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Interview: Sebastian Bach

9 May 2024

Photo by Jim Louvau

From his days fronting Skid Row to captivating audiences on Broadway, Sebastian Bach continues to be a force to be reckoned with. His decades-long career continues to surprise, with a new album, Child Within the Man, marking his return after a ten-year hiatus between releases. This isn’t just another record for the wildly entertaining Bach, he claims it’s his favorite solo album yet. I spoke with the legendary frontman a few weeks before the release of Child Within the Man and learned about his record collection, his favorite songs on the new album, how alone time during the pandemic inspired “Hard Darkness,” and why he hasn’t played with a consistent lineup of musicians since he left Skid Row.

The conversation starts with Bach asking me about the record player he sees behind me on the Zoom call.

(Note: Portions of this interview have been edited for clarity)

The record player is in the shot but my vinyl collection is outside of camera range.

SEBASTIAN: That’s cool, man. Well, I got an addition to your vinyl collection coming May 10th. It’s called Child Within the Man. Double gatefold sleeve, 45 RPM or you can get it on CD or you can get it on cassette, if you have a cassette player. I don’t know anybody that has a cassette player.

Child Within the Man is everything I’d want it to be and more. Your voice is very recognizable and it’s timeless, but the music doesn’t sound old or dated. It sounds modern, but it also sounds like something I’d expect. I know it’s been 10 years since the last record. Are these songs 10 years old or did you just start working on them in the last couple of years?

SEBASTIAN: They’re not 10 years old. I know it says in the press release this is an album 10 years in the making, which it is because that’s when my last studio album came out, but two of those years didn’t count – 2020 and 2021 – nobody was leaving the house, let alone putting out records. So that’s a bit deceptive saying it’s 10 years. I couldn’t really release a record for three of those years, so that doesn’t count.

I’m into quality, not quantity, in everything in life. And this record is designed to fit in the catalog with the other records that I put out starting in ’89 with the first record Skid Row, which is now 35 years old. Any record that has my name on it, I have to say, people are gonna compare this new one to that one, so it better be fucking good, man. But at the end of the day, back in ’88, when I was in the studio singing “18 and Life” and “Youth Gone Wild,” I was making a record that I loved myself. And that is what Child Within the Man is 100%, if not even more, because my real inspiration for this album is my own vinyl collection. I have like rooms full of vinyl, and the albums I love the most by far are the ’70s records, the way they’re produced, the way the album covers look, everything about them. And I said, “Dude, why don’t you try to make your own record that came from the 70s?” I know that’s impossible, but I tried to make a record that fit in with my favorite records in my collection. And I am a serious collector. This record is the result of a very detailed, specific vinyl collector. And I know what I like as far as the sound, the artwork, and this fits in with bands like Rush. I really made something that feels like it’s from another time. My ’70s records sound good now, they don’t just sound good then. Like if I put on Steely Dan or Led Zeppelin or KISS or Aerosmith, it sounds good today. When you said it sounds modern or whatever, it sounds to me as modern as a first pressing album from ’78.

Do you alphabetize your record collection?

SEBASTIAN: Oh, absolutely. I’m not exaggerating when I say I have rooms – the room I’m in right now is my favorite albums. I have a bunch of milk cartons in here, filled with vinyl. Right next to it is a full room that’s designed as a wine cellar, but I don’t have that much wine, but I do have that much vinyl. So I have all my vinyl in the wine cellar. It’s all climate controlled and alphabetized. Vinyl is a commitment, man. You need to have a room for this collection. It doesn’t fit in anywhere else. Also, my eyes are so crappy at my age that I need to have my vinyl records so I can have them in the bin and go through them looking at the covers. The only ones I store looking at the spines are the ones that are not yet alphabetized. My whole collection is alphabetized, but they’re from the front. You have to go from the front, like the record store. That’s how fucking crazy I am and how I drive my wife nuts taking over complete rooms.

So help me solve this dilemma I have with my collection. Do I put your record in the S section or the B section?

SEBASTIAN: Wow, brother. I don’t know, man. Gosh. I would say B because I put Neil Young in the Y. I don’t put him in N, but I put Ozzy Osbourne in O. Psych! (laughs)

I’ve listened to the album probably five times, six times since I got it.

SEBASTIAN: I love that you’ve listened to it that many times. I worked on it so fucking hard. And the fact that you are in your basement, and you get to listen, go right inside my brain, I’m sure my record company sent you high quality files to listen to because that’s how they roll.

They did. But, I do plan on buying the record as well. I know you’re doing different variants – one for record stores, one for ordering from the website, different variants.

