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1995.01.01 - Introduction to "The Language Of Fear" (Axl)

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Post by Blackstar on Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:15 am

1995.01.01 - Introduction to "The Language Of Fear" (Axl) 1995_m10

Introduction

I called Del James around the time that our album The Spaghetti Incident was coming out and wanted to see if he had any ideas for a video for the song “Ain’t It Fun.” We rapped for a while about the song—it’s a cover of a song originally done by the Dead Boys, which has a very desperate feel to it. Toward the end of our conversation, Del said that he saw it “dark, dreary, and addicted.”

“Isn’t that how you see everything?” I replied, half-joking.

In your hands is Del’s first published work of fiction, The Language of Fear. After you’ve read a few stories, you’ll know what I mean. In these stories there’s a real sense of the damage that can be done whenever an individual takes things too far. There’s healthy doses of extreme violence, perversions, insecurities, addictions, infidelities, and other themes regarding the darker side of human nature. He paints a very vivid picture of people going down the tubes and spares no expense when it comes to using red. There’s a real depth there, and he enjoys exploring it. Del’s the guy who calls me after writing something particularly disturbing and says “I’m going to Hell” and then reads or faxes me what he’s written. Personally, I think he just likes to scare the Hell out of himself. The Language of Fear is very up-to-date, modern fiction by someone who started this type of writing for fun. He likes to confront taboo issues, and since he’s an avid horror fan, there’s more of an understanding of what young horror fans enjoy and want. It gives a taste of all kinds of different areas of life and things to avoid. He writes about subjects, no matter how dark, that interest him. There’s also a sense of rock ’n’ roll in these stories because when he started writing them—and some of them, like “The Nerve” and “Mindwarp,” had rough first drafts written in ’86—we were all involved in the rock ’n’ roll club circuit and living on the streets. Back then, we were all definitely romanced by the darker side of life. We were all trying to get somewhere while having fun with all the wildness. We got through those experiences, and we’re lucky we survived the lessons with only the amount of scars that we have.

A lot of Del’s insight comes from his personal experiences, taking them even further in a fictional form. These stories tap into the self-destructive side of things that have actually helped me not be self-destructive. While some of these stories are just horror-for-fun type stories, others were inspired by real-life personal situations. He’d express his feelings and emotions through horror stories because there were a lot of times when we didn’t realize how scary our real lives were. Del’s writing is a way he’s dealt with his own personal emotional developments, battles with substances and decadence, and then adding a horror slant. Del’s been turned on by things that weren’t necessarily good for him, but the birth of his two daughters has helped him deal with that and now he steers clear of those things, except in his stories. I’ve watched him battle with alcohol and drugs, and I’ve also seen him become a father and the love for those babies and the desire for them to live happy, successful lives has overtaken his self-destructiveness.

Back when we first met in the summer of ’85, food, shelter, and relief from boredom constituted survival. Del has always been the one to find something to entertain himself faster than anyone else, whether it’s a hockey game, horror movies, a video game, or The Simpsons. It’s amazing to me that considering the self-destructive nature in each of us, our relationship helps us avoid self-destruction. There are a lot of times when Del helps me work through something that is emotionally too huge for me to deal with. That helps me to not self-destruct and in the process take GN’R or anything down with me. He’s always talking me out of stupid shit that I really wouldn’t want to do but I think about doing because I’m frustrated, hurt, angry, or embarrassed. We’ve both saved each other’s lives a few times. Back when we had no clue of what the other one was going to do in life and whether or not we were going to succeed, we still had respect for each other. Now we help inspire that success in each other, and with the successes in each other’s lives there’s been a sense of compassion for whatever the other guy is going through. We value each other’s opinions and have found a way so that our lives work together. If I need Del, he’s going to be there for me, and if he needs me, I’m going to be there for him. He treats people the way he would want them to treat him and a lot of people aren’t like that. That’s who Del is.

Del’s is also the guy who called me and said, “I just wrote my best friend’s death.” For me, the short story “Without You” helped me focus on what could happen in my life and sometimes what was happening. Although Del was being inspired by situations that were going on in my life, it was his way of helping me acknowledge and deal with a painful situation. It stopped me at different times from going too far. When people are looking for their own identity and things aren’t going well, they’ll settle for being the bad guy or the loser and create an identity that way.

