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Appetite for Destruction

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Appetite for Destruction

Post by Soulmonster on Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:52 am

APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION

[Original cover]


[Second cover]

Release date:
July 21, 1987

Track list:
01. Welcome to the Jungle
02. It's So Easy
03. Nightrain
04. Out ta Get Me
05. Mr. Brownstone
06. Paradise City
07. My Michelle
08. Think About You
09. Sweet Child o' Mine
10. You're Crazy
11. Anything Goes
12. Rocket Queen

Singles:
"It's So Easy"- Released: June 15, 1987
"Mr. Brownstone"- Released: July 21, 1987
"Welcome to the Jungle" - Released: October 3, 1987
"Sweet Child o' Mine" - Released: August 17, 1988
"Paradise City" - Released: November 30, 1988
"Nightrain" - Released: July 29, 1989
"My Michelle" - Released: 1989

Recorded:
March–April 1987 at Rumbo Studios, Canoga Park, CA; Take One Studio, Burbank, CA; The Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA and Can Am Studio, Tarzana, CA
Final overdubs and album mixing at Mediasound Studios, NYC
Original mastering at Sterling Sound, NYC

Musicians:
Axl Rose – lead vocals, percussion on "Welcome to the Jungle", synthesizer and whistle on "Paradise City", additional percussion
Slash – lead guitar, co-rhythm guitar.
Izzy Stradlin – rhythm guitar, backing vocals, co-lead guitar on "Nightrain" and "Think About You", percussion on "Paradise City", additional percussion
Duff McKagan – bass guitar, backing vocals
Steven Adler – drums

Production
Mike Clink – production & engineering
Steve Thompson – mixing
Michael Barbiero – mixing
George Marino – LP & cassette mastering
Barry Diament – CD mastering
Dave Reitzas, Micajah Ryan, Andy Udoff, Jeff Poe, Julian Stoll, & Victor "the fuckin' engineer" Deyglio – engineering assistance
Robert Williams – "Appetite For Destruction" painting
Michael Hodgson – art direction & design
Robert John, Jack Lue, Greg Freeman, Marc Canter, & Leonard McCardie – photography
Tom Zutaut – A&R coordination
Teresa Ensenat – A&R coordination
Stravinski Brothers/Alan Niven – career affairs
Boulevard Management – business affairs
Bill White Jr. – cross tattoo design
Andy Engell – cross tattoo redrawing
Robert Benedetti – tattoos (at Sunset Strip Tattoo)


Band members talking about the album:
[Our first video] is going to be realistic and it might show a lot of violence so it might get banned. There's a lot of violence in the world. That's the environment we live in and we like to show what we live in rather than hide it and act like everything is nice and sugary. Everybody likes to paint their pretty pictures, but that just ain't how it is. It just seems easier to know the rougher side [of life] than the more pleasant side just because it's more readily accessible [Los Angeles Times, July 1986].
About recording for Geffen: I have something I want to do with Guns & Roses and this is part of me that I want to get out and take as far as I can. That can be a long career or it can be a short explosive career--as long as it gets out and it gets out in a big way [Los Angeles Times, July 1996].
[The debut record] is due on the first of April [KNAC, December 1986].
Talking about the name of the record: There's millions of names, we haven't picked one yet. When the record is done we'll probably decide [KNAC, December 1986].
Adding: The name, "Guns N' Roses Record"...yeah [KNAC, December 1986].
About fearing that Geffen would subdue the band [in regards to how the end product would be]: Haha, that's why we went with Geffen. We went with om Zutaut who signed [...] and Motley Crue to Elektra and he went to Geffen and he was looking for a band he could just go balls out with. In a matter of fact, in one of the songs, when we just went in and we laid down the song and I left out some obscenities and they told me to go and re-do them[KNAC, December 1986].
Adding: It's like whatever we do they are behind it [KNAC, December 1986].
Adding: We have total artistic control! [KNAC, December 1986].
Talking about whether the songs on the EP will be on the LP: No. Definitly not. It will be new stuff.[KNAC, December 1986].
[...] the next one [= Appetite for Destruction] will probably be ten songs [...][KNAC, December 1986].
I doubt there will be any covers on [Appetite for Destruction][KNAC, December 1986].
We’ve got our progressions already planned out. How we’re going to grow. This record’s going to sound like a showcase. I sing in, like, five or six different voices, so not one song is quite like another, even if they’re all hard rock. In the last year I’ve spent over thirteen hundred dollars on cassettes, everything from Slayer to Wham! – to listen to production, vocals, melodies, this and that. I’m from Indiana, where Lynyrd Skynyrd were considered God to the point that you ended up saying, ‘I hate this fucking band!’ And yet, for our song Sweet Child O’ Mine I went out and got some old Lynyrd Skynyrd tapes to make sure that we’d got that downhome, heartfelt feeling.[Sounds Magazine, April 1987].
Talking about working in the studio: It was all right. We did the set… We went in the studio with the same attitude that we have when we go on stage. It was really not that… It's not that involved. [...] Some of us play guitars, one guy plays drums, and one guy sings. And we just do this and then, you know…[...] We're not… [inaudible] through our fucking… [inaudible] Electric Light Orchestra, or anything. [inaudible] I mean, I have respect for people who go in and take a lot of time to get the shit right. But we… [inaudible] It's a rock n' roll band [June 1987].
Talking about working in the studio: I mean, if you look at recording in a very simple way… I mean, that's the only way to look at it, you're getting the band on a tape. On a tape and put it on a record, you know. [...] We just go play and the record what you're playing [June 1987].
Talking about the songs on the record: Umm, well… Yeah, we write a lot. We got a lot of songs next time too. But we write all the time, so everything we… We try… I don't know, stuff get stale, you know. If you don't do something in music right away then it's like… It's really sort of like, a step downward to go back to it, you know. [...] and there's songs that we used to play that didn't make the album, simply because we were just bored with playing them…[June 1987].
With our record right now - it's like there's a lot of barriers that need to be broken down because people have got used to what they're supposed to hear. A lot of bands -- look, even Judas Priest did it, they decide, okay, we're going to try selling out and see if that works, they toned their music down and tried to appease somebody else besides themselves and it cost them. But the public is conditioned on what they're allowed to like, and if something's too far out of the norm, even if it's cool, they won't - we want people to realise man, just play whatever the f* *k you want to play, not what someone else thinks you should play, so that's what we've done.

I sing in about five or six different voices - that are all part of me, it's not contrived - and there's a ballad, there's one song that's kind of like Black Sabbath goes to Ireland, there's two guitar players that play very different from each other - one plays an '80s blues electric guitar and the other guy's completely into Andy McCoy and Keith Richards - and they've figured out a way to fit it together
[Kerrang!, June 1987].
I think [the record's] going to kick ass. It's against the - mainstream grain. It's definitely a case of you'll either love it or hate it - which is good, as long as you notice it[Kerrang!, June 1987].
Talking about the original cover: No, it wasn't banned by the record company, it was banned by a lot of stores. The record company was actually pretty much into it. It was banned by Warner Brothers, they wouldn't produce the album cover that way so we had to hire an independent artist to put the album cover together. [MTV, October 1987].
With this particular album, Appetite for Destruction, we wanted to put the rock and roll out first, the hard stuff out first[Interview after show, October 1987].
There were a lot of record stores that didn't like the [original] cover and had a different opinion on what it meant. So we knew that was going to happen but we wanted to get the cover out so then we made another cover. So basically there are two covers because we weren't stupid, we didn't want to limit our sales and plus we like both covers[Interview after show, October 1987].
Adding his drunken thoughts: Plus it's a catch-22 'cause we were putting out the first record, right, I mean the first cover, sold so many [?], and we changed it [inaudible, fumbling words]...shit! The first cover's inside the inner sleeve so it's a catch-22. It doesn't really matter, y'know? [Interview after show, October 1987].
I don't really care about the PMRC. I think it is stupid. [...] When the parents hate it, the kids love it [Interview after show, October 1987].
The more stickers they put on records, the more records we sell. It's the whole philosophy of being a teenager and rebellion [Interview after show, October 1987].
About the original cover: I submitted it as a joke. But I thought it kind of described us. Here's this girl that's just been ravaged by this robot; mechanized society. And then here comes the hand over the fence to kill the monster, steal the girl away and make her our girlfriend. [...] [The critics] think it promotes rape. But that's not looking at the picture right. [...] I've noticed that there are so many things you can get away with, except on records [BAM Magazine, November 1987].
It was done live, pretty much. Like, the drums, the rhythm guitar, the bass, are all live in the same room so there's bleeding of the instruments into each other mics and things like that. Just to get as much energy and live feel to the songs.

