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SoulMonster

1991.01.DD - VOX - War of the Roses

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1991.01.DD - VOX - War of the Roses Empty 1991.01.DD - VOX - War of the Roses

Post by Soulmonster on Wed May 29, 2019 10:58 pm

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WAR OF THE ROSES

With hair like his, it's not always easy to see eye to eye with Slash. Everyone's been gunning for him and the rest of Guns N' Roses as they reeled from one controversy to another over the last year. As they put the finishing touches to their long-awaited second studio album. Emilio J. Rondeau tracks Slash down to a burger bar. Hold the onions and heavy on the attitude...

SLASH'S HANDSHAKE IS FIRM AND businesslike as he slides into a secluded booth at the back of West Hollywood's Hamburger Hamlet. It's an early November afternoon. He may have just woken up from a quick nap after a hard night in the studio, he may have emerged from a typically excruciating LA traffic jam, he may have already ordered a double Jack Daniels to wash down his salad, but he is definitely perky and vivacious as he recalls the events of the last few months.

After much agonizing, Steven Adler is out of Guns 'N Roses. After further agonizing -mainly Slash's - former Cult-ist Matt Sorum is the band's new drummer. And on top of that, the long-awaited second studio album (it's more than three years since 'Appetite For Destruction') from Guns 'N Roses will surface some time between March and May. Axl was due to finish the vocals to the secretly-titled platter within days of our interview.

The band's new line-up, including a new keyboardist, is due to debut by headlining the Rock In Rio Festival in Brazil in January. By that stage GNR-mania will be back at full throttle, spurred by the early airplay of one of the album's new tracks, 'Civil War', originally lent to George Harrison's Rumanian benefit album.

What's the story behind Steve Adler leaving and Matt Sorum joining the band?

"It's been over the course of years where we just had little problems here and there and then it got to be major and it held the band back for a while. Finally it came down to `it's either going to f*** up the whole band's career and everybody as an individual or we're going to have to make a decision about this' (Adler's drug problems have been widely documented).

"So Steven was ultimately let go and then we couldn't find anybody to replace him. We're a very tight-knit little family. Every single guy that we tried out would have to walk into this room with a bunch of guys just sitting there, looking like they were going to kill him!

"What happened was I went to the Universal Amphitheatre and saw The Cult, I watched the show from the soundboard and the main thing I noticed was that the drummer was great and I said, 'Well, why can't we find a drummer like that? What's the problem?'.

"So three months or something went by and I was tearing my hair out trying to find a guy who would fit in the band and have the right feel and get along with us on a personality basis. Because as much as everybody would like to try and believe it, we're not like a business when it comes to just the five of us. It's not like we just hire some outside guy as long as he can play the parts right. And I think then I remembered that Cult gig and figured out I'd just try and steal him. And that's what I did."

That was before the band actually started recording anything for the new album?

"Oh, yeah. What took us two years to get together came together in a month. After the success of the band all our lives just got completely in chaos. It took a while to learn to live with where we were at. It took a huge adjustment in our lifestyle which isn't like how you get up and walk to the bathroom in the morning. It's like having to deal with the business itself. All of a sudden there's all these responsibilities you don't really feel like dealing with - having to own property for investment purposes, and then, once you've got the property, having to take the trash out. No one even thought about it until it happened. The tour ended and they dropped us off at the airport and there we were, sort of standing around in the middle of the street going 'Well, what the f*** do we do now?'."

"All we learned was how to tour and how to record a record, and none of us had any concept of home life. We wrote a lot of material during that time. We had all kinds of inner problems between the five of us, just being separated and all that kind of stuff. And then we had this drug thing…

"Anyway, Steven sort of never came out of it. We had situations where we were rehearsing to try and keep it together, even though one of us - or two of us - might have been completely out of their heads. We kept doing it and then we had a couple of sort of rehab trips and finally it was like 'This is ridiculous!', so we played the Rolling Stones gigs to whip it out and actually play. And that brought us hack together.

"Then I took oft for a month and when I came back Steven wasn't ready. I booked this studio out here in Canoga Park and Steven wasn't ready for it, so it turned out to be a waste of money. At this point I'm very aware of what our financial situation is. You have to be. You're forced to be. So I cancelled the time in the studio. We had recorded all these songs but a lot of situations went on with Steven not being altogether there in the studio. We tried helping him out, we stuck it out with him for like a year, and then it was like `Well, something's got to happen'."

And when did you actually start recording the new album with Matt?

"We've done everything over the last three months. We rehearsed 35 songs in 30 days, got them all 'recordable' and then went into the studio and did 30 songs in 30 days on basics. We recorded five more while I was doing my guitar overdubs, did five more in a day, and then Axl's doing the vocals. The whole process, once we got it together, was really fast. Not that everybody would believe it."

ARE YOU still planning on a double album, as rumoured?

