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Sebastian Bach on His New ‘Breaking Band’ Show: Exclusive Interview

Mark Metcalfe, Getty Images
Mark Metcalfe, Getty Images

If you’ve seen Sebastian Bach in the past few years, it’s just as likely to have been on your TV as it is the concert stage.

The 47-year-old singer has yet to meet a reality show he doesn’t want to appear on. He’s Gone Country and won. He’s hit the gym with Celebrity Fit Club. He played a dead rock star on Californication. He played himself on Trailer Park Boys. And he even memorably dressed up as Lady Gaga on Sing Your Face Off and performed a credible version of “Bad Romance.”

The oft-smiling, clearly up-for-anything Bach returns to the small screen and to music-related reality on the new AXS TV series Breaking Band, which premieres Sunday at 9:30PM ET.

“For better or worse, they say I’m good TV. I don’t know if that a compliment,” he says with one his frequent laughs during a recent sit-down.

Hosted by Donovan Leitch, Breaking Band pairs up-and-coming artists with their heroes for mentoring. In addition to Bach, everyone from Moby to Robin Zander of Cheap Trick and Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Go’s will appear to offer advice.

Bach’s episode, airing Feb. 7, finds him paired with Skid Row-loving Finnish hard rockers Santa Cruz, who are bowled over when the “18 and Life” singer materializes to lend them some guidance (like questioning their use of backing tracks, for starters).

“There’s so many music shows, I think they are the highest rated shows,” Bach says. “My only point as a guy who’s made his whole life and living playing music, newsflash: You don’t become a rock star by doing cover versions of other people’s songs. So there’s this big white elephant in the room. It doesn’t matter if you can sing an Aretha Franklin song. This show, the episode I did anyway, was four sweaty dudes in T-shirts with tattoos, in a van, loading their amps in the back, driving to the show, setting it up, writing their own songs. This is real rock ‘n’ roll.”

Of those backing tracks Santa Cruz uses, Bach wonders with a laugh that maybe he is the one on the wrong side of the fight. “Technology changes,” he notes “When I started, there was no fax machines, no cellphones — I’m really f—ing old. But that is a funny part of the show. I think it’s interesting that it says I’m their mentor, but it’s almost like an old-meets-new show. I learned things from them. And as I was watching them, and the background vocals were playing with no one standing at the mic, that’s not rock ‘n’ roll to me. I don’t even know how to do that. Skid Row, we prided ourselves on being a real rock ‘n’ roll band, Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, that’s like a point of pride. But the thing is, at the end of the show, the spirit and fun vibe of it, it all comes through. Those guys are a really fun band, really good. Maybe I do need [backing tracks].”

But probably not. He recalls his befuddlement playing the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas with Swedish EDM stars Dada Life, with whom Bach recorded the 2013 anthem “Born to Rage.” “I’ve spent my whole life playing with a drummer, and when we hit the stage and it’s packed with people, we play together like humans to this vibe,” he says. “And I get up there with Dada Life, and the whole city is there, it’s like a quarter of a million people, and I’ve got the heart going! But I can’t let it go because I’m singing to a computer track. And it was so hard for me to stay on the beat.”

In other TV news, Bach is cooking up another reality show, this time with his wife and family for AMC. Potential title: Keeping Up With the Sebastians. He claps his hands with glee and laughs when he says it. “It really rolls off the tongue.”

“Honestly, the way I look at [my appearances on] television is to promote my music,” he says. “I know that’s silly but, to me, the albums last forever, more than any TV show. MTV doesn’t play rock videos, but if I’m on Gilmore Girls, it’s like, ‘Who is this dude? I’m going to check out his albums.’”

Speaking of the soon-to-be revived WB drama, Bach is correct when he says he thinks that fans would love it if his recurring character Gil returned to rock with Hep Alien, the band he played with on the show. “Netflix has given that show a whole new thing,” he says. “I walk around and I always hear [about] Gilmore Girls.”

“I get noticed for different things in different parts of town,” he says. “If I go to [famous Los Angeles rock club] the Rainbow, it’s Skid Row. If I go to a mall, it’s Gilmore Girls. If I walk around in the country of Canada, there is one thing that they like about me and that’s The Trailer Park Boys. Everywhere I go! I just consider myself lucky that I can do different things.”

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