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SoulMonster

1987.12.26 - Telephone interview with Axl

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1987.12.26 - Telephone interview with Axl

Post by Soulmonster on Sat Jun 04, 2011 5:41 am











Transcript (automatic from Youtube with my additions):

yes I like room 207 please seven yes

hello my name is Steve Harris I'm calling yes

What's happening guy? This is Axl. Hold on, let me get a cigarette. [Axl asks someone to look in his leather jacket].

oh okay ah well we were kind of a little bit worried that you know in the middle of your big victory return there you'd be out partying instead of waiting at the hotel for the phone call

No, I am kinda setting up for the party to come to me.

So, now that you're back home, how's the crowd reaction are they twice as crazy as before?

I don't know, we haven't played yet. We play tomorrow night. I just came back from, I just got in yesterday. I'm from Indiana and I hadn't been there for 2-3 years and I went back to visit my family and my friends and stuff - that was hectic. To have a moment of free time.

why did you decide to fit that right in before the the homecoming there?

Well just because it was like I hadn't been back in two years and the last time I was back there -- it was at least two years and a half years -- I thought I just told myself I'm not coming back until I get a record out, because too many people kept saying "oh, you'll never get anywhere." So I got three days I can go back and just see what it was for three days, and it was great.

Has you always been known as the town rock and roller back then?

A bit, yeah, a bit. But you have to remember that in Indiana, people are really, uhm, opinionated, biased, and things like that. So I have a real open mind and listen to a lot of material, but listening to a lot of material, you listen to Rolling Stone, then you're a fag, you know, people think like that back there. They call you all kinds of different names depending on what you listen to, and since I listen to everything I was called everything in the book all at once, heh.

Huh. Things were still that way when you were growing up, but you're not that old.

Uhm, no, I am 25, I will be 26 in February.

So 10 years ago people were still thinking like that, huh?

Oh yeah, oh yeah, Indiana is really closed off from the rest of the world, maybe not Chicago too much, but even Chicago is a huge city but it is not like L.A. or New York or in Texas or Florida. The Midwest just likes to keep itself to itself and everybody else has a problem. That's how they look at it, you know. It's like they don't venture out from the world while people from Texas they go to L.A. or to New York on vacations and stuff. But it's not like that in the Midwest, people don't get out that much.

What do you have to listen to to be considered normal there?

It used to be Lynyrd Skynyrd and Aerosmith, which I was amazed about Aerosmith because Tyler wore makeup [?], you know, back then with the [?]. For some reason it was okay for Tyler but not okay for Mick [?].

[Harris laughing]

It's kind of weird but there was a certain group of kids, you know, a certain group of people, and they grew in numbers and they had a big influence on me.

do you think that sort of conservatism led you in the direction you were to go in with with a sort of a backlash?

yeah but I've drawn from the conservatism itself. I've found places where I can be considered a conservative. I've drawn from both sides. I always work at trying to put things back together. you know because [?] why stay back together as people will have an opinion and and so immediately before they've even met they're not together, no, and when I say 'back together' it means that we could be friends, you know, and in like five years we can work it out, be able to understand each other. I have talked with some guys that I've gone through every year of school with, and we didn't really understand each other until this time. And they weren't being talking to me  because I was a rocker, they were talking to me, you know, because they finally had some respect for me. And they were going, "Well he's not just full of crap." So many kids back then talked about being in a band, they talked about getting out there. But it's all talk. It's all talk. It's all wishes and pipe dreams and things. No one goes out and really puts the balls on the line.

Why is that?

Scared. It's easier to live at home in Indiana with your parents, you know, work at your parents job and stuff like that. It's what everybody else does. Most people don't take that step out.

For you, when did that big break come, when did you decide that you were gonna bust out and move?

Well, when I got kicked out. [laughter] When I got told to leave. When I got told, "cut your hair," and I said, "no," and they said, "go," and I said, "I'm leaving." You know, but that was like when I was 16, but now my dad is like one of my closest friends I have. It's taken us 10 years to build up that kind of relationship, but we worked at it a little by little and it didn't start happening just because of my band, it didn't [?] just happen this year. It's been coming back together over the last five years.

You're being his son, he must surely understand your rebellious spirit cuz I'm sure that exist in him as well?

Yeah I was telling a friend, just recently, who still has hard feelings against my father. I was telling him, I was going, "yeah, one reason dad was so hard on me was because he didn't know that I was following the things he taught me to do, you know, to go for your dreams and things. He thought I was messed up he [seems like the tape is cut off at this point]

How'd you pay for the cab?

[Axl calling for his dog, Torque]

It's my dog, I haven't seen him in four months. [Harris laughs] That's the famous dog they said I'd go murdering [?] [Harris laughs]

I don't want to break up a tearful reunion, they said you're were murdering your dog in England?

[Axl keeps talking to Torque]

Okay, where we at?

You were talking about how they said you were murdered your dog in England. What's the story behind that?

Oh, I don't like poodles. Little poodles. I told some guys everything about poodles makes you want to kill them so the next thing you know there's this magazine in England, and it wasn't even a rock magazine, it was like a magazine that talks [?] about all kinds of things in the world and stuff and it talks about this band in LA where this guy's a self-confessed poodle murderer. [Harris laughs] So then they have like the National Enquirer type papers over there, you know, that sadly started all this stuff, and all those things came out calling me a dog butcher and that I was beastier than Beastie Boys

Aha. Is that rather representative of the type of treatment you received by the British press?

