Sebastian Bach Finds Love During the Making of His New Album
Clay Patrick McBride
Sebastian Bach can't give too much away about his forthcoming album, 'Kicking & Screaming,' but late last month, he shot three videos for it, two concept and one live, directed by Devin DeHaven.
The Canadian hard rock legend signed with Frontier Records back in February and shortly after entered the studio with producer Bob Marlette [Black Sabbath, Atreyu, Filter, Shinedown]. Bach spoke with Noisecreep from Rita Haney's basement where he's been staying for a month, while he searches for his own place in Los Angeles. Hayney was late Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell's longtime girlfriend. As you'll read below, Bach has a lot to be excited about lately.
Have you ever lived in Los Angeles before?
Skid Row recorded 'Slave To The Grind' in Los Angeles in 1991 and I lived here for like three months then. I'm always out here. Most of the television shows I've shot have been done out here as well. Since I'm divorced [from Maria, his wife of 18 years], I'm getting a place out here now. I've never really done that. It's so overwhelming."
When was the last time you lived on your own?
Last time I lived on my own was probably private school, Lakefield, when I was like 12-years old.
But you know how to do your own laundry?
Um, yeah, I can do my own laundry and s---, sorta, kinda. I can't cook very well [laughs].
Last time I saw you, on the Guns N' Roses tour in 2010, you were on your health kick [after appearing on the TV show 'Celebrity Fit Club'].
I'm still on the health kick.
And you were logging your food intake.
Oh, I remember doing that. The weird thing now is I actually enjoy running. It's fun like going out outside playing when you're a little kid. I think if you can get to that point, exercising, when you really enjoy it, then you're pretty much set for life.
I obviously haven't heard the album and but this is just a preview piece, whatever details you want to reveal. You've been touring with your band [bassist Rob Delucca, drummer Bobby Jarzombek] for seven years, except for guitarist Nick Sterling.
You saw the first tour with Nick, the Guns N Roses tour. I got him when I was 19 and he just turned 21.
Legal in the States now.
Yeah, he's legal now. When you hear the record, it's astonishing how mature musically he is. You can hear one song; it's called 'Awake' on YouTube from Birmingham, UK, when we opened up for Guns there. It's on the new record. It's on my page if you scroll down too. And it's this ballad that he wrote. It doesn't sound like he's his age. The songs that I've written with him or the songs that he's written on his own, I don't understand where they come from.
It's like Steven Tyler wrote 'Dream On' when he was 16 and it doesn't sound like that. That's a song that's a mature life viewpoint and it's incredible that Tyler could have written that when he was 16. When he goes, 'All these lines on my face gettin' clearer,' he's got no lines in his face [laughs]. But Nick, his melodies and his lyrics are incredibly mature. A lot of the songs he writes and leads he plays, he reminds me of Eric Clapton; I don't know why. I jut love playing with him.
Did he co-write 'Awake' with you?
He wrote that all by himself. He's like, "Do you like this?" I'm like, "I don't know what to say. When I hear it, I wanna cry"
You've toured so much with him, but you didn't know what he would be like in the studio.
The reason I was so excited to play with him is, for me, the most fun part of what I do is making new stuff, new songs, new tours, new packaging, new videos. It's not playing old songs over and over and over. I still like playing that too, but the creative process of going into a studio with nothing and then a month later having a CD that you're so proud of, to me that's the most fun part of what we do.
So when Nick joined the band, I didn't know what it was going to be like, you're right, but I went to his site and I liked some of his songs that I heard on there and he was like, 'Well, do you like this?' and he started emailing me ideas and he emailed me like 25 ideas and I liked like 20 of them [laughs].
I also wrote songs with him too. We sat down and wrote together. There are a couple of songs like that are more metal because my style is more metal or commercial rock, like the songs that I wrote in Skid Row like 'Slave To The Grind' and 'Mudkicker.' That comes easy for me because I'm pissed off a lot of the time [laughs].
