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SoulMonster

1990.04.21/28 - Kerrang! Stick To Your Guns (Axl)

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1990.04.21/28 - Kerrang! Stick To Your Guns (Axl)

Post by Soulmonster on Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:51 am

PART 1

W. Axl Rose is pissed off. Not, thankfully, in the grand manner to which he sometimes is accustomed : no glass smashing, no room wrecking. But he has a bee in his bonnet that he wants squashing....and so what if it’s nearly midnight, why don’t I come over right now and take down some kinda statement? Well.....why not? Sleep’s for creeps anyway, or so they say in LA. So I hot-rod my tape-machine, scuttle down a coupla quick beers and head over to Axl’s West Hollywood apartment. Axl meets me at the door with eyebrows like thunder clouds.

« I can’t believe this shit I just read in Kerrang! » he scowls.

« Which shit are you referring to? » I ask.

« This shit ! », he growls, holding up a copy of Kerrang dated November 4, 1989 in his hand, yanked open at a page from Jon Hotten’s interview with Mötley Crüe.

« The interviewer asks Vince Neil about him throwing a punch at Izzy backstage at the MTV awards last year, and Vince replies », he begins, reading aloud in a voice heavy with sarcasms : « ‘ I just punched that dick and broke his fucking nose! Anybody who beats up on a woman deserves to get the shit kicked out of them. Izzy hit my wife, a year before I hit him.’ Well, that’s just a crock of shit! Izzy never touched that chick! If anybody tried to hit on anything, it was her trying to hit on Izzy when Vince wasn’t around. Only Izzy didn’t buy it. So that’s what that’s all about.... But this bit, man, where Vince says our manager, Alan Niven, wasn’t around, and that afterwards he walked straight past Izzy and me and we didn’t do a thing, that’s such a lot of bullshit, I can’t believe that asshole said those things in private, let alone to the fucking press! »

« The whole story is, Vince Neil took a pot-shot at Izzy as he was walkin’ off stage at the MTV awards, after jammin’ with Tom Petty, because Vince’s wife has got a bug up her ass about Izzy. Izzy doesn’t know what’s going on, Izzy doesn’t fuckin’ care. But anyway, Izzy’s just walked off stage. He’s momentarily blinded, as always happens when you come off stage, by coming from the stark stage-lights straight into total darkness side-stage. Suddenly, Vince pops up out of nowhere and lays one on Izzy. Tom Petty’s security people jump on him and ask Alan Niven, our manager who had his arm ‘round Izzy’s shoulders when Vince bopped him, if he wants to press charges. He asks Izzy and Izzy says : ‘Naw, it was only like bein’hit by a girl!’ and they let him go », he smiles mirthlessly.

« Meantime, I don’t know nuthin’. I’m walking way up ahead of everybody else, and the next thing I know Vince Neil comes flying past me like his ass is on fire or s omething. All I saw was a blur of cheekbones! I tell ya, man, it makes my blood boil when I read him saying all that shit about how he kicked Izzy’s ass. Turn the fuckin’ tape recorder on. I wanna set the record straight. I mean, when Vince did that, we were advised we could sue his ass off if we’d wanted to. But we said no, fuck it, who needs the grief? The guy’s a jerk. Fuck the courts, the guy needs a good ass-whippin’! And now I read this - we get Kerrang a little late here in LA - and I tell ya, he’s gonna get a good ass-whippin’, and I’m the boy to give it to him..... It’s like, whenever you wanna do it, man, let’s just do it. I wanna see that plastic face of his cave in when I hit him ! »

« Are you serious about this? », I ask him.

He nods vigorously.

« There’s only one way out for that fucker now and that’s if he apologises in public, to the press, to Kerrang and its readers, and admits he was lyin’ when he said those things in that interview. Personally, I don’t think he has the balls. But that’s the gauntlet, and I’m throwing it down. Hey, Vince, whichever way you wanna go, man : guns, knives, or fists, whatever you wanna do, I don’t care. Turn on the machine... »

We settle back in the only two available chairs not smothered in magazines, ashtrays, barf-balls (one squeeze and fzzzttttt, it’s Johnny Fartpants a-go-go) and other assorted crap. I fix up my machine and we start to roll....

Axl scrunches up on the balcony window which affords an impressive cinema-scope view of the twinkling footlights of the billowing Hollywood hills below. It reminds me of the sort of backcloth you might see on something like ‘Late night with David Letterman’. I wait for the band to cool out and the applause from the studio audience to die down before I hit tonight’s star turn with my first question...

K : You don’t seriously believe Vince will take up the gauntlet and arrange to meet you and fight it out, do you?

A : I’ve no idea what he will do. I mean, he could wait until I’m drunk in the Troubadour one night and come in because he got a phone call saying I’m there and hit me with a beer bottle. But it’s like, I don’t care. Hit me with a beer bottle, dude. Do whatever you wanna do but I’m gonna take you out....I don’t care what he does. Unless he sniper-shoots me - unless he gets me like that without me knowing it - I’m taking him with me and that’s about all there is to it.

K : What if Vince was to apologise?

A : That’d be radical! Personally, I don’t think he has the balls. I don’t think he has the balls to admit he’s been lying out of his ass. That’d be great if he did though, and t hen I wouldn’t have to be a dick from then on.

K : I heard that David Bowie apologised to you after the incident at your video-shoot.(the story goes that Axl got pissed off with the ageing superstar after he appeared to be getting a little too well acquainted with Axl’s girlfriend, Erin, during a visit last year to the set where the Gunners were making a -yet to see the light of day- video for ‘It’s so easy’. The upshot, apparently, was that Axl ended up aiming a few punches Bowie’s way before having him thrown off the set.)

A : Bowie and I had our differences. And then we talked and went out to dinner and then went down the China club and stuff. And when we left, I was like, « I wanna thank you for being the first person that’s ever come up to me in person and said how sorry they were about the situation and stuff. » It was cool, you know? And then I open up Rolling Stone the next day and there’s a story in there saying I’ve got no respect for the Godfather of Glam even though I wear make-up and all this bullshit... It’s laughable. I was out doing a soundcheck one day when we were opening for the Rolling Stones and Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton cornered me. I’m sittin’ on this amp and all of a sudden they’re both right there in front of me. And Jagger doesn’t really talk a lot, right? He’s just real serious about everything, and all of a sudden he’s like (adopts exaggerated Dick Van Dyke-style Cockney) : « So you got in a fight with Bowie, didja? ». So I told him the story real quick and him and Clapton are going off about Bowie in their own little world, talking about things from years ago. They were saying things like when Bowie gets drunk he turns into the Devil from Bromley.... I mean, I’m not even in this conversation. I’m just sittin’ there. Listening to ‘em bitch like crazy about Bowie. It was funny.

K : But you and the Thin White Duke are now best of buddies, is that right?

A : Well, I don’t know about ‘best of buddies’. But I like him a lot, yeah. We had a long talk about the business and stuff and I never anybody so cool and so into it and so whacked out and so sick in my life...I remember lookin’ over at Slash and going : « Man, we’re in fucking deep trouble » and he goes « Why? » and I go « Because I got a lot in common with this guy. I mean, I’m pretty sick but this guy’s just fuckin’ ill ! ». And Bowie sitting there laughing and talking about « One side of me is experimental and the other side of me wants to make something that people can get into, and I DON’T KNOW FUCKING WHY! WHY AM I LIKE THIS ? » And I’m sitting there thinking, I’ve got 20 more years of...that to look forward to? I’m already like that...20 more years? What am I gonna do? (laughs)

K : They say that every successful band needs a dictator in the line-up to kick butt and keep things moving. Do you think that’s one of the roles you fulfill in Guns N’ Roses-the dictator of the band?

A : Depends who you ask and on which day. We got into fights in Chicago, when we went there last year to escape LA and try and get some writing done. Everybody’s timing schedules were weird and we were all showing up at different times. But when I would show up I was like,OK, let’s do this, let’s do that, let’s do this one of yours Slash, OK, now let’s hear that one Duff’s got....And that’s when everybody would decide I was a dictator, a completely selfish dick, y’know? But fuck, man, as far as I was concerned we were on a roll. Slash is complaining we’re getting nothing done and I’m like « What do you mean? We just put down six new parts for songs! We’ve got all this stuff done in, like, a couple of weeks. » And he was like « Yeah, but I’ve been sitting here a month on my ass waitin’ for you to show up » I had driven cross-country in my truck to Chicago from LA and it had taken me weeks. So suddenly, like, everything’s a bummer and it’s all my fault. But after working with Jagger it was like, don’t anybody ever call me a dictator again. You go work for the Stones and you’ll find out the hard way what working for a real dictator is like!

K : Apart from that one brief conversation about Bowie, did you get to hang with Jagger or any of the rest of the members of the Rolling Stones when you supported them last year?

A : Not really. Not Jagger, anyway. That guy walks off stage and does paper work. He checks everything. That guy is involved in every little aspect of the show, from what the backing singers are getting paid to what a particular part of the PA costs to buy or hire. He is on top of all of it. Him and his lawyer and a couple of guys he hangs out with. But basically, it’s all him. And this is where I sympathise. I mean, I don’t sit around checking the gate receipts at the end of every show, but sometimes the frontman.....I don’t know. You don’t plan on that job when you join the band. You don’t want that job. You don’t wanna be that guy to the guys in your band that you hang out with and you look up to. But somebody’s got to do it. And the guitar player can’t do it because he is not the guy who has to be communicating directly with the audience with eye-contact and body movements. He can go back, hang his hair down in his face and stand by the amps and just get into his guitar part....

K : How do you manage to ‘communicate directly’ with the crowd when you’re playing in one of those 70,000-seater stadiums like the one you played in with the Stones?

A : You have to learn how, but it can be done. You know, like someone goes, « You’re gonna have this huge arena tour next year, dude! ». And I go, « I know, but that’s the problem. I can work a stadium now. » And I can. And if I can work it, then that’s what I wanna do. It’s just bigger and more fun.

K : Do tell me about how things are coming together for the new LP.

A : It’s coming together just great. Cos Slash is on like a motherfucker right now. The songs are coming together - they’re coming together real heavy. I’ve written all these ballads and Slash has written all these really heavy crunch rockers. It makes for a real interesting kinda confusion....

K : What about Steven Adler, your drummer? First he’s out of the band, then he’s back again. What’s the story right now?

