Sebastian Bach Apologizes to Skid Row Fans, Plans Summer Wedding + Remembers Ronnie James Dio
Forty-seven-year-old Sebastian Bach has just finished the kind of set at Ace of Spades in Sacramento, Calif., that 21-year-old Sebastian Bach would've been proud to call his own. For nearly 30 years, Baz has hit the stage like a Tasmanian devil: leaping, spinning, trademark hair whipping around. He's a concert photographer's nightmare and a concertgoer's dream: one of those endangered beasts known as rockus frontmanus (aka "The frontman").
Back when Bach's former band first broke, the hard rock landscape was peppered with singers who knew how to work a crowd: Steven Tyler, Paul Stanley, Ozzy, Lita, Axl. They didn't just sing they performed, punching through the invisible wall separating band and audience. There's an art to being a good frontman, but don't ask Bas to explain it. "I'm a very tall dude," he jokes. "I think that's part of my presence on stage, because I'm like Godzilla, a giraffe, or something like that."
After the show, which is a balanced mix of Skid Row classics and tracks from 2014's Give 'Em Hell, fans who paid for the VIP experience line up for their few minutes backstage with Bach. One tells me that she's been waiting to meet the singer since she was 12 years old. When she emerges from his dressing room a few minutes later, 20 years have fallen away from her. She's as giddy as a school girl. Even backstage, Bas knows how to work a crowd.
When I enter the dressing room he looks tired but relaxed and happy. The last few years have been tough for Bach, between his divorce and losing his home to Hurricane Irene, so seeing a smile on his face is a pleasant surprise. He's in good spirits and as animated as ever, open and generous with his answers, which often are punctuated with a sincere laugh and a slap on my leg.
We were talking about your physical stature at the front of the stage. You definitely have a physical presence, but I also think it's a lost art, being a frontman.
You are 100% correct, without a doubt. When we tell people that we're doing 10 cities in 11 nights, they look at us like we're insane. Bands do not know even how to do that. It's very physically demanding, but I learned on Broadway that I can do it. I'm very fortunate. We're very lucky. We keep getting booked. I'm about to announce on my website 40 gigs.
It never stops. I want to get married to my lovely fiancee, Suzanne Le. We were going to get married in June but I'm playing all that month, so August is when we're going to do that.
Is that official?
Oh yeah. She's my girl and my best friend. I'm very happy. I'm very lucky to have found true love.
I bet because you've been through...
I've been through a lot of s--t.
Just recently, like the last couple years.
Yes. I've been through a lot of hard life lessons, like losing my home in a hurricane. That's almost so sad it's overwhelming.
Speaking of loss, we’re coming up on five years since Ronnie James Dio passed. I know you guys were friends.
Yes, we were.
Can you talk a little bit about Ronnie?
Here's my favorite Ronnie story. In 2000 we played a double bill at the Bronco Bowl in Dallas. We sold it out, like 6,000 people. It was a great f---ing show.
This was about two months before I was going to debut on Broadway in Jeckyll and Hyde. I went over to hang out with Ronnie James Dio and tell him this. I asked him, “Dio should I do this?”
He said, “Absolutely, Sebastian. You have to show people that you are capable of more than what they think and change people’s perceptions. Go up there and sing your ass off and do it. Show people that you're a multidimensional performer."
I said, “Right on, Dio. Would you do it?”
He said, “No.”
He explained that he loves metal and that's all he ever wants to do. I love metal too, but I thought that was so hilarious. That's my favorite Dio story.
He really was amazing.
Very nice, man, very nice guy. I remember he did an interview once and he was asked what he thought about the singers today. He talked about some people, and then the interviewer said, “What about Sebastian Bach?”
He goes, “Sebastian Bach sings his ass of.” He described my voice and said he loved it. It was amazing for me to read that Dio digs my voice. That meant a lot to me.
The first time I saw you was '91 at the LA Forum, the warm up shows for Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion tour. I swear your voice is as strong now as it was then.
I think it's actually stronger because of the invention of the in-ear monitors. Those didn't exist in '91. It was so hard to hear yourself back then. They’re a really good thing for a vocalist to have.
You haven't dropped your songs a step or anything.
No, we don't do that. My new album, Give ‘Em Hell, my pipes sound the way they are supposed to sound.
That's a killer album.
Yeah. I'm very proud of it.
Your set tonight was about half material from that album, wasn't it?
We did as much as we can. When we are doing this many cities in 10 or 11 nights, I have to be careful. I've got four more shows, so I have to be conscious of my voice.
You've got a new bass player right?
Yes. [Bach Drummer] Bobby Jarzombek hooked me up with him.
You've been with Bobby forever.
Oh yeah. Bobby is my guy. Bobby on the drums is so phenomenal as a player, he makes me raise my game. When I get up there with Bobby it's on because we're f---ing locked.
It’s the funniest thing. Skid Row will say, “He's hard to work with. He's got a big ego.” Bobby Jarzombek has no problem working with me.