Oh well it worked out good and bad, you know, but it was kind of fun [?], but now, you know, there's things in magazines here, like Hit Parader, where they quoted Slash saying I ran over dogs and he never said that.

Well if it makes you feel any better we now have the duck, the barking dog on tape here, which we will use as evidence to [interrupted]

[Axl calling to someone called "Dante" saying that the interviewer said that Torque's on tape so he's gonna say he's alive so I don't murder little dogs] [Harris laughs]

See, Torque is like, [?], I got him when he was just really, really little, my father was explaining how he imprinted off me. So he never imprinted off other dogs and things, so he thinks he's a person, and all the rockers that came around, it's funny, everybody hates little dogs, but this dog is like a party dog, funny.

He's your Spuds McKenzie.

Yeah, if Spuds was a girl and had puppies [?]

Getting back to England here, your success there was rather phenomenal, as a matter of fact among the current wave of L.A. bands. Perhaps you stand out as the most successful band in England. I guess you started at the Marquee and went to Hammersmith Odeon rather quickly. What's behind a success there, what do you think is that make people [?] England whereas they turn a cold shoulder to everybody else from LA?

Well, you know, I think it's kind of like if you think back in the 70s and stuff a lot of things, like Hendrix went over to England to break, you know. And a lot of bands, a lot of real blues bands, hard rocking blues bands have gone to England to break, you know, or [?] England. And it's like, they were glad to see it [?] they think a lot of things are pretentious. You know, they're not into a lot of the new bands. They like them, they are okay, 'cause that's what's there is out there, but they think its a lot pretentious, and they thought we were the same way. But then we went over there and showed that we weren't, and they like that, and they just start catching on. Plus we had a lot of fun over there and they really appreciate what we're doing.

Was the crowd reaction quite a bit different from in the States?

We hadn't toured in the states, you know, we had only been in L.A. there, and the L.A. crowd has seen everything 'cause they go to the shows every weekend, almost every night, they go out [?], there's a big group of people that go to all the clubs, you know. And so, they don't get as rowdy over here, at least [?], at least in the club scene and were doing bigger places then you get a lot of people who have never seen you before and they are rowdy. The rock crowd, they were around when Mötley Crüe and W.A.S.P were starting, so they've seen everything. So it doesn't bother you if it doesn't get as rowdy, because, you know, they are there [?]

Were the people in England more likely to react to the live performance?

The reactions in England were different to [?] of the places we played. The one place, Newcastle City Hall [?] was full of slammers, and stage divers and people jumping off the balconies, jumping off amplifiers. Other shows, we did a show in Manchester. The people just stood there, they all stood up the whole time, right. And some of them were singing the songs and stuff but not so much as other places and we're having so much problem with feedback on stage I didn't know the people in the crowd weren't hearing it through the [...] monitor system. And so, we came back and did one song encore and we left. Okay. We went up to our room, didn't think they liked it. Right? Then about fifteen minutes later they started screaming, we didn't know because we were like three stories up and in this room with securities keeping everybody away from us. The reviews have been "the world's greatest band". It was very surprising. We thought they hated us but basically they were mesmerized. They didn't know how to react.

With that experience under your belt now, you think you would approach, like say, a future world tour differently? What did you learn from that experience?

We gained a lot more confidence, you know, in working the stage and dealing with crowds. And then we came back we did a club tour of New York, which was a lot like, you know New York and Philly and Boston and stuff like that, and playing New York was a lot like playing L.A., you know, we had to win those people over. And then we went out with Mötley and that was that was pretty insane, you know, 'cause like any night that we did two nights in a row, the first night, you know, we got them going, but if we did two nights in a row when we came back to the second night they were like, "whoa, now we know who these guys are." The first time people see us, a lot of times unless they've really heard us and are into us, they are more into watching and checking us out and watching every little thing. But by the time you do a second night they lose their minds. They're like, "yeah, now I can let myself go. It's it's cool to act like I like these guys."

Hmm, sounds like guys are kinda plugged into something. You have sort of a special chemistry to really turn people on from stage.

We are very into being very real. It's not an act. It's not like a little skit we put together the night before because we think the kids will like it. You know, it's something we want to do.You know, we don't like to plan things except planning this song list and I always gonna play that by how the crowds going, what songs we are going to do in a row, [?] sometimes I'll change it completely. Right now we're using Fred Coury from Cinderella because our drummer has a broken hand, and so him and Fred are really good friends and Fred flew in and Fred knows all the songs because he has time off right now. And so the other night we were playing with Alice Cooper and Fred played two songs he'd never played before all his life live.

How did that work out?

He did great, he did great [?]. I told the crowd, "Not bad for a guy who's never played the song before, huh?" and they went screaming.

Well it sounds like your show's the quite a workout for you guys as well, you find it kinda draining?

Oh well, yeah, but I spend most of my time just making sure I am ready to go on stage.

How do you stay fit for for the show?

I get lots of rest, I drink lots of water. And for me personally it's like I'd like to party as much as the other guys, but, you know, it's like they don't have to worry about if they're able to sing. They can get up play the guitar even if they got trashed the night before, or the next day. Doesn't hurt my energy so much by running around but where it takes [?]  me first is in my voice. So I gotta monitor my social life more closely. I can't really go party unless I know I know I have a few days off.

You said that this tour of England was basically the first one outside in L.A., right?

Mhm.

So you think you are ready for the long haul?