A : He is back in the band. He was definitely out of the band. He wasn’t necessarily fired, we worked with Adam Maples, we worked with Martin Chambers, and Steven did the Guns N’ Roses thing and got his shit together. And it worked, and he did it, and he plays the songs better than any of ‘em, just bad-assed, and he’s GNR. And so if he doesn’t blow it, we’re going to try the album with him, and the tour and, you know, we’ve worked out a contract with him....

K : So you told him he had to stop taking drugs or he was out of the band?

A : Yeah, exactly. But, you know, it’s worked out. It’s finally back on and we’re hoping it continues. It’s only been a few days so far. It’s only been since Thursday last week, and he’s doing great. We’re all just hoping it continues.

K : How different has it been writing these new songs compared to the way you wrote songs for Appetite for destruction?

A : One reason things have been so hard, in a way, is this. The first album was basically written with Axl comin’ up with maybe one line, and maybe a melody for that line, or how I’m gonna say it or yell it or whatever. And the band would build a song around it. This time round...Izzy’s brought in eight songs at least, OK? Slash has brought in an album, I’ve brought in an album. And Duff’s brought in one song - Duff said it all in one song- it’s called ‘Why do you look at me when you hate me?’ and it’s just bad-assed. None of this ever happened before. I mean, before the first album, I think Izzy had written one song in his entire life, ya know? But they’re coming now... And Izzy has this, like, very wry sense of humour, man. He’s got this song about...(half-singing the lyrics) : « She lost her mind today, got splattered out on the highway, I say that’s OK... » (laughs) ! It’s called ‘Dust and bones’, I think, and it’s great. The rhythm reminds me of something like ‘Cherokee people’ by Paul Revere and the Raiders, only really weird and rocked out. It’s a weird song. But then it is by Izzy, what can I tell you?

K : You seem very happy now you’re back with the band in a recording studio. You like recording?

A : Yeah, I do. I prefer recording to doing a live gig, unless I’m psyched for the gig. Before the gig I always don’t wanna do that fuckin’ show, and nine times out of 10 I hate it. If I’m psyched it’s like, let’s go ! But most of the time I’m mad about something, or something’s going fucking wrong....I don’t enjoy most of it at all.

K : Isn’t that partly your own fault, though? Some people have accused you of having a very belligerent attitude.

A : I don’t know exactly....Something always fucking happens before the show. Somethin’ always happens and I react like a motherfucker to it. I don’t like to have this pot-smoking mentality of just letting things go by. I don’t feel like Lenny Kravitz : like, peace and love, man, for sure, or you’re gonna fuckin’ die ! (laughs) ! I’m gonna kick yer ass if you mess with my garden, you know? That’s always been my attitude.

K : Do you think that attitude has hardened, though, with the onset of this enormous fame and notoriety you now enjoy?

A : Meaning what exactly?

K : Do you act the way you do because your fame and popularity allows you to, or would you act that way anyway?

A : I’ve always been that way, but now I’m in a position to just be myself more. And the thing is, people do allow me to do it, whether they like it or not. It’s weird.

K : Do you ever take unfair advantage of that, though?

A : (long pause)....No. No, usually I’m just an emotionally unbalanced person. (laughs) No, really, I’m usually an emotional wreck before a show because of something else that’s going on in my life. I mean, as I say, somethin’ weird just always happens to me two seconds before I’m supposed to go onstage, you know? Like I found William Rose. Turns out, he was murdered in 84 and buried somewhere in Illinois, and I found that out like two days before a show and I was fucking whacked! I mean, I’ve been trying to uncover this mystery since I was a little kid. I didn’t even know he existed until I was a teenager, you know? Cos I was told it was the Devil that made me know what the inside of a house looked like that I’d supposedly never lived in. So I’ve been trying to track down this William Rose guy. Not like, I love this guy, he’s my father. I just wanna know something about my heritage....weird shit like am I going to have an elbow that bugs the shit out of me when I get 40 cos of some hereditary trait? Weird shit ordinary families take for granted.

K : You say your father was murdered?

A : Yeah, he was killed. It was probably like at close-range too, man. Wonderful family.....

K : You’ve taken a lot of personal criticism for the more brutal aspects of the lyrics to your songs, ‘One in a million’ being the most obvious example. Do you think your critics miss a lot of the humour in your songs?

A : To appreciate the humour in our work you gotta be able to relate to a lot of different things. And not everybody does. Not everybody can. With ‘One in a million’, I used a word - it’s part of the English language whether it’s a good word or not. It’s a derogatory word, it’s a negative word. It’s not meant to sum up the entire black race, but it was directed towards black people in those situations. I was robbed, I was ripped-off, I had my life threatened! And it’s like, I described it in one word. And not only that, but I wanted to see the effect of a racial joke. I wanted to see what effect that would have on the world. Slash was into it.... I mean, the song says « Don’t wanna buy none of your gold chains today ». Now a black person on the Oprah Winfrey show who goes « Oh, they’re putting down black people! » is going to fuckin’ take one of these guys at the bus stop home and feed him and take care of him and let him babysit the kids? They ain’t gonna be near the guy ! I don’t think every black person is a nigger. I don’t care. I consider myself kinda green and from another planet or something, you know? I’ve never felt I fit into any group, so to speak. A black person has this 300 years of whatever on his shoulders. OK. But I ain’t got nothing to do with that. It bores me too. There’s such a thing as too sensitive. You can watch a movie about someone blowing all the crap outta all these people, but you could be the most anti-violent person in the world. But you get off on this movie, like, yeah! He deserved it, you know, the bad guy got shot... Something I’ve noticed that’s really weird about ‘One in a million’ is the whole song coming together took me by surprise. I wrote the song as a joke. West (Arkeen, co-lyricist of ‘It’s so easy’ amongst other songs) just got robbed by two black guys on Christmas night, a few years back. He went out to play on Hollywood boulevard and he’s standing there playing in front of the band and he gets robbed at knife point for 78 cents. A couple of days later we’re all sittin’ around watchin’ TV - there’s Duff and West and a couple other guys - and we’re all bummed out, hungover and this and that. And I’m sitting there with no money, no job, feelin’ guilty for being at West’s house all the time suckin’ up the oxygen, you know? And I picked up this guitar, and I can only play like the top two strings, and I ended up fuckin’ around with this little riff. It was the only thing I could play on the guitar at the time. And then I started ad-libbing some words to it as a joke. And we had just watched Sam Kinison or somethin’ on the video, you know, and I guess the humour was just sorta leanin’ that way anyway or somethin’. I don’t know. But we just started writing this thing, and when I sang « police and niggers, that’s right », that was to fuck with West’s head, cos he couldn’t believe I would write that! And it came out like that....then later on the chorus came about because I was like getting really far away, like ‘Rocket man’, Elton John. I was thinking about my friends and family in Indiana, and I realized those people have no concept of who I am anymore. Even the ones I was close to. Since then I’ve flown people out here, had’em hang out here, I’ve paid for everything. But there was no joy in it for them. I was smashin’ shit, going fuckin’ crazy. And yet, trying to work. And they were going, « Man, I don’t wanna be a rocker any more, not if you go through this ». But at the same time, I brought’em out, you know, and we just hung out for a couple of months - wrote songs together, had serious talks, it was almost like bein’ on acid cos we’d talk about the family and life and stuff, and we’d get really heavy and get to know each all over again. It’s hard to try and replace eight years of knowing each other every day, and then all of a sudden I’m in this new world. Back there I was a street kid with a skateboard and no money dreamin’ ‘bout being in a rock band, and now all of a sudden I’m here. And it’s weird for them to see their friends putting up Axl posters, you know? And it’s weird for me too. So anyway, all of a sudden I came up with this chorus « You’re one in a million », you know, and « we tried to reach you but you were much too high .... ».

K : So many of your lyrics are littered with drug analogies. Is that a fair comment?

A : Everybody was into dope then and those analogies are great in rock songs - Aerosmith done proved that on their old stuff, and the Stones. And drug analogies.... the language is always like the hippest language. A lot of hip-hop and stuff, even the stuff that’s anti-drugs, a lot of the terms comes directly from drug street-raps. Cos they’re always on top of stuff, cos they gotta change the language all the time so people don’t know what they’re saying, so they can, you know, keep dealing. Plus they’re trying to be the hippest, coolest, baddest thing out here. It happens. So that’s like, « we tried to reach you but you were much too high », I was picturing ‘em trying to call me if, like, I disappeared or died or something. And « you’re one in a million », someone said that to me real sarcastically, it wasn’t like an ego thing. But that’s the good thing, you use that « I’m one in a million » positively to make yourself get things done. But originally, it was kinda like someone went, « Yeah, you’re just fuckin’ one in a million, aren’t ya? », and it stuck with me. Then we go in the studio, and Duff plays the guitar much more aggressively than I did. Slash made it too tight and concise, and I wanted it a bit rawer. Then Izzy comes up with this electric guitar thing. I was pushing him to come up with a cool tone, and all of a sudden he’s comin’up with this aggressive thing. It just happened. So suddenly it didn’t work to sing the song in a low funny voice any more. We tried and it didn’t work, didn’t sound right, it didn’t fit. And the guitar parts were so cool, I had to sing it like.....HURRHHHH ! so that I sound like I’m totally into this.

K : It certainly doesn’t sound like you’re pretending on the record, though, does it?

A : No, but this is just one point of view out of hundreds that I have on the situation. When I meet a black person, I deal with each situation differently. Like I deal with every person I meet, it doesn’t matter.

K : Have you taken any abuse personally from any black people since this whole controversy first started raging?

A : No, not actually. Actually, I meet a lot of black people that come up and just wanna talk about it, discuss it with me because they find it interesting. Like a black chick came up to me in Chicago, and goes : « you know, I hated you cos of ‘One in a million’. » And I’m like, « oh, great, here we go. » And she goes : « But I ride the subway », and all of a sudden she gets real serious. She says « and I looked around one day and I know what you’re talkin’ about. So you’re all right. » And I’ve got a lot of that...

K : What about from other musicians?

A : I had a big heavy conversation with Ice-T (former member of hard-line LA rappers NWA- Niggers With Attitude or alternately No Whites Allowed). He sent a letter, wanting to work on ‘Welcome to the jungle’ cos he’d heard I was interested in turning it into a rap thing. He wanted to be part of it. Anyway, we ended up having this big heavy conversation about ‘One in a million’, and he could see where I was coming from all right. And he knows more about that shit than most....

