Music Morsels - January 2000
|CROSSROADS.......... SEBASTIAN BACH by Mark E. Waterbury
Pivotal moments in musicians careers propelling them from obscurity to infamy
(As appearing in the January 2000 issue of Music Morsels.)
When hair metal was at its zenith in the late 80's and early 90's, one of the hottest bands of that genre was New Jersey's Skid Row. Lead vocalist Sebastian Bach and his cohorts were darlings of MTV and the hard rock stations with solid rockers like "Youth Gone Wild", "Eighteen And Life" and the power ballad "I'll Remember You". Too brash to be glam, the band's hectic touring pace and frenetic live shows helped sell millions of the first two CDs - the self-titled debut and "Slave To The Grind." After the third release "Subhuman Race", the band effectively split, with Bas being fired by the rest of the group. But would that spell the end for the flamboyant frontman's career?
Some may hard it find to believe that Sebastian Bach was a lead soprano in a boy's choir at the age of eight. "I used to sing in front of the whole congregation by myself," he recalls. "That's when I first realized that I really loved singing. Just the feeling of singing all the requiems and the Psalms and the songs at Christmas, I loved singing, period. Then I fell in love with rock and roll, as do most teenagers. But I could just as well have been a Broadway singer or singing jingles or something." Sparking interest in Elton John, Bas then started to listen to Kiss and "glammier" music such as Hanoi Rocks and David Bowie. As a teenager, he was in the bands Kid Wicked and Madam X before forming Skid Row at the age of eighteen. The band worked hard, playing at small clubs on the east coast and then finally was noticed by manager Doc McGhee. Doc took the band under his wing, acquired a deal with Atlantic Records and put them on tour supporting Bon Jovi and Aerosmith. Thus started the success of Skid Row, but in late 1996, ten years, three CDs and one EP later, the band fired Sebastian Bach. "I was kicked out in December and the drummer was kicked out shortly after. I think what their idea of what a great rock band was and what my idea was became two different things. When we first started, we had the same goals and the same ideas. But we were in a band for ten years, and in rock and roll, that's a century." Soon after the split, Bas recorded a cover of Alice Cooper's "School's Out" for the soundtrack of the movie "Scream".
Then in 1997, he started his solo band, playing over 100 shows in 1998. "I was sort of in a cocoon from Skid Row. I had literally forgotten how to form my own band. Then my buddy Richie Scarlet called me and said, "Let's go out on the road and do some shows." Half the fun of a band is creating it yourself and starting it up, and it was a lot of fun just getting a PA down in the basement and doing some new songs - just doing it all from scratch." Along with Richie, the newly named Sebastian Bach and Friends includes Frogs guitarist Jimmy Flemion, bassist Larry, and drummer Mark "BamBam" McConnell, who had been in the band Madam X with Bas. The band's new material, along with classic Skid Row songs performed live, can be found on the recently released CD "Bring 'Em Bach Alive". The fans have been very receptive to the new tunes, but still love to hear the old Skid Row favorites, almost paralleling Sebastian's feelings on his new and former bands. "We have to break the new songs in. The Skid Row hits were so huge with the MTV videos and all that, I have my work cut out for me trying to top those because they were drilled into everyone's heads. But people love the new stuff. There's a certain satisfaction you get in anything you create that's straight from the heart, and my solo band is that. But with Skid Row, I'm very proud of what we did. Anytime I press "play" on a CD, I know it's the music that will be here long after we are dead and gone."
Bas recently signed a four album deal and is looking forward to the future. "I want to try to crank out album after album like the Ramones or Cheap Trick in the 70's. I hate the corporate three years, four years between record deals. I don't understand that. I'm thirty-one years old, four albums...I'll be rocking 'til at least thirty-two!" Bas laughs. :->
|INDUSTRY PROFILE - Tor Hansen & Glenn Dicker of Redeye Distribution
by Mark E. Waterbury
(As appearing in the January 2000 issue of Music Morsels.)
Tor Hansen and Glenn Dicker were boyhood friends, growing up together in the town of Doylestown, Pennsylvania. They already had developed a sense of music while playing guitar in several bands together. After high school, Tor went to Westchester College, while Glenn attended school at Gettysburg College where he was music director for the school's radio station. "After college was when we really started to investigate the music business," Tor recalls. He and Glenn went to work for Rounder Distribution in Massachusetts which dealt more in specific genres of music. "We also continued being in bands together," adds Tor. "We had experience in touring, and in the DYI and band-funded tours." Tor then became involved with Hear Music, which was a retail operation based in Boston with stores nationwide. He went director of merchanding there to work for the Borders group. The Borders Group moved him to the Carolina region where he saw the opportunity to start his own business.
During this time, Glenn had gone from Rounder's distribution arm to working for their record label. "That's how I learned the workings of a record label," Glenn remembers. "Later I started a record label called Upstart Records, which released records by various people. I then moved (to the Carolinas) when Tor started Redeye to make the world safe for independent music." Tor launched Redeye Distribution when he realized how rich the Chapel Hill area was with scores of independent bands and labels.. "For the amount of people living in this community, there is quite a bit of music and quite a bit of music product coming out of here." The area bands and labels needed a conduit to make sure that their music was delivered to the masses including the mom-and-pop retailers to the major chain stores. Tor and Glenn built Redeye's catalogue from Carolina music, opening doors with as many retail avenues as they possibly could. "Working with bands that are very energetic in fullfilling the touring aspect and the press aspect of their careers moves us into other markets by virtue of the bands' fan bases," Tor proclaims.
