'Bach In The Saddle!'
Certainly one of the most electrifying performers of any decade, Sebastian Bach is set to release Angel Down on November 20, his first solo album in eight years. The 14-song album was produced by Roy Z (Bruce Dickinson, Judas Priest).
Joining Bach in the studio for Angel Down were guitarists "Metal" Mike Chiasciak and Johnny Chromatic, and Bobby Jarzombek on drums, all long-time members of his touring band, as well as Steve DiGiorgio on bass. In addition, Guns N' Roses' Axl Rose makes a special guest appearance contributing vocals on three of the album's songs - "Love is a Bitchslap," a cover of Aerosmith's "Back in the Saddle," and "Stuck Inside."
Last summer and fall, Bach toured North America and Europe extensively with Guns N' Roses, and did a 15-city tour of Japan, Australia and New Zealand this summer. In addition to recording and touring, Bach has been busy developing a television career with guest appearances on the popular Canadian mockumentary TV series "Trailer Park Boys," starring with Ted Nugent, Jason Bonham, Scott Ian and Even Seinfield on VH1's number one-rated reality show "Supergroup," and five seasons on the popular CW series "Gilmore Girls," playing the role of guitarist Gil.
He also hosted two VH1 #1-rated series "Forever Wild" and "40 Greatest Metal Songs," and he and his family were featured on VH1's #1 rated program, "I Married...Sebastian Bach." Bach recently signed on as one of eight celebrity contestants for the reality/competition series, "MTV's "Celebrity Rap Superstar," and proved he could rap as well as sing.
In addition, he has appeared on Broadway (Riff Raff in "Rocky Horror Show" and the title role in "Jekyll & Hyde"), and starred in the national touring production of "Jesus Christ Superstar."
Chatting recently to Sebastian whilst he was on his bus heading to another destination on his current Radio Tour, covering three States a day playing his new music on all the radio stations, I first wondered if it was correct that he had indeed finished the recording of 'Angel Down' back in the summer of 2006? And if so, why had it taken so long to finally come out? Sebastian Bach - "No, that's not true. We spent two weeks in the summer of 2006 recording and we got about 95% of the music done and about 80% of the vocals. 'Cause we were in the midst of a world tour with Guns 'N Roses and we only had two weeks on a break. And we actually had the recording session booked before we had the Guns 'N Roses tour booked. So we had to do them both and so we had to miss a bunch of huge Guns 'N Roses shows to record."
"I was on a label then called Spitfire Records who fronted me half the money that was in the budget ... so I was left with a half finished record at that point. So, I basically paid for the rest of it myself. I literally reached into my own pocket, believed in the project and paid for a couple more weeks of studio time with me and Roy Z. the producer. I then had something that was pretty much around 90% done."
"So, I sent it to a bunch of record labels, one of them being Jason Flom who is the man who originally signed me and Skid Row back in 1997. He's now the President of Capitol / EMI and he really liked the album. He sent it on to EMI and they ended up giving me a record deal. So, when I got that record deal EMI gave me the rest of the money to 100% finish the record. Which meant doing a couple more days of singing, finishing the drum triggers, ... and then I have a special guest on the record, Mr. Axel Rose! Who came in at the last moment there when I was finishing it up. I had just texted him and asked him when was he gonna sing on my record? I was just joking around, but it actually turned into reality," he laughs. "It was unbelievable ... and so he sings on three songs."
That must be a nice luxury to be able to text Axel Rose out of the blue to be on your new record and he agrees to ... and actually follows through! "Well, that might be the way it looks to the outside world, but it's all from him why this happened. I text him all day with silly sh*t. We talk about just stupid stuff on the texting. Like jokes, chicks, porn and the internet. Just dumb stuff. And so back and forth without really thinking about it I was just walking around the airport and asked him," he laughs. "I never in a million years thought that Axel Rose would sing on my record. I didn't think that would be ever possible. And he was the one who blew my mind by saying he'd do it."
"Me and Roy Z. - on the night that he said he was driving there - we were bouncing off the walls," he laughs again. "'Cause we didn't know if he was gonna show up! We just couldn't believe it when he pulls up in his Enzo and just walks in! It was just an outrageous situation."
And yet before this collaboration you had actually recorded some vocals for one of his upcoming G 'N R Chinese Democracy tracks, entitled 'Sorry'! "That's right ... and that happened because Axel had a party at his house and I was just singing along! And he really liked the harmony that I laid on the chorus. And so he booked time at Electric Lady and I just sang on it. And that record, he's got at least four albums worth of material done and it'll come out some time ... but I've no idea when!"
So, with all the 14 album tracks to choose from, why name the album 'Angel Down'? "Well, I've been writing the lyrics for seven years ... and when I think of what's happened over the last seven years and I don't see how you can't touch on the war in some way, shape or form if you've written lyrics over that period of time. And I have a 19 year-old son and so when I'm getting draft registry notices from George Bush in the mail for my own son, well, it makes you think. So 'Angel Down' is really about soldier. But it can also mean different things to different people who've lost a loved one. There's definitely an undercurrent in the lyrics that has to do with the war."
