Intervju med Rachel Bolan i Skid Row.
En gång i tiden var Skid Row på toppen och Rachel hade en kedja hängandes mellan näsan och örat. Numera är kedjan borta, håret kortklippt och bandet spelar på Bryggarsalen i centrala Stockholm. "I guess we´re not in Kansas anymore?", som Dorothy skulle uttryckt det.
Skid Row är tillbaka med en EP, som senare ska följas av ytterligare två stycken. Det låter faktiskt bättre än på länge, vilket kan ha att göra med att de sökt sig tillbaka till tiden då deras två starkaste album, debuten och uppföljaren "Slave to the grind", skrevs och gjorde dem till stjärnor.
Jag träffade en avslappnad Rachel som bl a berättade att han, precis som sin forne sångare, har en bok på gång.
What´s the story with the EP? Seems like a lot of bands are doing this these days.
Rachel: Well, I don´t know why they´re doing it, but the reason we´re doing it, is because we wanted to try something different and try a different angle. We´re old school and we´ve always put out a full length and then toured for a year and a half or whatever. Technology moves so fast and information overload kinda rules the day, so we went “Why don´t we put together seven songs and put out three chapters over the next two years?”. Snake and I were talking about it and when we told the rest of the band they were into it and our label loved it. The main reason is to put out some new music and tour after that and then more new music and tour after that. Keep everything fresh and then another reason was the economic factor. It´s a lot easier for a Skid Row fan to put down 6 dollars instead of having to shell out 17 for a full length. I think some people are still not sure about it because it is a different way of doing things, but we just did it because we thought it would be a cool idea to have a concept. It was seven years between “Revolutions per minute” and “United world rebellion” because we toured so much and honestly one night, I forget who said it, it was Scotty or Snake, “Man, we haven´t put out new music in a really long time.” and we were like “Nah, it´s been like two or three years.”. We started thinking and it was like “No, it´s been like seven years.” (laughs) From a song writer´s stand point it´s a lot less pressure. It keeps your chops up as a song writer and there´s always something for the band to do, there´s never really any down time. Between writing, recording and touring, for this whole year, we´ve probably only taken two weeks completely off. After our last two shows in Texas in December, we´ll take a Christmas break, two weeks off and then back into the studio in the middle of January.
So nothing of that stuff is recorded yet?
Rachel: It´s demoed and we´ve written a bunch of stuff. We didn´t wanna stockpile the songs and then just have them on hand. We wanted it to be fresh every time, just in case our music or outlook kinda changed. We want it to be absolutely pure and fresh, so we demoed a bunch of stuff and we´re still writing a few other things and that´ll be chapter two.
Rachel: It´s themed. The whole “United world rebellion” has to do with instant gratification. Let´s say someone is filming these guys here (band doing soundcheck), then right now their friends in Japan, Italy, Iowa and Hawaii have it. We´re trying to unite all of our fans together and when we did that, these sectors started popping up and people were building friendships, like the Stockholm sector, the New York sector and they started building all these twitter things and it´s almost like street teams. It´s pretty cool and that´s the whole concept of the “United world rebellion”. We´re not rebelling against anything, except the people that are trying to hold us down. We´ve always been that band and always took the stands. Stand up for what you believe in, no matter how stupid someone thinks the idea is. Because if people like Albert Einstein or KISS, had let people dictate what they were gonna do, it would´ve been a completely boring world. That´s what we like to tell people that listen to us. If this band ever had a message, that´s the one message.
Are the other ones just gonna be called Chapter 2 and 3?
