Sebastian Bach Is Charged Up


November 28, 2007

Sebastian Bach is charged up — and it’s hard to blame him. On Tuesday, his first proper full-length solo album, “Angel Down,” hit shelves amid nearly unanimous praise from critics and fans alike.

“Good things take time; good things come to those to wait,” the singer told Rock Music Menu about the 7-years-in-the-making release. “I wasn’t just going to put out some BS. I am trying to establish myself as a solo artist, because Skid Row was so huge, and it’s hard to do. The only way you can do it is with a great album.”

Bach is best known for his decade behind the mic for New Jersey’s Skid Row, a band caught between the dissolve of hair-metal and rise of grunge, but successful in its own right with hits like “18 and Life” and “Youth Gone Wild.”

“I Remember You” was the No. 1 prom song in the United States of America in the year 1990,” Bach said. “You talk about making memories! Literally the whole country of America did their prom dance to ‘I Remember You’ one year, and that’s a real heavy memory to beat.”

“Angel Down” follows a handful of one-off collaborations, a covers album and various other projects since Bach’s dismissal from Skid Row in the mid-90s. The album is a hard rock fan’s dream. Thick, grinding riffs blast away like it was 1989 – but under the guise of something completely fresh.

There’s also ballads, like the grandiose album closer “Falling Into You,” which not surprisingly carries the influence of Bach’s stints in professional theater.

“I did four Broadway shows, and I am 100 percent bringing that vibe, theatricality and all the different kinds of sounds to the record,” he said. “I enjoy taking what I learned from theater and bringing it into rock and roll.”

And while Bach may look back fondly on his history with Skid Row, he wants to be remembered for much more.

“Ozzy Osbourne, when he was kicked out of Black Sabbath, he made ‘Blizzard of Ozz,’ and I hope to God that this record is like my ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ where people go, ‘Man, Bas can do it on his own,’ ” he said.

There is no question “Angel Down” holds its own on the strength of just Bach, who always had one of the stronger voices and far reaching ranges in rock; one of the last true screamers to be influenced by the Rob Halford School of Wail — and do it well. But there is no denying the “Axl factor.”

Axl Rose pops up for three tracks on “Angel Down.” Bach reconnected with Rose on his recent opening stint for the revamped Guns N’ Roses, and invited him down to the studio to lay down some vocals while he was recording “Angel Down.”

“I’m the luckiest (expletive) in the world to have Axl Rose sing three songs on my record,” said Bach. “And it’s not like it’s in the background or something.”

The two work well as duet partners, most cohesively on the Aerosmith classic “Back in the Saddle,” which could be the most appropriate song to mark their respective return.

“It was hard to mix that one because I laid down six tracks, and Axl laid down like, nine tracks, but then we had to put it together, and it was hard to pick who gets what line,” said Bach. “I basically followed the lyrics, I mean, let’s figure it out: ‘I’m calling all the shots tonight/I’m like a loaded gun.’ I’m like, ‘That’s Axl!’ ‘I’m loading up pistol?’ That’s Axl! Anything with guns; so we let the music decide who sings where.”

Few rockers who got their start in the ’80s have enjoyed the staying power that Bach has, but in addition to Broadway shows, which the shamelessly proud singer brought up numerous times in the interview, he has been a fixture of television shows from the sitcom “Gilmore Girls” to “Celebrity Rap Superstar,” where celebrities are taught to rap.

“We live in a celebrity obsessed culture, and I’m one of those dudes who is on TV all the time,” said Bach. “I don’t know how that happened really, but I’ve just been asked to do all of these outlandish things in the last seven years that have taken me into a different direction.”

One television path put the frontman inside a mansion-sized Petri dish with other well known musicians like Jason Bonham and Ted Nugent called “SuperGroup” last year, in hopes of creating a new band from scratch. The show was a hit on VH-1, and when it came time to choose a name for the outfit Bach eagerly offered the now legendary “Savage Animal” moniker, which was rejected amongst much eye-rolling in favor of “Damnocracy.”

“Everywhere I go, people go, ‘Savage Animal, dude — it rolls off the tongue!'” Bach said with as much enthusiasm now as he did on the show. “That’s a good name for a band. I think it’s a pretty funny name too; I trademarked it with the U.S. government.”

Damnocracy dissolved after the cameras went off, and one of the mitigating factors was the airing of the final show which featured the band playing its first and only gig. Nugent went off afterward on-camera about Bach being unprofessional for throwing T-shirts out to the crowd, taking away from his own guitar solo.

“I was watching it like, finally, a cool episode,” Bach said. “I had a ton of people in my house and we were all drinking, watching it, and (Nugent) says that; I almost whipped a bottle through my TV set.”

The two had clashed earlier in the season over Bach’s partying ways, but seemed to work things out. But now, the still bitter vocalist has cooled on his fanboy devotion to the outspoken Nuge.

“I will always love Ted Nugent, and he will always be one of my heroes, but it was that one thing that was really enough’s enough for me,” Bach continued. “It’s like, you can call me whatever you want, but you don’t call a guy who starred in four Broadway musicals ‘an unprofessional.’ You don’t call a guy who’s been on a sitcom for five seasons ‘an unprofessional.’ That was the thing that was really below the belt, and that was it for me. It was like; you’re taking the whole thing to far dude. Let’s ask the kid who got the free T-shirt if it was unprofessional of me to do that.”

“What is bad about that? I just don’t get it.”

Though it has been a successful medium, Bach’s heart isn’t exactly chained to the small screen.

“I don’t want anybody I’ve worked with in TV to take this the wrong way, but I’m gonna be a hundred percent honest: I don’t give a (expletive) about TV — it doesn’t mean anything to me,” he said. “Television is really a meaningless art form. I think that the best thing I did on TV was the ‘Gilmore Girls,’ other than that … when you put on ‘Angel Down,’ that CD to me, will be listened to many years after I’m dead and gone.”

“There is no art form like music,” Bach said. “When you hear a song that you loved as a kid and you hear it now, it makes you feel like a kid. Like when I watch ‘Jaws’ now, I don’t feel like I did in 1975. When I listen to ‘Summer Breeze’ by Seals and Crofts, I can shut my eyes and it’s 1975.”

It’s clear that music has been not just a career choice for Bach, but an obsession as a fan as well. At one time, he even flirted with the opportunity to take over the lead vocals for one of his favorite acts as a kid in Van Halen shortly after Sammy Hagar departed.

“There was definitely a meeting I had in 1996 with (Bach manager) Doc McGhee where it was told to me that (then VH manager) Ray Daniels and Van Halen were inquiring about me to be the lead singer — but that’s as far as it went,” he said. “There was this whole thing about Eddie and Alex couldn’t have a lead singer in the band who smoked pot. And I go, that’s pretty funny, because you know where I learned to smoke pot? At a Van Halen concert!”

A decade later, Bach is still making a mark on music, unexpectedly for someone who many thought might disappear after his time in Skid Row came to an end. But he’s single-handedly got the music industry buzzing about how he managed to get Axl Rose into the studio, and proving that a promising future can come by building on a foundation set in the past.

“You’ll never stop thinking about, like, ‘Youth Gone Wild’ – especially with the iPod,” Bach said. “Everywhere I go, little kids run up to me in the airport and yell, ‘Dude, you’re on my iPod!’ And then they scroll through and show it to me and say, ‘Look!’ and I’m like, ‘Killer!’ And all I want to do is give people another CD for their iPod.”

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