-------------------------------

PART 2

At last the grisly subject of ‘One in a million’ is allowed to drop. Axl lights another cigarette, unzips the top from another can of Coke, rubs a tired eye with the back of a thumb, and the conversation drifts towards the next Guns N’ Roses album.

A : There’s, like, 37 songs right now, but I know by the end of the record there’ll be 42 to 45, and I want 30 of ‘em down.

K : A double album then?

A : Well, a double album but a single 76 mn CD, something like that. Then I want five B-sides - people never listen to B-sides anymore - and that’ll be the back of another EP. We’ll say it’s B-sides, you know, plus there should be four extra songs for an EP, if we pull this off. So that’s the next record and then there’s the live record from the tour. If we do this right, we won’t have to make another album for five years ! (laughs) But it’s not so much like five years to sit on our ass. It’s like, five years to figure out what we’re gonna say next, you know? After the crowd and the people figure out how they’re gonna react to this album.

K : What kind of direction do you see the band taking on this next album? Do you plan to expand your usual themes somewhat, or are you sticking pretty much to the sleazy half-world undercurrents of the first album for inspiration?

A : This record will show we’ve grown a lot, but there’ll be some childish, you know, arrogant, male, false-bravado crap on there too. But there’ll also be some really heavy serious stuff.

K : It’s been such a long time since the release of ‘Appetite for destruction’, and what with everything that’s gone down in between, do you sense the possibility of a backlash building up in time for the new album?

A : It doesn’t fuckin’ matter. This doesn’t matter, man. It’s too late. If we record this album the way we wanna record this album, it could bomb, sure. But five years from now, there’ll be a lot of kids into it in Hollywood. 10 years from now, it’ll be an underground thing like Aerosmith and Hanoi Rocks. The material has strong enough lyrical content and strong enough guitar parts, you’ll have no choice, it’ll permeate into people’s brains one way or another. If the album doesn’t sell and be successful, someday in 10 years from now someone’s gonna write a record and we’re gonna be one of their main influences, and so the message is still gonna get through. Whatever we’re trying to say and the way in which we try to say it, we pay attention to that. If we get that right, the rest just takes care of itself. It’s not so much like, « our message is the way », but there is an audience for what we’re saying that’s going through the same things we are, and, in a way, we are leading.

K : How conscious are you of the role as leaders, in terms of your position - both critically and commercially - at the forefront of modern rock music?

A : It’s been.....shown to me in a lot of ways. I didn’t want to accept the responsibility of it really, even though I was trying, but I still was reluctant. Now I’m kind of into it. Because it’s like, you have a choice, man, you can grow or die. We have to do it - we have to grow. If we don’t grow, we die. We can’t do the same sludge forever. I’m not Paul Stanley, man ! I can’t fuckin’ play sludge, man, for fuckin’ 20 years. Sludge, man. It’s sludge rock. That’s one of the reasons why 1989 kinda got written off. We had to find a whole new way of working together. Everybody got successful and it changed things, of course it did. Everybody had the dream, when they got successful they could do what they want, right? That turns into Slash bringing in eight songs ! It’s never been done before, Slash bringing in a song first and me writing words to it. I’ve done it twice with him before and we didn’t use either of those songs, out of Slash’s choice. Now he’s got eight of ‘em that I gotta write words to! They’re bad-assed songs, too. I was working on, like, writing these ballads that I feel have really rich tapestries and stuff, and making sure each note, in effect, is right. Cos whether I’m using a lot of instrumentation and stuff or not, I’ll still write with minimalism. But it has to be right; it has to be the right note and it has to be held the right way, and it has to have the right effect, do you know what I mean?

K : I didn’t know you were such a perfectionist.

A : What people don’t understand is there was a perfectionist attitude to ‘Appetite..’. There was a definite plan to that. We could have made it all smooth and polished. We went and did test tracks with different people and they came out smooth and polished. We did some stuff with Spencer Proffer and Geffen records said it was too fuckin’ radio. That’s why we went with Mike Clink, we went for a raw sound because it just didn’t gel having it too tight and concise. We knew what we were doing, and we knew this : we know the way we are onstage, and the only way to capture that energy on the record, is by making it somewhat live, doing the bass, the drums and the rhythm guitar at the same time. Getting the best track, having it a bit faster than you play it live, so that brings some energy into it. Adding lots of vocal parts, and overdubs with the guitar. Adding more music to capture....because Guns N’ Roses onstage, man, can be out to lunch! But it’s like, you know, visually, we’re all over the place and you don’t know what to expect. How do you get that on a record? That’s the thing. That’s why recording is my favourite thing, because it’s like painting a picture. You start out with a shadow, or an idea, and you come up with something and it’s a shadow of that. You might like it better. It’s still not exactly what you pictured in your head. But you go into the studio and add all these things and you come up with something you didn’t even expect. Slash will do, like, one slow little guitar fill that adds a while different mood that you didn’t expect. That’s what I love. It’s like you’re doing a painting and you go away and come back and it’s different. You allow different shadings to creep in and then you go, « Wow, I got a whole different effect on this that’s even heavier than what I pictured. I don’t know quite what I’m onto, but I’m on it, you know? »

K : You’re using Clink again to produce the new album, and you’re recording in the same studios you made ‘Appetite’ in. Are there any ingredients you plan to add to the recording that you didn’t use first time around?

A : Yeah. We’re trying to find Jeff Lynne....

K : Jeff Lynne?! (leader of 70’s monoliths Electric light orchestra, last seen hob-nobbing it with the Travelling Wilburys)

A : I want him to work on ‘November Rain’, and there’s like three or four other possible songs that if it works out I’d maybe like him to look at.

K : As an additional producer to Clink, or to contribute some string arrangements, or what?

A : Maybe some strings, I don’t know. Cos this record will be produced by Guns N’ Roses and Mike Clink. But I might be using synthesizer - but I’m gonna say I’m using synthesizer, and what I programmed. It’s not gonna be like : « Oh, you know, we do all our shows live » and then it’s on tape. That’s not gonna be the thing. I mean, I took electronic music in 11-th grade at school. It’s like, I don’t know shit about digital synthesizers but I can take a fuckin’ patch-chord and shape my own wave forms and shit, you know? So now I wanna....you know, jump into today. I’ve never had the money to do it before. Maybe someone like Jeff Lynne can help me. It’s a thought.

K : This song, ‘November Rain’, I read somewhere that you said if it wasn’t recorded to your complete satisfaction you would quit the music business....

A : That was then. At that time it was the most important song to me.

K : Were you serious, though, when you said you’d quit the music business if it wasn’t done right?

A : Yeah! That’s the fuckin’ truth, allright. But the worst part of it is, like, if you wanna look at it in a negative way, I’ve got four of these motherfuckers now, man ! I don’t know how I wrote these, but I like ‘em better than ‘November rain’! And I’m gonna crush that motherfuckin’ song, man ! But now I’ve got four of ‘em I gotta do, and they’re all big songs. We play them and we get chills. It started when I came in one day with this heavy piano part, it’s like real big, and it fits this bluesy gospel thing that was supposed to be a blues-rocker like ‘Buy me a Chevrolet’ by Foghat or something. Now it’s turned into this thing, like, ‘Take another piece of my heart’ by Janis Joplin or something....

K : I’m still mulling over the giddy prospect of Jeff Lynne working on the next Guns N’ Roses album....Why him? Were you ever an ELO fan?

A : Oh yeah, I’m an ELO fanatic ! Like old ELO, ‘Out of the blue’, that period. I went to see them play when they came to town when I was a kid and shit like that. I respect Jeff Lynne for being Jeff Lynne. I mean, ‘Out of the blue’ is an awesome album. So, one : he’s got stamina, and two : he’s used to working with a lot of different material. Three : he’s used to working with all kinds of instrumentation for all kinds of different styles of music. Four : he wrote all his own material. Five : he produced it! That’s a lot of concentration, and a lot of energy needed. Hopefully, I would like, if he’s available, to have him. He’s the best. But I don’t know if we can get him or not.

K : You’d work with him just on certain tracks?

A : That’s what I’d like to start with. I mean, who knows, maybe him and Clink will hit off just great, and everybody’ll be into it. If it works, then great, welcome to it, you know?

Silence reigns for a brief moment, Axl’s attention turned suddenly to the low distant hum of his hi-fi which has been spinning taped music throughout the conversation, his gaze frozen between the ashtrays and magazines littered on the table before us, a pinched little smile creasing his lips. I ask who it is we’re listening to. A : Cheap Trick, ‘In color’, featuring Rick ‘the dick’ Neilsen. What a fuckin’ asshole! I love Cheap Trick, too. It’s kinda funny now, cos I listen to it and just laugh at him.

K : Why? What happened?

A : There was a thing in Rolling Stone where he said he fuckin’ decked Slash! He didn’t deck Slash! Do you think anyone is gonna fuckin’ deck Slash when Doug Goldstein is standing right there between them? It’s not gonna happen.

K : Why does everybody want to tell the world they beat up one of Guns N’ Roses?

A : Because Guns N’ Roses has this reputation for being bad, you know, the new bad boys in town, and so, like, hey, man, it perpetuates down to fuckin’ Rick Neilsen wanting to get back in good with the youth market by claiming he’s badder than GNR, you know? If he had any real balls, he’d apologise to Slash in the press. Not in person, he can come up to me and say he’s sorry all he wants, it doesn’t mean shit ‘til he says it in the press. Now Bowie’s a different situation, because Bowie hasn’t talked to the press. It’s not like he went and talked to the press about our bust-up. So Bowie can apologise to me, and then when they see photos of me and him together they’ll go : « Fuck, we tried to start a war and look at these guys, they’re hanging out! » (laughs) That’s cool, you know? Like Jagger was supposed to have told me off and the next thing you know I’m onstage singing with him....That sure fucked with a lot of them. I mean, it’s either somebody kicked our ass or it’s how some chick is scared I’m gonna come kill her cat. I mean, I could make a joke about it, but....

K : Speaking of ‘bad boys’, did you get to meet Keith Richards when you supported the Stones?

