Skid Row’s Dave Sabo Says Grunge Didn’t Ruin ’80s Rock/Metal Scene: “It’ll Run Its Course and Will Have to Be Reinvented”
You’ve heard it before: an ’80s hard rock or hair metal musician blaming the popularity of grunge on the downfall of the ’80s scene, which included bands like Mötley Crüe, Ratt and Guns N’ Roses. The topic is debatable—and has been debated for over three decades at this point—with musicians like Pearl Jam‘s Stone Gossard claiming that hard rock and heavy metal were “stagnant” when the genre came along. Meanwhile, Dee Snider says that “hair metal did it to itself.”
In a new interview, Skid Row guitarist Dave “Snake” Sabo was asked about the declining popularity of bands from the ’80s rock and metal scene. He answered similarly to Snider, suggesting that the subgenre had simply run its course and fans wanted something different.
“I don’t recall blaming, you know, the grunge music or movement for ruining things. I remember that one minute we were touring with Bon Jovi and the next it was with Pantera and Soundgarden. So we were lucky enough to cross into different territories with the bands we were able to tour with. So I didn’t see that as killing it; I just think that, as with any genre of music, it’ll run its course and will have to be reinvented. That happens with every musical style that has existed for any number of years. It’s going to reach critical mass, and the audience will tire of it. It was too many similar-sounding artists being signed, and things got oversaturated. It’s human nature to want something new when you get too much of something. The grunge guys provided new voices and presented as something different from us, so it made perfect sense.”
In the same interview, Sabo shared that he’s a fan of grunge music and admitted that the scene did blame grunge for how things were happening.
“Oh, yeah, it was cool. Like I said, we had Soundgarden out with us, and we loved them. I still love them now. We looked at Nirvana or anybody else and blamed them for our type of music taking a backseat and losing popularity. That’s just the nature of the music business, and life, in general. And the truth is that so many great bands from that era got lumped in with the ‘grunge movement,’ which isn’t much different than bands getting lumped in with ‘hair metal.’ A lot of cool bands, rightfully or wrongly, get lumped into one barrel. I think that happened to a lot of bands in the grunge scene as well as our scene.”
Regardless of how he may have felt at the time, Sabo’s analysis seems in line with many of his peers and like a logical conclusion in hindsight. He’s also totally right about bands getting lumped in with the wrong scene, whether that be grunge or hair metal—both labels served as boxes that relegated artists to specific sounds and periods of time.