Sebastian Bach "Snake works for McGhee Management. I’m not saying
it to be a dick, I’m saying it because it’s the truth."
No matter where you are in your personal rock and roll evolution you are aware of Sebastian Bach. A naturally artistic and hyperactive kid grew into a superstar with all the stage presence of Diamond Dave and a voice as sweet as Robin Zander or as powerful as Rob Halford depending on the riff he sings over. You know all about the magazine covers, the reality shows, the bottle incident and other monkey business. None of that shit really matters at all. Not to me and probably not to Sebastian either. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting him you know that behind the bravado is a really fun and heartfelt guy who basically tells it like it is and IT’S ABOUT THE MUSIC. Sebastian’s band is incredible featuring a very young and very talented songwriter/guitarist named Nick Sterling and drum legend Bobby Jarzombek. They are coming to your city very soon to play all the songs you love from SKID ROW and plenty of material from their new album KICKING AND SCREAMING. Sebastian talked with us as he was getting ready for a very special weekend of shows with Steve Stevens and Anton Fig at Iridium Jazz Club in NYC. Read on……
Legendary Rock Interviews: It’s been a long time since I talked to you but it’s always a blast. You’ve done Broadway, reality shows but since we last talked I have had kids who tell me that you are a true superstar because you are Prince Triton from Spongebob. (laughs). That’s pretty cool that you got to do that, especially since your sister the princess was Scarlett Johannson and your “mom” was Posh Spice. WTF?
Sebastian Bach: (laughs). Yeah, John I have done so many of those things it’s almost hard to keep track. It is pretty cool to have Spongebob on the resume though, so was “Robot Chicken”. I’ve done a lot of interesting stuff like that which I never really dreamed I would do but ended up being a lot of fun. I always forget shit that I’ve done. Some guy came up to me and said “Man, I really loved you on that VH1 show, ‘THE LIST’ and I was like “Really, what’s that?”. (laughs).
LRI: I am still as psyched as ever whenever your name pops up and feel exactly like I did as a 15-year-old kid skipping school to go see you at Alpine Valley when SKID ROW opened for the USE YOUR ILLUSIONS tour and SLAVE TO THE GRIND came out. I really, really do not want to talk about those guys though it’s almost unavoidable. There’s a lyric on your new album on the song TUNNEL VISION which says “You can’t hear a single word I say if I don’t sound the same as yesterday”.
SB: Yeah, and that’s so true. It’s ironic I guess that I have a new record and people really like it and it’s gotten good reviews but that line is there on THAT song BECAUSE it’s so true. It’s something I’ve run into all the time since the old days and maybe that perception is finally starting to change which is awesome. It’s hard for a guy like me to get on radio with a new song because there are like 1700 radio stations in the U.S. and 65 of them play rock. The ones that play rock music only play rock music from 20 years ago. They will play “18 and Life”, “Youth Gone Wild” and “I Remember You” until the end of time but trying to get them to play a song from “KICKING & SCREAMING” is practically like repeatedly bashing your head against a wall and it’s fucked up. If you tune into a channel like “Hair Nation” on Sirius they will play one of those three songs every hour on the hour, you can literally hear those songs played on radio 20 times a day but it’s the same fucking songs over and over and I just don’t understand. Then there will be cool new rock stations on regular radio or “Liquid Metal” on Sirius XM and I will be considered “too retro” for that format. Then to play new music on the classic channels is considered “too progressive” so the whole situation is totally fucked up. All these radio programmers are complete fuckin pussies, they’re not real rockers they are all just salesmen trying to peddle the same old same old and play it 100% safe. They are so scared to take a chance that they will just play “I Remember You” until your fuckin ears bleed. It’s stupid and it’s frustrating but I only have one life and I thank god that I am so blessed that I have fans who actually listen to albums and play them and come see us live and hear the new material.
LRI: I have always tried to support Snake’s Skid Row and your solo career since the split since I’m a fan of both of you and I continually have reached out to Snake for an interview. I tweeted him and said something about “Dude, I’ve talked to KISS and Sebastian and all this but never you, let’s talk”. He’s responded, he’s emailed but he’s never actually gotten back to do the interview. Solinger and Bolan never respond and seemingly never do press. Snake is one of my favorite players and seems like a nice guy. I really would like to hear their side of things but it seems like they keep a really, really low profile which I guess is good for you but still everyone wants to know what’s up with them…..
