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SoulMonster

1988.08.DD - Screamer - Welcome to Their Jungle

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1988.08.DD - Screamer - Welcome to Their Jungle

Post by Soulmonster on Tue Apr 10, 2018 2:28 am

If you listen to industry rumors or read the fanzines, you'll get a hundred different stories from a hundred different sources. Among other things, you'll hear about the rift with Poison, the Hamilton lawsuit, the alleged drug abuse, censorship, parts in movies and the Iron Maiden and Motley Crue gigs.
Guns N' Roses just may be the most talked about band on the streets these days. You may not know what to believe, but one thing is for sure: if songs such as 'Welcome to the Jungle' and 'My Michelle' hadn't pushed their album 'Appetite for Destruction' (Geffen Records) to double platinum nobody would be saying anything.
If looks aren't deceiving, a peek at Guns N' Roses' W. Axl Rose, Slash, Duff McKagan, Izzy Stradlin, and Steve Adler is like looking down the barrel of a .44 Magnum and finding a flower. The tunes that sold over two million albums this year are like their creators: point-blank, incisive, uncompromising, and although apparently blooming, still under the gun. "I write the majority of the lyrics, but it's pretty much joint writing," says W. Axl Rose. "Izzy wrote nine-tenths of 'Mr. Brownstone' and nine-tenths of 'Think About You.' I changed a couple of words here and there that fit better. 'It's So Easy' was written by Duff and West Arkeen (a friend and co-conspirator of the band), then I wrote the obscene verse because the original sounded too much like 'Night Train.' I probably write more lyrics than any of them."
The obscenity that typifies Guns N' Roses' lyrics has become another subject of controversy. According to Rose, sometimes it's accidental. "I don't necessarily, unless I'm joking, put cuss words into a song," he elaborates. "When you get into the studio and you have this nice mellow song like 'Crazy,' all of a sudden, it turns into a monster."
The dreaded 'F' word lyric in 'You're Crazy' originated in an act of self defense, according to Rose. While on stage, he was attacked by a beer-bottle wielding woman with an out-to-kill attitude. Pushing her out of the way didn't help. Since no one would intervene, the frontman biffed her with the mic stand. "And the fuck in 'Crazy' came into the song right then."
At the same time 'Appetite for Destruction' went platinum, Guns N' Roses found equal success with its videos, as well as an equal amount of controversy. While 'Welcome to the Jungle' was a conceptual piece, 'Sweet Child O' Mine' contained more live footage. Originally planned as a look inside an insane asylum, the plot for 'Sweet Child' changed when the band discovered their idea was already being used in a film they were involved with. They opted for plan two: footage of the band performing. The video was well accepted. But that hasn't always been the case.
'Welcome to the Jungle' had sections censored. Politics and money play a big part in ensuring air time, as content does. "If they [MTV] play a lot of rock n' roll," says Rose, "they get high ratings. But then again, thirteen year old kids don't buy Sony TV's or stuff like that. They go through stages where they'll allow a lot of rock n' roll then they'll tone it back down, so they'll get advertisers back."
"There's a lot of videos with guys who just threw a band together last week, but they have some gimmick. They're allowed to grab girls and touch girls. It's okay for them, but not for us. In 'Jungle' there's a part where Steve looks at a girl and he licks her neck or shoulder or something. They said it was too risque. Basically they were looking for a reason not to have to show it all the time."
It wasn't until a friendship developed between the band and the program director and staff at MTV that 'Welcome to the Jungle' finally got the air time it deserved. Of course, the fact that viewers wanted to see the video helped too. "Public response," says Axl. "They couldn't deny that. We've been top five for over a couple of months."
For Rose, frontman and genius of the band, being in front of the barrel is old hat. In and out of jail as a kid in Lafayette, Indiana, he defended himself in court and won. He still spent time in boys school, but that experience gave Rose the impetus to write songs such as 'Out Ta Get Me.' Although the boys school days and the weekends in jail are over now, Rose says the potential for legal trouble is always there. "People pick fights," he elaborates. "You can see it in their eyes, that in the back of their minds they're thinkin', 'I can sue this guy.'"
He goes on to say that if someone punches him first and he strikes back, they'll have witnesses who think they can get a piece of the take. Rose says that it would cost just as much to fight them in court as it would to settle out of court. He closes the subject by saying, "A lot of people are into extortion."
