Skid Row’s Rachel Bolan talks about recording new EP, touring and drinking from the neverending well of rebellion

Skid Row’s Rachel Bolan talks about recording new EP, touring and drinking from the neverending well of rebellion
April 3, 2013 | By More

As someone approaching my 40th birthday I have to marvel at the resolve, focus and energy of a guy like Rachel Bolan.  If you’ve seen him onstage recently, spoken with him or heard any of his latest songwriting you would be hard pressed to believe the guy just celebrated his 47th birthday a couple months ago.  He is still, in so many ways,  the same middle finger extending, snarling, punk rock fan and rock and roller you came to love in the late 80s/early 90s.  By now we all know the story, Rachel and Dave “The Snake” Sabo formed Skid Row back in 1986 and became one of the biggest groups of the hard rock MTV era.  What we didn’t know and couldn’t predict back then was that 27 years later the band would still be shaking concert stages and stereos with the same ferocity they exhibited back in their dirty Jersey formative years.  Conversation and interest about the band remains as lively and volatile as ever these days and fans of all generations have been waiting to hear the band’s new EP “United World Rebellion, Chapter 1”. (Click Here To Pre-Order)   It’s Skid Row’s first new release since 2006 and Rachel recently called to fill me in on everything going down, read on…..

Legendary Rock Interviews:  Thanks for taking the time to talk to us man, have you been bustin ass on interviews all day for the new EP?

Rachel Bolan:  Actually, this is the first one I’ve done.  It’s gonna start up as soon as we go overseas but I wanted to do this one before we split because the schedule is gonna be crazy once we get over there.

LRI: I literally just listened to the album a couple hours ago for the first time and I am diggin it.  It doesn’t sound like a dated production but it almost feels like it picks up where “Slave To The Grind” left off.

Rachel:  That’s awesome.

LRI:  Was it on your mind that you wanted it to have that spirit but have the feel of the 2013 band?

Rachel:  You know, I’d like to say that we are that smart and we could think of that (laughs) but I think we knew we should go back to our roots.  Our last record (2006’s “Revolutions Per Minute”) was so experimental.  People thought it was weird.  We did too but it’s just a thing where every now and then in your career you’ve gotta make a weird record.  When Snake and I were writing for this first EP we purposely didn’t listen to the radio and instead we listened to the stuff that influenced us growing up, the stuff that basically helped us write the first two records.  That’s how we did it this time around and this is what came out of it and the more stuff we write, the more it feels like we’re back in the groove of things.  It’s weird man, when you have a career that spans a long time it becomes really easy to get far away from your roots.  If you make a conscious effort to try and pay attention to what your musical roots were it seems like stuff starts coming out.  I’m really glad to hear you say that about “Slave” because as we were recording that we all kept saying that like “”Man, this is kinda like “Slave To The Grind”.  We are stoked.

LRI:  Who produced it?

Rachel:  We had a couple of different engineers working with us but Snake and I produced it for the most part.

Rachel Bolan at Mt. Clemens, Michigan photo by Shawn Thornton for LRI

Skidz drummer Rob Hammersmith working on pre-production for the new EP in Atlanta!

LRI:  I haven’t talked to you guys since I spoke with Johnny Solinger and was subsequently banned from all future events involving your former lead singer …who couldn’t remember your name

Rachel:  (laughs) Right……

LRI:  Do you think at this point that whole lead singer conversation is sort of a dead issue?  Johnny has been on enough albums and played enough live shows that I would hope people have gotten the point.

Rachel:  I agree.  Johnny’s been in the band for almost 14 years I believe  people  understand that he’s the lead singer of Skid Row.  It’s pretty obvious.  These EPs will be the third album, so to speak, that we’ve put out with Johnny.  Granted, there has been a lot of time between each one but really, it was like that with the first two albums as well.  That’s just how we work and that’s part of the reason we’ve decided to release a series of EPs instead of one full length record.  Johnny is here to stay and if people aren’t getting it by now, they are probably never gonna get it.  I mean, I know people who still won’t listen to AC/DC because Bon Scott isn’t singing (laughs) which is just absolutely ridiculous but….true.

Snake and Rachel in the studio photo by Motor Grrrl Studios

LRI:  I heard Snake on Eddie Trunk  a few days back clarify a few of the reunion rumors that were kind of floated out there last year which was nice because one of the things that is consistently mentioned by bystanders is that you were the lone holdout of the reunion and everyone else is on board.  Obviously you can give me a “No comment”  and I totally understand, but I still want to ask you directly for those fans who continue to claim this.  Is there any truth to the sentiment that there is some exclusive beef that is is strictly between you and him?

