INTERVIEW – SEBASTIAN BACH
By Shane Pinnegar
Hello - is that Sebastian?
That’s me!! [laughs]
G’day mate, it’s Shane from The Rockpit in Australia, how you doing?
Heyyyyy – thanks for [posting online] that cool review dude, I read it, thanks very much!
Awesome – thanks very much (The Rockpit’s review of Sebastian Bach’s 2011 album “Kicking & Screaming”, by David Carruthers), and thanks for dropping the new album – it’s awesome!
Yeah cool man - they say “Don’t read your own reviews”, but when they’re good, I like to read them! I also read the bad ones – but you know what, there have not been ANY bad reviews of “Kicking and Screaming”…
I’m not surprised – it’s your best work since the early Skid Row stuff
Oh thankyou dude, thankyou very much!
And that’s coming from us – we all LOVED “Angel Down”, I just think “K&S” is another step in the right direction again
Well that’s cool, man – it’s so subjective when you go into a studio with nothing and you gotta come out with music that you absolutely love, that you gotta stand next to for the rest of your life… I mean, I liked “Angel Down”, that was probably more of a metal record, and this is probably more melodic as well
Absolutely – and the first question I wanted to ask you was how did the sound in your head when you went into the studio, differ to what we can hear on the finished album?
Well it’s BETTER than I thought it was gonna be – though a lot of that has to do with the Producer, Bob Marlette – he made my voice sound SO cool. I always said “Bob, what button are you pushing to make my voice sound so big and so cool?” and he would laugh and say “Well Sebastian, that’s YOU!”. I love the production and I love the performances – from me, Nick Sterling and Bobby Jarzombeck – and I love the songs, they’re all amazing. I listened to the album from the start to the finish, and it’s just… unbelievable!
Talking about Bob Marlette, do you look towards a producer to capture the sound in YOUR head when you go into a project like this, or are you looking for a collaborator on the entire project?
Oh well basically I don’t like to wait around – once I have the songs ready I want to record straight away and get the album out. I don’t want to wait around years and years to record it ‘cos in two years I might want to do something different – but this is what I want to do NOW! He was available right away, so we started in mid February and finished up on my birthday April 3rd – and I could not be happier with it, you know you’re trying to capture a feeling and an emotion, and I really feel we captured everything I wanted to capture on “K&S” – I really love the record.
What are your touring plans?
We’re playing in America before Christmas, then Europe in January and February… I know we’ll be coming back to Australia – we came there THREE TIMES in the last five years, and it’s one of my favourite places to play. I can’t wait to get back there – Australia has always been one of the most important markets for me…
We hope you’ll be touring soon that’s for sure. I don’t know if you remember a show you did here in Perth in May 2008 – where you hooked your support band Babyjane up with Michael Wagener who ended up mixing their debut album, so they wanted to pass on a thankyou for that…
Oh yeah cool, I remember. I love Perth, I have a special place in my heart for Perth. When we played there with Guns n Roses we had a week off – and that NEVER happens when we’re on the road, so I basically LIVED in Perth, we went everywhere man, I went running in that high park there [King’s Park]...
Yeah I remember reading that…
Yeah I loved it, I really got to know the city, I went shopping at JB Speakers or whatever it’s called down the escalator there [JB Hifi in Hay Street Mall], and I went to a Kronic store there [laughs] – I had a great time in Perth!
Commiserations on the loss of your house in the wake of Cyclone Irene – it was terrible for rock fans the world over to watch that play out on Facebook and so on [Bach lost demo and live tapes, and a wealth of memorabilia when his New Jersey home was partially flooded then deemed unfit for occupation] – you must be devastated…
Oh I am devastated – but you guys in Australia have been through your share of fires and floods… you guys know – you can’t really argue with Mother Nature! Yeah it is sad, but it’s also so completely beyond your control that … what are you gonna do about it, you know?
We hope you had good insurance – but nothing can replace master tapes and so on…
Well I got a box of DAT tapes of Skid Row shows from the early days – something like 200 shows on digital audio – that I managed to rescue… so I did manage to save a lot of stuff. I did lose a lot of stuff, but I saved a lot of stuff as well.
You worked with Nick Sterling on this album – he’s a young fella, only around 21 I think. Was the age and experience gap ever an issue?
[Thoughtfully and hesitantly] Yeeeeah, yeah… well, um – when he first came to us he was 19, and I didn’t know if I wanted to be in a band with a 19 year old. Then I thought, well do I want to eliminate someone ‘cos they’re too young? That makes no sense! So he was the best guitar player I could find, and the best songwriter, so it’s really worked out great and I’m honoured to be playing with him.
He’s really helped you bring back that melodic hard rock sound to your music…
Yeah he’s talented beyond his years, he’s an old soul. Like what he brings to a ballad like ‘I’m Alive’ or ‘Wishin’ - to my mind ‘I’m Alive’ could have been played by Eric Clapton – he’s a very mature songwriter for sure.
There’s been a lot of words thrown back and forth between you and Skid Row over the years, so let’s get this straight right now – if someone dropped a million bucks on the table, would you – and would they – reunite for an album and a tour?