A : I got to meet him and talk to him for a little bit. I just kinda watched the guy. Basically, I told him I gotta go shopping....cos he has the coolest coats in the world. He just loved that. I asked him about Billy Idol rippin’ the ideal off for ‘Rebel yell’ from him, kinda joking. And he goes : (Axl adopts a tie-dyed Cockney accent) « Stole it from my fuckin’ night table, he did! » (laughs) I thought that was great. It’s like, I met John Entwistle from the Who, man, and I said I’d always wondered about these rumours about ‘Baba O’Riley’, you know, like for the keyboard parts they went and got brainwaves and then programmed ‘em through a computer, you know? So I asked Entwistle, and Entwistle’s annihilated out of his mind, right, he’s in his own little world, and he looks at me and goes : « Brainwaves? What fuckin’ brainwaves? Townsend ain’t got no fuckin’ brainwaves ! » (laughs) And yet Townsend’s a genius and he knows it. Then I asked him about the time he was supposed to have shot up all his gold records, and he said : « I’ll let you in on a secret, mate. Those were all Connie Francis’ records, I fuckin’ stole them ! I ain’t gonna shoot my own goddamned records! » I said : « Wow, okay, I’ve had enough of this guy, I can’t deal with it anymore ! » (laughs) He was just fuckin’ lit and ready to go....

K : You seem very settled at the moment, relaxed, not a bit like your image.

A : I’m happy to kick back tonight and sit around jawing, because today everything is under control. Tomorrow - wait and see - it’s fuckin’ over! Something will come up. There’s only one thing left, and that’s this damn album, man. That’s it. I mean, we may do another record but it’s like, Guns N’ Roses doesn’t fully function, nothing ever really happens, to its utmost potential, unless...it’s a kamikaze run ! Unless it’s like « this is it, man! » .Like, « fuck it, let’s go down in fuckin’ flames with this motherfucker! ». That’s how we are about this record, everybody’s like, we’re just gonna do this son of a bitch....

K : The hour, as the prophet sang, is getting late. We wind up with the obligatory, ‘What now?’ questions, Axl casting a slant-eyed glance into the immediate future for himself and his band.

A : The main thing about the next record is this is our dream, to get these songs out there into the public. Then once we get out there we’ll fight for them with the business side and stuff. But at this point that’s not what’s important. What’s important is the recording of the songs. If the business comes down on us really hard in a weird way, then we’ll make our choices - do we wanna deal with this, or do we not wanna fuckin’ deal with it? The record will sell a certain amount of copies the minute it comes out anyway, and we could live off that for the rest of our lives and record our records on small independent labels, it doesn’t matter. I mean, that’s not in the plans, but...ultimately, it just doesn’t matter, you know? It’s all down to what we want to deal with. Do we wanna give everything that we feel we have inside of ourselves, to do the shows to our top potential? Yes, we do. But I don’t choreograph things. I don’t know when I’m gonna slam down on my knees or whatever. It’s like, you have to ask yourself, do I wanna give all that, and have someone fuckin’ spitting in my face? Does it mean that much to me? No! I dig the songs. If you don’t want ‘em, fine. But I don’t have to give them to you.

K : I know you’ve often threatened it, but if you wanted to, could you really leave all this behind - the band, your career in the music business - not just financially, but emotionally, artistically?

A : If I wanted to badly enough, sure. This is all right, in bits and pieces, but whether it’ll take up all the chapters in the book of my life, I don’t know. I would like to record for a long time....I have to make this album. Then it doesn’t matter. This album is the album I’ve always been waiting on. Our second album is the album I’ve been waiting on since before we got signed. We were planning out the second album before we started work on the first one! But as much as it means to me, if it bombs, if that happens, yeah, I’m sure I’ll be bummed business-wise and let down or whatever, but at the same time it doesn’t matter. It’s like, I got it out there. That’s the artistic thing taken care of. Then I could walk away...

K : What about the money - could you walk away from that?

A : I’d like to make the cash off the touring, and then I’d like to walk away knowing that I can support my kids, for whatever they want, for the rest of my life, you know?....and that I can still donate to charities. I’d like to have that security. I’ve never known any security in my whole life. The financial aspect is just to get that security. If I have that in the bank I can live off the interest and still have money to spend on whatever - including, top of the list, the welfare of my own immediate and future family.

K : Last question. First question. Same question, in fact, I’ve been asking for the last couple of years....

A : When will the album actually fuckin’ come out, right?

I nod. He doesn’t.

A : It’s taken a lot of time to put together the ideas for this album...in certain ways, no one’s done what we’ve done - come out with a record that captured that kind of spirit, since maybe the first Sex Pistols album. No one’s followed it up, and we’re not gonna put out a fuckin’ record until we’re sure we can ! So we’ve been trying to build it up. It’s like, it’s only really these last couple of months that I’ve been writing the right words. Now suddenly I’m on a roll, all the words for Slash’s songs are there. But it’s taken this long to find ‘em. I just hope the people are into it, you know? I think that the audience will have grown enough, though. It’s been three years - they’ve gone through three years of shit too, so hopefully they’ll be ready to relate to some new things. When you’re writing about real life, not fantasy, you have to take time to live your own life first and allow yourself to go through different phases. Now I think there’s enough different sides of Guns N’ Roses that when the album is finally released no one will know what to think, let alone us ! Like, what are they tryin’ to say? Sometimes I don’t fuckin’ know....


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Re: 1990.04.21/28 - Kerrang! Stick To Your Guns (Axl)

Post by Blackstar on Sun Sep 23, 2018 11:48 am

Mick Wall has said that this interview was what caused his fallout with Axl and the main reason his name was included in the Get In The Ring "rant". It was also probably the main reason the band had issued a contract for the press in early 1991.
Shame, because it's an interesting interview. But from what Wall said, what specifically infuriated Axl  was the conversation in the beginning of the article, before the actual interview started, with the quotes about Vince Neil:

Mick Wall wrote:
I’ve heard the rumours, of course. So first off, let me begin by straightening out some of the most popular misconceptions.

1. Axl threatening to kick my “bitchy little ass” was not because of his reaction to the book I wrote about the band, Guns N’ Roses: The Most Dangerous Band In the World. The song was recorded long before the book was published.
2. Getting my name in a Guns N’ Roses song did not result in me losing my job on Kerrang!, the magazine that had printed many of my GN’R stories. I had already decided to leave some months before the Use Your Illusion II album was released, as friends and colleagues will confirm.
3. Despite Axl’s assertions, I have never ripped off anybody’s children or deliberately told lies in anything I have written about Guns N’ Roses.

[...]

Did I make things up, though? Do me a favour. What for? The Gunners were the Oasis of their day, and the whole beauty of writing about them then was that there was always so much going on around them. The last thing you had to do was make anything up. Controversy and headlines followed them around like dogs snapping at their cowboy-booted heels. You simply had to be there to write it all down.
[...]
Fast-forward to January 1990, and a phone call just as I’m getting ready to hit the sack. It’s Axl, wanting to know if I can come over to his place right now because he has something important to say.

At the time he was living in a small two-bedroom apartment in West Hollywood, and when I got there, he was raving. It was all about Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil, who he claimed had jumped Izzy from behind and roughed him up a couple of nights earlier. The argument was over Vince’s wife, who’d claimed Izzy had come onto her, while Axl now insisted it was the other way around and that it was Vince’s wife, a former mud-wrestler at The Tropicana, who had made a pass at Izzy…

Or something. It was a lot of nothing about nothing. But Axl was mad! He was going to make Vince pay! He began ranting about how he wanted to “kill that motherfucker”. He chundered on for a full 10 minutes before he finally calmed down long enough for me to set up the tape-recorder. He was saying crazy things, fantasising about what he was going to do to Vince once he got hold of him. So before the interview began, I sat on the couch and scribbled down some of the things he had said, so that I could throw them back at him in the interview, including some astonishing statements like, “Anyway you wanna go, guns or knives, motherfucker,” and a few other choice phrases.

He just laughed at me. “No, man,” he said. “I still stand by every fuckin’ word!”

Then we sat down and began taping. Once Axl had got his Vince spiel off his chest, not only did he end up giving me a full two-hour interview, but he also let me do a second more ‘staged’ interview for Capital Radio, where I used to present a Saturday night show. We did a sort of mini-Desert Island Discs together, where he got to pick some of the tracks that had affected him most as a child – D’yer Maker by Led Zeppelin and Bennie & The Jets by Elton John were two he picked. It was a great interview and afterwards he was in such a good mood that he even taped a couple of station IDs for me.

Later though, when I came to write up the interview, I tried to give the full flavour of how menacing Axl had sounded during the early part of my visit, and included all the controversial comments he had made on tape, plus one or two of the things I had written down that he’d said when I first arrived and he was still on a roll. But when I read it back I realised how heavy some of the things that Axl had said actually looked in black and white. So I decided that, to be on the safe side, I should contact him, in case he had changed his mind or wanted to lighten it up a little.

We spoke on the phone and I explained my fears to him and asked if he wanted to retract any of the more inflammatory quotes. He just laughed at me. “No, man,” he said. “I still stand by every fuckin’ word!”

But when the interview ran as a cover story in April 1990, it immediately caused uproar in both the Mötley Crüe and Gunners camps, and suddenly it was nothing to do with Izzy anymore. Coming from the same town, the two bands ran in many of the same circles – Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx and Slash had once been big pals – and shared many of the same friends and business acquaintances. By making such a confrontational public statement, Axl may have briefly got to Vince Neil, but he’d also started something no one else in either band would have wanted: he had started a war.

And my feeling is that it was at that very moment that Axl realised what he’d done, that he first began to turn against me in his mind. Nothing was ever his fault. If something had gone wrong, it must have been someone else’s fuck-up. Or, in this case, mine.
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The first intimation I had of the trouble brewing was when Axl got one of his flunkies to call and ask me to send them a copy of the interview tape so that the band could run it on their own special Guns N’ Roses telephone line in America. My suspicions were immediately aroused. Why on earth would they want to run that interview on a phone line?

When I asked what the number of the phone line was, there was a lot of spluttering and back-pedalling down the other end, and that’s when I knew that something was up. Axl didn’t want the tape so he could run it on a phone-line; he wanted it so he could listen to it, to see if he’d really said all the things I’d reported he’d said.

