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1992.07.21 - The Indianapolis Star - Rockin' Hard (Matt, Gilby)

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1992.07.21 - The Indianapolis Star - Rockin' Hard (Matt, Gilby) Empty 1992.07.21 - The Indianapolis Star - Rockin' Hard (Matt, Gilby)

Post by Blackstar on Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:19 am

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ROCKIN' HARD AT THE DOME

Wednesday’s concert will be one of the biggest of the year in Indy, and we’re setting the stage with interviews of each band.

Stories by MARC D. ALLAN

Despite the constant turmoil that dogs Guns N’ Roses, the band lives a surprisingly peaceful existence, two members say. In separate telephone interviews, drummer Matt Sorum and guitarist Gilby Clarke said they’ve learned to live with the daily media scrutiny and repercussions that come with being in one of rock’s biggest acts.

“I think I’ll turn on MTV today and see what’s going on with my band," Sorum, describing a typical day, said in an interview to promote Wednesday's Guns N’ Roses/Metallica/Faith No More show at the Hoosier Dome.

"Like yesterday. I turned on the radio to find out Axl (Rose, the lead singer) had been arrested. I didn't even know. I stay out of that.

“We deal with it"

"It's not like I avoid it, but it seems to come to Axl more than anything, and Slash gets a bit of it here and there. And Duff (McKagan, the bass player), too, sometimes. It’s part of the band and it keeps us what we are. It's not like we try to get arrested or we try to start riots. That just happens, so we deal with it.”

Sorum joined the band two years ago, replacing Steve Adler. Adler claimed the band encouraged him to use heroin.

Clarke replaced founding member and Lafayette, Ind., native Izzy Stradlin, who quit last year because he got tired of touring.

The band has weathered lineup changes, arrests, ragged concerts, canceled concerts and concerts that didn’t start until 1 a.m. In return, fans rewarded Guns Ν' Roses by buying 17 million copies of its two latest albums, Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II.

Since their last central Indiana performance, in May 1991 at Deer Creek Music Center, the band has added three female saxophone players, two backup singers and a keyboard/harmonica player for what Sorum called “that extra added oomph.”

A serious band, now

He said Guns Ν' Roses will be much tighter than in its past performances here.

“After touring Europe twice and going around the United States a couple of times, we’re much more of a unit than we were,” he said. “We’re definitely a serious band now. Then, I think we were feeling out what songs were working. When you come out this time, you’ll see the difference.”

Sorum, who recorded earlier this year with Eazy-E of the rap group NWA and a new rock band called Johnny Crash, said he feels he’s given Guns N' Roses the ability to play more styles.

The man known inside the band as “Matt the Mediator” said he’s had no trouble replacing Adler.

“I didn’t even think about him when I came into the band. The only time I ever think about him is when I see his face in magazines still, after almost two years. To me, he was just a drummer that blew it and I was there to step in. I hope he gets something else going, but it doesn’t seem like he can.

“I'm trying to forget him, to be honest with you. I am the drummer and I don’t need to hear about that guy. I did two records that were probably four times the magnitude of Appetite (for Destruction, the group’s first full-length record). Even though Appetite was a great record, I just feel that the past is the past and we’re looking toward the future now.”

As for Clarke, he also likes the future with Guns Ν' Roses. Before joining the group, the Cleveland native kicked around in two bands, Candy and Kill for Thrills, making three albums that flopped.

When he joined Guns N’ Roses, Clarke had two weeks to learn 50 songs.

"I don’t know how I did it,” he recalled. “I didn’t have song books to do it with and nobody even knew what Izzy played. They gave me the records. I'd be learning five songs a day and then remembering the five songs I learned from the day before. I'd rehearse with them during the day. At night, I would learn five new songs.

“When I played the first date, there were only two songs that I had cheat-sheets for. I actually memorized all of them. And to this day, I still have those same two cheat-sheets. Coma and Estranged I cheat on. I still don’t know them.”

Clarke said he gives the band a bit heavier rhythm guitar sound than Stradlin did and expects to provide a different songwriting influence when the group makes its next record.

Asked what people should understand about Guns N’ Roses that they don’t, Clarke and Sorum each offered suggestions.

“The band is freedom,” Clarke said. “The band’s always lived on its own terms, it’s always played on its own terms. Therefore, people can mistake that for an arrogance.

“It’s like, 'Oh, they’re late going on stage. What an arrogant bunch of guys.' And that’s not it. The reason a lot of people like the band is that the band says and does what it wants all the time. That’s the charm of it.”

“All they need to understand,” Sorum said, “is that we’re a rock ’n’ roll band. You don’t have to read much into it.

If you want someone to come and rock out, we’re the guys to do it. We’re just trying to be ourselves and play good rock ’n’ roll.”

