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SoulMonster

1989.07.15 - Juke Magazine - The Strange Elusive World of Axl Rose

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1989.07.15 - Juke Magazine - The Strange Elusive World of Axl Rose

Post by Soulmonster on Wed Aug 22, 2018 8:15 pm

Thanks to [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] for sharing the pictures of this article/interview with us, and for the awesome job he has done with collecting GN'R memorabilia. The original photos can be found here on troccoli's site: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Ray Telford wrote:The Strange Elusive World of Axl Rose

Guns N' Roses, the band that generated an estimated $125 million in the last 18 months, are currently working on their next LP. Supposedly a double set, and the band won't be touring until early 1990.

So why such a long delay, when clearly their record company is putting the heat on to cash in on their immense popularity? Simply, Guns 'n' Roses run on their own pace, and if that pisses somebody else, too bad.

They're a publicist's nightmare, because they don't keep appointments for interviews and photo sessions, and are prone to crash out at a friend's house for a week at a stretch without informing anybody.

Singer Axl Rose is the most unpredictable. He's certainly got two personalities - and guards his inner feelings so much that few get to know the real him. Only his long time girlfriend Erin Everly - who shares his large Spanish style bungalow and for whom he wrote "Sweet Child O' Mine" - can honestly say they get past the barriers he puts up.

"It's funny to be in this situation" he chuckles, rubbing his fingers over a new beard. "People think you're a millionaire and that life's just a dream now. In a lot of ways, it is like a dream, because going to No. 1 is an experience that can only be described as fantastic.

"You dream about it for so long, go through utter shit to get there. It doesn't matter what happens to the band now. Once you've got a No. 1, then everything is...well, it's not an anticlimax, but whatever happens now won't matter because nothing can take away that experience of going to No. 1. Even if the next album doesn't do anything, I can still say I had a No. 1 record.

"But the funny thing is, on the one hand Guns 'n' Roses are supposed to be this huge band. Bit I still can't go and buy a house anywhere in Hollywood because people won't sell me their houses, or their neighbors won't let them!

"Success is a weird thing because it makes you insecure, you've always this nagging thought that you'll lose it one day. It's a weird feeling. It's weird to go out to a local club like the Cathouse or Bordellos just because you want to have a good time, and this guy comes and talks to you for one and a half hours, not because he enjoys your company or finds you've got something interesting to say, but because he can tell his friends he was hanging out with someone famous."

So Axl hasn't been tamed down?

"Oh no, I'll have a go at anybody who has a go at me. I like going out and getting very drunk and reckless. If anyone mouths off, then they're dealt with. Slash likes to get out of it too, but he always knows when to back off. I don't."

Has success made the band wilder, then?

"Yeah, probably has, hahahah. We're all under such pressure that we cling together more than ever, and when the five of us get together, we just get worse and worse!"

Technically, Guns 'n' Roses have not been doing anything public since their last bout of touring, which took them to Australia, New Zealand and Japan for the first time.

But controversy still rages. If there's not a rumor going around - and believed by enough people for it to be read out as a serious news item on many radio and TV shows! - that any one of the five had died, then they were getting tossed out of an AIDS benefit because of anti-gay sentiments in one of their songs. Or Axl was getting punched out by a irate roadie of another band when he accidentally stepped on the power cable during their show and cut out their sound. Or else they were embroiled in some lawsuit with a comic [sentence ends weirdly]

The fact that they generate such publicity when they're not even looking for it, is a testament to how they have a reputation which attracts trouble.

"The press seems to be more interested in our off-stage activities than in the music itself!" agrees Axl. "But a lot of the time, it's our own friends who start the ball rolling because we might tell them something that happened, they'll tell somebody else, who'll tell somebody, and by the time it reaches a journalist, it's been blown out of proportion.

"A lot of the stories really aren't much. We've had some run-ins with the cops, most people do, but because we're in Guns 'n' Roses, it's blown up to be something totally astounding. People think we're criminals, or something. One time I mentioned in passing to a friend about a trumped-up ape charge. It was just an old girlfriend trying to get back at us by making up stories, but he went and told other people and by the time it came out in the papers, it was like I was this violent person, and the trumped-up bit of it wasn't even mentioned."

