|Posted on May 14, 2014 at 10:50 PM|
There are those superstars in the hard rock/metal community that polarize public opinion. Individuals you either admire for their brutal, take no prisoners honesty or think are complete narcissistic ego maniacs. Depending on your point of view, former Skid Row vocalist Sebastian Bach could find himself labelled as either. Personally I have always admired his frankness. He is one of the few in the business that is not afraid to call a spade a spade, of course whether or not you agree with his thoughts is up to you. The rock world is littered with cases of big personalities splitting from their very famous bands and as a result the fans find their loyalties between the two parties put to the test. For example Van Halen/David Lee Roth or Metallica/Dave Mustaine and so it is with Skid Row and Sebastian Bach. But from my vantage point, Bach has done nothing but score home runs since his departure in the mid 1990s while Skid Row have simply done nothing of value. In his time as a solo performer Bach has released a significant body of quality work and his latest album Give ‘Em Hell is no exception. I was fortunate to speak with him recently and during our conversation we spoke about Steve Stevens, Nikki Sixx, Amanda Bynes and the new record Give ‘Em Hell. We also shared a few laughs as well.
Rock Man: Congratulations on the release of this new album Give ‘Em Hell. This is an outstanding piece of work. When you started work on this record was you mindset, we raised the bar on the last album Kicking & Screaming so this time we have to raise it again?
Sebastian Bach: I always try my hardest in the studio ever since the first Skid Row album. I have always made my music for me, if I really enjoy it that is pretty much all I can be in control of really. I cannot lie to myself, you know, I cannot pretend to like something so when you say “raise the bar” I would say the bar was raised from the first note of Youth Gone Wild on the first album way back when. I have just always been concerned with giving you more music that you like, like that. One of my favourite bands of all time is Australia’s own AC/DC. The reason I love them is because I can depend on them, I can depend on AC/DC to be AC/DC and I hope that my fans can depend on me to make kick ass albums and kick ass shows. That is what I do in the great tradition of Australian rock and roll [laughs].
RM: The last time I spoke to was back in 2008 and you spoke about being the master of quality control when working on a project. Given that, how difficult was it selecting tracks for this record?
SB: Well I had a bunch of different writers working on this record, Duff McKagan, John 5, Devin Bronson and Steve Stevens from Billy Idol’s band. So I had the best in the business collaborating with me so I am very lucky. I am a fan of all of these guys individually, so I am very lucky to work with musicians that I am a fan of.
RM: So as you say you have assembled a great collection of musicians to play on this record. The one guy I’m most interested in, having been a Billy Idol fan for 30+ years, is Steve Stevens. Tell me about working with him and what he brought to the table?
SB: Well, you know, like you I have always been a fan of Steve Stevens. When he does the lead guitar solo on Rebel Yell and he has that stun gun guitar trick where he goes (makes sound effect) I love that, I think that is so bad ass and I have always wanted to work with him. Actually we played in Sydney, Australia in Kings Of Chaos and that was when I was on the bus when we opened up for Aerosmith and Van Halen. I was with Steve and Duff on the bus and I just told them I was doing a new record and would they like to collaborate and they both said “sure” and I am very lucky. A lot of people love the song Push Away which is a Steve Stevens song and it is a very haunting melody and music that he gave me. Before we recorded that I said to Bob Marlette, the producer, I said “I want to make this the Sebastian Bach Child In Time”, you know, Deep Purple Child In Time and you know how Ian Gillan screams in that song as part of the song? I do not have a song like that where I am using my screaming range and melody [laughs] and Bob goes “Oh I get it, we can do that”. So that is like me screaming as high as I can. I do not think there is a point to singing any higher than that [laughs]. It is right up there dude!
RM: Push Away is such a great song and the second I heard that song I said that is Steve Stevens. Especially that intro piece because his sound is so identifiable.