When I refused to send the tape and confronted one of Axl’s publicists with my views, she admitted that there was indeed “a problem”. Axl, she said, “just can’t believe he said some of those things. He doesn’t even think he would speak that way. He, er, thinks it’s kinda funny…”

‘Kinda funny?’ At first, I was gobsmacked. Later, the more I thought about it, the more completely outraged I became. For years, I had always done my damnedest to play fair with Guns N’ Roses. There had already been a great many unsavoury occurrences that I had been witness to over the years that had never come within a million miles of publication; personal problems that Slash had approached me for advice on; 3am confessions that Duff swore me to secrecy over. As far as I was concerned, I had proved myself. I was no stitch-up merchant; I was a friend. Now came this: Axl with his knickers in a twist because his big mouth had got him into trouble again.
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But why the subterfuge? If he’d wanted to hear a copy of the tape, why hadn’t he just called and asked for one? Why did he have to get someone to call and invent some story? What did he have cooking? Axl on an ill-tempered bender was a crazy man, capable of almost anything. I played the tape back to myself and checked my notes. It was all there. I thought about making a copy of everything and sending it to him, but then I began to get paranoid. Surely, he wasn’t that far out he didn’t remember saying those things? But rock stars can convince themselves of almost anything; there’s always plenty of people around who will tell them they’re right, no matter what they say or do. And I wondered if he wanted a copy of the tape so that he could… well, doctor it in some way. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but there were a lot of ridiculous things and people surrounding Guns N’ Roses in those days, and I thought that anything might be possible.

Brooding on it, I admit now there was also a part of me that simply resented the implication of being asked for a copy of the tape. My word was no longer good enough. Further proof was required. Well, Axl could go fuck himself, I decided. If he had a problem, let him call me himself and tell me about it.

I relayed the message in no uncertain terms the very next day. Needless to say, Axl never did call back and that’s the way things stayed until we met up again nearly a year later.

[...]
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I think there are plot holes and things that don't add up in Mick Wall's story:

1. From what Mick Wall says here, but also even from the interview itself, it's evident that the contentious quotes about Vince Neil in the beginning weren't recorded. Mick Wall says that those quotes were from the notes he had kept before the "record" button was pressed.
But then, later in his story, when he mentions that Axl's publicist asked him for a copy of the recording for verification, Wall claims that part of the reason he refused to give the tape was that he was afraid that Axl might "doctor" it. Since, however, the parts about Vince Neil Axl weren't recorded at all, what was there for Axl to "doctor"? Moreover, Wall would have just given Axl a copy of the recording and not the original, of course; so, even if Axl had also issues with parts that were on the tape and edited them or erased them, Mick Wall would always have the original recording that could expose Axl. What was Mick Wall afraid of, then?
Mick Wall also claims that he called Axl and got his approval before he included those quotes about Vince Neil in the article. In a later interview, Wall said that he had recorded that phone call (odd that the forgot to mention it in this article). If that's true, what was he afraid of, again, about giving the interview tape to Axl? And even if he was really afraid of something back then, why he hasn't released the phone call recording yet, instead of just talking about it in interviews all these years and writing bad books about Axl?
I think the real reason Wall didn't want to give a copy of the tape to Axl was that he couldn't prove that Axl said those things. The tape would have clearly shown that the quotes about Vince Neil weren't part of the actual interview. So, regardless of whether Axl actually said those things or not, or of whether he said them exactly as quoted in the article, he could easily deny them, since he wasn't on tape saying them. Wall's alleged notes wouldn't have consisted enough proof (and I find it hard to believe that exact quotes can be reproduced based merely on notes). As for the phone call in which Axl allegedly gave him the green light to print the quotes: I think Wall maybe either hadn't recorded it at all or he had, but the quotes weren't exactly what he printed, so he couldn't have proved that either.
It would have been, most likely, a "one's word against the other's" situation, but probably Axl would've had a better case.

2. Axl didn't stop talking about Vince Neil after this interview. In later interviews (e.g. Famous Last Words, MTV, August 1990 and Rockline, November 1991) he repeated that he had challenged Vince Neil into a fight, though with a more tongue-in-cheek language than the one he appears to use in the Mick Wall piece. Wouldn't Axl have avoided talking about the issue, if his problem had merely been realising that he had started an unwanted "war" with Motley Crue, like Mick Wall claims?

3. Mick Wall says that the interview was conducted in January, 1990, and was published in April. This is strange. That time window would be normal for a monthly magazine; Kerrang, however, was a weekly magazine then, and its articles and interviews were more up-to-date.
But even if we accept that the interview was kept for a later issue for whatever reason, there is a part in it which hints to the date it was recorded. It's the part about Steven:
K : What about Steven Adler, your drummer? First he’s out of the band, then he’s back again. What’s the story right now?
A : He is back in the band. He was definitely out of the band. He wasn’t necessarily fired, we worked with Adam Maples, we worked with Martin Chambers, and Steven did the Guns N’ Roses thing and got his shit together. And it worked, and he did it, and he plays the songs better than any of ‘em, just bad-assed, and he’s GNR. And so if he doesn’t blow it, we’re going to try the album with him, and the tour and, you know, we’ve worked out a contract with him....
K : So you told him he had to stop taking drugs or he was out of the band?
A : Yeah, exactly. But, you know, it’s worked out. It’s finally back on and we’re hoping it continues. It’s only been a few days so far. It’s only been since Thursday last week, and he’s doing great. We’re all just hoping it continues.
Axl talks about Steven's probation contract as something that had happened just a week or less before the interview. It is known from official documents that the date of that contract was March 28, 1990. So the interview must have taken place in late March-early April 1990. Maybe Mick Wall just gets the timeline wrong because of bad memory?
But in the controversial, not recorded, part about Vince Neil in the beginning, there's a seemingly different (earlier) time hint:
« This shit ! », he growls, holding up a copy of Kerrang dated November 4, 1989 in his hand, yanked open at a page from Jon Hotten’s interview with Mötley Crüe.
[...]
And now I read this - we get Kerrang a little late here in LA -
Here, Axl refers to a Kerrang article from November 1989 which he has just read, saying that the magazine gets "a little late" in L.A. I wonder, how long "a little late" could be? Two months, from November to January? Plausible. But almost five months, from November to late March-early April, is much longer than "a little late", I think.
So what went on there? I think it's quite possible that the not recorded conversation in the beginning and the actual interview happened months apart from each other; and that the conversation about Vince Neil was an off-the-record, "unofficial" one. Then, the day when the actual interview took place, Axl talked about Vince Neil again, but more lightly and casually, as in the part right after the actual interview starts. And then, when Mick Wall wrote the article, he had the idea to include the off-the- record conversation from months ago as he remembered it, in order to make the article more sensational. This is just a theory, of course, but I've noticed that Mick Wall has used such tactics in his books, i.e. merging quotes from different times and occasions.

Axl never gave his side of the story or a direct explanation on why Mick Wall's name ended up in Get In The Ring. There were a couple of occasions, though, where I think Axl might have referred to that story indirectly, without mentioning a specific name. The first one was in the Famous Last Words interview (MTV, August 31, 1990), where, talking about the band's problems with the press, he mentioned the case when journalists print things said off-the-record about other bands. The other time was in the Rockline interview (November 27, 1991), where he said that there were "other people" behind Vince Neil who wanted to add fuel to the fire.
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Re: 1990.04.21/28 - Kerrang! Stick To Your Guns (Axl)

Post by Blackstar on Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:31 am

I got Mick Wall's old book from 1991 (Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993). It has an extended (with more quotes) and differently edited version of this interview. There is also a part about the three songs that formed Axl's musical taste in his youth, which probably was from another interview, shortly after the Kerrang one, on Wall's then radio show (Wall has mentioned it in his most recent book and some interviews); or maybe it was part of the interview for Kerrang, and then Axl presented the songs on the radio show too.
In the book version some of the quotes about Vince Neil are different. The question about Steven's status is not part of the main interview, recorded in January according to Mick Wall, and appears as part of a phone conversation that took place later, before the Kerrang piece was printed, when Wall says he asked Axl about the Vince Neil quotes.

The book version follows below, in the next three posts:


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Book version (Mick Wall, Guns N' Roses: The Most Dangerous Band in the World)

Post by Blackstar on Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:45 am

SIX

Axl 1990

JANUARY 1990
 
I had to wait a long time for my interview with Axl. But like all the best and the worst things in life, once I got it, I got it good. We had run into each other two or three times since that initial meeting in Man­chester two years before - backstage at Donington in ’88 and a couple of times more recently at the Cathouse in L.A. But Axl had always maintained a certain distance from me and he almost never looked me directly in the eye when he spoke. I had never pursued things further because I knew it would have been pointless. Axl knew all about me anyway – one night at the Cathouse he told me how much he had enjoyed reading ‘the continuing adventures of Slash’, as he put it, that I had written up for Kerrang! from the interviews we had done together. I figured that when he wanted to talk – if he wanted to talk – he’d know where to find me.
 
He did. It was just a few days after my meeting with Duff. My last night in L.A, in fact. I was leaving the next day for London and I had been out for dinner and drunk just enough heavy red wine to give me a good night’s sleep before I left for the airport in the morning. The clock by my bed said it was 11.30 p.m. I thought of lambs leaping. There would never be a worse time for him to call. The phone rang. Whatever else you may think of W. Axl Rose, you’ve got to admit, the kid’s got timing...
 
Axl was pissed off. Not, thankfully, in the grand manner to which we had now become accustomed: no glass-smashing, no room-wrecking. But he had a bee in his bonnet that he badly wanted squashing, and so what if it was nearly midnight and I had to catch a plane in the morning, why didn’t I come over right now and take down some kind of statement? Sleep’s for creeps, anyway. Come on, whad-daya say? I never even got to take off my jacket.
 
Axl lives in a small two-bedroom apartment in a smart security-guarded apartment block in West Hollywood, just a few minutes’ drive from where I was staying with friends. He met me at the door dressed simply in faded blue jeans, and a baggy grey sweatshirt with the sleeves rolled up, revealing skinny heavily-tattooed forearms. His wrists were smothered in literally hundreds of silver bangles that clattered noisily every time he moved his hands, which he did a lot, counterpointing every utterance furiously.
 