It was very hard to find someone to produce the record because some of the main producers of our favourite material from the 70s had changed their styles, their approach, or were burned out, you know, or people in the record industry wouldn't work with them anymore because they don't know what they are doing anymore [...] So it took us a long time to find Mike Clink. We work with him and it is basically a co-produced album. But, you know, we got him for a lure amount of money [...] and he gave us the freedom to do whatever we wanted which worked really good for us. He trusted me a lot in the studio with all the vocal ideas, 'cause most of the harmonies I came up with, like on 'It's So Easy' and 'Paradise City', I came up with the night I was recording those parts. Because I had never had the opportunity to work on them before.

[...]Some places you had ideas burning in your mind. In other places you didn't know what to do in that part but you heard this part and right when you heard it, you thought, "yeah, and this part will work in there, too, and what if I did this?" "Now I'll try this one to see if that works," and a lot of times you had things that work, some times you had things that didn't. And you just decide what was best at the moment, felt right, sounded good, take a tape home and listen to it that night and next day decide if you're going to keep it or not. It was real exciting, creative experience. It wasn't like we just in and had to lay down things just this way
[Interview with Sam Harris, December 1987].
Being asked if he would like to go back and change anything: No, the only thing I would like to do, I wish we had more time to mix but we were working on a release date and there were a couple songs that I didn't feel we had enough time to make just right. 'Paradise City' could have been a little clearer. We were mixing two songs a day to make the release date and there were all kinds of reasons why we had to make that release date, like getting a record out before [...] the month of August, there were tons of reasons why we had a certain amount of time to get it done. So we did as best we could. We didn't really compromise 'cause we still hit pretty close to the mark we wanted to hit. There really isn't anything I want to change...there's two words, I think, in that whole record that I didn't quite say the way I wanted to and I forget which words they were, without time to go back to find them and re-do them, and they're not out of key so no one else knows it, I am the only one who personally knows it [Interview with Sam Harris, December 1987].
Talking about other producers they considered: I can say that, anybody that I am naming, I can't say they were burned out or anything, 'cause I never met any of these people. First off we were interested in Mutt Lange [perhaps John Mutt Lange who produced a lot of rock records in the 80s and 90s] but he wanted a million dollars and he's busy anyway. That was one of them. Roy Thomas Baker [RTB would later work on Chinese Democracy] must be, just, kind of a psycho, I have [or "haven't] really looked forward to meeting him just because of that, I mean, he was an idea. The guy who did all the early Aerosmith stuff [perhaps Jack Douglas], the name's escaping me right now, uhm, I can't think of the name, but that guy was one of them. There were different people. It's hard to find people, you come up with the name on the record [...] discussions or something. But we talked to a lot of different people. We flew in Manny [Charlton] from Nazareth, but he wasn't quite...he is a really great guy, we love Nazareth, but he was kind of in a different sphere than us at the time so that it didn't quite work [...] it didn't quite feel right. We talked to Paul Stanley for about five minutes and he wanted to re-write 'Welcome to the Jungle' and something else so that was the end of the conversation and now he goes around saying he was going to produce the record but these guys were too crazy and this and that. No, there was no chance of him producing the record. We talked to him once. We did some stuff with Spencer Proffer [pre-production] who did the second Wasp tape ['The Last Command', 1985] and while that tape sounds really bold and powerful lour material sounded really weak so we kind of just shied [?] that, too. Our EP was recorded in his studio [Interview with Sam Harris, December 1987].
The record's selling alright [Interview with Sam Harris, December 1987].
Talking about the reasons being the limited radio exposure: [Being a new band] is part of it, and the music, and the controversy around us. People think that every song in our record has the word 'fuck'. Four songs have obscenities in them. Four songs, not 12, four. And we're not asking them to play those four, I'm saying, pick one of the others. Also, you know, we have loud guitars, real guitars, real drums. The guitars not the same way on other peoples' records as they are on ours [Interview with Sam Harris, December 1987].
Talking about producers for the album: Tom Werman [a big glam rock producer] didn’t work. We tried out a whole bunch of those fuckers, and the reason we went with Mike Clink was because we’re so set in our ways that we didn’t want anybody to re-write our songs. So what we did for the album was, we signed up with an engineer, who was really hot shit. He produced the album. Basically he just got all the sounds, and produced it. He just basically got Guns N’ Roses on tape. [...] You should have seen him. When we first met him he was Mike Clink and then after a while with us he was Mike Clink plus 15-20 years. After we finished the album there was a complete difference. Then he started going out, he started screwing around with all these different girls, he broke up with his girlfriend. Then he started getting difficult about jobs. He started getting real picky [Rock Scene Magazine, August 1988].
When you get like a Tom Werman (not putting him down-he did a great job on the last Crue album), when you get a “producer” they’re gonna try to do something of their own, when they haven’t been around the whole time you’re bands’ been playing in the dirt. Therefore, where do they get the right to tell you to change this lyric or that riff? You know what I’m saying? That makes sense, right? So, we found a guy who would parlay our sound onto a tape, therefore onto a record, therefore into a record store, and therefore into somebody’s house, onto their turntable. [...] Tom Werman came down to our rehearsal like this (puts his hands over his ears) going, ‘Fuck.’ We never heard from him again [Rock Scene Magazine, August 1988].
Each song on the album was done in maybe two or three takes. We just went in and played. [...] We knew what we wanted to do, so we went in there and kicked ass on the record, and we got done with it [Rock Scene Magazine, August 1988].
Being asked why it didn't take just a week then to do the record: That was just for the basic tracks. The bass, drums, rhythm guitar, and the song structure. Then we went into the studio and I played leads on top of that. At the time the basic tracks were being recorded, I put dummy guitar tracks on there (cause I don’t like to wear headphones) then went back into the studio and just ripped through the whole album, with it coming out through the monitors real loud [Rock Scene Magazine, August 1988].
Being asked which parts of the record he is unhappy with: Unhappy about? It’s like, why get unhappy about it? Why spend that much time being unhappy about it? Fuck it! If there’s something that we aren’t exactly pleased with, it’s twelve songs. Twelve songs to get exactly perfect. . . It doesn’t matter, it’s like there’s little things here and there, where you know you would have liked it a bit different, but it doesn’t matter cause it’s done. It’s there, and you might as well like it cause if you don’t you can put yourself into an early grave worrying about something that you can’t do shit about [Rock Scene Magazine, August 1988].




Last edited by Soulmonster on Sat Nov 22, 2014 7:28 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Appetite for Destruction

