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2011.12.21 - Interview with Axl - Los Angeles Times

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2011.12.21 - Interview with Axl - Los Angeles Times

Post by Soulmonster on Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:43 pm

Reporting from Seattle ——
Axl Rose is wearing a white cotton bathrobe and white tube socks, relaxing on a couch backstage Friday night after a three-hour concert at Seattle's Key Arena, where he'd snaked his way through 34 songs with a version of the band he co-founded a quarter-century ago, Guns N' Roses. It's 3 a.m., and the singer, the sole remaining original member, has shed the bad-ass sunglasses and flat-brimmed Stetson-style hat he wore onstage, pulled off the snakeskin boots and changed out of his faded bell bottoms.

It's been a whirlwind year for the notoriously unpredictable and polarizing Rose. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recently announced Guns N' Roses' induction, 25 years after he and former core members Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagan and Steven Adler set the Sunset Strip, and then the world, on fire. The announcement prompted speculation that at the April 14 rock hall ceremony in Cleveland, the original "Appetite for Destruction" lineup — a historically acrimonious lot with the opinionated Rose at the center — might perform together for the first time in two decades.

But this positive ray comes amid a stormy 2011 that has seen Rose, 49, fire two managers in the last year, the most recent of which, Peter Katsis, was let go in early December. Since the dissolution of that first lineup, the iconic singer has released just one album, "Chinese Democracy," which he spent 13 years and millions of dollars making. And his current tour is part of a settlement agreement with former GNR manager (and Live Nation Entertainment executive chairman) Irving Azoff that dictated the band do a number of performances with Live Nation as the promoter, and Rose is worried that it's not being properly marketed. He and Guns N' Roses bring this tour to the Forum on Wednesday night.

It's the kind of negative energy that can sap a person's creativity, says Rose, sipping on a beer, his auburn hair hanging over his shoulders pretty much the same way it did in the old days, a horseshoe-shaped red mustache complementing it. "Once I get the next things sorted out with the label, then I feel I can get to that creative place that I've been fighting to get to, and to use Guns N' Roses to do so," he says.

The problem is that while he believes that he and his GNR — some of whom, like bassist Tommy Stinson and guitarist Richard Fortus, have been with him for more than a decade — is hitting on all cylinders now, potential business partners are looking at other factors. "Every manager comes in and wants me to make things smaller," says Rose. Guns N' Roses, for example, requires twice as many tour trucks as the budget calls for, he says. Why no one else can understand the band's needs is an obvious frustration for Rose.

More important, he adds, most managers want the same thing that nearly every rock 'n' roll fan of the past quarter-century wants, and the one thing he stubbornly refuses to do: reunite with Slash, Izzy, Duff and the rest of the classic GNR group for a tour. The constant question is an albatross and leaves Rose not only tired but wary of anyone in the business looking to work with him. "All these managers, they all believe in one thing: sell a reunion tour and get their commission. It's just a phone call. It's a half a day's … work, or however long they want to keep the bidding war going. They get their commission and they don't care if it falls on its face."

This mistrust is partially the reason why Rose's current management team is more family than business partner. It's headed by Beta Lebeis, a Brazilian woman Rose met when she was his ex-girlfriend Stephanie Seymour's assistant; she began working for him after his tempestuous relationship with Seymour ended in 1993. Lebeis' two adult children, Fernando and Vanessa, round out the management group. Lebeis says that this arrangement is the result of an ultimatum she gave Rose after Guns N' Roses' most recent manager, Katsis, left the fold after less than a month on the job.

"We decided, 'No more managers,'" said Lebeis a few days after the Seattle concert. "Between me and Fernando and my daughter, we're dealing with the management." Lebeis added that she characterizes Rose as "more than a son to me," and that after Katsis' departure, "I told [Rose] if he hires another manager, I quit." One of the Lebeis three is almost always at Rose's side, be it in paparazzi photos or side stage during concerts, near the little makeshift dressing room that Rose frequently races into during guitar solos, or on that rare occasion when he actually sits down with a journalist.

