SKID ROW's DAVE 'SNAKE' SABO Says Split With Singer ZP THEART Was 'Inevitable': 'We Were Traveling In Different Directions'

August 20, 2022

SKID ROW guitarist Dave "Snake" Sabo says that it was "a really difficult decision" to part ways with singer ZP Theart and replace him with ex-H.E.A.T. frontman Erik Grönwall.

Theart, a former member of DRAGONFORCE, who hooked up with SKID ROW in 2016 following the departure of Tony Harnell (TNT, STARBREAKER),was abruptly fired from SKID ROW in February and replaced by Grönwall.

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's nine-song set included its new single, "The Gang's All Here", which was made available on March 25. The song is the title track of the band's upcoming album, which will arrive on October 14 via earMUSIC.

Sabo addressed Theart's exit from SKID ROW in a brand new interview with Canada's The Metal Voice. Calling the move "really difficult", the guitarist explained: "That decision wasn't difficult from a standpoint of [Erik's] talent, because that absolutely speaks for itself. It was just we had gotten to a crossroads where we were done with most of the [new SKID ROW] record. I think we had maybe three vocal tracks on the record, but most of the music was done, if not all. And we just realized that we needed to make a change. And it was a harsh realization. There was no arguments or anything like that with ZP; there was no animosity. I think that we both — and when I say 'we', I mean ZP over here and myself, Rachel [Bolan, bass], Scotti [Hill, guitar] and Rob [Hammersmith, drums] over here — we kind of just knew that the two sides were going in separate directions, to be quite honest."

Snake went on to say that "it was hard" dismissing Theart from SKID ROW "'cause he's a really good guy. I had a lot of fun with him," he explained. "[He's a] great singer, but we were going in two different directions and it was inevitable. We were recording the record, like I said, and we just felt like, 'If we're gonna make a change, we have to do it now.' And it was not the most opportune time to make a change, being that we were in the middle of this record and we had this SCORPIONS residency coming up in Las Vegas. So it was really difficult. And we only had one person in mind, and it was Erik. So when we figured out and made the decision and informed ZP that we're gonna go our separate ways, like I said, I think everyone was well aware that we were traveling in opposite directions, or different directions."

Pressed about whether these "different directions" were of a musical or a personal nature, Sabo said: "I think it was everything. I think that we were just, as musicians, as artists, as people, we were starting to go down two different paths. Like I said, there was no blowout argument or anything like that; there was nothing that anybody did that was salacious or disrespectful. Nothing like that."

SKID ROW recorded "The Gang's All Here" in Nashville, Tennessee with producer Nick Raskulinecz, who has previously worked with FOO FIGHTERS, STONE SOUR, HALESTORM, EVANESCENCE, RUSH and ALICE IN CHAINS, among many others.

Sabo previously talked about SKID ROW's latest singer change in an interview in April with Andy Hall of the Des Moines, Iowa radio station Lazer 103.3. He said: "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're doing with the SCORPIONS right now 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 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 the latest 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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