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1987.09.DD - Rock Scene - L.A.'s Newest Rock Hot Shots (Izzy, Axl, Slash, Duff, Steven)

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1987.09.DD - Rock Scene - L.A.'s Newest Rock Hot Shots (Izzy, Axl, Slash, Duff, Steven)

Post by Blackstar on Mon Aug 27, 2018 6:37 pm

Many thanks to [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] for sharing with us the rare articles and interviews he has collected, as well as many other amazing GN'R memorabilia.
The original pictures of this interview can be found on his site here:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

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L.A.’S NEWEST
Rock Hot Shots


By Katherine Turman

‘Nice Boys don’t play rock ‘n roll – I’m not a nice boy,’ sings W. Axl Rose, lead singer for loud and rowdy L.A.-based rockers Guns N’ Roses. That Rose Tattoo song sort of sums up the Guns N’ Roses attitude. Granted, these five “not nice boys” probably aren’t every mother’s dream date – they’re rag-tag, irreverent, hard-living, lady-killing rock ‘n rollers – in short, everything it takes to be rock stars.
You probably wouldn’t want to bring Guns N’ Roses home to mother. And they probably wouldn’t want to go, either (unless food was involved). Putting out their first major-label record (Geffen), raising hell, partying, achieving aural satisfaction in the studio, and getting lawsuits slapped on them takes up any spare time they might have. Boys will be boys, after all.

Guitarist Slash calls at 9 a.m. to confirm that afternoon’s interview. Now, what real rock ‘n roller would be up that early? Turns out he’s so hungover he woke up early, but is planning to down some aspirin and go back to sleep. He reminded me, for the third time, in a teasing but serious voice, to bring the Jack Daniels.

I walked into the Burbank, California studio where Guns N’ Roses have taken over. Slash, guitar on lap, looks up from under his long black curls. “You didn’t bring it, did you?” he asks accusingly. I was forced to admit I was Jack Daniel-less. Bassist Duff “Rose” McKagan looks up from a fairly large pile of fan mail, and it was decided McKagan and I would go to Vons Market and get some alcohol, as Slash is “too introverted to talk without it.”

We pool our funds and, McKagan, who, with his ripped pants tucked into boots, black roots, blonde hair and earrings, seems to be favorite with Burbank matrons doing their dinner shopping. We get called sir and ma’am by the checkout guy (who asks for our ID’s) and a buy a bottle of Jim Beam. We return. Slash is still with producer Mike Clink in the studio; guitarist Izzy Stradlin is outside on the phone; drummer Steve Adler is practicing in the rehearsal room and lead singer W. Axl Rose is absent. Rose is nocturnal, and after doing vocals for most of the night, at 6 p.m. he’s probably still asleep.

We sit around the cozy GNR rumpus room watching “Facts Of Life” with the sound off, and talking about everything from the Beastie Boys to AT&T calling cards to VD to David Letterman to boners (“print it, nobody else does,” they dare me). Stradlin wants to sell his Iron Maiden tickets and take a limo home. Slash wants to go to the evening show, but only after the after-party. The band borrows change from Stradlin to get Pepsis to top off the Jim Beam (which, unfortunately, is all gone by the time Slash joins us).

When it comes to hard facts, GNR take some liberties. And they’re lousy liars. But they said they’d burn down my house if I gave up any secrets, so my lips are sealed. Besides, in two years of bandom, how many secrets can you have? Honestly, though, they’ve been a unit for about two years when the first, “dumb schmuck bass player left,” and McKagan finalized the lineup.

In those early days they could really have cared less about getting a deal. The band that opened for Ted Nugent even before they had a record out once had a following of only about five people – “our roadies,” says McKagan. “We played Wong’s East one time,” he recalls, “and it was just our girlfriends there.” Playing anywhere and everywhere garnered them a following. “First Tuesday nights at the Troubadour, then we got a Wednesday, and then a Thursday, and we were stylin’,” says McKagan.

