In conjunction with a recent Metal Hammer retrospective on Skid Row’s 1989 self-titled debut, former vocalist Sebastian Bach spoke at length about the album with writer Clay Marshall. Select “outtakes” from the interview appear below (as transcribed by

On his initial impressions of Skid Row upon receiving the band’s demo:

Sebastian: “My very first impression was, ‘This guy [original vocalist Matt Fallon] is doing an impression of Jon Bon Jovi.’ My vocal tastes were totally not that — my favorite singer was Rob Halford of Judas Priest, and I was no Rob Halford, but that was my favorite singer. There was Youth Gone Wild on the tape and also 18 And Life, and those two songs stuck in my head. I said if I could reinvent the melody lines — especially in 18 And Life, and put in some Halford-esque kind of notes — I could make this into something that I would really be proud of. You can go through the song and circle the lines — ‘fingers to the bone,’ ‘child blew a child away.’ Every single time my voice goes into that high register, that’s me. Nobody wrote that — nobody said, ‘Here’s how the song goes. Here’s how the melody goes.’ I didn’t understand at that young age that I was writing the melody line. People have told me, ‘Why the f–k didn’t you get a credit on the song?’ I was a little kid — I didn’t know anything. I was like, ‘Can I sing this note?’ Everybody’s like, ‘F–k yes, you can. Sing that.’ I didn’t realize that that, in other bands, would entitle me to get my name on the song. The last thing I ever thought in a million years was that anybody would like us. [Laughs].

Speaking about his contributions to Makin’ A Mess, the one track on Skid Row for which he received a songwriting credit:

Sebastian: “That was me and Rachel [Bolan, bass] and Snake [Sabo, guitar] sitting in a room in Rachel’s house. I lived in Rachel’s house in Rachel’s childhood bedroom, next to his parents. We wrote that song in the office across from his television room. They’ll tell you that we never got along, that we never liked each other, which was horses–t. [Laughs] You don’t have somebody living in your f–king house that you don’t get along with. That was us just sitting around, the three of us writing a tune… We rehearsed, like, every day. We rehearsed in Rachel’s parents garage, and New Jersey is not California. We had space heaters, and it was cold in there, but we didn’t even discuss it. We would just meet in the garage and work on music. We didn’t play cover songs. Rachel and Snake were very prolific at that point and also wrote songs with [Jon] Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. We were always in the garage, working on tunes.”

Discussing the album’s sound, and whether he thinks it still holds up today:

Sebastian: “I’m not a huge fan of remixes or remasters. I like the original copy of whatever album it is, because when you f–k around with it too much, it changes it into something it’s not. Albums are a snapshot in time, and the first Skid Row record is 1989. That’s the way it sounded. The only thing I would say is that the drum sound is very of-the-times on the record, and an album like Appetite For Destruction doesn’t have this wacky kind of reverb that really dates it. At the time, you don’t know — you’re just trying your best to make something that you like. The records that age well are the ones that are just recordings of bands. That’s why we all keep listening to the ’70s albums by Black Sabbath and Judas Priest and KISS, because it’s just the band — it’s not all technology. That’s the one thing I would say — that some of the production is a bit dated. There’s way to know that when you’re doing it.”

On how the band was marketed:

Sebastian: “The very first Skid Row poster that we ever put out, you can’t even see us. People talk about the way we looked or our hair, but there was a very conscious marketing vibe of us being in black-and-white. The first poster is black-and-white — it’s not even color. The only color is the logo, and it’s a black-and-white picture. So is the album cover, and the back of the album – all black-and-white. I remember at the time, I was really into glam. When I met Skid Row, I still used to tease my hair up [like] Tigertailz, Pepsi Tate-style. It was Jon Bon Jovi who saw our pictures. We did a photo session, and me and Snake and Rachel, we all had huge hair. Nobody’s ever seen that photo session, but Jon Bon Jovi just freaked out and said, ‘You guys can’t look like this. It’s ridiculous.’ Jon was taking us on tour, so we left the hair spray at home. It made it a lot easier to get ready for a show. [Laughs] I remember being confused, because everybody else was like the Vinnie Vincent Invasion — glitter and the biggest hair and makeup and color, and Skid Row came out black-and-white. I remember saying, ‘It looks like a mistake — you can’t even see us. It’s just, like, shadows.’ But it was absolutely perfect. There was [sic] no wrong moves made with the first Skid Row record.”

Talking about the band’s rapid rise:

Sebastian: “I remember the feeling that we’re starting to get really big. I think it was a month into the Bon Jovi tour [that] we played a place in Chicago called Rosemont Horizon. The tour had been going well up to that point, but that show on that night, I told the 20,000 people in front of me, ‘Everybody, get up, man. It’s time to rock n’ roll.’ I raised my hand, and the whole arena stood up for Skid Row. I turned around and looked at Rachel saying, ‘Oh my f–king god. This is really happening.’ That moment when that whole arena stood up to their feet and put their hands in the air for us, that was the exact moment I thought it was going to be a success.”

Discussing temporarily getting kicked off the Bon Jovi tour due to his frequent onstage profanity:

Sebastian: “We really looked up to Mötley Crüe. Vince Neil’s raps in the ’80s, he would go on stage and go, ‘Hey Toronto! What the f–k? Look at all the f–king pussy here tonight, man!’ [Laughs] He couldn’t be more rude or foul-mouthed, and I was a Vince Neil fan. And also Dee Snider of Twisted Sister — every second word out of his mouth was ‘f–k,’ and I thought it was hilarious. The Bon Jovi parents that would bring their daughters to the show didn’t think it was so hilarious. [Laughs] We got kicked off for, like, one day, and then we were back on. I remember walking around the hotel somewhere in America with Snake, and we couldn’t believe that we were kicked off the tour, but we thought it was, like, a badge of honor at the time — like, ‘We’re such badasses because we got kicked off the tour.’ We would read about KISS getting kicked off tours, and Van Halen — nobody wanted to follow David Lee Roth or KISS’ show, so we weren’t too sad. [Laughs].”

Several weeks after the Metal Hammer interview was conducted, Bach — who parted ways with Skid Row in 1996 — announced plans to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Skid Row by performing the album in its entirety during a tour that kicks off August 29 in Nashville, Tennessee. Last month, he issued an “open invitation” to his former Skid Row bandmates to “get onstage and jam” during the tour, but so far, only original drummer Rob Affuso has accepted.

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  • Dana on

    A few observations from this interview:

    1. I always knew Halford was one of Bach’s favorite singers, but I had no idea, he was the one. This makes sense, because I always said he would have been my pick to fill Halford’s shoes, when he departed Judas Priest. Not that anyone could ever replace, the one and only, Metal God, but Bach could do the songs justice, while keeping them his own. Unlike hiring a singer from a tribute band {no offense to Tim Owens).

    2. I am glad Jon Bon Jovi convinced Bach to put down the hairspray, as he had the most beautiful, long straight, gorgeous hair, that most women, and men, envied.

    3. I think it was a smart decision for the band to have obscured their image when they first came out, because that way, they were solely judged on their talent alone, and not their appearance.

  • T on

    I remember being kind of surprised that a band found by Bon Jovi was so heavy. I kind of expected a band found by Bon Jovi to be more pop/rock, like Bon Jovi. I guess Jon thought these guy are wild, but they put on a hell of a show and have a great frontman. Monkey Business is down right frightening compared to anything Bon Jovi was doing. That song was definitely not meant for people who liked Poison. Sebastian does look like he was genetically engineered to be a heavy rock frontman (I can’t see him working at Cinnabon).

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