Kicking, Screaming & Singing His Ass Off: An Interview With Sebastian Bach

By Jeb Wright

Sebastian Bach seems to always be in the headlines. Way back when, it was for wearing t-shirts with derogatory statements against homosexuals printed on them, or for making inane comments about people, places or things – sometimes about his own band mates. As the years past, Sebastian continued to amaze us, whether it be by showing himself as a drunken fool and getting beaten up on a VH1 reality show, getting in bar fights that ended up on YouTube, or by opening mouth, once again, and inserting foot.

As much as Sebastian has fucked up over the years, there is something very endearing about him. He can go from drunken rock star to that dude on the Gilmore Girls in a heartbeat. He can host a VH1 special and make us laugh the way we would hanging out with buddies at the local bar. While one Sebastian Bach hangs out with Axl Rose and is a prima donna rock star, another Sebastian Bach could be in the backseat of our car head banging to “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen as we cruised down the highway to see a concert. It is this diverse personality that makes Bach so entertaining. The likable Bach is a true rock fan in every sense of the word. This guy loves music. He recently lost his home due to damage inflicted by a hurricane but one wonders if he will miss his house or his rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia collection more.

Bach makes us relate to him because we love music too. The major difference between us and him is that Bach has sold millions of records with Skid Row and we did not – that and the blond haired good looks. One must understand that Bach, underneath the rock singer front is nothing more than a total rock nerd. Sure, he takes things to extremes, but I wonder how many of the people reading these words would not do the same things, or worse, if we were afforded the same opportunities he has been afforded in his career. I know I would be a total ass; hell, some think I am one now, just imagine if ego met fame and money?

Despite his success on television, the one thing that Bach has yet to accomplish is a solo effort that can sit proudly next to his output with Skid Row. Many thought his last album, Angel Down, was it but time has proven that it was not. It rocked but where it contained tons of attitude it lacked musical soul. At the end of the day, it was just another Sebastian Bach solo release that fell by the wayside.

While Bach has been able to have multifaceted success, and even become a brand unto himself, he has not been able to match his former band mates in the musical department. In fairness, Skid Row has not been able to thrive outside of Bach’s shadow, either. While Bach wins the fame game, overall, musically, their careers, when put next to each other, have been a stalemate…until now.

On September 27th, Sebastian Bach will release a new album titled, Kicking & Screaming that is, by far, the best work he has done since his days in Skid Row. The album, produced by veteran producer Bob Marlette, sees Bach pouring his heart and soul, both musically and lyrically, into his music. He is full of more angst that usual, as he recently suffered a divorce from his wife of 18 years, a woman who was also his emotional anchor. Bach snarls, yells, quibbles and cries through songs that both celebrate, and curse, love. He wears his heart on his sleeve and expresses his emotions loud and clear.

Perhaps it was the emotional turmoil that Bach was going through at the time the album was being written that led to this being his most honest and legitimate release. Perhaps Bach has begun the process of growing up at age 43, well, maybe not growing up, but at least learning a bit about life.

We would never really want Sebastian Bach to totally grow up. We need him to retain at least a tad of that youth gone wild spirit we have come to expect from him. If Bach can find the balance between drunken idiot, prima donna lead singer, loudmouth metal head, musician and grown man then he stands a chance at a much more successful solo career than he has had up to this point. Lets hope he can find that balance, albeit it’s a safe bet that if he does then he won’t go quietly. Sebastian Bach will go into adulthood the only way he knows how…kicking and screaming all the way.

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Jeb: Before we talk about the new CD, Kicking & Screaming, tell me about your house getting fucked up by the hurricane.

Sebastian: I lost my home, dude. I’m living in a hotel. My kids are homeless, my ex-wife is homeless and I’m homeless. It’s no fun.

Jeb: From the bottom of my heart, I feel for you and all of the victims of the storm.

Sebastian: I never had a drop of water in my basement in twenty years and now there is no foundation. It caved the whole foundation in and I have never seen anything like it. They never evacuated us but a dude from FIMA came over the day before the hurricane and told us we should go but we weren’t evacuated. I was playing a concert in Colorado with Godsmack and Twisted Sister. I guess Twisted Sister saved me.

Jeb: I have some memorabilia so I cringed when I heard you lost some stuff.

