Rachel Bolan - Skid Row
On the phone with David Lee Wilson - May 2000
 
Every band that managed to release an album in the eighties has staged some kind of "comeback" in the last year or so. What most of these bands have forgotten is that it was always the music, not the makeup, that really counted and that just showing up doesn't guarantee an audience let alone any semblance of legitimacy. The reunion/reconstruction of Skid Row could easily have fallen into the "doin' it for the bucks" category if the plan was simply to get the old band together and live a club life playing the old hits. According to founder, bassist and guiding force Rachel Bolan, Skid Row is aiming much higher. The fact that Skid Row wrote for and lived the rock and roll dream is well established, the trail of beer cans cigarette butts and condom wrappers can attest to that. What, until recently, was open to some debate was whether or not a version of Skid Row sans original vocalist Sebastian Bach would be accepted by the fans. The New Jersey quintet answers this question in the affirmative each night as they perform before 15-20,000 fans as special guests on the KISS "farewell" tour. Reports from the early dates of the tour claim that this is the best the band has ever been, that the "fire is back" and that "Limp Bizkit should take note that real rock and roll has returned."
 
Amen to all of the above. With new music in the offing Skid Row would seem to be mounting an Aerosmith sized return and without any of the baggage that made them want to get off the train in the first place. Though he obviously has an eye to the future, Bolin is content to take it all day by day and on one of those days he broke from the mayhem that is a major arena tour to phone in a road report.
 
DAVID LEE WILSON: So, instead of working back into it slowly you guys decided to plunge head first into a spot on the KISS farewell tour, that takes balls! (laughs)
RB: It is pretty wild. When we got John (Solinger), he was in the band for a bout a week and a half after his audition, and then we were on the road, he really stepped up to the plate. We even got a good review in the LA Times and that has never happened before to Skid Row! (laughs) They pointed him out and said that "John Solinger stepped up to the plate and hit a home run," those were their words and that was really, really cool. The fans are accepting him and it feels new and fun again. I don't begrudge Sebastian anything, he does his thing and we are doing ours.
 
K2K: The sad thing is, that writer at the LA Times will certainly be fired for having written kindly about Skid Row! (laughs)
RB: (Laughing) Right! "You like Skid Row? You are fired!"
 
K2K: I can tell by the way you tell it that this is something very special to you.
RB: It is cool man, it is a really good feeling. It is like we are starting over again and I don't mind it at all. We only get to play for a half-hour which, is like a tease but we are getting to play in front of a lot of kids. We are playing with KISS and Ted Nugent as well so it is really cool. Even if there was nothing else, we still get to watch KISS every single day so it is worth it! (laughs) They have been treating us really well and, I think, we have earned their respect because we are not just resting on our past successes, we are going out and playing our ass off which is different from a lot of bands that reform for all of the wrong reasons. We are not reforming for money or anything other than just the love of music and being able to get up there and play. The road crew, which is how I gauge everything, we have earned the respect of KISS's road crew, which numbers in the hundreds! They are out there and rocking with us every night and that is so cool.
 
K2K: The fact that you are only playing for a half-hour must mean that you have to pretty much stick to the classic Skid Row cuts?
RB: Yeah, pretty much. We have got seven songs and a half hour to cram it all in. (laughs)
 
K2K: At least you're not doing a medley!
RB: Right!
 
K2K: Will this version of the band sound different from the one that everyone is familiar with?
RB: Not at all. It will just be big dumb rock and roll, no thinking necessary.
 
K2K: See, I was worrying about that after I saw the new glossy where you have your hair cut and that is how it usually goes, the rock and roll guy gets a hair cut and it affects the brain somehow and the next thing you know, Vanilla Ice wannabe! (laughs)
RB: Awe, man! I cut it a long time ago, during the "Subhuman Race" Japanese tour, I just got tired of it and said, "No hair, no knots, no hassle!" (laughs)
 
K2K: It must be nice to start this Skid Row thing anew yet still have all of that experience.
RB: Exactly! Experience is not good in a way but when we get up there are heads are still going and we just never stop and sometimes I wonder to myself, "Am I going to end up with a busted back or something? Twenty years from now am I going to be in a wheelchair from doing this shit?" (laughs) But I don't care! We go up there and get fired up and we only have a half-hour to make an impression and we do the best that we can.
 
K2K: When will you be taking this band into the studio for a new record?
RB: We got a week off in May and we are going to go into my studio and demo a whole bunch of stuff. After we get done with KISS and after we get done playing shows and letting people know that we are out there then we will go in and do a record.
 