As the clock pushes toward 4 a.m., Rose's tone has shifted. He still has to do his regular hour-long vocal exercises before retiring for the night, and the venom of earlier in the evening he'd directed against various players in the music industry seems to have left his system.

Asked if music was still the driving factor in his life that it once was, Rose pauses. "Well, it wasn't for a long time. It was hard to make myself want to do the old songs again. It was like, I wasn't going around my house dancing to 'Jungle.' To even figure out how to even make myself move to those songs — and how I was going to move to them — that was a big thing to figure out in '06."

Based on the show earlier in the night, he's figured it out. Rose is proud of the big rock concert he and his band have created. Over the three hours, Rose (though a few pounds heavier than the lithe young rock star of "Appetite" days), moved quickly and deftly, sprinting from stage left to stage right, yowling with delight during "Shackler's Revenge" and "Sweet Child O' Mine," sitting at the piano for "November Rain." He offered classic cover versions of songs by AC/DC, Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan, and a solo piano rendition of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." And at points, he turned the stage over to his band members for solos and extended riffs. If his voice carried less grace and more heft at 49 than when he was gliding through the intro to "Civil War" two decades ago, he made up for it with sheer determination.

The enthusiasm he feels for this band is evident on his face, which lights up when talking about working with former Replacements bassist Stinson, guitarists Fortus, DJ Ashba, and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal and the rest of the '11 Roses.

It's a far contrast to his demeanor when Slash's name comes up. Despite requests from Rose's publicist that he not be asked questions about the former GNR guitarist, Rose himself mentions his ex-bandmate's name minutes into the conversation and locks onto the subject.

Slash was a late arrival into the Guns N' Roses fold, Rose loves reminding people, and apart from a few key riffs, says Rose, the guitarist was much less involved in the songs than Rose and Stradlin.

"It was really a fight with me and Slash," says Rose of the forces that took down the band. "Izzy was doing the same thing, but the fight with me and Slash started the day I met him. He came in, popped my tape out and put his in and wanted me in his band. And I didn't want to join his band. We've had that war since Day 1."

When he's asked the inevitable question — who will perform onstage as Guns N' Roses at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony? — Rose is circumspect. These kinds of honors, while special to him, are also complicated. "I've got mixed emotions about what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame actually really is, but at the same time, there's a lot of people — the fans — that it just means something to them, and they're happy. It's like you won the Heisman or something."

The last thing Rose wants to do, he stresses, is ruin it for others. He refers to Marlon Brando sending an American Indian activist to accept his Oscar and give a protest speech "and everybody getting … off, or when Michael Moore got up at the Academy Awards and said whatever about George Bush. People don't want that associated with their awards shows, even if you have a big audience. In one way it might be right, but it usually backfires on whoever does it. So I really don't want to spoil it for everybody else — or take the beating."

Then he said curtly of the induction performance: "There is no plan yet. There really is no plan. We're still busy with this lineup. We're gonna be busy — we're gonna be busy all next year. We'll be putting out new stuff as soon as we can figure out what our deal is with labels, blah blah blah."

As to whether he feels that he bears any responsibility for the state of limbo he's in, Rose says: "You can say it's my fault, but to me it's like if you're on a plane and somebody trips you and the air marshal arrests you for falling — like it's my fault for allowing somebody to trip me?"

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Last edited by Soulmonster on Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:19 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: 2011.12.21 - Interview with Axl - Los Angeles Times

Post by DanyYo on Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:15 pm

That was a good read sfhaetdj
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Re: 2011.12.21 - Interview with Axl - Los Angeles Times

Post by Soulmonster on Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:51 am

LA Times has published more from the interview!:

Early Saturday morning in Seattle, Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose sat down for a long, freewheeling interview after his band's three-hour concert Friday night at Key Arena. You can read a story about the exchange here, but left on the cutting-room floor was an hour-and-a-half of fascinating conversation in which a sharp, well-spoken Rose tackled many topics that fans have been discussing for years.

