SKID ROW's DAVE 'SNAKE' SABO Praises New Singer ERIK GRÖNWALL: 'It's So Exciting To See Where It's Going'

July 5, 2022

Dave "Snake" Sabo has praised SKID ROW's new singer Erik Grönwall, saying that the first song the band released with the ex-H.E.A.T. vocalist had received a much better response than he had anticipated.

Grönwall, who auditioned for the competition show "Swedish Idol" back in 2009 by singing a cover of SKID ROW's "18 And Life", joined the group 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.

Asked in a recent interview with Tim Louie how the SKID ROW fans have responded to Erik, Snake said: "The first night, the first half of our set was people kind of going, 'Hmmm. What's this all about?' By the time we were at 'Monkey Business', which is the third to last song, when we started 'Monkey Business', I knew that we had them. We all knew it; we all felt it. And at the end, 'Youth Gone Wild', everybody was on their feet.

"And here's the great thing about this guy. That show was on a Saturday night — first show. Sunday morning he sends out a text to all of us: 'Can we all get together and discuss last night's show? You guys let me know what I did wrong and how I can improve and what is it that you need from me as a frontman.' And I was, like, 'That shows so much…' First of all, that's a great aspect of his work ethic — to be able to be that open to criticism at such an early stage.

"Being a musician, there's a lot of fragility that goes with that; it's a fragile existence for a lot of people," the guitarist continued. "Getting critiques, most people have a difficult time with it; I certainly have in my history, that's for sure. And here he is coming in, not knowing anybody, not knowing any of us — he met Scotti [Hill, guitar] a couple of times when we were out on the road, maybe met me a couple of times, met Rachel [Bolan, bass] a couple of times — but to have that self-confidence to go, 'Yeah, man. Tell me, how can I get better? How can I be a better frontman for SKID ROW? What do I need to do? What did I do wrong last night? Let's go through it.' And it turned out that we all had a collective discussion — not about him, but about us. And that was a big breakthrough, I thought — that it wasn't about what we thought he needed to do better; it was about what we all collectively needed to do better. And that's the way it should be. 'Cause you're all up there; you're all on that stage together. You're all fighting for the same thing. You wanna connect with that audience as a unit, as a group, and create a symbiotic relationship with the audience for that hour that you're playing. And so that was a great breakthrough in our relationship. And we've had nothing but breakthroughs — from the first time he sang 'The Gang's All Here' to all the other tracks he sang while he was in Sweden to these nine shows we did with the SCORPIONS to finishing the record in Las Vegas to rehearsing new material for the headline set on our soundchecks. And it's all been, like… I kind of shake my head in somewhat disbelief and wait for the other shoe to drop, 'cause that's the cynical side of me. But it's been such an amazing experience and I'm so thankful — we all are — that we've had an opportunity to be a part of this whole thing, the way it's turned out. And it's so exciting to see where it's going and just to be on the ride. I can't wait for people to hear the record.

"So far the response to 'The Gang's All Here' has been much better than I had anticipated; it's been so positive, man," Snake added. "And you know what? Every band can attest to this. Every band has a ton of haters — people hate on you and hate on you and hate on you. So the good thing is we have less haters for this song than we have in the past. [Laughs]"

This past April, Sabo told the Des Moines, Iowa radio station Lazer 103.3 that SKID ROW "got to a place with" Theart "where things were just going in two different directions and it was undeniable that we were gonna have to make a change."

He continued: "We were very, very aware of Erik. Erik [and H.E.A.T.] had opened up for us in 2019 on a European tour that we did, so we were aware of how talented he was. And also we were made aware of his audition tape that he did for 'Swedish Idol', the Swedish version of 'American Idol'. And his audition tape was doing '18 And Life' and he did an amazing job. Obviously, it got all of our attention. And so he recently did another one, a newer version of '18 And Life', which caught our attention again. So when things came to pass, that we knew that we needed to make a change, he was the first and only person that we spoke with. We started getting him music immediately, and he started cutting vocals immediately."

Sabo added: "It happened extremely fast — so fast that we were able to put out the single just in time for this residency that [we did] with the SCORPIONS in Las Vegas. And we were able to keep all our timelines and everything intact. And, really, the stars could not have aligned any better for us to be able to pull it off the way that it has occurred."

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.'"

Bolan previously talked about how Erik came to join SKID ROW during an appearance on an episode of SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation L.A. Invasion", recorded just hours before SKID ROW's first performance with the Swedish singer. "We toured together. H.E.A.T. was on tour with SKID ROW. What year was that? '18? And we'd hear him every night from the dressing room," he said. "And a couple of times, I was, like, 'Man, listen to this guy sing. He's phenomenal.' And then, I forget who told me, someone that was with us, 'Yeah, he won 'Idol' in Sweden.' And I was, like, 'Man, he's got pipes.' And I was listening. Then I went behind the monitor board a couple of times. And in my head, I'm, like, 'Wow! When SKID ROW has some downtime, I'm gonna get in touch with this dude and start a side project with him.' And obviously, that never happened. But as time went on and we got to the point to where we were with ZP and stuff, Erik was our first… I told Snake, I go, 'We've gotta check this guy out.' And along with Snake and the rest of the guys, and Nick, our producer, Nick Raskulinecz, were, like, 'He's the guy, man. Send him some songs.' So we sent him some songs that we were recording, just with a guide vocal on it, and it came back about 24 hours later, and we were, like, 'All right. He's the guy. Get him on a plane. Let's do this.'"

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) — before exiting the group in October 2020.

Grönwall was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in March 2021. Six months later, he announced that he was cancer free after receiving a bone marrow transplant in August. "Some anonymous wonderful human being somewhere in the world donated his/her blood cells so that I could get a second chance at life," he told Headbangers Lifestyle in January. "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."

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.

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