Oh yeah, yeah, we came back from England and we did we did the Cult thing before went back to England. A month and a half with the Cult, through Canada and down the West Coast and over to Louisiana, you know, the Southwest, and then we did England, we came back and we did close for two weeks on the East Coast, and then we went with Mötley for a month and then we went with Alice Cooper for two weeks, and now we've had like three four days off and we'll be doing these four shows here then we have a UC party [?] that we have to play [could this be the Glamour gig on December 31, 1987?], and then we're doing this show on the fifth [January 5, 1988, at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium], and in the meantime we'll be in the rehearsal studios the whole time [they would record the acoustic songs for Lies]. Then we're going back with Mötley for two weeks in Europe [this did not happen], and then, after that, we're trying to get, uhm, another band to go with in the spring. What I like a lot is the fact that we're going out doing all kinds of different things rather than just sitting and waiting. Rather than going out with, you know, a big long year tour with one band, or with two bands, this way we get all this different experiences in one year. By next summer we'll be like this veteran touring band that's been touring for like five years 'cause we learn real quick. We make fast moves and fast changes, you know. "Okay, it's better to have this kind of oxygen mask," "It's better to have this kind of guitar stand," "It's better to have this," you know, tends to make it run smoother.

Yeah, you guys are working at a remarkable pace right now. Who's responsible for putting the schedule together so tightly?

Uhm,

One is we work with Johnny Pillows [?] and his secretary Charlene Schoff [?] of ICM [?], it's our agency, and then our manager Alan Niven, and our drive. Because we do not like to sit on our ass because then we just get into drugs and trouble [laughing]  because we get so bored. So this keeps us moving.  

These people are pretty much experienced in the field, they know how to set up an up-and-coming band and put you on the right course, huh?

Yeah, and also we have an idea of what we want to do and what would be good for us [?] who we'll tour with and who we won't tour with, and there's been people we've turned down already which I won't get into.

You have like the same mentors to people you want to aspire to become like?

Well, there were people that were our favorite bands. I figured touring with Mötley Crüe would be a great learning experience, that was [?]. Opening for Alice Cooper was monumental because me and Izzy, it's funny, we leave Alice Cooper onstage and go backstage to get our showers and have an old Alice Cooper taped in, you know, in the deck playing, and not because we were on tour with Alice Coopers but because it's stuff we listen to. And I go, "Wait a minute man, we'll shut the tape off and go out and watch it live for the first time in our lives."

It's kind of funny to mention Motley Crue because not [?] to the magazine I'm doing this interview for, one of the reasons they could sort of clear up a misunderstanding here, you seem to be compared a lot to bands like Motley Crue, however this guy from the magazine put together the question here, he seems to think that there's a little something deeper going on in this kinda showbiz flash of Motley Crue. Is that a valid [?].

They have their more theatrical thing. Which for its own aspects and the way it's done they work very hard at it, and I have to respect those things. But, you know, they have their own beliefs and way of doing things. They are Mötley Crüe, we're Guns N' Roses. We have our own way of looking at things, what we will and won't do. They have their things. Like they do a planned show every night. We don't do that stuff, it's not what we believe in. But then again, I am not gonna say it's bad just because they do it, you know. It's easy for a band to say, "Oh, what they do sucks," about another band, but then when you're out there touring with them and seeing all the work that they put in it and how professional they are and how much they care and love what they do [?].

So you guys basically aren't into any sort of posturing or creating images that don't really reflect your lifestyles?

No, not at all. It's us. I mean, people go, "Oh, Axl, why isn't your hair up?" [?] or whatever. Well I can't do my own hair worth of crap and I can't afford to have someone sitting there doing my hair every day. Plus, maybe I'd like to keep my hair and if I did it every day maybe it'd fall out? And I don't want that to happen. So it's like if I feel like putting my hair up, I do it, and if I don't, then I don't. And plus I'm lazy [laughs].

That's what it boils down to.

And if I can get away without doing it, that'd be cool, too.

The album Appetite for Destruction seem to be pretty much straight ahead Guns N' Roses, no flashy producer, or no artifice by computer or trickery or anything.

Oh yeah.

What exactly did you have in mind? Was this is sort of a live approach?

Well, it was done live, pretty much. The drums, the rhythm guitar, the bass are all live from the same room. So there's bleeding on each other's instruments, and tweets [?] on other's mics. Things like that. Just to get the most energy and good [?] to the songs. It was very hard to find someone to produce the record because some of the main producers of our favorite material from the seventies have changed their styles, their approach, or burned out, you know, or people that the record industry won't work with any more, just because they don't know what they are doing because they are too into drugs or something. They don't have the [?]. So it took us a long time to find Mike Clink. And Mike Clink is like, we worked with him and it's basically like a co-produced album. But, you know, we got him for a lower amount of money [?], giving him the name, and plus then he in turn gave us full freedom to do whatever we wanted. Which worked really good for us. And he trusted me a lot in the studio, with all the vocal ideas, because most of the harmonies and stuff I came up with, like 'It's So Easy' and 'Paradise City,' I came up with the night I was recording those parts because I'd never had the opportunity to work on it before.

You have these ideas bringing your mind [?] you try them in the studio [?] you didn't come up come up against any brick walls or anything?

In some places you had ideas burning in your mind, in other places, you know, you didn't know what to do in that part, but you heard this part and then right when you heard it you thought, "Yeah, and this part will work in there, too," and "What if I did this?" "Now I'll try this one and see if that works." And a lot of times you had things that worked and a lot of times you didn't, and you just decide what was best at the moment, what felt right, what sounded good, take a tape home and listen to it that night. And the next day you decide if you're gonna keep it or not. You know, it was a real exciting creating experience. It wasn't like we just went in and had to lay down these certain things just this way.