Sebastian: I lost an incredible amount of stuff. I have been in the house the last three or four days and my lungs are all fucked up because of that fucking black mold and shit in the house. I am making myself sick. It really is sickening. We have to wear these masks and it is horrible. My fucking house is condemned. It is the house that was on MTV Cribs -- it’s condemned.

Jeb: I could believe you lived in a condemned house way back…

Sebastian: [laughter] Yeah, back when I first started.

Jeb: A more positive album is Kicking & Screaming. I am not one of those guys who is just going to tell you everything you do is wonderful. Angel Down, your last CD, was full of great reviews but I didn’t like it. It was just okay. I think this album deserves those great reviews. I like the new album a lot.

Sebastian: Angel Down was, up to that time, the best reviewed CD that I had ever put out, solo. It’s okay that you don’t like it. This album has been getting great reviews. Some of them even say what you just said, that Angel Down wasn’t as good as the reviews said but this one is.

Jeb: You have been knocked on your voice before but I want to tell you that your voice sounds killer on this new release. You are back, man.

Sebastian: Everybody is telling me that too. I think the credit for that goes to my producer, Bob Marlette. I agree with you, it sounds like me but cooler --- [laughter] I don’t know how to describe it.

Jeb: There is a noticeable improvement.

Sebastian: Thank you man, I really appreciate that. My new guitar player, Nick Sterling, is a very melodic player. When I did Angel Down the guitar player was Metal Mike from Halford’s band. We all love Judas Priest and there is a big Judas Priest influence on that album. On this record, this is more of a hard rock, melodic record. It is not so much a heavy metal album. The album has more melodies and hooks than Angel Down. I can’t take all of the credit for this, as Nick is a great songwriter. Nick is a little kid that came out of nowhere. He wrote the ballad “I’m Alive” when he was sixteen or seventeen. To me, that just blows my mind because that song is so mature. Its like something Eric Clapton could have written. I don’t know how a guy who is only a teenager can write things that are so mature sounding.

Jeb: Where did you find Nick?

Sebastian: I found him in Guitar World magazine. I went to his website and these riffs were coming out of my computer speakers that I couldn’t believe. There was a song on there ended up on my album and it’s called “Dance On Your Grave.”

As a singer, I love riffs. If I hear a good riff, then I can write a melody on top of it and come up with the words. I think that is a really fun way to write. Nick has riff, after riff, after riff and for a guy like me, that is a dream come true.

In Skid Row we had some incredible riffs but we didn’t click, personally. Nick and I can just sit down on my couch -- wait, I don’t have a fucking couch anymore [laughter]. We can sit down on your couch, or anyone’s couch, as long as they have a couch, with an acoustic guitar and a little tape deck and we can have a great time writing songs. We actually wrote two songs like that, “One Good Reason” and “Lost in the Light.” We don’t argue at all. It is just a lot of fun writing music with Nick.

Jeb: I was going to ask if “Dance On Your Grave” was about anyone in particular.

Sebastian: I wrote the chorus but he had the verses already written. He broke up with a girl when he was writing some of these songs, years ago, and I just split up with my wife of eighteen years. A lot of lyrics he brought to me were about breaking up with the one that you love, so it was like, freaky. A lot of the songs on the record are about that. Some of the songs are about finding a new love. You can only write about what you’re feeling and going through.

One of my buddies is John Rich, from the country band Big & Rich. He told me, “Sebastian, don’t ever be afraid to write about what you feel because someone out there is feeling exactly what you’re feeling.” I think that is fucking heavy. Sometimes as a songwriter, I would think, “I wonder if anyone will relate to what I’m writing?” I have learned that is not how you look at it. You have to write what you’re feeling in your heart. If you are feeling emotions then the odds are other people are feeling those exact emotions, or have been through what you are going through.

Jeb: Everyone has lost a long-term relationship.

Sebastian: Everyone I talk too says, “Dude, I love this album. I just broke up with my chick.”

Jeb: I’m still married. I can’t afford to get divorced!

Sebastian: Neither can I, man. Somebody tweeted me last night and said, “Hey man, is the name of your new record The Hurricane Took Everything My Wife Didn’t.”

Jeb: [Laughter] Talk about what you want from this album.