Over the course of the interview, which took place from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. in his dimly lit dressing room, Rose talked about the past, present, and future without pulling any punches. (So much so that we edited out some of the more potentially libelous business-industry accusations Rose leveled.)

Pop & Hiss will have a few more excerpts of the conversation in the days to come. Check back.

Los Angeles Times: Can you talk about the L.A. show at the Forum on Wednesday night?

Axl Rose: Well, LA will be interesting. I’m looking forward to it. We had a great time in ’06. We did three nights at the Gibson. But this year was very weird because the industry was trying to force us into a smaller show — just one, and then make it two. But the real thing about it is that the sound’s not that good at the Palladium — and why are we going down, when we can draw more? So we’re doing the Forum, but it really wasn’t done right. We had to fight for that. [Rose goes into a long tirade about specific industry executives.]

This whole tour is part of — it’s not like there’s a lot of money going to Live Nation or anything, but it’s part of how we worked out the settlement [with former manager and Live Nation exec Irving Azoff]. And I could have gone on to court, but that was going to block other things, so Live Nation's not getting paid, we’re not getting paid, but we’re putting it out of the way, so we did this tour. Then we get on the tour and find out that everything that was supposed to be done wasn’t done, and managers and agents are selling a show that was supposed to go on at 8 o’clock. They knew I was never going to do that.

And this lack of promotion is one reason I’m here? [Laughter]

Yeah, well, the show’s already what it is, so it’s not really about that. The show’s already basically sold, so ...

And you were talking about adding a second show?

Well, we were talking about it, but I got different numbers at different times from different people, and some of those came from our latest former manager, and they were ..., so we basically decided that we’re going to wait until later to do it right and deal with L.A., because I want to deal with L.A. There’s places I want to play. I want to play some of the clubs, some of the nightclubs, different places for fun, and I want to play different venues like we’ve done in New York.

And I know we can do it in L.A., but what happens is people are really good at saying what you want to hear. So you go, yes, yes, yes, yes, and then they do something completely different. "That’s awesome. That’s a great idea!" And then they do everything they can to block it and make sure it doesn’t happen. That really happens. To me, they can’t ... do anything and they don’t want to do anything unless they feel that they’re getting away with a scam. They can’t feel they’re doing something that’s legitimate, and feel that kind of pride, they have to feel like, I got it, I ... them over, da da da. And that’s their victory.

All these managers, they know one thing. They know that they can at least ... sell a reunion tour and get their commission. It’s just a phone call. It’s a half a day’s ... work, or however long they want to keep the bidding war going. They get their commission and they don’t care if it falls on its face.

Because, really, you can get guys from the "Illusion" thing, but the only thing that would make it would be Duff and Slash, really. It’s nothing against Izzy and it’s nothing against Steven, or anything like that. Steven may want it, but these guys I’m working with right now, they work really hard and it’s hard work. I’ve toured with the other guys and I’ve also seen what they’ve done since, and I just know the difficulties.

I don’t have an excitement to work with people that joined in the "Illusion" time. There’s behind the scenes that was really, really difficult there with different ones. So it’s not really even a full reunion. And these guys have been here a long time, whether the public knows it or not because we haven’t done the media like that. Tommy’s been on 14 years, Richard’s going on 11. That’s as long as Duff was in the band. Chris has been in going on 11, Dizzy’s on since "Illusion," Frank’s going on six, and so’s Bumble. These guys have been here. And DJ’s going on three.

Plus, we can have our differences, and everybody in the band can be like, ‘I don’t understand that guy’ and point at one of us, you know? But at the same time, we get along. I don’t have to tell these guys what to do onstage. I can suggest something at times, but that’s very little.

But it’s also that you’re clearly the boss in this band — it’s your band. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that wouldn’t necessarily be the case with the original lineup.

