Sebastian Bach, the iconic rocker of the flowing mane and golden pipes, spoke with us today ahead of the Oz/NZ leg of his 18 and Live tour. Among other things, we talked to Sebastian about his latest album, ‘Give ‘em Hell’, working with Duff McKagan, John 5, and Steve Stevens, his incredible vocal range, Kings of Chaos, and even Chris Hemsworth’s hair.
SR: What’s the 18 and Live tour been like, so far?
SB: We just did seven weeks across America and Canada and now we’re coming to New Zealand and Australia. It’s always been one of our greatest crowds down there, so we’re very excited to come back. We did three Australian tours of the Angel Down CD and then zero for Kicking and Screaming, so it’s great to come back for Give ‘Em Hell for sure.
SR: Will Sebastiana [his daughter] join you on this tour?
SB: No, the plane flight is brutal and she will be in school then. She only joins me when she’s not in school.
SB: Well, I would say Aerosmith was the highlight, you know, other than me of course. I watched Aerosmith’s show and Steven Tyler’s voice was just astonishing. And the way they played and all their solos. I thought Aerosmith was unbelievable! But I watched a video of Kings of Chaos when we played there, doing Welcome to the Jungle, and that was full-on badass. You could tell that I had spent many years standing on the side of the stage with Axl in front of me because I can sing those songs. My voice is in that range. There’s honest to God not many singers I know of who are singing in that range anymore, but I certainly am, and I still sing heavy metal.
SR: Your range is staggering. I saw Sing Your Face Off, when you did everything from Freddie Mercury through to Lady Gaga. It was mind blowing.
SB: I went into the scream register in that Lady Gaga song for sure at the end. [Sings:] ‘Want your bad romance.’ That was full on screaming and I really loved watching that. I couldn’t believe that the chips were down and I’m on live TV and when the song breaks and it’s time for me to sing that way it sounded fuckin’ kick ass. I thought it was killer. I think that’s a good song. I don’t have any limits on what kind of songs or music I like. If I feel it in my heart and I have an emotional response to it, that means I like it. And it’s the same with movies, too. I like to rate movies, and if I give it five stars, that means it made me cry. (Laughs). I know that sounds silly.
“I’m just lucky, you know, to ask the best players in rock to play on my record.”
SR: Name some movies that made you cry?
SB: Well, this is going to sound insane, but the Marvel movies. My brain can’t handle the imagination from when I was a little kid reading those comics to seeing it in my face, like in 3D Imax. It’s just overwhelming to me. And I always say to myself – like if I’m at an Avengers movie and I get teary-eyed, I go, ‘What the fuck is wrong with me? Like, Jesus! It’s a little kids’ movie! I mean, what the fuck is wrong with me?!’
SB: Why does it make me do this? What the fuck is going on in my brain? Like, when Loki is like [adopts a UK accent], ‘Oh, you blithering stupid creature! You know nothing! You’re a stupid green…stupid creature!’ And then the Hulk walks up and just goes, ‘Fuck you!’ and he’s just Wham! Bam! That makes me cry.
SR: You should be asked to be cast in one of these things.
SB: I could be Thor, ‘cause I have that hair! You know how weird I am? I thought that was really Chris Hemsworth’s real hair. When I saw his real hair, I was like, ‘No way!’ I couldn’t believe that he looked like a maths teacher in real life. Some people are meant to have long hair. Chris Hemsworth, you are one of these people!
SR: He definitely is. Speaking of acting, you’ve done four Broadway productions. Will you do more?
SB: Yes, I will do more of it. I’ve been close to doing other plays. Each play is completely different. The thing that is really international down in Australia, New Zealand, and across the world, that I get noticed for a lot is the Gilmore Girls and Trailer Park Boys. They’re both on Netflix, and Netflix is huge. Especially in Canada – the Trailer Park Boys is fuckin’ huge! ‘You like model fuckin’ trains?!’
SB: Everywhere I go, there are people who shout that at me. It’s pretty big, Down Under, right?
SR: Yes it sure is. And you bought a fair bit of honey.
SB: (Laughs). Oh yeah, the honey! I’ve got to pay for that fuckin’ honey as well! I mean, what the fuck?!
SR: Year in, year out, your voice seems to remain the same. What’s the secret to maintaining that eternally rockin’ voice of yours?
SB: There’s a scale called Bel Canto. You can look it up. You can maybe search in your town and see if you can take lessons from someone who will teach you the scales. That’s the real secret. I don’t smoke as much as I used to. I still do smoke, but not as much as I used to. I vape now. It’s a completely different thing in my lungs and for my voice. I don’t cough all the time or anything anymore. That’s made a difference. I used to smoke quite a bit.
SR: ‘Give ‘Em Hells’ been a huge hit. It’s still really heavy, but more melodic. Was that something you intended before you started production?
SB: No. It’s so hard to explain to somebody who doesn’t make records what making records is. You go into a room with nothing, right? And you’re supposed to come out of there a couple of weeks later with like 13 tunes that blow the whole world away!
SR: No pressure.
SB: Yeah. It’s like, go try it. It’s not easy. It’s a fuckin’ crazy process of heartache and trial and tribulation and hurting people’s feelings. It’s not an easy thing. You know, nothing good comes easy. But when I feel proud of an album, I am confident that when you press play, it’s going to whoop your fuckin’ ass. And every time, I’m like, ‘Damn! This is some heavy shit!’
SR: It’s a fantastic album. What feedback have you had, personally?