His eyebrows were like thunder clouds. ‘I can’t believe this shit I just read in Kerrang!’’ he scowled, holding up a copy of the magazine, yanked open at a page from a recent interview with Motley Crue. 'The  interviewer asks Vince Neil about him throwin’ a punch at Izzy backstage at the MTV awards last year.’ He began to read aloud in a voice heavy with sarcasm: ‘ “Vince replies, ‘ just punched that dick and broke his fuckin’ nose! Anybody who beats up on a woman deserves to get the shit kicked out of them. Izzy hit my wife, a year before I hit him.’ ” ‘Well, that’s just a crock of shit,’ he glared. ‘Izzy never touched that chick. If anybody tried to hit on anything, it was her trying to hit on Izzy when Vince wasn’t around. Only Izzy didn’t buy it.  So that's what that’s all about...’
 
Axl was referring to an incident that took place at the annual MTV awards for 1989 held in L.A some weeks before. Izzy and Axl had just left the stage after jamming live for the cameras with Tom Petty when the itinerant Motley Crue singer appeared out of the backstage darkness and punched Izzy in the face.
 
‘I hate to give Vince Neil or Motley Crue any credit like this, you know. But he’s goin’ around saying a bunch of crap and it's like, I just want to call him out on it. It’s like, he’s a liar and he’s a wimp. And it's like, if he wants to do somethin’ – any time, you know? At wherever. Name a place. Bring who you want. I don’t care...’
He was obviously pretty worked up about it.
 
‘I don’t know. I’m pretty calm about it, actually,' he said, looking anything but. ‘It’s kind of like, just whenever you wanna do, it man. Let’s just do it. I think it’s be fun.’ He bared his teeth. ‘It's like, 'cos this way I can basically get away with it legally and everything, man. I can have a full-on brawl and get away with it.’ His small freckled face brightened at the thought. ‘I don’t know, though, man, I don’t know if I wanna hit the guy with that plastic face. It’ll cave in...’ He shucked it up.
 
Axl sat with his back to the balcony window, an undraped glass wall, the lights of the city twinkling behind his head like some vast dark garden of fireflies. I sat opposite him, an impressive art-deco glass coffee-table planted solidly between us.
 
‘This is the third one I’ve had,’ he remarked, running a hand lovingly across the surface.
What happened to the other two, I asked politely?
 
‘I got pissed and smashed ’em,’ he replied matter-of-factly. Oh...
 
Of course, Axl the life-threatening home-wrecker was an image the hyperactive Guns N’ Roses frontman had never found hard to live up to. On stage he was a firebrand. And in interviews he was known to be equally volatile. He was articulate and he knew it. A smart-ass.  Yet what drove him, he said, were the same simple desires he walked off the bus with when he first arrived in L.A seven years ago. The simplest things still amused him; but the ugliest things were what enthralled him. He had a country hick’s sense of humour shackled to a tough city kid's nous and, in the vernacular, he had one bad attitude.
 
‘I’ve got this little psycho-ball. It’s just the thing at times like this,’ he said, his voice as deep as a well. ‘Where did it go?’ Then he found what he was looking for amongst the empty Coke cans, cigarette packets, magazines and ashtrays that littered the table – a small apparently harmless rubber ball. He squeezed it and a terrible wheezing scream filled the room. Axl immediately cheered up. ‘It's supposed to be for helping to relieve tension...’ Another squeeze. Another long, nerve-jangling wail. 'I use it all the time... I had one like it and it was a fart-ball,’ he explained. Then he launched into an improbable story about his friend, co-conspirator and songwriter, Wes Arkeen, getting drunk and causing ructions with the fart-ball at a Hollywood bar called the Mayflower.
 
‘Wes gets all drunk. He was getting drunk every day. He got thrown out of the bar and cut off more times than anybody in history. And, like, all these actors, Nick Nolte and stuff, have partied there for years. So they’ve dealt with all this before but Wes would get cut off for breakfast, cut off for lunch, cut off for dinner and then talk 'em into opening the bar at three-thirty in the morning so they can make another drink, right?’ He smiled like an indulgent mother. ‘And it was gnarly, right? And so he’s got this fart-ball, and he goes downstairs with it, you know, and he’s all wasted. And he’s beside this older couple and stuff and he, like, keeps doing this fart-ball’ – he demonstrated for me again with the psycho-ball and another mad wail bit the air – ‘and making, like, weird faces and fanning his rear end and stuff, like he just farted, like, “Oh... what was that?” And these people go, “You’re disgusting!” and they move away.
 
‘OK, so then I get this call from Sean Penn, his company or what­ever – these people that work for him – and he wants me to come see an advance screening of his new movie, Casualties of War. And if I want, you know, I can bring Wes. So Wes comes up and he’s wasted. So I throw him in the fuckin' shower, help him get dressed and we headed out of there down to the lobby. And there’s this old couple there and this lady introduces herself and goes, “And this is Sean Penn’s parents and they’ll be going with you.” I said, “Hi, my name’s Axl and this is Wes...” And they were like, “Oh no! You’re that guy in the bar!” ’ He laughed and looked me in the eye for the first time. 'It was Sean Penn’s parents, you know... it was so great.
 
‘Then we got in the back of this station-wagon, and there’s these little fold-down seats and we’re sitting on them. And, like, somebody pulled up in a car – we were trying to get out of there before these people arrived that were coming to my room – and suddenly there they were. And we were like, “Oh, fuck...” And then I went, “Oh, I'm sorry,” and Sean Penn’s dad turns round and goes, “Listen, goddamnit, don’t ever fuckin’ talk like that again, you understand me?” And then spins around and starts laughing because he just cussed me out.’ He chuckled. 'I thought it was just great. Those guys were great...’
         
Talk of Wes, however, prompted a more recent and painful mem­ory, as Axl recounted how Wes had had his nose broken in a fight in a bar over Christmas. ‘He went down to a bar, or a liquor store, really drunk and some guy said something and got in Wes’s face. Wes said something back and the guy just smashed a beer bottle in his nose.’ He scrutinised the walls. ‘That’s fucking unreal, huh?’ Axl sat there for a moment, skipping TV channels with the remote, gazing at several screens at once, all of them silent, like a scene from the Welcome to the Jungle video - minus the bouffant hairdo, a contemptuous smile on his face.
 
I mentioned the latest ‘hot rumour’ being quoted widely in the British gutter press, concerning the alleged reformation of the Sex Pistols, with Axl supposedly taking the place at the front previously occupied by Johnny Rotten (né Lydon). 
 
Axl was dismissive. ‘We just jammed with Steve Jones, that's all. He comes up to Slash’s, we talk on the phone. It’s like he’s a friend of the family you know? Slash is really into the guitar parts on the Steve Jones record. And I really like a lot of the songs. And we did the one Sex Pistols song together on it, “Did You No Wrong”. You know, so we try and get up and jam with him whenever we can. I mean, I slept through his New Year’s Eve gig and I was supposed to do three songs with him, man. But I hadn’t slept in, like, three days and now it's like I feel really bad about it. I definitely owe him one.
 
‘And the guy gets screwed over, man,’ he continued, smiling dolefully. ‘He did the Palace  [Theatre, in Hollywood] and they put the curtain down when Slash and I were setting up at the side of the stage getting ready to do the encore, you know? They walked off stage, we were gonna walk right back on, and this guy shut the curtain and told the curtain guy to leave it ’cos he didn’t want the show to continue! So we went down and I grabbed the guy – you know, I was with Steve Jones and stuff – and I grabbed the guy and he was like, “I don’t like your hand on my shoulder.” I was like, “I don’t give a fuck what you like! Put the curtain up or I’m gonna go out there and start a riot!” But then they’d taken the drum-set down and once the mikes and the drum-set are down it’s over, you know? So it was like... fucked.
 
Then another time [at the Palace a few weeks before] we were supposed to do “Suffragette City” with Mick Ronson and Ian Hunter – Steve Jones and Slash and me. But then Steve decided he didn’t wanna stick around, so me and Slash got up and did “White Light/White Heat” with Ian and Mick. I didn’t even know the song and neither did Slash, we learned it really quick right before we walked on stage. I remember just following Ian around going ooh wooh, white light la la... It was fuckin’ great.’
         
Axl’s face grew darker as his thoughts started to drift back towards Vince Neil. He didn’t seriously believe Vince would take him up on his blunt offer and arrange to meet him and fight it out, did he?
 
'I've no idea what he will do,’ he muttered sombrely. ‘I mean, he could wait until I’m drunk in the Troubadour one night and get a phone call and come down and hit me with a beer bottle. But it’s like, I don’t care. Hit me with a beer bottle, dude! Do whatever you wanna do but I’m gonna take you out... I don’t care what he does. Unless he sniper-shoots me – unless he gets me like that without me knowing it – I'm gonna take him with me.’
 
What if Vince were to apologise, though?
 
‘That would be radical! Personally, I don’t think he has the balls. I don t think he has the balls to admit he’s been lying out of his ass. That would be great, though, if he did, and then I wouldn’t have to be a dick from then on.’
 
I told Axl that I had heard David Bowie had apologised to him after the much-publicised fracas at a Guns N’ Roses video-shoot some months before. The story goes that Axl had gotten pissed off with the ageing superstar after he appeared to be getting a little too well acquainted with Axl’s girlfriend, Erin, during an unexpected visit to the set where the Gunners were then making the yet-to-see-the-light-of-day video for ‘It’s So Easy’. The upshot being that Axl reportedly aimed a few well-chosen punches Bowie’s way before having him thrown off the set...
         
'Bowie and I had our differences, he said coolly. ‘And then we went out for dinner and talked and went to the China Club and stuff, you know, and when we left I was like, “I wanna thank you. You're the first person that’s ever come up and said I’m sorry about the situation.” You know I didn’t, like, try to take away any of his dignity or respect - like Rolling Stone saying I’ve no respect for the Godfather of Glam even though I wore make-up in this or that video and dah dah dah...
 
‘It’s like, when we opened for the Stones Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton cornered me, right? I go out there to do the soundcheck, and I’m sitting on this amp and all of a sudden they’re both right there in front of me. And Jagger doesn’t really talk a lot, right? He doesn't really talk at all, he’s just real serious about everything. And all of a sudden he was like’ – he assumed a theatrical Dick Van Dyke cockney – ‘ “So you got in a fight with Bowie, didja?” You know, and I’m like... I told him the story real quick and him and Clapton are going off about Bowie in their own little world, talking about things from years of knowing each other. They were saying that when Bowie gets drunk he turns into the Devil from Bromley... I mean, I’m not even in this conversation. I’m just sitting there and every now and then they would ask me a couple more facts about what happened, and then they would go back to bitchin’ like crazy about Bowie. I was just sitting there going, wow...       
 
