Sebastian Bach talks Life after Skid Row, his new album Kicking & Screaming, and much more
After fronting the notorious 1980’s metal band Skid Row for 9 years, multi-platinum recording artist Sebastian Bach moved on to a solo career releasing a number of albums as well as starring in roles on Broadway in productions such as Jekyll & Hyde and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He has also appeared on television in a number of shows including: Gilmore Girls and SpongeBob and the Clash of Triton as well as a number of reality shows such as: CMT’s Gone Country (which he won), MTV’s Celebrity Fit Club, and VH1’s Supergroup. His new album Kicking & Screaming will be released on September 27.
I first have to ask you about your house, I read that it was wrecked from Hurricane Irene, that’s terrible!
Yeah, great, it’s gone, it’s condemned.
That’s unbelievable. What were you able to salvage from your house?
Well, anything on the top level was ok. My comic books and my dad’s art and my scrapbooks and my family memories, those are all fine, nothing happened to that. Stuff on the second level that I lost, I lost like my stereo and a bunch of shit. On the main level there’s water like up to my knees there and everything in the basement is pretty much a write-off. I got the KISS gargoyles from the 1979 tour, I got those out of the basement because they are Styrofoam so they were floating on top of the water, which looked pretty crazy, and some things I got out by luck. It’s a horrible scene, it’s making us all sick. We’re down there, you know, wearing masks and it smells like fucking hell and even the stuff that I pull out of the water I don’t even know if it’s salvageable because it’s just so wrecked. It’s a horrible thing, I didn’t know getting flooded was so rotten, it’s really horrible. I’m living in a hotel right now. I’m a homeless rock star! It’s ridiculous, my kids are homeless, it’s fucked, everything’s fucked, how’s your week going? (laughs)
Yeah, it’s amazing on Long Island we were expecting it bad but New Jersey got hit hard, it’s crazy.
Yeah, I live right across from a reservoir and the reservoir overflowed and I didn’t have a drop of water in my basement for over 20 years and now it completely caved in, like one side of the house there is no foundation. The house is condemned, we’re not even supposed to be going over there to get stuff out but I gotta get my KISS gargoyles, fuck that! (laughs)
Well you mention KISS and I know from reading about Skid Row that essentially KISS was sort of part of why you guys fell apart, because the rest of the band thought Skid Row was too big to open for KISS and it was ironic that Skid Row went on later opening up for KISS anyhow after you were out of the band. Did you guys resolve that? Do you talk to those guys at all?
No, I don’t talk to them at all, I have a new record, Kicking & Screaming that comes out on September 27th and I’ve been making new music, my album before that was Angel Down and I’m just making new music, that’s what I’m doing. I’m really proud of the new CD, I think it sounds fucking killer, have you heard it?
Yeah. What I find interesting is that it’s even harder than I imagined, it’s pretty cool.
Did you hear Angel Down?
I think Angel Down is probably a harder record but you know, I’ve always surprised journalists with how heavy [the sound is], I remember when we put out Slave to the Grind, every interview was like, “This album is so heavy, this album is so heavy” that was back in ’91. I think Slave to the Grind might even be heavier than Kicking & Screaming I don’t know, but it’s got really heavy production from Bob Marlette.
Yeah, it has a little bit of an old school feel, early almost Soundgarden kind of feel to it, but then it’s also contemporary at the same time.
Well that’s cool. Well you know when you’re making a record in 2011 it’s completely different than making a record in ’89. You know back in ’89 when we wanted to cut in a part of a song we actually had to take a razorblade and cut the tape and put in the tape of the other song. There was no such thing as Pro Tools or anything like that, so now it’s a completely different method of recording a record. We just did it a couple of months ago so it sounds like it’s brand new because it is brand new.
You know it’s interesting, you’ve seen the industry change so much going from this analog stuff to the digital stuff and when you started out it was still real “sex, drugs and rock and roll,” you know, metal was huge and sort of dipped down a bit and changed and came back. When you look back at the changes, what stands out to you?
The internet is the biggest change and when it first happened I thought it was going to be all bad for music, but it turns out at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s all bad because when we go on tour in South America or whatever, everybody knows the brand new songs just as good as the old ones and that’s gotta be because of the internet, you know. I don’t think the radio stations are playing Angel Down in Ecuador as much I remember, maybe they are, I don’t know, but I gotta see that it’s from being exposed to the music on the internet and so I think that it gets your music to the fans very quick and that’s really awesome so that’s the biggest difference to me. Also, touring is completely different now. Most of the promoters are just really into this reunion tour kind of thing and it’s very safe and about selling beer and I don’t know, it seems weird to me but that’s a big difference too, but those are to two big differences I’d say.
Yeah, actually I read that your first single was free this week on Amazon.com, that kind of thing must be huge in terms of getting the music out there, right?
Yeah, everybody can go get it for free, I don’t know if it still is but that’s an awesome thing. I don’t understand the internet that much, I kind of just let it go, I let other people tell me, I’m like “why the fuck’s my song free?” and they’re like it’s killer dude, it’s great, don’t worry about it and I’m like “okay, you guys know better than me.”