SB: Well, first off you’re right, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to support him but Snake is a manager now more so than anything else, he works at Doc McGhee’s office and has a desk job and manages Phil Anselmo and manages other bands. That’s really what his focus is to be honest. He’s not writing new records and filming videos and going on big tours and stuff. He’s not doing your interview because he’s setting up Phil Anselmo’s interviews, that’s what he does for a living now. He works for McGhee Management which is what he likes, I’m not saying it to be a dick, I’m saying it because it’s the truth. I’m not really into that business end of things, it doesn’t interest me as a human being.
A classic SKID ROW photo shoot
LRI: I’m not going to ask you about recording “Wasted Time” or “Big Guns” but I want to clear up a misconception which is amazingly still reported as fact all these years later and that’s the fact that some people still say you LEFT SKID ROW. That pisses me off because I am a huge fan of KISS and SKID ROW and have heard the story of how you got into it with them over Rachel not wanting to do the KISS Alive/Worldwide tour in 1996. Then they turned around of course and did the Farewell tour with KISS which had to be even more frustrating.
SB: It was. Of course it was, and the reason they did that tour without me is because Doc works for KISS and Snake works for Doc and that’s their whole scene but I was 100% FIRED from the band. They sent me some new music and I told them straight up that I didn’t like it and I wanted us to write some more because I wasn’t going to sing those songs. They got all mad and Doc called me and said “Well, you have to sing it because you’re the singer in the band Sebastian” to which I said “Well, if you like it then YOU sing it, I didn’t get into this business to sing music that I DON’T like just to put something out”. I told those guys “I don’t know about YOU Mr. Rock Band Guitarist and Bassist but I didn’t get into this rock and roll band to play songs that SUCK”.
LRI: Some of the material they have done without you has been okay and some not okay…..
SB: That’s just it though dude. I didn’t get into this to be “OKAY” (laughs). I know what you’re saying but I got into this to do stuff that moves me. I thought we should be doing material that stands next to “Youth Gone Wild” or “In a Darkened Room” not stuff that was “okay”. ”Monkey Business” and “Youth Gone Wild” are NOT just okay, they’re great songs, amazing songs and that’s why people respond to them. I didn’t want to put out a record with them that was just okay. I’m not saying it to brag but I love my new album KICKING and SCREAMING, I listen to it all the time because I love it. It’s got that same energy and spirit as anything I have ever sung on and I am really proud of it.
LRI: I think that the new material and new band you have is plenty strong and with one more studio album you’ve basically equalled your output with SKID ROW. Paul Stanley once said, “There’s a reason your EX-Girlfriend is your EX Girlfriend, if there wasn’t you’d still be with her”. I know you field all these questions about SKID ROW reuniting and I want to know if you ever hear from people like me who are happy with the way things are right now.
SB: Well, first of all thank you for saying that about being one studio album away, I totally thank you and I agree with that. Angel Down debuted at 190 on the Billboard charts which was very disappointing but then KICKING AND SCREAMING debuted at number 68 which was like “Ok, I can deal with that because if I keep working and take another jump like that on the next record I would be up in the top 20 which would be incredible”. All I can do is keep working and keep my head down and make the music I love and hopefully some day people will be able to see me and my solo career the way that they saw someone like Ozzy as a solo artist, that’s the gold standard. It’s not always easy but nothing worth having is.
LRI: So you DO hear from people like me who don’t want you to take the easy road and do the obvious nostalgic thing?
SB: Absolutely, I hear it all the time from people like you who appreciate what I’m doing. It’s just frustrating to deal with promoters and radio guys and press or whatever who are only concerned with the whole nostalgia thing and the 80s and 70s and now the 90s. It’s like they can’t see 2012 even though it’s obvious to so many people that it’s 2012 (laughs). I like ALL music and especially new music, I like making it, I like hearing it.
LRI: I’m not going to lie and say I haven’t been into some of the reunion things but sometimes when they suck or the new albums suck it’s like why? Why not just stay solo and put out material that’s more natural to you rather than trying to FORCE a reunion that may or may not suck just because of name recognition?
SB: I agree. I went to go see Foreigner and Journey and it was really weird to me because Foreigner had ZERO members of Foreigner in it that night. Like, Mick Jones was not there and there were 5 guys on stage that were NEVER in the band Foreigner standing on a stage that said FOREIGNER. It was just weird because NOBODY in the crowd cared (laughs). There was like 20, 000 people and they all have their fists in the air going “FOREIGNER!!!” and I was just like “What the FUCK????” It was completely surreal and total insanity and I’m looking at it from a TOTALLY different perspective because I’m playing clubs and I’m really me (laughs). I’m the real deal I’m just looking out over this sea of insanity with all these things racing through my head. Like I love the new Van Halen record and people can say whatever they want but at least that’s VAN FUCKIN HALEN up there and not a bunch of guys who were never in the band…(laughs).