The rumor that Guns N' Roses are using hundred dollar bills to light their cigarettes is just that: a rumor. In reality, a myriad of financial obligations must be met before the band starts trashing Rolex watches for the fun of it. Expenses can often seem to accrue as fast as the cash rolls in. "Basically I think we've paid off Geffen," explains Rose. "When we make any money it gets invested back into the band. On the last tour we made over four hundred grand. You can say that's a lot of money, but you have to pay for hotels, and a lot of times the band doesn't stay in hotels because people find out where you're staying and that gets kind of messy. So you have to stay somewhere out of Hollywood and get transportation back. You're still paying a tour manager and crew twenty-four hours a day because there's a lot for them to do. Thirty grand gets dispensed pretty quickly." Rose adds that as far as record sales go, the band has yet to reap the benefits of platinum. The money has gone back to Geffen.
Another source of income for Guns N' Roses has been films. Hand picked (allegedly by Clint Eastwood himself), the band and its music appeared in the recent Dirty Harry film "The Dead Pool." Even though he didn't play a major role, Axl admits that he enjoyed acting in the film and wasn't bothered (as were Slash and Duff) by the constant retakes and delays during the shoot. He looks forward to gracing the silver screen again. "I'd like to find a really good bit piece," he says. "If I can find a part like Mickey Rourke had in 'Body Heat,' I'm gonna jump on it. I'd like to find a small part that has some credibility to it."
Film buff Axl confesses that his favorite films are dramas such as 'Once Upon a Time in America' and 'Highlander.' And he admits that finding even bit parts may be difficult because of his armfuls of tattoos. Each one has a story behind it and film aspirations or not, he doesn't regret a drop of ink. "The cross with the guys at the top is from a Thin Lizzy album cover," Axl explains. "I was a real Thin Lizzy fan. I was always hoping to show it to them. The girl underneath it and I are still friends. So it's not like I regret having it. The rocker tattoo was the first tattoo I ever got; and it convinced me that I was gonna have tattoos down my arms. The "Victory or Death" tattoo was the result of an experience Rose had cliff repelling. He cited jumping off a cliff while tied to a rope as one of the "biggest rushes" he'd ever had. The friend who introduced him to the sport gave him a pin, which became the inspiration for the tattoo.
Aside from cliff repelling, movies and, of course, music, Rose cites skateboarding as a favorite, but not often indulged in, pastime. "I had a special board made with my cross tattoo on the bottom," says Rose. "I had it sent out to me on the road, but someone at the Hilton got fired and he took it with him. When we recorded 'Under My Wheels' with Alice [Cooper], he gave me a board. I took it out and went, 'Wow, I miss this so much.'" Rose is also a big motorcycle fan. Coining himself the "ultimate biker poseur," he hopes to get his own mean machine this fall.
Finding time to enjoy his hobbies is nearly impossible for Rose. So is finding time to be alone. This problem affects all members of Guns N' Roses. Even Slash has hidden himself away in a suburban South Bay community. Rose finds that retaining his solitude, even at his favorite haunts, is a job in itself. Stepping out for a beer, often times leads to an impromptu press conference. "I spend my time avoiding a lot of people, because everybody wants me to talk about something," he says. "I'm always doing a Guns N' Roses interview. I like to go have a drink and relax at the Cathouse. In the course of having two drinks, I've done twenty interviews."
Rose doesn't want to snub old friends and fans, but he admits the ratrace gets exhausting. "You planned on just getting a drink. You might have had this big long talk with somebody and worked a few things out, but you've been on the phone all day. So you go out, you have this other big talk and when you come home, you're more exhausted than when you went out!"
Despite the strain of constant interviewing and socializing, long talks can sometimes solve problems. According to Rose the feud between Poison and Guns N' Roses was settled when he approached Bret Michaels at a party held in conjunction with the Iron Maiden tour. "We had some really heavy differences," Rose says. "Poison's comments were retaliations against comments we made. We talked about it that night. I said, 'We've got our differences from when we were rival bands on the street. We still have those, but I don't have time for 'em, you don't have time for 'em. You're doing what you're doing, I'm doing what I'm doing, let's just fuckin' right now put 'em aside.'"
Rose claims that settled the feud, but he still felt uncomfortable at that Iron Maiden gathering. "I didn't know half the people talkin' to me about everything. My reaction was 'Where's the bar?'"
Drugs and alcohol. Stories range from accounts of hard core drug abuse to tales of teetotalling. The fact is, members of Guns N' Roses have had periods in their lives when drugs played a serious part. W. Axl Rose sings about drug abuse in the song 'Mr. Brownstone.' "When I sing about Brownstone, I mean that," he says. "I have a friend who O.D.'d, and different members of this band have had their problems." Guns N' Roses call their involvement with drugs unproductive. Referring to their periods of drug use as "time in Hell." "When you've done a certain amount," Rose cautions, "you don't realize you've done that. You don't feel as high, so you do a little more, then you're too far gone. I'm not against the use of drugs, I just don't want people to go too far."