"Yeah, its a double record, but it's actually more than a double record. Some of the songs are... I just worked on one last night that's about ten minutes long, so... "

'November Rain'?

"No, it's called 'Coma'. But we did 'November Rain', too, which is like seven or eight minutes long. I think there's like four or five really long songs on it. Well, as far as it being a double record, yeah, it's a double record, but then it's like really three… when it comes out, then you'll know."

There's also a cover of Paul McCartney 's 'Live and Let Die?

"Yeah, it was a song that Axl really dug and I really dug and Axl came in and said: 'What do you think about 'Live and Let Die'?' And I said: `Yeah, it's been on my mind for the last year'. We're doing a cover of a song by The Damned 'New Rose' (released in '76, the very first punk single of all), and bassist Duff McKagan is solo singing on that. There's a ballad that he's singing, called 'So Fine'. And there's another song that me and Duff and Axl actually wrote the lyrics where Duff is singing. Me and Duff are singing, and I can't sing, which is just to get the song done."

The band has always been very open about its own problems. We were just talking about the Stones' shows and I remember that was when Axl voiced his anger about the anger against 'One In A Million' and also towards the band's problems. Do you think that Guns N' Roses is not fully understood in general?

"It's not! I don't think anybody will understand. I don't think we understand what we do. Everybody likes to make assumptions, people like to make up all these stories and I can't figure out the mentality behind it. They're always picking on our personal lives. It's never accurate. So it's made up like they're talking about somebody else altogether. The only thing you can go on is what's actually printed correctly in the press, quotes that are actually accurate, which isn't too often, anyway."

The band has been under attack for several reasons. It's been called anti-gay and even right wing...

(Very surprised) "Right wing?"

Yeah And how does the band take that all in? Because it's not something you can easily take and forget about.

"That s true, you have to deal with it. You keep avoiding it, and avoiding it, trying to ignore the fact it's going on, and it sort of sticks with you and it just builds up. It finally hits you and you can have a breakdown over this shit eventually if you let it build up for too long. If you don't make some sort of rebuttal to what's being said about you, you end up having to live with it, which is not the right thing to do.

"The stuff people are saying about our religious beliefs, our stance on homosexuality and all that, it was just one song and the song had nothing to do with making any kind of a statement. We didn't try to put people into any kind of categories or...I don't really know how to explain it. We weren't pointing fingers or anything like that. It was a song about one night, and it was something that Axl wanted to have there without trying to sound the way it sounded.

"We all think maybe it was a mistake having it released because of the way people have reacted to it. When I listen to it in front of someone else, there's no other way to interpret it. We stuck our foot in our great mouth with that one."

Do you think this became an issue because Guns 'N Roses are Guns N' Roses?

"I think very heavily. It's just a lot of stuff going on. I don't know why there's so much focus on music, but bands are being singled out for saying such and such and having such influence on kids, and I don't see why music is any important than the shit they put on film, which is way more widespread."

But the same thing is happening with film...

But I don't see anything as major in film as what goes on against music, like, just listening to the radio or reading the paper."

Nobody goes on trial, like 2 Live Crew

"That's what I mean. And the censorship thing which we're all being forced to deal with, personally I think it's sort of a joke, but they're trying to rewrite the Constitution as far as that goes. I don't agree with of everything everybody says on records but at the same time if you can stop one thing, then you can stop everything. And so it's either let it all go by or then it's going to be like a communist trip and stop everything.

"I don't have a problem with warning stickers. Axl does, I think warning stickers are OK. If you're 17 years old you can buy a Hustler, but if you're 17 you're not supposed to. If you happen to get hold of one, then that's your problem. Or your parents'. And they're going up against Hustler magazine? It's still around. It's not going to change. Everybody used to make a huge fuss about it.

"It makes it all that more interesting to even go out and buy a record just to hear what the f*** is going on. If you don't like it just throw it away. No one is out to try and change the way people think altogether - except maybe Bruce Springsteen, and everybody thinks he's great.

"But there's people who feel completely different - I don't advocate what they say, but you have the right to record something, and if you want to make it available for purchase, then that's your right to do that, I think. I think that's how it should be dealt with: just go out and buy it. You can't arrest some guy who owns a record store for selling a record!"

With popularity your problems became exaggerated due to the tremendous publicity they're given. When you see something like what happened to Axl and his neighbour the other day (Axl was arrested after allegedly hitting a woman over the head with a bottle. Apparently he thought the woman had called the police to complain about loud music from his apartment. He was released on $5,000 bail), it starts to seem as if maybe the police have a vendetta against you.

"I don't know why it is, but our lives in Los Angeles, just as a group, it's like a circus! If I sat down and just ran off the things we go through within a week, you'd think I was sensationalising because it gets really ridiculous. What happened with Axl, when I heard about it, I was like 'Oh, cool, is he going to make it to the studio tomorrow?' It was no big deal. The shit just goes on and on and on.

