Monday, May 26, 2008

Sebastian Bach Says No To Skid Row?

There can be no mistaking Sebastian Bach on the other end of the phone line. "Heeeeey, man!" he booms, as the receiver distorts from the sheer exuberance. "I'm ready to come on down to rawk Australia! Yeeaaaah!"

It has been 20 years since Bach became hair metal's pin-up boy as the singer on Skid Row's wild, self-titled debut album, and 12 years since the band fired him. But he still sounds the perfect caricature of his genre, somewhere between Mark Wahlberg's Chris Cole in Rock Star and a roadie from Wayne's World.

Today's Sebastian Bach is an all-round entertainer. He has starred in Broadway musicals ( Jekyll And Hyde, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Rocky Horror Show) and countless television shows.

"We live in a weird, crazy, celebrity culture in America, man," Bach says as we discuss his appearances in the soapie Gilmore Girls.

"There's a lot of guys who, 10 years ago, were just heavy metal dudes, y'know, guys like Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons, but they're now considered mainstream celebrities. Now I'm one of 'em, man! I'm one of those dudes!"

In his latest reality-TV stunt, Bach pitched newfound rhyming skills against other minor celebs in Celebrity Rap Superstar, belting out such classics as LL Cool J's Mama Said Knock You Out and Run DMC's It's Tricky.

"After doing Broadway shows, I tell you, rap ain't that hard!" he says.

For Bach, TV shows are a means to an end in an industry that "doesn't play rock videos any more". His record label went broke halfway through recording his latest solo album, Angel Down, leaving Bach in need of cash to finish the project.

"I ended up having to pay everybody myself," he says. "That's what Celebrity Rap Superstar is for!

"It's frustrating for me to know that to sing rock, I have to first fund a rock'n'roll record through a TV show. If it were up to me, I'd be Neil Young, man. I'd be giving you a record every eight months."

That said, when the TV producers call, Bach can't help himself. He's about to do another show - a big secret in America, he says. All he can tell me is it's filmed in Nashville.

Bach singing country: what are they thinking? "That's the way TV producers think," he says.

The 40-year-old Canadian knows where he'd rather be - playing stadium rock, long-hair flowing, leather pants on, big licks and hot chicks. He delights in telling me stories about backstage antics with Aerosmith and Guns N' Roses, about limos, Lamborghinis and wild Hollywood parties.

On Angel Down, he plays out his rock'n'roll fantasy. The album sounds straight out of 1991 - with all the ball-tearing riffery ( Back In The Saddle, Love Is A Bitchslap), Bach's high-pitched scream ( Stuck Inside), Bon Jovi-esque power ballads ( By Your Side) and the occasional cameo by Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose. Bach returned the favour on Rose's long-delayed solo record, Chinese Democracy.

"Dude, there's at least four albums of material," Bach says of his friend's disc. "I said, 'Axl, I love this shit, when is it coming out?' And he says, 'Like, 2012.'")

But no matter how hard Bach wants to rock, he won't entertain a reunion with Skid Row. "I don't see it happening, frankly. When I see a picture of those guys, it's like opening up your high school yearbook. It's like: 'Oh yeah, I remember those guys.'"

Discuss this topic and more at OLD SCHOOL METAL - GLAM - HAIR METAL - HARD ROCK

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