LRI: Having original members counts to a lot of fans. Having the original vocalist is always nice.
SB: Especially when it’s Diamond David Lee Roth!!
LRI: I would think having such a creative family has instilled some sort of ethic in you about following your heart and being artistic above all else.
SB: My family and particularly my dad definitely instilled that in me. My dad was a terrific artist and he NEVER stopped painting right up until the day he died. I know why he never stopped and it’s because of what you said, he just did what he loved. When you do what you love, when you create what excites you it becomes more than a job. I really love that my music can touch people but I only make it to begin with to please me. When I made this latest album KICKING AND SCREAMING the only people listening back to what we were creating were me, my producer Bob Marlette and my guitarist Nick Sterling. Nobody else was even in the studio, it was just us three.
LRI: One of the biggest gripes about you is one that I hear OVER and OVER. It goes something like this: ”Sebastian always talks about how he’s grown and is moving forward and wants to get past SKID ROW and everything but then he continues to go out and play all those songs night after night and BLAH, BLAH, BLAH”. Last time I checked James Hetfield, Chris Cornell, Axl Rose and Paul Stanley all sang songs from their catalog EVERY single night. No one gives them shit for wanting to put out new stuff and move on while still playing their catalog but for some reason people perpetually single YOU out (laughs).
SB: Right. (laughs). Dude, of course I will play those songs but if I only went up there and played “Youth Gone Wild”, “I Remember You” and “18 and Life” that would be a PRETTY short fuckin set wouldn’t it? I think sometimes people who say things like that are forgetting the fact that SKID ROW wasn’t THE BEATLES or METALLICA or GUNS AND ROSES. We had three hit songs. THREE. If those three hit songs are the only songs a fan knows or wants then that’s not the kind of rock I want to cater to. I need to appeal to the fan who’s looking for a bit more rock than that (laughs). I have a lot of tunes under my belt and a LOT more on the way. I want to have a LONG career with hundreds and hundreds of songs.
LRI: Your first release after SKID ROW was BRING EM BACH ALIVE which was half live and half new material. Your band back then was also a good one and you created some really good material with Jimmy Flemmion of Milwaukee’s own…The Frogs. Do you think Jimmy is an underrated songwriter and talent?
SB: I do think he is an underrated writer and guitarist. I think “The Most Powerful Man in the World” is a BEAUTIFUL song and Jimmy is and has always been an amazing songwriter. I just think Jimmy has a really tough time with the whole music industry end of it and really doesn’t understand what the music business is. It’s not a fun, nice industry. It’s cutthroat, evil and mean and you can’t take things personally and get down by it. It’s a rough, sometimes shitty business and you can’t get hurt or sad about it. If I had taken everything personally in this business believe me John I would have quit in 1991 (laughs).
LRI: You said you were initially disappointed by the reception or chart action of ANGEL DOWN but I think you did the right thing by continuing to tour it and keep it out there for so long because it’s now taken on a tremendous amount of life. I don’t think I’ve read very many bad reviews of it and still to this day people really appreciate that album and the heaviness of it. So much so that I think a few of them overlooked “By Your Side” which is about the best number one ballad ever written that didn’t go to number one. I think it’s way better than “I Remember You” and on par with “In A Darkened Room” as one of the best songs you’ve ever recorded.
SB: Wow. that’s really cool. I love that song. It’s hard for me to listen to because it’s such an emotional song. I can’t hear it and not think of my dad because I wrote that about him. I think a lot of people can relate to that song if they’ve lost someone so important in their life and it really was just written totally and completely from my heart. If that song hits you or stays with you, that’s why.
LRI: You’ve never been afraid to collaborate with other writers to get things done and people you LOVE like Alice Cooper or Paul Stanley or Ozzy have done likewise. KICKING AND SCREAMING features your writing throughout but you’re not afraid to listen to another person’s idea if it’s a good one.
SB: I’ve always done that on my solo albums. In Skid Row , like I said, that was PART of the problem. People think I have an ego or attitude problem but those guys think that just because they wrote something it HAS to be good. I could never, ever get that through to them or explain that to them and it was REALLY frustrating. You can’t walk around the room SAYING you’re the songwriter. That’s the silliest fucking thing I have ever heard. You don’t make it a point to tell people that you’re the chosen guy to write the songs because YOUR song might suck. I don’t care if you’re Paul McCartney or Neil Young or whoever, no matter how many great songs you’ve written it doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of writing something that is NOT GOOD. At some point in your career, no matter who you are, somebody might come along and have a better idea than you. You can’t discount a good idea because you wanna pretend that you’re the only one in the world capable of writing a good song for your project. That’s a bullshit way of thinking.