The band took care of their own business. “We don’t listen to nobody, really,” says Stradlin. “Getting everybody in the same place at the same time was very difficult,” he says. “You got to get a ride, get the gear, find the roadies – very complicated stuff.” Of course, there were some early managers and helpers. “People helped, but they hated us after they helped us out,” says Adler with a laugh. “You get enemies after getting signed by a label,” they say.

And on the subject of record deals, the band stresses, “We never wrote a song or made our image to get a record contract.” Their look and Aerosmith-sound is rock street-tough – born of necessity, not contrived, they emphasize. “That’s funny how that happened,” says Stradlin. “A couple of us would come over to somebody else’s apartment to dress for a gig and say, ‘I like that belt, yeah. I like those pants you’re wearing, and I’d trade you that scarf for that belt’.”

They lead their lives in the same haphazard way. If they have a motto it would be “Live for today.” They have one automobile among them – a van. “It’s not ours, but we’re taking real good care of it. It’s the second one we’ve had this month,” laughs Stradlin. Explains Slash: “Anytime we do anything bad, like I wrecked our apartment and our van and I cost the band a lot of money all the time, I’ll call David (Geffen, a friend of his family’s and president of their label) and say, ‘I’m not such a bad guy, and the band really loves this company’.”

According to Guns N’ Roses, getting their deal was relatively simple – as L.A. signings go. Interest began about December 1985, and by April 1986 the band had inked their deal with Geffen, home of Aerosmith, Tesla and Black and Blue.

The band dealt personally with all interested record companies. “Labels would call and we would say, ‘Well, we’ve talked to Capitol and EMI and Geffen, but we’ll meet you down at Le Dome for dinner – yeah, Le Dome. We’ll talk some more.’ We went from eatin’ fucking bean burritos to eating steak and lobster in a matter of a few days,” says Stradlin. “And that lasted about two weeks and we got bored with that, and we said, well we better sign with somebody.” They chose David Geffen’s company because “They were the coolest, they were very hip to what was going on. They know about rock n’ roll. There were labels we went to who didn’t know who fuckin’ Aerosmith was, that wanted to sign us,” raves Stradlin. “At one label, something came up about Steven Tyler, and this chick said ‘who’s that?’”

This same label (obviously not Geffen) listened to the band’s eight-track demo and said, “This is great. These are hits, hits, hits. Sign ‘em!” recalls the band. “It was hilarious, but a mass of confusion. You’re just listening to all these assholes talk shit. It’s dull,” says Stradlin. “So we went with our gut instinct and that was Geffen.” They basically inked a six-album deal, with two albums firm, explained lead singer Rose in our later conversation.

The label asked for no changes or compromises from these partymongers. “If they had, we wouldn’t have asked them out to dinner,” says Stradlin.

So what makes these guys better than other L.A. bands? “We’re way more honest,” says McKagan. “We play better too. I’m not gonna name names or anything, but we’re way more uncontrived. We just want to play, and they were doing this whole trip.” Adds Stradlin: “And their girlfriends ended up liking our band better than their band. No, really, it’s down to music. We really work on our music.” Songs just happen, says GN’R, and everyone contributes musically, “though Axl probably does most of the lyrics.”

Rose believes their sound is different partially due to the guitar playing of Slash and Stradlin. “Neither of ‘em know what the fuck the other’s doing. They kinda know how the other plays, but they’re determined not to,” which leads to some interesting rhythms and lead parts.

They have a lot of songs, and Guns N’ Roses were so anxious to record their tunes that they couldn’t wait for Geffen. They started their own label, Uzi Suicide Records, and released a four-song EP “Live Like A Suicide.” Released in December 1986, it has two cover tunes, “Mamma Kin” and a Rose Tattoo song, “Nice Boys Don’t play Rock And Roll,” “Reckless Life,” plus their single, “Move To The City,” which has been garnering considerable airplay. McKagan says the self-produced EP sold 10,000 copies in four weeks with no advertising and has also made it overseas. The band doesn’t take it seriously, though. “It’s just something for people to say ‘I’d like to hear more’.”