Rachel: Yeah and then we´ll stick a title with it and change the covers around a little bit and at the end it´s gonna be one large body. Three small bodies of work turn into one large body of work and it´ll have videos and extras and probably stupid interviews and us acting like idiots. It´s like a two year idea that we have. We´re super proud of it and we´ve worked hard. All five of us had to be completely into it. Snake and I do write the bulk of the songs, but it´s never a Skid Row song until everyone puts their feel into it. If we bring it into the rehearsal room, Snake and I can love it as much as we want, but you can just see the body language on the others and go “Ok, let´s take that one out!”. Scotti had some riffs for this new record and Johnny contributed. What we have now, has the same heavy feel to it as chapter 1, but you never truly know what it´s gonna sound like until it´s produced and mixed. We´ll see what happens. We´re gonna work with Jeff Tomei. He´s gonna record and engineer and we´re gonna self produce again. He did a lot of stuff like Smashing Pumpkins and Jackyl. Being that we worked with him on the first chapter, he´s gonna do the whole thing.
Jackyl is not a band you hear of every day?
Rachel: (laughs) Jesse (Dupree) and I are really good friends. I live in Atlanta and he lives in Kennesaw and actually, the studio where we recorded most of it at, is his studio.
Rachel: Absolutely. Other than Skid Row, I´ve never been in such a creative atmosphere. When I got the call from Corey, it was just kinda nonchalant. I saw a Des Moines number and just went “I don´t know anyone in Des Moines.” and just sent it to voicemail. Then I listened to it and it was like “Hey dude, it´s Corey. I just wanna ask you something.”. We had met real briefly at a festival that they were playing and Rob and I just went to see them and a bunch of other bands like Alter Bridge. It was just really a quick meeting. He´s a Skid Row fan and I´m a Stone Sour fan so we were talking and their bass player had left. He just asked if I would consider playing on it and I said “When, where, let me know!”. He said “Well, it´s gonna be pretty soon. Probably about three weeks and I was like “Cool, how many songs? 10 or 11?” and he goes “23.”. (laughs) I just said “How quick can you get me the demos?”. (laughs) It was such a creative atmosphere and the guys were so cool. Their biggest compliment, other than being asked to do it in the first place, which I was so flattered by, was the fact that they said “Do what you do! Don´t do what´s on the demos.”. The producer, David Bottrill, has won like three Grammy awards and worked with some huge metal bands and he came up with his own term, “Bolanize it!”. (laughs) It was great and the band was really excited. Most of the drum tracks were done when I got there and some of the guitar tracks, so I didn´t actually get to play in a room with Roy (Mayorga), but just playing to his recorded stuff was such a thrill because he´s such an amazing drummer. All his stuff makes sense and it was so easy for me to lock into the groove. It was an amazing experience and Corey and I speak from time to time. They´re good guys and they´re having a lot of success and they deserve it.
Did you and Corey talk about doing anything more together?
Rachel: We´ve talked about writing and recording some stuff, but it´s just… they´re touring, we´re touring. They came through Atlanta and we were on the road. We came through Des Moines and they were on the road. Both bands are working so much, but hopefully after the two years run its course for both of us, we´ll have time to sit down and write a song or whatever. He´s super creative and there were a lot of things that stuck with me, like they´re approach to music in general and song writing, like the passages from part to part. It stuck with me and I´d be a fool if it didn´t, because they´re so talented and good. It definitely expanded my bass playing section of my brain.
A totally different thing. What was the first place you dreamt about selling out? A local place or Madison Square Garden?
Rachel: Well, the first concert I ever saw was at the Philadelphia Spectrum, which was KISS and Piper and I said “One day I´m gonna play here.” and we eventually got to play there. It was great and I walked up to the seat where I sat, I knew exactly where it was, and I looked at the stage and said “Man, whoever sits here is getting ripped off.”. (laughs) It was so far up. But selling out was never really something in my head. Those are my two favorite words now and it´s been happening a lot on this tour, which is absolutely awesome. To be around for 25 years and still be able to do that. The Philly Spectrum was the place I wanted to play the most and we did. We´ve played the Paramount at Madison Square Garden, but never MSG itself. Growing up in New Jersey, that was the place to play. We were supposed to play with Bon Jovi and then they moved it to a second show at Nassau Coliseum and it was like “Damn!”. Then we were playing with Aerosmith and we kept saying “Garden´s coming up!” and then they moved it to a second show at the Meadowlands. It was basketball season and hockey season and sports always take priority. That was it.
