In his youth, Sebastian Bach was not that different from you or me. He was just your average kid with a dream and a undying love for rock n’ roll. He first exploded onto the scene in the late eighties as the lead singer of Skid Row and wasted no time establishing himself as one of the best voices on the rock scene. Internal struggles tore that iconic band apart but Bach soldiered on as a solo artist. Now, with well over two decades in the limelight, it is clear that no one embodies the spirit of rock n’ roll quite like him. A testament to his musical legacy, he has gone on to sell in excess of 20 million records worldwide as lead singer with his former band and as a solo artist. Not to shabby for a Canadian kid with rock ‘n’ roll dreams! A jack-of-all-trades, this multi-faceted performer has run the gamut from rock frontman, to Broadway actor to reality TV star and back again. Like any great artist, Bach has had his fair share of ups and downs, struggles in an ever-changing music industry and even the occasional legal battle but as time marches on, he shows absolutely no signs of slowing down and he will be the first to tell you that he has no plans to fade quietly into the night! As a matter of fact, he plans to go ‘Kicking and Screaming!’ Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Sebastian Bach to discuss the making of his powerful new album, his relationship with the rock media and what the future holds for him musically!
Your music influenced so many people over the years, myself included. I was curious to learn how music first came into your life?
My parents played music at my house all the time when I was a little boy. I can remember my mother in the kitchen, making dinner and listening to Jimi Hendrix’s “Let me stand next to your fire.” My dad always played music. I was raised on Neil Young, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. They named me after John Sebastian of The Lovin’ Spoonful. My sister was named after Bob Dylan, her name is Heather Dylan Bierk. So really, there hasn’t been a time where music hasn’t been a part of my life.
Through the years you, like any great artist, had your share of ups and downs along the way. When you started out as a kid playing in a rock band, did you think you would still be going strong all these years later?
No and it is amazing! This new record, “Kicking and Screaming,” is the first time that I have been on the charts since 1995. So, it has been 16 years without being on the charts. It feels amazing and it is incredible!
To what do you attribute the longevity of the rock ‘n’ roll? Is there a secret to your success?
Oh yeah! I would say that the secret to my success is that I know how to warm up my voice. There is a whole technique that I use that is called Bel Canto. It is a way to warm up your pipes. I totally know how to get my voice workin’! I look up to guys like Neil Young, who are in their 60s and 70s and still rockin’! I am lucky to have this voice and just kinda have to get out of the way of my own voice and let it do its thing! Everything that I have ever gotten in my life is from my voice. So I just keep singin’! I think that is the secret!
Your new album, “Kicking and Screaming,” is pretty fucking awesome. Bob Marlette, Nick Sterling and Bobby Jarzombek — What did they bring to the table on this project?
Nick brought the most. He is such a prolific songwriter and is a great performer. He is great to work with! I am really looking forward to doing another record with him! He is a young dude and has has a lot of energy. He is a super talented guy and I am very lucky that I found him! He has been a big part of revitalizing my whole sound.
What was the biggest challenge in putting it together?
When we were recording it, I guess the biggest challenge was making a record that could stand up to the other records that we have made. We have done that! I would say that now the biggest challenge is establishing ourselves in a touring capacity, like we have done with the record.
What inspired the title of the record?
It was the music of that song. That was the last song that we wrote for the album and it was a title that I had been thinking about for a couple of years. I love music where the lyrics seem to describe the sound of the music and, to me, the music that we were working on sounded like kicking and screaming! So, as I read through my lyrics that I had written down, that was the title that I wanted to fit the music within.
Was there any material you worked on that didn’t make the album that we may hear in the future?
Yes, we had a bunch of other songs — three or four with Nick that were fucking amazing and then I had about five or six songs with Jamey Jasta and another song with John 5, so there is a bunch of other demos. I´ll probably do the next record soon because I wanna capitalize on this momentum while we have it.
So, it is pretty safe to say you are in a positive place creatively these days?
Absolutely! And like I said, I think Nick had a lot to do with that and I want to do some more songs with him, really quick!
That is great! The cover art for the album is pretty kick ass too. It is almost a throw back to a different time when rock ‘n’ roll cover art really was an art form to itself.
Yeah, that was done by an artist by the name of Richard Villa. He also did the cover art for Black Veil Brides. I´m good friends with them and Andy [Biersack] showed me their cover and I was blown away. The cover is the goddess Kali Ma dragging me into hell with knives to kill me and I’m kicking and screaming not to be dragged into hell, so It totally relates to the lyrics on the record. My girlfriend Minnie, she’s a model, did an amazing photo session and he painted it from there. He did an incredible job and it almost looks like it is animated, like it is moving! It is an awesome album cover! I really want to do a backdrop of it!
