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SoulMonster

1989.06.10 - Kerrang! - Man With A Sweet Child In His Eyes (Axl)

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1989.06.10 - Kerrang! - Man With A Sweet Child In His Eyes (Axl)

Post by Soulmonster on Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:11 am

MAN WITH THE (SWEET) CHILD IN HIS EYES by Arlett Vereecke

Let's dispense with the usual subhead waffle: this here is an exclusive interview with Guns N' Roses frontman, the elusive and enigmatic W Axl Rose. What more needs to be said other than: read on and remember - when GN'R talk, they talk to Kerrang!

UNS N' ROSES' career résumé sums up the band's achievements as follows: one independently-released EP, one album, one EP (boosted by the record company to LP length) and four promo videos for their singles.

Not a lengthy CV, but enough to have turned the music world upside down in less than two years.

The band, who had trouble finding a manager after they were signed to a record deal, have allegedly generated a total of about $125 million over the past year-and-a-half, making them not only the toast of the town, but the hottest band in the world.

Whatever Guns say, wherever they go, they dictate the news. Right now GNR are in pre-production, working on material for their follow-up LP to 'Appetite For Destruction'. The band (however difficult this may prove) are lying low.

The new album will not be released before the end of this year, and the band won't be gigging before then either.

A lot has been written about red-haired singer W Axl Rose. Guns N' Roses' kingpin frontman has been described and nominated as sex symbol of the year. He's said to be impossible to deal with, a manic depressive, a drug and alcohol abuser. Everyone has an opinion about him, but nobody really knows him.

That kind of mystique determines your star status.

I've known Axl from the early days (and I'm proud of it!) when Guns were most certainly not a household name. To me, Axl is still the same guy, only a hell of a lot richer.

He's no 'boy next door', but he's down to earth, very sharp and about the most loyal person I've met in years.

On the positive side, he hasn't forgotten who stood by him in the past. But on the more dangerous side, he'll get your ass if you mess with him.

The band's last tour took them to Japan for the first time, then on to Australia for three shows. A New Zealand date closed the books on their first and last small-time tour. From now on, it's major league, and whoever had the opportunity to see the band last year or before witnessed history in the making.

GNR's first Japanese tour was more than successful. It had  been scheduled originally for July '88 but, due to problems with Axl's voice, it was delayed until December. I begin by asking Axl, what was it like to tour there?

"AS FAR AS the country goes," recalls Axl, "I didn't really have time to get to see much, because I was too busy trying to make sure I could sing. Japan seems real fast-paced. Everybody is caught up with what big business is doing.

"The shows were great. The audiences were not that much different from the American ones, except that they're not allowed to leave their seats. But their response was great."

The acoustic songs on the 'GN'R Lies' EP really seemed to have pleased your fans, as well as opening doors to a new bunch of followers...

"It's another aspect of our abilities. We can only put so many songs on one, album, and we wanted our first record ('Appetite For Destruction') to be a full hard rock record from beginning to end.

"The next record will have other variations, there may be some heavier songs as well as some softer ones.

"The reason we released the 'GNR Lies' EP was so that we don't get pigeonholed into one type of music that people expect from us. We like all kinds of music and we'll play all types of music."

When you sing live, do you feel like you free yourself of your emotions?

"I really don't feel like I'm breaking free, I feel like I'm trying to. In my life as a singer there have been a few times when I've gone into a trance while singing and have come to as if I'd been knocked out on the floor, because I was so far into the song.

"There've been a couple of other times while singing 'Crazy' (the slow version) when I've got lost in the song and then found I was almost ready to fall off the stage! I really like to throw myself into the song that much, and try to every time. It doesn't always happen, but it's nice when it does."

Off stage you don't often seem to mingle with the other band members. Is it because you don't like to party? Or that you don't like crowds around you?

"A lot of it has to do with singing well onstage. Few of the people around me have really seen me when I'm going off partying, because I like to get very rowdy, get very drunk and just have a really reckless time.

"I can't offer to do that when I have to do a show the next night. I might not be able to talk because of yelling so loud and doing various substances, drinking, running down the street, getting into fights and falling on my ass, you know. I have to make sure I can walk, talk, and sing properly the next day."

So who's the worst party animal —you or your fellow band member, Slash?

"If you say 'worst', I would say it's me. Because when I go off I'm going to clear the club if an argument starts.

"Slash has a way of working things out a bit and avoiding trouble as much as possible when he is that far gone. He somehow seems to slip into other corners, and he doesn't know how he does it. I'm right in someone's face saying, 'What do you mean, we can't have more beer?'

"I go crazy, and I can't afford to have that happen all the time because I have too much to do.

"Once we're recording our second album, maybe there will be some spaces where they're recording rhythm tracks and I won't be involved as much. I'll be out getting rowdy again like I did a couple of years ago."