Burt surely Axl couldn't deny that the band did get up some strange bizarre things…

"Oh sure, but I just think they're blown out of proportion."

Have they ever got angry enough with any of the stories to want to sue?

"Naaah, we enjoy 'em! We don't really are about these rumors. I heard we were all dying of AIDS, and the times I've heard that I'd died of a drug overdose, it's laughable.

"The way I figure it, these stories just make us seem more interesting than we are. It'll just encourage people to listen to the records or come and see our concerts; and when they do, the music's good enough to hook them right in. So let these people warn the kids away from us, they're just helping our cause!"

Mind you, at one point it wasn't all that easy to see Guns 'n' Roses. Within one year, the band was kicked off tours by Iron Maiden, David Lee Roth and AC/DC. All supposedly for bad behavior. But as Axl says, the Iron Maiden incident was when he accidentally knocked over a meal tray in the dressing rooms just before the first show, and the Maiden boys heard Axl was thrashing the dressing rooms. They decided it'd be tiresome to put up with this behavior for the two-month US tour and gave the band its walking papers. Roth dropped them after he heard a couple of members had been in a rehabilitation clinic for drug problems.

"The stories, again, are blown out of proportion. The main thing is, when we have lost those tours, we've ended up with something that we've considered better. We lost Maiden and got Aerosmith, after Roth, Motley Crue asked us to join theirs. We enjoyed being with them, and we remember them fondly because they gave us a chance when nobody else would."

Although the band's manager insists that Guns 'n' Roses would cease if any of the five left, it'd be fair to say that Slash as its musician and Axl as its menacing energy are the two most important.

It is Axl's intensity that [?] Guns' anger and his sensitivity which gives the music its soul.

Those closest to him say that while he does have his violent outbursts, he is a warm and caring soul, who puts loyalty from his friends high up on the list. Axl himself is the first to admit that his emotional fits are a serious problem.

"I have the worst temper" he admitted in one US magazine last year. "It's a hair-trigger temper and I am not proud of it. It's just something I learned to live with."

In that interview, he hinted that he is receiving medical treatment for his severe mood swings. "I have a lot more control over it compared to when I used to break every single thing in my room. This way I can go for two months before I do that. That's a long time." In the October 23, 1988, issue of the (American) Rolling Stone he admitted he had been diagnosed as suffering from manic depression and has been prescribed medication to aid in his treatment.

Unfortunately, the effects of a medical problem can be severe on its victim. Just before the release of the band's major LP Appetite for Destruction, Axl got into a deep depression. At a time when the band members were expected to run around enthusiastically hyping the record, he remained silent. On tours he'd lock himself in his hotel room, and on occasion even missed performances. During some of their early club shows, it wasn't surprising to see Axl wandering off the stage mid-performance. The band, mystified but understanding, would carry on playing until he returned.

As a teenager at school, he got low grades because he was too rebellious. He was also too restless. As a five year old he'd been in the church choir; ten years later, he got kicked out of his strict home in Lafayette, Indiana, and subsequently found himself in a boys' detention house.

"The first thing I remember about Axl," recalls Izzy Stradlin, "this is before I knew him - is the first day in [?] class, eight or nine grade. I'm sitting in the class and I hear this noise going on in front, and I see these f--king books flying past, and I hear this yelling, and there's this scuffle and then I see him, Axl, and this teacher bouncing off a door jamb. And then he was gone, down the hall, with a whole bunch of teachers running after him. That was the first thing, I'll never forget that."

Explains manager Alan Nivens, "I think his inner turmoil is derived from the external turmoil that we have around us all day. A lot of us either choose to, or are more adept at, shutting it out. He doesn't. He doesn't choose to shut it all out. He looks it right in the eye."

When Guns 'n' Roses were to embark on their first major tour with Aerosmith, no-one knew where Axl was. In fact, the band's close friends were taking bets, predicting he wouldn't show up. As it turned out, he turned up an hour before show-time.

