When Sebastian Bach picks up the phone, he sounds weary. To be fair, he has just spent the past few weeks touring with his solo band through six countries, so now, as he stares down the barrel of a lengthy promo tour for his just-released book, 18 and Life on Skid Row, you can forgive him for being a little tired.
Bach’s book chronicles his life from birth until now – through his early days in rock clubs to stints on Broadway and TV and, eventually, carving out a solo career – but as the title suggests focuses heavily on his days fronting Skid Row, and the fallout from his split with the New Jersey rockers. As lurid as some of the tales may be, it’s not, he chuckles, a “tell-all”. “I did not put everything out there,” he says. “I have a whole part of my computer that says ‘cut out of book’. This is a tell-some. There was stuff [I cut out] that was pornographic for lack of a better word!”
What did you want to capture with the book?
Good writing. Like reading a sentence or a paragraph that is impactful and written well, and you go, wow, what did I just read? And you want to read that paragraph again. I’ve read every rock bio in the world, there’s none I have not read. My favourite ones are Keith Richards’ Life and Paul Stanley’s Face the Music, and Duff McKagan’s book [It’s So Easy: and Other Lies], and I really, really love Henry Rollins’ writing. Black Coffee Blues, Get in the Van, these books are almost like listening to a record, the way they’re written.
You don’t shy away from naming names while recounting your partying days. Did you have to give anyone a heads up?
No, I don’t have to give anybody a heads up, because nobody gives me a heads up when I’m in a book [laughs]. I’m in a lot of books! Here’s the way I would answer that – I would say, this is what I remember from 30 years ago. This is a long time ago. When you’re talking about me partying on the Bon Jovi tour, we’re talking about 1989. But this is the way I remember what happened, and if somebody else that was there at the time remembers it differently, I would expect them to write a book.
People may not look at Bon Jovi the same way after reading some of your stories…
We partied every day. That’s what we did. [Laughs] People might have an image of Bon Jovi as one thing and Pantera as the other, but I’ll tell you, Bon Jovi could hang with Pantera any day of the week. That’s the truth as far as partying goes.
You’re very open about your drug use. One drug that never seemed to interest you was heroin. Why not?
Well, I think everybody’s physical make-up is different. Here in 2016 the only thing that I enjoy at all is a glass of red wine with dinner and a joint of weed, But we’re talking about 1990, 1989, and some people’s physical makeup was different, and I’m just pointing out that I didn’t enjoy the high of that particular drug, where some people did enjoy it. I don’t understand how some guys I hang out with now can drink whiskey, cos when I drink whiskey I go to jail. [Laughs]
The book ends with a very clear message – you’re open to a Skid Row reunion. Do you hope this is the catalyst for that?
I had to end it somehow, and I find it a missed chance at making so many people happy, including me [laughs]. If we could make our fans that have been waiting for so long very happy, I would be up for doing that.
So you’re hoping that final chapter is the spark?
I’m not hoping, I’m just putting it out there. Putting out the vibe that I would be open to getting back together in some day.
As you were writing the book, did you uncover any revelations about yourself?
[Long pause] I don’t even know where to begin with that one. I’d say a revelation was that rock & roll in and of itself can be pretty dangerous. There’s so many instances in there where you’re really walking a line between life and death, and some rockers don’t live to tell the tale.
What about revelations about yourself?
I would say a revelation is that really I’m a family man. At the end of the day what really means everything to me is my wife, my kids, my family and fans who have supported me for 30 years.
What’s harder – writing a book or a record?
Writing a book is like making 10 records! [Laughs] Comparing writing an album to writing a book would be like if an album had 450 songs. There’s just so much detail. You wouldn’t believe the arguments I would get in about punctuation, like semi-colons, stuff like that that would drive me nuts. You wouldn’t believe it. Making sure the spelling’s right. Believe it or not, I’m the guy who would go through and do a lot of that. There was just a lot of details. But one thing I’ve always loved, and I’ve always been fascinated with, is details. At the end of the day writing a book is fun.
From issue #782 (January 2017), available now. Main photo: Bach in 1990.