Sebastian Bach on Making Kick-Ass Rock ‘n’ Roll ‘Til the Day He Dies
With his larger than life personality, his herculean vocal range and his honest, in your face approach to music, Sebastian Bach is the embodiment of rock. While he will forever be coined the ‘former lead singer of Skid Row’, Bach has transcended his time spent with Skid Row with successful runs on Broadway, becoming a reality TV staple and most importantly to him, his thriving solo music career. Bach summed it up best in his own words, ‘I’m just going to keep making kick-ass rock 'n' roll ‘til the day I die’.
His new disc, ‘Kicking & Screaming,’ is due out on Sept. 27 and offers up surprises around every corner. Produced by Bob Marlette of Black Sabbath and Shinedown fame, the CD is a collection of heavy hitters true to the sound that Sebastian Bach helped mold throughout his career. Bach has admitted that he didn’t try to reinvent the wheel on ‘Kicking & Screaming,’ recognizing that his fans expect a certain sound and he aims to please. His signature vocals reign supreme and are perfectly complemented by the tasty guitar licks powered by guitar virtuoso Nick Sterling throughout.
With the disc's title track and its video making its recent debut, Loudwire caught up with Bach to talk about the new album, how it all came together and if we’ll see him on a new reality show any time soon!
So, let’s talk about your upcoming CD ‘Kicking & Screaming.' It was two years in the making; what can you tell us about pulling it all together?
We started recording in February and we ended up finishing in April. A lot of the songs started with ideas from Nick Sterling, the guitar player. He came in with so many killer ideas. I also sat down and wrote a couple of songs with him. We wrote a couple songs with Bob Marlette, the producer, including 'Kicking & Screaming,' which was one of the last songs we wrote. We wanted a really kick-ass intro song for the whole record.
We were going to call the record ‘As Long As I Got The Music,’ which is another song on the CD, but it had too many words in it. The way I write is that I’m constantly jotting down ideas so I went back to my list of ideas and the name ‘Kicking & Screaming’ was a title that I had written down awhile back and it sounded like the music we had written. I said I was going to really scream the chorus, and that’s about as high as I can go singing-wise; I really went for it.
‘Kicking & Screaming’ is the first single and it’s also the album title, do you feel like this song and sentiment are indicative of the album sound as a whole?
I always try to make every song sound different so no I don’t think so. All the songs are very different. There are three ballads on the record. It wouldn’t be a Sebastian Bach CD without the ballads; I like singing like that. There’s some fast tempo rock, there’s some dirty sleazy rock and there’s some metal too, I tried to make the whole album have dynamics with different feels and tempos.
Guitar god and all around cool guy John 5 makes an appearance on the album; how did that collaboration fall into place and what can you tell me about the song ‘TunnelVision’?
That came together through our producer, Bob Marlette. John 5 has been a fan of mine and Skid Row for a long time actually. He told me that he was in the Skid Row ‘Piece of Me’ video before he was John 5. He was a rock ‘n’ roll fan and he lined up outside for the Skid Row video shoot and he’s one of the guys that actually takes a stage dive during the video. Go check that out on YouTube; I never knew that.
Can you tell me a little bit about the song ‘As Long As I Got the Music’?
Nick Sterling wrote that song with a one of the singers on the TV show ‘Rockstar: Supernova.’ She wrote the song with Nick and he played it for me and I wanted to sing it, I thought it was great. If it’s a good song, it’s a good song and I don’t care if my next door neighbor writes it. I’m not one of these musicians who has to tells people that I’m the only one allowed to write; I don’t work like that. We work with whoever has the best idea. Good songs are rare and I really liked it; it’s poppy but it feels like a Kiss tune -- it’s got a big arena rock sound.
You worked with Bob Marlette on the album and he’s known for his work with bands like Black Sabbath and Shinedown; what did he bring to the process for you?
He’s a good songwriter. We wrote the song ‘Kicking & Screaming’ with Bob along with a song called ‘Dirty Power,’ so that’s number one. The sound is just really high quality sound. I sing quite high a lot of the times and there’s a lot of low end on the CD which compliments my singing. He’s just a brilliant guy. He knows all about guitar tones; he helped me out with some harmonies, so he was a very smart guy to work with.
You’ve been very honest about what you’ve been going through recently with your divorce. Did you draw from those experiences for the writing on this new album?
A lot of the songs have to do with breaking up and relationships and some of them have to do with finding a new love, that’s what the song ‘Kicking & Screaming’ is about. The album cover is a girl with eight arms and knives dragging me into hell; that has a lot to do with what I’ve been going through, as well.
Since you brought up finding new love, is that your new lovely lady we see in the video for ‘Kicking & Screaming?’
Yes, that’s Minnie Gupta, she’s been my girl since December. She’s quite young and crazy and I’m quite old and crazy. I’d like to move in with her but she’s a Hollywood chick and not really into domesticity. I’ll take as much of Minnie as I can get. She’s so beautiful and I love spending time with her. It was an amazing experience to meet her and be with her during the recording of this record. It made it a lot easier for me.
You’ve described the sound of this CD as following in the footsteps of your last solo album, ‘Angel Down’, and your releases with Skid Row and not wanting to “reinvent the wheel."