You mentioned having a little more push behind this album, which is great. You teamed up with Frontiers Records for this release. How has that experience been for you as an artist?
It has been great! They have really pulled out all of the stops! Everything they do is such high quality. We have a DVD called “As Long As I’ve Got The Music,” which comes with the deluxe version of the record. It was shot on the Guns ‘N Roses tour and has the Pro Tools sound from the board. I don’t know if you have seen the DVD yet but it is very funny and cool! It’s a great DVD and I am happy to be working with them and getting this out to the fans.
Looking back on your body of work, how do you feel you evolved as an artist over the years?
I think that I have gotten better as a songwriter. I think that the songs that I am writing now are better than the ones that I was writing when I was in Skid Row. I was very young then, so it has taken me awhile to come into my own. When I listen back to this new album, I am just so proud of it! Out of all of the CDs that I have done, this is the one that I have listened to the most. I think that it sounds great and I just love listening to it.
You are pretty active in terms of using social media. Has that had a big impact on you as an artist?
I think that Facebook is where you find your friends and that Twitter is where you get to know them. I feel that people can really get to know me through my tweets and see my life in a new way. I think that is really cool. You can’t control fame and you have to take the good with the bad. Sometimes people can be really mean on the Internet. I really don’t care if you say things about me because I am famous but if you talk about my family members or things like that, that really bugs me. But like I said, you can’t control fame so you have to take the good with the bad.
Understandable! But you would consider it a positive experience overall?
Oh yeah. Yeah! I have around 170,000 people that follow me on Twitter. That’s a fuckin’ lot of people! [laughs] I appreciate that they follow me and that I have that many people interested in reading what I am doing. It’s unbelievable!
It is no secret the rock media tends to focus in on snippets of what a star says and many times puts a negative spin on it to generate controversy. What do you think of the current state of rock media?
I don’t need the rock media as much as the rock media needs me. Because, when you have your own website or you have 170,000 followers on Twitter, it helps the media as much as it helps me because they want to get access to my fans. The great thing about the rise of social media is that it puts the artist in direct contact with the fans and the world. So, I can control it in a way. If someone says something shitty, well, I can just delete them off of my page! [laughs] So, be careful what you say, because I don’t fuckin’ care! I’ll delete your ass! [laughs] I can control it! I think that it is really good for the artist.
You have done everything from music, performing on stage, to doing reality television. Is there something you want to focus your energy on and take on in the future?
Yeah, that is my easiest answer. I want to go on tour in big places, like I could if I were to rejoin Skid Row. If I did that, we would be booked in all of the big places. Ya know, I just went to see Foreigner two nights ago and there was not one member of Foreigner in Foreigner! It was five other guys! [laughs] There were 20,000 people there with their beers held up in the air, singing along and nobody cared! It was shocking to me! I think that I have established myself in the recording area and I want to tour properly, in big places, like Foreigner can — and it’s not even Foreigner! I am Sebastian and it’s really me! [laughs] So that is a very easy answer!
I know you are thinking of doing an autobiography. What is the status of that project?
We haven’t even started on that yet. It is going to be a HUGE undertaking! I can tell you that my book is going to be very thick, a lot of pages! [laughs] It is a very big undertaking, so I am going to tackle that later on down the line. Right now, I just want to concentrate on rock ‘n’ roll!
You’ve seen the music industry change so much through the years. What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in the music industry in this current climate?
Honestly, I would recommend taking music lessons and learning your instrument to the best of your ability. Again, my voice has brought me everything in my life and I am very grateful.
Do you think we will see you popping up on stage with Guns ‘N Roses on their upcoming North American tour dates?
I hope so! I have been texting Axl and I really hope that we can do some shows together!
In your opinion, what does the future hold for Sebastian Bach musically?
I am just going to keep making music until the day that I die! Hopefully, that is going to be a long time from now! That is all that I know and I am going to keep doing it! You are seeing a lot of great musicians still out there doing it. It is inspiring. Hopefully, I still have a lot of great years left in me — so I am going to ROCK!
Is there anything we can pass along from you to your fans?
Thank you very much for putting me BACH on the charts after 16 years! I am glad that you all like the record and I hope to see you on the road really soon!
Thanks for your time, Sebastian. We loved the new album and it received our highest marks. It sounds fresh, aggressive and totally rock ‘n’ roll!
Fuckin’ awesome, dude! I really appreciate it! Thanks so much! Have a great one!