A Bachalypse now
The cure to an ailing world? It’s soooo obvious: our favorite loud, egotistical, quintessential American who never shuts up, Sebastian Bach!
Yeah, there’s a war going on, but the thing is, America’s too busy fending off fondling charges and/or doing yoga to protest. And even if we did have time on our hands … hack, hack, cough. Where were we? Yes, the Earth is cooking in its inhabitants’ own corporate, smoggy mistakes—bigger fish to fry, you know?
But there’s more: Underprivileged children in Third World countries are sewing chinos for the Gap—it’s not the grandmas, after all, like we thought. And, surprise, meth is the new weed! The only bounty hunter we know is a seething racist; priests and Republicans are high-fiving over shared sexual perversions; impoverished children are better armed than the Canadian Forces; teenagers know the exact schematic of Britney Spears’ vagina, yet struggle to get through a book; Eddie Murphy lost his funny; frightening headlines on CNN, like “2007 now the deadliest year for U.S. troops in Iraq,” are gently massaged the same day by Fox News into, “Thousands returning to a safer Baghdad.” Prrrrrrr. And finally, when the yenta queen builds a school in Africa, we learn that the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls’ rigorous leadership training includes a steady diet of abuse and rape. Jesus, where’s Bono when you need him? Sting? Paula Ab … no, Fred Durst, not you. Go back in your corner.
And don’t even mention the hurricanes, fires and Dr. Phil. And what’s that? The guy from The Naked Gun movies kills and robs white people, and our star Atlanta quarterback abuses and murders animals for sport? Isn’t one sport enough? It turns out the glass ceiling even works on prayers, and God is LOL-ing with all this free time on his hands. And to top it all off—and not that it’s even relevant—but if you squint hard enough, our 2008 presidential candidates look a lot like the Village People. Seriously, try it.
Alas, we bumble into the dawn of a new stormy day, shivering like our coke was cut with Ajax—brothers and sisters scrambling frantically for a solitary second of inner peace, searching for some kind of modern identity, or even a reason just to lumber down the sidewalk (leaving murky carbon footprints everywhere, mind you), a shot at tomorrow’s empty promise. There’s a missing piece of the puzzle, dear readers—a vital piece. But in this time of extreme sorrow and bewilderment, the thought bubbles over our heads, big as they are, are empty as mirrors. Hack, hack, cough.
So thank God for Sebastian Bach. Because, obviously, he is the pill to cure our sickness.
A rock star, yeah. But not a let’s-connect-the-world-through-music, love, hashish and sandals kind of character. Bach’s flashy, loud, obnoxious, egotistical, never shuts up, and he loves to ramble on about the glory days. So when you look at it, Bach, whether you like it or not, is the quintessential American. In fact, he’s so American that he immigrated here.
It seems like we’ll need a little history, and from the looks of it, you still have no idea what’s going on. He was born in the Bahamas in 1968 as Sebastian Philip Bierk. Bach was raised in Canada by his father, the acclaimed visual artist, the late David Bierk. His brother, Zac, is an ex-NHL goalie and his sister, Dylan, is a television actress, known for her role on BeastMaster. Bach was raised in the limelight and he’ll be damned if the beam begins to shift away from his glorious figure.
Now here’s where it gets interesting: In the early 1990s, Bach’s band, arguably the best heavy-metal band to ever thrash a hotel room, Skid Row, topped the charts with hits “18 and Life,” “I Remember You” and the most ass-kicking anthem to date, “Youth Gone Wild,” which many remember from not just the radio, but its extended airplay at city, county and state fairs nationwide (Cal Expo, 1993, Tilt-A-Whirl: Skid Row was blaring in the background).
After he was ousted from the band in 1996 for “irreconcilable differences,” Bach, seemingly unfazed, sought out other ways to further his career, including Broadway stints, playing the leads in Jesus Christ Superstar, Jekyll & Hyde and Rocky Horror Picture Show. The crafty sonofabitch even landed a spot on WB’s hit chick-com Gilmore Girls. He irritated cast-mates Ted Nugent and Evan Seinfeld (of Biohazard) to no end during a brilliant reality spot on VH1’s SuperGroup, and most recently Bach screamed his way through a hilariously entertaining jaunt on MTV’s Celebrity Rap Superstar, which, well, the title kind of speaks for itself.
Amongst his peers, Bach’s been known to be kind, generous, funny, hilarious, a hell of a metal singer, as well as someone who is, well, totally annoying with an ego the size of a zeppelin. He’s at once everything that’s good about our country (vocal, intense, proud and very stubborn) and everything that other countries hate about us (vocal, intense, proud and very stubborn). With the release of his new solo album, Angel Down, coming out on November 20, (featuring vocals on three songs by Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose) something clicked.
