Ex-SKID ROW Singer ERIK GRÖNWALL ‘Didn’t Really Enjoy’ Himself On The Road Due To Pressures Of Balancing His Health And Touring Lifestyle

Erik Grönwall, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in March 2021, has released a new video message in which he offered an even lengthier explanation for his decision to leave SKID ROW.

In the clip, which was uploaded to his YouTube channel earlier today (Friday, March 29),the 36-year-old Swedish singer stated in part (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “Okay, so it’s out, and now you all know that I have decided to leave SKID ROW. I feel relieved, in a way. I’m happy that it’s out, that I don’t have to hide it from you guys. I think the word I’m looking for is ambivalent.

“So what do you say we talk about it?

“First of all, let me just say that I am overwhelmed by your understanding and your comments and the love and support you guys have shown me since we made the announcement,” he said. “It’s incredible. Thank you so much for being the best fans in the world.

“Like I said in the announcement, the main reason why I’ve decided to leave the band is because it’s been very hard and it’s proved very challenging to prioritize my health and full recovery being the lead singer of the band. And it’s not like I woke up yesterday and decided to go, ‘Ooh. That’s a horrible idea. What time?’ This is something I’ve been considering for a long time. The first time I brought it up and requested a better balance in the touring was in 2022.

“So most of you guys who follow me, you already know this, but for those of you who don’t, let me give you some background info,” he continued. “In 2021, I was undergoing treatment against leukemia, and as a result of the treatments and the bone marrow transplant that I did, my immune system was impaired. You can think of my immune system as a four-year-old kid bringing home all kinds of shit and viruses from preschool. So I pretty much get everything. It takes a while for the immune system to build up that resistance again, but my immune system is getting stronger every day. So that’s the good news. However, I’m still doing regular checkups, like blood tests, at the hematology department at my hospital in Sweden. But that part has proved very challenging while keeping up with the SKID ROW schedule and demand. And as I’m sure you all understand, I have way too much respect for my medical history and for my health to push myself to the limit.

“But I also wanna say that this illness came with a lot of good things. And one of the best things that I want to mention here is that it gave me a superpower called perspective. I remember sitting at the hospital, and I was in a really fucking dark place. And I was looking out my window and I saw all these people going to work in a hurry, stressing. And I remember asking myself, watching all these people, and I was, like, ‘What are we stressing about? What are we chasing?’ So right there I felt like I had so much perspective on things and actually a gratitude towards — it’s weird to say it, but a gratitude towards my illness. I remember going, ‘Thank you for giving me this perspective this early in life.’ Anyway, so I was sitting there, and I remembered that the samurai had a code of honor that they called Bushido that they lived by. And so with the perspective I had at the time, I wanted to create my own Bushido. My goal was always, okay, ‘I’m gonna get through this and I’m gonna get healthy,’ but I wanted to remember the perspective, that feeling of gratitude and perspective I had at the time, because I know that we’re human beings and we move on and we forget things, but I didn’t wanna forget this; I wanted to remember this for the rest of my life. So what I did was I created my own Bushido at the hospital, and on top of that list, it says ‘health first’. And back to SKID ROW, that’s exactly why I had to make this decision.

“I’ve had to look at that list a lot of times this last year,” Erik added. “Actually, to be honest, since I joined the band. And I’ve been questioning myself if I’m really living according to those values. And at the end of the day, I realized that the answer was no.

“And I just wanna say, before the media starts with all this fucking clickbait shit, let me be perfectly clear. Listen carefully: I am not sick. And it’s not like I don’t wanna tour. I love being on the road. I just need a better balance. And, of course, we have tried to find the right balance together as a band multiple times. But at the end of the day, I realized that it was better for me to just step aside.

“There’s a lot of people that are relying on making a living from SKID ROW. And being on the road is mainly where the money is nowadays. So, I totally understand that people have to keep touring. And I feel like it’s hard to say this without sounding like, um, like a martyr. Is that the word I’m looking for? Yeah, I think so. But I feel like I need to say it to let you guys know the thoughts I’ve had recently.

“It’s actually been a bit of a burden to tour with a new immune system — not only knowing that I’m intentionally pushing myself, but also knowing that if I get sick on the road, which I’m more likely to with a new immune system, there is no one who can fill in for me. We’ve had our amazing guitar tech, and I can’t express how much I love this guy enough, but our guitar tech, Casey, he filled in for both Snake [Dave Sabo, guitar] and Rachel [Bolan, bass] when they got sick. But when I got sick on the road, we had to cancel, reschedule shows, and, honestly, it’s not a fun position to be in. So, wait? All of this is happening because of me? It’s not good for the band, it’s not good for the crew, it’s not good for the fans, it’s not good for the promoters, it’s not good for the SKID ROW team. All of that also made it less fun for me. I didn’t really enjoy myself out there.

“I love singing,” Erik concluded. “I love being an artist. I love touring, but I wasn’t happy. I understand and respect that SKID ROW is a touring band, but like I told the guys, if I can’t prioritize my health, then I’m not the right guy for the job.”

