By Ashley Zimmerman
By Dana Krangel
By John Hood
By Ashley Zimmerman
By David Von Bader
By Sayre Berman
By Steve Brennan
By Ashley Zimmerman
"We gave MTV seven videos in a row that went to No. 1," he howls. "I'll list 'em for you: 'Youth Gone Wild,' '18 and Life,' 'Piece of Me,' 'I Remember You,' 'Slave to the Grind,' 'Monkey Business,' and, uh, that's it. That's seven, seven in a row. The next one we did, 'Quicksand Jesus,' they wouldn't even play, not even in light rotation. Just think of how wrong that is: They didn't even give us a chance to fuckin' flop. You figure that maybe, at four in the morning, they might play it once. But no. No. The public is dying to see the next Skid Row video, but five guys up in a skyscraper with three-piece suits are saying no."
Bach overestimated public demand for Skid Row product. When the Subhuman Race album sank without a trace in 1995, the band forced Bach to leave. "They kicked me out -- it's not by my choice," he sniffs.
In 1997 he resurfaced in the most unlikely of places. Creating a strange supergroup with guitarist Kelley Deal (the Breeders), Flemion, and Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, the team recorded almost 20 songs over the course of four days, but Deal's altrock streak and Bach's metallic screech canceled each other out. One cut -- a tribal take on Alice Cooper's "School's Out" -- appeared on the Scream soundtrack. The other material has yet to be released.
"It's a great theory and everything," he says. "But we do come from very different genres. Kelley and I did get into several very heated musical discussions. I mean, I'm into hard rock, and it's gotta kick ass if it's got my name on it."
Still, Flemion and Bach forged a musical kinship. The two assembled Sebastian Bach & Friends, and late last year Bring 'Em Bach Alive hit stores. Just five of its tracks are new; two of those are penned by Flemion. "He's a freak," says Bach. "He's six-foot-seven, I'm six-foot-four, and I'm a shrimp next to him on stage. Plus, he wears these green sequined wings; they're nine feet in diameter when he spreads 'em out."
The rest of Bring 'Em Bach Alive is live versions of old Skid Row songs, recorded at a Tokyo concert with the new personnel. Although most of those tunes weren't written by Bach, he still acts as if he owns them: "I love Skid Row music, and I'll be doing that music till the day I die. I didn't do it for 12 years just to stop because somebody wanted me to. That's not the way it works. I decide what the fuck songs I sing."
Calling what Bach does "singing" may be stretching the term. On Bring 'Em Bach Alive, Bach prefers to unleash a paint-peeling yowl that's never less than stadium-sized. On the new "Rock'N'Roll" and "Done Bleeding," he belts out a sore-throat scream that's practically a plea for cough drops, while his compatriots do their best to recapture late-'80s metal excess, with thick-headed riffs and squealing guitar solos. Flemion's contributions are considerably more interesting, with the tastefully strummed "Superjerk, Superstar, Supertears," coaxing a subdued wail from Bach.
Over the past two years, Bach and his Friends have toured relentlessly, scouring the continent for refugee hair-band fans. He's found them in the most unlikely of places: the Blue Loon in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Corral in Grand Prairie, Alberta. Even in Branson, Missouri. And he's found them ready to rawk. Though Bach can whip a crowd into a frenzy, audiences can't come close to his level of enthusiasm.
"I get such a rush of adrenaline when the lights go down," he shudders. "When the cheers go up and the intro tape starts playing I don't want to get all metaphysical, dude, but when I'm up there singing and everybody's groovin' with me, you can see my fingers tremble when I hit a high note and the vibrato comes out. I can feel it in the air. I know that sounds really hokey, but I swear to God there's a presence in that building that's not there when I'm just walking around or something."
Not big on humility, Bach acknowledges that he's earned whatever support he can generate these days. "I don't take any of this for granted. A lot of these guys do take it for granted, and it's gone. I always try to put a hundred percent into my shows. People remember the good times they had in the past, and they want to come have some more fun. And I'm right there. I'm right there for that."
Contact Jeff Stratton at his e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org