If you could go back again would you change anything at all?

No, the only thing I would like to do is I wish we would have more time to mix but we were working on a release date. There were a couple of songs where I feel we didn't have the time to get just right. 'Paradise City' I think could have been a little clearer. But, you know, we were making two songs per day to make the release date, you know, and there were all kinds of reasons why we had to make that release date, like getting the record out before [?] down in the month of August, and things like that. There was all kinds of reasons why we had a certain amount of time that we have it get it done. So we just did the best we could in that amount of time, we didn't really compromise, you know, we still, I think, hit pretty close to the mount [?] we wanted to hit. There isn't really anything we want to change. There's two words in that whole record that I didn't quite say the way I wanted to, and I forgot which ones they were, didn't have time to go back to find them and redo them. And they are not out of key, so no one else knows it. I am the only one who personally knows it.

So in retrospect, actually, I guess the fact that you were under the gun was sort of a blessing in disguise?

Yeah, in some ways it was, yeah.

You talked about having certain producers in mind, ones that you liked from the seventies. Who exactly were you referring to?

I can say that I don't know, anybody without naming, I don't know that they were burned out, or whatever, okay? Because I have never met anyone of these people. We were interested, well, first off, we were interested in Mutt Lange but he wanted a million dollar, and he's busy anyway. That was one of them. Ray Thomas Baker is supposed to be just kind of a psycho. I am really looking forward to meeting him just because of that. And he was an idea. The guy who did, uhm, the early [?]. I can't think of the name. But that guy was one of them. There were different people, it was just hard to fint people. You'd come up with a name from a record, the name gets tossed out from the first time it enters discussions, or something. We talked with a ot of different people, we flew in Manny from Nazareth, he is a very great guy, you know, we love Nazareth, but he was kin of a different spirit [?] most of the time so it didn't quite work, it wasn't like a bad problem, you know, it just didn't quite feel right. We talked with Paul Stanley for about five minutes and he wanted to rewrite 'Jungle' and something else so that was the end of the conversation, and now he's going round saying he was going to produce the record "but these guys were too crazy," this and that. No, there was no chance of him producing the record. We talked to him once, that was it. We did some stuff with Spencer Proffer who did the second W.A.S.P tape. While that tape sounds really bold and powerful, he made our materials sound really weak, so we just kinda shied [?] that, too. Our EP was recorded in his studio. It's put together there.

It seemed like you had a pretty concrete idea of what you wanted to commit to vinyl, then?

Oh yeah, oh yeah, I've been in all been in all kinds of different bands in L.A., some of which exist now and some that don't, where we've been going to go into the studio and right then and there that's where I quit, because I will not allow myself to be on record and [?]. Yeah, I have a real strong idea of what I want to show people musically. And I've never let up on it just for the sake of getting some success or having a place to sleep. I don't believe in that. You can hear 'It's So Easy' and go, "Oh, it's just a crazy song," yeah it is, but it is also art to me. And I write/like [?] a wide spectrum of art, a beautiful ballad with full symphony [?] is just as much art as 'It's So Easy.' And I believe in art first.

Do you know of any bands you think have been held back because, you know, they're really good but being rather limited on vinyl?

Well, you know, it's hard to say sometimes because it depends on who is doing the limiting, and the band allowing someone to tell them what to do, and you can go, "well, in their contract, it says they have to do that," well then, who was weak? They are the ones who signed the contract, you know, who was limiting them. Sometimes people talk about money being the success, that's second. That's being lucky and people being generous to you by buying your album. Your being accepted. That's success on its own terms. But success to me is like you do a painting, it might not have been what you wanted, because when you think of a painting in your mind sometimes what comes out on the paint is a shadow of what you thought of, but still, it is something you are proud of, and if you can get that and you're really proud of it no matter what anybody says, whether someone offers you a dollar or ten thousand dollars for that painting, if you're proud of it, that's to me what counts. And that's what we strive for.

Being extremely particular about your own sound or whatnot, I'm sure it it's rather vexing to always be mentioned in the same breath as bands such as Poison and Faster Pussycat which all seem to be part of the L.A. glut of glam bands.

Yeah, it is. It really get on your nerves, really get on your nerves. Faster Pussycat doesn't bother me so much because we've done everything we can to help those guys. Just because they were just enough similar and thinking in the same wavelength that it was good to have someone else there and not be all alone. You know, but in the actual approach in doing what we wanna do, everybody in this band is in this band because he wants to be in this band and around these guys, not just because he wants to be signed. Being famous is second. You know, to be in this band and creating music that we feel happy with. And I can say that for all the guys in the band. I don't know where are heads gonna be at in a few years, maybe somebody, you know, will get a really big [?] habit, you know, and need 10,000 dollars, so he doesn't care what be plays [laughing]. As long as he get the money to pay off the tab. That can happen, I don't know.

Do you think it's easy to get caught in that kind of nonsense in the music business?

Oh yeah. Oh yeah, all [?] people get their standards on how they wanna live, so they are willing to do everything to keep up those standards, you know. I am not so much that way, not about anything, especially not my art.

How many years have you been knocking around L.A. before, you know, you really felt that you had the lineup you needed?

I've been out here on and off since '80, and then I was in here straight from '81, you know solid. So it took up to the last two and a half years to finally get this solid lineup cause we kept bumping into each other. Hold on one second. [Pause]. Okay.

