Sunday Old School: Skid Row
For a band associated with the hair and glam movement of the eighties, Skid Row has spent most of their time post the "Decade of ME." Formed in 1986, it wasn't until 1989 that their debut album, the self-titled Skid Row record that mixed glam with arena rock and ballads, was released. It was that initial album that put the band on the map, but it was the subsequent albums that made this band one of the top acts of their genre.
The original Skid Row lineup was Rachel Bolan (bass) and Dave "the Snake" Sabo (guitar), Scotti Hill (guitar), drummer Rob Affuso, and Matt Fallon -- the vocalist who was quickly replaced by Sebastian Bach in early 1987. Is there any nickname better than "the Snake"? No. Do you think Dave Sabo and wrestler Jake "the Snake" Roberts ever get together? Is there a "the Snake" nickname convention? I like to think there is.
The self-titled album separated Skid Row from a group of bands that were getting more difficult to separate from. They had a little more of an edge compared to some of the other bands. If you were a male and were carrying Poison, Def Leppard, and Skid Row CDs, you would put the Skid Row CD on the top, covering the others. They were somewhere between Poison and Guns N' Roses. A little dirtier than Poison, but not quite the GN'R mess; you could sense Sebastian Bach didn't wash his hair every day.
The initial band was formed to be the next Bon Jovi. With Bach's good looks, shrieking voice and heavy band playing alongside, Skid Row was to continue making glam rock with a smile. However, during the recording of the first album something happened. Their band developed their own sound, still heavy metal pop, but with more street credentials. Despite most of the first album considered "heavy," it was the ballads, "18 And Life" and "I Remember You" that would receive air play and be known by the denim jacket crowds. Obviously Bach and company owe a thank you to all of the bands before them that made the power ballad what it was at that time.
"18 And Life" had a video that should receive the "Ultimate Bad Ass" award for the kid in the video who gets thrown through the glass door and then pushes his friend when he tries to help him up as if to say, "What, you think this is the first glass door I've been thrown through?" That is an Ultimate Bad Ass. My take on Skid Row's "I Remember You" video is that the disheveled guy walking around staring at the picture of the girl was part of a Ponzi scheme, and his girlfriend left him after he lost all of his money. Who would have thought "I Remember You" would be relative today?
In addition to the ballads, Skid Row also created a rock anthem titled "Youth Gone Wild" accompanied by a video that was first shocking because it shows kids running on railroad tracks. If the movie "Stand By Me" taught us anything it's that this is not a good idea -- especially when there is a bridge approaching. Then, after watching the video a couple times you realize that the wall is a metaphor, but it's much simpler than that. It's just a bunch of stoned kids trying to get to the only known pizzeria, which just happens to be on the other side of a brick wall.
It was Sabo and Bolan who wrote most of the lyrics to the first album, but it was Bach who always had a knack for screaming songs filled with sexual innuendo and catchy song titles low on originality, but high on entertainment value. In "Sweet Little Sister" we hear that "she's a Mona Lisa with a new tattoo" and in "Youth Gone Wild" the words of the band "Skid Row" are heard. A ploy rarely used by rock bands, and only used by the Beastie Boys and other hip acts up to this point.
In 1991, their second record, "Slave To The Grind," would do exactly what they said it would do and that was make their music more "heavy" and it did just that, solidifying Skid Row as one of the leaders in the eighties heavy metal scene. The album would go to number one behind the hits "Monkey Business" and "Wasted Time." Bordering on speed metal in some parts of the album, you will also find the angry treats: "Riot Act" and "The Threat" buried deep within and the party song "Get The Fuck Out" which was only available on some releases of the cassette/CD.
After the success of the first two albums, Skid Row spent a lot of time touring and also put out a covers album named appropriately "B Sides." This album contained another angry treat, the cover of The Ramones song "Psycho Therapy." The next album, "Subhuman Race," continued to build on the angst and speed metal brand of rock. Critically, this was their finest work. However, the overall success of the group was dropping because Skid Row still wore leather and not flannel. Shortly after, Sebastian Bach was fired over (supposedly) an argument about opening for KISS during a New Year's Eve show. For most this would not be that big of a deal. If you have seen Sebastian Bach's MTV Cribs special you would know this is a very big deal. Bach owns more KISS memorabilia than any grown man should own. Posters, statues, and pin-ball machines cover his house as he walks the cameras through. Knowing this makes the break-up of Skid Row a little more understood. Although, I suspect there is A LOT more to it than just wanting to open for KISS.
In 2003 Skid Row carried on, replacing Bach with Johnny Solinger and creating the album titled "Thickskin." Charlie Mills took over drums temporarily, and was then replaced by Dave Gara. In 2006 the band put out their fifth album, "Revolutions Per Minute." This album featured Rob Hammersmith on drums.
As for Sebastian Bach, well, he continues to make his music and travel. His constant touring makes him a favorite wherever he is. He is also one of the few able to bring Axl Rose out onto the stage. As friends, they have sung vocals on each other's records, toured together, and even shared the stage a few times.
In addition to his touring, television has not eluded Bach as he has made the VH1 reality show tour starring in a show about celebrity rappers and also the show Supergroup where he formed a band with Ted Nugent and others named Damocracy. Most recently he appeared on the VH1 show Celebrity Fit Club where his demons (wine and anger) were put predominantly on display. It also appeared there was a non-spoken rivalry with Bobby Brown (also on the show) over who would act crazier. I believe this ended as a stalemate.
Like him or not, Sebastian Bach is not going anywhere. Typically, Bach has a cool demeanor, the guy in rehab who still has a six-pack and smokes the occasional joint. However recently this hasn't always been the case. He has had several successful tours with the new Guns N Roses, but has also found trouble in Irish bars. During a night of drinking Bach was asked to leave and instead of politely grabbing his top hat and heading for the door he smashed a wine glass and then bit the owner's hand. Can someone get this ex-Celebrity Fit Club guy a sandwich? To make matters worse Canadian cops found two grams of weed on Bach. So not only was Bach hungry from dieting, but also smoking pot. In hindsight the owner is lucky Bach didn't eat his whole hand. Other recent lowlights include a song titled "Country Done Come To Town" and enough wine incidents to swirl rumors that he has come up with his own diet that is all the red wine you can drink and is known allegedly as the South-Bach Diet.
Sebastian Bach has embraced his role as a rock star. A child like persona (and attitude) that guarantees he will not be going away any time soon. I easily picture him in his sixties, same weight, wearing the same leather pants (same pants he paid $1000 for when he got his first Skid Row check), playing in stadiums or bowling alleys.
The current band of Skid Row is back and looking to put together another album. A band initially grouped in with the eighties glam wannabe's of the world has sold over 20 million albums as well as carved out a little place in rock history. As for Sebastian and a reunion? Bach recently stated that Skid Row can "kiss his fucking ass" so we'll have to take that as a maybe.
Skid Row - "18 and Life"
Skid Row - "Youth Gone Wild"
Skid Row - "Piece of Me"
Skid Row - "Slave To The Grind"
Skid Row - "Monkey Business"
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