How do you feel about doing interviews these days? I'm sure you've been misquoted many times...

"When I sit down with an interviewer, I try to be very open and expose myself, because this person is doing his job and I'm trying to do mine. I help them by telling them everything I can, to give the reader some insight into the business and my world.

"Some magazines are more into hype, and that's fine. Sometimes they're cutting you down for things you do and they don't print the whole story.

"I like people to get a fair shake. I trust everybody 'til they fuck me over. When they do, I don't trust them any more, but I like to give everyone a fair chance at that trust."

You've had a Number One album and single. How does that make you feel?

“It's a great dream come true, it's like an ongoing memory. Every day I'll be able to say, `Yeah, I had a Number One record'. That isn't something that will die off or diminish.

"What I'm glad about is that it enables us to work on our next project as a major band.

"Whether we sell many more records is not necessarily the question, it's just the way we're able to go about recording and putting the records out with a bit more respect than we had before. It gains us more respect in the business world. Some of it is superficial, some of it is very real. Either way it can work to our advantage."

WHEN YOUBECOME this successful, business-related problems must inevitably 'emerge. What imitates you most now that you have obtained the superstar status you set out to get?

"That I couldn't find a house in Hollywood to buy, rent or steal for a reasonable price.

"You can't make a million bucks and sit down and talk to people about, 'Oh man, I can't find the right house for a million bucks'. Your friends are saying, 'Oh, dude, your problems must be rough!'. They laugh in your face, because they think it's ridiculous.

"But when you make a lot of money, your expenses are equally high. Basically, you're spending a million dollars like you would spend 10 bucks.

"It's not much different and it's very hard to deal with since it's all new to us. You're scared that you'll lose your money at the same time.

"Balancing our money gets to be very frustrating because it's taking up more of my time than I want to give it.

"The positive thing is, I did find a place to live and I'm very happy with it."

In the rock business, the more popular you become the more astute you have to be. Now that you're a star, would you say that you're a different person?

"I wasn't necessarily happy with where I was before, except for the fact that I was happy that I hid made it that far. I'm trying to achieve things, and now I'm just closer to the person I've always dreamed of being.

"I don't think I'm somebody else, or that I've become some superstar. I always dreamed of being a rock musician, of being considered credible in my field and being allowed the freedom to express myself. By being successful we have about as much of that as you can get now."

Can you say anything about the next album? Do you have anything written yet?

"Yes, we have a lot of stuff written. There are probably 30 songs to chose from already. We have about 10 ballads that I feel are more credible than 'Sweet Child 0' Mine'.

"As far as them being more successful… I don't know. You can't judge what TOP 40 radio listeners are going to choose.

"We wanted to save those ballads, because we wanted to wait until we had a bigger audience. We never imagined it would be this big, but we have some songs we've been wanting to spring on people for a long time.

"Other than that, we're going to try and make the longest record that we can. We're going to try and put down as many songs as we can. I don't know if it will be a very, very,  long single album or maybe a double album."

How about the next album cover? Are you going back to Robert Williams ('Appetite for Destruction' artist) for another X-rated sleeve?

"That hasn't been thought about, but I don't think so. I mean, Robert Williams is a great artist and I just happen to particularly like that cover, but  we weren't planning on using Robert Williams album covers on each album.

"I submitted the 'Appetite...' cover as a joke, 'cause I didn't think anyone would use it. I just really liked it and I tossed it in, walked away and everybody else flipped. I couldn't believe they really wanted to use it. I said, 'OK, let's go for it, I love it'. But I don't know what the next cover will be. The 'GN'R Lies' thing was a bit different."

AS A lyricist what inspires you to write songs?

"Emotional situations of any kind with a lover, a friend... Something that's happened; Whether it was good, or tragic. Some facet of a situation that moves me so much, that my mind can't seem to escape. I explore it and try to put it in the best words I can."

Does travelling around the world, which you've done in the past year-and-a-half, give you new ideas for songs?

"Its inspired me, but I haven't written any songs about it, because I like to take the time to let situations be digested. I have to analyse and learn to understand the situations, whether they're good, bad, sad or happy.

"I haven't written anything about touring yet, because touring is so fast you don't really get to delve into anything that is that moving an experience - except for playing onstage, and we haven't written a song about that yet.

"That's something that could be done. As far as meeting people goes, I've met a lot of interesting people but I haven't put it into any lyrics yet. I'm sure that something will come out of it."

Do you use an instrument to write songs or do you rely on the band to write the music?

"No, I don't rely on the band to come up with the music. I sometimes write with the guitar - I don't play guitar very well -or I write with the piano or a friend.

"When I sit down with a guitarist; we usually work hand in hand. He'll suggest ideas for my melodies and suggest ideas for the guitar parts and this and that. It all kind of flows together.