Post by Soulmonster on Tue Jul 15, 2014 2:01 am

If you can play your songs good live you don't have any real problems in the studio. We did the basic tracks in two weeks. We'd have all the amps set up in one room. We had the guitar amps isolated and the bass direct and Steve's drums were in the room and we played in the room off the drums, putting all the tunes down in two weeks. Once in a while Slash would do a live solo and he usually would go back and recut them. He is a perfectionist in a lot of ways [Guitar for the practising musician, September 1988].
About the rawness of the record: Because we did basic tracks in two weeks and then I went back in. Izzy did the basic tracks, that's it. Otherwise what's coming out of the left speaker is what we did in two weeks. Everything he did was in mono. I went back in and did all the stereo stuff. Izzy is on the left, I am on the right and I'm stereo with the echo and the slide stuff. I'm more distorted than Izzy [Guitar for the practising musician, September 1988].
About recording with scratch vocals: When we were going to do that Axl got a sore throat so he ended up doing it later. There were previous recordings where we recorded with vocals. We spent time with Manny Charlton from Nazareth. He came over because we were thinking bout having him produce the record. We were in the studio for two and a half days and we did everything live. We recorded 25 or 30 tunes. We never did anything with that album but we have the masters to it. It's something where we'll go back and pick through it. A lot of the stuff that comes out when your just jamming as a band is the best [Guitar for the practising musician, September 1988].
I went in and did basic tracks and played along with the drums and bass and Izzy. I would screw around but keep the actual song going. Then I would go back later and redo the whole rhythm and all the leads in front of the monitor in the control room. I had the monitors cranked up really loud and would just play along[Guitar for the practising musician, September 1988].
In the studio our drummer is completely hyper. We'd do a song two or three times and if you don't get it you move along. Sometimes you'd have to slow him down. Even now when I listen to him these songs sound kind of fast. Plus we were so excited to finally be working on a record. We were signed for a year before we actually got in with the right people and knew this was it [Guitar for the practising musician, September 1988].
Talking about what they did that year before production started: We tried out a lot of different people for producing. We worked with Manny for three days. We tried a lot of people who wanted to come in and change the music. We were totally against that. You figure if there's nothing else you have it's your music. At least you can say this is my record. We stuck with that [Guitar for the practising musician, September 1988].
Talking about the PMRC sticker: The sticker's pointless [laughs]. It means nothing either way. And if I don't say the word "fuck" or whatever on the next record that's just because it wasn't put in that song, you know, it's nothing to do with, we don't writ songs based on sales or anything else, we just write songs about how we feel [...] [MTV Headbanger's Ball, September 1988].
Adding: We don't write words to put "fuck" in them, it is just life stories. When you talk to somebody on the streets, when you talk to somebody anywhere, swearwords will come into it [MTV Headbanger's Ball, September 1988].
Being told that there are people protesting against the original artwork being on the innersleave of the record: Oh now it's the innersleeve? It wasn't good enough when we took it off the cover and put it on the inside. You know, that's... That blows. They can't...They can't do anything about it. [...] To us it was just a picture that looked sorta cool. [...] People have nothing better to do with their time than picking things apart and make a big deal out of stuff [MTV, October 1988].
Adding his thoughts: Exactly. I mean, for people to look at that sexist, or anything, I guess I can see what they're saying, you know. But we don't look at it that way, and that's the most important thing. If we don't look at it that way, we're not trying to make the sexist statement at all. And I think that's the most important thing. We didn't do that for any reason against women or whatever. And it doesn't matter. It's just artwork. [...] So go ahead. Let them do that, if that makes them feel... If they think they're doing something, then fine   [MTV, October 1988].
The reason, one of the main reasons [Appetite for Destruction's] doing so well, I could be wrong but, I think a lot has to do with timing, and just sort of, you know, the gap that we filled, as far as music's going [MTV, October 1988].
Reaction to Appetite going to number one on the lists: I mean, did that really happen to us? It's like, there's that, and then there's regular life. The rest is just words and numbers that don't really mean a thing [Kerrang!, December 1988].
Explaining Appetite's success: I think the only reason it could have possibly gone to Number One is we're filling some sort of void. That's really the only thing I can attribute it to. It's not because the songs are all huge hits - that's the last thing they are, they're just a bunch of dirty rock 'n' roll songs. So I figure, we're just like the resident down and dirty rock band in town at the moment. Everybody wants to have that record because it's not really that safe... and it looks cool next to George Michael records in their collection [Kerrang!, December 1988].
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Re: Appetite for Destruction

Post by Soulmonster on Mon Sep 12, 2016 7:57 pm

Masterpiece review in Consequence of Sound:

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Re: Appetite for Destruction

Post by Soulmonster on Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:14 am

Interesting interview with Tom Zutaut:

Art Tavana wrote:A&R Legend Tom Zutaut Risked His Job to Sign Guns N' Roses, L.A.'s Most Dangerous Band

He looks more like a mountain man than a record executive. With a Led Zeppelin T-shirt and blondish white hair, he gives me a stone-cold stare, followed by an awkward pause. “I don’t do very many interviews,” he finally says. “In fact, 100 journalists from all over the world have reached out and I’ve declined them all, barring a writer from France.”

Inside his 250-year-old historic home, surrounded by paintings of the founding fathers, Tom Zutaut, the former Geffen Records executive who signed Guns N' Roses to a record deal in 1986, is holding an LP as if it were the Constitution. “I’ve held back doing this for 30 years. Saved it for a special moment.”

He gingerly removes the plastic wrap off a first pressing of GNR’s debut, Appetite for Destruction, released 30 years ago this week. The skull and crossbones decal falls onto his Persian rug. When he plays the virgin LP through a hi-fi stereo and four booming speakers, Slash’s blade-like opening riff slices through the thickness off the room.

Now retired to the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Zutaut has agreed to do an exclusive interview to discuss the best-selling debut album of all time, his greatest accomplishment as an A&R mastermind who reshaped rock & roll in the ‘80s.

TOM ZUTAUT: These first pressing stampers were made entirely at Sterling Sound with George Marino. And this was the only one you could get, initially, with the DMM [direct metal mastering] stamped on the inner grooves with the banned “robot rape” artwork.

L.A. WEEKLY: How did the Robert Williams artwork land on the original cover?
Axl showed me a card with the Williams painting and said, “You realize … this is the future,” then he pointed to the woman: “This is the victim; this is the media, and above them is the monster that the media creates.” He predicted, in 1986, that we were going to live in a world of “fake news,” where we’d feed on tragedy. It depicted human nature and the ugly need we have for an appetite for destruction. Axl told me that CNN was going to change the world by feeding that appetite. He saw the future in that painting, and because GNR had 100% creative control in their contract, the label had to use the artwork.

Was there an alternate cover available simultaneously at record stores?
No, they didn’t get that one initially. We knew after the initial runs of the DMM, which I think we had about 30,000 copies of, that we were going to change the cover so they could order the skull and crossbones after the first run of orders were filled.

Thirty years later and you’re listening to this record for the first time in years. How does it sound?
This was the last great hard-rock record made entirely by hand. No computer assistance or automated faders. It’s a piece of imperfect art that will stand the test of time because it was made manually on a console. It captured lightning in a bottle.

How involved were you, beyond A&R duties at Geffen, in the actual creation of the record?
GNR were always on the verge of implosion, so I had to be very hands-on. A lot of it had to do with drugs the band abused, and I was naive to that at the time. But I remember inviting the band to my house in Hollywood to listen to a bunch of records, like UFO and Aerosmith’s Get Your Wings, and pick and choose what we liked, or didn’t like. The one thing we found consensus on was that UFO’s Strangers in the Night was the best live record ever made. It took us about a year and a half before we went into the studio from that point.

What took so long?
They were writing, and I kept telling them that they needed that one song that would define them and take them to the top. They kept asking me what that was, and I said I’d know it when I heard it. I couldn’t help them write it, but as an A&R person, you always have a lot of say on the first album.

Which song ended up being the one?
"Sweet Child O’ Mine.” I knew right away that it was the missing song before booking them studio time. And it worked because it wasn’t a traditional, formulaic power-ballad. It was seven minutes long and nobody saw it as a single, but I knew it was going to be No. 1 on Billboard.

We had “November Rain” and “Don’t Cry” before we even recorded Appetite, but I didn’t feel like those were songs you would put on a debut. They needed to start with an honest punk statement. Those ballads were overly complex and could alienate their audience outside of L.A. with the image of Axl behind a grand piano. Axl understand that better than anyone. He wanted GNR to start off punk, to counter hair metal.

In terms of track order, why is “Sweet Child O’ Mine” buried on side two?
Most people in radio don’t listen to side two of a record. They don’t even get beyond the first five songs. I intentionally buried the hit and put the credibility tracks first, like “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Night Train” and “It’s So Easy,” which had the punk ethic down.

Why was “It’s So Easy” released as the first single?
Well that was specifically a U.K. strategy. It was written by Duff, with help from the now-deceased West Arkeen, who had the strongest punk ethos in the band. So based on the pre-Appetite Marquee Club shows, it made more sense to start with “It’s So Easy” in the U.K. to get a buzz going.

