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1988.05.DD - Interview with Axl and Slash

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1988.05.DD - Interview with Axl and Slash

Post by Soulmonster on Sat Jun 04, 2011 8:14 am

These clips contains segments of a larger interview, cut together. It is not always immediately obvious what Axl and Slash is talking about.


Axl: I hit L.A. with a backpack, a piece of steel in one hand and a can of maize in the other. And guys were trying to sell me joints everywhere, and then some black guy turned me on to the bus station. So, I found the bus station. And there'll be a song about the bus station on our EP called "One In A Million". And then I rode all around Fullerton thinking it was just the smallest city I'd seen and I would find Izzy. I rode the bus for like, two days. Never found Izzy. But, you know, I stayed in Huntington Beach for a while. I found this empty apartment with the door open and a skateboard in the corner and that was Izzy's. Got lucky. Paid some guys a case of beer to help me find Huntington Beach, 'cause I didn't know where it was. And then... Then I hitchhiked the whole country for a while, looking for where I wanted to stay and start working on a band. You know, went all the way up to San Francisco, went to Rhode Island, went down to Hollywood, Florida. Back to Indiana for a while to regroup... my brain. And then back to L.A. and moved Hollywood and moved in with Izzy and worked on the band.


Axl: Yeah, it was like, I got the tattoo first. I had a friend design it because I just feel that, no matter what happens with this band. Where it went, what we sold, or broke up, changed, whatever. Or any other members that... At that time, it was the most important thing and it's like, I like tattoos and I wanted something that would always remind me of what was once there, you know. A symbol of it. And so, you know, I got this... the cross tattoo here and then Geffen liked it so much we decided to use it for a cover.

Slash: Yeah, it'll be one of those things that you tell your grandkids.

Axl: Like, notice here, Slash wanted straight hair. So he drew straight hair.

Slash: I didn't ask for straight hair.

Axl: Yes, you did. You totally did.

Slash: No, I didn't.

Axl: Yes, you did.

Slash: I never said that.

Axl: Yes, you did. Totally.

Slash: What makes you say that?

Axl: 'Cause you did.

Slash: Why? Was I drunk?

Axl: I don't know. Yeah, I think you were. You were at the Hell House.

Slash: Oh, yeah. Because I told Bill... I told Bill... I said: "You'll never gonna be able to draw curly hair right." [laughs]

Axl: [laughs]


Slash: Dynamics is... it's physical, you know. It's definitely an emotional and physical thing. That's where it comes from. It's like, you know, you get to one part and then you wanna... you know... I can't put in the words really, what it is, it's just...

Axl: Slash is one of the most emotional guitar players that I've ever met or ever seen. And coming from Indiana... I used to play with this guitar player named Paul and I learned about blues and emotionalism and stuff through him, and he was a big Page fanatic. And then I came to LA and saw all these people trying to be Eddie Van Halen. And it took five years to find somebody who played more from the heart, rather than just trying to be the fastest, and trying to do this and that and trying to be a big rock star. Someone who, like... He'll be very quiet and stuff most of the time, and really won't let a lot of himself out. Until he picks up a guitar and then his heart and soul seems to pour out through the guitar and it is just like... I sit down a lot of times at shows, I sit down right on the stage, right in front of his amp when he's doing a solo. Because it's just... It means so much to me, just to here that.


Axl: It took a few years... Like, for a couple of years... Izzy was real good at like... He'd been out there just long enough. He was always good at scamming his way in and I wasn't. So, it took like, about two years for me to even like, be able to talk to people. I just kinda like, stand around and watch. You know, and people didn't accept you so easily. And... I remember I was like... I was wearing cowboy boots and I got told I looked like I'd just got off the boat. And now like, people buy cowboy boots from their mother out there. [laughs] It's like, it's kinda weird. But, you know, we met Slash. We ran an ad for "heavy metal punk glam guitarist. Blues influenced". And Slash showed up and we said "Nah". But he kept popping up everywhere we were at and all of a sudden we started working together. It took a long time, but I mean... I guess it took a long time for me to learn to accept things out there, you know. He had been there the whole time and nothing was really that new.

