SKID ROW's RACHEL BOLAN On New Singer ERIK GRÖNWALL: 'From The Minute He Opened His Mouth, We Knew It Was Gonna Be Cool'
April 5, 2022
SKID ROW bassist Rachel Bolan says that the band's new frontman Erik Grönwall is "a really, really hard-working singer that takes care of his instrument."
Grönwall recently joined SKID ROW as the replacement for ZP Theart, who had been in the group for more than six years.
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.
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.
Rachel discussed Grönwall's addition to the band in a new interview with Meltdown of Detroit's WRIF radio station. Asked about the "stresses and challenges of bringing a new singer into the band," Bolan said: "It is a challenge and you're under a microscope for sure. This time was different, though, man; it's just different. His ability and his… 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: "We all really wanted to get that first one under our belt, that first show as a whole. But we just were, like, 'Okay, let's do this, man.' 'Cause we had two days of rehearsal. We got together on a Wednesday and a Thursday, then we took a day off so he could rest his voice. And plus he's jetlagged by nine hours. And then we all got together and talked. And it was, like, 'Okay, let's try and get this rhythm of the pace of the show' and this and that. And then the first down beat hit, we were out on stage, and I just remember looking over at Snake [guitarist Dave Sabo] after Erik started singing, I look at Snake and he was just smiling. We're tough guys; we're not supposed to smile onstage… 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.'"
He continued: "We've been recording this record… We've never done it like this before. He's been recording at his house in Sweden and sending it to Nick and sending it to Snake and I, and we've just been going, 'Okay, change this part. Do this. Do this.' And I just found out last night at dinner, he's, like, 'I've never recorded myself this before.' [Laughs] And I was, like, 'I'm so glad I didn't know that.' As if my stress level isn't high enough. I would have just completely combusted right there. But, yeah, man, and then actually Tuesday [March 22], when we all flew to Vegas for rehearsals, was the first time we met face to face — other than on tour; we saw each other in the hallway a couple of times. But other than that, Tuesday was the first time, other than a Zoom call, that we met face to face."
Touching upon the circumstances that led to SKID ROW's split with Theart, Sabo said: "It got to a point where the situation with Zee kind of put itself forth where we had to make a decision, because something still wasn't working correctly. And that's when the idea with Erik came up. And ironically enough, years ago, a good friend of mine, Rob Hoffman, had said, 'If something ever happens, there's this guy in Sweden.' And he said the same thing to our manager as well years ago. And all of a sudden, as life happens, it kind of came full circle and it became a reality.
"I've been on a high for probably the last month, just hearing the way the songs are coming out, seeing the enthusiasm in everybody, seeing the positive reactions we're getting from playing it for people," Snake added. "And it feels so amazing. I feel like I'm 25 years old again… But it's been an incredible experience, and the way this whole thing has sort of come to fruition, it makes you just go, 'Man, there's something going on that's beyond our control.' The stars aligned, if you will."
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. A short time later, he wrote on his social media: "I am extremely privileged and grateful to live at a day and age where a disease like this is curable. There's been so much progress made in this field. My body is reacting well to the treatment but it's a long treatment and it's going to be the toughest challenge of my life so far, for me and my family."
Last September, Grönwall released his cover version of SKID ROW's "18 And Life" via all streaming platforms. At the time, he said about his version of the track: "This song was basically the starting point of my professional career as an artist. I performed this song during my 'Swedish Idol' audition back in 2009. 12 years later it's time to give this bad boy a try again. Here's my version of the SKID ROW song '18 And Life'."
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.
Theart, a former member of DRAGONFORCE, joined SKID ROW in 2016 following the departure of Tony Harnell (TNT, STARBREAKER).
Sebastian Bach fronted SKID ROW until 1996, when he was fired. Instead of throwing in the towel, the remaining members took a hiatus and went on to play briefly in a band called OZONE MONDAY. In 1999, SKID ROW reformed and, after a bit of shuffling over the years, featured a lineup consisting of Bolan and guitarists Sabo and Scotti Hill, alongside drummer Rob Hammersmith and singer Johnny Solinger. SKID ROW fired Solinger over the phone in April 2015, a few hours before announcing Tony Harnell as his replacement. Eight months later, Harnell exited the band and was replaced by Theart, the South African-born, British-based singer who previously fronted DRAGONFORCE, TANK and I AM I.
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