Skid Row
Evan Bartleson

Life has started imitating art for Skid Row -- and the New Jersey rock troupe couldn't be happier. 

The group releases "Rise of the Damnation Army -- United World Rebellion: Chapter Two" on Aug. 5 as the second in a series of three EPs. And bassist Rachel Bolan tells Billboard the group has been surprised and gratified to see fans buying into the concept and starting "sectors" of the Damnation Army all over the world. "We came up with this idea of United World Rebellion, and it's united a lot of people together," Bolan says. "Someone in Finland would start the street team, then Japan, New York -- we're watching them all come to life in front of us, and the common thread is Skid Row. We'll see fans from Italy who invite fans from Brazil to hang out because they've started sectors and started communicating with each other through social media. It's like, 'Wow, we're bringing our fans from different parts of the world together,' so the United part is really working. It's just a really cool thing."

"Chapter Two" follows the first "United World Rebellion" EP by 16 months, and Bolan says Skid Row is "writing them as we go along. Technically they're independent, but we're keeping the same them through the whole (series)." Most importantly, he adds, the EPs allow Skid Row to keep a steady flow of new music coming. "It's a really awesome way of doing things for us being that we don't live down the street from each other anymore, or even in the same state," he explains. "I think it's cool for our fans. IN a day of information overflow to have five songs, you don't have to commit to a whole, long album. Creatively, it keeps things fresh; we're out there playing more and giving our fans more new music more often. This is a band that can get lazy really quick, so this keeps you on your toes. If you take six years between albums, you can get complacent sometimes. We really like working in short bursts like this." 

Unlike its predecessor, "Chapter Two" sports two covers, Queen's "Sheer Heart Attack" and Aerosmith's "Rats in the Cellar" (Skid Row used covers as bonus tracks on overseas editions of "Chapter One"). "We wanted to get stuff that fit the same attitude and themes of the (EP) and haven't been covered a million times by a bunch of bands, so we decided to go for deep tracks," Bolan says. "Johnny (Solinger, Skid Row's frontman) wanted to go for a Queen song, and 'Rats in the Cellar' is cohesive with what the rest of our lyrics are saying. There's definitely some common ground between them, and of course the energy has to be there." 

Bolan says Skid Row has "ideas but no songs yet" for "Chapter Three." "That way it's really in the moment and fresh," he explains. "We don't do the big rehearsals and pre-production; we get through the five originals songs and then after that we start deciding on what songs we're doing to do, cover-wise. So we learn everything in the studio and go right to the record with those, because we want it to feel completely natural." 

Skid Row will be playing the Getaway Rock Festival on Aug. 9 in Sweden before returning for a handful of North American dates. The group kicks off a European tour Oct. 30 in Bremen, Germany that wraps up Nov. 29 in Lille, France.