I don't have an out of place ego. I'm a musician, so if I want the music to sound a certain way I'm allowed to say, “Hey let's try this. That's not that great. Let's work on it.” Me and Bobby, we love each other as people, musicians.
I'm only hard to work with if you suck. Then I'm your worst nightmare. I'm not saying I'm great or anything. I'm saying, “Let's all go for it as hard as we can and try or best and not b.s. ourselves. Let's put out something cool.”
That's the thing -- it's about that end product. It's about the music.
Yes, that lasts forever. The albums last forever. When we're all dead and gone those albums will always be and that is a form of immortality.
It's not only immortality; it's like a time machine. When you were playing some of the Skid Row songs tonight, I could see people flashing back.
Crying. They were bawling their eyes out.
Geddy Lee said something on the Rock Icons show. The reason he wanted to be in a band was because he used to have fantasies about being a superhero. He said, “Becoming a rock star was the closest thing in the world to being a superhero.” I totally agree with that. There's something bigger than life about rock 'n' roll, like larger than life. That's like comics. It's very cool.
You mentioned Skid Row. They just had a little churn at the front of the stage recently, as they replaced singer Johnny Solinger with Tony Harnell.
No, I have not spoken to [Skid Row bassist] Rachel Bolan in 19 years. The last time spoke to him was in 1996. Let me repeat: 19 years, so no -- we didn’t talk about that.
That's a long time.
There’s two things I don't get. How can you be mad at somebody for something they did 19 years ago? [Note: Bach presumably is referring to the 1996 incident where he booked Skid Row to open for KISS without first consulting the band.]
I mean really, let's get serious: It's not like I saw him last week and threw him down a flight of stairs or anything. I haven't seen that guy in 19 years. I don't even know what to say. It's insanity.
The other thing I would like to say is that I would like to apologize to Skid Row fans all over the world for one thing: Skid Row does not acknowledge Skid Row's legacy.
I go to Amoeba Records and I buy a 180 gram vinyl Rush Fly By Night and it is the greatest feeling. I am so excited that they put out these albums and I can go there and get a new copy with all the packaging and the stickers and the downloads. The Rush Sector 1 box set with the first album -- I took it out and put the poster on the wall of our garage. It's so fun.
Skid Row fans do not get that opportunity. I would like to say, it's out of my control. It makes me heartbroken that the first Skid Row album came out 25 years ago and there is not a 180 gram vinyl addition with a poster and a -- It makes me nuts. It makes me crazy, if you want to know the truth.
I don't even have to be in the same room with those guys to do that s--t. Why don't we embrace the legacy like every other band? All I mean by that is put out a DVD, put out a vinyl record, put out a box set.
I would like to apologize to my fans and Skid Row fans. I'm sorry that you can't go enjoy what we made for you. It doesn't exist. There's not one DVD of our videos. You cannot go and buy a DVD of the “18 and Life” video -- it doesn’t exist. Why? I mean why?
You're about the same age Paul and Gene were when the KISS reunion tour happened. That could be you guys right now.
It's a bummer being in a business with guys that commit breach of fiduciary duty on a daily basis. I'm still in a company with them. I'm still in the corporation.
Is that right?
Yes. It's me and Snake and Rachel. We're the three guys that are the corporation. Not the replacement singer. He's not part of it.
We got offered a reunion show at Sonisphere, and I can tell you all the details because it never happened. We were offered $250,000 per show for two shows, a Friday and a Saturday night. We were going to get paid half a million dollars and Rachel didn't want to do it. If you're in a company with somebody and they are turning down your work, that's really a bummer.
I'm not a big fan of breach of fiduciary duties. Why do you have to breach your fiduciary duties?
You got me there.
I'm just saying, Papa Don't Breach.
So you have a bunch of shows coming up, a wedding. What else does the future hold?
Well, my book is pretty much done.
That comes out in August, doesn't it?
Actually it just got pushed back to January and that's my thing. I'm not done. It's almost done, but I have to pick all the pictures. The book cover we are working on now. That's very important to me. We're making it. I'm over 450 pages.
Putting a book together is a big effort.
It is, and it’s overwhelming. It's very time consuming. I have to literally just lock myself in a room for eight hours by myself. I mean that's what writers do.
It’s true. We don't get to stand out on the front of the stage and get panties thrown at us.
Right, but I'm so lucky that I get to write my own book. I used to write on my website all the time, so I've been doing it for a long time, and I like it. It's been cathartic. Where I used to just write on the Internet, now I'm writing a book.
I really like Henry Rollins’ writing. I've read all of his books. Black Coffee Blues. The way he writes is so impactful. I’ll read a paragraph and it blows me away so much that I'll go back and read it again. The way he puts words together, he paints the picture. Like Get in the Van.
That's a great one.
If you like that, you'll dig my book. I'm not saying I'm as good as him or anything. I'm trying to say that's the kind of vibe my book is. It's pretty f---ing wild.
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