New SKID ROW Singer ERIK GRÖNWALL On Joining His Favorite Band Months After Leukemia Diagnosis: 'It's Like A Movie Script'
August 13, 2022
New SKID ROW singer Erik Grönwall went from auditioning for the competition show "Swedish Idol" back in 2009 by singing a cover of SKID ROW's "18 And Life" to now fronting the band.
Erik, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in March 2021, reflected on his journey in a new interview with 80's Metal Recycle Bin. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I wouldn't call myself a religious man [laughs], but I would call myself… After all of this, I'm way more spiritual. I'm, like, 'Okay, who planned this?' I was on my way to a completely different life [before my diagnosis], but it was kind of like someone just nudged me.
"I was scrolling on Instagram a couple of days ago and I just saw a post, and it was a text saying, 'I'm sorry I had to make you uncomfortable, but I had to make you move. God.' And I was, like, 'Oh, fuck, man.' [Laughs] That's what it feels like.
"I'm not sure if everything happens for a reason, but that's the only way I can explain this — getting leukemia, then ending up in my favorite band," he continued.
"When I was on stage in [Las] Vegas [with SKID ROW in March and April], I was interacting with the audience, and I told them that, 'Do you know how amazing it feels to be here singing the song that started your career?' 'Cause '18 And Life' was the song I auditioned with for the 'Idol' show; that's what got me on 'Idol'. And I told them, 'Do you know how it feels to be here on stage with your favorite band of all time singing the song that started your career?' And someone commented on it, and it was, like, 'Did he just quote the 'Rock Star' movie script?' And I was, like, 'Yeah, I didn't even think about that, but it's that movie," he said, referencing the film in which an average kid from Pittsburgh gets tapped to be the new lead singer for his favorite heavy metal band. "So it's kind of like a movie script.
"It's just incredible," Erik added. "I'm still trying to process it. It feels like I've been in the band for two years. It's been four months. We've done, like, 30 shows in four months. We recorded an album. We started working on a new album. We recorded a music video. Everything has been happening so fast. It's overwhelming in so many ways."
Erik also credited his wife with providing him with the emotional strength and support that he needed through his ordeal.
"I wanna say my wife has been incredible this whole journey, especially during the treatments, 'cause when I was ready to give up, she was, like, 'Hey, you're not giving up now. You've got so many people that love you and need you in their lives.' She was tough," he recalled. "And I needed that. So I was, like, 'Yeah, I know.' And I can mention I also have a two-and-a-half-year-old son at home. So that was really, really tough — coming back from the hospital and seeing him. That was my weak spot. She really helped me a lot, and she's very understanding. And obviously, when you have this kind of lifestyle, you need someone who really understands that lifestyle and supports it. And it's kind of a selfish lifestyle in many ways. But she totally gets it, and she's got my back."
Grönwall, who was a member of the Swedish hard rock band H.E.A.T. for nearly a decade before exiting the group in October 2020, announced last September that he was cancer free after receiving a bone marrow transplant one month earlier.
"There's been a lot of tears, and I still get emotional now talking about this," Erik said. "I think I'm done with the crying [laughs] — I think — but somehow I feel grateful that I went through all of this, 'cause it gave me a lot of perspective. I'm 34, and I just feel like I've gotten a lot of perspective on things.
"Being in this business, you see a lot of comments, and you've gotta be tough in many ways," he explained. "And back in the H.E.A.T. days, negative comments could really get to me. Now I'm just, like, 'Dude, I don't care.'
"I'm so happy to wake up every day above ground. It's, like, 'Shit, I get another day? What am I gonna do with this day?'
"I was happy before SKID ROW," Erik added. "I am very happy in SKID ROW. Everything is temporary. I will be happy after SKID ROW. I'm just happy. I've got perspective, and I'm just happy to be alive. And I'm gonna keep singing until this voice can't sing anymore."
Grönwall sang on H.E.A.T.'s last four studio albums — "Address The Nation" (2012),"Tearing Down The Walls" (2014),"Into The Great Unknown" (2017) and "H.E.A.T II" (2020).
Last September, Grönwall released his cover version of "18 And Life" via all streaming platforms.
In 2018, Grönwall debuted in the U.S. for 10 million viewers in NBC's live broadcast of Andrew Lloyd Webber's and Tim Rice's musical "Jesus Christ Superstar". Along with John Legend, Alice Cooper, Sara Bareilles and others, Erik played the key role of Simon Zealotes.
This past January, Grönwall told Headbangers Lifestyle about beating cancer: "Some anonymous wonderful human being somewhere in the world donated his/her blood cells so that I could get a second chance at life. Sometimes I can just get tears in my eyes when I think about it. It's so beautiful that one person who is not connected to me in any way wanted to do that for me. He/she doesn't know that the blood cells were for me. It's completely anonymous."
Grönwall joined SKID ROW this past January as the replacement for ZP Theart, who had been in SKID ROW for more than six years. Theart played his final gig with SKID ROW in February before being officially given the boot.
In late March, SKID ROW released its first single with Grönwall, "The Gang's All Here". The song is the title track of the band's upcoming album, which will arrive on October 14 via earMUSIC.
SKID ROW played its first show with Grönwall on March 26 at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada as the support act on the rescheduled dates for SCORPIONS' "Sin City Nights" residency.
SKID ROW bassist Rachel Bolan recently told Meltdown of Detroit's WRIF radio station about Grönwall's addition to the band: "Just the way he does things and his work ethic is one I've never seen other than the four of us that are already in the band. He just doesn't stop until he gets things absolutely right. Whether it's his version, what he thinks is right, or what we think is right, he works hard — he works hard. And you can see why he had the success he did overseas because he's a really, really hard-working singer that takes care of his instrument and that takes pride in his craft."
Rachel also reflected on SKID ROW's first live performance with Grönwall, saying: "Honestly, dude, from the minute he opened his mouth… His timing is impeccable. We knew it was gonna be cool. And each show has gotten even better, 'cause we're learning each other's rhythm on stage. When I walked away from that show, I said to Erik, I go, 'This was show one. I cannot wait for show one hundred. It's gonna be amazing.'"