The thing is, the music that I made -- ’18 and Life’, ‘I Remember You’, ‘Youth Gone Wild’ -- those songs are still played on the radio and on VH1 as much as they ever were. They’re always on and they’re always in my face. I’m not doing anything different on ‘Kicking & Screaming’ than I did on the first Skid Row album. I’m doing exactly the same thing because those songs have lasted the test of time so I figure if I like the music and I make it, the fans will like it too because it’s worked my whole life.
I like bands like Rush, AC/DC and Neil Young that just keep putting out solid albums. I know what my voice sounds like and I know what music my fans expect from me so I’m just going to keep making kick-ass rock 'n' roll ‘til the day I die and that’s good enough for me. That should be the name of your article.
[Editor's note: See the above title of this article.]
I saw some recent photos of you rocking out at Warped Tour to Asking Alexandria’s set. You performed with them at the Revolver Golden Globe Awards and are also in their new video. How did you become so close to them?
Asking Alexandria actually does two Skid Row songs on their album; they do ‘Youth Gone Wild’ and ’18 & Life’ and that’s incredible. That album debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard chart, so it’s unbelievable. They’re passing on the music to a whole new generation because they’re young kids. I’m really good friends with them and hopefully we get to do some touring with them at some point. I’m also buddies with this new band called Black Veil Brides.
Yes, Black Veil Brides have cited you as an influence. It’s nice to see these new young bands carrying on that rock torch. Do they come to you asking for your advice on things?
Well, one of those bands likes to party and drink a lot and they asked my advice about that. People seem to think that I’m wasted all the time. Sometimes I am, but not all the time. He told me he lost his voice and I asked him why he thought that might happen and he said he was drinking before he went on stage. I told him that never once in my life have I gone onstage drunk; I might make up for it afterwards but I never play messed up. I’m always straight as an arrow when I play and in the studio. He was kind of in shock when I told him that, but now he’s straight when he goes onstage. I said something good for once!
Awhile back you posted that you were filming a scene for the upcoming ‘Rock of Ages’ film adaptation of the successful Broadway musical. Can you tell us what kind of roles you and Extreme's Nuno Bettencourt played in the movie?
We were in a huge scene with Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Tom Cruise. You’re going to freak out when you see it; that’s all I can say. I became friends with Russell on set. He’s a very nice and hilarious guy. Tom Cruise was very very nice, he told me that he’s followed my career forever, which blew me away. Sean Penn told me the exact same thing and I could never imagine that but they love rock ‘n’ roll and they like me -- they really, really like me!
Speaking of movies, and TV, it’s been awhile since we’ve seen you on TV. Do you see any new reality or sitcom adventures in your future, maybe a ‘Dancing With The Stars’ stint?
I really hope not but people keep asking me when I’m going back to TV. TV is such a disposable art form, nobody cares. For example, the show ‘Supergroup’ that I was on. People still listen to the music I made with Skid Row more than 20 years later but TV is so forgettable. I’ve done so many TV shows that I’ve literally forgotten about whole series that I’ve contributed to. I did one show called ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ and there was an article in Rolling Stone and they had a picture about the show and it said ‘VH1 Never Mind the Bollocks – Nobody Did’. Rock ‘n’ roll is what lasts. Once people get a hold of a song they love, they love it for their whole lives.
I was recently shared a pretty touching story about a big fan of yours, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and you performed at her bridal shower. How did this experience impact you?
What is music for really? Music is an emotional thing. The thing is, when I went to go perform there, I didn’t even know that she was sick. No one told me that. I thought she was just a fan and she wanted me to come jam. I didn’t know that she was sick and while I was performing, something in my head told me to stare into her eyes the whole time. It was very compelling. I sang right to her the whole time and she was crying. I found out later that she was going in for chemotherapy the very next day. I’m glad I didn’t know because I wouldn’t have made it through the performance; it would have been too sad. It was an incredible experience. She’s a very nice girl and she’s going to kick this thing in the ass -- definitely.
I noticed you’re on the West Coast these days, did you officially make the move?
Right now I’m actually sleeping on Jinxx’ couch (from Black Veil Brides). I’m looking for a place out here. When I look for houses I compare to my house back in New Jersey. I love my house in Jersey but there’s no love in it anymore so it’s kind of creepy. It’s very weird walking around a big big house with no one in it, it’s kind of like Jack Nicholson in ‘The Shining.’
You’ve ruled out a Skid Row reunion many times. Do you ever see yourself being a member of a band again or do you prefer solo work?
I definitely prefer the solo work. I only have one life and I’m not getting any younger. I gave 10 years of my life to that band and then they kicked me out. I’m not into that at all. That’s why the albums are released under the name Sebastian Bach; I want you to know what you’re getting. You know what you’re getting with me and I’m not going to let you down. I would not want to think up a new band name and sell everyone on Hammer Head or Velvet Hammer or Motor Hammer or Sound Hammer.
Or Savage Animal?
YEAH! I’m not into all of that. I just want to get the job done. I’m more interested in the content than the form. A lot of people are more interested in the form of something. If it has the name they’ll go and see it even if the members of the band are different. I’m more interested in the content -- when you press play does it kick your ass and the answer is yes, my CD kicks ass.
Watch the Sebastian Bach 'Kicking & Screaming' Video