Interview with Johnny Solinger of Skid Row


United World Rebellion Tour

‘’Gotta keep on fighting and never stop!
United we stand. United we never shall fall!’’

Hard Rock veterans SKID ROW has been around for almost 30 years and they’re still kicking ass!
Before the show we had the opportunity to interview Skid Row’s lead singer Johnny Solinger.

Metalphoto: This is your first time performance in The Netherlands, isn’t it?
Johnny: I believe so.
Metalphoto: In ’99 you joined the band, how did you become the singer of Skid Row and how is it going so far?
Johnny: Well, I had my own band named Solinger in Dallas Texas, and I was doing well. That’s the same city Pantera is from who had just gotten really big and somehow the guys from Skid Row heard about me doing my thing there in Dallas and they contacted me for an open audition. So I went further North than I’ve ever been from being from Texas all the way to New York City and auditioned in early January of 2000. By March I was on tour with Kiss, for their farewell tour, which is still going on. But so far it’s been great, in a couple of months it will be exactly 14 years. It’s a life changing event, I’ve got to see the whole world, and played with bands, you know, like Kiss, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, so it’s been a crazy ride. It’s still going strong. I just recorder my third record with the band and the 4th and 5th are in the works. So it’s going great! They brought me all the way to The Netherlands.

Metalphoto: You know how it went back than with bands like for instance Iron Maiden, when Bruce stepped out for a while, or the Tarja Turunen story with Nightwish, Dave Lombardo kicked out of Slayer, just to name a few. Was it hard in the beginning to get acceptance of the fans?
Johnny: Of course, I believe I came into this so naïve. I mean I never bought a Skid Row record, of course you couldn’t escape them at that time because of MTV. I had definitely heard the songs. I went into it with just an open mind and being really naïve. And honestly for that 1st year on the Kiss tour back in 2000 if you look 10 years back, I mean my hair was long and blond which always has been. If you look 10 or 15 years back you probably don’t know the difference. And then when people did start to find out, you know, you’re met with the purest who just refuse change. I have to give the most credit to the band sticking with me and I just plowed through that, because they didn’t want to go back the way it was. We were always gonna be a new version of Skid Row. Just like other bands that you’ve named. It can’t be done, quarterbacks change and it did so in this case. Actually most of the fans, except for the die-hards who don’t come anyway, have been very welcoming and very supportive. So that’s great. It would have been much more difficult than it has been.

Metalphoto: The fans here in Europe, what you’ve experienced so far….are they different than in the States?
Johnny: Both in the States and in Europe are great. It seems, because we toured the States a lot, folks have seen us. Over here not so much. They seemed to be really very enthusiastic over here. We’ve sold every show in England and we’ve just been confirmed on Polish Woodstock. So I believe Europe is very accepting of the new record. You know with the World Rebellion chapter 1. They’re just very very enthusiastic. They’re great and the audiences in the States are great as well. It just seems right now, because we were here and the sold out shows, and playing in London, we were really on a role here in Europe and the United Kingdom.

Metalphoto: You just mentioned the new e.p. of United World Rebellion that came out this year. In my opinion it has a touch of ‘Slaves to the grind’. ‘Revolutions per minute’ was the total opposite of it. What did change your mind to go back to the Skid Row we’re used to?
Johnny: I always like to kinda reach out. Revolution per minute, I love that record, but it was an experimental record. We’ve tried to step away from our comfort zone and try some new things. I am glad we did that record, and with United World Rebellion the band wanted to get back to the roots of what they wrote about, and the style they wrote in the very beginning and it seems to have struck a chord with the audience. You’re not the first to compare the work to slave and that’s great. It’s a variation of it, it’s still hard Rock & Roll , the two guitar attack but it has very strong influences from Slave to the Grind and from the ‘Thickskin’ album which is the first album I did with band. I love that as well, songs like ‘Ghost’ totally overlooked, you know.
Metalphoto: I’m a little curious about one specific song on this e.p. Skid Row is one of the bands that will definitely rock your socks off and is also one of the bands with the greatest rock ballads of all time. Again on this new e.p. the band has nailed it with ‘This is killing me’. What’s the story of this song (if there’s any)….. I mean who’s in charge of the writing material in the band and who makes the music?
Johnny: Since day 1, since the very 1st Skid Row record it’s mostly been Rachel Bolan and Snake Sabo. They’re the ‘’Lennon and McCarthy’’ of our band when it comes to writing, and it was on all of these songs as well. They’ve always got a good heart felt ballad in the back though. There’s another great ballad coming on chapter 2 that’s been written. I just think they have a touch for that kind of thing for pain if you will. This is Killing me is about pain as well. Everybody has experienced it and the older we get the more we have to draw on. I think it’s a beautiful ballad myself. I love singing it and you now, I hope it affects people as some of the other ballads do as well.