Slash: ... from the beginning. [laughs]

Axl: And Izzy was just running around learning about every fad there was. Till finally, at this point, he's just bored with everything except... you know... And just like... gets into his guitar and it's real cool. He's like... you know, doesn't worry about too much of anything except the guitar.

Slash: It's really funny, 'cause none of us are from Los Angeles. And everybody like, tries to label us as an L.A. band. We just all happened to have met there. And we where the only five guys that could have made up Guns N' Roses. I mean, we had different combinations of us in different bands, you know. Throughout the time we were coming up and getting together.

Axl: Yeah, there was like, one or two of us and the guys.

Slash: There was nobody else in L.A. we could have played with so it was inevitable that the five of us would get together, because that was it. I mean, there was no other combination that would have worked.


Axl: I read a Paul McCartney interview and he was talking about how he write songs and said "There is no formula". He says he's written songs probably every single way. You know, imaginable and he was wondering if there was a few more ways. Sometimes it starts out with one word, sometimes one note, sometimes a verse, a riff, a chorus, a drum beat. It always varies every time. Sometimes a whole song hits you at once. Then you're very fortunate, I think. And you really got something. Other times it takes... You know, it could take up to a year to get a song exactly the way that your mind's picturing it. A lot of times you hear something in your head, you picture it, but you can't quiet figure out how to get it out. Like, if you're a painter and you see the picture but you can't figure out how to paint it. I've heard a lot of painters describe it as basically their work is just a shadow of what they saw in their head. You know, and sometimes that's what we get. Other times we nail it, right on the head, and then it completely comes out.


Axl: When we start a song, it's like, I'll try it in different ways and finding which way fits it best. And if I think that some sound... some way of singing is gonna work better, I'll work on that way. It might be something that I've never done before. Like "It's So Easy". I'd never sang a song like that before. But, the high voice just didn't seem to fit it as well. And so, I started working on the low one. And "Mr. Brownstone"... It reminded me of a Stones-ish type funk-thing and so, I just played around with it. And then, you know, we heard our rehearsal tape back and it sounded like it might work. So, I just started practicing that way. I'm like a second baritone, and I just worked on widening my range, to get a high range. And so then I just try to find the way to use it. Use the whole thing rather than limit myself.


Slash: We have this song, "My Michelle", right. And it's... Axl comes to me with these lyrics one day and I go "Oh Axl. You really can't say that. I mean, we've known this girl for years". And it's the truth.

Axl: He used to out with her when he was about 13 and I went out with her, then later on. And we got into a little hassle or whatever, and then I wrote this song. But... And it was basically the truth, and it says some nice stuff, by, you know, how...

Slash: At the end. [laughs]

Axl: No, in the middle of it, you know, "Everybody needs love" and "you know that is true" and stuff. I like to destroy... Sometimes like, you won't touch the subject because you don't wanna expose it. It might hurt someone. But then, if the subject's really that interesting you just rip it apart and expose it. And that's what we did and basically it worked out good for everybody. In the long run, she's happy about the song and her dad even liked the fact that it was very accurate. So...

Slash: It was funny at the time, though. "No, you can't write that, you can't say that".

Axl: Yeah. It took three weeks for me to like, finally go: "What do you think of these lyrics?" But she was really happy that I wrote it, so...

Slash: Now she's like popular.

Slash: We're popular [?], everybody loves you and you're making lots of money and then it's gone at some point, too. And then, you know, it's like, we're lucky because we have people that we work with that we're close to and we can, you know, really be personal with and feel like, you know, somebody actually loves us, or whatever and it's like...

Axl: I wouldn't go that far.

Slash: If it falls apart tomorrow, you know what I mean. You're history. No one gives a shit about you anymore.

Axl: But you can... I'll be your friend. I still be your friend.

Slash: You gonna go back and get a secretary...

Axl: ... talk to you once a year.

Slash: Go back home to your parents. It's hard in that way, but it's worth it. [laughs] This is great, you know.


Axl: We got hired to be the bad boys. And now all of a sudden we have to be businessmen and respectable, and good and stuff like that.

Slash: You can only be bad boys during non-working... [laughs]

Axl: I'm psychotic, and that's a real problem to try to like, you know..."Ok, now I'm done with business. Now I can go in this room and be psychotic and tear it up. You know, I have to like, balance up. You know, when can I destroy everything around me to when I have to be nice to everybody.