But we have a couple of songs that we wrote together that are extremely heavy, but if [his 2007 album] 'Angel Down' reminded people of 'Slave To The Grind,' this album to me reminds me more of the first Skid Row record [self-titled]. There are a couple of songs on it that could have been on that record [in 1989] and I think that goes down to the fact that we came up with that record when we were teenagers and Nick wrote a lot of his material when he was a teenager - which was last week [laughs]. But I think that the best rock 'n' roll is about the spirit of being young, the feeling of being 16 and getting crazy with your friends and going out to a show and just that whole feeling."
So this isn't Sebastian Bach having three kids and going through a divorce?
Well, a lot of the songs on this record are to do with breaking up. Nick broke up with a girl and was a heart broken and he's showing me a lot of these lyrics and I was divorcing and then there's a song about finding new love too. It's hard for me to do this interview without me giving you song titles. I'm lucky enough to find a new girl that I love and there are a couple of songs that have to do with that. You know, most of the best rock 'n' roll songs are about chicks [laughs].
When you signed the deal with Frontiers, did you have the demos done and knew you would be working with Bob Marlette?
I'm always working on new songs. With the technology these days, any idiot can record on Pro Tools on your laptop. All you have to do is plug a microphone into the input jack and anybody can have their own recording studio. So I'm always down in my basement, singing along to riffs or whoever I'm collaborating with. I actually had a bunch of songs that I worked on with Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed, but they were too heavy for me because my voice sounds good when I sing clean. It sounds good dirty too, but when I hear my voice sing really clean, that's a special sound.
That was the project you were also doing with John 5?
The song that I wrote with John 5 made the record. It's cut number three on the record.
What is it called?
I don't want to tell you song titles, only because it's not coming out 'til September. I remember that as a kid, there would be a new KISS record and I would ride my bike down to A&A Records in Peterborough Square and I didn't know any of the titles or anything. It was that feeling of surprise picking it up, and turning around and seeing all the song titles. It's hard to have mystery and surprise with the internet and the way the music industry is these days, but I'm just trying to keep something for when the kid goes to the store. [The album is] called 'Kicking & Screaming.'
And you also said in an earlier press release that you're laying down the craziest screams you've ever recorded.
My voice, listening back - how do I say this without bragging? - it just sounds better than it ever fuckin' sounded. My voice has a life of its own.
Do you think it's because you are eating healthy and running and all the touring you've done the past few years?
Well, I think I really learned a lot about vocals when I did the four Broadway shows [inc. 'Jekyll & Hyde' and 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show']. It taught me so much about proper singing and it's carried through.
But that was a long time ago.
Yes, but I learned back then when I was doing Broadway, you can never strain your voice. You can't push it too hard. I've done it so long now, it's not like a fluke. I know how to make it work. I'm very fortunate.
Tell me about cutting the album. Is your whole band on it?
No, this is the first album I've ever made cut as a three piece. I think on the back we're going to be wearing kimonos [laughs] like Rush. Nick plays bass and guitar on the record; Bobby's on the drums and I do all the vocals. I'm the only singer on the whole record. I also play a mean cowbell. And I was very lucky to come to California to record and I met this girl, named Minnie [Gupta], who I fell in love with. That made it very easy for me to concentrate on the record. She's lying next to me right now. I'm kind of distracted.
Oh, geez, hmm, you're speaking more softly now. Can barely hear you.
If you saw how beautiful she is, it's just unbelievable. I was in love making this record. I was going through breaking up and I fell in love again and a lot of these emotions are on the record. Love. That's the most important thing in life really, as I get older - love. God, I sound like John Lennon or some shit [laughs]. The Beatles said it, 'All you need is love.' And you do need love. Life without love is impossible to think of.
Is that a line in one of your songs?
Well I didn't use it, but I wrote it yeah [laughs]. That is the most important thing.
Are you using one of your dad's paintings for the album art? (Bach's father, who passed away in 2002, painted the cover of Skid Row's 'Slave To The Grind' album and one of his paintings was chosen for the cover of 'Angel Down').
[No]. It was done by Richard Villa. He did the Black Veil Brides album cover and it's like a dream sequence, having to do with me and reflecting the lyrics of the record - love and going through crazy times having to do with love. I can't give too much away.