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

Skid Row group shot
(Image credit: Absolute)

Skid Row's new album The Gang’s All Here is their first with their new singer, former H.e.a.t man Erik Grönwall. The release of the album, on October 14, comes just days ahead of the band's upcoming European tour.

“We are beyond excited to release this record," say the band. "It has been a long time in the making and a lot of hard work has been put into it by the band and our producer Nick Raskulinecz. And the addition of Erik has lifted 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 future that's brighter than ever. 

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From the outside, the dismissal of ZP Theart, who was with the band for eight years, and the hiring of Erik Grönwall seemed unusually quick. What was the actual time frame? 

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

It sounds almost too good to be true. 

Yeah, exactly. But the guy’s work ethic is unbelievable. He’s so creative. 

How long had Erik been on Skid Row’s radar? 

He had been in the periphery. We were aware of his audition [on Swedish Idol] with 18 And Life (opens in new tab) in 2009, which was very impressive. And then right around the time Rachel [Bolan, bassist] and I were thinking we might have to make a change of vocalist, we heard his second version of 18 And Life (opens in new tab)

It made us think: “Holy shit.” So we sent him some songs to sing, and they came back within twenty-four hours. Everybody knew immediately that this was a game-changer. Those performances were next-level. 

How was the experience of working on The Gang’s All Here with Nick Raskulinecz, a Grammy-winning producer? 

Nick is incredible. He challenged us to work in a different way. He deconstructed every song. And because he had worked with Rush, Alice In Chains, Halestorm, the Foo Fighters and Mastodon, among many others, we trusted his opinion. He reintroduced us to the original essence of Skid Row, and it really worked.

How do you mean? 

From out of the blue, Nick would say: “Okay, I really like that part [of the song]. But for the next, try coming up with 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 down our guard 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 realising we needed to make a change. He’s a great singer and a really good guy, and there’s no animosity, but we were going in opposite directions. 

When you were thinking of changing vocalists, did the name of original Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach crop up in discussions, even if very briefly? 

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

So as far as you’re concerned there’s no chance of Sebastian ever returning to Skid Row? 

We’re really steadfast that this is where we’re at. We’re more focused on moving forward with Erik – or it might have been someone else – than looking back. 

The Gang’s All Here does a wonderful job of tapping into the signature Skid Row sound. What do you expect Erik might bring to the next album, when he’s more involved in it? 

I know from his energy and positivity that Erik is going to play a big role in writing future songs. H.e.a.t are a really good band. It’s all about making the best record possible, not whose names are in the writing credits.

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

I couldn’t be happier. The isolation impacted everybody differently. For me it was a roller-coaster. For the first two weeks I enjoyed kicking back, but then it affected my creativity. I was trying to write and I just couldn’t, though luckily I broke through that. At our first show, back in February, for five minutes it all felt unbelievably surreal. And then everything clicked in again. Thank God! 

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

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

Skid Row have always had a strong relationship with the UK. It must be thrilling to be coming back and be promoting such a strong album? 

Dude, I can’t wait for people to see us with Erik. This is a whole different machine to the one from the past. There’s an energy that I guess might have dissipated along the way, maybe just a little bit. Obviously we have a new singer, but what Erik has brought to the band is a vibe of something new. I’m so excited by what we’ve created with him and what lies ahead.

Skid Row - The Gang's All Here European Tour 

Oct 19: Wolverhampton KK's Steel Mill, UK
Oct 20: Brighton Chalk, UK
Oct 21: Cardiff Y Plas Students Union, UK
Oct 23: Bristol O2 Academy Bristol, UK
Oct 24: London, O2 Forum, UK
Oct 25: Nottingham Rock City, UK
Oct 27: Manchester O2 Ritz, UK
Oct 28: Sheffield O2 Academy, UK
Oct 29: Liverpool Grand Central, UK
Oct 31: Glasgow Galvanizers Yard, UK
Nov 01: Newcastle Northumbria University, UK
Nov 03: Cambridge Junction, UK
Nov 04: Great Yarmouth Hard Rock Hell XV, UK|
Nov 06: Antwerp Kavka Zappa, Belgium
Nov 08: Drachten Poppodium Iduna, Netherlands
Nov 09: Hamburg Fabrik, Germany
Nov 12: Sarnen UK Rock Festival, Switzerland
Nov 13: Hamburg Fabrik, Germany
Nov 14: München Backstage Werk, Germany
Nov 16: Savigny-Le-Temple L'Empreinte, France
Nov 18: Norwich Epic Studios, UK   

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Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.