SB: The songs that people are really relating to are ‘Temptation’ and ‘All My Friends are Dead.’ ‘Push Away’ we did a couple of times live and everybody loves that song live. And I can hit those notes live, which I don’t understand whatsoever. I thought, ‘There’s no way I can do that song live’, but for some reason, I can do it. Then, when I go on iTunes, it has the ratings of the most downloaded tunes of your album and the most downloaded song is Hell Inside My Head, so who knows. That’s the most downloaded tune. It’s weird. I’ll take it.
SR: I think this album is one of your best.
SB: It’s so nice of you to say that. Thank you.
SB: I’m just lucky, you know, to ask the best players in rock to play on my record. And, you know, Duff has always been a hero of mine. There have been times in my life when Duff has felt like my brother. You know, I’ve toured with those guys and known him for a long time. I got to play with him again in L.A at a show. We did Patience and my fiancé, Suzanne, filmed it on her phone. And it’s gone viral, the video of me and Duff doing Patience live. People really, really like it. So, it’s incredible. Steve Stevens? When I was a kid and I used to see the Billy Idol videos, and he would do the lead guitar solo, and he would use that whammy bar to sound like an alien or a gun. I fuckin’ loved that shit.
SR: Yeah, he’s a real showman, isn’t he?
SB: Yeah, wow! Nobody plays like that! He’s incredible. That’s who wrote Push Away with me. That’s his tune. And then John 5 has reinvented the guitar for a new age, the way he plays. We did this song Television together on Kicking and Screaming, and now Temptation on this album. You know what? I thought John 5 on That Metal Show – they had guitar players playing on that show. John 5, when he played live on that show, my jaw was on the floor. I could not believe how that dude plays. And he’s a good guy.
SR: And we are not going to actually ask you this question, because we already know that the answer is no, but are you sick of being asked about the idea of a Skid Row reunion?
SB: Well, it’s very predictable. Like, I knew you were going to ask. You’d have to ask them. It’s very easy for me to walk up there and sing the songs that everybody knows me for. It’s up to them. I don’t know what to tell ya’. You’d have to ask them.
“…In the days of Skid Row, we had full approval over all pictures and everything you saw…”
SR: Reflecting on the 80’s glam era now, what’s a favourite memory from those days for you?
SB: Well, they say that if you remember, you weren’t really there, so…
SB: I think my favourite memories of the eighties I forgot!
SR: You were having a good time.
SB: Yeah, I think we all were having a good time allll the time.
SR: Have you toned that down a bit, or do you still party as hard?
SB: No, I don’t drink every day. You know, I went for like eight months without drinking last year. That was fuckin’ miserable. It was as boring as hell. I don’t want to get into really. But now I have some red wine at nights after dinner and it feels really good on my voice after the show. But I don’t drink anything other than that – I don’t drink beer or shots or nothin’. Back in the Skid Row days, we all drank whiskey. And I’m sorry if you met me back then, but whiskey doesn’t agree with me. I really can’t handle that stuff at all, or tequila or Jäger. I really can’t deal with it.
SR: Could you share a funny or weird fan request or tour story with us?
SB: Well, you know what? What’s weird and funny, I would say to you is that we live in an age where people will come to the show and hold up their phone, right? They take a hundred pictures and then get home and be all excited to upload all of them and tag me in all of them. Most of them are horrible pictures. And I’m not easy to shoot live. I’m running around, I’m fuckin’ going crazy, I’m sweating. I’m just thinking about singing. It’s not a fucking fashion show. It’s like heavy metal rock. And so, there’s a lot of action going on and so it’s not the easiest thing to photograph. And when you say a weird or funny request, sometimes people will take a picture on their phone and blow it up the size of a poster, and it’s the most hideous shot you’ve ever seen in your life. (Laughs). And I’m like, ‘I ain’t fuckin’ signing this!’ Then they get all hurt. They’re like, ‘Dude! I paid for it! How could you do this?!’ And I’m like, ‘It’s horrible! If that’s the way I look, I’m quitting now!’
SR: You couldn’t look horrible if you tried.
SB: Well, maybe I’ll be like jumpin’ up in the air and you can see my nose hairs or somethin’. In the days of Skid Row, we had full approval over all pictures and everything you saw. Anything I didn’t like would go in the trash, you know? It was a different age. A different time.
SR: Well, I get to see you down here in Brisbane in September. What can Aussie fans expect from your upcoming shows here?
SB: Just a really tight band. My drummer, Bobby, is the best drummer in heavy metal rock’n’roll and I can say that confidently. Brent Woods on guitar is amazing. Rob De Luca’s on bass and we have great chemistry together. We’ve played together on many, many shows. So, it’s not like we just met each other and we’re going to wing it. We know how to do a very good show for you guys. You’re gonna dig it.
SR: Fantastic. I have one last question. You’re the epitome of a rock god, but if you hadn’t become a rock star, what do you think you would’ve been?
SB: Oh, like a record store, comic book /magazine collectible kind of store. Like JB’s over there. Somethin’ like that. Something to do with music. I’d be a real music fan if I wasn’t a musician.
SR: Thank you so much for your time today, Sebastian. We look forward to seeing you down here on your tour.
SB: Right on! It’s gonna rock!
18 And LIVE Down Under Tour Dates 2015
Friday 18th September – CHRISTCHURCH – The Bedford
Saturday 19th September – AUCKLAND – The Studio
Tuesday 22nd September – BRISBANE – Eatons Hill
Wednesday 23rd September – SYDNEY – Metro Theatre
Friday 25th September – MELBOURNE – Forum Theatre
Saturday 26th September– ADELAIDE – The Gov
Sunday 27th September – PERTH – Astor Theatre
TICKETS ON SALE 9.00am – Wednesday 17th June from:
VIP Meet & Greet Experiences Available