[long pause] Well, yeah. If there was an album and a tour, I would do it for a lot less than a million. The thing is, no-one’s talking about an album, it’s all just talking about a tour and playing the old songs, and pretending like it’s 1991. If they wanted to do a new album, write some new music, then tour it – then THAT would interest me. But nobody’s talking about that so I don’t know if that’s on the cards. But to me making new CD’s is more interesting than doing a reunion tour and just playing old songs, that’s not interesting to me…
Sure – but if it ever DID happen…hypothetically, what with all the water under the bridge, would it be bearable? Would you be ABLE to be on tour with those guys after everything that’s been said and done?
Well if there was new music to support I could bear with it ‘cos that’s what I enjoy. But if it was just playing ‘Youth Gone Wild’ with a bunch of guys in their fifties, well I think that’s ridiculous – I think that’s fake, it’s not real. And if it’s not real I’m not gonna do it – I’m not gonna go on tour and sing “we are the youth gone wild” at the age of fifty – I think that’s absurd!
And talking about age – your voice just sounds amazing, is it all for real, no auto-tune or anything? How have you kept your voice – and, my wife forced me to add - your looks and your hair! How do you do it?
[Laughs] Well I don’t look like I’m a little boy any more – I mean, I’m 43 years old, I’m older! But I know how to sing properly – I don’t strain my voice, and if you sing properly your voice will only get stronger. I mean, Steven Tyler still sounds great, Ozzy sounds great, Ronnie James Dio before he died released the greatest song he ever did, which is called ‘Bible Black’, on “The Devil You Know”. And that’s a real inspiration to me – the fact that Dio was still making top notch high quality CDs until the day he died, and that’s what I want to do, and I’ve got the voice to do it – and I’ve got the hair follicles!!! [laughs]
You’re about the only person on the planet known to be legitimately friendly with Axl Rose – how’s he doing?
How’s he doing? He’s doing great! He’s getting ready to go on tour and do some shows in South America, and I’m hoping we can maybe open some shows for him sometime. He’s just doing his thing, getting ready to go on the road…
I posted on my Facebook page that I was going to interview you today and one friend – who is about as non-rock as anyone can get – commented “Ooh I loved him in The Gilmore Girls” [laughter]. Have you got any more acting work lined up?
Ahh, not at the moment – acting is something I do when I’m not rocking, if somebody offers me some acting work and it seems like something fun to do. The Gilmore Girls was fun and I can be in downtown Sydney in a mall or something and some Mom and daughter will come up and go “Weren’t you in The Gilmore Girls?” [laughs] that’s what I get recognized for there!
Was it a challenge for you to be in a show like that which is so NOT rock n’ roll?
I thought it was rock n’ roll – I played a guitar player in that show. I mean the show is not rock n’ roll but my role was. I like keeping busy, I hate to be sitting around doing nothing so it was fun – and there’s not many shows like that around any more – it’s all reality shows nowadays. [For me] it was about learning lines, and becoming a character. The Gilmore Girls was an hour long show, and yeah – there’s just not many shows like that around any more…
You wrote a really poignant and quite touching article recently about Jani Lane’s passing. How would you recommend young and successful rockers nowadays to not fall into the same traps that Jani did?
Well it’s funny you should say that, I’m good friends with the band Asking Alexandria, and those guys party like motherfuckers. And the lead singer Danny [Worsnop] was drinking before a show and I surprised them by telling them that I NEVER drink before I go on stage. The stuff I sing is hard enough to sing when you’re 100% sober and I would not want to be drunk trying to get through ‘I Remember You’! Onstage that is very challenging to sing, and when I told him that he looked at me like I was crazy, but now HE doesn’t drink before he goes on stage. So maybe I said something good for once [laughs]
If you could be a part of the writing and recording of ANY album throughout history – what would it be?
Oh I don’t know dude… I don’t know. I would have to say “Kicking and Screaming” – I don’t look at other bands or other musicians to figure out what I should do, I just look at music as a form of self expression. My dad was a painter so I looked up to him, painting all the time - and he painted every day, so I try and make music every day. That’s what I love to do – so I would have to say my own record!
There’s some good collaborations on the album too – like ‘Tunnel Vision’ you co-wrote with John 5. Do you find it easier to come up with a song collaborating with someone else, than it is to write something fully formed by yourself?
John 5 is a big fan of mine, and he said “Sebastian, I would love to write a song that would get you on the radio again” and he sent me that song, just the music, and I wrote the words and the melodies to it. I think it came out so cool, that song, and so badass. I don’t know if it’s gonna get me on the radio but then, I don’t really care about the radio – my fans listen to my CDs and that song came out badass, that one especially.
What for you, Sebastian, is the meaning of life?
The meaning of life, I would have to say, is love. I don’t wanna sound like John Lennon or The Beatles or anything, but as you go through life and you get older, you realize that is the most important thing. I got divorced from my wife in December, and I met a new girl in January… [laughs]
And I fell in love with her – she’s on the cover of the record and in the videos – her name’s Minnie – she’s a very beautiful girl and she’s quite wild… I don’t know where it’s going to go, but it was great recording the album and being with her every night and she really helped me out a lot. So I think that yeah, as the years go on, it becomes very important – love.
Congratulations again on the album – it’s great – and good luck with the touring, and we certainly hope to see you Down Under again soon!
Thanks man, it was awesome talking with you and thanks for the awesome review, I really appreciate it, man