Rachel:  I’d really rather not talk about him but I can say I think everybody has a beef with him honestly.  I know what it’s like from this side, meaning Snake, Scotti and myself and I know all of our feelings towards that but we just choose to ignore his comments because it really doesn’t matter.

LRI:  That makes a lot of sense.  In this day and age everything moves forward a million miles a minute including the music biz.  Is that whole “short attention span” of the culture also part of what led you to doing the series of three consecutive EPs?

Rachel: Yeah, absolutely.  The music industry and the way people listen to music is so completely different than the era when Skid Row first came out.  I mean, we’re still making vinyl but now it’s more of a collectors thing not the number one medium that it once was.  It really is kind of an attention span thing and also it’s kind of cool to us, the idea of having a constant flow of new music as opposed to putting out a full length and then riding that for a year or two or five (laughs).  We love writing, we love being creative and we love playing live so all of that makes this really easy to do.  I think that 25 minutes worth of stuff is really cool in this day and age because like you said, the attention span has definitely shortened tenfold since we first came out.

LRI:  At the same time, the central theme of rebellion has always been a part of Skid Row since the very early days so that should allow you the opportunity to tie the three albums together cohesively.

Rachel:  Totally. We have always been a band that stands up for what we believe in and I would say that our fans are the exact same way.  On Twitter there are all kinds of pictures that people are sending where they are creating their own localized fanbase in countries, in cities, which is GREAT.  It’s a pretty cool thing and it is uniting people from different countries, I’ve seen the chatter online between people who didn’t even know each other but one person started a sector in Ukraine who is talking back and forth with a sector in Brazil or Singapore.  It’s really, really cool seeing what’s going on and it just proves to us more than anything how devout our fans are, that’s what’s so great.

Johnny and Rachel from the recent private radio show for 100.5 in Atlanta

LRI:  I saw a clip of you playing “Kings Of Demolition” at a recent show….how much of the 5 new songs do you plan on working into the live set?

Rachel:  That set the other night that we played was such a short set and there were so many bands on that bill but we plan to work 2 new songs into the set when we go to the U.K. and Czech Republic.

LRI:  One other thing I noticed in hearing it is the backing vocals definitely have that “Chain Gang”, “Riot Act” sound to them and seem tailor-made for a live set.  Is that all of you guys singing those parts as a band?

Rachel:  Yeah, I think a lot of the gang vocals are and then I sang some harmony parts and Snake did as well.  Everything we sing on the record we try to sing onstage, if we can’t then we just don’t do it.  We are one of those bands who absolutely refuse to run taped background vocals or any stuff like that.  We come with a real old school mentality about stuff like that sort of like KISS.  If you can’t physically do it on the stage then don’t do it.

LRI:  You’ve always done a spot in the show where you take over the mic for a few minutes and sing.  Have you thought about cutting a lead vocal track for one of these EP projects?

Rachel:  Yeah.  I shared a lead vocal with Johnny on the last record and it’s not out of the question that I might do it again.  That’s definitely something we’d consider for sure.

LRI: You’re getting set to leave for England April 4th….How extensive is the tour going to be and do you anticipate constantly adding more dates in the States and elsewhere?

Rachel:  There will definitely be more.  Then we have a bunch of overseas dates and we’re hitting a lot of places where we haven’t been lately like the Czech Republic, we’re going back to Korea and hopefully China and Australia and we are also getting offers for dates in South America.   It is going to be a nice run and we are so excited about being able to do this after all these years.  Being that we’re putting out three EPs we don’t want to wear out any of the markets and we will probably divide up touring different markets between the EP releases.  We’re still doing the fly-in dates but now instead of one date there are a lot more coming in so we will hit like four or five in a row and then take a few days off.  Most of the guys in the band have families and kids and stuff so it kinda works out pretty good for us this way.  I would love to get on a tour, I think everyone would, just so we have the same gear every day but I think that we’ve got it down pretty much to a science at this point.  We end up with the gear we like because we always bring our guitars with us but it would be nice to just get on a bus and roll.

Skid Row in rehearsal for the “United World Rebellion, Chapter 1” kickoff tour…. (this photo and the header pic courtesy and copyright of Allen Ross Thomas/

LRI:  So the release schedule is every six months, have you already started recording tracks for “United World Rebellion, Chapter 2”?