"Right now I'm waiting to write hard rock songs with the band. I have a lot of subjects to choose from that I'm very interested in, but I'm waiting to see where their heads are at when we sit down with the guitars and everything.

"Right now I don't want to veer off too much in my own direction, because it would probably not be very heavy, I want to write some hard rock songs. The reason I wouldn't be writing so much hard rock songs my own is because I know I can do it with the band.

"A lot of riffs were going around in the air at the sound checks during the Japanese tour, things I've been hearing Slash and Duff go over, and I've had a lot of ideas for words, but I'm going to wait until we get in the studio to see what we put together."

Are there any songs left over from the first album that you want to record on this one?

"I wouldn't say 'left over'. We actually went in and recorded in pre-production. We picked the 12 songs we were gonna stick with, refined them, went a in, recorded them and put them on the record.

"There were a lot of songs to choose from in the beginning, and there will be a few of those songs or, the next album, like 'November Rain' and possibly 'Don't Cry'. Who knows, we might save 'Don't Cry' for the third or fourth record. We've written new stuff, but nothing is decided yet."

I understand you recorded some of the shows in Japan. Is that for a future live album?

"Right now it's just for our own benefit. We don't know what we're going to do with it. We're just filming and taping some stuff, because we think it's important to have it. We don't know if we'll find anything in there we want to use.

"It's not really a concern, it's just something we were finally able to afford to do. So we thought, 'Let's be smart. If we do film and tape it and there is anything good on tape, we might be able to use it.' But we really don't know."

DOES IT bother you that you can no longer go anywhere on your own?

"Yes, that gets weird. I don't really need to in LA, but I don't go out to clubs much - except to the Cathouse and to Bordello's, because I have police security there. The DJ and the owner of the club (Rikki Rachtman) are looking out for me.

"I don't get as ripped as Slash does, so I don't have that much of a problem. If I do get that ripped, somebody helps me get home.

"That's one of the only places I really go. It's hard to go out, because everybody wants to talk to you and they all want an autograph.

"It's especially annoying when people are really drunk and talk for half-an-hour to an hour about something you're really not interested in, just because they're having their chance to talk to somebody they are into. You don't want to hurt their feelings, but at the same time you wanted to get out and have a good time and, instead, all of your time is taken up. It's kind of weird to know where your responsibilities end and where they begin."

Next year you will be a fully-fledged headline attraction throughout the world. Are you looking forward to that?

"Yes, we're definitely looking very forward to that. We're already designing stages."

Do you want to go out with a big show - the lights and the whole set up?

"Probably, but it will all be with the say-so of the band. I mean, the band will be the judge of everything that is involved with it. People might come up with good ideas, but we'll pick and choose, and use what we want to use.

"On the 1988 tour, we wanted to show it could be done with just amps and a drumkit but that doesn't mean we're against big stageshows. We just wanted to prove that you don't need a big stageshow. Your music comes first and your performance onstage - that's priority. After that I think you can add anything you want.

"We love big stageshows, and if we come up with one that's a lot of fun for us, then we'll do it. We hope that people don't think we've sold out, 'cause it's not an attempt to sell out. We just like the lights and everything, but we haven't chosen to use those things yet and it's worked out good.

"I would like to experiment. I don't know that we'll be doing any of this stuff next year, but I'm really interested in lasers and holograms. I don't really have the time to find out about it right now, but there's the possibility of getting everything we can involved with our stageshow, 'cause it's like a living work of art."

Do you prefer to play live or to work in the studio?

"Studio. Live is fun, live is interesting and live is a blast but, you know, the live thing is, like a one night stand - which, is great, but the things that last are songs.

"I like to be in the studio. When we're in the studio, we're creating as we go. We don't ever go into the studio when everything is already done. There's a lot of the creative process happening while you're recording.

"I mean, I could play live shows and not put an album out for the next 10 years in Hollywood and there might be nothing to show for it. The only thing there is to show is an album, so that's the most important part to me."

YOU PRACTICALLY achieved the impossible with the first album. What is there to achieve in the future?

"To be the highest debuting rock roll band in history, which as of this date is Boston. They sold something like seven million in the States and nine million worldwide.

"I don't know what they've sold now. We're trying to find that out.

"Whitney Houston, from what they were saying in the press a couple of years ago, had the highest debuting record of all time - about 10 million copies.

"Bon Jovi and Def Lepard - I don't know who has the lead - they share the title of having the biggest selling Metal album. I don't consider either of those records 'Metal', but I guess people who don't actually play themselves think anything with loud guitar is Metal.

"It would be neat to try and get up in there.

"That's about it. As far as achieving other things go, I would like to have some songs that last on the radio long after Guns N' Roses are no longer around."

By Arlett Vereecke


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