The retail base of Redeye soon sought out bands in other markets in the Southeast and the company began to grow as their bands did. Some of the "niche" acts in blues and bluegrass Redeye distributeshelped acquire national status for the company. "We've grown with the bands and the bands didn't forsake us," Tor notes. "They stayed with us and actually helped us become the national distributor that we are. And we helped them become a successful independent label by distributing them. It's definitely grass roots and cooperative." Down the road, Tor and Glenn would like to continue to build the company's foundation by opening more distribution avenues and communication lines to better their service to their clients. "We try to apply the model that is successful in the Southeast to other regions," Glenn says. "What happens is we find a band (or the band comes to us) that has a strong base in a city we don't have any bands from. And if we're successful with that, we open up the stores in the market ensuring the product is available there. That, in turn, generates interest from other bands and the desire to want to work with Redeye."
|UNSIGNED ARTIST SPOTLIGHT - John Faye of the John Faye Power Trip by Mark
(As appearing in the July, 1999 issue of Music Morsels.)
Former lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for The Caulfields (remember "I'm Bigger Than Jesus Now"?), John Faye has formed a power trio in the wake of that band's demise. The aptly named John Faye Power Trip includes guitarist Cliff Hillis and drummer Dave Anthony. The band's self-titled debut is starting to gain notice, as they tour the east coast and beyond spreading John's new gospel of rock and roll. Now John talks of getting a taste of success and having to begin anew to achieve more of it.
MM: What really pushed you into music?
JF: Not in the sense that there was a lot of musicians in the household or anything like that, I had three older sisters who had a pretty happening 70's record collection. I grew up on the glory days of AM radio. I was kind of an introverted kid, and once I got into my early teens, I realized that I didn't really care for the music that most of the kids I went to school with listened to. So I started looking for music that I could relate to myself, and discovered The Clash, The Jam and other 80's British punk bands. I really got into the music, started playing the drums and everything kind of took off from then.
MM: Did you start writing songs right from the beginning?
JF: I wrote songs, but they were sort of dirty. (Laughs) I always liked being creative. I wrote poems as a little kid. My mom bought me a movie camera at age thirteen which yielded some sort of bizzare things. (Laughs) I can't say that there was an epiphany one day - that this is what I had to do. I've always just sort of been interested in it, and the more seriously I got into it, obviously the more commited to it I became.
MM: With The Caulfields you had a pretty good taste of success. What caused their break-up?
JF: The Caulfields had put out two records on A&M, and on the eve of the release of the second record, the guy that signed us to the label was fired. And in the record business language, that's pretty much the kiss of death. As far as being a priority at the label, that went out the window. We basically had to support ourselves rather than have the record company behind us. I believe that I was commited to doing that, but other members of the band didn't seem to have the drive left. I think the disappointment in losing the record company support was too great for the band as a whole from the morale standpoint. We tried to make it work for about six months. Then there were some personal problems in the band, and finally in August of 1997, I had sort of had it.
MM: Did you begin immediately writing songs that would eventually be used with the John Faye Power Trip?
JF: Yeah, I pretty much did. It's like here I was without the band I had been with for so long. It's almost as if songwriting was the only thing I had left. I definitely turned to it to help me get through the situation.
MM: What are some things that motivate your songwriting?
JF: It happens in many different ways. Generally the motivating factors are anger, bitterness and sorrow. (Laughs) It's different for about every situation. I try to be in tune with what's going on around me and what's going on in my own head. I try to be as honest as I can with what I write. Sometimes it will just be coming to a realization about myself. In fact, a lot of songs in the current CD are about that.
MM: When you put together the John Faye Power Trip, what was it you were looking for in your fellow musicians?
JF: Sense of humor, first of all. (Laughs) I'm really happy with how things turned out with the people playing in the band with me. We get along incredibly well, and a lot of that is stemming from the fact that we all sort of share the same outlook on life and the same sense of humor. It's a lot more important to me to get along personally than whether the person is at the top of their instrument from a technical standpoint. And I happen to be lucky in the fact that everyone in the band is technically good anyway. I'm ecstatic having the current line-up that I have.
MM: Are you happier with the music you are doing now then when you were with The Caulfields?
JF: Yeah, I mean I'm proud of The Caulfields' records. For who we were at that point in time, I have no complaints. It's just that I feel like I've come so far as a songwriter and an individual since then. I'm very happy about the results of the new CD.
MM: How large would you say your fan base is and how widespread?
JF: I really don't know. Basically we have toured since the release of the album - all of the east coast from New England all the way down to Atlanta we've done quite a bit, and as far west as Dallas. I get correspndence from all over the world actually, The Caulfields set me a pretty good foundatation to work off of. Because our records were released internationally, we were able to gain some sort of following in Australia and different countries in Europe, and a lot of those people are still interested in what I'm doing right now. Fortunately, it's kind of starting over, but building on a foundation that I was lucky enough to have with my earlier band. Now it's just a point of getting out into those areas and jaring some memories. This album which was produced, manufactured and distributed independently has sold more copies and is being played on more radio stations then the second album The Caulfields did. That sort of says a lot about what we have accomplished in a relatively short amount of time.
MM: Since you had that taste of success with The Caulfields, does that help drive you to achieve an even greater success with your new band?
JF: Yeah, I see some success in the past. I feel right now that we are doing a better job in building on that success than what a major record company that we were signed to was doing in the later days of The Caulfields. From an artistic stand point, I feel like a success, and yeah, I'd like to be making more money but that has never been my primary motivator. I feel like things are defintitely moving in the direction I want them to move. Having tasted whatever success The Caulfields had really gives me something to shoot for. I know more about what that is and how to get there now.
For more information on the John Faye Power Trip, please visit their web site at www.johnfaye.com
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