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1988.06.DD - Metal Edge - Smokin' Guns N' Roses Interview (Axl)

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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:10 pm

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Transcript:

SMOKIN' GUNS N' ROSES INTERVIEW

AXL ROSE shoots straight from the lip


by Gerri Miller

G: Appetite For Destruction is a killer album, and your live shows are blowing 'em away everywhere you play. How does it feel to be so hot? Did you think you'd get so far so quickly?

A: Well, we've been working really really hard, we haven't let up. It's not necessarily so quickly to us. I thought it would happen a lot quicker because of the acceptance of Poison and Cinderella. I thought we'd get welcomed with open arms, but we were finding radio stations going, 'That's a little too much,' and 'We played too much rock 'n roll for the last couple of years, and we gotta get our advertising dollars back.' So it's just like it's always been.

G: Didn't bands like Whitesnake help open things up?

A: Yeah, but then they turned around and came out with the more commercial type stuff. That's helped close a lot of doors. They're going, 'Well, you have to write songs like that.' FORGET IT.

G: Nevertheless, Appetite is doing very well.

A: We weren't gonna let it not. This may sound egotistical but I'm in my favorite band. I'm playing with my favorite people. The songs are close to my heart. We didn't know what was gonna happen initially. We had to hold on with everything we could just to get this record done. If everything else fell through, and I end up pumping gas, at least I'll have the record on tape.

G: Did you enjoy the recording process?

A: It's a whole world unto itself. I like it because it brings things out of you, like harmonies I made up on the spot. We worked really hard to keep the spontaneity in the album. I just recently got to like being on the road, but I miss being in the studio. I want to get a lot more songs out and create more. We've already recorded another EP. We did it all in one night.

G: What's on it?

A: 'Patience,' "I Used to Love Her But I Had to Kill Her,' the original version of 'You're Crazy,' done slow and acoustically, with maracas, tambourines, congas. It's heavy in its own way. There's a song called One in a Million,' about living in L.A.

G: When will it be out?

A: Hopefully next fall. We'll probably rerelease the first EP and this'll be the flip side. At this time it's called The Sex, the Drugs, the Violence, the Shocking Truth. I don't know what that has to do with the record but we love the title.

G: Do you have a lot of leftover songs that didn't make Appetite?

A: Yeah. Most of the songs on Appetite were written in the two-year period we were playing the clubs. We wanted to put them on a record so we could move on. We had like 27 songs that we felt very strongly about. We wanted a double album for the first one but that wasn't a good marketing move. We've got over 40 songs and we're still writing. We'll be writing all this year. There'll be a lot more ballads, songs that are a lot heavier than 'Sweet Child of Mine' on the next record. We may do a version of `Knockin' on Heaven's Door.' It depends on the number of ballads. We've got at least eight, and we've got a lot of hard rockers already written. On the thank you on the record it says, 'With your bitch slap rappin' and your cocaine tongue, you get nothin' done.' That's a song called 'You Could Be Mine.' We already had that done before we even recorded this record. We have enough for the next one and then a few for the third.

G: Do you think you'll work with Mike Clink again?

A: It's real possible. He's presently at the top of the list. There's a couple songs that we may be talking to Roy Thomas Baker about. An arrangement with strings. We need someone that's used to that kind of thing.

G: Does writing come easily to you?

A: Depends on the song. I mean you could be writing about something that's a very hard subject for you to face and that's not easy. Other times you're so emotionally upset about something the song just pours right out of you.

G: Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night with lyrics?

A: All the time.

G: Are they inspired by personal experience?

A: Yes. 'Paradise City' came from being sick, starving on the streets, freezing in the cold with no place to sleep. That got really frustrating, but I was glad I went through it 'cause I got some great lyrics I'm really happy with. I'm not a fictional writer, only now and then. It has to be fictional in an abstract way. And everything has to fit together. You can't have a bitchin' song with hokey lyrics. Slash writes some really killer guitar parts. I'm not gonna slap any words on it. I need words that'll shine just as much as his guitar part. Not more, not less. If the words shine more, we go back and work on the guitar part again.