What’s your personal favorite track off the record?
You know, I’ve never told anyone this, but my personal favorite is “Think About You,” and I fought to have that one to be the second track on side two. I also pushed to have the acoustic guitars mixed at the center, really loud, jangling in the foreground. To me, that was their greatest post punk-rock Rolling Stones moment. I grew up a Stones fan in the world of Beatles versus Stones.

Before recording Appetite, you predicted to David Geffen that the record would sell at least 10 million copies. How did you have the balls to make that kind of prediction?
I believed they were going to be the biggest band in the world after hearing them play just two songs at the Troubadour. Just listen to it on the record. Slash was this 19-year-old kid who could give Jimmy Page a run for his money. Slash at 19 was better than Page at the same age.

This was rock & roll. Not metal, not hard rock. Which is the key to the origins of this record: This is a rock & roll record by a band that I predicted would be bigger than Led Zeppelin, which is what I told David Geffen and put my ass on the line and requested a $75,000 advance to sign GNR in 72 hours.

Did Geffen ever listen to GNR before signing them?
No, he never heard the band until the record was released in July ’87, and even then, I don’t think he listened to a track until it went gold. David Geffen trusted me, which is why I worked for him after I left Elektra where I had helped sign Mötley Crüe. David let me do my thing and I didn’t have to argue with a bunch of accountants to get shit done.

Did you ever talk to Geffen about Appetite after it became a hit in 1988?
After it hit around 10 million in sales, he called me and told me: “I thought you were out of your mind when you said they’d be the biggest rock band in the world … but you were right.”

Why do you think MTV initially declined to play the video for “Welcome to the Jungle”?
Because half their cable outlets were run by a right-wing conservative, John Malone, who told MTV’s founder Bob Pittman that if he played dangerous junkie bands he’d knock MTV off his cable networks.

Why did they end their blockade of “Welcome to the Jungle” in the fall of ‘87?
The album was seen as a failure by the label. GNR had sold 200,000 units within nine months of release, which many bands could have done in those days. Geffen CEO Ed Rosenblatt called me into his office and said the record was dead. That it was time move on to the next one. So I went over his head to David Geffen, who called MTV CEO Tom Freston and pulled a favor to get the video on MTV, at 4 a.m. in New York.

What happened then?
A lot. The next day, I had multiple phone calls from my office. I called my assistant and she said that Rosenblatt and Geffen were looking for me. I got in around 4 in the afternoon, and the head of promotion told me the video had lit up MTV’s switchboards. He was yelling hysterically and said MTV finally added the video into rotation after just one play of “Welcome to the Jungle.”

I can’t believe how sharp Axl’s voice sounds on the intro to the “Jungle.” It literally rips through your ears listening to it right now. Tell me what you felt the first time you heard him sing.
He’s the only guy since Jim Morrison with that kind of animal magnetism and snake-like movements, like two birds in a mating dance. Writer Danny Sugerman would compare him to Jim all the time; he schooled me on Morrison, since I’d never seen him, and Axl was that. Had the rest of the band sucked, I would have signed just Axl. Very few people on the planet have that range and power when they sing. It’s a mythological thing that nobody in rock has possessed since. Read Danny Sugarmen’s out-of-print book on GNR, Axl and mythology.

What’s your relationship like with Axl today?
We haven’t talked in years. But I love him like a brother and I hope he can forgive and look beyond whatever our differences were. I’ve only done my best to help him and the band. I loved Chinese Democracy. I worked on it for a year with him, and it is a brilliant record, but I believe it was ultimately more of an Axl solo record.

Was Axl the bandleader during the recording of Appetite? Some people would say it was Izzy Stradlin.
Well, think about it like this: While the rest of the band was living in a squalor at the Hell House, Axl had a room with a padlock on it that was pristine. He stayed away from the chaos and was sober as a church mouse and overthought everything. But that dichotomy worked because Axl would hear the work, sing through it, and make the changes. Everything had his final say on it. But initially, Izzy had a lot of the ideas. He was the primary creator of the Appetite sound, Slash’s monster guitar riffs were the icing, Duff’s complex bass parts were played like a lead guitarist, but every word and arrangement had Axl’s fingerprints all over it because he was the band’s quality control.

The first thing that hits me listening to this is Adler’s drumming. He sounds like a fucked-up jazz drummer because he never plays the same thing twice, the same way — the imperfections are part of the sound.
He gave them a disco punk quality with dance swing. I used to call Steven’s sound “disco boy puppy dog.” And that’s the key to Appetite. With any other L.A. metal or stadium rock drummer, Appetite would never have sounded as rock & roll or as raw as it did. You know it’s funny, because Steven couldn’t even keep time very well. And there was no software in ’86 to fix that. But Steven was the foundation of the band, and the producer, Mike Clink, knew how to get the best performances out of him. And that’s the greatest secret to Appetite for Destruction: The record doesn’t sound out of time only because the band plays to Steve Adler’s best performances. It sounds tight as fuck because the band follows his imperfections.

Was it hard to find a producer to record Appetite?
I didn’t want the band to be “GMO-ed.” A lot of people wanted to overproduce the band, or just didn’t get it. Nikki Sixx thought the band was crap. We never considered someone like Mutt Lange because his stuff was too slick. We only seriously considered about five guys. One of them was Max Norman, who worked with Ozzy, who wasn’t interested because GNR wasn’t metal enough. We also listened to Nazareth’s “Hair of the Dog,” so we invited Manny Charlton to Sound City, but his personality wasn’t a good fit. He was too nice. But his sessions were bootlegged and they’re out there somewhere.

So how did Mike Clink, an engineer who had never produced a record before, become the producer of Appetite?
I chose him. It took some selling on my part, but it goes back to UFO’s Strangers in the Night, and Mike worked on that record. So I knew he could capture their live sound and run the room. He was the consummate recording engineer and understood how to capture a band on tape, which meant getting a great performance out of them.

What was your role in the studio?
I had to keep them focused, make sure what was recorded had that electricity to it, but also make sure they were able to be in studio when they needed to be in the studio. I mean, Izzy was on smack. Duff was drinking too much. Axl was in his own head, defining that fine line between genius and insanity. So part of the secret was making sure to capture them when genius struck.

I did something pretty unprecedented as well, and requested Geffen give me a private purchase order book so that I could book studio time whenever, even at 3 in the morning, and if Mike was awake, he’d show up. If not, one of the engineers would fill in. GNR could be very time-consuming.

How did Appetite’s unique recording process set it apart from, say, Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet and Poison’s Look What the Cat Dragged In?
Those were formulaic hair band records made by factories. They were made for radio, that’s it. Appetite was nothing like that. This wasn’t a hair metal record. It was subversive. Mötley Crüe had some timeless records later on, but other than that, even those records sound dated. Appetite engineering, from the drum track up, with Mike Clink behind the console, just captured the rawness of the ‘70s while the mixing engineers Michael Barbiero — who was more traditional, like Clink — and Steve Thompson were the perfect unit because Thompson was anything goes in the studio, which added a level of chaos to the final mixing process. Man, Thompson wanted to blow up the world and Barbiero wanted to help Clink keep it going. Which is ironic since it was Barbiero who had to mic up Axl and Adriana Smith during the fucking part on the bridge of “Rocket Queen.”

Is there any raw audio of Axl and Adriana’s famous sex scene?
There was about an hour of them fucking on tape. But after it was spliced into the best parts, the stuff Axl liked, we burned the rest of the tape, per the request of Axl. Or so GNR folklore has it. But some of it may have survived!

In hindsight, is there anything about Appetite that you’d change?
I wish we had put “Reckless Life” on it. But that was an argument I lost. I think it might have had to do with the fact that Chris Weber co-wrote it, and it would have led to a publishing issue. But that song belonged on the record.

Do you think the rawness of Appetite began the slow process of cleaning hair metal from the American music industry?
If anything, it inspired bands like Mötley Crüe to make better records. “Wild Side” and “Dr. Feelgood” came out after Nikki Sixx saw GNR and declined to produce them. So if anything, GNR raised the game, unlike Nirvana and Alice in Chains and many other shoegaze bands, who killed rock & roll in the stadiums. But GNR inspired it. Aerosmith had a renaissance after GNR opened for them and hair metal got better because of Appetite.

