If glam metal has a Renaissance man, there's no doubt it's Sebastian Bach. As the frontman for the '90s hair-metal act Skid Row, he sold over twenty million records (and probably went through just as many cans of hairspray). However, when his peers cut their hair short and bought flannel shirts to try to remain relevant, Bach reinvented himself as a Broadway performer, television personality and, most recently, honorary Gilmore Girl. We caught up with Bach in Toronto while he was on tour with Guns N' Roses although his St. Louis date is a solo show and talked with him about his past, his future and what he's most thankful for this Turkey day. (Hint: It has cornrows.)
Jonah Bayer: First off, I wanted to tell you that my first show ever was seeing Skid Row open for Guns N' Roses on the "Use Your Illusion" tour.
Sebastian Bach: Yeah! [Laughs] Now we're coming again to rock you, dude.
Do you remember that tour pretty well?
Yup, I sure do. I just can't believe that I'm on the road with Axl again fifteen years later. That's really crazy.
How is it different this time around?
It actually feels a lot more the same. There's a lot more similarities to talk about than differences, because there's nothing like music that transports you to where you were when you first heard it. So when I'm in a big arena like I was last night in Baltimore, and there's thousands of people in front of me, and I'm singing "18 & Life," the only difference is that in 1991 people held up lighters and in 2006 they hold up cell phones.
How do you think the music industry has changed in the past fifteen years?
Well, the Internet has obviously been the biggest change. Back in '91 the first Skid Row album sold over ten million copies worldwide, and with Slave to the Grind we sold over seven million worldwide and nobody now sells that many records. How people get their music now is completely different; people don't go into a store and buy CDs anymore. I've got a brand-new song called "Body Inside" that I started doing when we started playing with GNR in Europe, and it's got over 40,000 plays and it's not even out on any record. So people already know my new songs that are on my forthcoming album because of the Internet.
I heard you're also doing "My Michelle" with GNR on this tour. Is that fun for you?
It is fun, but it's also challenging vocally to do my whole set and then wait through Papa Roach and then come out at the end and scream at the top of my lungs again. [Laughs. ]
Obviously, you've been very involved in theater in the past decade. What's the biggest difference between performing at a rock show and a Broadway show?
Well, in rock & roll I am in control of my stage, and in Broadway the director or the producer have control. Like when I'm doing Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar, it's Andrew Lloyd Webber's thing, it's not Sebastian Bach's thing, you know? So that got kind of old for me, because I'm used to being in control. I love rock & roll. I love theater, too, but I've just had my fill of that for right now.
What's starring on Gilmore Girls like? I'd imagine that a lot of the younger viewers probably have never heard of Skid Row.
Yeah, well, I get noticed a lot for the Gilmore Girls. Walking down the street, little girls will say, "Are you that guy?" And I'm thinking they're saying, "Are you the guy from Skid Row?" and they're not they're saying, "Are you that guy from the Gilmore Girls?" I think I get noticed more now because of that show.
Honestly, between Supergroup and all your other appearances, it's really difficult to keep track of everything you've been up to in the past few years.
[Laughs] Yeah, that's good. I like that. Well, dude, all that TV and acting stuff I do enjoy, but rock & roll is my first love by far, so right now I'm concentrating on that. I'll definitely do more TV in the future I'm doing another episode of the Gilmore Girls next week, actually but rock & roll is where my heart is.
You have a solo record coming out next year. Was it hard to find the time to record that will your schedule?
Yeah, we actually recorded it when we were on the European Guns N' Roses tour, and then we went to LA for three weeks and recorded, and then we went right back on tour. It's not totally finished yet, musically it is and vocally it's probably at about 95 percent. I just have a little more work to do on it.
How would you describe the way it sounds?
It sounds new. I always try to make something that sounds different, but I also want you to be able to put it in your iPod and have it make sense with all the other stuff I've put out except for the Last Hard Men [Bach's supergroup featuring members of the Breeders, Smashing Pumpkins and the Frogs], because that doesn't make sense at all. [Laughs.]
Is your set on this tour mostly hits from Skid Row, or are you doing a lot of solo stuff?
Yes and yes. [It's weird] when people ask me if I'm doing Skid Row songs, because it's almost like people are saying you're the first person to do your own songs. Ozzy Osbourne plays "Paranoid" every night and nobody ever says, "Are you going to do 'Paranoid?'" Yeah, he is. Well, Sebastian Bach does "Youth Gone Wild"; that's how he works.
Do you still like playing those old Skid Row songs live?
Yeah, I sold twenty million records; I'm not going to not do those songs. [Laughs] What the fuck would that be? That would suck.
I guess it just seems a little strange because the other members of Skid Row are out there playing those songs right now, too.
But you're acting like this is the first time this has happened in music. Every single band you can think of has gone through this. David Lee Roth plays "Running with the Devil" and so does Eddie Van Halen; Tony Iommi plays Black Sabbath songs and so does Ozzy. I'm not the first guy in rock to have a solo career.
Understood. Well, Thanksgiving's right around the corner: What is Sebastian Bach most thankful for this year?
I thank God for Axl Rose for bringing me on tour. Welcome to the jungle of the youth gone wild; we're gonna tear it up. Rock & roll is back, mother trucker that's what I want to say.
7 p.m. Tuesday, November 28. Pop's, 1403 Mississippi Avenue, Sauget, Illinois. $18 advance, $20 at the door. 618-274-6720.