G: Do you approach the live show in the same way?

A: I just try to get myself in tune with how I feel and get my feelings over to the crowd. I try to make sure that the people get some kind of real feeling out of what we do instead of just 'that was a blast party!' and then they forget about it. I try to leave some kind of emotion in their mind. Afterward, I usually need to sit down for an hour and just get my head together. I can't eat, my stomach's in knots, not in a bad way but I gotta come down from where I was on stage. Most of the time I'm usually so concerned about the show the next day even if I want to run around I won't let myself. I want to give the people my best.

G: What about the road mayhem we've heard about?

A: Well, touring with Motley everybody tends to get very excessive, which we like. If I get too wasted and carried away or pissed off about something, rather than punch someone in the mouth I'll throw a phone, smash a picture on the wall. The first night of the Motley Crue tour, Slash, Steve, Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx got in a wrestling match at their hotel, trashed the whole place. We got the bill, but that's the nature of the business—seeing how much you can survive. Nikki's version of winning a drinking contest is not who drinks the most but who can get away without drinking as much and who can make the other guy pass out. I had tonsillitis the whole two weeks of the tour. It was a real bitch just getting on stage, one of the hardest things I've ever done. But the guys were great. Every night they were on the side watching our show. We did the same with them. They gave us 50 minutes, we'd go to 52 or 53 and it was cool. With Alice [Cooper] we had to be a strict 45. Alice has still got it, and he's a really nice person. We didn't meet him until the next-to-last show. He likes his privacy.

G: What about your first tour, with the Cult?

A: It was traumatic for me. I was just so disorganized, a f.ckin' wreck. I don't follow anyone's time schedules but my own, and all of a sudden you gotta get up at 9 in the morning. I'm screaming, 'I didn't get enough sleep!' I'm much more organized and everything's a lot smoother now.

G: You were a big hit in England—are you going back?

A: Yeah, definitely, but we really want to concentrate on America.

G: Who would you tour with next if it was up to you?

A: Metallica. We're so into those guys. AC/DC, I figure we could learn so much. Aerosmith, that's always been a dream.

G: Rumor has it you'll hook up with them when Dokken leaves the tour.

A: We're working on it, we're pushing for it. But everybody's worried about the influence we might have on other bands. We're the trouble that all these guys used to get into. Everything that happens gets blown out of proportion in certain ways but it's got a basis in fact, something that got said or got done. Somebody OD'd or wrecked a car, had a rape charge or laid 10 girls in a row. Stories just start stretching all over the place. We got in a fight in Chicago at the Hyatt Regency. It was about a 60 person fight, cops and paddy wagons, security guards, guys in suits from a wedding who started throwing the first punches. They told us they knew it wasn't our fault. That's gonna get blown into like 300 people.

G: Does it bother you when articles say 'Guns N' Roses will be a big success—if they live that long'?

A: No, that doesn't bother me. We're always aware of our mortality. We know that some of the chances we take are very hairy.

G: Other stories have called you temperamental. Slash says you're violent and moody. True?

A: At times. I'm very hard on everybody. It's what I want out of them. If I feel someone's not giving 100% I get real adamant about it. I don't want to compromise. We haven't had a lot of those problems now. We work together a lot better. We're on the same wavelength.

G: Were there conflicts before?

A: Yeah, that's the reason we weren't together five years ago instead of 2 1/2. And now we have a lot more common ground than we did six months ago.

G: How do you like the fame aspect?

A: Sometimes it bothers me. You look in the mirror and go, 'I look like shit.' You walk out and there's three girls with cameras. They don't understand if you don't want your picture taken. At the same time, if they're not there you think, 'Am I doing something wrong?' I'm human. Sometimes you can deal with it, other times you can't—sometimes its great, other times it's an-noying. Sometimes you avoid it be-cause you're in a bad mood and you don't want to tell someone to f.ck off.