Slash: Things aren't that cut and dry, so it's hard.


Axl: People don't really understand Brownstone. We have countless friends that were very, very close friends. The girl that this song "Rocket Queen" is written about, her life is history. I mean, she's alive, there's not much left to it. We have countless other friends that have spent, you know, upwards to like 50 grand on rehabilitation. They can't get away from drugs. It's very sad thing, you know. We can't even hang out with these people. Because, you know, you go to say, "Hi", and the next thing you know, the conversation turns to drugs. And you go "Well, I gotta go take care of business". 'Cause you don't wanna be involved with it. And it's kinda sad 'cause, you know, we grew up with some of these people. Or, at least... Me in LA, I was out there for seven years. Last seven years, you know. And I've lost at least five or six people that I hung out with every day. So "Brownstone" is just about having a battle with it, and wishing you'd never touched the stuff and trying to get away from it.


Axl: I usually end up trying to take vacation and destroying everything around me, because I can't calm down. I don't know, it just...

Slash: I'm a wreck when we're off the road. I don't know what to do with myself.

Axl: ... Joe Walsh destroying hotel rooms or whatever. I just destroy my apartment and then rebuild it.

Slash: Yeah. [laughs]

Axl: It's not necessarily fun, but it happens. But, you find yourself in a situation where like, you know... We were all pretty much troublesome kids and now, a lot of the things that you used to do as a kid for fun, that you might have gotten away with, you're not gonna get away with now. And also, they might be stupid things. So, I don't know, it just escalates to a point where, you know, it's like, throwing a TV out of the window's boring. Let's see if we can drive a car off the road, you know. [laughs] Put a brick on the pedal.


Axl: I had a very strict upbringing and I wasn't allowed to listen to music. Except for old Elvis Presley and Jimi Swagger gospel records. I mean, this Jimi Swagger things that's gone one and the last few things, it's like, no big surprise. 'Cause I was raised on Jimi Swagger religious tapes from when I was five. We had a reel-to-reel deck and we bought 'em all. This just went on for years and years and years. And then finally, I was accused of doing drugs and drinking and all this stuff that I wasn't doing, and I was kicked out of my house for not cutting my hair. And it was above my ears at the time. And I was 16 and at that point, I just said, "Well, if I'm gonna be accused of all these things, I might as well find out what they're all about". And, you know, maybe I got on the wrong track, but I seem to have pulled it together somewhat on my own. And it took a long time and it's still, even to this day, I still have to deal with, you know, coming to grips with certain things that happened during my childhood, and certain things I wasn't allowed to do and allowed to hear and everything like that. So, I'm still exploring every field of music I possibly can. And I feel I got a lot of catching up to do.


Slash: A lot of energy, you know... I mean, we're just like, five kids and basically, you know, all the work and stuff that goes into what we do is generated by these five guys. And now there's a whole, you know... Countless people that are involved in what we're doing and we are sort of the bottom line on a lot of people's careers, at this point, you know what I mean. It's like, some people, we're the only band they work with, you know. Sort of strange responsibility.

Axl: But then if you're too much of a pain, they can find some place else to go.

Slash: Yeah. They can still get another job. They can put "I worked with Guns N' Roses" on their... what do you call it? You know, those sheets that you fill out.

Axl: The black list, the red list. Whatever.

Slash: "You survived that?"

Axl: "You'll never work in this industry again".


Axl: It's getting to be more exciting thinking about it all the time. I don't know what it's gonna do in terms of sales or our following. But it should be, for us, a very weird experimental process and coming up with a lot of new things. Because "Appetite For Destruction", a lot of the material written on that was done when we were in the club scene in L.A. That's over two years ago. Sometimes three years ago, some of it. And "Anything Goes" was first started about four years ago. And so, during this time, we've had a lot time to grow and mature, I think, lyrically and musically, and the next record we get to, like, fuses all this and see what we come up with.

