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Sebastian Bach

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“I don’t start fights, I finish fights,” quipped Sebastian Bach, former vocalist of Skid Row, now performing as a solo musician as well as starring in Broadway productions and television shows such as Gilmore Girls and Trailer Park Boys. “I don’t go out and say things and expect no consequences. If somebody says something about me on their Facebook page then they can say it to my face and deal with me in their face. That’s what I would expect.”

 

At the time when Bach entered the music world, he was at the forefront of an era that was vastly different to that of today. It was a time where wine, women and rock and roll ruled the roost above all others and bands like Guns ‘n’ Roses, Metallica, Bon Jovi and Motley Crue were cutting their teeth but rarely has there been an accurate insight into those turbulent and exciting times.

Until now.

 

Bach’s new book based on his life and times in the music industry, 18 and Life On Skid Row is a fascinating collection of stories, incidents, and tales of debauchery that most people, including those named, would have trouble believing. Perhaps the most shocking point of all is that it is 100% true, albeit through the eyes of an admittedly tortured author and from a train wreck point of view.

 

“It’s about my life,” Bach explained, “and I was looking for any title with the word life in it because of that. I was in the loo taking a wiz one day and I realized that probably, my biggest ever known song that I put out had the word life in it. So then I thought it’s also about Skid Row and Skid Row is also a place. It’s a band name that was taken from a place in Los Angeles in a very run down part of town known as Skid Row and no matter whether I’m in the band or not for my whole life ,that has been in my face. That’s who I am. It’s almost like a movie, like what do you do when you get to eighteen and it’s life to go on Skid Row? What do you do? So it became 18 and Life On Skid Row because that is for me the rest of my life what people will associate me for and when; no matter if I am in the band or not.”

 

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There is perhaps no single moment of Bach’s life that has generated as much publicity or scrutiny than the now infamous incident in 1989 when, during a performance, he was struck in the face by a bottle thrown from a person in the crowd. Bach’s subsequent reaction where he inadvertently broke a female fans nose, before leaping from stage to confront the perpetrator has been watched over one million times on YouTube and is the perfect point at which to begin the autobiography.

 

“I’ve never written a book before,” he laughed, “so I wanted to make something that was entertaining for the reader. I’ve read every single rock book there is so I knew I had to write one, it just took forty years to complete! As for opening it up with that incident, it was just such an extreme situation and I wanted to grab the reader’s attention from the first page and I think reading that, as probably the lowest point of my life, right away will be like holy shit, this is so fucked up. You are certainly wondering what is going on and what’s happening.”

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When Skid Row first started gaining success and notoriety, Bach was still young and impressionable, but despite ultimately leading him to a life of alcohol and drugs to go with the music he refuses to blame his early introduction to music for his associated vices.

 

 

“No,” he stated with conviction when asked if he was too young when he started down the path to rock stardom. “I think that youth is emblematic of rock and roll and I think that being a young dude, looking the way I looked, I was kind of cut out to do that and that’s the way rock and roll is. I was as young as Tommy Lee was when he started. Some of us started really early because we looked the part and we had musical chops. The music industry just nineteen-year-old hot dudes that wanted to rock and knew how to do it, so I became one of a long line of youthful performers who not only got exploited by it, but it’s like… the industry loves the young dude who will do anything to make it. That was me for sure.”

 

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As promised, Bach refuses to shy away from the truth in the book, even if that means potentially offending friends and colleagues, but if there’s one thing that Sebastian Bach has never been afraid of, it is honesty and confrontation. Many of the events outlined involve nefarious activities, and at times the people involved in these activities are publicly named, but Bach brushes off the suggestion that he may be encroaching on personal and private elements of people lives that they may not want to be released to the general public.

 

“Everything that I write is dated,” he surmised. “Anything that I can think of that is a little crazy, is from 1987 to 1990 or 1991, so we are talking almost thirty years ago. If somebody gets mad at me for a story that I tell from that period, then they can write their own book [laughs]. I’m not saying that I remember things completely and exactly, I’m saying this is what I remember from what I know, but we were all pretty fucked up. I mean, I could be wrong (laughs). It was a crazy time, so who knows. Anybody that was doing everything that we were doing back then, it’s not going to be an exact memory. It was a long time ago. What am I supposed to do? Consult everybody? Nobody consults me about their books and I’ve been in a lot of them..

 

Controversy is one thing that has followed Bach his entire life, to the point where many publications are more concerned with that than his music. From public spats with other musicians to personal outbursts Bach is never far from the headlines but rather than become bitter about it, he says he has learnt to accept that as an inevitable yet unfortunate part of life in the spotlight.

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“It’s not just me,” he laughed. “It’s every musician. It’s not like I am the only musician they treat like that. I could go and put forty tour dates up on my site, and the press won’t say ‘Sebastian Bach tour dates announced’. That doesn’t mean shit to them, but that’s what fucken happens. I could put out a brand new video, but they’ll put some fans hand held phone footage of the song up but not the video. I don’t understand that. I don’t understand any of it. A lot of the stuff they print has nothing to do with music.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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While also covering other parts of Bach’s life from childhood through to his stints on Broadway, television ventures and solo career, the book’s primary focus is of course on Skid Row and as such Bach reveals more about the breakup and the events surrounding that period of his life than ever before.

 

While giving personal and never before explained insight into the break – up of the band, he also concedes that it was as much an unfortunate by – product of a changing musical landscape that contributed to their demise than internal goings on.

 

“Yes, yes I do think that had a lot to do with it,” he agreed. “Our very last show was in Brazil in ’96, and we were on a bill with Biohazard, King Diamond, Merciful Fate, Motorhead and Iron Maiden and Skid Row was in the middle of that. The crowd let us know that we didn’t belong on that bill. That was the last show that we ever did. We had played on bills like that before. In ’92 we were in between Metallica and Slayer at Donnington. Slayer opened for us, and then we opened for Metallica, and the crowd totally loved it so there definitely was a change in the musical landscape when the same band can play in the same kind of bill and get a different reaction. We didn’t do anything different at either show but at the time, metal was losing traction.”

 

Unfortunately, Bach’s reply to the question that is on everyone’s lips about the possibility of Skid Row ever reforming is typically coy.

 

“You will have to read the book, man,” he laughed. “I don’t wanna give too much away!”

Written by Kris Peters

 

 

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Carl Neumann

Carl is the owner and the director of HEAVY Magazine. Carl is a music journalist and photographer for HEAVY, Rolling Stone, scenestr, Planet Rock and Kerrang!
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