METAL MONDAY: Heavy Metal Book Club: Sebastian Bach, 18 & Life on Skid Row

*Find out how to a copy of this book at the end of this review!*

Metal and heavy rock prides itself on an abundance of incredible vocalists, with some boasting vocal abilities in the five (Axl Rose, David Lee Roth) and six (Mike Patton) octave range. Comparatively, at three octaves and change, Sebastian Bach is in good company with Ozzy Osbourne, Joey Belladonna and Rihanna (!), but it's the quality of his voice that, to me, has always set him apart in the genre. From piercing highs to menacing, gravelly lows, Sebastian Bach's voice sounds as beautiful as it sounds dangerous, a perfect fit for his rock'n'roll persona. As Chuck Klosterman writes in Fargo Rock City, the act Bach is arguably most famous for, Skid Row, “was a band for the bad kids. ... These were the kids who stole cheap beer and actually got in real trouble.” It's hard to believe that, through the most acclaimed part of his career, Bach wasn't much more than a kid himself—and quite a troublesome one, if his autobiography is to be believed.

In fact, I was extremely surprised to realize that more than three quarters of Bach's book recounts his life before the age of 30. From his earliest days in Freeport, Bahamas, to his childhood and adolescence in Peterborough, Ontario (around where he can still be spotted to this day), it's hard to believe how much Bach experienced in a relatively short time. Skid Row's debut album was released when Bach was only 21, and by the age of 28, he had already split from the band. One definitely gets the sense that Bach experienced a lot of what life offers early on (threesomes at 15, a first child at 19, and a Billboard #1 record by 23) but that maturity followed far, far later. In fact, it's Bach's Peter Pan-like enthusiasm that contributes to his allure, and it's decisively on display in his autobiography. The fucking, the fighting, and the never-ending rails of cocaine are all woven together by stories of Bach meeting his heroes, and underline the feeling one gets that Bach was the little brother of rock at the time, blurring the line between rockstar and superfan as he partied with his peers. He hung out with all of them: Jon Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, Aerosmith, Metallica, Slayer, Guns N' Roses; even his childhood idols Kiss. A few years younger than even the youngest of them, the joy and wonder he felt being in their presence is palpable in the recollections in this book. That, along with the dozens of candid snapshots of Bach and some of metal's greats, is sure to charm rock fans looking for that extra insight into their favorites.

Sebastian Bach writes much like he talks, and this book is rife with half sentences and idiosyncratic turns of phrase, and dotted throughout with subheadings like “I Lost My Home in a Fucking Hurricane” and “Beware the Satanic Death Metal Telemarketer”. Bach jumps from story to story with the kinetic, ebullient style he demonstrates on stage and in his television appearances, and the book is stronger for it. Even when, a third of the way through, he inexplicably starts leaving footnotes to himself that hint at stories untold, such as “slash's house nude boxing" and “WAS THIS THE SAME SHOW WHERE WE GOT TIED TO THE CHAIRS?”, the reader will find themselves taking it all in stride… this is just Baz being Baz.

The last quarter or so of the book deals with Bach's life post-Skid Row, and his story, compared to many of his contemporaries, has taken some interesting twists. Bach lent his impressive pipes to several Broadway productions, and went on to memorable stints on Gilmore Girls and Trailer Park Boys, all of which are covered here. While it's clear that he misses his sold-out arena rock days, Bach has gone on to carve an interesting path for himself, and I'm sure there are still a few chapters of his life yet to come.

Want to win a softcover copy of this book? I’ll be giving away copies of Sebastian Bach’s autobiography live on BVST, this coming March 28th at 7 PM ET! Tune in for your chance to win!

Angelica hosts BVST every Wednesday at 7 - 9 p.m. on CJLO. Tune in for the best (& worst) rock'n'roll, country, punk & metal!