That’s right, Sacramento—ye whose sidewalks register 120 degrees in the summer and whose mustachioed lounge-chair dwellers carelessly float down the river, wasted on Pabst—it’s gonna take more than multimillion-dollar conglomerates, a leadership of blithering fools, celebrity scandal, a war and two fancy-pants Maloofs to keep this city from healing. It’s our turn to play psychiatrist—to administer a healthy dose of Prozac to this mentally depressed nation. For we realize (since, obviously you did not) that the answer has been here all along, right under our cute surgically enhanced noses. So shut the hell up for a second, tilt your head back, raise your fist in the air, open your trap and say … hack, hack, cough.[page]
[Note: When Bach says the word “rock,” he pronounces it “rooock” in an almost Germanic accent.]
OK, check this out, dude: We’re doing a whole Sebastian Bach issue.
Whaaaaaat? All right! That sounds great. I love it!
So I’ve seriously been listening to Angel Down non-stop since I got it.
Well, thank you, dude. That makes me feel great. I worked on it for seven years.
Does anyone try and tell you that heavy metal is dead, that you should change your sound to conform with trends?
They told me that when I was recording [Skid Row’s] Subhuman Race record. Back in ’94 was when I heard that. But that was a long time ago and people seem to love rooock, that’s for sure.
It didn’t matter to me when I was doing Subhuman Race what they told me, so it doesn’t matter now, you know? I don’t look at outside situations when I’m making my music, as far as what other bands are doing or anything like that. I know what I like and I know my rooock ’n’ roll. I love rooock and I made it for myself. That’s the way I made the first Skid Row record, and that’s the way I made Slave to the Grind. That’s the way I made Angel Down. I made a record that I dig 100 percent. That’s what I’ll always do, you know?
And this time around, it seems like you had a perfect combination of people behind this album—like Axl Rose, for one. Did things just click in the studio?
That’s an interesting question. I wrote the album with a bunch of different songwriters—that’s why pretty much each song has its own vibe … and I don’t care if my plumber, my gardener, or I don’t care who the fuck writes the fucking song, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want a kickass record no matter what it takes—and it has to be able to kick ass from the first song to the last note. For me, it’s not who writes it, but what is written—what the tune is. I have an amazing collection of songs, and basically “Metal” Mike, Steve DiGiorgio, Johnny Chromatic and Bobby Jarzombeck are my band right now [except for Steve, who is not in the band anymore]—they’re the basic nucleus of the album. And we had a lot of metal tracks written, like “American Metalhead,” “Get it Right” and then Roy Z came in and he’s like, “Dude, you know what would be cool is if you had some straight-up rooock!” and then he came in with these riffs, like “Bitchslap,” which has like, holy shit, very straight-up, very sleazy, street kind of rooock—and I love that kind of music. That made it more of a complete kind of a record with all the textures and sounds. What I love about the album is that it keeps going. It’s 14 songs. Every song stands on its own.
You know, Angel Down gives me the same feeling as the first time I put on Mötley Crüe’s Too Fast for Love.
Oh wow! Really?
Yeah, dude, right when the song “Angel Down” came on I was like, “Holy Shit!”
Yeaaahhhhhhh! Hahaha! Well, the song “Angel Down” is great. It makes you turn your stereo up because the intro is quiet, so you’re like, “What’s goin’ on?” Then it’s like, fuckin’, “Boooooom! It’s over!”
It kicks your ass! I made it like that, dude—for me. I’m trying to make an album that you can put in your iPod next to Slave to the Grind and fucking it makes sense. And that’s not easy.
Would you be pissed if someone said that Angel Down is better than anything Skid Row has ever done?
Would I be pissed? I’d kiss the motherfucker!
I mean, you can’t compare, you know? I know just like every band I look up to, like Rush and AC/DC, they have 30 records out. So, believe me, I’ve got a ton of energy and all of the TV and theater—everything I do is to promote my rooock ’n’ roll because we live in such a crazy celebrity-obsessed culture that if I could wear my Angel Down T-shirt on Celebrity Rap Superstar, it’s fucking killer to me because my fans are like, “Look at Baz, man, wearing his fucking album cover on a rap show. He knows what he’s doing.” I mean, I gotta get the word out. I’m one of those guys, but in my brain all these TV shows I do, nothing means anything close to what Angel Down means to me. It means so much to me and I love talking about it and I can’t believe it’s coming out. I’ve been working on it so long. It really is coming out. When I listen to it, I can’t do any TV shows. I’m like, fuck every TV show in the world, because this is the shit right here.
You waited a while to put out this album.
I was given a deadline, too. I got a new record deal through EMI—a huge fucking record deal—but they said if you want it out by Christmas, you gotta have it done by this certain date. It was in August! And I was like, “Jesus Christ, why do you have to have something done in August to have it out by December?” But it was good that somebody put that in my face and got the job done, finally.
I was reading in an interview when I think you were 20-something. You were like, “When I’m 39, my voice will be at its peak.” [Bach is now 39.]