How does Appetite stack up against music today?
There aren’t any more rock stars. It’s about celebrity, not art. Music as an art form is mostly lost, and it’s been replaced by a giant hit-making machine where Bruno Mars, Katy Perry and Beyoncé, who don’t write their own songs, are now the new “rock stars” in the same vein as the TMZ-fueled non-musicians like the Kardashians.

If you dig deep enough, in the voluminous amount of obscure music on the net, you can find some great music being crafted by true musical artists. But there is no shelf space for it like there is craft-brewed beers at Ralph’s or Kroger. Every now and then something good will accidentally find a crack in the star-making machinery. But the big music companies A&R through mainstream media. The smaller labels feed a niche on low budgets. Much of the best music resides on a server somewhere hidden or lost from the world.

Appetite for Destruction was one of the last times, if not the last time, rock & roll was real, with a budget for exposure. It was the last time major-label rock record-making was funded as an art form. That’s why teenagers today are rediscovering GNR. That is why it doesn’t just stack up against today’s music … it crushes it.
Source: http://www.laweekly.com/music/tom-zutaut-guns-n-roses-aandr-man-talks-about-the-making-of-appetite-for-destruction-8425626
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Re: Appetite for Destruction

Post by Soulmonster on Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:22 am

Art Tavana wrote:How Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Appetite for Destruction’ Hijacked the Music Industry

Maple trees line the roads of Hillsborough, New Hampshire. Shaped into the curved body of a guitar, the old growth can produce a warm tone that’s absent from the ‘80s metal canon.

It does, however, sink deep into the tracks of Guns N’ Roses‘ groundbreaking 1987 debut Appetite for Destruction, where Slash’s ’59 Gibson Les Paul replica bakes a thick layer over Izzy Stradlin’s sticky syncopation. The result is a throwback sound, like early Aerosmith being reborn in the age of modish Van Halen.

For Slash, his tone was the result of American engineering, coupled with his singular desire to blend the blues with heavy metal – rather than shattering the speedometer on his Les Paul. On most of Appetite’s 12 tracks, Slash’s tone feels unlike anything from the period, which defied the sameness of the era it was forged in.

Three decades later, this genre-defining album has sold 30 million units sold worldwide, putting Appetite for Destruction at No. 11 all time. Yet, as legend has it, the project was nearly buried by the risk-averse programmers at MTV, banned by terrestrial radio, and ignored by the Manhattan-dwelling rock critics who held their noses at the scent of Aqua Net hairspray wafting over from the West. Some of the stories behind Appetite’s ascension into the stratosphere are the stuff of legend; other parts are verifiable history that have either been revised, or forgotten by the dead brain cells of those who lived in that cultural milieu.

First, some facts: Appetite for Destruction was never a flop. By October 1987, the album had sold a respectable 150,000 copies, just three months after being released. By all accounts, this was a successful debut. Appetite had taken over the charts by the end of 1988, having then sold 6 million units. It proceeded to pummel the competition during two decades of rumors and high drama, peaking on Sept. 23, 2008, when it reached 18 million in certified units according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

That makes Appetite for Destruction the best-selling debut ever, regardless of genre. The album’s metastasization into pop-culture consciousness, from the point of containment in 1987 to all-out epidemic in 1988, began in the early ‘80s when a farmer in the sticks of Hillsborough handed a flashlight to a 30-year-old guitar maker with bushy eyebrows.

The luthier was an Allman Brothers Band fan who resided in an old trailer in Redondo Beach, behind a guitar shop that employed him. His name was Kris Derrig and, with graying long hair, he began to rummage through a pile of curly maple gathered inside the farmer’s barn. The wood, as described by journalist Matthew Wake, was “old growth, New England fence line” that Derrig would use to build his handmade beauties: Replica 1959 Gibson Les Pauls, hand-painted to a faded sunburst finish.

Jim Foote, the owner of Music Works and Derrig’s boss, suggested he switch the original pickups with the “zebra-style” Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro version which produced a crunchier tone that was “simultaneously classic and contemporary.” Here’s Stradlin in U.K.’s Sounds magazine, dated April 4, 1987, where he pitches his rock and roll worldview: “Motley Crue was more teen metal. We wanted to go for a more roots-oriented sound than most other bands around here.”

In 1986, while in the studio recording his parts for Appetite, Slash had grown frustrated with the tone of his Gibson SG. He would record with a B.C. Rich Warlock, Firebird, and two Jackson guitars; each missed the mark. Manager Alan Niven — a witty New Zealander who had fashioned GNR as the new Rolling Stones — would purchase a custom guitar for “curly,” one that cost him $2,500 in ’86. It was a 1959 Les Paul replica, a Derrig guitar made with Hillsborough wood. This would become Slash’s main stick.

“Kris had the brilliant idea that he could make a better ’59 than Gibson,” Niven said. “His logic was that in 1959 these guitars were made on the conveyor-belt system. He thought that the craft of a single luthier applied to a single guitar could exceed that system. He found parts of the period, and built 13 of them before he died.” The Derrig guitar was used to record the overdubs on Appetite, which helped Slash add both heavy-metal attack (like Kirk Hammett’s work on Master of Puppets) and backwoods soul (like an Allman Brothers LP) — industrial yet rural. It’s a tone that Slash could never replicate, the rock and roll equivalent of what jazzman Mezz Mezzrow described as Bix Beiderbecke’s imitable “pickled-in-alcohol” tone.

Slash’s tone was a symptom of the band’s desire to produce an unpolished pistol of a recording. The retro approach worked in their favor, as rock and roll was being reconfigured in 1986. MTV had reduced their rock playlist between 1984 and 1986, during the rise of “classic rock” radio when American hard-rock – except for a returning Aerosmith – was practically comatose. A “classic and contemporary” rock band would fill a gap that had widened in the mid ‘80s. It happened just as contemporary heavy metal was saturating the market to the point of annoyance. Through Guns N’ Roses would initially be classified as metal, they refused the label – a genuine, but also savvy business move.

“The label I think deserves to get stuck on us is ‘hard rock,'” Rose told reporter J.D. Callahan of BAM on Nov. 6, 1987, when Appetite was No. 64 on the Billboard 200. In marketing, they refer to this as a “point of difference.” It became Appetite’s underlying theme: This is roots-oriented hard rock, not heavy metal.

The West Coast media was sympathetic to Guns N’ Roses’ “roots-oriented” DNA. In June 1986, LA Weekly described GNR as “Led Zeppelin II,” while the New York critics mostly saw them as yet another hair-metal band entering an already-crowded arena. The critics, too consumed by the perception of L.A. as a factory for boy bands, simply didn’t buy it. They ranked Appetite at No. 26 out of 40 albums in the 1988 Pazz & Jop critics poll, an afterthought the same year GNR was arguably changing the flavor of rock and roll.

In June 1987, Billboard‘s No. 1 album was U2’s The Joshua Tree. The other five places were taken by metal bands that drew on the same audience as GNR: Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, Poison, Motley Crue, and Ozzy Osbourne. In other words: Had GNR tried to follow the blueprint of the other metal hitmakers — fashioning themselves as heartthrobs with anthemic, fist-pumping shlock — they would have been a footnote in history.

Guns N’ Roses would hire a recording engineer who had never produced a major album before. Whether this was a strategic move or one of pure street desperation depends on who you ask. The even-keeled Mike Clink (a trainee of Ron Nevison, engineer behind The Who’s Quadrophenia) came recommended as an engineer at the reputable Record Plant. While other producers were auditioned, and a few helped cut polished demos, heavy metal hit-makers like Mutt Lange, according to former Geffen A&R executive Tom Zutaut, were never considered.

Zutaut said Clink was both a great engineer and egoless hand they could rely on to manage, rather than maestro, the process. “The band basically co-produced the album themselves,” said Zutaut, a 26-year-old baby mogul when he signed GNR in 1986 with a five-figure advance he squeezed from David Geffen in the span of 72 hours. (The figure, again depending on who you ask, was between $50,000 to $75,000.)

“Zoots (Tom Zutaut) and I wanted Mike to record the band because he would let them be who they were – and not, for example, try to sound like a radio-friendly band,” said Niven, who advised GNR between 1986 and 1991. “Bad Company ruled the airwaves at that time. Guns were more raw than that.”

