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1991.05.DD - Chicago Tribune - Reborn! (Matt)

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1991.05.DD - Chicago Tribune - Reborn! (Matt)

Post by Blackstar on Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:58 am

Guns N' Roses Reborn
A Sneak Preview Of Their New Albums And World Tour

May 19, 1991|By Greg Kot, Rock music critic.

In 1989, "Appetite for Destruction" wasn't just the title of Guns N' Roses' No. 1 album. It was turning into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

While the band opened a series of outdoor shows that year in Los Angeles for the Rolling Stones, singer W. Axl Rose chastised his fellow band members for abusing drugs and announced on stage that if they didn't clean up their act, the band would break up.

On Friday night, when the Los Angeles bad boys take the stage for the first of two shows at Alpine Valley Music Theatre to kick off a world tour, they`ll be wearing a few scars from that year of private and public battles with drugs, drink, fame and the media.

And they`ll also be introducing a new band member who helped them pull out of it, drummer Matt Sorum, formerly of British hard-rockers the Cult.

"From what people tell me, I've helped the band get back on its feet, and that makes me feel good," he says. "I' m just glad the band is back out there."

Although journalists requesting interviews with the band were sent a consent form that would give the group final approval on every word written, The Tribune was granted an exclusive interview without any such restrictions. The contract "was for people we didn't want to talk to," Sorum explains. "It's been blown all out of proportion, because there's plenty of stuff the band wants to talk about openly."

While Sorum chatted, Rose, guitarists Slash and Izzy Stradlin and bassist Duff McKagan were putting the finishing touches on 36 songs-about 2 1/2 hours of music-that will be released by Geffen Records on two compact discs this summer as "Use Your Illusion I" and "Use Your Illusion II."

A mid-July release has been tentatively set for the project, which was originally supposed to have been recorded in Chicago in 1989.

That summer, the band set up their equipment in the vacant Top Note Theatre above Cabaret Metro on Clark Street. After selling 12 million copies of their first two major-label records, "Appetite for Destruction" and "GN'R Lies," both of which landed in the Top 5 simultaneously earlier that year, the band thought that escaping the "distractions" of Los Angeles would jump-start a new album.

The Chicago sessions went nowhere, however, and the band returned to Los Angeles in disarray. But before leaving the Midwest, Slash and McKagen took in a Cult show at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wis., and were impressed by Sorum, a former Los Angeles session musician.

"That's when I first met the guys and they were in kind of a state," Sorum recalls. "It (fame) got thrown on them in a major way. They came from out of the clubs to selling millions of records and they didn't have any time to adjust....

"They didn't approach me again until the very last show I did with the Cult in April last year, so I had a sneaking suspicion something was going on. "The next day I got a call from Slash at my house. Originally I was just going to go down and do the album. Then about two weeks into rehearsal, I went up to Slash's house for a little barbecue and he asked me to join the band." Sorum replaced Steven Adler, who had been with the band since its inception in Los Angeles in 1985, when all five band members lived together in a shabby apartment, writing songs and scraping up Tuesday night gigs.

But while the other band members battled to control their drinking and drug habits, Adler`s condition deteriorated to the point where he was having difficulty playing. He reportedly continues to live in Los Angeles.

"It was hard for them to bring someone new into the band, because they had known Steven for so long and he was a really good person; he just had his problems," Sorum says. "And they were having a hard time finding someone that they could really open up to and hang out with the way they had with Steven."

Sorum also had his doubts. "I heard a lot of horror stories, and I had mixed opinions about joining this band. Finally I decided that this is a once- in-a-lifetime opportunity and that if I didn't take it now, I`d probably kill myself later."

Sorum's professionalism helped the band refocus on its music.

"As soon as I got into the band, it was like clockwork," he says. "We rehearsed for a month every day for four or five hours. There was none of this calling in sick because you were up too late the night before partying. If you were, you had to show up anyway.

"Duff told me one day, 'At first, I didn't really want to like playing with you, but now I really dig it.'"

The band worked up 25 songs and recorded them in about a month.

"More songs just kept coming out," the drummer says. "Some of the better ones on the album were actually written in the studio. Some were done on the first or second take, real spur-of-the-moment stuff. It ended up being 36 songs and we went, 'God, how are we gonna put all this on an album?'"

Eventually, it was decided to put out all the songs on two simultaneously released CDs, the equivalent of a quadruple album.
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