LRI welcomes a new contributing writer for this piece, Connie Hall Scott:
I was a senior in high school when the power ballad, “I Remember You,” took over the radio and MTV. I loved it then and I love it now. I also like the punky remake, “I Remember You Two.” The song has stood the test of time- as has the band who made it famous (before Carrie Underwood): Skid freakin’ Row! The band’s classic metal hits are epic. “Youth Gone Wild.” “18 and Life.” “Monkey Business” and on. I recently chatted with one of the writers of these hits, David “The Snake” Sabo, a founding Skid Row member and a master guitarist. We talked about his relationship with fellow band members, rock ‘n roll staying power, getting his first tattoo, who gave him the nickname “Snake” and why, when we can expect Skid Row’s next album and KISS KRUISE II which the band is currently aboard this year, among other things. Read on…
Connie Hall-Scott for LRI: Hi, David! I know you have a lot going on these days, so thanks for taking time out to call.
David “The Snake” Sabo: You’re welcome.
LRI: Skid Row played here with Warrant at the Forum Civic Center in Rome, Georgia. Are you guys excited about these current shows?
Snake: We’re excited about the fact that we still have the opportunity to go out and play and that people still come to the shows and that, you know, we still get the chance to bring our music to people. The band has been together for so long, albeit through a couple different incarnations, yet we’re still able to keep the name alive and and have a great time doing it. Music should be about your passion. It’s about having fun and good stuff and the community betwen you and your audience. Plus, these last years have been really something else. We get to play all over the world. We’re very, very lucky people. Very lucky people. I’m so humbled by the fact that I get to go up on stage and still get to do this for a living. I don’t know know what else I would do, so I’m happy that I’m still able to do this.
LRI: I’m happy that you are still able to do this too. You guys are amazing. I caught your sound check when you were at Wild Bill’s in Atlanta over the summer -
Snake: – Oh, yeah.
LRI: Yeah. And after the show it was obvious you guys have so much fun together and you enjoy playing together and you have good relationships. Does that make a big difference in the staying power of a band?
Snake: It’s HUGE. It really is. The last thing you need or want to do is go do your gig every day and have to argue with people and have disagreements. I mean, those things are going to happen and they do happen but things are so much more civil now than they were 15 years ago and I think this comes down, really, to a basic respect for one another. And you know what? We’re a little bit longer in the tooth now, so I think we – you know, especially Rachel and Scotti and I – understand each other a lot better now and we have a common, mutual respect for one another. We’re still great friends to this day. I talk to Rachel every day. It’s like we’re attached at the hip, even though we live a little bit further away from each other than we used to, it’s still – there’s still that connection there. Not just as a friendship but as fellow band members and fellow writing partners. So very important.
LRI: That’s cool. You and Rachel work well together. You are a good song writing team.
Snake: Rachel and I do it together. We’ve always done it together. So the majority of the stuff since the beginning of the band up until now. For the most part, Rachel and I write basically the skeleton of the song and then everyone comes in and we sit down at rehearsal and everyone puts in their part, what they excel at. Everyone has a different role and something different that they excel at. The other thing is, again, having that respect for the people you work with. And, it’s about having a good time, just having a good time and enjoying life.
LRI: Having a good time is what rock ‘n roll is all about, right?
Snake: Oh, my gosh, YES. It really should be. You have to love what you do. It’s so funny. When I first started doing this, when I started playing the guitar – and I started at a relatively young age – so many people that I was around throughout that time sat there and would talk about how their idea was that they wanted to get rich. You know?
Snake: I gotta be honest from you. That was the furthest thing from my mind. My idea was I just wanted to be as good a guitar player as I could possibly be and play music that hopefully would touch people and that would get an emotional response from people. So when you get a chance to go out there and play our songs and see people signing the lyrics back to us and singing along with us it’s so humbling. I can’t even tell you.
LRI: I grew up on Skid Row and I love both the early and the newer stuff put out by Skid Row. I think you’ll like this. The last thing my 14 year-old son – who is in love with his guitar – learned to play was “Youth Gone Wild.”
Snake: HA! That’s awesome.
LRI: Snake:After I took him to one of your shows, he was like, “I’ve got to do that.” How cool is it that the new generations of musicians are so into your music and that songs you created and brought to life are still in rotation on the radio?
Snake: It blows my mind. Again, to think that you are able to do something 20-something years ago that a different generation can respond to, I have to reiterate how humbled I am by it. To me, it’s one of those things, it’s everything I wanted to do with my music, with our music. To be able to affect people in a positive way and have some staying power. For me, it comes down to being able to perform in front of people and the fact that they still sing those lyrics back to us blows my mind. Blows my mind.
LRI: When I spoke to Rachel a while back, in an interview, he was very proud of the fact that none of you guys do drugs.
