McGinnis: Rocker Sebastian Bach returns to ToledoWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Sebastian Bach has been touring as a rocker for more than a quarter century. With all those years and miles behind him, the former Skid Row frontman could be forgiven for not having many specific memories of his stops in Toledo. But he has some very, very vivid memories of Glass City performances.
“I’ve had some great shows in Toledo and some not-so-great shows,” Bach said in an interview with Toledo Free Press Star. “The best one that I can remember playing in Toledo was [with] Guns N’ Roses in, I think, ’91 or ’92 at the racetrack, down in the dirt. It was a very intense scene — it was about 50,000 people, but the whole perimeter of the concert was nothing but police.
“I remember being onstage and looking, and seeing the crowd surrounded by police cars, with the sirens and the cherries going off the whole time. And it looked like a war zone — it looked like Altamont or something. It was like very intense, there was a heavy vibe in the air … there was definitely an air of danger about that gig.”
In contrast, Bach also remembers his last stop in Toledo, performing at Headliners in late 2006 — the kind of show which most rock stars would much sooner like to forget.
“We went there on a day off, on the Guns N’ Roses tour,” he said. “There was maybe 15 people at the gig. It was very ‘Spinal Tap.’ And I said to myself, ‘I’ll probably never play Toledo again in my life.’ And that’s what I honestly thought. But I’m coming back! Here we go! Let’s do it again!”
Bach will roll back into the Glass City on Feb. 3, for a show at the Omni, and despite his previous setback he’s optimistic.
“Maybe this show will be, like, a happy medium between the Mud Bowl and Headliners’ gig. That would be fine with me,” he said.
The veteran rocker has some reason to be optimistic — his latest album, “Kicking and Screaming,” has been well-received by critics and fans. But, he said, commercial success is not why he still travels America’s highways year after year.
“I mean, it’s just fun. Singing is fun. It’s very cathartic, if I’ve had a rotten day or I miss my girlfriend or something on the road, touring across the country, being on a tour bus, being in hotel rooms — getting onstage and singing is very cathartic. It feels good. And if I do it right, it feels really, really good.
“I don’t do it as a job. I do it because I love the music that I sing, and I love to sing it.”
Bach’s music — the hard-driving metal that has been a trademark since the early days of Skid Row — has fallen on hard times in recent years, with mainstream radio drifting more and more toward teenybopper pop and toothless rock. But Bach points out that through it all, metal has retained a remarkable level of staying power.
“The thing about hard rock and heavy metal is, once it gets in your soul, there’s really no music that’s like that. It’s just such hard-driving riffs and vibe. I can’t put in a Katy Perry song and feel the same way as a Black Sabbath song. As far as metal goes, there’s no music like that,” Bach said.
“There’s been so many genres over my career of 25 years that have come and gone, and it’s like Jack Black says, ‘You can’t kill the metal.’ Techno tried and failed. Punk tried and punk died. Grunge tried and grunge went away. There’s been so many kinds of flavor-of-the-month styles that have come and gone, but heavy metal — the songs last the test of time.”
That’s not to say that the modern music scene hasn’t been a struggle for a die-hard metal icon like Bach.
“There’s no radio anymore for rock ’n’ roll,” Bach said. “There’s like 15,000 or 17,000 stations in America, FM stations, and only 70 of them play rock ’n’ roll. And most of them play rock ’n’ roll from 20 years ago.
“So a guy like me, I can’t walk down the street because everybody freaks out because they all know me, but it’s almost impossible for me to get a brand-new song on the radio, because I’m too rock ’n’ roll for Nickelback stations. So I don’t fit in with that, but the stations that do play me can’t stop playing ‘I Remember You’ or ‘18 and Life.’ They just can’t fathom that there’s another song like that.”
As for Toledo, Bach issued a challenge to Glass City metalheads for Feb. 3.
“Well, No. 1, I hope they show up, because they didn’t last time,” he joked. “I was very surprised I’m even playing there.
“So, impress me, Toledo. Let’s see what you got!”
Email Toledo Free Press Star Pop Culture Editor Jeff McGinnis at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.