***

Metallica agreed to tour with Guns N’ Roses for two reasons: exposure and money. And Metallica was nowhere near underexposed or undercapitalized.

"When it comes right down to it. If we worked for the same amount of time on our own, we wouldn't play to as many people and we wouldn’t earn as much money," bassist Jason Newsted says bluntly — which is the same way his band plays.

“We would have made plenty of money on our own and everybody gets taken care of real well in our organization. But if we’re looking at the big picture and we have a chance to make a few more million dollars over a six-week period, then we’re going to do it.”

This from a band that has sold 5 million copies of its current record, Metallica, and already played about 150 concerts since hitting the road nine months ago.

Unlike co-headliners Guns Ν' Roses, Metallica takes a no-nonsense approach to music and business.

While Gunners’ singer Axl Rose’s exploits have made him a notorious international celebrity, it’s unlikely than anyone who’s not a Metallica fan could name any of the band’s four members: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Newsted.

As Newsted says: “We go out, take care of business and we’re done. We get on the stage when we say we’re gonna get on the stage, we play what we say we’re gonna play.”

He offers a couple of reasons why Metallica doesn’t make the gossip pages.

“The people that we have working for us are the same people who have worked for us for many, many years — from stage carpenters to our guys that work on our guitars to our management. Metallica is a very fine-tuned machine. When we say we’re going to go do something, we go do it . . . We stick to our contracts and we fulfill them.

“And the music is much different. I’d say Metallica fans are a bit more loyal and a bit more rabid than Guns N’ Roses fans. I’m sure there are Guns N’ Roses fans that go crazy, but I don’t think they have the unity and the touch we have with our people.”

Newsted says Metallica’s concert here will be especially businesslike.

“Our plan is to go out and play for a couple of hours and Just pummel. There’s not going to be too much talking or long solos. We plan on going out, song-to-song-to-song, and just crush. That’ll be that. Take care of business and get off stage and then they can do what they want to do.”

After this, the next time we hear from Metallica will be sometime next year. The band will continue to tour until March 1993 and may release a live album next year — though “anything can happen in Metallica-land.”

They also plan to take several months off before writing and recording the next studio album in late ’93.

***

Faith No More’s keyboard player, Roddy Bottum, sounds anything but nervous about trying to repeat the band's success of the last two years.

Sitting in his northern California home last week, reading a magazine and trying to avoid packing for the group’s two-month tour with Guns N’ Roses and Metallica, he remains one of the band's five antagonists.

Bottum, who’ll be here Wednesday when the year's biggest hard-rock tour stops at the Hoosier Dome, sums up the Faith No More philosophy when he says, "As long as we're making someone nervous, I think we're doing a good job."

Shattering expectations

The band did just that by bringing its new album, Angel Dust, to a record company that expected a rehash of The Real Thing, its 1989 breakthrough effort.

Angel Dust, while not radically different, sounded like enough of a departure to make the record company uncomfortable. The label "accused the band of alienating our public," Bottum says.

"We knew that all these expectations were out there. It just presented a new challenge for us to shatter those expectations and do what we wanted to do. In that sense, it was kind of fun, knowing these bigwig record company people were expecting one thing and wanting one thing. "Knowing that they would be out there, waiting for that made it a lot easier to go the complete opposite direction.”

Faith No More's only recording between the two albums was to rearrange an old song, The Perfect Crime, for the soundtrack of Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. Guitarist Jim Martin had a minor role in the movie.

Bottum says the band’s schedule required so much touring that it didn’t have time to do much else.

‘‘When the record starts to sell really well, you have to go out and tour it some more,” he says. "I think more than anything, we really resented the fact that it didn’t catch on for as long as it did.”

The disc took about a year to make an impact. The key turned out to be the eye-popping video Epic, which featured the band playing in a driving rain and close-ups of a fish flopping and dying in a small puddle.

Bottum acknowledges that the band relied heavily on images, not music, to make its initial point. Eventually, though, radio and audiences caught on to its thunderous sound.

The Real Thing went on to sell 2 million copies, causing Bottum’s friends to ‘‘deal with me on a lot more cynical basis. When I was struggling and not being very successful, I would get a lot of smiles from my friends. Now I’m getting a lot more sneers.”

Bottum and Faith No More sneer right back. Figuring that audiences now know what to expect from the group’s videos, it has decided to change directions.

The members returned from New York earlier this month after shooting a video for the song Small Victory. They used the same personnel who made C+C Music Factory’s videos.

‘‘The song is the most slicksounding pop thing we’ve ever done, so we decided we’d go as far as we can with that,” Bottum says. “Just go all the way and further alienate our public and confuse people.”

***

Marc D. Allan covers rock music for The Star.
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