Interview With Sebastian Bach

By Andrew Bansal

Sebastian Bach has been one of the most bombastic and enigmatic rock n’ roll singers for over three decades now, and even the present day Sebastian Bach has the energy and child-like enthusiasm to rival that of his early days. Following the release of the latest studio album ‘Kicking & Screaming’ and a subsequent world tour, Sebastian’s solo band released a live DVD+CD called ‘ABachalypse Now’ recently via Frontiers Records. This package captures three full concerts from this recent tour in all their glory, and is a wholesome offering for any hard rock fan. A few weeks after the release of the live album, I had the pleasure of talking to the man himself over the phone, to discuss the DVD, his experiences from the concerts that the DVD contains, band lineup, future plans and more. Read the conversation below, check out a clip from the DVD, and visit Sebastian Bach online using the links at the bottom. 

Your new solo DVD+CD ‘ABachalypse Now’ came out recently. It has three shows from last year, the Graspop and Hellfest festivals and the show at Club Nokia in Los Angeles. While doing those shows did you know that they were going to be released on the DVD?

No, except for the Nokia show. The other two we did not plan on releasing or even filming them. But the record company asked me if I wanted to do a DVD so I went through all of the footage. Those festivals were filmed by the people running the festival themselves, so they were available.

So that means the set lists would have remained the same even if the shows were not being filmed, then.

Yep! I’m only able to bring out the hits when I’m playing the festival shows. The set list is obviously determined by how long the set is. If it’s a short set, it’s going to be the hit songs that you know me for, and if it’s a longer set then I can do more different songs.

This DVD has full concerts. Normally what people do for DVDs is, they select a few songs from different concerts and make one track list. But this must have made it easier for you because you didn’t have to remove anything.

I collect DVDs to watch on the bus while on tour, specially in the various countries where the TV is not in English. The one that I end up re-watching the most is this Allman Brothers DVD called ‘Brothers Of The Road’. It has three full concerts on it. So I watch one of those concerts over and over, and go the menu only to find out that there are two other full concerts on it (laughs). And then I end up watching those. I must have watched that DVD a hundred times. So that gave me the idea to get as much material on this DVD so that you’ll be watching it years from today. I thought that was a good way to utilize the time on the DVD.

At that Graspop show you played, you shared the stage with bands like Guns N’ Roses, Motörhead, Machine Head, Europe and all that. That’s a pretty killer lineup. What was that experience like?

Well, it was the earliest set time I was ever brought on stage at. There was a torrential downpour and I was forced to stand in a puddle of water and scream! I didn’t know if I was going to get electrocuted (laughs) because I was standing there with all these wires, microphones and electrical equipment. So it was kind of crazy. It ended up being a really good show though, and I loved playing it because it was very early in the morning. It was like going to war (laughs). It’s kind of interesting to watch.

What about HellFest? Was that also an early set?

HellFest was quite early in the afternoon but it was a beautiful setting. It looked gorgeous, it was outside in the summer time, the sun was shining and there were people as far as you could see. The bands on the lineup were killer and it looks really great on the video, like a true summer time festival. And then the Nokia show was dark at night with guest stars. So there’s a lot of material on the DVD, and it also comes with three bonus videos from the ‘Kicking & Screaming’ album featuring my girl Minnie Gupta who’s also on news stands now in the Indian fashion magazine FHM India.

That’s great to hear. So, in these big festivals like HellFest and Graspop, there’s usually like 75-80 bands playing. I’m sure a lot of them are friends of yours, but do you even get time to catch up with them or are you too busy with your own stuff?

Unfortunately I don’t really get the time for that. Being on the road is very challenging with a lot of traveling and performing, and every night physically is very challenging. So sometimes I don’t get to do that but I’m very good friends with Guns N’ Roses and I got to jam with them. So it depends on the band. I try my best to find time to meet as many people as possible.

Coming back to this live album, I think it sounds really good, but in your opinion does it retain all the qualities of the live sound that you have on stage?

The sound on the DVD is such that you’ll want to listen to it in ten years time, and I’m not just trying to put out a YouTube clip, you know. My idea of a great live album is something you could watch or listen to for life. So while retaining the ‘live’ feel, we polished up the audio from the HellFest and Nokia shows. But we were not able to polish up Graspop at all, so it’s a totally live concert. Having said that, we made every effort to make sure it sounds as good as it possibly could.

Your band lineup has drummer Bobby Jarzombek on drums, who’s a really busy guy and works with a lot of bands. What’s your relationship with him? Is he a permanent member of the band, or is he in it just on an availability basis?

I’ve had Bobby for eight years or something now. He’s the best drummer I’ve ever played with. I’ve done two studio records with him, Angel Down and Kicking & Screaming, and he’s just a phenomenal player. He’s going to be playing drums for me for the foreseeable future at least. He also plays for Halford, Riot and Fates Warning, and he’s just an incredible rock n’ roll drummer. The best in the business if you ask me!

And talking more of the lineup, what’s the situation with the guitarist?

Yeah, it was kind of a difficult situation with my previous guitar player Nick Sterling. Watching the DVD I can say that he’s an amazing guitar player, but the road is a tough situation to be in. I’ve been doing it pretty much all my life and he’s quite a bit younger than us. I would love to work with him in the future if I can. I love the record we made and I love watching Nick’s live show. But that’s all I can say about that. 

When band members change, are you still able to control the sound of your band exactly how you want it, or do your band mates also influence the music?

Each guitar brings his different style into the band. Nick was incredible. He came in with many ideas and they really worked well. I got this new guitar player Jeff George, who’s awesome. I’m working with Steve Stevens from Billy Idol as well, and also John 5 from Rob Zombie’s band, with whom I wrote the tune ‘TunnelVision’ for the Kicking & Screaming album.

Kicking & Screaming came out in 2011. What’s the plan for the next album?

I’m going to release it later this year. We’ve already started working on songs. We have like nine ideas going. I have been and will be very busy. I toured Australia with Van Halen and South Africa with Slash recently. It’s been insane.

So touring and writing are going to occupy the rest of your year, then?

Yeah, and I’m also working on my book. My first book will be coming out at some point, and there’s also talk of another Broadway show, so there’s a lot going on. But the first step is the next studio record and that’s what I’m working on now.

I’ve seen you play songs like ‘Youth Gone Wild’ at every single show of yours, and you’ve put in the same amount of energy every time which I find amazing. How are you able to enjoy playing a song like that, even after playing it all your life?

I just love music, it makes me feel good and there’s nothing like it in this world. So I’ve always really been into it. I want to keep making music until I’m not able to anymore. When you talk about the energy I put into running around on stage, I might run around a little less as the years go on, and sing standing still a little more (laughs). But I don’t know if that’ll even happen, because when I get up there, the music takes me over and I just explode with energy. So it’s hard to control.

If you do end up running around less, do you think that would affect your singing?

Yeah, I’m sure it will. When I watch the Graspop show for example, I was just standing there because it’s just so rainy. But it’s fascinating for me because I like the way I sing in that show. So I learned a lot making this DVD. I learned that I should stand still a little more (laughs).