With live, it’s not really any different, because there was never really a fight about leading it live, because for whatever reason they were fine with whatever song I was going to do next, singing.

Congrats on the rock hall of fame.

Yeah, that’s a trip.

It’s a trip that it’s 25 years.

Yeah, it’s a trip that it’s 25 years, that I’m here and alive.

Congratulations on that too. Can you talk about how you found out?

[Rolling Stone co-founder publisher and rock hall co-founder] Jann Wenner was excited about it 11 years ago. So I was pretty sure he wanted it, because he was very excited in — when did I do the Elton John thing, was that '93 or '94? He was excited then. And he’s always been a fan, and at the same time Rolling Stone has done some of the worst damage ever.

I’ve got mixed emotions about what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame actually really is, but at the same time, there’s a lot of people — the fans — that it just means something to them, and they’re happy. It’s like you won the Heisman or something. I have people of all ages — in Indiana, I hadn’t been there in 18 years, and you’ve got elderly TSA guys, a hundred pounds overweight, come up and they’re happy. So I don’t want to take that away from them.

I think about it in terms of ... when Michael Moore got up at the Academy Awards and said whatever about George Bush. People don’t want that associated with their awards shows, even if you have a big audience. In one way it might be right, but it usually backfires on whoever does it. So I really don’t want to spoil it for everybody else — and take the beating. [Laughs]

It is kind of a mixed blessing.

It’s a lot of people making money. Why do they get to decide? But it’s the same with Grammys or Academy Awards, who wins.

And more to come!

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Re: 2011.12.21 - Interview with Axl - Los Angeles Times

Post by Johan on Thu Dec 22, 2011 1:03 am

How do you know there's more to come?
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Re: 2011.12.21 - Interview with Axl - Los Angeles Times

Post by Soulmonster on Thu Dec 22, 2011 1:28 am

Because it says: "Pop & Hiss will have a few more excerpts of the conversation in the days to come. Check back."
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Re: 2011.12.21 - Interview with Axl - Los Angeles Times

Post by Johan on Thu Dec 22, 2011 4:05 am

Bad reading. Zip It
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Re: 2011.12.21 - Interview with Axl - Los Angeles Times

Post by Soulmonster on Mon Dec 26, 2011 10:00 pm

And more from the same interview session:

On a recent Saturday morning in Seattle, Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose sat down for a long, freewheeling interview after his band's three-hour concert the night before at Key Arena. A sharp, well-spoken Rose tackled many topics, among them what happened to L.A. radio?

You can read more of the interview here and here.

What are your listening habits these days?

I like radio, and the vibe of whatever -- I like finding some obscure station on the radio dial playing Eric Carmen at 3 a.m., you know? I like that rather than necessarily putting an album on. But the radio died in L.A. Just died. To me, corporate radio killed radio and you hear the same . . . "Carry on My Wayward Son" might be a great song, but there are other songs on that album, and there are other songs on Queen albums.

Have you heard anything recently that surprised you?

There was a station dumping their easy-listeners, and it was the best two weeks of music in L.A. I ever heard. It'd go from Queen's "Dead on Time" to "Fingerprint File" by the Stones, to "Rockaria" by ELO, to "The Theme from 'S.W.A.T.' " Just crazy, fun music. I turned to my friends and everybody was like, "Yes!" I called the station and said, "I will do anything to help promote your station." And they go, "It's not a real station. We're just dumping listeners." I said, "But this is it! This is amazing!"

Pet peeves now?

It kills me when someone will call KLOS from Builder's Emporium on their lunch break going, "Play Jethro Tull's 'Aqualung.' " It's like, why even request it? They're going to play it anyway. And they're going to play ZZ Top's "Legs." And why does everything have to sound old? The only time I hear fresh sounds is in movies. Like "Drive." There are great songs in that -- all kinds of stuff in movies where I'm like, "I've never heard this song, and I didn't even know it existed." I really miss that.

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