When people heard our first record, they put us into that big hair or glam metal bracket. And I can understand why they did that. But when they saw us live opening for Bon Jovi back then, they realised there was a whole lot more to us. I think this all came into focus on our second album, Slave To The Grind. That’s when all of us – band, producer, management – pulled together in the same direction.
18 AND LIFE (Skid Row, 1989)
It’s such a personal thing, but this song galvanised the writing partnership between Rachel (Bolan, bassist) and me. As this came together, I could tell that our partnership was real. We had a symbiotic sensibility. And we appreciated what we had as a writing team was the potential to reach people. The way it worked was that I had an idea for the song and where it could go. But it was in my head. Rachel took it a step further, and then we developed the song from there.
YOUTH GONE WILD (Skid Row, 1989)
It originally had a different set of lyrics. But Rachel then went away and rewrote them. It was then that I understood he was a lot better as a lyricist than I was. He sees things from an interesting and obscure perspective. Rachel can take an idea we’ve come up with, lock himself away in a room and come back with 17 pages full of great lyrics! At the time we did Youth Gone Wild, we were in in our early 20s and wanted a song that would be representative of us. This was it.
I REMEMBER YOU (Skid Row, 1989)
I have to admit this was a song neither Rachel nor I wanted to include on the album. We wrote a lot of stuff that didn’t make it, and at first this was in the pile to be overlooked. But here I have to give credit to Bas (vocalist Sebastian Bach), Scott McGhee who was co-managing us at the time with Doc McGhee and our producer Michael Wagener. Because they all insisted it had to go on the record. It was humbling to understand that you’re not right all the time, so when this became so popular, it taught be humility. I had been wrong.
MONKEY BUSINESS (Slave To The Grind, 1991)
This song was really the start of what would become our second album. We had a different mindset for that one as compared to our debut, and this set the tone for everything. By that time, we had been fortunate enough to travel all over the world, seeing and experiencing different things. Nothing was forced here. We were very focused and what came out was really what the band were all about.
QUICKSAND JESUS (Slave To The Grind, 1991)
This was a labour of love. We started writing it when the first Gulf War was going on. It was the first time we could see a war going on through adult eyes. And we knew that through our music, we now had a voice to express our emotions on how ugly and devastating the whole thing was. It permeated into our psyche. The title came about because in my mum’s backyard, there was a tree surrounded by flowers. In the midst of the flowers was a small ceramic bust of Jesus. But because of the way it was positioned, it always looked like it was in quicksand. So, Rachel referred to it as Quicksand Jesus, and we thought that was a great song title.
IN A DARKENED ROOM (Slave To The Grind, 1991)
Yes, it’s a ballad, but so what? The sentiments expressed here are very dark and heavy. Lyrically, this is about child abuse. Back in 1991, this was very much a taboo subject. People were only just coming into the open, to talk about this. It was very brave for anyone to openly discuss how they were abused as a child. For a band who were known back then for something like Youth Gone Wild, this was something really different. But I wanted us to talk about the whole situation. It might have been strange given the way we sounded on our first record. But we were always so much more complex than we’d shown there.
BREAKIN’ DOWN (Subhuman Race, 1995)
It was the first song I wrote on my own, and also the first Skid Row song ever to be used on a movie soundtrack (The Prophecy, starring Christopher Walken). So it means a lot to me. Of course, it was a crazy time for music, so the album didn’t do much. And there was a lot going on with the band at the time. It’s amazing how success can paper over the cracks in the relationships between band members, but when you have adversity, people’s real characters come through. That’s what happened to us in the mid-90s. For me, this song accurately reflects what that period of time was like for Skid Row.
KINGS OF DEMOLITION (United World Rebellion: Chapter One EP, 2013)
This was the song where Rachel and I rediscovered ourselves as a songwriting team. It had the feel of Slave To The Grind, and set the tone that we took into the EP. Rachel and I felt again we had gotten back to where we were in 1991.
THIS IS KILLING ME (United World Rebellion: Chapter One EP, 2013)
This is a very simple, raw song. Here, I was tapping into my inner entity. And this really touched a nerve.
** WE ARE THE DAMNED (United World Rebellion: Chapter Two EP, 2014)**
Before we started to write this, Rachel and I worked out where the core of a partnership came from. We had been best buds for 30 years by then. And what we understood was that, at heart, we were still the same kids we had started off as, trying to express ourselves through music. What life does is add layers to the core, and what we had to do was strip these away; to get back to when we were 16-year-old kids with a guitar standing in front of the mirror. When the only thing you care about, and the only way you can tell everyone what you really feel is through music. That’s what we did here.
Dave ‘Snake’ Sabo was speaking to Malcolm Dome.