Not that Clink was an insignificant studio tech. Early demos of the tracks that would appear on Appetite for Destruction – including live recordings – were, well, rough. Clink was a difference maker in the studio, no matter how you slice it. Without him, Appetite could have either sounded overproduced or worse, underproduced and forgettable. “We wanted to capture lightening in a bottle, a raw animal magnetism, like a Doors record,” Zutaut said.

This would establish the attitude of the record and allow the band to record freely, stream of consciousness. In order to get there, Zutaut pressured Geffen to give him his own purchase-order book directly from Mo Oston, the CEO at Warner Bros., which distributed Geffen albums. “It broke all the rules.” he said. “But I didn’t know until 7PM if they wanted to go into the studio, and then, whenever creativity flowed, they’d call me to book studio time – sometimes at 4AM.”

Zutaut’s backdoor dealmaking with Geffen and Warner allowed Guns N’ Roses to document their sound in the wild, which incorporated an element of cinéma vérité on Appetite: Real orgasms were recorded during a sexual encounter between Axl and a stripper, for instance, then added to the bridge of the album-closing “Rocket Queen.”

“It was the last record that I know of in rock that was mixed manually without automation,” Zutaut said. “We used an old, warm analog console at Media Sound, in New York.” Vintage, but ultimately modern, Appetite was a classic rock record cut during the heyday of polished Top 40 metal like Def Leppard’s Hysteria, or New Jersey’s Bon Jovi, who had the No. 1 record in 1987 with Slippery When Wet. Guns N’ Roses were trying to tag graffiti all over the rock establishment with an embrace of simple, all-American brutality – like John Rambo parachuting into the jungles of Vietnam.

Their “animal magnetism” embodied the spirit of early rock and roll, aptly described in the Music Journal in 1958 as a “throwback to jungle rhythms” that incited “youth to orgies and violence.” This could have been the tagline for Appetite for Destruction, as GNR ruthlessly chipped away at the shine of ‘80s metal with sinister riffs, R-rated lyrics, and a risqué attitude that moved dark clouds over the fairytale of Tommy and Gina in “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

Appetite was what Axl described in LA Weekly as “depressing,” which turned the American dream into a livin’ nightmare in 1987. It’s what Slash described in a November 1987 issue of BAM as “very realistic” – something in stark contrast with how Nikki Sixx positioned Motley Crue in Rock Beat a month later: “Our reality is a lot of people’s fantasy.”

‘LIKE A SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER’

The authenticity of Appetite or Destruction was chiseled with sharp objects and callused fingers. It was mastered on a manual mixing board and cut with razor blades on two-inch tape that captured everything from the unedited orgasms on “Rocket Queen,” to the precision bumble-bee bass on “It’s So Easy.” Survey rock magazines from 1986 and 1987 (where lipstick and teased hair was still a national habit), then study a few from 1988 – when the same bands look more like bikers, or more masculine versions of their previously feminine selves. Appetite’s success in 1987 wiped the makeup off the faces of ’80s metal bands by embracing the outlaw spirit of the Old West, or ‘50s greaser, rather than the vagina-obsessed teenagers in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

This made Gun N’ Roses a dangerous new drug being sold in Reagan’s anal-retentive America, when conservative John Malone ran Tele-Communications, Inc., a top cable provider in the United States which carried MTV. Appetite caught on fire because it cast a light on the dark corners of Reagan’s faux utopia: AIDS was no longer the “gay cancer,” anyone was at risk, the crack epidemic was beginning to leak into the nightly news, and crimes rates were going up. Clearly, by 1987, Americans were living on the edge. The rogue spirit of American bravado, with the nuclear clock ticking daily, was riding high in both Hollywood and politics.

Appetite fed on the world around it. On July 7, 1987, the the Wall Street Journal front page read: “Which Col. North Will Tell His Story to Nation: The Villain Who Deceived or Hero Who Obeyed?” The answer for young Americans was evident in 1986’s Iron Eagle, where the hero is depicted as rebellious teenager who disobeys the U.S. government. In 1982’s First Blood, Rambo symbolized an unabashed criticism of law and order that bleeds all over Appetite’s fourth track, “Out Ta Get Me.” The image of GNR as lawbreaking punks was captured in 1988’s The Dead Pool, a Dirty Harry film the band makes a cameo in; it remains famous for a scene where Jim Carrey, playing a junkie, lip-syncs “Welcome to the Jungle.” By that point, in the summer of 1988, Appetite for Destruction was penetrating the cultural consciousness like a summer blockbuster.

In an Los Angeles Times review of Guns N’ Roses’ opening performance for the Rolling Stones a the Coliseum in 1989, the reviewer writes, “Rose exhibits a fierce independence that sometimes leads to errors in judgment as he races in a somewhat romantic pursuit of artistic truth.” The description captures the decade’s spirit of Huck Finn adventurism. Just as GNR was breaking, Americans were suddenly feeling more outlaw-ish. While Motley Crue allowed teens to live vicariously through their decadent lifestyle, Axl became the extension of their adolescent rage.

This is typified in 1988’s Young Guns, where Billy the Kid mirrors the duality of Axl as both sex addicted outlaw and naive redneck. In Hollywood, Americans had a reputation for being gritty working-class heroes who smoked their cigarettes with style, like guitarist Izzy Stradlin with his newsboy cap in front of the Rainbow Bar & Grill. In early portraits taken by band photographer Robert John, Guns N’ Roses look like the bikers aping the sex-on-fire appeal of Marlon Brando and James Dean. Appetite was the album for Americans who wanted rebel heroes, not just party animals. It would threaten the rock and roll establishment of gym rats from the East Coast and British showman with an unabashed American grittiness, something that resonated during the decline of flamboyant hair metal.

In the liner notes of Appetite, GNR cheekily thanked the “teachers, preachers, cops, and elders who never believed,” a gangsta move which happened a year before N.W.A. released Straight Outta Compton. The latter may have been a more socially important record, perhaps, but it was Appetite that first highlighted the commercial viability of selling reality through the lens of a “gang,” as drummer Steven Adler often described them.

In terms of the hometown press, Appetite for Destruction’s hyper-localism made it everlastingly appealing to writers at the Los Angeles Times and LA Weekly. They’d spend 30 years promoting GNR as the last great L.A. rock band. But Appetite resonated with everyone from the horny Midwesterner to the blonde bombshell at the Sherman Oaks Galleria and the British working class. When GNR didn’t appear in Penelope Spheeris’ documentary The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years, they told the world that they were the dangerous alternative to smily hair metal bands that entertained, rather than frightened the status quo. The fear made them a hard pill to swallow in the states. So they invaded England, like the Go-Go’s in 1980 and the Ramones in 1976.

“It’s So Easy,” released as a single in the U.K. in June of 1987, was banned by the BBC for darkly ironic lyrics that were too racy during the Thatcher era. Guns N’ Roses’ cultivated bad-boy rep in the British tabloids drew the ire of the censors. This was the whole idea. “My strategy with GNR was the break them in England, like [Tom] Petty, [Jimi] Hendrix, and JJ Cale before,” said Niven, who helped push rumors of Axl being abusive to puppies in the U.K. tabloids. As a preemptive strike in the heart of Britain, GNR would play the legendary Marquee in June 1986 – well ahead of peers in the Los Angeles music scene who weren’t as ambitious or shamelessly American enough to piss all over Fleet Street.

“It was easier to penetrate a small island market then a huge American continent,” Niven said. “And the English press, I knew would connect faster than Americans.” A ban on “It’s So Easy” in the U.K. is verified by Niven, who worked at Virgin Records when Malcolm McLaren was orchestrating the propagandistic rise of the Sex Pistols. (Their single “God Save the Queen” was similarly banned in 1976.) It’s no wonder that Izzy and Axl were stylistically inspired by the sexual fetishism and biker fashion of McLaren and Vivienne Westwood; this move transformed Axl, specifically, from a blue jeans-wearing juvenile from the Midwest into a leather clad, quasi-nude cowboy.

