SEBASTIAN BACH INTERVIEW:
September 7, 2011
Sebastian Bach has been in the news as of late — he’s got a new album coming out entitled ‘Kicking & Screaming’ and his home was recently condemned thanks to the storms created by Hurricane Irene. Sleaze Roxx caught up with the former Skid Row front man to talk about his new album, producer Bob Marlette, his new guitarist Nick Sterling, the possibility of a country album, working on music with Slash and Duff, why he’s become the target of Metal Sludge and what it would take to get Skid Row back together. Sebastian was exactly like you would expect — an animated, intense, and over-the-top interview subject. This interview turned out to be a goldmine and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed conducting it.
Sleaze Roxx: First of all I’d like to give my condolences on the loss of your house and all the musical and non-musical personal possessions inside — as rock and metal fans we can relate with collecting things. And after all that here you are doing interviews to promote your new album ‘Kicking & Screaming.’
Sebastian Bach: Well thank you. I have to push forward. The album is the best thing in my life right now by far. It’s a great escape from the shit that is my life at this moment. I’m talking to you from my hotel where I’m living. It’s ironic that I wrote this piece about Jani Lane when he passed away and I just couldn’t imagine how lonely it must have been to have been alone in a Comfort Inn. Little did I know that a week later I’d be living in a fucking Comfort Inn! (laughs) Right now, I’m talking to you alone in a Comfort Inn!
Sleaze Roxx: One of the things that stands out about the new album ‘Kicking & Screaming’ is that you still have your powerful vocals. I know you don’t like talking about Skid Row, but your vocal performance on the new album is comparable to ‘Slave To The Grind’.
Sebastian Bach: Hey thanks, that is a very cool thing of you to say. My favorite bands are groups like Rush, AC/DC, Neil Young… bands that keep putting out albums regardless of what the trends are. I’m a music collector and I’m always looking for cool CD’s, but the truth is that there are very few good ones being released these days. I consider myself very lucky to be able to release a new album in 2011. I’m not out to reinvent the wheel, I just want to put out an album that is along the lines of ‘Slave To The Grind’ and ‘Angel Down’. I’m here kicking ass and screaming rock ‘n’ roll.
Sleaze Roxx: What was the inspiration behind this album, and would you agree there is a ‘Slave To The Grind’ sound to it?
Sebastian Bach: That was a long time ago… 1991 — that was twenty years ago. I’ve followed a band like Rush who keep putting out albums, but all their work sits together as one body of work or one big album. They are different but alike, or similar, in some ways. I know what I like and I like great riffs, high energy songs and killer vocals — that’s what I like. That’s what I’ll continue to do until the day that I die.
This album turned out amazing. I have a new guitarist by the name of Nick Sterling who just turned 21. The guy has added a whole new sound to my band for sure. Nick has this youthful energy that you can’t replace — when you get older you lose that. Luckily I’m extremely immature and haven’t progressed past 14. (laughs) Nick and I fit together very well — we kind of look the same too. When we go out together people come up and ask if Nick is my son or brother.
Sleaze Roxx: You worked with Bob Marlette on ‘Kicking & Screaming’ who has worked with Alice Cooper, Saliva, and Filter among others. What did Bob bring to the table?
Sebastian Bach: Bob is amazing. He gets this huge bottom end sound on the albums he produces that is really low and cool. With my high voice I need a strong bottom end to even everything out. Like the bass on “Monkey Business” from ‘Slave To The Grind’ is loud and powerful. When I sing that high I have to have the bass like that to equal out sonically.
With ‘Kicking and Screaming’ Bob made an incredible sonically crazy record. If you listen to the album on a good stereo system, it doesn’t matter if it’s the CD or the vinyl edition, it will blow you away. I’m a huge audiophile and a production nut. We spent weeks in the studio, so it wasn’t like we went in and cut the album is six days or something. We really put our time in trying to make the album sonically incredible. People are still listening to those Skid Row albums that were recorded over 20 years ago. When I set out to record an album I want to record something that you’ll be listening to 20 years from now. So what I do now has to stand up to that, which is not an easy thing to do.
