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The Black Flag Meets Skid Rows Dave ‘The Snake’ Sabo

Back when I was growing up one of my favourite bands was Skid Row. I was a massive Guns N Roses fan and discovered Skid Row via Axl and...

Back when I was growing up one of my favourite bands was Skid Row. I was a massive Guns N Roses fan and discovered Skid Row via Axl and co in the early nineties and they’ve been one of my favourite bands ever since. So I was ecstatic when I hear they were touring the UK with Ugly Kid Joe as well as releasing their first EP since 1992’s ‘B Sides Ourselves’ and is receiving rave reviews across the world.

I was lucky to get to talk to guitarist and founding member Dave ‘The Snake’ Sabo about the tour with ‘Ugly Kid Joe’ and the ‘United World Rebellion’ …

The Black Flag: Let me just say, it’s a real pleasure to talk to you today Snake. You guys were a real defining band for me when I was growing up

Dave ‘The Snake’ Sabo: Oh man thank you, that’s very kind of you to say and thanks for taking the time out to speak to me

TBF: So basically the United World Rebellion Chapter 1 is your first EP since 1992. How do you think the new material relates to your previous work?

Snake: Well it’s really, really simple. It was a conscious effort on Rachel and my part to sit there and kind of brush back all the potential bullshit that could infiltrate our creative process. We had to get back to the essence of who we are and why we did this in the first place and for me the essence is that 16 year old kid that exists inside of me, who still puts on a guitar and still plays it in front of the mirror, hoping to one day be Eddie Van Halen or Joe Perry. We’re just rediscovering that kid inside of us. We’re never going to be able to write ‘Youth Gone Wild’ again or ’18 and Life’ and who would want to? They’re songs that were written in that particular space and time and we’ll never be in that position again, we’ll never be that age again, in those social circles again. But the essence of where those songs came from is still really, really important. We had to push back a bunch of stuff, personal stuff and business crap and kind of stuff and get back to that essence where we just do what we do. It’s easy to get distracted, it’s really easy to get distracted and that sort of moves you away from what the core of you is and again we discovered that kid and what made that kid start writing songs in the first place and what made that kid fall in love with music in the first place and that’s the essence of it. And we were able to tap back into that.

TBF: So it was kind of a voyage of rediscovery for you guys? Backtracking on your previous work to get the feeling back for the music

Snake: It was more about the essence of it. That person inside, the music fan. The person who was untouchable because he surrounded himself with that wall of music that meant everything and in life as you grow older and things become complicated in life in general, your making records, you have all these people around you, you’re getting married and starting families and getting divorced, all these things that life throws at you, you lose the essence a little bit. And when we started talking about working on the first mini album, we really started thinking about what we wanted to write about, where were we at in our lives in our lives, what’s meaningful and that was what we both came back to. Let’s just cut out all the bullshit and just put everything like that aside, keep it at arm’s length to allow the spirit of what got us to start writing music in the first place.

TBF: Where did you record the record and who produced it?

Snake: We did. We basically found a studio here in Atlanta. Rachel and our drummer Roz is here in Atlanta. It’s kind of like our base of operations now. Everybody’s pretty much moved out of New Jersey. Scotty lives in Florida now and Johnny our singer lives in Houston Texas. I was in LA for thirteen years and I’m back in New York now. So it’s great to be in Atlanta. We’ve been doing it here for a while. It’s pretty good fun cause we rehearse and we demo here at Rachel’s place and we have a studio, we have an engineer that we work with and we go in and we cut everything there, vocals, guitars, drum, bass and then mix there as well, have it mastered so it’s a real slow process but it worked out really well for us on the first EP and now that we’re all familiar with the process it will be easier on the next one…

TBF: Whens that out?

Snake: It looks like we’re gonna record it in January as we still have a ton of touring to do. We still have 45 more shows left this year, we also have demo’s to do, so we’re probably gonna record it in January. I wouldn’t see it coming out till March to be quite honest.

TBF: On the subject of the tour let me just say Skid Row and Ugly Kid Joe wow. That’s like my dream line-up. How did that come about?

Snake: It was suggested to us by our agent. He’s the agent for both bands. So he suggested it to us and we were like well they seem like nice guys, we don’t really know each other but we have a lot of respect for each other. And when we started putting feelers out to promoters we got a very positive reaction. The response was great, sales have been great and it seems like it’s going to be a lot of fun. They seem like really cool guys and I look forward to touring with those guys. I think it’s going to be a really good show and I look forward to hanging out with those guys. You know they’re gonna bring it every night and that’s exactly what we have to do. We have to bring every night too and it will be a friendly competition if you will and it will really benefit the fans.


TBF: How does it feel to be back touring the UK and Europe again? Any good memories?

Snake: It’s really great, it’s one of those things where we love to get up in front of our fans, we’re really aware of how lucky we are that people still want to see us perform and the response has been very positive. So none of that gets lost on us and we’re proud of that because this is like our 25th year since the first record.

TBF: Wow that makes me feel old

Snake: Yeah that’s crazy right? I don’t feel 25 years older than when we did the first record, that’s for damn sure but that’s the way it is. And it’s great that we’re able to still sit here and get on the phone to one another and talk about that, talk about the music and talk about us touring. It’s still important to us and we take it very, very seriously. We respect the hell out of people who support us, people who are maybe loyal to us and people who are rediscovering us or only just discovering us.

TBF: What are your favourite bands and records at the moment?

Snake: I think the Hailstorm stuff is really cool. I really like ‘In This Moment’ and I think the last Anthrax record was awesome, a really great record. So yeah I think ‘In This Moment’ and definitely Anthrax and ‘The Pretty Reckless’. Some interesting stuff there.

TBF: What’s your favourite Skid Row Track?

Snake: Oh, my gosh!!! Ahhhh

TBF: That’s a hard one isn’t it?

Snake: Err… I’ll tell you what, my favourite songs to play live are ‘Once Driven’, ‘Quicksand Jesus’ and ‘kings of demolition’. They’re my three favourite songs to play live so those would be my three favourites.

TBF: Any plans to do any festivals next year?

Snake: Yes we are working on that right now. We are currently doing promotion

TBF: Any other projects at the moment?

Snake: We’re working on the next chapter, chapter 2 of the United World Rebellion and we’re really excited about it. We wanna make sure that we work really, really hard on every single track and make sure that it’s exactly the record that we want to release and so I believe we’re looking at March at least. And to me right now, where we’re at is a really great place. All the guys are here and we’re gonna come to the UK and Europe and it’s gonna be amazing. We’re really lucky guys we really are

TBF: Where do you see the band in the next five years?

Snake: Where do I see the band? Basically doing the same thing, writing music, recording music and touring. Basically doing what we’ve done for the last 24 years, so I presume we’re going to keep doing it for the next five (laughs) because that’s what we do. And somehow this has become our job……

The United World Rebellion is out now 


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