SEBASTIAN: We have done seven different vinyl variations, and I chose them all myself. I chose them to match the cover. I didn’t pick obvious things. In fact, the record company sent me a bunch before I chose them and they go, “Here’s the new ones.” I go, “No, no, no, no.” I just really want to make something I like and I needed it to match and look really good next to the album cover, which is so important to me and I love so much I can barely put into words. I go, “Can you guys send me a list of what I can choose from?” And they sent me six pages, dude. And I was in heaven going through all the fucking different colors and everything. I really didn’t know which I should pick, and me as an audiophile, I want the best sound. I went to the bottom and I read the text and then it gave a disclaimer on some of the crazy colors, like, “We can’t say it’s damaged because you might hear a pop.” So I’m scrolling through all this text reading what’s what and at the bottom it says, “There is one section called the ‘bio’ format. And this is the highest quality vinyl available.” And I go, “Oh, oh, oh, this is what I want.”

My record company said, “You can pick seven,” so I picked three ‘bio’ for all you audiophiles. The black, the mint green, which I love saying, and the light blue, which I know you can get the black and the light blue right now on the record company site. I think you can get the mint. I don’t know. But those are the three ‘bios’ and the other four, which I’m so excited about, one is red gold, which is the color of a gold album on your wall for fucks sakes. Like how great is that? That reminds me of KISS Double Platinum when you get a double flat. So now you can get your own gold record of this if you want. That is so great. Another one is Coke bottle green. Just the fact that it is Coke bottle is funny. And it’s translucent. There’s a crystal clear version, which you can just look right through. That crystal clear version matches the windshield of the car on the front, the green matches the grass, the blue matches the sky. The gold matches my gold record on my wall. And then for the pièces de résistance, the glow-in-the-dark version. How can you pass that one up? If that’s a choice, are you not going to do that one? Of course, I’m doing the glow in the dark because I’m all about anything like that, glow-in-the-dark, 3D.

“(Hold On) To the Dream” starts off sounding a bit like “Wasted Time”. And then it’s got this sick, heavy Ozzy-like guitar riff. I don’t know what the word for what I’m hearing is, I’m not a musician, but you know what I’m talking about.

SEBASTIAN: I have to ask you two questions. First of all, the word you’re looking for is “pathos”. It’s not the tuning. It’s the fucked up shit in my head that Ozzy has. And that’s no joke. That’s not production. That is some fucked up shit. And I have to ask you this, did my record company or anybody tell you to ask me about that song?


SEBASTIAN: Oh my God. Are you kidding me, man? We’re picking the very next single right now and it’s looking like that’s it. And the fact that I woke up this morning and that’s your first song that you’re talking about. That part right there where I sing in that range of singing at the beginning and then exactly what you’re saying, I go, in one word, from sensitive and loving and kind to fucking demonic. That is what you’re hearing. And that is going to be the next video and single because that to me, honestly, is the heaviest song I ever recorded. I’m not just saying it. That song, when I listen to it, it has so many different sounds of my voice. That’s my vocal masterpiece that when I listen to it, I go, “Holy fuck, man.” I’m so proud of that song and it is a tribute and inspired by my love of ’70s classic metal. The band that you just said also, how can you not mention the Priest? You can definitely hear my love of Rob Halford and Dio in that one song and that whole style of singing, which is, I would say, a lost art that I still know how to fucking do, thank you very much. (laughs) But that song has always been my favorite on the record. That’s the one for me.

Your vocals sound like they did 30 years ago. If you took your vocals out of “Hard Darkness,” it’s not a thrash song, but I could almost hear that being a Slayer song. The guitars are moody and have that heaviness without being fast.

SEBASTIAN: My songwriting, which really kicked off on the record Slave to the Grind, where I co-wrote half that album, I was only 23 or something, that’s where I really started writing seriously. And what I bring to writing is a song like “Mudkicker” or “Slave to the Grind,” both of them I brought to the band and finished up with the other guys. I bring metal. I write good metal. M-E-T-A-L.

“Hard Darkness,” I want to tell you what I wrote it about, but then I don’t want to tell you what I wrote it about. If you listen to the words, it’s very self-explanatory. I don’t want to give it all away. All I can tell you is that I lived in Thousand Oaks, California during the pandemic. Just like everybody, I couldn’t leave my house, but I had like three acres so it was a good place to be stuck. One night I was drinking a lot, I was bored out of my fucking mind, I was working on music, and I had that riff. I couldn’t think anything to write about on it. I drank a bunch of wine, and I went to the back of my property at about three in the morning. And the moon, it says in the song, “Under the light of the moon,” I was just describing where the fuck I was and what I was feeling as a lyricist, what I was going through. I’m not going to say the rest, but if you listen to it, you can feel me drinking during the pandemic out in the field at four in the morning by myself, looking up at the full moon. I didn’t write that on my laptop, I wrote that in the woods, drinking wine, looking at the stars in the sky. As you can tell, I’m very passionate and I’m a real fan of this album. Every time I listen to it, I’m like, “You’ve got to be kidding me about the sound of this,” so I’m glad you dig that one.