‘But Bowie was really cool. We went to this restaurant and, like, it was just supposed to be Slash and me and Bowie and his girlfriend. Then I’m going and I bring an old friend of ours called Danny, who's an old roadie who’s been through, like, crazy stories with cops and everything. We haven’t been able to find Danny for two years. And Danny was like Dan the Man, he was a big part of our lives. But we couldn’t find Danny. Well, I find Danny and another guy called Eric – two guys we haven’t seen for a while that Slash and I used to hang with. So I bring them. Then Izzy shows up with Jimmy from Broken Homes, and we have this crowded table, right? And everybody's getting wasted on wine and stuff.
‘Then Bowie comes around the table and he squats down next to me and starts talking. And all of a sudden somebody hit the table and my elbow, like, bumped his cheek, just real lightly. And he goes, “OH, FUCK!” and grabs his eye and jumps up, and the whole restaurant spins round... ’Cos they did not like me and Slash being in the restaurant anyway, OK? This doesn’t usually happen any more but this place it happened in ’cos they were all, you know, all quiet, with an art gallery showing on the walls and all this stuff.
 
‘And the people running the restaurant don’t know who... It's not like they don’t know who I am, but they don’t give a flying fuck. They don't know it's Slash and Axl, they just see us coming in in leather jackets and stuff and they’re freaking, right?
 
‘So there’s a whole table and we’re all getting loud and stuff. But Bowie s there so they’ve got to let this go on, they don’t know what else to do right? It was great. So Bowie jumps up and goes, “OH FUCK!" and the whole place spins around, and the ladies and stuff are hiding behind their fuckin’ menus. Then he goes, “Just kidding! Just fucking kidding!” It was great, it was great... ’ More hoarse laughter.
 
'We went to the China Club and stuff and he, like, had me do photos with him. He was like, “I don’t know if you wanna do this but...” He was really cool. We started talking about the business and I never met anybody so cool and so into it and so whacked out and so sick in my life. I looked over at Slash and I went, “Man, we’re in fuckin’ deep trouble.” He goes, “Why?” And I go, “’Cos I got a lot in common with this guy. I mean, I’m pretty sick but this guy’s just fuckin’ ill!” And Bowie's sittin’ there laughing... Then he starts talking about, "One side of me is experimental, and one side of me wants to make something that people get into. And I DON’T KNOW FUCKING WHY! WHY AM I LIKE THIS!?” And I’m, like, thinking to myself, I’ve got twenty more years of... that to look forward to? I’m already like this! Twenty more years? It was heavy, man...’
 
 
Axl began to reflect on the year just past. He talked plaintively of 'wasting time just trying to get it together’, citing the aborted trip to Chicago the previous summer as a particularly grisly example. ‘We got into these fights in Chicago. I was, like, just into fuckin’ everybody’s music getting into Slash’s stuff, getting into Duff’s stuff. Our timing schedules were all weird and we kept showing up at different times. But when I would show up, I’m like, OK, let’s do this, let’s do that, let's do this one of yours, Slash. OK, now let’s go to this one, and Steven needs to do this... And then they decided I was a dictator, right? I'm a total dictator and I’m a completely selfish dick.’ He looked bemused. 'I was like, fuck, man... And we were on a roll, man! You know, we were cranking.
 
'Slash is like, “We’re not gettin’ nothin’ done.” I was like, “What do you mean? We just put down six parts of new songs, you know we’ve just got all this stuff done in, like, a couple weeks!” He was like, "Yeah, but I've been sitting here a month on my ass...” This was while I was driving across country in my truck, you know. Like yeah let's party! Shoot guns!’ Another deep chuckle.
 
They say that every successful band needs a dictator in the line-up, just to kick people’s backsides occasionally and keep things in motion. Was that one of the roles Axl saw himself fulfilling in Guns N' Roses - the dictator of the band?
                  
‘Listen, after working with Jagger it was like, don't ever call me a dictator again, man.’ He smiled wanly. ‘You can go and work for the Stones and you’ll learn the hard way...’
 
 
Did Axl get to spend any time with Jagger at all other than that one conversation with Clapton about Bowie?
 
'I didn’t really hang out with him.’ He shook his head and lit a cigarette. ‘That guy walks off stage and goes and does paperwork. He says’ – Axl switched back to the Dick Van Dyke cockney – ‘ “Excuse me, I’ve got to do paperwork..." '
 
Checking the gate receipts?
 
‘Everything! Every fuckin’ thing. That guy is involved in every little aspect, you know, from what the background singers are getting paid to how much we’re paying for this part of the PA. He is on top of all of it. It’s him and his lawyer, OK? And a couple of guys that he hangs with, you know, part of the entourage. But basically, it’s all him...’
 
And as for the other Glimmer Twin, Axl said he only got to meet Keith Richards once or twice, and then only briefly.
 
‘We talked but I just kind of like watched the guy. Basically, I told him I gotta go shopping, ’cos he has the coolest fur coats and shit in the world, and he just loved that. He laughed pretty hard at that one. And I asked him about Billy Idol saying he got pissed off over “Rebel Yell”. Keith goes, “Stole it off my fuckin’ night-table, he did!” I thought that was great...’
 
Meeting former teenhood heroes, however, could be a nerve-racking affair, said Axl, recalling a somewhat strained recent meeting with Who bass player John Entwhistle. ‘It’s like, I had always read this rumour, like in Keyboard Player magazine and stuff, that for the keyboard part of “Baba O’ Reilly” Townshend went and got brainwaves right? Then programmed it through a computer and copied them for the keyboard part,’ he explained, ignoring the face I was pulling. ‘So I asked Entwhistle, and Entwhistle’s, like, annihilated out of his mind and he’s in his own little world anyway, and he goes, “Brainwaves? What fuckin’ brainwaves? Townsend ain’t got no goddamn brainwaves!” ’ he smiled. ‘You know, but yet Townsend's a genius and he knows it but it was just out of humour, you know? It was like a band camaraderie thing, you know, jiving each other. I thought it was cool...
         
‘Then I asked him about the time he was supposed to have shot up all his gold records, and he said, “I’ll let you in on a secret, mate. Those were Connie Francis’ records, I fuckin’ stole ’em! I ain't gonna shoot my own goddamn gold records, am I?” I was like, wow, OK, I’ve had enough of this guy, I can’t deal with it any more. He’s blowing my mind!’ More throaty chuckling. “’Cos he was fuckin’ lit and ready to go, man. Still standing all stiff and straight and ready to fuckin’ do whatever...’
 
Axl took another swig from his Coke can and began to talk again about his experiences working with the Rolling Stones. ‘Ron Wood made this thing go back together and worked on putting it back together, right? OK, but Mick makes it happen. With the looseness that those guys have and the amount of people around them you need somebody being the general, you know? And he does it. He has to do it. ’Cos the frontman... you don’t plan on that job. You don’t want that job. You don’t want to be that guy to the guys in your band that you hang with and you look up to. But somebody’s got to do it. And the guitar player can’t do it because he is not the guy who... he can go back, hang his hair down in his face and stand back by the amps and gel into his guitar part.
 
The frontman has to be communicating with eye-contact and hand movements and moving around in the crowd, and directing his energy to that entire audience. Like someone goes, “You’re gonna have a huge arena tour next year, dude.” And I go, “I know, but that’s the problem, ’cos I can work a stadium now!” And I can. I can work a fuckin' stadium, and that’s what I wanna do, you know?’ His eyes shone. Then the flame died. ‘So it won’t be the same rush working in an arena as working a stadium. I mean, when we did the Stones show I ran that track, and that was a blast! I was like, I’ve always wanted to fuckin’ do this! That was a blast...’
 
What about his little ‘retirement’ speech: was Axl actually serious, or was he, as his critics had claimed at the time, merely touting for more controversial headlines for himself and his band?
 
‘No.’ He was adamant. ‘That was definite and that was serious. I mean, I offered to go completely broke and back on the streets, ’cos it would have cost, like, an estimated $1.5 million to cancel the shows, OK? That means Axl’s broke, OK? Except what I’ve got tied up in Guns N’ Roses’ interests or whatever. But I didn’t want to do that because I wouldn’t want the band to have to pay for me cancelling the shows. I don’t want Duff to lose his house ’cos Axl cancelled the shows. I couldn’t live with that. But at the same time I’m not gonna be a part of watching them kill each other, just killing themselves off. It’s like, it came down to like, we tried every other angle of getting our shit back together and in the end it had to be done live. You know, everybody else was pissed at me but afterwards Slash’s mom came and shook my hand and so did his brother.’
 
But had it worked, though? Had the culprits - Slash, Izzy and Steven - actually done the right thing and cleaned up their acts?
 
He nodded his head vigorously. ‘It way worked, man! ’Cos Slash is fuckin’ on like a motherfucker right now. And the songs are coming together, they’re coming together real heavy. And I’ve written all these ballads, right? But Slash has written all these really heavy crunch rockers...’
 
Had it largely been the drugs, then, that had kept Guns N’ Roses out of the recording studio these past twelve months?
 
‘Partly,’ Axl acknowledged. ‘But another reason things have been so hard in a way is this. The first album was basically written off Axl coming up with maybe one line and maybe a melody for that line or how I want to present that line, how I’m gonna say it or yell it or whatever, OK? And then we’d build a song around it. Or someone came up with one line, OK?        
 
‘On this, Izzy’s brought in eight songs - at least. Slash has brought in an album, I’ve brought in an album. And Duff knows everybody’s material, OK? Duff brought in one song. He said all his in one song. It’s called “Why Do You Look at Me When You Hate Me?” And it’s just bad-assed. And I wrote a bunch of words to that, but Duff brought in the song. And it’s like, he knows everybody’s songs and when anybody else has been too wasted or somethin’, no matter how wasted Duff is he’s on in rehearsal and holds everything together with the strong bass. No matter how fucked everybody else is.
 
‘So now it’s got to a point where... See, we never had Izzy’s material in on any of this before. Except for that one song written before the first album [“Patience”] – we never had any of Izzy’s material. But Izzy’s songs have this, like, wry sense of humour, man, you know? He’s got this song about’ – he started to croon the words softly – ‘“She lost her mind today / Got splattered out on the highway / I say that’s OK...” And the chorus goes somethin’ like, “Cos you’re just dust and bones / Dust and bones...” ’ The eyes twinkled wickedly. ‘Then it goes, “Sometimes these women are so easy / Sometimes these women are so cold / Sometimes these women seem to break your heart in two / But only if you let them get to you...” ’ He grinned like a cat that had just dipped its whiskers in the cream.
 