"A guy in the South Bay is going around posing as me. He's been doing it for the last few months. He was trying to trade off melted gold coins as gold pieces and all this stuff. He's been going to the beach, as stupid as it sounds, doing this whole big Slash act.

"All we try to do is maintain some sort of semblance of sanity in the middle of all this bullshit. It's like you go home and it's like your hole. Every time you start venturing out, something happens, it's weird. We've had a real serious problem with cops since a long time ago and now they're out to get us. They've caught two of us so far and they transferred the one cop that ever stood up for us! I have to take a cab to (the nightclub) Rainbow at night! I drive a Jeep Cherokee around the day, so I look very domestic. I've got black windows so no one can really see me. I don't want to end up getting busted and not even knowing why."

YOU RECENTLY said you werein-tent on not letting Guns 'N Roses be a weak band in the sense that it could disintegrate under its own problems, mainly drugs.

"It'd be pretty pathetic if that happened only because that's like suicide. It's a really lousy way to go out, to just fall apart because we couldn't keep it together."

But at a certain point the band was flirting with death?

"Well, it was fun. It really was. it got out of hand, you know. But there was nothing to do. Before anybody knew who we were, and Geffen signed us, we were all f***ed up. And then they gave us some allowance money and stuck us in an apartment and said 'Don't play anywhere. Don't do any thing until...', and that lasted for almost a year, before we ever did anything. But we were about as seriously f***ed up as you could get. The only thing that made it look bad last time is that we had a lot of money and it made us look like decadent, rich, you know... that's where it was different."

So what was the turning point?

"We survived only to do what the band does. Everything else we do on the outside is icing. We don't really have tons of outside interests. It's not like 'I can't come to rehearsal because I have to skydive'. The band is really solid. Some of it was bitterness against the fact that we hadn't been doing anything. The only thing that could ever let this band fall apart would be the fact that we grew out of it. But so far we're really tight. I'd hate to see some sort of pathetic, selfish, personal problem break the band up, having to do with some sort of excess, especially chemical."

Did you reach a point where you all thought about quitting Los Angeles and moving somewhere else to get your heads back together?

"Because Axl and Izzy are from there. They wanted to go there and get some sort of foundation, as far as having a home life, and so on. Living in LA was so crazy, people at you all the time. You couldn't think, it was constant. I personally didn't have anywhere to go, so I picked Chicago because it's a big metropolis and it's close. But we had more of a problem there. They printed in the paper where we were staying, all kinds of shit. So it got hectic there. We did write some good songs which are on the record, things did come out of it. But finally we ended up leaving."

All the songs on this album were written during that period?

"Not all of them. Some were written before Guns 'N Roses was actually Guns 'N Roses. A couple were written before 'Welcome To The Jungle'. 'November Rain' has been sitting there for a year. The album spans our whole career. It's such a self-indulgent record, it might come out and everybody will go. 'What the f*** is this?', but we don't care, because it's ours. It's a killer album. It's very heavy and it's not mainstream.

"The record business has gotten to a point where it's so prcdictable. Nothing is going on as far as I'm concerned. There's pop songs, and there's Bon Jovi but there's nothing going on. It's all the same. It's sort of sad. We're doing the same thing we did last time. We thought the first record would be a huge, like, underground record. Like, some people would think it cool, and we could still tour, but I had no idea it would do what it did.

"With this new one, no matter how we try to avoid it, since we sold that many records... there you are: everybody stares at you. All we end up doing is sitting around wherever with acoustics, just writing songs and having a good time.

"We're doing this one with the attitucgie that we'll just get it clone, but everybody else has such high expectations and... the f*** with trying to live up to them!"
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1991.01.DD - VOX - War of the Roses Empty Re: 1991.01.DD - VOX - War of the Roses

Post by Soulmonster on Fri May 31, 2019 4:11 am

I wonder what song Slash is referring to here: "And there's another song that me and Duff and Axl actually wrote the lyrics where Duff is singing"??
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1991.01.DD - VOX - War of the Roses Empty Re: 1991.01.DD - VOX - War of the Roses

Post by Blackstar on Fri May 31, 2019 6:27 am

@Soulmonster wrote:I wonder what song Slash is referring to here: "And there's another song that me and Duff and Axl actually wrote the lyrics where Duff is singing"??

My guess is "Get in the Ring." Maybe Duff sang it in the initial arrangements.
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1991.01.DD - VOX - War of the Roses Empty Re: 1991.01.DD - VOX - War of the Roses

Post by Soulmonster on Fri May 31, 2019 6:25 pm

@Blackstar wrote:
@Soulmonster wrote:I wonder what song Slash is referring to here: "And there's another song that me and Duff and Axl actually wrote the lyrics where Duff is singing"??

My guess is "Get in the Ring." Maybe Duff sang it in the initial arrangements.

That seems the most likely explanation to me. Less likely a song we've never heard.
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