SEBASTIAN BACH: Relationship with Axl Rose, New Album, and Skid Row
RM: Your last critically acclaimed solo effort, Angel Down, was released in 2007. Why did it take you so long – four years – to record a follow-up?
SB: I don’t think four years is too long, especially in this day and age. The record industry changed a lot. And it came a little quicker than Chinese Democracy! (Laughs) It’s important to make albums that stand the test of time. You’ve been listening to these Skid Row albums for twenty years now, so I have to make CDs you can listen to for decades. It has to stand up to the other ones I’ve done, and these other ones are very popular still, to this day. That’s what I’m trying to do.
RM: It sounds like the Skid Row albums you played on are a point of reference for you…
SB: You see, a lot of people are so attached to the Skid Row albums. For some reason, they think they’re amazing, that they can’t be beaten or something. But that’s just me recording in a studio. I don’t do anything different now with my solo band than I did with Skid Row. It’s all the same thing. For me, I love those records, but I’d rather have like twenty albums than three or four or five. I’d like to have a complete body of work, not just five or six CDs. My intention is to have fifteen or twenty CDs by the time I die. That’s what I would like, that’s what I’m trying to do.
RM: The album is called Kicking & Screaming. Do you think it is what best defines rock’n’roll and metal?
SB: Yeah, Kicking & Screaming is a good title. It just sums up rock’n’roll. But the chorus is actually about having sex! “In the night we’ll be kicking and screaming… make me go insane.” So it’s about making love… and fucking. (Laughs) I guess it’s the same thing… No, it’s not! (Laughs) But it’s also about having a good time. And it just sounds good, too! You have to have a good title. I’m getting pretty naughty right now… (Laughs)
RM: It’s now been over ten years that you’ve been releasing music as a solo artist. Aren’t you missing playing in a real, stable band context, being equal with your band mates and not a singer with a backing band?
SB: I guess you’re referring to my old band, Skid Row. I think if you listen to the music they make without me, and then to Angel Down and Kicking & Screaming, you would realize why we’re not together. I don’t want to brag, but my albums just blow their fucking albums away, and anybody with two ears would tell you that. To me, my albums sound more like original Skid Row than the new Skid Row sounds like Skid Row.
RM: That was actually one of my questions: your solo albums are much more aggressive and heavy than what Skid Row does today. Does this mean that the heaviness and aggressiveness of the older Skid Row albums, especially Slave To The Grind, came from you?
SB: Yes, it did. I’m not gonna lie to you: I am a guy that makes sure his CDs sound like that. People can say I’m hard to work with. I’m not hard to work with. I just refuse to suck! I will not put out a fucking CD that sucks. I have a good ear. We don’t like each other, but even Snake from Skid Row said in an interview: “Sebastian’s biggest contribution to Skid Row was that he could take a good song”. And I can. If I feel a song in my heart, like 18 And Life, then I can really sing it emotionally, and that’s what people relate to, it’s emotion. Snake’s a manager now, he manages other bands, he’s into the business side of things. I’m not into that. I’m more into the creative side of music. That’s why I got in it. I didn’t get in it as a job, I got in it ‘cause I’ve always been a singer, and my voice just has a life of its own. I was the metalhead in Skid Row. I was the guy that would be in the studio when those guys would be playing golf or doing business. I was the guy that was in there all the time, making sure that those albums sounded like they sound. And I will keep doing that for the rest of my life. I love making CDs, it’s very fun to me. I like writing songs, doing album covers and making videos. It’s very fun, I get very excited about it. Ask my girlfriend, I even get too excited! (Laughs)
RM: There’s kind of a trend lately for bands reformation. But you and Skid Row seem to be one of the last bands still resisting that trend. Is your relationship with the other guys still that bad after all these years?
