Tokes and Toques: An Encounter With Skid Row
by Nardwuar the Human Serviette
"How's writing for Impact Magazine?" I ask West Vancouver-based scribe, Grant Lawrence. "It's great," he chirps! "They even wanted me to interview some band called Skid Row." "No way," I reply. "Not that Skid Row, featuring Canada's number one RATT fan, Sebastian Bach?" "Yaaw," Grant mutters, "and since those dudes don't exactly run the gamut of my personal pop-punk, screeching-weaseled, devil-dogged tasted, why don't you do the interview?" "Yes, please," I respond eagerly, not realizing that consenting to meet with the "Baz" was going to have a particularly profound impact on a sacred part of my headwear collection.
Now that Grant had done the groundwork for the interview, it was time to consult none other than Mark "Kleinz" Kleiner, of Vancouver's Sister Lovers - a guy whose T-shirt arsenal includes Warrant, Poison, Slaughter, Bullet Boys, and of course, Skid Row. Kleinz whipped my ass into a metal-tinged mindset for upwards of four hours, at the end of which I suggested that he should come along to help document the event on video. At the last minute, for extra "pull," we decided to add another person to our entourage - let's call her X-girl - a friend of Mark's who, some time ago, shared a very, very precious moment with Sebastian Bach, backstage in Saskatchewan. Don't ask how. Don't ask why. Maybe ask why. But just remember everything was all in place: Mark Kleiner with a video camera, X-girl with her memories, Me with a Toque...
Arriving at the set interview location, Greenhouse Studios, our motley crew is greeted at the door by a cheerful, eloquent, big brother type.
We then proceeded to the drum isolation chamber of the studio, where the "Baz" okays our use of a video camera. Kleinz gets some great shots of Sebastian and X-girl puffing away. The interview begins. After a few introductory comments congratulating Skid Row on having such an influence on the 90's cutting-edge punk metal scene - Offspring, Collective Soul, Weezer, Rancid, STP - a direct question is posed:
Then, in an apparent "fuck you" to the entire grunge generation, Sebastian proceeds to huck my Toque across the room. Realizing the interview is over, even though it has barely lasted six minutes, I go searching for my Toque. The Toque I've had for twenty-six years. The Toque my god-mother gave me. The Toque Sebastian has displaced. I can't lose this! But before I can find the said hat, Sebastian demands Mark hand over the Video Camera. Mark likes heavy metal. Mark wants the interview to go smoothly. Mark's on my side. Mark fears for his life. Mark hands the camera over. I start to whimper profusely. Not a pretty sight. This does nothing to quash Sebastian's desire for the video tape; however, he's so stoned, he can't find the eject button and threatens to smash the whole thing. He ultimately pries the tape out of the camcorder and whips it against the studio wall, nicely erasing any record of our encounter, plus at the same time destroying other stuff on the tape. (Like interviews with Pierre Trudeau, George Clinton, and Sandra Bernhard!) I continue to search for my Toque and any pieces of the video tape I can salvage. But Sebastian's not finished, yet:
I run. In an effort to get my Toque back, Mark attempts to barter with Sebastian by offering his prized Cheap Trick pin for the safe return of the Toque. Baz takes the pin, but refuses to hand over the toque, which just happens to be on his head! Looking for sympathy, I turn to X-girl:
Feeling totally dejected at this point, I'm ready to burn my Slaughter T-shirt. Again Kleinz comes to the rescue. He coins the moniker, "Take Back The Toque," that we use the following week as we picket outside a Skid Row gig. And picket we did. Baz didn't show up, the first night of our protest (it was Bob Rock's three-night multi-band Christmas party), but "members" of Skid Row did, making a surprise appearance as Joan Jett's back-up band! (Bikini Kill was conspicuously absent.) Two days later - and under the trusted word of former mountie and Much Music VJ, Terry David Mulligan, that the Baz would show - "Take Back The Toque," soon reached a feverish pitch. Rumour has it Baz was hiding backstage, under the watchful eye of two bodyguards who were worried a guy he shit-kicked the night before in Whistler might arrive to lay charges. Guilty of assault and hattery, indeed! As it turned out, Sebastian took the stage of the Town Pump with a violent hair-flailing abandon that could only be matched with the hoards of vomit he would let fly over the band room, later that evening. Just ask the band Circle C, whose snare drum couldn't be claimed until the Skid Roadies wiped it clean. They tried to smear us, too:
Undaunted, a human chain is formed. We stand firm outside the stage door in dire anticipation of Baz's departure. How can one man turn to glue? Garnish said individual with a lethal dose of groupies, add the dry heaves, and voila - the Baz ain't moving anywhere. "Take Back The Toque" had failed. Even despite Vancouver Province music critic, Tom Harrison's attempts to convince the man, Sebastian Bach would not meet us. Tom also relayed that the Baz had remembered "kicking my butt," and to make matters worse, "didn't know where the Toque was."
Perhaps a final insight into this whole debacle can be gleaned through the deep intellectual musings of a Skid Roadie, who believed taking a Toque or killing a bird to be just part of heavy metal protocol:
"This Toque thing is as stupid as Blue-Jay Dave Winfield getting charged for killing a seagull in Toronto."
As much as Nardwuar wants to forget it, this "encounter" happened sometime in 1994 in Vancouver BC, Canada.