So you knew when the right guys got together, it was gonna work out, or did you have to [?] it up after...

Well, we finally knew that we were the right guys, okay, and then we said, "Okay, let's stick it out together and start working." So we all liked finding new songs and being able to be proud of our songs [?]. I've always wanted to write songs like that. I've always wanted to write a song like 'It's So Easy,' so finally having that song was great, you know, and it was a great experience. We're always looking for new types of material we've always wanted to play, stuff, or been thinking about in our heads, songs that make us feel certain ways that we always want to feel when we play a song.

How has the the chart action been for the album? Excuse my ignorance.

No, it's been going up and down, between 60 and 50 for the last month and a half. It's doing okay with very little radio play and limited video play. So, for that it's doing great. Especially since we are a new band, you know, people don't really know who you are. It's doing really good. We're hoping to put out a video for 'Sweet Child' and that should move things up a little more. The record's selling alright.

Do you think your being limited radio exposure and video exposure because you're a new band or this have to do with the music as well?

I think it's part of it, and the music, and the controversy around us. You know, people think every song on our record has the word 'fuck'. Four songs have obscenities in them, four songs. Not twelve, four. You know, and we're were not asking them to play those four, you know, pick one of the others. Also, that, you know, we have loud guitars, real guitars, real drums. The guitars are not the same way on a lot of people's records as they are on our. It's toned down, or in a different way, or even if it is for major radio play real loud then the lyrics are something that is completely corny and has nothing to do with anything, you know. I'll say a band [?], band Europe, that's the most pretentious crap I've ever heard, but [?] people that are talented and they could be doing something a lot more with their lives if you ask me. I mean, you can tell me every one of these guys are happy with what they are doing and I just don't believe it.

I find that Europeans have a somewhat different approach to rock and roll than Americans do, so maybe they get off on that kinda stuff?

Ah, I don't know. I think it scares them to have success and be rock stars, maybe they are happy being rock stars, but I don't think they are gonna sit down in a year from now and go, "God, I am so proud of myself for writing that song 'Cherokee'," or whatever, or [?] and stuff. What do they know about being [?]? Nothing.

I suppose that even if your record's stiff, I mean, considering you're a new band it's done quite well from from what you say about the chart action there, but what what if it is stiff? Do you think you guys would be taking a different approach now?

No, no. We would just be a little bit scared about how we were gonna survive. Then we would have had this [?]. So no, not at all. I believe in myself and I believe in my songs and everything. I think we will get there some day. It's like this, the album 'Queen II' wasn't a very successful album for Queen in the States, but I think it is the best recorded album in the history of rock and roll, I think it is up there with 'The Wall' [mentions another album?], and stuff like that. So it comes down to an art thing. I am just very, very serious about doing something I believe in, at least at the moment. If I change my opinion about something I said in a song, you know, as time goes by, that's okay because that song as a reflection of where I was then. Like 'It's So Easy,' I keep going back to that song, but it says "I drink drive everything's in sight." Well, there was a time when we were a little bit careless and thought we were really cool, and we got away with it, it's not something we do now. Or at least try not to. It's not something I would do. Better watch Slash, though.

Gotta watch what?

Have to watch Slash.

What do you mean?

Well, sometimes after a few too many he will try that drink/drive thing and you gotta grab him [?].

Oh [chuckles]

Last time we rented vans for this band he trashed both of them. We had to sneak them back into the building [?] the van rental place[?] and wrote a note that said, "Sorry!" If you look at our thank-yous, it says, "Back Stage van rental, sorry."

[laughter]

I guess that's something you learn along the way. Is this basically a lifetime commitment, you think?

As far as I see, I mean, if I get real, like, say we get into some type of material that is just, they won't play it anywhere and no one else will buy it, it but it's where I'm at, well then, you know, the only thing that bothers me is I won't have the budget to record it as well but at least I'll have my past records to be happy with and I can go somewhere, and be with that [?]. I can go sell pot, smuggle pot from Mexico. Have a gun and a Harley and live in the desert in Arizona. [laughter] You know, if I play my cards right and pick the place to live just right, when California sinks I will be a rich man with beach front property. [laughter] I am planning out my alternatives if I leave the business!

You got it all mapped out.

I try to.

Do you think you're kind of the spiritual head of the band there, you sort of hold things together morally, you think?

With the direction, yeah. With the direction and with, you know, my real strong believes and faith in what we do as artists, yeah. I'd say so.

Have you ever had to, like, really argue with the guys to kind of get them to go in your own direction?

Well, I'll give you an example about that, we were practising in a one-room studio and I was standing outside because there was no PA, so I stood outside to listen clearly, in a parking lot, I heard 'Nightrain,' and 'Rocket Queen,' and 'My Michelle' coming together for the first time in rehearsal, right, and these guys were all okay, they were on top of it. I was like, my eyes were watering and I had chills, and I was like going, "We finally got the songs I've been looking for," and Izzy told me, you know, out [?], "Now I see what the fuck you've been talking about for the last three years." It's hard to convince someone, they don't know what they had, I'm real good at seeing a person's potential, okay. Sometimes so much so that it costs me problems because I see the potential in this person and I put so much belief in them, you know, but they never, but they don't have the guts to dig for what I see inside of them, you know, so some times that's been problems. But other times, like with Izzy, I was always pushing him with songs and now he's really glad I did and it worked out good for the both of us. So now we don't argue so much about material because of the fact that we don't have, everybody has a good respect for each other, and those guys have a lot more respect for my direction and stuff, so it works out pretty good. We don't really fight about material. We fight about things like, you know, "Alright, who made all the phone calls and billed it up to my room?" [laughter]. You know, that's what we fight about. Shit like that happening to each other. "Who came in my room while I was gone and raided my in-room bar?" And that could be any of us who have done that to the other guy and that person gets stuck with the bill.

