Den forne sångaren i Skid Row lyssnar på “Baby driver” (KISS) på hög volym när jag kommer in i logen på KB i Malmö. Han fixar till håret i det lilla badrummet och beklagar sig, skrattandes, att det inte är en filmad intervju. Den nyss avslutade spelningen var fruktansvärt svettig och han ser inledningsvis lite tagen ut när han säger att han trodde han skulle dö på scen. Men trots den tryckande värmen piggnar han till och vi pratar om allt från hans orkanskadade hus till den kommande boken och vad han idag skulle ge för råd till sitt 20-åriga jag.
Don´t get married! That´s number one out of anything. I didn´t know at the time how that will change your fucking life, when the chick leaves you. Oh my god, I wish I never did that! That might be a bad thing to say, but… I used to not like it when Gene Simmons said “Don´t get married! Don´t fall in love, it´s stupid!”, but now I´m like “Fucking Gene Simmons is always right!”
About your book, have you started writing it yet?
Sebastian: Oh definitely! I´m over a hundred pages.
And you´re writing it yourself?
Sebastian: Yeah, don´t get scared! (laughs) It´s Harper Collins and a big, huge deal and I´ve been talking today on the phone about it. I´m really gonna tell the story of how Skid Row made it and the time when I joined the band, leading up to the demise of the band. That will all be in there and the photos are my personal pictures that are only one of a kind. Me with Bon Jovi recording the first album, Vince Neil hanging out at Doc McGhee´s house and shit that you´ve never seen. I´ve read every rock bio there is and there´s none I haven´t read and I want it to not be all of the worst shit I can think of, because a lot of books are like that. After like 12 pages of repetition of all this bad shit, and there´s a bunch of books like that, I start to feel sad. When I read Neil Peart´s book or Duff McKagan´s or Paul Stanley´s books, those are all kinda the feelings I want my book to have, as far as not going for the lowest common denominator. And I also don´t want this to be my only book! I love Henry Rollins and it´s funny, I was warming up my voice here before the show and I looked up on the wall there and it said Henry Rollins and I read all of his books. They´re amazing and they´re so entertaining and the way he writes, I wanna reread the paragraph again. How the fuck is that so heavy, the way he puts words together? In the best case scenario, I´d like to write more than one book. First, Harper Collins didn´t want me to write it by myself. They didn´t know and then I said that I don´t want somebody else to write my book and it´s not interesting to me. So they said “Ok, smarty pants, fucking write something, mr Big talker!”, so I wrote like 30 pages and they really loved it and that felt incredible. When I gave that to them, they said “Yes, we love this!”, and I felt so fucking good! Everything I put out, I try to make the best I can make it and that´s the way it´s always been. My new album, “Give ém hell”, I´m so proud of the record and the way it sounds, so I want my book to be like “Give ém hell” the record.
Do you have any idea when it will be out?
Sebastian: Soon. I´m supposed to turn it in by Christmas, like finished. Then it will be book tours and you´ll be interviewing me about the early days of Skid Row.
What´s it like taking that stroll down memory lane?
Sebastian Bach: Here´s the thing! There are certain stories of things that have happened to me, that are crazy stories and even just writing those stories down is like a book. I haven´t even started the part of what I just said. Crazy things that actually happened that don´t happen to other people, but I don´t wanna give it away. A lot of crazy shit! I´ve been to jail a bunch of times, I´ve been to court and I´ve been through fucking insane shit! That´ll be in there and it´s like “What? Holy fuck!” I´ve had a crazy life for sure, no doubt about it.
You were 20 when the first Skid Row album came out. What advice would you give your 2o year old self today?
Sebastian: Don´t get married! That´s number one out of anything. I didn´t know at the time how that will change your fucking life, when the chick leaves you. Oh my god, I wish I never did that! That might be a bad thing to say, but… I used to not like it when Gene Simmons said “Don´t get married! Don´t fall in love, it´s stupid!”, but now I´m like “Fucking Gene Simmons is always right!” I would like to get married because there´s a girl that I love, but what I´ve been through is fucking painful. It´s not easy. It was horrific when my parents did it when I was a kid and it was horrific when it happened to me. It´s the most miserable experience you can go through.
I guess there´s gonna be a lot about your dad in the book?
Sebastian: Yes, for sure! My dad was a painter and he really inspired me to pick something in my life that I love and do that. He taught me by example, because all he did was paint these amazing fucking paintings and that was it. It was all he talked about too. I can talk about my album and that´s what he did, he talked about his art. He was a great artist, but he died too soon. He did the artwork for “Slave to the grind” and “Angel down”. The title “Give ém hell” is like a term in America, like “Go get ém!” and the artist that did the cover said “What´s the name of the album?” and I said “Give ém hell” and he just went “I´m just gonna put you in hell!”. That´s just heavy metal. There´s not a lot of thought anymore, put into imagery. Some fans are like “I don´t wanna see you as the devil, man!” and I´m like “Listen, it´s like fucking Ozzy Bark at the moon or Angus Young Highway to hell.” It´s just heavy metal and I´m not worshipping Satan or anything. It´s a fucking album cover! Settle down! (laughs)
There´s a lot of darkness when you look at the song titles on the new album. “Hell inside my head”, “All my friends are dead”, “Had enough”, Forget you”.
