How a new singer and producer helped Skid Row rediscover their fire


Skid Row’s new album The gang is here is their first with their new singer, former Heat man Erik Grönwall. The release of the album, on October 14, comes a few days before the group’s next European tour.

“We are beyond thrilled to release this record,” the band said. “It took a long time to make and a lot of hard work went into it from the band and our producer Nick Raskulinecz. And the addition of Erik took the songs to new heights.”

Below, guitarist Dave “Snake” Sabo reveals how Grönwell joined the band, explains how the band rediscovered their original essence in the studio, and looks forward to a brighter future than ever.


From the outside, the dismissal of ZP Theart, who had been with the band for eight years, and the hiring of Erik Grönwall seemed uncharacteristically quick. What was the actual delay?

[Laughs] Erik met the band four days before his first gig with us, at the opening night of our Las Vegas residency with the Scorpions in February. We gave him the job three and a half weeks before he started. I know it sounds crazy, but by then he had already recorded most of his parts for the album.

It almost sounds too good to be true.

Yes exactly. But the guy’s work ethic is amazing. He is so creative.

How long was Erik on Skid Row’s radar?

He had been in the outskirts. We were aware of his hearing [on Swedish Idol] with 18 and life (opens in a new tab) in 2009, which was very impressive. And then just when Rachel [Bolan, bassist] and i thought maybe we should change the singer, we heard his second version of 18 and life (opens in a new tab).

It got us thinking, “Holy shit.” So we sent her some songs to sing, and they came back within twenty-four hours. Everyone knew immediately that this was a game-changer. These performances were next level.

How was the experience of working on The gang is here with Nick Raskulinecz, a Grammy-winning producer?

Nick is amazing. He challenged us to work differently. He deconstructed each song. And because he had worked with Rush, Alice In Chains, Halestorm, the Foo Fighters, and Mastodon, among others, we trusted his advice. He reintroduced the original essence of Skid Row to us, and it really worked.

What do you want to say?

Out of the blue, Nick would say, “Okay, I really like that part [of the song]. But for the sequel, try to find something like what you wrote for the second verse of big guns [from the band’s self-titled debut].” It took us out of our comfort zone, we let our guard down and it really worked.

Wasn’t the new album recorded with ZP Theart’s vocals before the band hired Erik?

We did three or four songs with ZP before realizing we had to make a change. He’s a great singer and a great guy, and there’s no animosity, but we were going in opposite directions.

When you were thinking about changing singers, did the name of original Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach come up in the discussions, even very briefly?

No. And you’re not the first person to ask that. But it wasn’t even part of our thought process. For quite a long time we have been beyond that.

As far as you are concerned, is there any chance that Sebastian will ever return to Skid Row?

We really believe that’s where we are. We’re more focused on moving forward with Erik – or it could have been someone else – than looking back.

The gang is here does a terrific job tapping into the signature Skid Row sound. What do you expect Erik to bring to the next album, when he’s more involved?

I know by his energy and his positivity that Erik will play a big role in the writing of future songs. Heat is a very good band. It’s about making the best record possible, not whose names are in the writing credits.

After a year and a half locked up, how does it feel to be on stage again to play?

I couldn’t be happier. Isolation has had a different impact on everyone. For me, it was a roller coaster. For the first two weeks, I liked to relax, but then it affected my creativity. I was trying to write and just couldn’t, but luckily I managed to pull it off. During our first concert, in February, for five minutes, everything was incredibly surreal. And then it all clicked again. Thank God!

The band toured the UK with special guests Winger and Phil X, current Bon Jovi guitarist, and British melodic hard rockers Collateral. Kip Winger and Phil are two guys you must know well?

Phil is phenomenal and Kip is a really great guy. He’s a survivor and, of course, an incredible musician. They will be bringing a really strong set to our show. Phil is one of my favorite guitarists in the whole world.

Skid Row has always had a strong relationship with the UK. It must be exciting to come back and promote such a strong album?

Man, I can’t wait for people to see us with Erik. It is a completely different machine than that of the past. There’s an energy that I guess may have dissipated along the way, maybe just a little bit. Obviously we have a new vocalist, but what Erik brought to the band is a vibe of something new. I’m so excited about what we’ve created with him and what lies ahead.

Skid Row – The Gang’s All Here European Tour

October 19: Wolverhampton KK Steelworks, UK
October 20: Brighton Chalk, UK
21 October: Cardiff Y Plas Students’ Union, United Kingdom
October 23: Bristol O2 Academy Bristol, UK
October 24: London, O2 Forum, United Kingdom
October 25: Nottingham Rock City, UK
October 27: Manchester O2 Ritz, UK
October 28: Sheffield O2 Academy, United Kingdom
October 29: Liverpool Grand Central, UK
October 31: Glasgow Galvanizers Yard, UK
01 November: University of Newcastle Northumbria, United Kingdom
November 3: Cambridge Junction, United Kingdom
November 04: Great Yarmouth Hard Rock Hell XV, United Kingdom |
November 06: Antwerp Kavka Zappa, Belgium
November 8: Drachten Poppodium Iduna, Netherlands
09 November: Hamburg Fabrik, Germany
November 12: Sarnen UK Rock Festival, Switzerland
November 13: Hamburg Fabrik, Germany
November 14: München Backstage Werk, Germany
November 16: Savigny-Le-Temple L’Empreinte, France
November 18: Norwich Epic Studios, UK

Tickets are on sale now (opens in a new tab).

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