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1992.08.04 - Star Tribune - Guns N’ Roses and Metallica bring different worldviews to their monstrous summer tour (Duff, Hetfield)

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1992.08.04 - Star Tribune - Guns N’ Roses and Metallica bring different worldviews to their monstrous summer tour (Duff, Hetfield)

Post by Blackstar on Thu Jan 24, 2019 5:16 am

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Guns N’ Roses and Metallica bring different worldviews to their monstrous summer tour


By Jon Bream/Staff Writer

Big, multiband summer rock tours usually have names — "The Monsters of Rock Tour,” "The Clash of the Titans," "Lollapalooza." This summer's monstrous tour featuring Guns Ν' Roses, Metallica and Faith No More has no name.

Let me suggest the "Us Ν' Them Tour.”

I asked the same questions of Metallica lead singer-guitarist James Hetfield and GNR bassist Duff McKagan and I got widely different, sometimes diametrically opposed answers. That’s not to suggest that GNR and Metallica, the two biggest hard-rock bands of the 1990s, don't get along. The band members merely have different views of the world and of their summer tour, which comes to the Metrodome in Minneapolis Wednesday.

These separate interviews took place before Friday’s announcement that GNR lead singer Axl Rose had damaged his vocal cords and that two weekend concerts on the Guns Ν’ Metallica tour had to be postponed. The Dome concert will be Rose's first since the injury.

How’s the tour going?

McKagan/ “Excellent. Everybody is getting along great. Everything is running really smoothly. All the bands are going on [stage] on time, believe it or not. I'm waiting for something to happen. I'm used to it not running smoothly.’’

Hetfield/ "Not bad. It started a little rough, but it's getting better as far as working out the stage (starting) times and all the piddly crap that certain bands like to blow out of proportion — little things like ego ramps [used by GNR] and stuff we don’t care about. We're there to play music."

All the other big multiband summer tours have had names — Monsters of Rock, Clash of the Titans, Lollapalooza. Why doesn’t this tour have a name?

Hetfield/ “That was another little thing that we were trying to work out. They wanted something, we wanted something. They wanted this circus kind of vibe — Rock 'n' Roll Circus something. The words 'rock 'n' roll’ make me cringe for some reason, 'circus' as well. I don't think a name really matters. We have a T-shirt out there with both of our names on it."

McKagan/ "Who's to say what the name of this would be? Monsters of Rock is such a ridiculous name for a tour. It’s so sophomoric. Obviously, they were peddling to the 12-year-old kids who read comic books. I’m not into that commercialism type of thing. Lollapalooza, on the other hand, is cool. That's not just a tour; it's kind of an event type of thing. Clash of the Titans is catering to the comic book readers. We're rock 'n' roll bands. It's Guns Ν' Roses, Metallica and Faith No More. Need you really say more?"

At the Grammys in February, Metallica mentioned backstage that this tour was being planned. Why did it take until May to announce the concert dates?

Hetfield/ "We were still working out logistics and seeing if this thing could even be pulled off. There were a lot of meetings trying to figure out what cities we were going to play, how many shows in a row, whose voice could hold out, who was going on last, who was playing the longest, guest lists — a bunch of political crap. The actual stage set had to be compatible.”

McKagan/ "It was shaky until it really happened. The two bands put it all together; we didn’t let the lawyers and the managers get involved until we had it set. And that's why it took so long — all the legalities and that crap. I’m sure there's a little competition happening — friendly competition. I love them to play great every night because it makes us play better. It's very healthy for both bands."

Was it hard to decide who would close the show?

McKagan/ "No. We’ve been on tour for so long. We're in tour mode big-time, so for us to open for somebody wouldn't make any sense at this point. It was kind of a given that we'd go like this. It's not like we’re headlining; we're coheadlining. The kids realize that. There’s no big deal there."

Hetfield/ "We knew we didn't want to follow that and we'd be on at 5 in the morning. This is a prime spot for us. There's daylight and there's nighttime. We get the best of both. During the day, you get to see faces in the crowd a lot better, which really matters to us as far as getting going. Then we get to play with the lights and get the whole other vibe. By 10:30, we're done and we get to go hang out. We beat ’em [the audience] up, and then they [Guns] have to deal with it.”

This Minneapolis date was scheduled, then Guns was apparently pulling out of the date, and Nirvana was going to play here with Metallica. Then a week or so later, Guns was back on. We heard the rumor was that Axl’s psychic told him not to perform in any cities that begin with the letter M.

Hetfield/ "They have a lot of people out with them, and who knows who tells who what to do? That's basically their business. But when it comes down to ‘We can't play this city because...' now you're stepping into our territory, and we'd like to know why. We had backup plans, no doubt, in case [things] like this came up. I couldn't confirm it, but I think it did have something to do with his psychic, or his psychic’s assistant."