Rachel:  Haven’t started recording the second one, we have some songs and we will probably work some on that in between dates this summer.  We’ve already got a few written but we need to write a few more.  So, we’ll get that done and then immediately start demoing them and that type of thing.

LRI:  You mentioned vinyl as a collector’s item and vinyl sales are very strong in Europe.  Is there any possibility that fans could collect these albums as a trio on vinyl?

Rachel:  Yeah, we’re talking about that with Megaforce and also with our European label UDR.  I know that UDR is talking about some special edition packages and I’m really hoping that one of them is vinyl so it’s just something we have to try and sit down to talk with them about to see if we could make something like that happen.

LRI:  Back to the rebellion theme for a second, do you think if you could go back and offer the teenaged Rachel Bolan some advice about the music biz or what to expect along the ride?

Rachel:  I’m sure I would have plenty of advice.  I paid attention a lot back then but I didn’t ask as many questions as I should have.  I would probably warn him about certain things like “Don’t trust this guy, don’t trust that guy….this guy is cool” (laughs).  That sort of thing.  You know, you live and learn and that’s just the way it happens.

Rachel Bolan, photo by Jay West Photography

LRI:  Do you ever miss those hardworking days of sweating it out in those North Atlantic club years prior to being signed to Atlantic??

Rachel:  No, they’re fond memories but to actually go back and do it?? No, I kind of like where I’m at now (laughs) instead of living in an apartment above a crackhouse.  I lived in Long Branch, New Jersey next to a train station.  It was just bad…..after I left, the roaches and mice probably were looking for a nicer place to move into because it was just that bad.

LRI:  So you truly were living all those street level lyrics you wrote back then?

Rachel:  Absolutely, absolutely.  I mean, I had very supportive parents but other than that I lived in some pretty sketchy neighborhoods man (laughs).

LRI:  Who wrote the lyrics on “United World Rebellion, Chapter 1” ?

Rachel:  I wrote a good part of them and Snake contributed as well, which is the way we always do it.  I’ve always written a big chunk of the lyrics for the band and I wrote a good part of it this time but Snake always contributes a lot as well.

LRI:  Dee Snider famously said that he woke up one day and found that his teenaged angst and rebellion lyrics  just completely dried up but that’s clearly not the case with you or your band.  Do you find that you have a never-ending wellspring of pissed off emotions to tap into?

Rachel:  I always seem to find it (laughs).  It always seems like no matter how much I try to chill and not take things personally but sometimes I do and I guess it’s a good thing for songwriting.  It keeps it from bottling up inside of me and sometimes, the things people say make you wanna punch them in the face.  Obviously, you can’t do that but you can write about it!

Click the arrow below for a sample of Kings Of Demolition

Read our Review of the new EP HERE

Order Official Skid Row Merch Here.


04.04.2013 The Railway – Ispwich, England
04.05.2013 White Rabbit – Plymouth, England
04.06.2013 Great Hall 2 – Cardiff, Wales
04.07.2013 HRH AOR Festival – Rotherham, England
04.09.2013 Yardbirds – Grimsby, England
04.10.2013 Fibbers – York, England
04.11.2013 NQ Live – Manchester, England
04.12.2013 Leamington Assembly – Leamington, England
04.13.2013 Islington Academy – London, England
04.15.2013 Meet Factory – Prague, Czech Republic
04.16.2013 KD Frydek Mistek – Czech Republic
04.19.2013 M15 Concert Bar – Corona, CA
04.20.2013 Pima County Fair – Tucson, AZ
05.16.2013 Palacio de los Deportes – Heredia, Costa Rica
05.18.2013 Nacional de Ingenieros Coliseum – Tegucigalpa, Honduras
05.31.2013 Penn’s Peak – Jim Thorpe, PA
06.06.2013 Virgin Oil- Helsinki, Finland
06.08.2013 Sweden Rock Festival – Solvesborg, Sweden
07.12.2013 McGuffy’s House of Rock – Dayton, OH
08.05.2013 Glencoe Campground – Sturgis, SD
08.15.2013 Phase 2 – Lynchburg, VA
08.16.2013 Cherokee Park Amphitheater – Morriston, TN
08.17.2013 Amos’s Southend – Charlotte, NC

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  1. carol says:

    Omg. I did not realize that johnny was with the band for 14 years, in fact I seriously didn’t know that skid row was still around after 1996. Oh Ya, that’s because you fucking assholes fired the best thing you had in that band. Skid row to me and everyone I know died when you stabbed Sebastian bach in the back. And your new singer,the face, the voice! GET ME A PEWK BAG, CAUSE I WANT TO VOMIT>