Skid Row are joined by Ugly Kid Joe at Metropolis Fremantle on Wednesday, April 23. BLAKE GALLAGHER reports.
For almost three decades now, New Jersey’s Skid Row have been delivering their iconic brand of epic heavy metal and, with a new EP under their belt and several more planned, they have no intention of pulling back.
Having wrapped up a trek in Europe last year with fellow veterans Ugly Kid Joe, both bands will return to Australian shores this month for a run of co-headline dates.
“Not bad for the old guys,” laughs bassist and founding member Rachel Bolan. “We had never met those guys, believe it or not, back in the day. We never crossed paths. But we got there and it was such a fun tour, everyone was so cool.”
Outside of a relentless touring schedule, last year Skid Row also found time to record United World Rebellion: Chapter One, the first in a string of EPs they plan to release over the next year or so. “It’s something that felt like the right time to do it; we’ve never done anything like that before,” says Bolan. “When the idea of doing it that way was brought up, it really appealed to all of us to have a constant flow of new music. Especially in the days of information overload, where there’s so much coming at you all the time, we really liked the idea of having three small bodies of work.”
As far as the songs themselves go, Bolan and co. sought to tap into the mindset they’d had when writing the band’s first two albums, Skid Row and Slave To The Grind. To do this, Bolan listened to nothing but the music that had influenced him as a 22-year-old writing the band’s eponymous debut LP.
“Our first album came out 25 years ago. Obviously a lot has happened in our lives since then, so you kind of unknowingly get away from where you started musically. We wanted to get back to those 22- and 23-year-old kids that wrote those first couple records. What I did is, I didn’t listen to any new music for a while. I started listening to what influenced me to play music in the first place. I listened to nothing past around 1980 – a lot of Aerosmith, KISS, Ramones, all that kind of stuff. I kind of reconditioned myself back to the way I felt when we wrote those first two records. We really had to dig deep, but at one point everything just started coming out like all these doors in our brains opened.”
While Skid Row were last in the country in 2009, they were no strangers back in the day. One only needs a quick YouTube search to see the kind of hysteria that greeted them, with reporters declaring an in-store appearance a “near riot” as “wild” fans rampaged to meet the band. Outside of boy bands, it’s hard to imagine such a frenzied reaction happening today. “People were telling me, ‘Wait ’til you see these crowds – the flight is so long but it’s worth it,’ and it was so true,” says Bolan. “We got there and people were so into what we were doing, it was amazing.”
It’s an indicator of the massive fanbase the band garnered back then and, as the horde of sold-out shows from Europe suggests, maintains.
“I always say Skid Row fans are the most loyal fans in the world. What’s happening a lot now that your older fans are adults, they’re bringing their kids to shows. We did a lot of all-ages shows in Europe, and the fact that a lot of the crowds weren’t even born when our first record came out… that’s a pretty good feeling.”