SB: I don’t have a relationship with them. In fact the drummer just asked for my cell phone number and I told him that he could go get fucked! (Laughs) That happened about five minutes ago! I know that’s the trend, I know that every other band is together, I know Motley Crue is together, and Poison… I know they are, but I’m not in those bands. My band’s different. What interests me in life is making new music. If those guys in Skid Row wanted to get together and possibly write some new songs and record them, and then go on tour with a new record, I’d be interested in that. But nobody’s talking about that. It’s all about reunion tours, go and get the money, play old songs… It just doesn’t interest me at all. To me, making Kicking & Screaming is more important than going on tour and playing old songs. Contributing to my body of work is what I want to do, that’s my thing. To be honest with you, when we’re all dead and gone, the CDs will be what remains. They’ll be around when we’re all dead and gone. Everybody will have the CDs forever. So to me, that’s more important, it lasts forever. Like books: you write a book, it will be around long after you’re dead. That’s the same with music. That’s why I really enjoy it. It’s like a form of immortality; it’s a way to make your presence on this Earth known for ever and ever. People will always be listening to these songs, and that’s really amazing to me. Incredible.
RM: You wrote a very moving tribute to the late Jani Lane, Warrant’s former singer. You seemed particularity touched by his death and the circumstances of his death. Has this sad event somehow opened your eyes on some aspects of your own present or past life?
SB: Yes. It just scares me that there’s a new death in rock’n’roll like every week. Amy Winehouse two weeks ago, at the age of 27, and then last week, Jani Lane, at the age of 47. There’s not many rock stars around, and when they keep dying, I’m like: “Am I next?” or whatever. It’s kind of scary. It’s an extreme lifestyle, it’s an extreme way of living; there’s a lot of traveling and hard work that comes into it. I want to be around for as long as I can, but when a guy like that dies, in his forties, it’s quite frightening. It’s quite a wake-up call. I feel very sorry for his children, that they don’t have a dad. That’s very heart-breaking and sad. And of course I feel for his family, and most of all for him. For him to die alone in a hotel room, it’s so scary. I feel very sad for him. If I think about it too much, I could probably sob right now. It’s a very sad situation. Nobody likes to be alone; no girl does, no guy does. But it’s part of life, and you have to deal with it.
RM: On to another subject: these recent years, you have made multiple appearances during some Guns N’ Roses concerts. Axl Rose sang on Angel Down and you did backing vocals on the Guns N’ Roses song Sorry. What has drawn you together to the point of creating what looks like a strong friendship with Axl?
SB: I met Axl in 1989, when I was opening up for Aerosmith at the L.A. Farm. He came and sang a song with Steven Tyler, and he didn’t know the words, so I taught him the words right before he went on. We’ve been friends ever since. We’re extremely close, Axl is very close to me. I’ve known him for a long time. Nobody helps me in rock’n’roll more than him. He’s helped me out immensely. He brought Skid Row on tour back in ’92 or ‘91, and then he brought my solo band on tour like three or four years in a row. That’s rare in this business. He could take any band out on tour with him, but he takes me out, and it’s really nice. As for me singing on his album, yes, I sang on Chinese Democracy, and then I asked him off-handedly: “Hey dude, I sang on your record, when are you going to sing on mine?” He was like: “Tell me when and where”, and I couldn’t believe it: “What?! You’re really gonna sing on my record?!” He showed up at the studio and we had a great night, and he sang incredibly. He was going to sing on Kicking & Screaming too, he said : “Baz, what’s the last day I can sing on this record?” I gave him a day, and that day came and went, so… (laughs) He didn’t make it this time, but maybe he could be on the next record. He’s a great singer, I love the sound of his voice.
RM: So, you think you will collaborate further with Axl in the future?
SB: We definitely will, sometime in the future. But he has his own schedule, to say the least. He has his own clock, he’s on Axl time! (Laughs) When we did the concerts, people asked me when Guns N’ Roses would go on, and I would say: “They’re going on Axl time!” (Laughs)
Read Sebastian Bach’s entire interview by clicking here.