Guns N’ Roses were never concerned about not getting a record deal. “We never worry about shit,” says Stradlin. “I think that’s a forte of this band,” adds McKagan, “not really worrying about anything. All the lawsuits that have come about are totally unfounded.”

“We have quite a few of them already,” says Stradlin, “but our attorney says you’re not a real band until you have at least a dozen lawsuits, so we have about eight or more to go.” (I could tell you about some of them, but I fear for the safety of my house.)

In rumor-prone Los Angeles, GN’R are a hot topic. And one piece of gossip concerned where the band’s considerable advance money went. “We celebrated,” they say. “First thing, of course, we bought lots of good guitars and gear.” Stradlin likes his new Gibson, and Slash’s two favorites are his new ’59 Les Paul and old SG with original P90s. Rose bought a lot of clothes and took friends who helped him out during his more down-and-out days to dinner.

And the fist “official” record from GN’R produced by Mike Clink (whose credits include UFO Live) will benefit from the band’s new effects and instruments. Slated for a Summer 1987 release, the band is glad to tell me what they’re going to call their first full-length vinyl. “It’ll be called ‘Something, something, something, Guns N’ Roses,’ or ‘Guns N’ Roses something, something, something,’ or Something Guns N’ Roses, something, something,’” they laugh. The ever-honest Rose, however, later amends his band’s claims. They plan to call the record “Appetite for Destruction” and use a bizarre cover complete with a monster, a ravaged girl and a robot, by artist Robert Williams. They assure me though, that already, the album “blows the EP away. The difference is so amazing.” They began recording in January and were done by the end of March. Of the recording Rose says, “We’re smoking.” He admits his raspy, sensual voice takes a beating from cigarettes and alcohol, but he favors singers like blues legend Bessie Smith, Janis Joplin and Steven Tyler, all whiskey-throated singers. And on the new record, he will be stretching himself vocally, singing bass parts and reaching the F above high C. He’s pleased with his vocal performance, as is Geffen. “Tom (Zutaut, A&R) told me if I lost my voice it was okay, I could use my rough tracks.”

Slash likes the recording process not to be too precise. “We go in, play, and try to do it the first or second take, and if what comes out is decent enough to use, you don’t go back and keep fixing it – you lose the spirit. When we did solos, I couldn’t stand going back and doing it more than three times,” he says.

Rose admits Geffen was a bit worried the band wouldn’t hold together in the studio. “When they said ‘this is your album, boys,’ everyone’s attitude got a lot better. We’ve been wanting to do it for so long,” says Rose. “They’re jazzed,” he says of Geffen. And the band is pleased with producer Clink “because he pushes us to do a better job of what we want,” explains Rose. “He makes us analyze things.”

Though GN’R is now concerned with albums rather than demos, most of the band agrees that there is no difference in lifestyles now that they are major recording artists. “I’m so rich I need to borrow $20 to go out tonight,” laughs Stradlin. Slash takes me into the rehearsal room to show me all his worldly possessions: Clean clothes, dirty clothes, a bolo tie, magazines and equipment, all in bags. Rose, however, acknowledges that his lifestyle has become more settled. He has an apartment with a girlfriend in Hollywood – quite a difference from the last five years when he actually lived in over 37 places, including cars.

“Yeah, we have a weekly salary – very weakly,” says Stradlin. Rose concurs that they dont’ get much of a salary (about $100 per week), but none of them is jumping to get back pre-Geffen jobs such as phone sales and video store and newsstand work. Adds McKagan, “I think they like us living like this, with no money.” And Slash gets nothing. “Slash doesn’t get a fuckin’ cent because he spent everybody else’s money on equipment,” says Rose.