Sebastian: I don´t want to explain the lyrics, because I can only sing shit that I feel. I can´t make it come out of my mouth, if I feel like it sucks. Sometimes I wish I could. My life would be way easier. It´s a pain in the nuts! (laughs) But I can´t. I just love the production, my voice and there´s all these sounds that I´m known for and I´m just happy that I have a voice that´s gonna last. If it was gonna change, it already would´ve. I´m getting a lot older and a guy like Steven Tyler still sounds really good and Ozzy too. I don´t think he gets enough credit. I know it´s challenging live, but on the new Sabbath album he sounds fucking great!
Are you gonna continue working with Bob Marlette?
Sebastian: I think so. He makes my voice sound so good! To me, I don´t think it could sound better? I don´t see how it could, but I also loved working with Roy Z, who did “Angel down”. The fans dig that album and I get a lot of people saying “That´s your heaviest one”.
Do you have any regrets in your career?
Sebastian: Yeah, definitely but more in my personal life than my career. Actually, I don´t have too many regrets in my career, but in my personal life I´ve gone through some shit that I can´t explain. Losing your home in a hurricane is brutal. Just to go through that… I´ll never really get over that. I hope I do, but I haven´t yet. I still have to get up in the morning and fucking read e-mails about that shit. Deal with money, insurance, the government, the city and zoning and the cops. My fucking life isn´t what you think it is. When you ask why I have lyrics like these, I have to deal with so much fucking shit! I want people to listen to my music and have fun, so I don´t really wanna describe it all. I still own the house and I still have to deal with it, you know. It´s still mine and it´s fucked up!
I recently read an interview where you said something about being the last one putting out CD´s?
Sebastian: Not the last, but I honestly don´t know if there will be another one? I probably will, but I don´t think that format´s gonna be around. It´s gonna get rare and rarer. I feel it going away and it´s not fun. I read Nikki Sixx, who I´ve been in a war with about fucking nothing, just complete garbage, but he said something even I agree with. There´s your headline! “Sebastian Bach agrees with Nikki Sixx!” (laughs) “The war is over!” He said, “No fan understands the amount of effort, time and money we put into these fucking albums.” You can´t imagine! Over six figures and I wanna say this, because I don´t think people know that. It´s a ton of money. I could´ve bought another fucking house, but instead I did this album and I love it. The amount of time you put into it and the amount of effort and hard emotion and money you put into it, in the current state it doesn´t equal because there´s nowhere to play it. Nikki said that classic rock stations will play Mötley Crüe and Skid Row, but those same stations won´t play “Give ém hell” or “Saints of Los Angeles” and it´s bullshit! They made their whole fucking career on playing our shit and it´s like they owe it to us to play the new shit! The fans fucking love it and it´s just stupid. Like the song “Temptation” and the video, it´s fucking amazing! It´s killer and also “Saints of Los Angeles, it´s fucking classic Crüe! Then he said that the active rock stations won´t play that, so he´s like “Wow, this fucking sucks!” (laughs) I´ll always make music somehow, but I don´t know in what form it will come out? That´s beyond my control.
I guess kids today think you make an album in your bedroom, put it out and make tons of money.
Sebastian: They don´t understand. I´m not exaggerating when I say that I worked on “Give ém hell” every day for over a year. I make playlists on my iPhone of whatever riffs I´ve got to sing to, John 5, Duff McKagan, Steve Stevens, and I put these on my phone and arrange them. I started a fucking year and a half ago and then every day I´d go running and listen to it. I don´t listen to other bands or the radio. I just listen to that fucking playlist until I like it and it´s torture! And the fans don´t get it! Well, they do get it though, but what they don´t get is how long and how many hours are put into it. It´s insane! It´s like making a movie or a tv-show. You´re in there every day, in the studio, figuring it out and shit. The results are killer, but it would be nice if there was a radio station that could just play it. There are so many rules that just sucks, like Nikki Sixx said. (laughs)
Still, metal fans are the ones buying albums and sticking with their bands.
Sebastian: My ultimate dream would be to be Neil Young or Willie Nelson. It is what I am, actually. I roll around the country, have a fucking smoke, get up there and play like shit. (laughs) They play on huge stages and they can breathe on that fucking stage. (The show in Malmö was extremely hot.) I hate that sometimes people think that a Skid Row reunion would somehow be better than what I just did, because these players I have now are fucking incredible! If anything, I play better with like Bobby (Jarzombek) on the drums. Every time I step on the stage with him, he makes me better as a frontman and a singer. He´s one of the best drummers on the planet. I went to see Neil Young two years ago at the Hollywood Bowl and it was $350 to see and 25.000 people. He´s ancient and he´s just up there being himself and that´s what I want. That´s my ultimate dream and I hope when I´m 65 the fans will come out and let me sing to them. My voice has got a life on its own, it´s a fucking instrument.
Is it still as much fun?
Sebastian: It depends on the stage. Masters of Rock was one of the best shows ever. Graspop in Belgium was remarkable and London at Islington Academy was incredible! One thing the fans don´t know about me is that what makes a good show for me, is the sound. Nothing else, really! If there´s 25.000 people, I love it, but if it sounds like shit it doesn´t matter. Masters of Rock had incredible sound and it just let me scream like a banshee. That´s what´s fun.
Av: Niclas Müller-Hansen
Foto: Therés Stephansdotter Björk