Does that stuff impact you at all financially? I’ve always heard that musicians don’t make that much off the albums compared to touring, does giving away a song like that impact you or not really?
No, I think it’s a promotion kind of thing. You do get paid for your royalties on plays on the internet so it’s kind of like a big radio station. I didn’t know that but you get royalties when your songs are played on the internet which is kind of cool. I got a check for that and I thought it was a fake check, I was like “what the fuck is this- internet plays?” and it was real and I was like “that’s killer!” I didn’t know that, just like radio, you get paid for that, it’s amazing so the internet is not all bad.
Another thing that I’ve heard from rock stars is that you have “the songs” that you have a relationship with and you have to play them night after night- you have “18 and Life” and “I Remember You,” do you get sick of those songs?
Yeah, I do, I do because I’ve been playing them since I’m 18, 19 years old but I still love the songs. It’s just more exciting for me as an artist to do something new than something really old. I think that’s basic human nature but I still love the songs, I consider myself lucky that people want to come hear me sing a concert and I’ll do the songs they want to hear. I don’t want to go see a band and not hear the songs I want to hear so I understand, so it’s not a big deal. A song like “Piece of Me,” I’ve done it so many times, I can’t tell you how many times, (sings) “Sleazin’ in the city I’m looking for a fight” I’ve been doing that my whole fucking life dude so when I do a new song like “Kicking & Screaming” it’s more exciting. It’s like when you go to an amusement park and they got a new roller coaster, you’re obviously going to have more fun on the brand new one than the old crickety, crackety one in the back that you’ve been on a million times, you still have affection and memories for the old, wooden Coney Island coaster, you know- “oh, I remember this- fuckin’ hurts going around the corners, oh I love this spot” that’s kind of like what it is, but I’ll take the loop de loop Green Lantern 3D fucking ride any time.
I also wanted to ask you about reality TV. You’ve been on a bunch of different shows and I was just wondering what your perception of being on those shows is.
Well, reality TV shows really are a pay check to be honest with you, but some of them are far better than others. I did go on the train wreck show Celebrity Fit Club but I took it very seriously and I lost like 30 pounds and I never gained it back, I’m still under 200lbs and almost 6’4” and I learned how to eat on that show and I learned stuff that I didn’t know so that show was probably the best show that I ever did because it transformed my body, now I can wear the cool fucking clothes that I got so you know that’s a very good thing that I did that. Some of the other shows were disappointing to me like Supergroup. I didn’t understand the director’s cut on that show at all but some people liked it but I didn’t really like it. Some of the shows are better than others, I did a really cool show with John Rich called Goin’ Country that I won and then I did some TV that’s not reality TV like the Trailer Park Boys which is totally fucking hilarious that I get noticed for a lot, a lot of people are getting into the Trailer Park Boys and Gilmore Girls I did for a long time which was a lot of fun but TV, that’s not my first love, rock and roll will always be my first love.
When you are out doing shows now, do you see a good number of people become fans from that kind of thing or is it more the old school metalheads?
Mostly it’s the metalheads but I do get a lot of fans that know me from television too, but you know it depends on what part of town I’m walking around in. If I’m walking around in the village in New York City it’s Skid Row, if I’m walking around in a high fashion area, little girls will come up with their moms and it’s the Gilmore Girls, they’ll be like “oh, you’re that guys in the Gilmore Girls.” If I’m with a bunch of pot-head stoners, it’s the Trailer Park Boys, they fucking love that shit, they’re like “you got any model trains?” They quote the lines to me and shit and I get that a lot now, that’s a funny thing. I get a lot of black people that know me from Celebrity Rap Superstar which was a show I did that was not a great show but a lot of black rappers watched that and they’re like “you’re the fucking white guy who knew how to do it- that’s you” and I’m like “yeah, that’s me.” They all laugh and remember that show so yeah, I’ve done a lot of different kinds of shows, that’s for sure.
You’ve had a relationship for years with a lot of the guys in Guns N’ Roses. You guys both came out at a similar time and you have a lot in common. I know you’ve had your ins and outs with Axl Rose but you guys are good now and you even went out for Velvet Revolver but it didn’t work out because Slash said it sounded too much like Skid Roses. You have your distinct vocal sound and you’re able to continue on but how do you feel about it when you see other musicians lose a lead singer and try to make it after things fall apart, it’s gotta be tough?
Well I can’t really concern myself with other musicians really I can only do my own thing and I just think that music is a form of self expression and you can only express what you have inside yourself. You know my dad was a famous painter, he taught me that, about looking inside yourself and expressing what’s in your heart. Everybody’s situation is different and I just know that I ain’t getting any younger, so to me the most important thing is putting out really good CD’s because that’s what’s going to be left for the world to listen to when I’m dead and that’s the way I look at it and here’s a new one for ya and hopefully I’ll get to do another new one real soon. I mean, to me that’s the most important thing. It’s like a form of immortality. You leave behind your music and people listen to it forever and ever. I think that’s an amazing thing, really amazing so that’s my first focus and goal all the time.
That’s a good way to look at it. I know you’re out on the road now, what’s the future look like> What are you up to now?
We’re putting together a tour for America before Christmas and then Europe in January and February.