Guns N’ Roses is looking forward to hitting the road. “We’re looking for a tour bus,” says Stradlin. “A big, black tour bus with a skull on the front and a harem inside, like an opium den.” And Rose finds it “cathartic” to sing live. “Onstage I can say all my ‘fuck yous,’” he explains, helping him to stay mellow offstage.

But at this point the next major concern is the evening’s dinner. “Do we have cash for dinner?” asks Adler. “We need food, Mr. C,” he says to the producer Clink, who smiles quietly. The band says that they’ll call manager Alan Niven and see about getting more bucks.

Niven, who also manages Great White, must have his hands full with GN’R. “He hangs out in his condo in Redondo,” says the band. One of the reasons they like him is that when “he took us out for drinks (Barney’s Beanery), he showed us he could drink as much or more than we do.” The Guns N’ Roses team also includes a loyal road crew, Niven and attorney Peter Paterno, the band is also being booked on a trial basis by booking giant CAA.

Since they don’t worry about much, Guns N’ Roses are not especially concerned about the results of their actions. Says Rose: “We were partially signed for being a bad-boy band, but then they (the powers-that-be) say ‘get it under control.’ It’s contradiction.” In their lives and band business, Rose says GN’R “take it to the limit unless it causes us a problem.”

And according to several sources, Slash may take things to the limit a bit more than the rest of the band. “I hate doing interviews,” Slash says, grinning. “Because they’re boring. At this point in time we’re at the mercy of the press because we don’t have a record out, so as soon as we get a record out, the shoe goes on the other foot. Then we’re not going to brown-nose to the press anymore.” He continued. “That’s why we’re so docile in our interview. You can’t fuck around too much or people badmouth you. Our manager says, ‘Listen, Slash, if you do this and that and the other, I’m taking the van away from you, I’m taking this from you. You can’t go on living up to this reputation of yours.’” Emphasizes Slash, “We don’t do it on purpose. We just go day to day and it’s not preconceived.” Asks McKagan, “What are you gonna do, sit at home and watch TV?”

Rose explains that Guns N’ Roses “kinda know what we want” in most creative cases – artistically, in photos and such, and that people tend to classify them as hard to deal with (or worse) when they want things done their way – especially when it may be different “from a lot of things out there.”

And despite the new anti-drug trend among many rock and entertainment types, Guns N’ Roses are all for the party life and often play drunk. “Rock against drugs,” laughs Slash. “We’re doing drugs against rock. I wanted to do a T-shirt that said DAMM, ‘Drunks Against Mad Mothers.’” He usually downs “a bottle a day, and I play on it,” says Slash. “I like most kinds of whiskey.” He believes, however, that “no matter how hard you live, if you’re living in L.A. and you’re in a band, you’re going to survive.”

And controversial and popular as they are, many are clamoring for interviews with the fearsome fivesome. They’re angry at misquotes, but the band feels that a worse sin is an interview that turns out boring. “You know what’s wrong with the press we get?” asks the band. “They don’t print the cuss words. When I read it back, it’s boring. I know when we were doing it, it wasn’t boring.” Says Stradlin, “They homogenize it, like the milk.”

By now it’s time for the Iron Maiden show and time for me to head home. Adler asks me for a ride home – apparently Slash gets the van to head down to the Long Beach Arena. As we’re driving over Laurel Canyon, “Move To The City” comes on the radio. “That’s our song, that’s me,” yells Adler. “Cool!” He plays air drums and sings. The song ends. KISS live, “Rock ‘N’ Roll All Nite (and Party Every Day)" comes on. “Oh, my God, KISS after us. This is great! You have to put this in your article! This is great!” And you know what? – It was.


Last edited by Blackstar on Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: 1987.09.DD - Rock Scene - L.A.'s Newest Rock Hot Shots (Izzy, Axl, Slash, Duff, Steven)

Post by Blackstar on Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:15 pm

The date here also looks a little odd. The interview seems to have taken place when Appetite was at the production stage (around April-May 1987?), after being recorded and before being mixed. But the interview was published more than a month after the release of the album.
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