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1993.03.30 - The Vancouver Sun - Guns N' Roses’ new axeman fired up for the big time (Gilby)

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1993.03.30 - The Vancouver Sun - Guns N' Roses’ new axeman fired up for the big time (Gilby) Empty 1993.03.30 - The Vancouver Sun - Guns N' Roses’ new axeman fired up for the big time (Gilby)

Post by Blackstar on Tue May 21, 2019 2:50 am

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Transcript:
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Guns N' Roses’ new axeman fired up for the big time

So what do you say about Guns N’ Roses? Since their inception in 1985 in Hollywood the gunners have been at the centre of riots, accusations of homophobia and racism for the song One in a Million, and played a bizarre series of LA. shows on the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels tour enlivened by backstage face-offs with members of Living Colour and onstage confrontations between band members. Singer Axl Rose threatened from the stage to leave the band at one point, making references to certain parties overindulging in pharmaceuticals.

Axl stayed, original drummer Steven Adler was fired, original guitarist Izzy Stradlin quit prior to the release of Use Your Illusion I and II, the first time a major artist had released two separate albums on the same day.

Twenty-million albums after their first LA. club appearances, guitarist Gilby Clarke replaced Izzy Stradlin in time to play — amazingly — their first ever tour as headliners, a two-year marathon that plays B.C. Place Stadium tonight. Clarke talked to Vancouver Sun reporter
JOHN ARMSTRONG from “some airport.”

Q. Going from being a guy who’d made a couple of records, had sort of middling success, it must have been a whole other world joining one of the most popular bands in the world. Was it disorienting?

A. Actually, in a strange way, it wasn’t. Living in L.A. and being in the rock scene, you basically have this style of life and I pretty much already fit in. What was really great was I always liked the band from the earliest days when they first started in clubs and I thought it was a really cool band. Now they’re probably the biggest band in the world. I was just so happy.

Q. But it must be a pretty radical change — just the day-to-day realities, from the backstage deli tray on up. I mean, you don't exactly have to worry about whether you can get a ride home from the show and things like that.

A. That’s what success is. I’ve been doing this for so long and finally it’s handed to you. At first I felt a little strange, like ‘You don’t deserve this.’ I didn’t feel comfortable — I was comfortable with the guys but not with the other stuff. Axl actually said one time, ‘You deserve this just like the rest of us. You worked just as hard, played all those clubs just like we did.' And I said. ‘Yeah, maybe I can accept this’ (laughs).

Q. This all happened for you a few years after Axl, Slash and Duff were catapulted. Did they warn about anything, like handling the money or the overnight celebrity, because they’d already been through it?

A. Not really, but there's a lot of unspoken stuff. The band is, like, ‘whatever gets us through today is okay', that’s like the only rule. The band's pretty much like it was before the success — except for the money. Now you can call down and say you need a car to go somewhere or order whatever you want from room service. But we’re still wearing the same clothes and doing the same things.

Q. You don't worry if the video you rented is overdue.

A. Exactly (laughs). One of the coolest things that happened was I’d been in the band a month and we went to Japan. I did a lot of work to get ready — I only had two weeks to learn the whole catalogue of 50 songs so I was up day and night. And nobody really knew what Izzy played on the records but I finally did it and after (the tour) Duff gave me a car. Just out of the blue, like ‘Thanks, you really came through for us.’ A brand new Corvette. I thought he was kidding but, no ...

Q.You were probably thinking along the lines of they could buy you lunch or something, a shirt...

A. Yeah, well you know Duff really is the same guy, very generous—not like he’s going to use up all his money — but he likes to do stuff for his friends. You know the people that are with the band now (road crew, assistants) are the people who were with the band in the beginning and the organization is incredible, they’re so professional. This band didn’t get successful and then can everybody, and what’s awesome is at the beginning of the tour I sat down (with the guitar tech) and said ‘This is what I like’ and I never have to say it again. When I’m playing a show I can change guitars every song and it’s always perfectly in tune, the equipment works right, you don’t have to settle for less like you do when you’re playing clubs. ‘The monitors aren’t going to work tonight’ — ‘Oh ...’ It means you can just concentrate on playing good. We still have our days when something blows up, but shit happens.

Q. Those first shows must have been a little weird, playing football stadiums, having a dressing room that’s bigger than your old apartment.

A. I’m a pretty calm person — I think the first show the other guys were more nervous for me than I was. I knew it was going to be cool, and I’d played arenas before so it wasn’t a big surprise. What was a big surprise was I’d always been in the opening band and you have to win the audience. Here you walk out and the audience is already won. One thing that worried me was that Izzy had been in the band since Day One, and I wondered how receptive they’d be to me. I mean, I always liked Izzy and I liked Izzy in the band — it would be strange to see a new guitar player take his place. The night before I met some friends and got pretty trashed so the night of the first show I had probably the worst hangover of the last few years. That probably helped take the edge off.

Q. You moved to L.A. from Cleveland and if you hadn’t, none of this would have happened. So in retrospect it was the right move, but was it intimidating at the time?

A. What was really strange is that when I first moved here people were so nice — you walk down the street and people say ‘Hello.’ And I’d go ‘What the hell? Well, F-k you.’ Where I came from you’d get in a fight once or twice a week, it was no big deal and you’d be friends again the next day. But when I moved out here my first week I got in a fight and next thing I’m in the principal's office and I’m suspended. It was like, ‘Oh, California...'

Q. I thought you were out of high school, you know, the big career move. So this was like, ‘God, I got to get some new clothes.'

A. Yeah, nobody wore bell-bottoms. No, my family moved out here but I’d been in bands in Cleveland. I was like the little rock star around school (more laughter).

Q. So you ended up in Guns N’ Roses just in time to go on this endless tour. Do you like the Skin and Bones leg, without all the horns and backup singers, more than the augmented band?

A. I’m really happy with this because this is what I thought I was joining but that was just when they were going to do the shows with the big band. I had no idea, so when they told me we were going to do this, I said great. Everybody says ‘Oh, you’re making all this money, you must be real happy.’ And it’s like, that’s not the point, I’m in a band where I like the guys and it’s a great band. That’s what I always wanted. I spent years playing in bands I liked, with great people, and we made no money, slept on floors, the whole thing. So, if I did that imagine how long I’ll hang in with this (laughs).

Q. I imagine it’s a lot better than having, oh, Poison call you...

A. Oh yeah, it is.

Q. Well, here’s the last question, which is traditionally the snarky one in case you get offended and hang up. But it’s not about Axl. Dennis Miller had a funny bit about ‘I saw in the paper a guy in Guns N’ Roses was kicked out of the band.’ What do you have to do to get kicked out of this band?

A. I guess you have to do whatever Steven (Adler, original drummer) did. I know Steven, and he was, like, beyond repair. Or it wasn’t coming within the next couple of years. You can do whatever you like to do but you’ve got to be able to make the gig. We still go out and party and have a lot of fun, but we make it to the gig the next night.

Q. Well, that’s entertainment — the show must go on.

A. Exactly ... and it can go on without you.
Blackstar
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