G: What have you been able to buy that you couldn't before now?

A: Most of the things that we want have some way of tying into the band, like a coat you could wear in a photo session or on stage, a CD player so you can lis-ten to other people's recordings. We haven't really seen any money since we got our first half of the advance. We got 35 grand. We split it up five ways and everybody just blew it.

G: What's been the biggest surprise so far?

A: That here we are, a bunch of kids off the street, and we're telling people how to do things. It's surprising to me to be involved with something and have to be professional while I'm also paid to be an immature brat. We got signed because we're the ultimate bad boys and then we have to learn how to be nice. It's heaven and hell. It's fun. At least I'm not doing something and wishing I was doing something else.

G: Did you ever consider doing anything else?

A: When I was little I wanted to be a lawyer, but I couldn't handle school.

G: Did you sing as a child?

A: I was in choir. I loved to sing but I never was fond of my own voice or sure of my own abilities. I knew I loved doing it but I always heard tapes and thought `That's what I sound like? God, I'm terrible!' I got pushed into it with the band by Izzy.

G: Were you in a band before you moved to L.A.?

A: Yeah, I had a garage band back home. I was writing songs, playing keyboards. I ended up singing 'cause they thought I could sing better than any of them. I loved singing but I felt like an idiot 'cause I was very insecure.

G: Remember your first pro gig?

A: Yeah, at Gazzari's. I couldn't even move. I was scared to death. I just stood there, clutching that mike stand with my eyes closed. Now I move all over the place.

G: What's Guns N' Roses game plan?

A: We want to be huge and be able to play the biggest places that we can. But as long as the record keeps up there and we keep playing with new bands and learning stuff it's okay not to be headlining right now. It doesn't really bother me. We could sell a few more copies, but it's happening just the way we want it to. I want to make a mark, so that no matter what happens to us, it won't fade away.

G: Any plans for a second video?

A: We really want to do one for 'Sweet Child.' We're trying to decide if we should take the Metallica route and just not worry about videos, but we really want to make them. 'Welcome to the Jungle' was a blast. The most fun I ever had.

G: Home video plans?

A: It depends on how many videos we make. We might do a documentary.

G: Any projects outside Guns N' Roses?

A: I write with a guy named Wes now and then. We're gonna record an album. I talked to a couple people in the Cult and Cinderella about playing on it. It's something he and I and Duff do. We call it Smith & Wesson. I want to move to New York, as soon as I can I'm gonna live there. I need someplace I can explore. It'll help my writing. And a lot of places are open at night.

G: Have you been back to Indiana?

A: Yeah, but only for a few days at a time. I went for Christmas, it was psycho. There were kids sleeping in cars outside my parents' house. People would call my grandma and pretend to be me to find me. They're changing the number.

G: Success brings a new set of problems.

A: Yeah, it doesn't change. What's different is now you got a lot more to lose. You have to live up to expectations.

G: What's your success strategy?

A: Don't give up, and make sure to cover all the bases. And try not to make too many enemies. •

FAST FACTS

Birthdate: Feb. 6, 1962
Height: 5' 8 1/2"
Weight: 145 lbs.
Family: Parents, grandparents, and sister live in Indiana, younger brother attends law school in L.A. "We've been hangin' out together and we're havin' a blast"
Marital status: Single
Favorite bands/players: Guns N' Roses, Metallica, Brian Wheat, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee
Instruments played: Piano and synthesizer
First concert: Johnny Winter and Triumph at age 17. As a kid, Axl "wasn't allowed to go to concerts or listen to rock music or I would get severely punished"
Former jobs: Axl worked in fast food restaurants, washed cars, and was the night manager at Tower Video in L.A.
Favorite Guns song: "It depends on the mood I'm in, but I'm really proud of 'It's So Easy' "
Self-description: "Determined"
Tattoos: Three on right arm, two on left, with a third under consideration: "I think I'm gonna get the logo off a bottle of Night Train"
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