SB: Right. Well it is funny, when he sent me that music for Push Away I texted him, I go “Steve, I love this music. I really love the piano part of it” and he goes “Dude, there is no piano that’s my guitar” [laughs]. If you listen it sounds like a piano to me and he explained to me it is his guitar, I am like “Wow! Okay, you are a pretty good guitar player if you can make a guitar sound like a piano” [laughs].
RM: In terms of that track lyrically, it sounds like a very twisted kind of love story. Can you expand on that?
SB: I am in love with a girl called Minnie Gupta, she is in a bunch of my videos and we are pretty much inseparable. I love her with all of my heart and I have a lot of heart and sometimes she tells me that I love her so much that I push her away because I am very [laughs] intense and I want her all to myself all the time. And she says “When you smother me like that you push me away” and I wrote those words not even as a song, I wrote it just as an exercise to what she was saying to me. And I go “What a fucked up concept” that you love somebody so much that you push them away, it’s like I cannot help it that I love her that much. But you hit it right on the head, I always try to make the words fit what the music sounds like and I learned that from Rob Halford (Judas Priest) really. He had an uncanny ability to write words that sounded like the music I was hearing. A very specific example of that is Desert Plains off Point Of Entry. I do not know why but that song sounds like desert plains [laughs] or Solar Angels or Heading Out To The Highway or Hot Rockin’. And I know I just named five songs off one album, but to me as a fan he had this uncanny way of making the lyrics sound like the music sounded like and I always try to do that. Hell Inside My Head to me sounds like fucking hell inside my head, Gun To A Knife Fight, that Steve Steven song, he brought me the music and that riff sounds like a fucking gun to me like a gunslinger, a cowboy, like going to shoot you, you know [laughs]. Talking about music is subjective, the way music effects one person is not necessarily how it effects somebody else.
RM: You have a song on the album called Rock And Roll Is A Vicious Game. How much of the Sebastian Bach story is being told on that track?
SB: Well obviously I try to look into singing songs that I can emotionally relate to. So there is a little bit of that, but the reason I wanted to specifically do that song is some of the younger musicians I have worked with, doing interviews is like walking in a minefield. I say things honestly and then they get taken out of context by other websites, like not even you, like say I say something to you somebody will read your interview with me and then take one sentence and make that a headline for their website. Because I read “Sebastian Bach has a message for all young musicians”. No I don’t. I am not talking about every young musician, I am specifically talking about “some” younger musicians that “I” have personally worked with that seem to have a sense of entitlement that they feel that just because they play rock and roll that they are owed something. And my point is that “some”, not “all”, not the whole generation, nobody owes you jack shit, nobody owes you anything. You have to give everything of your heart and soul to your whole life to maybe relate to a complete stranger in another part of the world. It is not going to come easy, nobody owes you anything. I am not saying this to every single young musician, I do not know every single young musician. I have just worked with some that act like people owe them things and I have been doing this all my life and “Isn’t it a pity/isn’t it a shame/nobody warned the boy/rock and roll is a vicious game” I learned that lesson a long time ago. That is just commentary on an old geezer like me working with some younger dudes sometimes, not all, but some [laughs].
RM: Over the course of your career you have been involved with tracks like I Remember You, In A Darkened Room and 18 & Life. On Give ‘Em Hell you have a track called Had Enough which I think is the equal to all of those songs, you must be very proud of that track?
SB: Sure. Well some heavy metal singers will say they do not like singing ballads, I really like singing ballads. I like putting my heart into a good melody and I think that one of the characteristics of my voice that people like is when I sing cleanly and properly and not over yell or over scream when I really concentrate on a song like I Remember You or Had Enough, and really think about the words, put myself into it emotionally. I think that is one of the things people expect from Sebastian Bach music, so yeah that is another great song, another Steve Stevens effort he wrote the whole song and I really love the chorus and the bridge but we re-wrote the verses for that and it came out great and Steve does an incredible guitar solo, so yeah I am very proud of that one for sure.
RM: On the track Taking Back Tomorrow I love the line “I’m like Amanda Bynes/insane I cross the line”. You could have mentioned any number of Hollywood celebrities, why did you single her out?
