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SoulMonster

1988.12.04 - Interview with Duff in Los Angeles Times

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1988.12.04 - Interview with Duff in Los Angeles Times

Post by Soulmonster on Wed May 07, 2014 1:56 am

Guns N' Roses Living Up to Notoriety
Pop Eye
December 04, 1988|PATRICK GOLDSTEIN

No one is ever going to confuse Guns N' Roses with the Vienna Boys Choir.

The L.A.-based band's debut album has sold more than 6 million copies, despite the fact that many record wholesalers refused to carry it because of a variety of obscene lyrics.

Top 40 radio now plays the band's latest hits, despite the fact that lead guitarist Slash was accused by a top rock radio syndicated host earlier this year of being abusive and throwing up in the middle of his interview.

The band recently received the ultimate pop accolade--a cover story in Rolling Stone--which hit the stands the same week as Guns N' Roses' handlers were busily denying rumors that the group's hard-living lead singer, Axl Rose, had died of a drug overdose.

So it should hardly come as a surprise that the band's new Geffen Records album (actually an eight-song EP featuring a mixture of rare 1986-era live cuts and four new acoustic tunes) sports National Enquirer-style cover art and the racy title: "GN'R Lies: The Sex, the Drugs, the Violence, the Shocking Truth." (See review on Page 73.)

The new acoustic songs offer an intriguing new glimpse at the band's musical personality. But what will probably cause the biggest ruckus are the lyrics to "One in a Million," a new song that band members describe as an autobiographical account of Rose's first glimpse of Los Angeles after arriving by bus from his small-town home in Indiana. The lyrics, which are punctuated with graphic epithets about gays, blacks and others, are too crude to print in a family newspaper.

Geffen Records president Eddie Rosenblatt said the label is putting a warning sticker on the EP (due out this week) cautioning record buyers that it contains potentially offensive language. But how does the label balance the artistic rights of its musicians with the controversial nature of its lyric stance?

"We believe in free speech at this record company," Rosenblatt said. "We've stickered the record, which should serve as ample warning to concerned parents. But we can't speak for the artist. In fact, it's important to let our artists speak for themselves--and we hope their audience will judge them in the appropriate context."

How does the band--which shares writing credits on all tunes--view the song? "I think each individual has to interpret it as they like," said bassist Duff McKagan. "As for me? I think it's kinda funny! It's real life, and this band has never minced words when it comes to real life. The song is basically Axl's view of coming to downtown L.A. for the first time. He was from Indiana, he was real green--and L.A. blew his mind.

"You have to remember--we've lived all this stuff. When you saw these dirty white-trash (expletive) guys on Hollywood Boulevard--hey, that was us!"

McKagan acknowledged that some might find the song offensive. "I'm sure it'll bother some people--and I can understand that," he said. "But the song is a way of describing what happened to us, not making any value judgments."

But does a rock band bear any responsibility for the messages it sends to its fans? "If you're just exposing aspects of life that are already out there, what's the problem with that?" said McKagan. "When I was 14, I thought Sid Vicious was cool, but I knew that didn't mean I had to OD on heroin. This is just our song--and we're not asking for everyone to like it. I don't think we have to be responsible for everybody else's opinion."
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