Although the story “Without You” was written before our first album, (’87), the video for the song “November Rain” (’92) where you see Del’s name at the end of it is just a piece of “Without You.” Things that were predicted in the story actually happened in my life. The goals set before GN’R’s first album came out were to get to the levels of success described in “Without You.” It’s the ultimate rock ’n’ roll/self-destructive fantasy.

In the story, Mayne Mann writes a song called “Without You,” and around this time I started writing “Estranged.” I remember calling Del after finishing “Estranged” and going “I wrote that song,” meaning a song that means so much to me, the way “Without You” does to Mayne. I also would end up being haunted by that song as Mayne is. I think it’s amazing that the female character, Elizabeth, is the good character, and yet she gets the last word in (don’t worry—I won’t give it away) by doing something knowing it’ll severely fuck Mayne up. I think there was some spite in there, and there’s a lot of self-blame in the story on the part of the rocker. Everything is Mayne’s fault and he flips out, which is something that I can relate to. There’s a lot of personal pain on Mayne’s behalf regarding why can’t he get a certain love to work.

For years, we’ve been thinking about making either videos or a full-length movie based on “Without You,” and that kept me focused on not wanting to become the character, Mayne, although I basically was that person. There were things involved in the character that had a lot of elements of Del as well as a lot of elements of me. “November Rain” is actually the set up for the short story rather than for the “Estranged” video. We were going to try to bring out more of the “Without You” story and elements in “Estranged,” but Stephanie Seymour had other plans so we had to change ours. The story actually helped me for a long time, and I would have loved to have filmed it, but right now it’s better for me to evolve and transcend the close similarity to my life and let the story live its own life.

At one point Andy Morahan, who directed “November Rain,” and I were asked to do an episode of Tales from the Crypt, so I asked Del to write the script, based on one of his stories. It would have given me an opportunity to do something that interests me—act. It would’ve given Del an opportunity to do something he wants to (and will) do, which is write for the screen. And it would’ve given Andy an opportunity to film it. Del didn’t feel he necessarily had the right story for Tales from the Crypt, so he wrote a short story called “The Immortals,” which I thought would’ve been cool to adapt, but then we found out they had to base their episodes on existing comics books. It never came to pass, but the story exists. When I think back about the Tales from the Crypt, Del’s story was really exciting, and that’s what it was all about: trying to figure out how to film that. Any story of Del’s that gets adapted into a screenplay is going to be intense, especially if he’s involved.

Del has a personal knowledge about most of the situations he writes about, and he has a love of the gutter from having been there. The short story called “Bloodlust” has a pretty vivid fight that you won’t easily forget. “Adult Nature Material” was actually a sick idea of mine. I don’t want to give too much away, but at the time he wrote it, Del was working in a porno theater and that’s where the story takes place. “Saltwater and Blood” is something close to Del’s heart, since he is an avid opponent of gill net fishing. What I enjoyed most about that story was the description of the main character’s fear and desperation as he’s trying to figure out what the fuck is going on in his mind.

Del is constantly exploring his own mind, and I’m always blown away when I read something he’s written and realize how much thinking Del does about what goes on in other people’s lives underneath the surface. He asks the questions most people don’t like to think about, and he will always push certain boundaries. I’ve watched Del grow as an individual through his writing while constantly pushing his mind. There’s a delicate balance of sympathy and disgust for the evil that makes each story interesting and different.

Personally, one of my favorite horror books—and I haven’t really read that many in quite a while—was Stephen King’s Night Shift I’m not claiming to be a horror expert, but that book was a helluva lot of fun, and so is The Language of Fear. Years ago, I believed Del had a special talent, and after I’d finish reading one of his stories I’d be like, “Hey, are you going to get on this?” and try to motivate him to take it seriously. Well, he did and I’ve had a blast with these stories, and in my opinion, The Language of Fear is the start of Del James’s career as a fiction/horror writer. Be ready for some raw and emotionally disturbing horror.

Sincerely,
W. Axl Rose
November 21, 1993
Blackstar
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