LRI: We talked about how getting caught up in that lifestyle of drug abuse often takes away a persons achievements and potential.
LRI: He did say, however, that you guys still enjoy drinking and going out to bars and have been known to get into the occasional bar fight.
LRI: Should the bars here be worried?
Snake: Nah. No, no, no. We’re very approachable. I mean we’ve never hid behind anything. Like, ego doesn’t come into play at all. We’re very approachable and very down to earth. I don’t go out to clubs. I go out to shop beer joints. You know?
Snake: For me, a corner bar is like a shop, beer joint is the way to go. That’s the way I’ve always been. There’s no pretension whatsoever with me and the guys. We’re just lucky enough to be in a band that has survived so many different trends and who still gets to play music. That’s such a gift to be given. We just go out and (laughs) have fun. On stage and off stage. The whole drug scene was never appealing at all to me. I never found it appealing. It never interested me. I never saw a success story from doing drugs. You know? I’ve just seen success stories from people who stopped.
Snake: There are people out there who absolutely LOVE to do it and, you know, its part of their make up and whatever. I’m just not one of those people.
LRI: That’s cool. Positive choices like that help keep you doing what you do so well.
Snake: Yeah. For SURE. If I was an addict in some way I don’t know how or not so far I could have gone in this business.
LRI: Last time I saw you guys, you were working on new material for an album. I know you can’t set a time limit on these things, you can’t rush art, but I have to ask: Do you have any idea when it might come out?
Snake: You know what, definitely a good question. Hopefully, like, April next year. It’s been a long time and we’re aware of that. We just, you know, it’s something we didn’t want to rush and again, living not so close to each other presents a bit of a problem, but it’s not something that we can’t overcome. I think the timeline is probably around April.
LRI: I look forward to it.
Snake: Thank you.
LRI: You’re welcome. Now, how about some random, left-field questions?
LRI: How old were you when you got your first tattoo and what did you get?
Snake: My first tattoo I was 22, around that. Let me think about this for a second. Oh, no. It was 24. Excuse me. It was, oddly enough, a snake. (laughs)
LRI: (laughs) Cool.
Snake: Yeah. Jon Bon Jovi and I made a pact when on tour together that when we were together that we’d get tattoos together and we were in L.A. and I was staying at the Hyatt and he was staying relatively close. I think right across the street. And Sunset Strip Tattoo was right across from the Hyatt. I was very, very hungover. But he was like, “Come on. We said we’re going to do this. Let’s do it.” We went across the street and I got the first one of a few more. It was a great experience that I look back at with great fondness, sort-of like another bonding moment with one of my best friends.
LRI: So you and Jon Bon Jovi are still tight?
Snake: Oh, my gosh, yes.
LRI: You grew up down the road from each other, correct?
Snake: Yeah. We’ve know each other since, gosh, I was like around 9 or 10 years old. We lived about, I guess, three blocks away from each other. We just hit it off and we remain close friends. We’ve had our ups and downs as much as anybody else would but, you know, somehow, someway, the love of the friendship always comes out on top.
LRI: That’s pretty cool. What’s the most recent CD you purchased or song you downloaded?
Snake: A band called – but I didn’t purchase it, they gave it to me – a band called Mount Carmel from Ohio. They’re a three-piece. They were just on tour with the band Down, that I manage, and they are great. They are really, really great. I have become, in a very short period of time, a fan. I think they are going to do some serious damage.
LRI: I’ll check them out.
Snake: Yeah. Do.
LRI: How did you acquire the nickname “Snake?”
Snake: Basically, when we were kids I started, you know, becoming a man and my first chest hair (laughs) on one of my nipples, and it was really long and it looked like a swirly snake. Jon Bon Jovi was like, “Dude, you’ve got to get rid of that. That’s DISGUSTING. It looks like a snake.” And I’m like, “F off, man. I’m becoming a man,” and I kept it. He kept telling me to “Get rid of that snake… Get rid of that snake.” Sure enough, the name stuck and I’ve had it since I was 13 years-old, around that. He continued to call me it and it kind-of grew and stuck with me. When we started a band and everything, I was like, it’s kind-of a cool name and people are calling me it so might as well (laughs) keep it.
LRI: Absolutely! It’s very rock ‘n roll.
Snake: Yeah, totally, but it’s so funny because I don’t have any great affection for snakes. None at all.
LRI: (laughs) That is funny.
LRI: Steven Adler once said of the original Guns ‘n Roses lineup: Axl is the smart one; Duff is the nice one; Izzy is the cool one; Slash is the sexy one. He referred to himself as the cute one. How would you tag yourself and your current band mates?
Snake: Wow. I would say Rachel would be the worrier -
LRI: The worrier?