SB: Well number one, her hair-do [laughs]. When I see her on the tabloid news and her hair is all fluffed up and crazy I am like, well that’s like me [laughs]. I mean I have been crazy for decades and people know that about me. I do not know, it was a rhyme I had “Insane I cross the line”. I needed a rhyme for that, I did not have the line before that and I said “I’m like Amanda Bynes” because she was on TV going crazy, so I was like that rhymes [laughs].
RM: Okay, moving on. You and I share a passion for Kiss. Given their influence on so many musicians over the decades can you tell me about your thoughts on them being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?
SB: Well my thoughts would be, you know, number one rock and roll is meant to be fun, it is supposed to be a good time, a place where you can escape the blues and I mean, the blues which came before rock and roll was all about, you know, people having the blues in their life and then listening to music to escape those bad feelings, to have fun, to have a release. So number one always, rock and roll should be fun and the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame does not seem like very much fun [laughs], it just seems like a big fight every time. So, you know what I mean? There is nothing fun about fighting, bickering and arguing so unfortunately I think all the bickering and fighting over shadows the essence of Kiss, which is fun. Like what could be more fun than going to a fucking Kiss concert? Like that is the most fun you could ever have, so unfortunately I do not think there is very much fun about that whole thing [laughs]. It did not seem to me like any of them were having fun, but I just read Paul Stanley’s book and it is incredible, one of the best books I have ever read in my life. I have read every single rock and roll biography that there is, there is none that I have not read. I have read every one by everybody and that book is a great book. What amazed me, there is such a lack of mystery with the internet and everything these days, everyone knows everything about everybody. Reading Paul Stanley’s book, I have been a Kiss fanatic since I was a child and every page of his book was something that I did not know about Paul or about Kiss and I was amazed that he had so much mystery in all of these decades that I did not know about him specifically. This book was a revelation, every single page. I did not know about his childhood, I did not know about what it was like being in Kiss with the make-up and all this, and to me it is a very revelatory book, every single page is something I did not know which is amazing in this day and age. Paul Stanley knows how to retain a mystery which is a precious thing I think, so that is a five star book for sure.
RM: Now speaking of books, you have been working on a book for some time now, how is that coming?
SB: It is coming along great. I am over 100 pages that are done, it is coming out on the same imprint as Paul’s, Harper Collins, so that is awesome. It is the same publishers that are putting out my book, I want it to be positive, fun, uplifting book. When I read a biography that is nothing but how fucked up somebody got or how much drugs they did or how drunk they got I understand that, there is obviously going to be some of that in my book but after, like page 80 of the same thing over and over I find that to be sad. Anybody can be a drunk, anybody can be a junkie, anybody can do coke, anybody can. It does not take any talent [laughs], so a guy like Neil Peart from Rush, nobody can play the drums like that so when I read one of Neil Peart’s books I find it more interesting than talking about how fucked up he got all the time. He talks about other subjects that I find to be more interesting so I want my book to be an uplifting, fun, positive thing, obviously there is going to be a lot of craziness in it but I do not want to talk about just booze and drugs for 400 pages. Anybody can do that, nobody can live a life like I have lived touring the world and playing music and making people happy, I wanted to reflect the happiness of music and the fun times not just all the rotten shit that people seem to focus on.
RM: Over the past several months you have been swapping verbal blows with Nikki Sixx. Seriously dude, what on God’s green Earth is going on between you two?
SB: Well, I cannot keep up with all of the hatred, you know, I mean one day it is me, the next day it is Sully from Godsmack, the next day it is Michael Sweet from Stryper. I cannot keep up with all of it. There is a lot of hatred to keep track of [laughs]. There is a lot of hate going on, it is amazing, everyday there is a new batch of hatred it is hard for me to keep track of it all [laughs].
RM: To the best of my recollection, this all started over a comment you made, and correct me if I am wrong, where you were commenting that Motley Crue approached you to be their singer at one point. It kind of escalated from there.
