"I know everyone says this - but this is the best album I've ever done!" - Metal as Fuck talks to the one, the only, Sebastian Bach

He's one of hair metal's iconic frontmen. And he's talking to MaF about his excellent new album, Kicking & Screaming.

Before we are connected over the pan-national communications device, I make an executive decision; I’m not going to ask Sebastian Bach about his house being reduced to so much matchwood by Hurricane whatever her name was, and I’m also not going to mention S**D R*W. If you want to read the lazy journalist’s guide to Sebastian Bach there are more than enough websites and magazines for you to choose from that’ll be battering on – many of them at length – about both subjects. We know you have a choice of heavy metal reading matter, and thank you for picking Metal as Fuck – but there’ll be no hurricane chasing here.

On the other hand avoiding S**D R*W is another matter, if only because that band’s early output so clearly defines Sebastian Bach as an artist (both in our minds and, clearly as our conversation develops, in his) it's impossible to converse with the man without the subject cropping up. Whilst it’s a certifiable, self-evident truth that you can’t be King of the World if you’re a slave to the grind, you can be a nabob of noise and batter on about that very same record repeatedly if your name happens to be Sebastian Bach, it would seem.

But more of that later. We are having a chat because Bas has just birthed an all-new, full length elpee – the highly appealing Kicking & Screaming, described by myself in these very pages as being ‘very, very strong indeed’- and he’s just set foot on the promo treadmill to talk up the bugger. Excited by the new record, Mr Bach? “I am, I really am. I’ve been making records for over twenty years. And this is the best record I’ve made. I mean, it’s the new one, and everybody is supposed to say that; But I’ve sung on the first Skid Row album, I’ve sung on Slave to the Grind, I’ve sung on Angel Down, and those are all great records, but I really think this is the best!”

It’s a very cohesive album, isn’t it? Very often solo records can end up being a bit, well, ‘bitty’, can’t they? Artists want to show how much different ground they can cover on an CD. But this album, from the very first note it pulls you in and makes you want to listen to it all… “Thank you! You know, when we were putting the album together, people around me said ‘don’t worry about sequencing, don’t worry about track order – people just listen to tracks these days, they don’t listen to albums’, but hey, I make albums. I don’t want to put my ipod on shuffle and listen to odd tracks… I want to make an album, you know?”

I do. I’ve only listened to the album five or six times but each time I have I’ve listened to it in its entirety. It’s an album you don’t want to stop listening to! “Man, thanks!”

The album was produced by Bob Marlette, who’s been in and out of the studio with the world, his wife and their surly teenaged kids over the last few years. How did you hook up with him? “Bob’s a good friend of my manager, Rick Sales, and he introduced us. So we met up, went into the studio in, I think, February, and recorded right through to April. April 3rd – my birthday- was our last day of recording, then we mixed it straight away.”

Was it an enjoyable process? You have an uncommonly powerful set of pipes. Does that present problems in the studio? “No. I’ve been recording for over twenty years, so I know what’s required. I’m always writing stuff, demoing. Before I go into a recording situation, I warm up my voice for months beforehand. The voice is like a muscle, you know? It gets stronger with use. So I get my screams working, warm up the voice, so it's never a problem.”

One of the other highlights for me about the new album is the guitar work of Nick Sterling. He’s a bit of a find, isn’t he? “Oh man, he is. I kinda see it like he’s an angel coming down for me, my Randy Rhodes and Ozzy Osbourne kinda thing, you know? I’m this wild, crazy guy and this young, great guitarist just comes into the picture, you know? I really see it like that!”

Where did you find him? “In Guitar World Magazine. I watched some videos of him, he played some riffs, you know? And I thought ‘I wanna sing over that!’”

So, as this is your favourite album that you’ve been involved with, I guess you’ll be giving it the full monty, support wise, in the form of a massive, four-corners World Tour? “Oh yes. We go out in the States first, then a headline tour of Europe in the (Northern) Winter. And after that we’ll be coming down to Australia.”

This is good news. As a Canberran I was denied the opportunity to see you last time you came to Australia by a faulty PA system at the ANU. “Oh man, I remember that. We flew in there, got to the hotel. We were ready to rock! And then somebody tells me the shows cancelled because-“

At this point, as we both reminisce happily, clutching our bellies and chuckling at the thought of the Australian National University’s sprinkler system pissing all over Bas’ equipment, the line goes dead. This is not good. I’ve got so much left to give to this interview. For instance, I want to explain to Sebastian how I split my PVC strides (front to back, with full tackle exposure – he’d have been proud) on stage whilst singing Youth Gone Wild in my band Sapphire in 1990, not to mention how I often find myself murmuring  ”m-m-m-monkey… a monkey!’ as I go about my daily business, but it looks like I’m going to be denied the opportunity. Some feverish redialing and praying later, we’re reconnected, but the panic has banished these important nuggets of Skid Row-related amusement from my mind. Instead, once we’ve reintroduced ourselves I go with a question from MaF reader Lav Nandlall, viz “What is the album you wished you had made?” “You know, I never think like that. For me, music is an expression of your personality… Kiss Alive with me singing on it doesn’t make sense! I sang on Skid Row, I sang on Slave to the Grind, I sang on Angel Down and I sang on Kicking & Screaming. I think that’s good enough for me!”

Fair enough. I see your point. You mentioned earlier that you write a lot in your down time. Do you have a big stockpile of material? ‘Yes I do, I have mountains of lyrics, bits of music. I recorded a set of songs with Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed, but I guess they were too heavy. Jamey doesn’t have a big reputation for ballads, you know what I’m saying! I did that, and then Nick Sterling appeared, and he knows all about melody… so…”

I’m interested you mention the ballads there. For me, the best song on the new album is the closing track -  a ballad, Wishin’. You’ve always handled ballads well, but this is something special, like something one of the great bands from the late seventies – Pomp Gods Angel, maybe – might have done. It’s an amazing song! “Thank you! After the record was done, I was hanging out with Matt Sorum from Guns n’Roses. I stayed at his house for a couple of weeks. He told me he thought it was the best song I’d ever recorded! He said that whenever people came around, he sat them down and made them listen to it! He loves that song!”

And on that uber-positive note its time to wind things up and make way for the next inquisitor, even now dialing Seb’s number and clutching their quiver full of hurricane-related questions. Thanks for talking to Metal as Fuck, Sebastian.

“Haha! Metal as Fuck! That’s a great name – very easy to remember!”

At which point I thought – hoped – he'd start singing I Remember You. He didn’t. But who cares? Sebastian Bach is a true rock n’roll hero, a rock star par excellance, and it was a pleasure to talk to him. Buy Kicking & Screaming (Bas himself particularly recommends the deluxe edition which comes with a DVD which is, in the mans own words ‘almost as good as the album’) and keep him in the business for a long time to come. Please.