It’s tempting to call avuncular South African vocalist ZP Theart Skid Row’s ‘new’ frontman still, even though he’s been with the band for some for getting on for three years now. However, the band’s impending visit to Australia – they’re here next week! – will be the first chance Australian audiences have had to see the man alongside cohorts Dave ‘Snake’ Szabo, Scotti Hill, Rachel Bolan and Rob Hammersmith, so it seemed an apposite time to catch up with the former Dragonforce and Tank vocalist for a quick chat…
Not long now to the Australian tour – looking forward to it? “Very much so, oh yes. It’s been on the cards for a while and all the boys are very excited to be coming down. As you say – less than a week and we’re there!”
You joined Dragonforce on the ground floor, and helped to shape them and their sound. How different is/was it for you as a vocalist to move from that sort of scenario to joining an established giant of late eighties metal? Did you approach singing with Skid Row differently in any way? “Do you know what, mate – it was like stepping into a pair of very comfortable shoes! It’s music that I grew up with… as A kid I would fantasise bout doing what I saw them doing on MTV and all that kind of stuff. So to finally step into the real thing, it was like ‘wow! This is so comfy! Let’s go!’”
Have your favourite Skid Row songs changed since you joined the band, or do you still like those same ones you saw on MTV when you were younger? “Wow! Erm… some of the ones we do every night – for example I’ve got really attached to Quicksand Jesus, which I did like when I was a kid… but it’s such a deep track! And when the intro starts I just sink myself into it completely. I’m completely immersed, you know? But to answer your question have my favourites changed? No, but I’ve probably taken onboard a few more that I wasn’t a massive fan of in the beginning!(laughs)”.
Skid Row seem to me to be out on the road a lot- is this the most touring you’ve done with any of the bands you’ve been in? “No, Dragonforce did three World Tours in two years! We did a hell of a lot of touring. It was just one of those things that kicked off and gained a lot of momentum quickly, so the touring was something that had to be done. But this last year has been absolutely mental! And it’s work for everyone, work that we all love doing. We enjoy each other’s company which makes things so much the better. No one’s complaining!”
You clearly enjoy playing – but what about the rest of the time on the road – the travelling, the hurry up and waiting – still enjoyable? “Absolutely. Like I said, the company’s great, it’s a pleasure doing it, not a chore at all. Everyone in the band feels the same way at the minute, and the whole vibe in the camp is absolutely brilliant. It’s a great group of people to be a part of”.
As the world contracts thanks to better communications things can get a bit samey as you go from place to place – do you find your fans becoming more similar as you go from place to place, or are metal people still demonstrably different from country to country, clinging on to that sense of individuality? “Absolutely the latter! The world is getting to be a smaller place, but people are still very much individuals wherever you go. Aussie audiences are renowned for being crazy motherfuckers, and one of the main draw cards when you head down to Oz is that complete mayhem that you’re going to see in front of you! Bring it on!”
What sort of set should we expect from you next week? “Actually we’ve been doing some new songs, new stuff we want to throw into the set just to spice things up a bit, but we’re also taking people right back to the classics, pulling out all the stops. A big chunk of the set will come from the first two records, music that people grew up with and got to know the band through but there’s so many bloody hits there! Sometimes it’s a toss up as to what we’re gonna do… and what we’re gonna leave out. But it’s a fun set, everyone’s going to enjoy it. If you’re a fan of the old Skid Row, you’re gonna love the set.”
I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t seen the band since 1995 at the Brixton Academy in London on the Subhuman Race tour. “Oh man! That’s a fair while. Let’s see if we can take you back there!”
Let’s hope so! But enough about me. Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers of Sentinel Daily before they head out and see you all over Australia next week? “New music is coming! We may have been touring our arses off but in between we’ve been writing some killer new material… We’re back together with Michael Wagener, who worked with the band on the first two albums, and it’s sounding great. But first, Australia, we’ve got to come and tear you a new arsehole!”
There’s nothing like having a plan…