McKagan/ "That [rumor] is a complete joke. Someone told me that yesterday; that’s the first time I'd heard it. I don't know where that rumor came from. That's a blatant lie."

I hear there is about an hour and 15 minutes between when Metallica finishes and when Guns N’ Roses goes onstage. I heard Slash [GNR’s guitarist] say on MTV the other day that all the fans are burned out by the time Guns goes onstage. Why such a long intermission?

McKagan/ "We're not late like we used to be. We've gotten a lot better. There is an hour-and-15-minute set change, and we can't do anything about that. It just takes that long. There's like 100 guys working to get this together. The kids understand. It's a bummer that it takes that long.

"Metallica has got a pretty intense stage setup. Lars [Ulrich] has got his drums on a train track, and they have all their other props. We don't have any props. Metallica pretty much stays in one place. It's cool the way they do it. We run our butts off. It's two different entities."

Hetfield/ "We've got an oval thrust stage, and there's people [fans] inside it in a type of pit. Then when Guns goes on, they cover it up and he [Rose] has got his ego ramp to go out on. So it worked out pretty good.

"Compared to Monsters of Rock, this is more hectic and there’s a bunch of more hubbub going on, but there are less bands. There are not so many frantic things between the crews. I won't say there's less people out; Guns have so many people [on tour], it's amazing. Who knows what those people do?"

In the recent big interviews that Axl did with Rolling Stone and Musician, much was made about the abuse he suffered as a child and the therapy he's gone through. Have you ever talked to him about that?

Hetfield/ "I tried to communicate with Axl. He likes to talk and thinks he's got his thing together. He’s got a lot of yes men, which doesn't help him mentally, I think, but speaking with him is really difficult. He tries to project himself as a real humanist and trying to make everything best for everyone, make this a better world and try and make life fun for everyone.

"They blow big money on parties after the show. I think they could use that money somewhere else. I don’t really like hearing [information] secondhand from people. ‘Oh, his psychic said this,’ or, ‘Guess what he did today?' I hate the whole gossip thing. To sit down and talk face to face is the best way
to do things, and I don't really have the desire to do that."

McKagan/ "Axi s not really that bad of a demon as he's made out to be. I can't really look at it objectively because he’s my good friend. When it comes down to it, he's really a sweetheart. If you were to sit down and talk with him, you'd see what I'm saying. You’d go:

He's just a normal dude. What's everybody writing about him?’

"In England, it’s the worst with all the tabloids. He reads it. He’s already got enough problems of his own, let alone people saying he's got AIDS or something. He’s very sensitive and that kind of stuff gets him down. I tell him it’s some [jerk] making up something and he says, 'Yeah, but my girlfriend’s going to read this,' or something like that. He's a normal dude who just grew up a little differently than the status quo.

"He’s got that anger. He doesn’t hold back his feelings onstage, which is very cool.”

What actually goes through your mind when you’re onstage?

McKagan/ “Everything and nothing — all at the same time. I wish it was more nothing than everything. You try not to think how big the place you're playing is. You try not to think of 95,000 people or 50,000 people or whatever. But we re only human. It will come into your mind at certain parts of the set. It kind of freaks you out

"Every night's different. We're never really that consistent. There’s a lot of anarchy onstage, I'll put it that way. I don't know what I’m going to do next."

Hetfield/ "I’m looking for people [in the audience] to give me inspiration. I'm thinking of which mike [stand] I'm going to go to next. I'm thinking if I’m pacing myself right for the show. I'm not thinking of lyrics; once I start thinking of ‘What’s the next line?' I freak myself out and go blank.

"I don't use the TelePrompTers [GNR does]; I’d like to use them to put some cartoons on for the bass solo or something boring. I see those things [TelePrompTers], and I laugh. I'd rather make up the lyrics or let the crowd sing; they know them better than me anyway."

You play critic for a minute. What do you like about your coheadliner?

Hetfield/ "I'm still trying to figure out how many people are in the band. At different points of the set, there's different people up there. I like the fact they're really loose and they just play any song at any time.

"They get loose onstage guitarwise and just kind of jam, which I really like. I like Slash's guitar playing. Matt [Sorum] is a great drummer. I'm into that [Lynyrd] Skynyrd vibe, and it kind of reminds me of that a little bit. The fact that they do have other instruments up there — piano, harmonica, horn section — is really cool. They've got no limits on what they're doing musically, which I like. Oh, I like Axl's shorts; they're really cute."

McKagan/ "I like their integrity and how they relate with the crowd. When they did Monsters of Rock two years ago, they blew away every other band just because they relate to the kids so well. Of course, I love their music and the guys. It's really cool because it's like a big family on the road."

***

Captions:

Slash, left, Axl Rose, and Duff McKagan of Guns Ν’ Roses. For the band, every night on stage is different.

Metallica: The band members say they don’t want their egos stroked. They just want to play music.

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