Snake: Not the warrior. The worrier.
Snake: The worrier and the persistent one. Scotti would be – he recently became a father, so he’d be the family man. Rob would be the dry-witted guy. Johnny would be a brave one simply because he came into the band after Sebastian and he’s had to deal with a lot of ridicule but he never turned back, he did his thing and continues to do it. That was a tough road to follow and yet he still did it. I would be the meanest nicest guy in the world.
LRI: The meanest nicest guy. What does that mean?
Snake: It means I’m such a sarcastic asshole that I just hate the piss out of EVERYbody but I still know how to open the door for a lady and I still know how to treat people with compassion and respect. I was raised by my mother and it was instilled in me, all these amazing values that I still keep today. But, I’m also a sarcastic asshole.
LRI: You know how to have fun.
Snake: Oh, my gosh, yes. I laugh all the time, every day. To me it’s just, I have to enjoy life. That was instilled in me at a really young age. It stuck with me. Especially, you know, as times get more difficult, it’s a precious thing to keep within your soul. You know? Look at it – look at life – figure out a way to laugh at it and enjoy it because we’re all going to have our problems.
LRI: Isn’t that the truth?
Snake: It is.
LRI: Rob invited me back to the greenroom to hang out with you guys in Atlanta. Something that stands out in my memory is you walking through and you were singing a little song, impromptu, about how someone was going to be getting a groin punch.
Snake: (laughs) There you have it. There you have it.
LRI: Do you remember who that was directed at and whether or not the action was followed through?
Snake: That’s an every day experience with me. I’m that guy. I’m the guy who just continually is singing stupid songs and being completely idiotic. Except when I’m doing business. When I’m being the manager that I am, it’s business. You know? I mean, I’m not as sarcastic and ridiculous as I am when I’m being the guitar player in the band I love. I couldn’t even tell you who I was directing that at. Its kind-of like, it could be anybody on any given day. (laughs)
LRI: (laughs) You’re too fun. Yet, it’s obvious that you’re able to wear the right hat at the right time. Business is business and fun is fun. And speaking of fun, what are you going to do for Halloween this year?
Snake: Oh! You know what? I’m going to be on the Kiss Kruise. My girl and I will be on the Kiss Kruise II, playing our shows, the Skid Row shows, and having a blast. We did it last year and it was fantastic. We had such a great time. It’s one of my favorite holidays of the year. I don’t know what all that’s going to bring but it’s going to be a BLAST. I know that.
LRI: Do you believe in ghosts?
Snake: Yeah, for sure. I have not actually seen a ghost, but when I lived in New Jersey I had some crazy experiences at my house. The land that my house was built on was surveyed by Thomas Jefferson, believe it or not. The land there obviously has history, but I don’t know what was happening exactly. I did experience paranormal activity. I totally believe in that stuff. Some of my favorite shows on T.V. are about it.
LRI: Which one do you like best?
Snake: “Paranormal” – something. I’m thinking.
LRI: “Ghost Adventures?”
Snake: That one’s okay, but no, it’s “Paranormal -”, gosh, it’s been on A&E for like five years. The kids from Penn State. It’s awesome.
LRI: Okay – “Paranormal State!” On A&E. Have you ever played with a ouija board?
Snake: When I was a kid, not understanding what it was. I don’t – to me that’s – I don’t know. I think words have energy and power. I believe that you send that out to the world and you don’t know what you’re going to get back. I’d rather stay away from that stuff. I’m into positivity and whatnot. I find that, the ouija board, seems to me to be more about negativity. Okay – “Paranormal State!” On A&E.
LRI: Yes! That’s it. You should also check out “Dead Files” on the Travel Channel. It’s super spooky. Now, before we say goodbye, is there anything else you want to get out there? Any plugs?
Snake: We’re active with all the social medias, the Twitters and the Facebooks, so on and so forth. So if people want to reach out and see what we’re doing. My Facebook is listed as David Sabo because they didn’t believe that my name was Snake. Twitter is Snake Sabo. The band is Official Skid Row. So, basically, if you want to know what’s going on check it out. We’ve got a cool app for Skid Row as well, that’s free. You can pick it up off our website and that’s kind-of it. Always when I’m asked that question, my biggest thing and most important thing is a huge thank you for all the support we’ve been given over the years. There are so many more supporters than there are haters. I’m really, really thankful for that. I can’t describe how much of a great life that these supporters have given to me.
LRI: Thanks again for taking the time to chat today.
Snake: I appreciate your time. Thank you so much. I’ll see ya soon
http://www.skidrow.com – Official Skid Row Website
https://www.facebook.com/david.sabo.33 -Snake on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/OfficialSkidRow -Official Skid Row Facebook
https://twitter.com/officialskidrow – Official Skid Row Twitter