Bob is also a great songwriter. We wrote the song “Kicking & Screaming” with him and we also wrote a super-heavy tune called “Dirty Power” with him too. It all came together very good and Bob is great with the vocals — he helped me get a great vocal performance. He let me sing things as many times as I wanted — though nobody is ever going to tell me to stop singing! (laughs) Bob let me work as hard as I could which made me completely happy. I’m completely happy with the record.
Sleaze Roxx: As you mentioned earlier Nick Sterling is your new guitarist. How did you find him?
Sebastian Bach: I was on a plane and I was reading Guitar World Magazine. I was shooting the show Celebrity Fit Club for VH-1 and I was going back and forth for several weeks and was buying every magazine I could to read. I bought an issue with Neil Young on the cover and I was flipping through the magazine and saw an amplifier ad that read something like, ‘Nick Sterling has his’. The guy looked cool and he had this rock star look. I went to his website and the riff that came through the computer speakers to “Dance On Your Grave” took my head off. It was right then and there that I said, “I want to sing on that.” I got a hold of Nick and I was about to head out on the road with Guns N’ Roses the next month. I asked him, “Hey dude, you want to join my band and play stadiums in South America with Guns N’ Roses?” He said, “Yeeeeeeeeeeah!” (laughs) We went on the road immediately with Alice Cooper and then we did the Guns N’ Roses tour. That was two years ago and now we have this incredible record and I look forward to making more albums with him.
Sleaze Roxx: In my opinion the songs that hit the spot are “Kicking & Screaming” and “Dirty Power”, as far as rockers go, and then the ballads “I’m Alive” and “Dream Forever”. These songs are great and are comparable to the classic Skid Row sound.
Sebastian Bach: Don’t forget the last song on the record dude — it wouldn’t be a Sebastian Bach record without ballads dude. (laughs) I’ve always been known as a singer that does ballads. People love “18 And Life” and “I Remember You”. When I did Broadway I was known for belting out “This Is The Moment” in Jekyll and Hyde. My voice sounds very unique when I sing ballads. I’ve learned a lot from Steve Perry of Journey and I can sing in that high tenor range. It’s that “Don’t Stop Believing” higher tenor range that people latch onto. People freak out when you can sing that kind of stuff! (laughs) Just like they freak out when you can hit all the high register stuff on a song like “I Remember You.” I love singing ballads. I remember my old band did an interview and they were talking about doing a new album with no ballads. I wish people would ask me why I’m not in that band — I’m not going to be in a band that doesn’t do ballads! (laughs)
Sleaze Roxx: Regardless of what I think or don’t think about Skid Row these days, your input is sorely lacking in that band.
Sebastian Bach: Well thank you. I was really the metal head in that band. I was the guy in the studio with producer Michael Wagener working on guitar tones and screams. I was into metal while some of those others guys were into Bruce Springsteen or The Sex Pistols. I was into Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Dio — that’s where I came from. I look at it this way, other forms of music come and go but metal never goes away. That’s the kind of music that once it gets in your blood you need it to survive. Heavy cool riffs is what I enjoy.
Sleaze Roxx: What would it take to get you and Skid Row back together?
Sebastian Bach: For me what it would take is some new music, that’s what I’d be interested in. We could get back together and do a tour but when the tour ends there’s nothing to show for it. Going on tour and playing only 20 year old songs doesn’t interest me — I don’t want to be a nostalgia act. Something like that doesn’t interest me at all. I want to put out new music, and there is no reason why we couldn’t do that. I got into this because of the music. When we are dead and gone the music will be left behind and it will live on. To me that’s a form of immortality and it’s more appealing and interesting to me at this point.
Sleaze Roxx: As you’ve mentioned, you maintained a relationship with Axl Rose for years now. If he comes calling would you do a North American tour with him?
Sebastian Bach: I’m sure there’s a chance of it. I haven’t received any word on that at this point, but he’s taken me out so much that if he doesn’t I’d be okay with it. I would love to play with him anytime. Who knows if it will happen? If it does it would be great.
