Canadian heavy metal rocker Sebastian Bach -- of '80s band Skid Row fame -- is hardly a wallflower. He's more like a one-man three-ring circus.
The 43-year-old, Bahamas-born, Peterborough, Ont.-raised musician talked candidly in an interview about a number of topics: His divorce in December (which fuelled much of his latest solo album, Kicking & Screaming); Hurricane Irene, which in August destroyed his New Jersey home; his arrests in Peterborough and Toronto last year; and his relationship with his late father, artist David Bierk, who died from leukemia in 2002.
During the interview, Bach would periodically break into song. On this day his songlist included Jesus Christ Superstar (Bach played the big guy in a touring production) and Rough Trade's High School Confidential (he's a huge Carole Pope fan and follows her on Twitter).
It's kind of hard to explain the voluminous energy of the man born Sebastian Bierk, but it's intense -- and entertaining.
"I don't live crazy like I used to," insisted Bach, who nonetheless confessed to having knocked back a lot of red wine the night before.
After having spent a decade in musical theatre, reality TV guest spots, acting roles on TV (Gilmore Girls and Trailer Park Boys) and even dabbling in country music, Bach has returned to his roots for his first new album since 2007: "It's about kicking ass and screaming rock 'n' roll."
The new album features a killer guitar player in the form of 21-year-old Nick Sterling from Mesa, Ariz., whom Bach learned about in Guitar World magazine.
"I said to myself, 'Can I be in a band with a guy who's two years younger than my son?' I said, 'What? I'm going to eliminate him just 'cause I could only play with old dudes?' "
In all seriousness, he says his split from his wife Maria Bierk at the end of last year was painful. Together they have two sons (Paris, 23, who attends Rutgers College, and London, 17, who's into rap) and a daughter (Sebastiana, 4).
Bach says he'd been going with Maria since he was 16, so the split "was really hard. A lot of the lyrics have to do with losing your love."
But there also are a lot of lyrics on the new album that reference Bach's new love, model Minnie Gupta, who is on the cover of the new CD, posing as the eight-armed Hindu goddess Kali Ma. She is shown attempting to drag Bach into the fires of hell.
"I've always liked the Indian artwork of slitting the throats and the blood splurting out," Bach says matter-of-factly. "And (Kali Ma) is the most loving of all goddesses, but with the most terrifying visage. I think any girl would want to grab her man and drag him into hell and slash him with knives."
If you say so, Sebastian.
"It's weird -- like, my life has always imitated art, and my art has always imitated life. Like, I lost my home. My house is condemned, the foundation of the home caved in. (Some lyrics on Kicking & Screaming are), like, prophetic. There's a song, As Long as I Got the Music, which says, 'Broken, stranded, I don't care, as long I got the music, you can't bother me.' And that's all I got right now."
Bach was playing a show with Godsmack in Colorado when he found out his home had been wrecked by Irene. He has since secured temporary residence in Atlantic Islands, N.J., but says he intends to move to L.A.
"My next place is going to be lost by a fire or mudslide," he said with a laugh. "Maybe I'll just go up to North Bay (Ont.), build myself an igloo, call it a day. It's been a good run!"
Returning to Peterborough, it seems, is not in the cards.
"Since (my dad) died in 2002, it's kind of eerie. Most of my family live in Toronto now. It's haunting 'cause (Peterborough is) a little town, so every street, every house, I just remember everything."
Bach wisecracks that he only gets back to Toronto "when I go to jail" -- which happened last November rather unexpectedly. It started when Bach was arrested in Peterborough -- about 140 kilometres northeast of Toronto -- following an altercation with Riley's Olde Towne Pub owner Jim Kakouros. He was charged with assault, mischief and for possession of marijuana. A case will be heard in Peterborough court on Tuesday, when it is expected to be remanded again.
"I went to Peterborough to deal with my dad's estate, and pack up his art and put it in a truck and drive it to New Jersey -- and it was pure misery," he said. "So that was a rough day. One of my friends wanted to sing a song to me, a song at the microphone, and (Kakouros) wouldn't let her. I ended up tackled up from behind so the only thing I could do, of course, was bite the dude. I had to go and take a rabies test to make sure I didn't have communicable diseases. I'm happy to say I am rabies free. I'm not rabid."
Upon his arrest for that incident, police discovered an outstanding warrant against him on a 2004 charge of mischief in Toronto, for trashing a strip club when it refused to take down a photo of his naked ex, taken when she was a stripper in 1988. That matter was quickly settled; charges were dropped and he paid a $250 fine.
Bach finds the humour even in that experience.
"I'll tell you where The Trailer Park Boys is really big -- in jail. At (Toronto's) Don Jail I was in a van handcuffed to all the other people with my hair back. I didn't want anybody else to notice me or anything, and they were talking and I said something, and everybody turns and goes, 'You're the guy on The Trailer Park Boys!' The whole jail went nuts."
Not surprisingly, given the number of stories he has, Bach said he's hoping to write his memoirs sooner than later, with Larry Sloman, the same man who helped pen Scar Tissue, the autobiography of Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis.
"Scar Tissue had a lot to do with Anthony Kiedis' relationship with his dad, and I had a very 'strong' relationship with my dad," Bach said. "(My dad) was a famous painter in Canada, he owned Art Space in Peterborough in the '70s and we came from California, and we were like freaks in Peterborough. The Peterborough Examiner -- all the articles about when my dad first got there, it was like, 'The hippies are coming to town!' I swear."
Bach: 'Axl one of a kind'
Sebastian Bach has a handful of U.S. headlining dates booked before the holidays but with his sometime performing partner Axl Rose going out with Guns 'N Roses again, maybe he'll end up on stage with him too.
"I would play with Guns 'N Roses anytime," Bach told QMI Agency. "And Axl is one of a kind. I was too young to ever see The Doors but when I see old footage of Jim Morrison on stage, Axl has that kind of danger thing going on when he steps up to the mic. He's pretty fascinating."
The two met back in 1989 when Skid Row was opening for Aerosmith at the L.A. Forum. "Axl came down to do the song Train Kept A Rollin' with Steven Tyler and he didn't know the words, and he came to my dressing room and he goes, 'Do you know the words to this?' and I go, 'Yes, I do!' So I sat down there with him. That was a crazy night."
Turns out he also met David Lee Roth, the former Van Halen lead singer.
"There was a knock on the door -- bang, bang, bang -- and he sticks his head in and goes, 'Sebastian?' And I go, 'Oh, my God! It's David Lee Roth.' And he sits next to me and I go 'Hey Dave, you want to roll up a joint?' And he goes 'Sebastian, you do the honours.' But then that night he took me and Axl to The Rainbow and Rick Rubin drove the car. And can I remember sitting next to Axl in the back seat of Rick Rubin's car throwing up going down Sunset Boulevard, and him holding my hair. I was puking out the door."