In this stage of your career, when are you the happiest?

When am I happiest? I'm the happiest when I write something new I really want to write, or, I don't know, it depends on the show,  actually, depending on how happy you are at the show. Getting accepted in a new place not just because you're, you know, "Axl Rose, the new rising rock star" or something, but just because the person likes you and respects you now, or you showed them something that makes them respect you. That's nice. I don't like pretentiousness, you know, and I like meeting new friends, that makes me real happy, somebody that I can learn from and they can learn from me. A profitable relationship, you know, makes me really happy.

When do you feel the most frustrated or angered being, you know, what you are?

Uhm, that's when I'm getting limited by a radio station that plays 'Welcome To The Jungle' as a joke because they've got all these papers and everything sat on it. They play it as a joke, a top-40 station, [?] said we're the number one request so that they decide definitely not to play it. That makes me mad. That frustrates me.  People are scared that they're going to open up a can of worms
and what really frustrates me is the fact that fucking radio is basically run by advertising dollars. We are not talking money, okay, we are not talking art, we are not talking music, we're talking, "What kinda of music can we play that we can get this guy to put his commercials on our radio station so we can make lots of money?" You know, to me that's, I mean, then you have no business being in radio. Get the fuck out. Go home. If you want a job like that then work in a factory or something. Get the fuck out of this and leave these people that really care about their music alone, because these people are screwing with my bank accounts when I am being sincere, I got some insincere fuck worried about paying his rent so he is kissing ass and playing Madonna songs that he hates and he won't play Guns N' Roses that he loves. That guy's fucking with my bank account. I don't like wimps like that. That makes me mad.

Just for the record, that's just because of the obscenity thing [?]?

No, it's just hard rock band, loud guitars, man, loud guitars getting the way [?] of people. It's like they think there's gonna be a younger audience, so the younger audience won't [?] buy, you know, the new Jeep, or this kind of microwave oven, so those people don't want to put their ads on that radio station because it has too young listening audience, you know. It bothers me. And plus, there's not a whole lot of hard rock and roll, you got great, you got some great metal bands, some great ones out there. You have some good middle-of-the-road rock bands, you know, and stuff. But you don't have a lot of rock hard rock and roll bands now that are talking and singing about whatever they feel like and doing it musically well, singing on key with harmonies and everything tight, planned very well, we don't have much of that right you. So we're one of the few. I mean, you can't tell me the Rolling Stones are that way, they're supposedly broke up. They were on their last record, in some ways like 'One Hit To The Body' and stuff, but that still had a lot of special effects and things. [?] is different. Aerosmith, the new record, that has all kinds of different things. That has real heavily thought-about commercial stuff and then it has some really, you know, against the grain stuff. It's kinda both on that record so it makes it a very interesting record as a mark of the times for me. I'm not saying it's my favorite, I'm not saying I don't like it. I'm saying it's a very interesting record for where we're at in the music business.

This is '87 and it has been really the year of the crunch guitar, you know, Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, Cinderella, Ozzy Osbourne [interrupted]

I don't call Whitesnake crunch guitars, I call Whitesnake the biggest sellout I've heard this, you know, the biggest sellout I've heard in a very very long time.

What makes them a sell out?

I'm not knocking, [starts talking to someone else in the room] I don't know, man, I mean making a mellow version of your song so you can get HR radio to play it, that's like so served [?] it'll make you sick. If that's the way [?] you wrote the song and intended it, then that's nice, but just doing it for the sake of getting money kind of makes me nauseous. Now, I'm not talking about the players, especially the players in a new band, Vivian Campbell blows my mind on guitar, you know. I'm just saying I don't enjoy the record. David Coverdale made a comment to someone I met in Carolina, saying there wouldn't be bands like Mötley Crüe, Guns N' Roses and stuff if it wasn't for him and I'm sorry, he hasn't been influencing anything I've ever done. I like about two to three songs to the guys, that's about it. I think he's a great singer but I've never sat around singing David Coverdale songs. I'm thinking about his approach to life. I mean, I think 'Slide It In' was a much more rocking record than the new one. Took a lot more chances.

Hmm, let me [?]. [interrupted by music]

Well, tell you what, you know it like when we got our record deal and we got Geffen to agree to a lot of things we wanted, and stuff like that. We have to do it again, and we have to do with the whole world. We've just come back after like four and a half months of being on the road now. Okay, now we've gonna get ourselves together, play for the hometown, you know, kick ass as hard as we can with that, and then for the next couple weeks after that we're going to go in with all our lawyers, the record company, and everything else, and our management and our accounting things, and we're going to go in and put it all back together again and see where we stand and what we got to do and move hard, fast. Because all I know is this: I don't know what's going to happen or how far we're going to get, but by the end of '88 we're gonna have done as many things as we possibly fucking could have, you know, man, once your record is done, after that year [?] of touring, yeah it might stick around and whatever but it's done, you know, and if you didn't do it then and you ain't gonna get no fucking second chance, you know. And we know that, so no, we're not letting up for anything.