Slash: It's a strange thing because we're gonna, you know, actually, it's different because we've had a long time like, you said, about, you know, growing and stuff as musicians and it's just as people and experiences and things, and I think when the tour is done, you know, has time to sit down and just put music together for the next record, it's going to be a completely different situation. It's not like we had years to put a song together or whatever, you know, things change or work, you know, course of years mean Axl I met at a certain point in our relationship, you know, with me and him and us and rest of the band stuff has changed, and it's like we're gonna sit down and start writing songs like right up. It's hard to explain it's gonna be like sitting down and just putting all these years of experience down, you know, and trying to write however many songs we're going to do and, I don't know, just put it in a certain time frame.

Axl: Yeah, it's like a lot of people right now are getting turned on to 'Appetite for Destruction', like it's brand-new, and we still have the same momentum behind those songs as we've always had and we still find something and then we get excited, but, you know, the next record for us will be, like, anywhere from a two to four year jump and a lot of people, you know, are going to get that jump in one year's time and it's got to surprise a lot of people.


Slash: [cut in] solos and stuff like, you know, my own, like, one place where I get to do the toys and stuff, it's never anything that I made up or, uhm, you know, like, before the show or a couple days ago and so it's just like made up on the spot and [interrupted]

Axl: It's a lot of improv. And like I go skateboarding behind Slash, he doesn't know it and that's a lot of fun. I like to go out in the crowd sometimes like while he's playing and mess with him.

Slash: Yeah, I ran out into the crowd the other night, I'm wireless now so it's a new thing, so I can go running up to, like, where the monitor board is and these people are going, "Oh my god! Where is he going?"

Axl: Security chasing him, kids chasing him and he's running full-speed.

Slash: Meanwhile they got little low steps and I almost fell and I hit some stairs like, "Oh god, I didn't know they were there".


Slash: Live playing is 50% of what we are about, as far as the band, maybe even more than that. I mean you record, I am one of those people that enjoys recording, you know, even though we've only done it seriously once. I mean, I like to put everything into it and then to go out and play it live is, you know, the other half of the other side of the coin. It's great. I mean it's the best, play in front of a crowd that's, you know, really enthusiastic is one of the best feelings you can ever have, you know, it is the most fun, it's great.

Axl: We like playing our songs and also, it's like, you know, I give the light people and everybody a hard time because I don't like to follow the setlist because I like to go off the feel of the band and the feel of the crowd and, like, what I think the band is going to be able to play the best and go for the best five [?] of the crowd, you know. So it makes every show just a little bit different and we never know how we're going to end the show, I mean, we never know if we're going to do an encore or we're going to play for a long period of time or if, as the case happens a lot of times, if I'm going to get like pissed off and leave. Because something always happens at the end of the show for me for some reason. I don't know why, it's like the last song something happens. You see that on the live MTV thing, it's like, you know, everything was pro except this monitor man who didn't have a clue of what was going on and, the crowd was cheering, the show, everything's great, we're hearing spaceships land on stage, backwards echoes, screaming feedback, you know, the drummer doesn't know what, Steven doesn't know what's going on, you know. Finally I tried to nail the monitor man with my microphone and my tour manager moved and I nailed him. That was messy. But it leaves for some excitement, people never know what's going to happen. And they never know if I don't come back, it's like absolutely you [?] or what happened [?]  [cut off]


Axl: What's your about to see. I'm sorry. We didn't know, we didn't know. Okay it was supposed to get us all kinds of things happening with a mastiff thank you [?]

Last edited by Soulmonster on Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: 1988.05.DD - Interview with Axl and Slash

Post by Soulmonster on Fri Oct 12, 2018 8:43 am

Obviously this is an edited interview. Some parts that were not used in these videos were used by MTV when they released a documentary about the band in 1989. This documentary is found here: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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Re: 1988.05.DD - Interview with Axl and Slash

Post by Soulmonster on Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:15 pm

When looking through the MTV Documentary from 1989, as a clip from this interview is shown, it says May 1988, Chelsea Hotel NYC. That's brilliant! I can't remember why this interview was originally dated to September 1988, I assume that might have been when MTV aired it. But anyway, now at least we know exactly when Axl and Slash said those things.

The band played at Felt Forum on NYC on May 9. This was a period where the band played shows every second or third day, opening for Iron Maiden. They really didn't have time to travel back to NYC in-between the other shows they did this month, so I think we can be very confident that this interview was recorded on May 8 or 9.
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Re: 1988.05.DD - Interview with Axl and Slash

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