At the end of that tour, some of the other Guns 'n' Roses members had (laughingly?) called him a prima donna. Somewhat perturbed , he approached their road manager and asked, "I haven't changed, have I?"

"Of course not," the road manager replied with affection, "You've always been a prick."

However, any analysis of Axl Rose's personality always keeps bringing up loyalty to his friends. Those who helped him in the band's earlier days are never forgotten. Members of Aerosmith and Motley Crue say Axl is more than eager to repay the for past favors.

He ensured than an early friend, photographer Robert John, was given a helping hand when he could.

Their American publicist Bryn Breidenthal swears to their loyalty. In one case where members of Poison allegedly threw drinks over her claiming she showed favoritism towards Guns 'n' Roses. Bryn says she had to plea with Axl and Slash not to go and beat up Poison. They had taken it upon themselves to avenge a friend who'd been hassled by people they thought had acted like jerks.

Slights, real or intended [?], are hard to forget. Sydney band Kings of the Sun were tossed off their American tour when one of them made a comment to the effect that Rose Tattoo (a band both admired) should have had the same success as Guns 'n' Roses. Vicky Hamilton, a freelance A&R person who discovered Poison and Crue, brought Guns to the attention of their American label Geffen. She allowed them to live in her apartment when they got thrown out of their own other flats and was negotiating to their manager. Suddenly Geffen signed and the band and gave them an advance of $75,000. Abruptly, they dumped Hamilton. She sued them to at least get back the $10,000 she says she invested in them. Since then, she joined Geffen and works closely with the band. She says she gets on with all the members - except for Axl. He refuses to even talk to her.

"I gave up trying to figure him out years ago," she told Musician magazine. "There are times when he's the sweetest boy you could know, but when he's mad he's like a top spinning off. He's not consistently evil...and he's not consistently nice either. It's two distinct personalities. That's what so scary."

When Guns 'n' Roses scored a major deal, the record company decided to match them with a big name producer. The great Tom Werman came down to see the rehearse, bringing along a case of light beer as a token of friendship. He listened to them play, put his hands to his ears, swore, and never returned.

He was replaced by Mike Clink, a man who does not smoke. Apparently after spending a few months in the studios with Guns and their heavy smoking, he went to his doctor for a check up - and the doctor told him, "man, you gotta stop smoking."

Right now, Guns 'n' Roses are sifting through 30 songs. Axl says it could well be a double album - Appetite for Destruction was meant to be a double LP too, but Geffen got cold feet about putting out a double as a debut LP.

"That album took us totally by surprise. We were just street rats, really, we used to think it was people like George Michael and Michael Jackson who sold 10 million, 15 million albums. Then suddenly we were up there with them."

Would it be a hard task to try and reproduce that album's achievements?

"Awww, I think Appetite...has a lot more things it can achieve. Whitney Houston has the biggest selling debut LP of all time, she did 10 million, so that is something we could hope to get. Boston a couple of years ago were still the highest debuting rock and roll band, they had done eight million then, so it'll be interesting to see if we could catch up with them. Right now, Def Leppard and Bon Jovi are neck to neck as selling the biggest Metal album of all time. There's no reason why Guns 'n' Roses can't win that one as well.

So I figure why talk about the pressures and achievements of the next album when this one's got a heap more things it could do."

What could he tell us about the next batch of songs - are any of them concerned with, say, an incident or person he ran into during the Australian visit?

"I usually write about a situation that I understand, and that whole touring thing last year's still a blur, I'm still trying to come to grips with the things I did and saw. One day I'll write about those things, but they won't appear on the next album."

There rumor is that there are at least ten ballads up for consideration, was that true?

"Yeah, and all of them are heaps better than 'Sweet Child O' Mine' too. But we don't know what'll end up on the LP, ya know? We just wanna surprise a lot of people. We've always played ballads, but we never thought we'd end up with a hit with one of them."

When the band goes back on tour next year, it'll be as an arena band - huge stadiums, huge lights, huge sound.

"When we went through Australia, we kept it basic because we wanted to prove to people that, above all, Guns 'n' Roses are a band that could play, we weren't a figment of some publicist's imagination. But next time around, we're gonna take one step up. The time's right for that one further step."
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