You think you're just going to have to take your music to the people via the stage because of the limitations [interrupted]

[?] but we're hoping 'Sweet Child' will have a chance to get through in a lot of ways, you know, we don't know. I think it should, you know, and I believe it should and I don't see any problem with that. I can see the hassles with 'Jungle,' I can see the hassles with 'It's So Easy,' definitely, I can see the hassles with 'Paradise City' because it's really long and the verses are a little bit too heavy for a lot of radio stations. But I don't see a problem with 'Sweet Child' and I didn't write 'Sweet Child' to get it on radio but I don't see the problem with it doing that. And it doesn't do it, then someone's just slamming the door on us, purposely, and if that happens then we got to figure out another angle, and who knows if we'll be able to do it next year or not, we'll see. I'm not going to not believe that we can't do it, but anything's possible, you know, and if it doesn't happen then we're going to figure out another album without compromising our music because once we compromise our music there's no reason to be in this band. Get the fuck out. Go home. You know. If I wanted to fucking compromise I could have cut my hair and I could be, you know, a car salesman somewhere, or I could be climbing the corporate ladder or something. I'm not in this to compromise. Not at all. The only compromises are when it's profitable for both people and, basically that's not a compromise, that's finding out how to work together. But, you know, when someone's telling me I have to change the lyrics to a song to make it a hit, that's not working together, that's something that's none of their business.

A rather silly question about semantics but do you object to the labeling of your music as heavy metal?

Only cuz like people see that word and they get this limited idea, you know, and I think that we play all styles of music, we just have loud guitars, which gets the heavy metal label. But, I mean, I don't see where a lot of heavy metal is. I don't consider AC/DC heavy metal, I consider it as heavy as any metal out there, but I don't consider it heavy metal, I consider it extremely loud obnoxious blues rock and roll, you know, and that's what I consider us 'cause that's our strongest base But that doesn't mean we won't play a heavy metal song, or we won't play a country song. The Rolling Stones, to me, have done the best. 'A Girl With Far Away Eyes', 'Far Away Eyes' to me, that's the best country song ever written, you know. Rolling Stones wrote whatever kind of music they felt like writing. They wrote 'Miss You', one of the best disco songs ever written. Just, you know, whatever you feel like and basically we're just a rock and roll back playing whatever we feel.

It's interesting because, you know, a lot of the bands you've mentioned, like the Led Zeppelin's, Aerosmith's, Queen, Rolling Stones AC/DC, you know, the bands that spun the legacy that you are all about, they are still alive and kicking, they are still going strong. I'd imagine that's a rather encouraging sign for you?

Yeah, when I first got the new Queen record, 'It's A Kind Of Magic', it was out like last year or so, I heard one of the songs off it and I thought, "Oh, they sold out," but I didn't listen to it closely, I just closed my mind because I was so used to their old material. Now it's one of my favorite records. I mean, the vocals that he does on this, I compare it to some of the old stuff, and, you know, the range is much higher and there is much harder technique [?]. It was amazing. I'm glad to see that [?]. You know, when I read about Live Aid some of the reviews, like in Kerrang!, where the Queen just, the Queen was it, the Queen was the whole show, no one was as good or as bad-ass as the Queen was. That's very good for me to see.

How about of course the sole exception to that list of bands, is Led Zeppelin.

Well, uhm, he's moved on, he hasn't compromised his art. I'm talking about Robert Plant there. He hasn't compromised his art. He's moved on, he's an older guy, he doesn't, you know, he doesn't agree with some of the things he wrote about before but, like, you go through life and you make changes. I mean, Pete Townsend isn't saying, "Hope I die before I get old now," you know, it's like that. You say things one day and that's how you really feel and you believe it. Then, maybe, you grow past that. And Robert Plant is like, I don't listen to a whole lot of the stuff, but I have a lot of respect for it. I really like the song 'Big Log'. But I have a lot of respect for it because he's being himself and he's not compromising. There's still some phenomenal playing on the record. And Jimmy Page is pretty much the same way. It's like, sure you miss old Led Zeppelin, but, you know, people go back to their highschool reunions and they are standing there talking to some bald fat guy, and then they don't even realize that was the number one, that was the quarterback of the football team who got all the girls. You now, they miss that but the guy is changed, you know, now he's, you know, the guy could be that happy whatever family man in Idaho or something now. You go through changes. I just don't like compromises just for the sake of being successful. That bothers me. To pay the rent. I'd rather starve than paying the rent by bending over and taking it in the ass, and that's how I consider it.

One last thing I want to ask you, that I forgot to ask you before when we were talking about Indiana, is what do you think of John Cougar Mellencamp who stayed back of course?

Uhm, one, I liked the fact that he has the balls to go back and live in Indiana rather than live where all the other people in the industry would think he's cool

You know I think that's cool I think you know he's doing what he wants to do are you being true to the people people he grew up with, you know. I think that's cool. He's doing what he wants to do, he is being true to the people he grew up with and things, you know, and that's real important to me because I have strong friends in Indiana too. I don't necessarily like the place because there's not a whole lot to do. I like some of the scenery. It's not a whole lot to do there, though. And I don't get along with the law there. I get thrown in jail all the time and usually it's for something I didn't do, so then I had to pay lawyer fees to get my way out of court. And that's happened more than not [?]. But, I mean, is the album called 'Scared Crow', or the last one?

Uhm, I think that was the one before that.