GNR’s aesthetic in the early concert photos by Canter’s Deli owner Marc Canter would sell the idea that this was a pornographic punk band. His photos, along with shots by band photographer Robert John, made a fashion statement that bassist Duff McKagan lived by wearing sleeveless Misfits and CBGBs T-shirts. That reminded fans that Guns N’ Roses were different: They were punk. “(‘It’s So Easy’) would obviously be totally misread and create a ruckus,” Niven added.

Manipulating the music media was part of the equation. Like the Pistols marching towards the Queen’s palace, “It’s So Easy” included lyrics that were taken far too literally. The U.K. press they garnered worked in the band’s favor, as Guns N’ Roses began to conquer England as uncouth scoundrels, rather than clean-cut yuppies – ala Michael J. Fox chomping sushi on the cover of Esquire in 1988, or Jon Bon Jovi in an issue of Tiger Beat magazine from October of 1987. Appetite was trying to erase the appeal of yuppiedom from L.A. to the north of England.

Their antics in the U.K. built awareness back in the states, which was the point, but it still didn’t ignite sales. MTV and terrestrial radio, as late as October 5, 1987, were pushing back against the label’s request to put “Welcome to the Jungle” into heavy rotation.

“In the states, they’re too much of pussies to play the f—ing thing. I think that’s why we came over here instead,” Rose told a crowd of 3,000 working-class Brits at a gig at Rock City in Nottingham, just five days before Whitesnake’s power ballad “Here I Go Again” would become No. 1. Less than a year later, two fans were crushed to death during GNR’s set at the Monsters of Rock festival at Donington Park, and that actually boosted sales of Appetite for Destruction in the U.K.

Invading England and leaving a stain on the island was terrorism by proxy of rock and roll. It was Guns N’ Roses sending a political message back home: We’re coming for you. “It’s So Easy” was never released as a single in the U.S., where the terror was more symbolic.

‘ECHOING THE ANXIETY OF THE AGE’

The original cover art of Appetite was never “banned,” as much as it was used to garner headlines and sell the idea that GNR had gone rogue. This was, of course, a delicious exaggeration. The initial cover includes a malfunctioning robot in a trench coat standing over a defiled woman. Her panties are pulled down below her knees, and she’s topless as if she’s been raped by the crab-like hands of the robot. It was a low-brow painting by artist Robert Williams from 1978 titled “Appetite for Destruction,” which Axl discovered at either a gift shop on Melrose or at Tower Records on Sunset, and then presented to the label as a joke. Zutaut and Niven quickly realized there was a unintended genius behind Rose’s attempt at being an amateur art collector.

With the threat of 25,000 nuclear warheads the U.S. and Soviets had aimed at strategic targets in 1987, he was echoing the anxiety of the age, where Americans were symbolically being raped by corporate America. While estimates vary depending on the source, there were between 30,000 to 65,000 copies of the original artwork printed on the LP, exclusively, which were then sent to record stores that had elected to carry it. The skull-and-cross tattoo design was an option on the purchase sheet, so two covers were printed for record store clerks to choose from – and that apparently screwed things up, as nobody caught on.

The confusing compromise between the label and their distributor, Warner Bros., included covering the cassette with the more commercially viable crucifix art, while the inner jacket would include the Williams painting. It was a messy compromise, but a fantastic PR tactic. It would also prove to be a serendipitous decision, as the skull-and-cross “alternative” had a broader appeal as an art piece, heavy metal comic, bands crest and a way more stylish T-shirt. This second design sold Guns N’ Roses like Kiss for the next 30 years.

In 1986-87, cassettes were the most popular medium for listening to music. At the time, young Americans had more tape players than turntables. It was the age of the Walkman, so Appetite was listened mostly on the cassette. That means that the “robot rape” impact was negligible, in terms of sales, but it did sell GNR’s dangerous appeal – especially to rebelling teens and their uptight dads who had watched the PMRC censorship hearings in 1985, making Guns N’ Roses “too hot for TV.”

Geffen, who already begun to wave the finger at Tipper Gore’s PC lynch mob, understood this. Guns N’ Roses’ team wanted to cause a controversy. They were fully aware that the minimal impact on sales would be recouped by all the buzz. Niven says that 30,000 copies of the original artwork were sold before there was a “ban” by major retailers like K-Mart and record store chains. (Tower Records on Sunset, for example, carried the Williams version until it sold out.) The number is corroborated by Slash in an interview in Rock City News dated January 1988. According to this version of history, LP No. 30,001 was the first one without the Williams art.

Another “ban” to factor in when considering the rebellious draw of Appetite was the video for “Welcome to the Jungle,” which depicted an uncomfortable reality for the MTV generation. Axl, who refused to smile, is seen in various stages of urban decay – first as the naive hillbilly, then as the sweaty brute in assless chaps, and finally as the psychopath being conditioned by images of war, bikinis and police brutality.

Rose became a sex symbol when photographer Herb Ritts sexualized him in 1991, but prior to that, with his hunched shoulders and baby-corn teeth, he seemed too Indiana – and that actually helped him connect with rural teens in Middle America, the way Metallica appealed to pissed-off teenagers who wore “Metal Up Your Ass” T-shirts.

For MTV, which was launched in 1981 to hook teens who were watching sitcoms in the ‘70s, rock and roll was about showmanship, matching jumpsuits and coordinated dance moves. MTV founder Bob Pittman envisioned it as a “mood enhancer” that eliminated the logical brain with a kind of colorful hypnosis, what Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys described as the moment when “rock and roll and advertising became one and the same.” “Welcome to the Jungle” seemed to be a direct criticism of MTV as orchestrated by the anti-authoritarian minds of manager Alan Niven and Nigel Dick, who directed the video.

It’s hard to say exactly when MTV first played “Welcome to the Jungle,” but sources said an edited, more-PG version of video was put into heavy rotation in January 1988. That followed months of pressure from David Geffen, who called MTV CEO Tom Freston personally to ask for more GNR airtime.

It wasn’t just Geffen; the whole team pushed: Niven pressured executives with mind games, while Zutaut used his gravitas to sell Geffen on GNR. Also, though perhaps on the back-burner, there was the U.K. media, who had dubbed the band the “most dangerous” in the world. All of it worked in concert to finally get MTV’s attention. Besides, in 1987, the network was in desperate need of a ratings draw. They were also being criticized for turning their back on rock and roll. In the 1988 Rock City News interview, published when Appetite for Destruction had sold close to 400,000 copies, Slash was asked by the interviewer: “Are you guys on MTV?” He replied: “No. We gave them the new video.” This was, of course, an exaggeration.

According to both Zutaut and Niven, at some point between August and October 1987, MTV played the video for “Welcome to the Jungle” at 4AM EST on a Sunday night and then again a few times. Legend has it that video “lit up the switchboards” at MTV, making Guns N’ Roses the most requested band on the network. Whether this is history or legend, MTV overnight broadcasts of “Welcome to the Jungle” became a major factor in Appetite’s breakthrough. It may not have taken place, had MTV not been going through a rebranding in 1987 that made room for more hard rock.

‘THE BIGGEST BAND ON THE PLANET’

Ratings were down in 1987, and MTV needed to reestablish their indie cred. Ratt Cinderella, and Tesla were beginning to get more MTV exposure. The old guard at the network was departing to make room for programming directors who wanted to focus on hard rock rather than Top 40 dance music, which the network had begun to cut out of their overall playlist.

“The whole idea here isn’t revamping the format, so much as refocusing it,” Sam Kaiser, MTV’s vice president of programming, said in a Feb. 8, 1987 interview with the Los Angeles Times. “We want to get back to the channel’s original mandate, which was to break new artists.” The process of making MTV rock again began in earnest around October 1987, when CEO Bob Pittman was on his way out and Tom Freston – who was sympathetic to Guns N’ Roses – stepped in.

The front page of Billboard from Oct. 11, 1986 read: “MTV: Changes at the Channel; More Rock and New Acts, Execs Say.” The network was reacting to both their audience and pressure from the rock media. In February 1987, Circus reported that only four of the 30 videos in heavy rotation at MTV could have been considered “metal.” Frustrated artists like Ronnie James Dio spoke out: “MTV suddenly seemed to desert us all. The sad thing is when you spend $250,000 on a video and you only see it once.”