Sebastian: I like high energy, dirty rock ‘n’ roll. I was the metal head in Skid Row. I was the guy who wanted to push that band from pop metal or punk metal, or whatever it was, to more heavy metal. They used to say, “Sebastian’s hard to work with and he has a big ego.” What a bunch of horseshit. Here is what you get when you’re in a band with me: You’re going to get kick ass music. I’m not hard to work with. I’m passionate and I know what I want to hear coming out of the speakers and I want it to kick ass. I think my records speak on their own as opposed to what those guys have put out without me. Over time, I think people will not remember me as a front man for Skid Row.

I am a metal head and I love rock n roll. My dad was an artist and he just created all the time. I am like that but I make CDS and album covers. I just love all of that stuff. I’m lucky that Frontiers Records pulled out all of the stops for me and gave me this opportunity. I got a great record deal, dude, in 2011. I consider myself very lucky.

Jeb: There is a song on the album that is not brought up a lot in interviews but I think it could be a huge hit single. The name of the song…

Sebastian: Wait a minute… Let me see if I can guess which song it is.

Jeb: Guess away.

Sebastian: Is it “Dream Forever”?

Jeb: Fuckin’ A, you nailed it.

Sebastian: Are you serious?

Jeb: I am 100% serious.

Sebastian: Everybody is telling me that. I kind of new that is what you were going to say. We didn’t even shoot a video for that one -- maybe we should.

Jeb: This is going to sound odd but I think that song is what we want out of you but it may not be what one would expect out of you.

Sebastian: Wow, everybody is saying that to me. I am hearing what you’re saying.

Jeb: I have been married almost as long as you were married. I am sorry that it didn’t work out. However, I heard the girl in the “Kicking & Screaming” video is your girlfriend.

Sebastian: She is my girlfriend. She’s in her mid-twenties and I’m in my mid-forties. To be honest with you, I want to be way more serious with her than she is with me; that’s all I can say.

Jeb: She’s a beautiful woman.

Sebastian: Oh God, she is. She added so much to this record. I really should have a separate ‘thank you’ for her. I met her right before I got divorced, back in January, and here we are in September and I am still totally in love with her. I want a girl that is going to travel around with me and go on the road with me and I’m not sure if she is willing to make that commitment to me. You can’t control other people but we will see what happens with that. The times I’ve had with her are incredible and I look forward to more. I am single and I don’t know what’s going to happen with that but she is so fucking pretty its ridiculous. She is a beautiful girl and she is a very nice person too.

Jeb: If God said to me, “I’m going to have a hurricane wipe out your house, your wife divorce you and your family move away from you but you get to hit that. I would have to go hmm...

Sebastian: I know, I know. She is not easily tamed; she’s a pretty wild chick.

Jeb: I have a couple of serious questions… You have made Sebastian Bach a brand, there is Bach the TV guy and there is Bach the guy in Skid Row. Musically, you have not been able to get the same musical notoriety that you have as you did with Skid Row. Is that frustrating to you?

Sebastian: It is frustrating but at the end of the day, the cream rises to the top. Music is the most long lasting art form. When you watch a TV show and it goes off the air, you don’t think about it. TV doesn’t haunt your brain the way that music does. You can put on VH1 Classic, right now, and I guarantee you that today you will see “18 and Life,” “Youth Gone Wild” or “Monkey Business.” Those songs have lasted over twenty years and they still get played all over the world today -- twenty years after they were released. Television is a disposable art form. Music is in your heart forever and ever. It is frustrating for me but the satisfaction for me is knowing that if I were to get hit by a truck tomorrow, Kicking & Screaming would be a huge fucking record because, at the end of the day, people want to put it onto their iPod and listen to it.

At this point, I don’t think it matters so much if it is Skid Row or Sebastian Bach. I think what matters is if the song kicks ass. When I crank up Ozzy Osborne’s “I Don’t Know” or “Over the Mountain” or “Believer” I don’t care that he is not in Black Sabbath anymore. I have the Sabbath records and I have the Ozzy records and I like them both.

I think Nick Sterling and I are very much along the same lines as Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads. We are the same age difference. He is a great guitar player like Randy and I’m a drunken, crazy motherfucker like Ozzy [laughter]. I’ve been looking for my Randy Rhoads my whole life and I think I’ve found him. It sounds like I’ve found him. I have been on the road with Nick for a couple of years and I really love playing with Nick. It is very exciting. It is more exciting than doing a reunion tour that is just playing old songs. Making new music, to me, is always going to be more interesting than just playing old stuff over and over.

