Rachel Bolan Says Next CD “Is Going Back To What People Would Expect From Skid Row”
March 1, 2011
Thadeus Greenson of Tri-City Weekly reports: Twenty-five years is a long time to do anything. But when it comes to heading a rock metal band, a quarter-century is a lifetime.
For Rachel Bolan, the bassist who founded Skid Row in a New Jersey garage in 1986, the only thing that keeps him going is the music and the chance to rock a live stage.
“It’s a love of music first and foremost — creating and playing and just going out there and doing it,” Bolan said in a phone interview last week from his Atlanta home. “Every night we go on stage, I sit there and go, ‘Wow. I’m a lucky, lucky guy’.”
Coming of age in the late 1980s and early 1990s — a time when metal was king and bands like Guns N’ Roses and Metallica ruled — Skid Row rode the fast track to stardom. The band’s self-titled first album sold more than 5 million copies in the United States and, by 1996, the band’s first two releases had combined to sell more than 20 million albums worldwide.
In the years since the band’s inception, Bolan and Skid Row have toured the world several times over, played packed stadiums and even rocked a couple of music festival cruises. But the band has never made its way to Humboldt County. That’s about to change.
Saturday, Skid Row is slated to take the stage at Cher-Ae Heights Casino in Trinidad and Bolan said he’s looking forward to the band’s North Coast debut.
“It’s going to be a lot of loud music and a lot of energy, and hopefully a good time — I know we’re going to have a good one anyway,” Bolan said.
While Skid Row’s road to Humboldt County has been long, it hasn’t always been smooth.
Skid Row’s early success was often trumped in headlines by controversy — most of it swirling around the band’s then-lead singer Sebastian Bach, who was infamous for being somewhat of a diva in the vein of Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose. In 1989, Bach threw a beer bottle off the stage hitting a fan. A short time later, he was photographed wearing a T-shirt with an anti-gay slogan.
Skid Row soldiered on, riding the success of their debut album — headlined by singles “18 and Life,” “I Remember You” and “Youth Gone Wild,” — to release “Slave to the Grind” in 1991, which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard music charts and would go double platinum fueled by the pulsing, raging single “Monkey Business.”
Though the follow-up album was a departure for the band — straying from the ballad-heavy formula that worked so well on the band’s debut in favor of a heavier, speed-metal sound — it was a raging success, prompting the band’s second world tour. Following the tour, however, things began to change.
The band took some time off, and parted ways with Michael Wagener, who had very successfully produced the band’s first two albums. Fissures between Bach and the rest of the band — reportedly ever present — also began to fester.
In 1994, the band recorded its third album, “Subhuman Race,” which peaked at 35 on the Billboard charts, but didn’t achieve the success of the band’s earlier offerings, which is partly attributable to the overall decline of metal at the time as rap, hip-hop and other genres became more popular, dominating music charts and record sales.
In 1996, things eventually came to a head with Bach, reportedly when he and Bolan had a falling out over whether to play a show opening for KISS, which Bach desperately wanted to do.
After following their own paths for a few years, the band reformed in 1999, bringing on vocalist Johnny Solinger to replace the high-maintenance Bach and, ironically, celebrated the reunion by going on tour opening for KISS on the band’s farewell tour.
In 2003, the band released “Thickskin,” which elated fans but met little critical acclaim. In 2006, the band rejoined forces with Wagener, who had produced their exceedingly successful first albums, and hit the studio. But, this time, the band parted ways with its past and with the general rock-album formula that requires a healthy dose of ballads sprinkled between pulsing, distortion-heavy tracks and speed metal.
Bolan said each band member had a hand in writing some tracks on the album, the result being a wandering offering full of interesting sounds that didn’t quite mesh together. Bolan said he has no regrets about the album, but concedes it turned off some of the band’s true-blue fans.
“We just experimented and did all kinds of stuff and, basically, got run out of town on a rail,” Bolan said. “It was cool because it was different, but now we got that out of our systems.”
In the last five years, the band has been all over the place. Bolan said the sagging economy has also caused the band to think outside the box and try some new things, most notably a pair of festival cruises — the “Motley Cruise” in 2008 that spanned four days and paired them with Slaughter, Ratt and Vince Neil, and “ShipRocked,” a five-day affair that featured the band along with Queensryche and Tesla, and featured themed nights like Classic Concert T-shirt Day, Prom Night at ShipRocked High and a soldier appreciation day.
“They were fun,” Bolan said of the cruises, adding that the band got to headline a night on each and then just basically hang out the rest of the time. “They were more of a vacation than anything else.”
In the last couple of months, Bolan said he and guitarist Dave “the Snake” Sabo have been writing some music and gearing up to hit the studio again for the band’s sixth album.
“I think the next record, as far as what Snake and I are writing, is going back to what people would expect from Skid Row,” Bolan said. “We’re looking forward to it.”