On Oct. 24, 1987, Guns N’ Roses appeared on an episode of Headbanger’s Ball, a relatively new metal-oriented show that had premiered on MTV in April and pulled an average rating of 1.3 million viewers a week. It gave GNR a platform to promote their tour with Motley Crue to a mass audience, while giving the PG viewers of MTV a preview of the “next” Motley Crue. In a Jan. 8, 1987 edition of Rock City News, Slash told the interviewer that the Motley Crue tour helped GNR move 18,000 units.

By the end of 1987, it seemed MTV was on board, which boosted sales of Appetite steadily as tour dates continued. An excited Tom Zutaut made a ridiculous promise that he fully intended to keep: “I told David Geffen they were gonna be the biggest and last big rock and roll band,” he said. Between January 1988 and the release of their EP GN’R Lies in November, Guns N’ Roses crossed the tipping point and did in fact became, for a brief moment, the biggest band on the planet.

Ground zero for their acceptance as a mainstream act was the band’s second single, a ballad that followed the playbook of how to inject hard rock into Top 40. Kiss did it in 1976 with “Beth.” Aerosmith’s biggest hits were love ballads, along with their only No. 1, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” In the summer of 1988, Guns N’ Roses would release a ballad that infected the Top 40 by targeting a demo that Appetite had mostly ignored in order to be taken more seriously: teenage girls. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” boasted romantic overtones that rebranded Axl as Bon Jovi meets Rambo, and suddenly the Kelly Bundy types were plastering their walls with cutouts of Rose’s buns from rock magazines they were stealing from their little brother.

Nothing is more endearing the brutish hunk with a broken heart, and Axl sold the classic American archetype in spades. While Appetite for Destruction was dripping with lust, it was never advertised as a record about girls, or chasing girls or tag-teaming girls. This attracted an older female demographic that saw GNR as more adult than their oversexed contemporaries. With the female demographic indoctrinated, Appetite would finally reach No. 1 on the Billboard album charts. It was Aug. 6, 1988 and Guns N’ Roses were on the road with Aerosmith, a band they had once mirrored and now quickly began to overshadow by playing rock and roll as if their time on earth was limited to this very tour.

On Sept. 10, 1988, behind a video MTV would play in heavy rotation that summer, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” also went to No. 1, spending 24 weeks atop of the Billboard singles chart. “It showed a different side of the band,” Marc Canter said. “It’s just the perfect song that will stand the test of time, as well as that whole record.”

To push themselves over the top, GNR make a well-timed debut on the stage of MTV’s Video Music Awards on Sept. 7, 1988. The event was held in their hometown, and found madcap comedian Sam Kinison introducing them with a guttural intensity that makes Jimmy Fallon’s angsty intro in 2002 seem almost wimpy in comparison.

Guns N’ Roses performed “Welcome to the Jungle” by opening with Axl’s excruciatingly intense 10-second screech, where he’d proceed to spin around with his mic stand, and pose by breathing in the adoration as if was his birthright. This was GNR at the height of their powers, fresh off a summer tour with Aerosmith that cemented them as the torch bearers of American rock and roll. At the time, the genre seemed to be overtaken by heavy metal, which accounted for 40 percent of music sales.

By November, about a year after the U.K. media filled their newsstands with Guns N’ Roses-related gossip, editors at Rolling Stone made the band cover stars. New York was still playing catch up, as was much of the nation, when Guns N’ Roses released “One in a Million,” a song from GN’R Lies that leveraged white rage. The single lit up the media during a time in American history where foreigners were portrayed by Hollywood as either mercenaries or welfare recipients. “One in a Million” was seen as an inexcusably racist and homophobic rant by a hillbilly inflicted with toxic levels of masculinity and privilege.

In 1988, however, the song reflected the way a lot of the white working class felt, as well as the film executives who depicted Middle Easterners and Russians as the enemy, and African-Americans as crack-addicted welfare recipients. “One in a Million” struck a chord as a product of the times: Sales of Appetite for Destruction never slowed during the period when the press began to portray Rose as a symbol of Reagan-era bigotry. He became a scapegoat used to mislabel GNR as right wing. A master troll, Rose pumped up the image by brandishing a shotgun and looking every bit like card-carrying member of the NRA on the cover of RIP magazine in 1989.

‘PART OF THE FABRIC OF CLASSIC ROCK’

A decade later, Appetite for Destruction was still selling like hotcakes, mostly because Guns N’ Roses were broken up between 1998 and 2008. The decade was marked by a long tease of reunion rumors, false starts, Axl’s cornrows at the 2002 MTV VMAs, and a 2004 greatest hits collection that was nothing more than a reminder that, for most fans, Appetite represented GNR’s greatest hits. The media’s obsession with the delays, PR stunts and $14 million dollar recording cost of 2008’s Chinese Democracy would essentially make Appetite an artifact of a bygone era when the “gang” was still riding high – like reading an old dime-store novel about outlaws that were later hanged.

In the media for the next 20 years, Rose was being similarly treated for the sins he committed by missing shows, dissing the fans, and holding his old bandmates ransom. That was the perception, unfair but also earned. Rolling Stone described this period, somewhat insultingly, as “The Lost Years” of Axl Rose, when fans began to look back to Appetite or the two Use Your Illusion albums as a kind of nostalgic antidepressant to help them forget Axl’s decision to rebrand GNR as an anti-Communist supergroup, and then quietly disappear into the hills of Malibu.

Even within the Guns N’ Roses bubble, Appetite for Destruction was a more authentic expression than anything else they would release a solo artists or supergroups. The long-awaited Chinese Democracy, an experimental rock record, was lost in the hype and couldn’t dodge comparisons to the more stripped simplicity of Appetite. In the media, it became the dangling carrot that drove fans to purchase Appetite for Destruction as a protest against Chinese Democracy or simply as a byproduct of consumers who were again purchasing classic rock LPs. By the 2000s, Appetite was “classic rock,” and while it was essentially ignored by the radio in 1987, the three singles off the record are now part of the very fabric of classic rock radio.

For GNR fanboys, Appetite had become the symbol of a band that was never designed to last the test of time. At any point between their formation in 1985 and 1996, when Slash faxed in his resignation, any one of the members of Guns N’ Roses could have either died or ended up in jail. The rush to purchase Appetite for Destruction was driven by a logical neurosis, or anxiety that the band could implode at any time, making the album a collector’s item in the wake of tragedy. Even if nobody died, the time bomb that was GNR kept fans on the edge of their seats for three decades, fueled by fantastic stories of romance, greed, self-destruction, and the hopeless feeling for Guns N’ Roses might never reunite again. Of course, that only added to the demand for Appetite for Destruction.

Memories of MTV’s long-ago refusal to play “Welcome to the Jungle,” or their cover art being banned, made GNR the closest thing to the Sex Pistols for fans during the corporate Reagan era. Into the ‘90s, as bands like Poison began to lose their audience, Guns N’ Roses toured stadiums and produced music videos as dramatic epics. “November Rain,” released in 1992 but written in 1986 during the run up to Appetite, became as overplayed at high school proms as “Paradise City” – the third and final Billboard Top 10 single from Appetite – was at pubs. “November Rain” later apotheosized into the best song to hear when you’re wasted, while “Paradise City” remained the sunniest moment during an unsafe and reckless drive to become the best band on the planet. Appetite for Destruction was their travel log between 1980 and 1987.

This is still far more than a hard rock record. Guns N’ Roses’ story was filled with guilt-free turmoil, as they emerged from the dust and bones of scene that was perhaps never meant to last the test of time. That makes Appetite for Destruction an historical document of a lost generation of hustlers with big hair and untrammeled ambition.

No film or book could have told this tale quite as ferociously, turned up to 11. Appetite for Destruction made history as the only album from the so-called “Metal Years” that boasted the believability to be stacked up against the classics – not just the spectacularly dazzling ‘80s metal canon from which it emerged but the records Guns N’ Roses drew from, and then subsequently left in their rearview mirror.
Source: http://ultimateclassicrock.com/guns-n-roses-appetite-hijacked-music-industry/
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Re: Appetite for Destruction

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