Drinking is another story. While Slash handles his liquor politely, Rose claims to be a madman. "Slash gets wasted and gets on a roll and shit happens. I make him look like a Hostess cupcake if I get wasted, and I know that. Slash has a way of being really nice about being drunk and trashin' the place. Me, I get mad and just say, 'fuck this.' I gotta keep myself pretty much in line. I don't spend a lot of time drinking. I have to keep my voice in shape, or whatever."
Keeping his voice in shape and his room in one piece are only two reasons for cutting back on drug and alcohol use. Musicians have to be businessmen as well as artist and Rose is well aware of what it takes to wear two hats. "Everything has to be done just right," he says. "We're not dealing with somebody just sitting in a room writing a song. You're dealing with all the people that work for you. You're dealing with getting the people at the record company paid and keeping them happy. I don't write songs for anybody but myself, but at the same time, everything has to be planned so carefully right now."
Being a businessman means ensuring that amidst the myriad of recording execs, engineers and managers, the band still retains control of its own product and the final say-so regarding what actually comes out in the grooves of the album. Rose recalls the recording of the first tracks for 'Appetite for Destruction.' "It is really fucking amazing how many people, once they see something happening, or its potential, want to get involved," he says. "Maybe they've never written [a song] in their life. We had the record company, our producer and our manager (who produces and writes with Great White) all coming up with different arrangements." Rose decided that the songs were going to be the way the band wanted them. He went over each song and worked out an arrangement. Then he called each band member in to sanction the tune. Continues Rose, "Finally we were able to go into pre-production and say, 'check this out guys.' That way we beat 'em to the punch." He adds, "We like to keep all the credits that we can."
Rose's decisions, aided by input from fellow band members, seem to be sound. Like the decision regarding the band's appearance on the Late Show. While most bands work at being the loudest, rowdiest music outfit ever to grace the late night spot, Guns N' Roses played 'You're Crazy' and decreased the decibels, reducing distortion and increasing sound quality.
Popularity comes with success. Popularity with the people who buy Guns N' Roses' albums and popularity with women. With women be considers to be ladies or nice people, Rose is a nice guy. But his attitude regarding women who are only interested in him because he's famous is as blunt as his lyrics. "If I'm dealing with a real nice person," he explains, "I'm gonna be real nice. If I'm fuckin' thrashed in some hotel room and there's this what you would call, bimbo, who doesn't give a fuck about you or anyone else, they're just hangin' with the band, that's more like a 'turn around bitch.' If you're hangin' out in some room and a girl's saying, 'I was with Motley Crue and then I was with Dokken...' you feel like saying Shut up.'"
As with every aspect of Guns N' Roses, touring can get a little crazy. Despite efforts to ensure a smooth show, when Guns N' Roses takes the stage, anything can happen.
One gig in Atlanta resulted in Rose being arrested on stage and a roadie, who had never sung in front of an audience in his life, taking the stage while the matter was untangled. Road crews for headlining bands often wonder what's going to happen next when Guns N' Roses is the opening act. These touring mishaps and even the regular course of the day may turn out to be the subject of a documentary on the band. While no specific footage has been shot, the project is very much alive. Existing footage is already being compiled. "We have stacks of videos of all the shows we did in the clubs," says Rose. "We plan on trying to do another club taping. We've taken video cameras on the road and we'll see what comes out of that." Rose also mentioned a possible book about the band, but admitted that the project may take two or three years.
Next up for Guns N' Roses is the Iron Maiden tour, some dates with Aerosmith and possibly some gigs on the European Monsters of Rock tour. The next video will most likely be 'Nightrain' and if all goes well, it'll be a big budget, no-hold-barred affair. Writing for the next album has begun and while there may or may not be as much profanity, there will be few compromises as far as the band goes.
"For the next record," says Rose, "the lyrics I've written don't have anything like that (profanity) in them. But there's a lot of stuff that Slash has written... a lot of heavier stuff. We'll get together and see what happens with it." He goes on to say that songs just happen in a spur of the moment fashion and whatever Guns N' Roses has to say, will be said in their own way. He adds, "We don't care what anybody has to say about it."
While money is not as important as playing from the heart, the next album and future projects will, hopefully, put Guns N' Roses in the black. The legal problems will be settled and the band will continue as a tightly knit, progressive unit.
From the street to platinum. Guns N' Roses has plucked both sides of the vine and been on both sides of the barrel. If there's a lesson to be learned, W. Axl Rose puts it like this, "No matter how hard it is, if you're in the business or you're working on a new band, it's a twenty-four hour job. You have to keep on top of it or somebody's gonna fuck you and you'll have to live with it." Who would know better than he?
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