SKID ROW‘s longtime friend Lzzy Hale (HALESTORM) will handle lead vocals for the band’s four concerts in late May and early June.

The SKID ROW members said in a statement that they are “proud of what they have created and accomplished with Erik over the past two years” and “wish nothing but the best to him and his health. To celebrate the last two years, the band will be releasing a live album that perfectly captures this moment of time in the band’s 35-plus-year history, to be announced soon.”

Erik reflected on his leukemia battle and subsequent addition to SKID ROW in a summer 2022 interview with 80’s Metal Recycle Bin. He said: “I wouldn’t call myself a religious man [laughs], but I would call myself… After all of this, I’m way more spiritual. I’m, like, ‘Okay, who planned this?’ I was on my way to a completely different life [before my diagnosis], but it was kind of like someone just nudged me.

“I was scrolling on Instagram a couple of days ago and I just saw a post, and it was a text saying, ‘I’m sorry I had to make you uncomfortable, but I had to make you move. God.’ And I was, like, ‘Oh, fuck, man.’ [Laughs] That’s what it feels like.

“I’m not sure if everything happens for a reason, but that’s the only way I can explain this — getting leukemia, then ending up in my favorite band,” he continued.

“When I was on stage in [Las] Vegas [with SKID ROW in March and April of 2022], I was interacting with the audience, and I told them that, ‘Do you know how amazing it feels to be here singing the song that started your career?’ ‘Cause ’18 And Life’ was the song I auditioned with for the ‘Idol’ show; that’s what got me on ‘Idol’. And I told them, ‘Do you know how it feels to be here on stage with your favorite band of all time singing the song that started your career?’ And someone commented on it, and it was, like, ‘Did he just quote the ‘Rock Star’ movie script?’ And I was, like, ‘Yeah, I didn’t even think about that, but it’s that movie,” he said, referencing the film in which an average kid from Pittsburgh gets tapped to be the new lead singer for his favorite heavy metal band. “So it’s kind of like a movie script.

“It’s just incredible,” Erik added. “I’m still trying to process it. It feels like I’ve been in the band for two years. It’s been four months. We’ve done, like, 30 shows in four months. We recorded an album. We started working on a new album. We recorded a music video. Everything has been happening so fast. It’s overwhelming in so many ways.”

Erik also credited his wife with providing him with the emotional strength and support that he needed through his ordeal.

“I wanna say my wife has been incredible this whole journey, especially during the treatments, ’cause when I was ready to give up, she was, like, ‘Hey, you’re not giving up now. You’ve got so many people that love you and need you in their lives.’ She was tough,” he recalled. “And I needed that. So I was, like, ‘Yeah, I know.’ And I can mention I also have a two-and-a-half-year-old son at home. So that was really, really tough — coming back from the hospital and seeing him. That was my weak spot. She really helped me a lot, and she’s very understanding. And obviously, when you have this kind of lifestyle, you need someone who really understands that lifestyle and supports it. And it’s kind of a selfish lifestyle in many ways. But she totally gets it, and she’s got my back.”

Grönwall, who was a member of the Swedish hard rock band H.E.A.T. for nearly a decade before exiting the group in October 2020, announced in September 2021 that he was cancer free after receiving a bone marrow transplant one month earlier.

“There’s been a lot of tears, and I still get emotional now talking about this,” Erik said. “I think I’m done with the crying [laughs] — I think — but somehow I feel grateful that I went through all of this, ’cause it gave me a lot of perspective. I just feel like I’ve gotten a lot of perspective on things.

“Being in this business, you see a lot of comments, and you’ve gotta be tough in many ways,” he explained. “And back in the H.E.A.T. days, negative comments could really get to me. Now I’m just, like, ‘Dude, I don’t care.’

“I’m so happy to wake up every day above ground. It’s, like, ‘Shit, I get another day? What am I gonna do with this day?’

“I was happy before SKID ROW,” Erik added. “I am very happy in SKID ROW. Everything is temporary. I will be happy after SKID ROW. I’m just happy. I’ve got perspective, and I’m just happy to be alive. And I’m gonna keep singing until this voice can’t sing anymore.”

Grönwall sang on four H.E.A.T. studio albums — “Address The Nation” (2012),“Tearing Down The Walls” (2014),“Into The Great Unknown” (2017) and “H.E.A.T II” (2020).

In September 2021, just four months before he joined SKID ROW, Grönwall released his new cover version of “18 And Life” via all streaming platforms.

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.

In January 2022, Grönwall told Headbangers Lifestyle about beating cancer: “Some anonymous wonderful human being somewhere in the world donated his/her blood cells so that I could get a second chance at life. Sometimes I can just get tears in my eyes when I think about it. It’s so beautiful that one person who is not connected to me in any way wanted to do that for me. He/she doesn’t know that the blood cells were for me. It’s completely anonymous.”

In late March 2022, SKID ROW released its first single with Grönwall, “The Gang’s All Here”. The song is the title track of the band’s latest album, which arrived in October 2022 via earMUSIC.

SKID ROW played its first show with Grönwall on March 26, 2022 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.
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