Jeb: I understand your point of view but I would love to see a Skid Row reunion.

Sebastian: It would be a different thing if the guys in Skid Row said, “Let’s make a record and go out and support it.” That would be totally different to me but nobody is saying that. All I’m hearing is, “Lets do a reunion tour.” I am not interested in that. Making a new Skid Row record would be exciting. I said that to one of the promoting agents once and he said, “Sebastian, don’t ever say that again.” I said, “Why?” He goes, “You guys would get in a fight about the record and then the tour would never happen.” I am like, “What the fuck are we doing this for?” It seems like the tail is wagging the dog.

Jeb: I have to say this, in your career you’ve fucked up a lot in public.

Sebastian: Everything I do is in public. If your friend that’s a plumber gets in a fight in a bar then it is not going to be in the newspaper. If I get in a fight in a bar then it is in the newspaper and all over the Internet. I don’t think I’ve fucked up anymore than any 43-year-old dunderheaded dude tripping around the USA but everything I do is in public. I can’t even take out the garbage without people -- I can’t even take out the garbage now at all -- but when I used to have to take out my garbage, I would tell myself, “Okay, here we go” and I would lug my garbage cans out and every time it would be, ‘honk honk’ “SKID ROW! YOUTH GONE WILD!” I’d be like, “I’m taking out my garbage for fucksake.” I understand what you’re saying but a lot of guys get in fights in bars.

Jeb: I understand Frontiers is releasing several versions of the album.

Sebastian: I do have to tell you about the album as everything comes out in the USA on September 27th. The thing I am really excited about is the deluxe CD/DVD limited edition that has an hour long DVD that I made called As Long As I’ve Got the Music. We were touring arenas and stadiums with Guns N Roses and Axl let me use his fucking five-camera shoot, with ProTools at the board. The DVD is as cool as the new CD that comes with it. It is over an hour long of live concert footage from Chili, Columbia, England, Canada and Spain. The concert in Spain is really funny because I’m doing these Spanish raps where I’m going, “Your name is Sebastian and my name is Sebastian.” Everyone was laughing their asses off. It also has the three videos we shot for the album. There is a bunch of stuff from behind the scenes. If you like Oh Say Can You Scream, Road Rage and Road Kill that I put out on my last release, then you will think this DVD is really awesome.

There is also a LP version with a gatefold sleeve, which is really cool. This is the first vinyl record that I’ve put out since 1991, I think. When Frontiers said that I had to design the gatefold sleeve I was thrilled. Designing my own gatefold sleeve was totally fun. If you want to go to www.merchdirect.com you can get a bundle that includes a collectable t-shirt. Frontiers Records has pulled out all of the stops and really given me a great shot at getting this all out to the fans. It is all very, very high quality, which I totally appreciate. I’m very, very humbled and thankful for the chance to put out all of this cool product. I need to tell you that I’m really, really appreciative to them for all they are doing for me.

Jeb: I love That Metal Show on VH1 Classic. Only Don Jamison and Jim Florentine could get Sebastian Bach talking about people’s dick sizes on national television [laughter]. However, as funny as they are, you were the one that made me fall off my couch when you were at the Eddie Trunk Box of Junk for the trivia section and you introduced yourself as Johnny Solinger, who is, of course, the guy who replaced you in Skid Row.

Sebastian: That guy goes around with his long blonde hair, his black shirt and his big shades and hat on… If you’re blind in one eye then you might think that it’s me up there. Get your own fucking look, dude. Its almost like they are trying to clone me, visually. He needs to take the shades and the hat off and we’ll see who looks like Sebastian Bach.


Jeb: Last one: The next time I see you I am going to buy you a beer and we can sit down and argue which Ozzy album is the best.

Sebastian: Maybe you can show me your memorabilia collection, since mine’s underwater. I would love that.

Jeb: My prize collectable is the platinum album to Free For All that belonged to Uncle Ted Nugent.

Sebastian: Oh my Lord, that’s a real good one. I love Ted.

Jeb: You were on Super group with Ted. You guys seemed to get pretty close on that show.

Sebastian: Yeah, well, a little drinking goes a long way on a television show [laughter]. When we get out on the road I want you to come see me. I will take you up on that drink. We’ll talk about rock ‘n’ roll and have a great time.

 

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