Always outspoken, a hungry and exhausted Sebastian Bach sits down for a brief chat with eonmusic following his performance on the Bohemia stage at the Sonisphere 2014. He’s wound up by the fact that some people couldn’t get in to see his performance, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not good for an entertaining sound bite. Larger than life, Seb waxed lyrical about rivalries with his old band, his appearances on the American TV show ‘Sing Your Face Off’ and how he believes that Gary Cherone is the only singer for Van Halen. Angel down; Eamon O'Neill.
Hi Sebastian, you played in the tent today on the Bohemia Stage. Quite a few people couldn’t get in to see you as it was so rammed.
It’s crazy. Very, very frustrating. It’s stupid, I’ve been doing this for thirty years, and I should be able to speak between the songs, but when I only have forty minutes there’s no time for that. What am I going to do? It’s not a long time.
Your new album ‘Give ‘Em Hell’ was released in March; how had it been received?
It’s going great. I love the album. I’ve got Duff McKagan on there, and John 5 is on the first single ‘Temptation’. It’s also got Stevie Stevens, who has always been one of my favourite guitar players.
That’s a stellar line-up.
Yeah, and it sounds totally incredible. It’s the highest charting record of my whole solo career, and also the highest charting release that anybody from Skid Row’s been on in seventeen years, so that’s cool. I’m very pleased with that.
Playing at Knebworth today, did you know that that was where Queen played their last ever show?
I thought it was where Zeppelin played their last show. Queen as well, in that exact tent? Wow! Oh, Queen got on the main stage (!)
Were you tempted to break out the yellow leather jacket and the fake ‘tache again as you did on ‘Sing Your Face Off’ for the occasion?
Did you get to see that over in England? I thought that the content was blocked. Freddy Mercury has always been one of my favourite singers so that was an honour to do that.
You were a terrifying Lady Gaga.
I loved it. That was actually my favourite one.
It seemed that there were really no limits as you went through so many guises.
I did Willie Nelson, and Adam Levine was challenging to me because I did not know who that was. *laughing* So I’m asking people, Avril Lavigne? And they go no, that’s a chick.
Were you familiar with the song though; Maroon 5’s ‘Moves Like Jagger’?
Yes, just from hearing it as a human being. I mean, I studied Willie Nelson and Freddy Mercury since I was a little boy, so those were more suited.
So did the TV show throw those suggestions at you, or was it your own choice?
Yeah, you have to do what you have to do. The first one, I let them do it their way. That was Adam Levine, and I wasn’t happy with it. So the next one was Lady Gaga and I flicked a switch in my head and I said “Sebastian. Now it’s time for you to fuckin’ rock! No matter what, do it for your fans, do it for yourself”. So they had this outfit that they wanted me to wear that was like some girls red chiffon think and I go; “I’m not fuckin’ wearing that. I’m not wearing that on your show. I’m not wearing that ever”. So we got pictures of Lady Gaga and found something that suited my persona, because she’s a real metal head. She really loves metal, and she’s a very theatrical performer. So they showed me this picture of her in this black, kind of Kiss-like shoulder thing and I had big antlers on my head like Angelia Jolie, which was weird because that Maleficent movie came out the week that I was doing that. It was like the same look. But what’s funny is that the very next day after I did that, Lady Gaga started wearing a Skid Row shirt and she also started following me on Twitter, so it’s pretty crazy and kinda cool.
Getting back to Knebworth, and a leaked poster for Sonisphere 2011 appeared to show a reunited Skid Row as special guests to Kiss.
That’s right. Sonisphere did offer us to play second on the bill here, but my old band didn’t want to do that so instead [this year] they get my solo band. So I guess in their brain they think that somehow I’m way better with those guys, and in actual fact, I’m way better with my solo band musically. My band members are real players. But I guess they think, Sebastian solo, put him in the tent. But the people don’t see me any different.
You played at the Download Festival in 2012, and this year Skid Row played the Download Festival in almost exactly the same slot, on the same stage, playing almost the same set as you.
I think that very very soon, promoters are going to realise that none of us are getting any younger. It’s like, Ozzy Osbourne can play like Black Sabbath plays. Any day now, that’s going to be me. I can see it. I can see the crowds. I see the audience. But the promoters want me with Skid Row on the main stage and me solo in the tent. But then people can’t get in. The public decides this shit. And I’m seeing what the public is saying.
You parted ways with Skid Row in 1996, and Van Halen would have been looking for a singer then. Did you try out?
There was some talk of that, but no I never tried out. It just didn’t happen. We all know who the true lead singer of Van Halen is, right? Come on, we all know it’s Gary Cherone. That’s the truth, that’s Van Halen. That’s the fuckin’ real Van Halen. I can’t touch that. [To Cherone] How did that work out for you? *laughing*
Shortly after that you did The Last Hardmen.
Unfortunately. That’s just not even worth talking about. That was like an experiment, something that I did at a very strange time in the music industry. It was an interesting experiment to see if the worlds of rock ‘n’ roll and alternative can combine, and the answer is; no, they cannot.
Finally, has your solo career brought you back to who you really are, musically?
‘Give ‘Em Hell’ is a real album. ‘Kicking and Screaming’ and ‘Angel Down’ are real albums. All of those albums cost, like six figures to make. If people knew how much money it cost to make those albums, and how much time and effort went into it… you can’t even imagine it. ‘Give ‘Em Hell’, I went in every single day for a year. I went insane trying my hardest to make that. People don’t understand how much it takes. But yeah, it’s all good.