Rachel: “Slave to the grind” is one of them. It was our only number one album, but that doesn´t come into play as far as being one of my favorites. We did a completely 180 sound wise. We were always a little heavier than the bands we got lumped in with and when “Slave to the grind” came out it was like “Ok, these guys are more than a hair metal band. They´re a hard rock band.”. When Johnny joined the band and we did “Thickskin”, that album was like “Ok, we´re making a statement.”. First of all the name, having thick skin. We knew we were gonna have to endure a bunch of shit, but we were all so involved in that album, Johhny, Snake, me and Scotti. We were so involved in every facet of that record. We would fall asleep at Snake´s house. I got divorced during the record and then moved into Snake´s house. Johnny broke up with his chick during the record and moved into Snake´s house. We lived in Snake´s house and it was just like, wake up, make some coffee, go down to the studio down in the rehearsal room and write. We lived that record. That´s the only one of our records, except the new one, that I listen to. It´s very self indulgent and I feel funny some times. It´s in the iPod and I listen to it in my truck and it´s so weird. That´s kinda like a faux pas, you know. I´m listening to it, getting into it and cranking it. (laughs) If I had to pick a favorite, it´s “Thickskin”. I just love that record. Actually, Snake and I were down in Burbank, writing for the new record and we were just chillin´ and we put it in and played it so loud, the neighbors complained. (laughs) It was fucking great!
Are you just as hungry for music now, as you were back when you started out as a young kid?
Rachel: Yes! 100 %. Especially when we started this, because of that time span that went between the albums. There were so many highs and lows and dark days. We had the dark days in the first year of Skid Row and then after a while we toured so much and came back to the same places and it wasn´t really… it was fun, but it wasn´t satisfying because we weren´t making new music. We were constantly on the road and then guys started having kids and families and they were away from their families. It just wasn´t satisfying. When we started writing this album, we were just like “Ok, who were those 23 year old kids that wrote the first two records?” and retracing your steps and retracing your roots is not as easy as you would think. It took a while and once we got our heads in tune with it, the songs just started popping out. Snake would come up with a riff and it was like “That´s signature Snake right there” and I came up with a lyric and he´d say “You´re back!”. We still have our old Dictaphone mini tapes and we record everything and it was like “I had this riff. Remember that?” and that´s how the songs evolved. So much fun. Writing “United world rebellion”, it started to feel like the early days again when we were up till 8 in the morning working and then having to go to work at 9. Thankfully we have the luxury of not having to go to work at 9. The hunger´s still there and with this stretched out version of an album that we´re doing, it creates even more hunger because it makes us anxious to get to the next chapter.
A final thing, are you gonna read Sebastian´s book?
Rachel: No. (laughs) I have no desire. I´m sure everybody will tell me about it. (laughs)
Any plans on writing your own book?
Rachel: Yeah, I´m actually working with a guy. Talk about something exhausting! He´s a buddy of mine and we´ve been working for two years. He´s up in Boston and we spent about a week together. The first day we did about six hours and my head was pounding just trying to remember all. Mine´s gonna be all the positive stuff that happened to me and friends around me and the people I´ve been lucky enough to meet. It´s gonna be a very positive book with funny stories. I´m not there to talk dirt about anybody. It´s not my style. I started working on it and just got so tired and the next day I woke up with a headache and I was like “Dude, we´re gonna have to not do it for six hours.”, so we did it for two hours and the next day it was one hour. (laughs) It´s really hard to remember 25 years worth of stuff. He throws some questions at me every now and then. It´s gonna be strictly memoirs and so far it´s pretty fucking funny. I´m psyched. (laughs)