Sleaze Roxx: When Slash and Duff McKagan were putting together Velvet Revolver did you audition for them to be in the band
Sebastian Bach: It wasn’t an audition, I didn’t walk in and sing some songs — it wasn’t like that. I worked with them for a month or a little over. The guys gave me five songs with no vocals so I wrote lyrics and melodies and then we went into the studio to record it. So you see it was a little more than an audition. I still have those songs on my iPod.
What happened was that I was in the play ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, on a national tour, they were paying me and Velvet Revolver was not. I had to take care of my family so I went on the road with ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ They chose Scott Weiland, so they put their faith in a heroin addict. How did that work out for them? I would put my faith in a drug addict alright! (laughs) I might drink a little bit of wine, and on occasion stain my teeth, but that’s it! Listen, if they had picked me we’d probably still be together right now. I’m a musician like them — I’m not a junkie and not into that kind of thing. So they don’t have a singer and I have a new album. Let’s rock! (laughs)
Sleaze Roxx: You participated in the show ‘Gone Country’ and you wrote and recorded the song “Battle With The Bottle.” There was talk of a country album at one point, what happened to that?
Sebastian Bach: Great question… I have the answer. You’re the first one to ask me that. On the deluxe edition of ‘Kicking & Screaming’ there’s a DVD ‘As Long As I’ve Got The Music’ which is an hour long movie that we made. There’s live footage from around the world — from Santiago, Chile, Bogota, Colombia, San Sebastian, Spain, London, England and Fairfax, Canada. The DVD features live footage from all of those places, the three music videos that we shot for the album, and behind the scenes of the making of the record. It’s a great DVD if I do say so myself. There’s an Easter Egg on the DVD which is an HD quality video clip of “Battle With The Bottle”. I don’t know how to access it, but I know it’s there! (laughs)
Now on the CD the bonus track “Jumping Off The Wagon” is another cool and fun song that was produced by John Rich. That was written by Jeffery Steele, Vicky McGhehee and myself. On the iTunes release there’s a demo of a song that I wrote with Jeffery Steele and Vicky McGhehee that’s called “Ain’t There Yet.” That’s a country flavored song that you can pick up on the iTunes digital version on ‘Kicking & Screaming.’ So there you go, that stuff is coming out.
Sleaze Roxx: Would you consider doing an album of country or country rock material?
Sebastian Bach: I did at one time, back when I did ‘Gone Country’, but rock ‘n’ roll took over. There are a couple songs left that are very good that I wrote with Jeffery Steele and Vicky McGhehee. Since I have Nick Sterling in the band I just can’t see doing an album like that right now.
Sleaze Roxx: Last question, there’s a particular website (Metal Sludge) out there that for whatever reason has targeted you in particular. I don’t know exactly what went down — can you share some insight as to what happened?
Sebastian Bach: Right, Stevie Rachelle’s website. (pauses) I’ll tell you exactly what that’s about. Stevie Rachelle was in a band called Tuff that was a Skid Row/Poison kind of band that never made it. He came up with a website about the bands that did make it. He’s a jealous guy that never had any musical success. When he started his website Stevie Rachelle emailed me asking me to do an interview for the website. I went to look at the website and I said, “No. I think your website sucks. I think this website is bullshit. I think it’s wrong that you have nothing better to do with your time than to fuck with people’s lives. You can hate me, but I’m not doing an interview for your bullshit website.” I received a response from him saying, “Well, then we’re going to make your life a living hell.” That’s exactly what he’s tried to do. He goes after my children, he goes after my ex-wife, he goes after my current girlfriend — I’m divorced because of some of the stuff on that website and my kids don’t have their father partially due to that website. Let me just say that I really look forward to meeting him again in person — as soon as I can. I certainly have some things to say to Stevie Rachelle from Tuff… we’ll see whose tough in person.
Sleaze Roxx: Ever wonder why you? To the best of my knowledge you weren’t the only musician to decline doing an interview for the site?
Sebastian Bach: The only thing that I can think of is that I was the guy that he probably wanted to be. I’m sure if there’s a jealousy factor I make him more jealous than anybody! (laughs)