned Sleaze Roxx website?

Skid: I liked how it turned out. I wish my attempt at redesigning the website would have looked that good. I also loved how easy it was to submit material. Maybe if it had been that simple for me, instead of pissing around with html templates, I wouldn’t have gotten so fed up. Then again, I had around a ten year run… longer than most of the groups I covered! Of course, there are a few things I’d likely change, but I will keep those to myself [laughs].

Sleaze Roxx: What and when was the first concert that you ever attended?

Skid: Probably the Irish Rovers [laughs]! The first metal concert I ever attended was Metallica and Metal Church during the ‘Master Of Puppets’ tour. Metallica hadn’t become a household name yet — here at least — and there were only a couple hundred kids in a venue that fits about 5,000. But it was loud and I loved it! Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to see hundreds of bands, but there are still some I’d die to see. I always wanted to see The Cult, and finally got to strike them off the bucket list this year. They were great by the way! Next up is Tom Keifer and Alice Cooper — the latter for the fifth time.

Sleaze Roxx: I know that you are a huge Alice Cooper fan even threatening to shut me out if I ever criticized the man [laughs]. Which are your favorite bands and why?

Skid: I used to listen to a lot of traditional metal and thrash, but as I aged I found it to be rather depressing… if I want to be depressed, I’ll read the newspaper. So now, I like stuff that you can enjoy over a beer without having to over-think things. Alice Alice Cooper Killer coverCooper, Kix, The Four Horsemen, Great White, Ratt, Raging Slab, Zodiac Mindwarp, W.A.S.P., Van Halen, Tora Tora, Rhino Bucket, Little Caesar, L.A. Guns, Dirty Looks… actually anything sleazy from the late ’80s/early ’90s, I’ll probably enjoy!

Sleaze Roxx: And finally, what are your three all-time favorite albums and why?

Alice Cooper’s ‘Killer.’ It only clocks in at about 30 minutes, but it’s perfect from beginning to end! The production isn’t crystal clear — and I hate albums that are too ‘clean’ — but there is no filler. Today, albums seem too long to me, and I know people want to get their monies worth… but sometimes less really is more.

The Four Horsemen’s ‘Nobody Said It Was Easy.’ I never cared for vocalists that sang in higher registers such as Queensrÿche. Instead, I prefer singers who have lots of attitude in their voices. When Frank C. Starr growls “the book of rock ‘n’ roll, motherfucker I wrote it,” you actually believe him! If I want to get myself amped up, this is the album that will do it for me every time.

Raging Slab’s ‘Raging Slab.’ I’m a sucker for slide guitar in rock music and this disc, along with the follow-up ‘Dynamite Monster Boogie Concert,’ offers something a little different. But there are so many great riffs contained on this album, I come back to it almost weekly. In fact, the short guitar solo in “Shiny Mama” may be my favorite of all-time. It’s only around 15 seconds long, but it’s as if the song is about to lose control while the steady rhythm section holds it all together.