You mentioned “(Hold On) To the Dream” is going to be the next single and video. I wrote down “Future of Youth” and “About to Break” as songs that could be singles.

SEBASTIAN: Oh my God. I keep telling everybody about “Future of Youth.” “Future of Youth” with Orianthi is such a commercially mass appeal chorus and I keep saying that to everybody around me, I swear, and you keep saying these things, but everybody wants metal, metal, metal. And I love that, too. But I think that so many people, right now, with what we’re going through in 2024, could relate to that song, and that’s what it’s about. It’s about the future of our youth.

Back in the day, bands were four or five guys, and you did a couple records together. In your solo career, you’ve worked with a lot of different people. Does that give you a fresh approach every time you record something? Or, would you prefer to have four permanent guys that play with you on both the record and live?

SEBASTIAN: You know, I’m going to answer that. And that’s a very interesting, fair question. I`m a solo artist. The name of my band is Sebastian Bach. And I’ve built it. I just got a million views on my fucking video. I can’t even tell you what that means to me. That really says, “You have a solo career, brother.”

Here’s my answer to you about all the guys in my band. I’m married to my wife, Suzanne. You can see plenty of her in the video, she makes it incredible. I’m married to her. I’m faithful to her. That’s my girl who I’m going to be with the rest of my life. I’m not married to my bass player or my drummer or my guitar player. And guess what? I want to jam with all the drummers. I want to jam with all the bass players and whoever I fucking want because I’m not married to them. It is kind of like being married when you’re in a band. I’m not going to be beholden to anyone. I’m going to create my art however I have to and that can make me hard to work with if somebody gives me an idea and I’m not feeling it. When I do feel it, it’s visceral. It’s “I Remember You,” “Monkey Business,” everything I’ve put out in my whole life that has Sebastian Bach on it, except for maybe The Last Hard Man, but I’ve tried to make it all incredible.

This new album to me is the best one yet. It’s such a cliche that you don’t even want to say that. I say that because of who helped me make it – Elvis Baskette, the producer, and then Robert Ludwig, the mastering engineer. All you have to do is Google those two names. It’s astonishing the guys that helped me make this album and that’s not even mentioning John 5 from Motley Crue and Steve Stevens, both of whom this is my second or third album in a row collaborating with. So I say that it’s my favorite and it’s my best because of my team that is helping me. And also my record company for getting it out in the stores.

I would love to hear some new songs on this upcoming tour. How are you going to determine what songs to play?

SEBASTIAN: I’m going to absolutely do “What Do I Got to Lose?” There’s no way I’m not doing that, which we already have done, and it fucking goes over insane. Everything that there’s a video for, we will be doing in the show but we’ll also be doing the best, biggest hits in my career. This will be a mix of everything from 35 years that I’ve been doing. That’s what the tour will be.


View and/or order the different variants of Child Within the Man on the Reigning Phoenix Music website.

Catch Sebastian Back on tour at one of the following dates:

May 10 Jefferson, LA – Southport Music Hall
May 11 Destin, FL – Club LA
May 12 Daytona Beach, FL – Welcome To Rockville
May 14 Jacksonville, NC – Hooligans
May 16 Patchogue, NY – Patchogue Theatre for The Performing Arts
May 17 Warren OH – Packard Music Hall
May 18 Bensalem, PA – Parx Casino
May 19 Baltimore, MD – Rams Head Live
May 21 New Haven, CT – Toad’s Place
May 22 Albany, NY – Empire Live
May 24 Montreal, QC – Theatre Beanfield
May 28 Warrendale, PA – Jergel’s Rhythm Grille
May 29 Grand Rapids, MI – Elevation
May 31 Indianapolis, IN – Hendricks Live!
Jun 01 Morgantown, WV – Ruby Amphitheatre
Jun 02 Columbus, OH – King Of Clubs
Jun 04 Detroit, MI – St Andrews Hall
Jun 05 Madison, WI – Majestic Theatre
Jun 07 Joliet, IL – The Forge
Jun 08 St. Charles, IL – Arcada Theatre
Jun 09 Moline, IL – The Rust Belt
Jun 11 Des Moines, IA – Wooly’s
Jun 12 Lincoln, NE – Bourbon Theatre
Jun 14 Colorado Springs, CO – Sunshine Studios
Jun 15 Denver, CO – Summit
Jun 16 Albuquerque, NM – Sunshine Theater
Jun 18 Oklahoma City, OK – Diamond Ballroom
Jun 19 Little Rock, AR – The Hall
Jun 21 Dallas, TX – The Lexus Box Garden at Legacy Hall
Jun 22 Houston, TX – Scout Bar
Jun 23 San Antonio, TX – The Rock Box
Jun 25 Tucson, AZ – Rialto
Jun 27 Ventura, CA – Ventura Theater
Jun 28 Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory
Jun 29 San Diego, CA – House of Blues