K2K: Maybe throw down some raps or something? (laughs)
RB: (Laughing) Yeah! We'll do some raps and a little bit of Hip-Hop, you know!
 
K2K: Will everyone be writing for the new record?
RB: The way that we always did it was that if someone had something good, then it is on, it doesn't matter who writes what.
 
K2K: Snake is gimping around due to his mishap in Las Vegas, what is the status of that?
RB: From what the doctor told him, there are three places that you can break an ankle and he broke all three in the worse way that you could break them. As of right now he has got six grooves and three pins in his ankle with a cast on. He has got to keep going and keep getting a new one put on and it is a bitch for him, he don't like it one bit! (laughs)
K2K: I am sure that it will heal which is different from some of these guys who are having full body parts replaced. Would that be a time when you begin to consider giving it all up, when you have to have parts replaced? (laughs)
RB: No, I don't think so! The only thing that could do that is when I just get sick of doing it. It was funny, when we were out with Van Halen, I think it was like in '94, I was talking to Eddie about his hip and his brother's back and stuff like that and I said to him, "You guys sound like a bunch of German Shepherds! You know, with the hip displacement and the back displacement."
 
K2K: And still they roll on. Are you at all excited about the reunion with Roth?
RB: Is Roth Back in the band?
 
K2K: That is the conventional wisdom though they do deny it.
RB: Yeah, see, I always liked Van Halen for Eddie Van Halen and it didn't really matter to me who was singing, to tell you the truth. I was into the Sex Pistols at the time and Roth was like the Anti-punk rock singer to me.
 
K2K: Did you catch the Sex Pistols on that reunion tour?
RB: I missed them. I was out of town when they played New York and that was my last chance to see them. All of my friends saw them and they tell me that I missed something really amazing.
 
K2K: Yeah, after seeing them I thought, "You know, I almost wished that I hadn't because they were too damn good."
RB: To me the Pistols were always Sid Vicious, it was never Glenn Matlock. I was begging to get in that band, I was like, "Hey Steve [Jones, guitarist for the Sex Pistols] throw me a bone, let me play bass!" (laughs)
 
K2K: Right, but wait, it just occurred to me, that was a real possibility, wasn't it?
RB: Yeah, I know Steve pretty well and this was like years before they actually did it because John didn't want to do it for the longest time. At first they were just thinking of going to Japan and doing it and I said, "Hey man if you need a bass player, I am there!" When it really happened they decided that they really wanted to have all of the original guys, which is totally understandable.
 
K2K: You are in a really unique, and very cool I should add, position as a rock music fan because you could call up your manager and have him get you into places and situations if you don't have a connection yourself, do you use that resource much and what do you go see when you do?
RB: Well, I have seen The Ramones a ton of times but now they are done too. I became friends with Joey Ramone and he would call me when they played in Jersey but now they are gone so punk rock is dead as far as I am concerned.
 
K2K: When you were putting this band together you left Sebastian out of it, when was it real apparent to you that Sebastian and Skid Row were going to be two separate entities.
RB: When we got off of a tour of South America. It was a really bad bill, it was almost a speed metal-fest and we were like, "What are we doing on this tour?" That kind of stuff can really kill a bands moral. It is safe to say that we were not really "accepted" on that bill. (laughs) It was like Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Biohazard, Helloween, and King Diamond and when I heard about the bill before we left I was like, "This is going to be bad!" (laughs) Like I said, it was just not fun. The way that we achieved success was by writing songs that we felt comfortable with and that were fun, non-thinking songs. That is what rock and roll is supposed to be, you are supposed to be able to get away from thinking and get away from whatever is stressing you out and it ended up being that we were thinking too hard and fighting and it just wasn't fun anymore.
 
K2K: Well, as I said earlier, you seem to be having fun this time around. I have read that you think that Paul Stanley is the funniest guy in the world, why is that, is he the practical joker on the tour?
RB: It is not so much of being a practical joker, it is just his sense of humor. He tells great jokes, actually, I should say that he tells them well. It is like you are already laughing before he even gets to the punchline. He is so laid back and you wouldn't expect that from him. At least I didn't.
 
K2K: Is he in makeup when he is goofing around because that adds another element to it entirely?
RB: No, he hasn't but that would be freakish! He is a totally different person. I mean, there is Paul Stanley and then there is "PAUL STANLEY!"
 
K2K: Same deal with Gene?
RB: I was always afraid to meet my idols and when I met Gene I was just like, "Wow"! He is business, Gene is definitely all business and he can sit there and talk shop about the bass and stuff like that but he is just a guy, he is a dude, and it is a lot of fun hanging with these guys.
 
Written by David Lee Wilson

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