"'Youth Gone Wild' by Skid Row in 1988/89 summed up that generation for what it was - to be 19 years-old in 1989. Drinking beer, getting laid, driving your Camaro and doing donuts in the parking lot. There wasn't a lot to think of in 1988/89 if you were 19 years-old. But in 2006/07 you're really contemplating the very real possibility of going to war and dying on the battlefield. Which is something that I did not have to think of being 19 back then. But that's the world we now live in."
From back in the Skid Row days of writing lyrics to those on 'Angel Down,' it seems that your lyrics today are deeper, and that your vocal tone is decidedly more snarled! Purposeful, perhaps? "Well, the album 'Slave To The Grind' when it came out in 1991 after the first Skid Row album - which definitely had a poppier edge - everybody said that it was a real heavy album. And yeah, it was a lot heavier than the first Skid Row album. But all I can do as a musician is try to make something that we like. And you're really in a vacuum. I can't predict what somebody else is gonna like."
"All I can do is hear a guitar riff on my guitar player that I like and then write some lyrics that I feel are close to my heart. And if it takes the shape of being hard or whatever that's OK. I do listen to heavy metal ... and I love metal. So maybe that's coming out, but the one thing about my voice is that when I sing a ballad it's 'E' that really makes my voice sound special. The rock stuff is really fun, and I love doing it, but sometimes I think that when I do for ballad sound that that's really why I'm here on this planet. But there's nothing like heavy metal that gets in my veins that I can't get out. 'Cause once it gets in there it's really hard to get out," he laughs.
The new album design is actually an original painting by your late father, David Bierk. In this day and age of innocuous digital downloading and CD burning, why did you choose to put so much effort into your album artwork? "Yeah, it's called 'David Watching.' Dad did the cover to 'Slave To The Grind' back in 1991 which was a great cover. And the one thing I love about Iron Maiden is that when they have Eric Riggs do the Eddie painting on all the covers, to me as a fan it lends continuity to the body of work. Which goes along with the sound of Iron Maiden."
"So, just because my Dad's dead doesn't mean that his art can't live on. If anything it's even heavier now. It's like something from beyond the grave. If I didn't put it on an album cover maybe it would never get seen by anybody. So, it's definitely the case with me trying to carry on his legacy. And it just fits with the title so well. It's Jesus, which is a metaphor for the war and how we've perverted religion into killing and flying airplanes into buildings. So, that has a lot do with the cover."
"And you know, packaging now is definitely a lost art form. The standard thing to do these days is put the name of the artist at the top with a picture of his face. Because everything will eventually make its way onto an iPod scale. But I'll be damned if I'm not gonna try to bring it back. I'm gonna go for cool packaging and cool artwork. When I told my manager, 'Dude, I finally got the back cover' he just chuckles and said, 'Sebastian. Nobody cares about the back cover!' I was like 'Well, I care about the back cover'," he laughs heartily.
You also chose the one cover, Areosmith's 'Back In The Saddle' ... why that song? "That was Roy Z.'s suggestion. I already had thirteen songs which already made for a long album. But, I couldn't pick any to take off, so that's why they're all on there," he laughs. "I didn't want to do any covers, but Roy explained to me 'You're back. Your name's Sebastian Bach. It's cool the whole Bach is Back thing'."
"But what really convinced me was the way Metal Mike played the guitar riff. He really made that Joe Perry signature riff into this metal kinda groove-orientated thing. Which really blew me away. And then to have Axel on there of course is like a riotous over-the-top scream fest," he laughs. "I mean, we're screaming at the top of our lungs," he laughs. "That note that Steve Tyler hits 'riding high' in the middle, that's pretty much as high as I can go. I don't think I can go any higher than that ... unless my head explodes! But that was Roy's choice and I'm glad that he chose it as radio's really freakin' out on it. And actually Rolling Stone magazine this month has it as their number two pick of their favorite songs of this month!"
Your bio states that you 'Eat, sleep and breathe rock n' roll! But, is this still true to say after all these years?! "Really?! Well I gotta read that as I haven't read that yet. Perhaps I should read my own bio," he laughs. "I don't know ... I guess! I mean when I'm doing 'Jesus Christ Superstar' for six months I'm eat, sleeping and breathing theatre. So, I guess it all depends on what I'm doing at the time. But right now I'm definitely eat, sleeping and breathing rock n' roll, that's for sure."
Lastly, as most long-haired metal singers from the '80s and '90s have mostly all now cut their hair for the '00s, save for one time on Broadway, you never have. Why? "Yeah, I cut my hair in 2000 for Jekyll & Hyde and that was the shortest it's been in a long time. But I like long hair and I think it looks cool! I don't care really what other people do. One of my heroes is Willie Nelson. he's like 75 years-old, he smokes weed, does mushrooms, has hair down to his ass, and he's always on his tour bus rock 'n rollin'."
"So, I look at myself as the Willie Nelson of heavy metal," he laughs, one last time. "And with that, I gotta go and roll up a Willie Bomber for the next interview!"
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
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