Yeah, that's a phenomenal record, whether I am totally into it, where my head's at the time, there are different times when I can hear one of those songs and sit down and go, "Yeah." There are other times when John Cougar is the last thing I want to hear, it's not like it's my very, vey, vey favor thing. But, he's a good artist.

Okay, I guess I got what I need to know then. Thanks a lot, Axl.

I will say one more thing, but this comes out before we get there, man, we're gonna tear that place up, man. We are so excited. Me and Izzy have talked about going to Japan - me and Izzy's been together for the last 13 years - for the last 10 years. It's been a dream. Going to Japan and playing the songs in Japan. Our favorite records was 'Cheap Trick At Budokan' and 'Unleashed in the East' [Judas Priest], you know. You hear the screaming Japanese people and we go, "You know, we have to go there! We have to go!" Hopefully we will have the people be like that for us and we'll have fun with them. And I'm looking forward to all he sushi.

Well I 'm sure the kids will go apeshit because [interrupted]

We can find some opium den [laughter] and learn some, and have some oriental girls can teach us some things Amercan girls don't know.

That's right, so exact new positions to take home with you.

Oriental basket tricks and things [laughter]

Well, I'll leave those arraignments [?] to you once she get here.

Hey, you can put in your thing that we are looking for new things. We need a little lecturing in oriental sex [laughter]

"L.A. rock and rollers with hard-ons seek oriental masseuse."

Yes, definitely. That's how it is.

All right, okay, well, thanks for your time and sorry to take you away from your pooch there.

Oh, that's okay. Look forward to meeting you.

Okay, we'll see you when you get out here.

Take care.

Okay, thanks a lot. Bye-bye.


Last edited by Soulmonster on Thu Apr 26, 2018 10:33 pm; edited 50 times in total
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Re: 1987.12.26 - Telephone interview with Axl

Post by Johan on Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:07 am

I guess not Steve Harris from Iron Maiden?
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Re: 1987.12.26 - Telephone interview with Axl

Post by Soulmonster on Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:21 am

I doubt it. Can you see the videos by the way? I can't see them from Photobucket so I will probably upload them to Youtube instead.
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Re: 1987.12.26 - Telephone interview with Axl

Post by Johan on Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:22 am

I can see them now, doing what you advised my in settings. and I'm quite sure it's indeed just some random guy named Steve Harris.
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Re: 1987.12.26 - Telephone interview with Axl

Post by Soulmonster on Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:45 am

Halfway through transcribing. This takes time.
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Re: 1987.12.26 - Telephone interview with Axl

Post by Soulmonster on Thu Apr 26, 2018 10:34 pm

It's done! Wow, this took me some time. Some words here and there that I couldn't figure out, but apart from that it is complete. On to the next interview!
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Re: 1987.12.26 - Telephone interview with Axl

Post by Soulmonster on Sat Aug 04, 2018 1:28 am

Steve Harris who conducted this interview got to interview Duff and Steven in December 1988, and he confronted the guys with some of the things Axl had said, as far as he remembered them:

Interviewer: Actually, I interviewed [Axl] on the phone last February, and he was saying that he kind of had to take care of you guys, tried to keep you guys in order.

Duff: As far as he knows! [laughter] Fuck! Did he say that?! Yeah right!

Steven: Yes, he is just there, every day, taking care of us!

Interviewer: "If I don't to keep these guys busy 24 hours a day they go out and be drugs all the time."

Duff: Oh, funny man!

Steven: If anyone takes care of us it is this man right here [probably indicating Tom Mayhue].

Duff: No, we take, I mean [interrupted]

Steven: ...of anybody! Don't get me wrong, we love Axl and we always will, but that's just the way he is. But we are all big boys, we...

Duff: FUCK!

Steven: ...can take care of ourselves.

Duff: That's a crock of shit.

Steven: I'd say, I'd say, that's a crock about that big, like the one sitting on top of the Melting Pot on Melrose.

Duff: A big old crock.

Steven: That's a big old crock.

[laughter]

Duff: He wasn't laughing when he said that or anything?

Interviewer: He was saying it all facetiously, but I think what he meant was also that he had a vision, you know? [interrupted]

[laughter]

Steven: Pffffffffft!! "I have a vision!" Aaaaargh!

Duff: You're kidding!

[talking in their mouths]

Interviewer: When you guys were recording "Appetite for Destruction" he says he recalled that one day, listening to tapes, it was outside the studio, I forgot, with a couple of you, I forgot who it was, but he said you guys were listening and also one of you guys said to him, "Axl, I can see what you meant now, this is what you had in mind for us all the time."

Duff: No, no, no.

[laughter]

Steven: Tom Mayhue?

Duff: Just no comment, man. Oh my.

Interviewer [or Tom Mayhue]: It was a great story, though.

Steven: No, no, "I want to have a happy gay face and suck a dick for Jesus" [?], maybe that's what we said to him. [laughter]

Interviewer: Okay. Maybe he was being more facetious than I thought [?]

Duff: I think he was just fucking tooth [?] [interrupted]

Steven: I think he was trying to give you the corn over the phone [?]

[laughter]

Interviewer: He wasn't talking all blurry [?], that's for sure, because at the time you guys were still kind of waving around the middle of the charts there without any real sign of going up that far.

Steven: We were going nowhere when we were in the studios. We didn't even have a record out then. [laughter]

Duff: It was us, Bury my head in the sand [?].

[laughter]

Steven: Death from Above, Satanism. Oh man, can you believe that? That's fucking way out there. I am sick now. I don't feel the fucking same, I don't feel the same anymore, man. Shit.
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