Is that what I said?
Yeah dude. And you’re like, “I’m gonna’ have long-ass hair like Crystal Gayle.”
Ha! No way![page]
And finally, you’re like, “and I’m still going to be rocking!”
And you still are, dude!
That’s totally true! And my hair is getting back to fucking Crystal Gayle level here. I’m on track!
Dude, I’m gonna be doing this for the rest of my life. I look up to people like, I mean, you mentioned Too Fast For Love, my heroes used to be like Mötley Crüe, now it’s like Neil Young and Willie Nelson—these old dudes that just never stop rooocking. That’s definitely what I’m going to do. I’ve got the voice. It’s in my throat right here and that’s really all I fucking need, if you really want to know the truth.
There’s never going to be a point when you’re just going to stop rocking?
No, nothing really makes me happier than making music. Since Slave to the Grind came out, [Angel Down] is like the natural progression from that. To me, this is like when Ozzy put out Blizzard of Oz after Black Sabbath. This is kind of the same vibe, for me, because it doesn’t really sound like Skid Row, but it kind of does, though.
Yeah, it does.
Because my voice—that’s the voice of Skid Row, and that’s just the way it is. And, like, Duff McKagan, when he was talking about Velvet Revolver, he definitely wanted me in the band. He said, “I love Sebastian and he can sing like a motherfucker, but all you think of when you hear that voice is Skid Row,” and I’m going, well, dude, all I think of when I hear your bass playing is Guns N’ Roses … but I love Guns N’ Roses! A lot of people love Skid Row, so if you dug “I Remember You” and all that stuff, I mean, I know you’re gonna dig this album because I dig that stuff, too. I don’t deny my own music or shy away from it. I embrace it, and this album, to me, fits along with the other albums. And that’s all I wanted.
You know, when I heard “Falling Into You,” I think I fell in love with you a little bit.
Ahhhhhh!!!! [Pause] That’s OK!
Ha, does that make you uncomfortable?
That’s fine with me. No. I wrote it with Desmond Child. I know he wouldn’t be uncomfortable about it.
When you were approached by MTV with Celebrity Rap Superstar, were you kind of bummed out at first?
I kinda just rolled my eyes. My attitude is kind of like, “Uh, is this what you want? This is what you want? It’s what you want, right? Here. Here you go.” Phhhhhesh.
Like, that is my attitude. I’ve been doing television shows for MTV for 20 years—this is another one of them. That’s what that is. You know?
It was a fun show, though.
Yeah, I thought it turned out pretty good, actually. I mean it’s live, so I could suck, you know? And some performances were better than others, but when I was on, man, and when I was really kickin’ it, it was kickass!
When you were on tour with Guns N’ Roses, to watch you onstage with Axl, it just looked insane, seeing you there in front of thousands of people with Axl fucking Rose next to you. A normal person like me can’t wrap his head around that kind of thing.
I can’t wrap my head around it, either! And I’ve spent a better part of the year on the road with them. I sang on Chinese Democracy on a song called “Sorry” and I came out to finish my album a couple months ago and I said (to Axl) “When are you gonna’ sing on my record?” just kidding around, and then he came down and did it. He sings on three songs: “Back in the Saddle” [an Aerosmith cover], “Love is a Bitchslap” and also “Stuck Inside.”
I think my favorite part of the record, definitely, is the ending of “Stuck Inside,” when he goes to this high harmony over what I’m singing, and it’s so mind blowing. It’s just crazy. And if anybody out there digs metal-style vocals, this album has got it. We got metal singing on this album.
That’s the cool thing, because I really wasn’t expecting it. I was expecting a change or some kind of weird, pop shit.
Fuck all that. I’m gonna give you rooock. It’s what I’m gonna give you, dude.
Just from watching you on television, it seems that people are always like, “God damn, calm down Sebastian.” Do you get that a lot?
Yeah … yeah, yeah … yeah. Ha! On the rap show, I’d be doing my Italian vocal exercise and Kurupt would be like, “What in the fuck are you doing?” I was like, “Le-le-le-le-le-le!” and he’s like, “Stop it, dude—your voice is warmed up enough, brother.”
And, I mean, SuperGroup was one of those shows that’s edited to make everyone look as shitty as possible. So I’m kind of done with those kinds of shows.
Would you say that you rock harder than everyone who rocks now?
No, I think everyone rocks hard in their own way.
That’s very nice of you.
OK, I rock harder than, what the fuck is that guys name? That guys name from The Hills? [Jason] Wahler.
But do you rock harder than Van Halen?
No, they rock pretty hard.
Anything you wanna’ say about the album?
Check it out. I worked really hard on it. Everybody’s been waiting a long time for the return of Axl Rose. That day is November 20. I really hope you dig it and that’s it man. Go to the Web site, www.sebastianbach.com.
You’re the best dude.