LRI: You wrote with John 5 on this album and with Bob, your producer and some of the very best stuff is the stuff you and your guitar prodigy Nick Sterling came up with.
SB: Thank you. He’s great and all I know is that this is the first album I listen to around the house, on the plane, working out, basically EVERYWHERE. I don’t sit around all day and listen to Subhuman Race like Eddie Trunk (laughs). Goddamn. He won’t shut the fuck up about that album and it’s like “Oh, you’ve got that….that’s great Eddie”. This is really the only record I’ve ever done that I listen to myself, in my personal life, It’s not that I don’t like all the others it’s just that this is the only one I’ve ever really sought out. I just push play and listen to the whole thing because I like the way the mix sounds, the whole thing sounds very good to me, every element of it.
LRI: I have it on vinyl and you can definitely get into the sequence of it but “Caught in a Dream” is really immediate to me.
SB: ”Caught In A Dream” just blows me away. I think Bob Marlette just did such an amazing job on what you hear when you drop the needle on that. To me, that song really stands out as something that I could have sung on the very first SKID ROW album, especially the chorus. It sounds like it could have been on the debut.
LRI: I can see that. ”Dream Forever” and “Wishin” are the two that really sound that way to me. I really love the fact that KICKING AND SCREAMING is a bit more melodic and Cheap Trick-ish but the heavy songs are just as heavy as your ANGEL DOWN or SLAVE TO THE GRIND stuff. Sometimes the melodies are smack dab in the heavy songs like “My Own Worst Enemy”.
SB: EXACTLY. ”My Own Worst Enemy” is almost like heavy progressive metal in moments but it’s also SO melodic (starts singing the bridge and chorus). It’s got this beautiful, beautiful melody over this heavy RUSH like riff. That song just blows my mind because it’s got all these different sections in it that alternate between heaviness and lifting melody. I love that one too man. I go crazy when I listen to that running.
LRI: Man, you’re gonna inspire this slug writer to go run around the block. I need to, between shitty weather and sitting on a computer and just being a dad and having kids and stuff the age starts creeping up on you. Your personality is ultimately still the same hyper kid we all know but now you’re surrounded by youth now with your kids, your girlfriend and your guitarist. Is that the secret to staying on track, running?
SB: It is. Running and eating healthy. That’s IT. Get your shoes and your ipod and go outside, get some sun in your face and go. If you haven’t done it in a while it will be really hard at first but then it gets progressively easier. It sucks at first but before you know it, you will actually ENJOY it and will never want to MISS doing it. I know where you’re at it’s all cold and shitty outside so you might have to do it inside on the treadmill but once it gets to be about 40 0r 50 out just go outside and take off. You will thank yourself, it’s really the easiest way to enjoy life. I know that the weather can be a drag. When I lived in New Jersey all those years it was like so easy to stay inside. It’s fuckin cold, I didn’t wanna go outside and I would get out of shape during the winters but now that I’m out in California it’s so much easier and there’s just no excuses.
LRI: I read all the TMZ bullshit and aftermath shrapnel of what happened with your incident up in Canada at the strip club and I have to tell you I was a little surprised people were so shocked. I am married and have kids and even if I were having problems with my wife I would flip the FUCK out if I walked into a strip club and they had some outdated pic of her on the Marquee like she was working there. I can’t believe no one reported on it like you might have been right or honorable or at least getting bent out of shape and defending her or your kids reputations out of love.
SB: Wow. You’re like the first person who has ever said that about that incident man but that was just what was in my heart. If someone fucks with someone who I care about then I will fuck with them too, it’s as simple as that. Maria is the mother of my children and to me they were the ones who were out of line so thank you.
LRI: I think sometimes people just see you as this psycho, hair whipping, strutting egomaniac guy and forget you’re a real person in addition to being a celebrity. Last question….Since I too am a KISS fan by trade I tend to obsess over packaging and cover art. Your new album is another great package whether your get the classic big old vinyl or the Special Edition DVD/CD package. Does all that presentation stuff still excite you like it did as a kid?
SB: It does. I totally love it and to me the KICKING AND SCREAMING cover is like my little homage or version of KISS Destroyer!!! (laughs). It’s really over the top and really reminds me of DESTROYER. It was done by a guy named Richard Villa who did the Black Veil Brides cover which I think is amazing and it all ties in, the lyrics have to do with the album cover and it all fits together. Album covers are really important to me too man and my girlfriend Minnie Gupta posed for the cover as well. She’s the eight armed Hindu Goddess Kali Ma and she’s dragging me into hell with and slitting me apart with knives (laughs). It just came out really, really cool.
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Kicking & Sludging