SB: I never said that. I answered a tweet on my website, on my Twitter with three words like “Yes” to some fan and I did not realise that the whole world is on my Twitter feed. I did not know that anybody gave a shit what I tweet. Like, I do not even put a lot of thought into it, it is like a conversation but Vince Neil is the singer of Motley Crue and Vince Neil will always be the voice of Motley Crue no matter who else is the singer, that does not matter. That is what Motley Crue is, is Vince and Vince’s voice. The same way that I will always be the lead singer of Skid Row. It does not matter what other guy is standing on the stage that day. When we are all dead and we are all gone I will be the singer of Skid Row believe me [laughs]. That is the way it is, you cannot change that, this is the way it is and Vince will always be the singer of Motley Crue. You can read my book for the rest of this story, you know, they tried out millions of singers in the 90s, it is not a big story it is very old news, for anymore of this you can check out my book coming soon [laughs].
RM: The subject of a reunion with Skid Row at some point has been talked about to death, but from my perspective, listening to your last three albums, it appears quite clear to me that you don’t need it. You seem very happy in Bachland.
SB: Yeah, well I mean making records and going on tour to me are so different, they are such a different thing. Making albums in my world is a creative personal experience where you look inside yourself and your feelings and your thoughts and you express your inner most secrets and emotions in a song. But you are just by yourself with a producer, and so it is a very insular process which is amazing because then when it comes out the whole world gets to investigate, you know, how you are feeling. So it is a very cool thing really, you can put it in your phone and listen on your headphones and you are really inside my head, like the song Inside My Head, I am inside your fucking head when you are listening to this [laughs]. But touring to me is more of a physical test of just physically surviving it with all the travelling and the physical part of being in shape and on stage for an hour and a half/two hours and travelling all night. So when you talk about a reunion with Skid Row, you know, doing an album or doing a tour are two different things and I do not know, it is very easy for me to step on stage and sing a Skid Row song so there is no reason why we cannot do that together, there is none, you would have to ask them why they would not want to. When I sing “We are the youth gone wild” it does not make a difference to me who is playing the bass that day, whoever wants to play the bass go ahead [laughs]. I do not do anything different, if they want me to sing it I will sing it, if they do not, what can I do? You would have to ask them. It is just insanity to me to not give the people what they want. I mean if the people want something, you and me are both Kiss fans, Kiss lets the audience be the boss, Skid Row does not understand that concept whatsoever. They do not, in anyway, acknowledge what the audience wants [laughs] they will give the audience the exact opposite of what the audience actually wants, I do not understand. But what can I do?
RM: I am interested in your thoughts on this. I remember a time when there used to be enormous loyalty between a band and the fans. These days every time I go on the internet there is someone, be it Dave Mustaine or Gene Simmons or Axl Rose or Geoff Tate or whoever, copping a barrage of abuse for so called “fans”. Seriously, what is going on?
SB: Well, you know, I cannot answer that. But it sure takes a lot of nerve to do this [laughs]. Just from my perspective I spend a year, literally a year, working as hard as I can on something and then you want people to like it and I put it out and every review is fantastic. I am number 3 on the Billboard Magazine Top Selling Hard Rock Albums in the United States of America and that is great. But God forbid I can read Blabbermouth or comments or anything because if I did that I would not want to do this anymore, so I do not know what the point is to call yourself a “rock fan” but then hate rock [laughs]. I do not get that, I am a different kind of fan, I actually love this stuff and I will to the day I die. I do not look for a reason to not like rock music I actually love it and enjoy it, so I do not understand all that but I cannot change things all I can do is keep calm and give ‘em hell [laughs].
RM: Once again, congratulations on the release of Give ‘Em Hell. On behalf of everyone here at Full Throttle Rock I would like to wish you all the very best for the future.
SB: Awesome! Thank you, great talking to you.
For more information on Sebastian Bach visit the official site at www.sebastianbach.com
Sebastian Bach – Give ‘Em Hell is available on Frontiers Records.