Metalphoto: About the 2nd chapter of United World Rebellion, when can we expect this?
Johnny: Well we didn’t have everything done whenever we decided to do this. We wanted to put something out, tour on it while we’re writing. So it’s not all pre-planned or pre-recorded or pre-written. I just think it’s kind of a unique way that we’re trying to do things just to put out these mini albums, if you will, tour at the same time while we’re are writing, cause we’re together all the time and then go on with another chapter and then another chapter. It’s gonna be a three small works of our and then at the end it will be one big work. It’s similar in tone of the United World Rebellion Chapter 1. It’s just the middle chapter and then there will be a finale. It’s a just a concept, a feeling that these 3 records belong together. And to release them separately keeps the price down , the interest up and we can come back and play in Europe again with a new product. It’s a unique idea and we’ll see if it’s working. I think it is.

Metalphoto: It will be great if Skid Row comes back for the Summer festivals in Europe, it’s awesome!
Johnny: Sure!

Metalphoto: By whom did you get inspired when it comes to music?
Johnny: Like everyone in my age I grew up listening and analyzing Kiss. And to be able to go out there that was a real rock star and a real rock band. I love that, and from the deep south I also love country music. I mean I love Johnny Cash and Willy Nelson as well. I love the first two records of Iron Maiden, they are my favorites, but I like them all. Of course AC-DC! I mean my goodness. So growing up like I said in the deep south in Texas, I was subjected from Hard Rock to Country. I just love it all. I kinda migrated toward the Hard rock, but I like all genres of music. I mean I put up a genre and I’m on a long flight. Pink Floyd, you know all! All good music!

Metalphoto: You like country but if I’m not mistaken you also have a country album. Will there be another country album?
Johnny: I put a side project Country record out in 2008. But it was just regionally, it was Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana in the states. It did really well. Skid Row experienced a crazy re-emerging and so it kept me pretty busy , but there is a second Country record planned. But I’m on this Skid Row train right now. It will have its time and its place. But of course, listen to my voice, you can’t take the country out!

Metalphoto: If you love it, you have to pursue you dreams. I mean, like they say, the only thing that will stop you from fulfilling your dreams is you.
Johnny: Yes ma’am!
Metalphoto: What’s the next milestone for Skid Row? Are there still ambitions/ unfinished business you still want to achieve with the band?
Johnny: Well, gosh I don’t know. I guess for me, at this time next year it will be 15 years with the band. I think that’s pretty cool, a decade and a half. Still making new music, still strong enough to be able to tour the world. I think that will be a big thing and just being alive in another year is a milestone for anybody. I think that we’re going strong and there’s no end in sight for us. I think I’ll know it when the next milestone hits me. It’s not planned.

Metalphoto: Do you have something to say to the fans and our readers out there?
Johnny:Thank you for your unconditional and undying support. Because without interest we would not be here. You know, if nobody cared, if everybody just buried the band back in ’95 which was the last time they played here, than we wouldn’t be here in 2013. So basically to the fans I say THANK YOU! And try to embrace the new music because the world needs new rock & roll and especially from bands like Skid Row.

(c) 2013 Jeanny Petrocchi, Metalphoto