‘You know, and the rhythm reminds me of something like “Cherokee People” or whatever, by Paul Revere and the Raiders, man. It’s like, really weird but it's like, rocked out. It’s really weird...’
 
The phone rang and I turned off the tape for a moment while Axl stooped to answer it – it was buried beneath a pile of cushions at his feet. I was anxious to move the conversation on to the barbed subject of the controversy that still raged over the lyrics to ‘One in a Million’. I had heard Slash and Duff loyally defend the song countless times, now I wanted to know what Axl’s views were. But he beat me to it.
 
‘One thing I could talk about I haven’t talked about yet,’ he said when he got off the phone. ‘We’ve had a lot of people that were behind the band, different magazines and this and that. And some of the magazines you’re into, some of them maybe you’re not so into. But you do, like, appreciate the help you got from the magazines, OK? Now we’ve only done certain interviews recently – or I have. And people have been offended and this and that. So then, like, what’s happened is a lot of them have gone, OK, well this guy that works for my magazine hates Guns N’ Roses, write a piece on “One in a Million”! Because someone was pissed off, right?’
 
All right, I said carefully, but didn’t Axl think certain writers and communicators might have their own reasons for throwing their hands up in rage? That the concern, the outrage might after all be sincere?
 
‘But that’s not...’ He paused. ‘ “One in a Million”, there’s a lot of things to think about and talk about in that, you know? But, like, I don’t think people understand some of the press’s motivations for going after the song in the ways they have.’
 
Axl admitted he hadn’t anticipated the size and the scale of the negative reaction the song would provoke. ‘We weren’t really prepared for what happened. I used a word, it’s part of the English language whether it’s a good word or not. It’s a derogatory word, it’s a negative word. It’s not meant to the entire black race, but it was directed towards black people in those situations,’ he declared guardedly. 'I was robbed, I was ripped off, you know? I had my life threatened, OK? And it’s like, I described it in one word. And I wanted to see the effect of a racial joke. I wanted to see the effect that would have on the world. Slash was into it.
 
You know, we’ve been nice. We haven’t talked about... We haven’t tried to analyse this and think maybe we should be more like this and that. It wasn’t contrived so much as we were trying to grow with it, you know, and grow with our thoughts. Now after getting beat up over it in the press we’re like, hey, fuck you! We fuckin’ said something because... It says: “Don’t wanna buy none of your gold chains today.” Now a black person on Oprah Winfrey who goes, ‘‘They're putting down black people!” is going to fuckin’ take one of those guys at the bus stop home and feed him and take care of him and let him baby-sit their kids? he asked disdainfully. They ain't gonna be near the guy, OK?
 
‘And it’s like, I don't think a black person is a nigger. I don’t care. I’m like, they’re whatever, you know? I consider myself, like, green and from another planet or something, you know? I never felt I fairly fit into any group, so to speak. But it’s like... a black person has this three hundred years of whatever on his shoulder. I don’t got nothin’ to do with that! It bores me, too.’
 
What about what Vernon Reid had had to say about it, though, on stage at the Coliseum the night of the first Stones show?
 
He smiled the indulgent-mother smile again. ‘It’s like, Vernon Reid was talking about how people make racial jokes, but that it was kind of sad. Because you’ll laugh but then, after all, when you think about it, it is sad. But humour and comedy, you know, everybody makes fun of everybody and everything. It’s kind of like you go, well, I can’t find a way to be happy, maybe I can find something to laugh at for a moment and take my mind off things, you know? Whether I mean it or not. Just somethin’ to laugh at. You know, you could watch a movie about someone blowing the crap out of these people and you could be the most anti-violent person in the world. But yet get off on this movie – “Yeah, he deserved it!” you know? The bad guy got shot... It’s like a double-edged sword a lot of times.’
 
Was that all 'One in a Million’ was, then: a joke? Just more egg on somebody else’s face?    
‘Something I’ve noticed that’s really weird about “One in a Million is the whole song coming together took me by surprise. I mean, yeah, I wrote the song as a joke. Wes just got robbed by two black guys on Christmas night a few years back. He went out to play guitar on Hollywood Boulevard in front of a bank at, like, Highland and Holly­wood. You know, he’s standing there playing and he gets robbed at knife-point for seventy-eight cents.’ His voice didn’t sound incredulous so much as comically resigned. Like the black sheep younger brother Woody Allen never talked about.
 
‘A couple of days later we’re all sittin’ around, we’re watching TV, there’s Duff and me and Wes and a couple of others. And we’re all bummed out, hungover and this and that. And I’m sittin’ there pissed off with no money, no job, feeling guilty for being at Wes's house, you know, sucking up oxygen and stuff... And I got hold of this guitar – and I can only play, like, the top two strings, right? But I’d been fuckin’ around with this little riff for a while, little by little. It was the only thing I could play on the guitar.
 
‘So all of a sudden I wanted to write some words as a joke, right? We’d just watched Sam Kinison or somethin’ on the video, you know, so I was gonna make my jokes, too. So I started writing this thing. And when I said “Police and niggers / That's right...” that was to fuck with Wes’s head. ‘Cos he couldn’t believe I would write that, right? And it came out like that, OK? Later on, the chorus came about because I was getting, like, really far away, like “Rocket Man” Elton John, you know, like in my head. Gettin’ really far away from all my friends and family in Indiana... I realised those people have no concept of who I am any more, even the ones I was close to.’ He lingered over his cigarette.
 
‘Since then I’ve flown people out here, had ’em hang out here. I’ve paid for everything.’ He perked up, flying off on another tangent. ‘But there was no joy in it for them. I was smashing shit, goin’ fuckin’ nuts. And yet trying to work. And they were going, “Man, I don’t wanna be a rocker any more if you go through this.” ’ The thin scarecrow shoulders shook with mirth.
 
‘But at the same time, you know, I brought ’em out and we just hung out for a couple months, wrote songs together, you know, had serious talks. It was almost like being on acid, ’cos it would just get to serious talks about the family and life and stuff. And we’d get really heavy and get to know each other all over again. Just trying to fuckin’ replace eight years of knowing each other every single day, you know, and now all of a sudden I’m in this new world...
 
‘Back there I was a street kid with a skateboard and no money who talked about being in a rock band. And now all of a sudden I’m here, you know? And they’re kind of amused, freaked-out and all kinds of stuff by their friends putting up Axl posters, and it’s just weird to them. And this business and all that, like they ask, why don’t I call? It’s like, well come out here and watch how many times my phone rings. It doesn't ring that much tonight because nobody thinks I’m here...’ He paused, trying to remember where he was.
 
‘So anyway, all of a sudden I came up with this chorus: “You’re one in a million.” And then: “We tried to reach you but you were much too high...” Everybody was into dope then and those analogies are great in rock songs. Aerosmith done proved that on their old stuff, and the Stones. And drug analogies, like, the language is always the hippest language, you know? A lot of hip-hop, even the stuff that’s like anti-drugs, a lot of the terms and stuff come off of some drug street rap. ’Cos they’re always on top of stuff, those guys. They gotta change their language all the time so people don’t know what they’re saying so they can, you know, keep dealing. Plus they’re trying to be the hippest, coolest, baddest thing out there. So there was that, and then, “We tried to reach you but you were much too high.” I was picturing ’em trying to call me if, like, I disappeared or died or something.
 
‘And “You're one in a million..." someone said that to me real sarcastically. It wasn’t like an ego thing, oh I’m one in a million, you know? Originally it was kinda like someone went, “Yeah, you’re just fuckin’ one in a million, aren’t ya?” And it stuck with me, you know? So I put that chorus together and then it fit this other thing, I couldn’t figure out why. Yet the song was done as a joke, and then there was this heavy chorus...’
 
If it was all such a joke, I interjected, how come nobody seemed to be laughing?     
         
‘Well,’ he continued unabashed, ‘we got in the studio and I realised I didn’t have good enough timing on the guitar. I’d never played this song except for once every couple of months, you know, as a joke at a party or somethin’. And Duff plays it much more aggressively. Slash made it too tight and concise. I wanted it a bit rawer, because I was into some old Stones stuff and I liked this raw edge. I mean, our music is different and it’s ’89, it’s not sixty-something or early seventies. But yet I wanted that feel. And then Izzy comes up with this electric guitar thing. I was pushing him to come up with a cool tone and all of a sudden he’s coming up with this aggressive thing. It just happened.
 
‘So suddenly it didn’t work to sing the whole song in a low funny voice any more..." He began to sing with a lazy country & western style twang, ‘ “So I thumbed it / Down to Sixth and LA...” It just didn’t work, it didn’t fit and it didn’t sound right. And the guitar parts they played were so cool I had to sing it like HURRHHH! So it sounds like I’m totally into this. But no, this is just one point of view out of hundreds that I have on the situation. When I meet a black person I deal with each situation differently. Like I deal with it with every person I meet. It doesn’t matter.’
 
Though his name had been mercilessly kicked around in every corner of the media for the ill-chosen words to ‘One in a Million’, Axl said he had not actually suffered any real abuse personally from any of the ordinary black people he had encountered on his travels. Quite the opposite, in fact, he assured me.
 
‘Actually, I meet a lot of black people that come up and just wanna talk about it and discuss it with me because they find it interesting. Like a black chick came up to me when we were in Chicago and goes, “You know, I hated you ’cos of 'One in a Million’.” I’m standing at a bar and I’m like, “Oh, great, another one. Can I have another drink please?” Then she goes, “But I ride the subway," and all of a sudden she got real serious. She goes, “And I looked around one day and I know what you’re talking about. So you’re all right.” And I’ve got a lot of that...’

What about from other musicians, though? Living Colour’s Vernon Reid, for example, certainly had plenty to say on the subject in public. What about in private?
 
‘It’s like, I had this big heavy conversation with [black LA rappers] Ice T and Ezee E [sic]. Ice T sent a letter, wanting to work with me on “Welcome to the Jungle” if I ever did it as a rap thing. And I got the word to Ezee E that I’m interested in having him be a part of it too, if we ever do it. I mean, don’t think it’ll be on this record now, there’s already too much material. But we ended up having this big heavy conversation about “One in a Million”, and they could see where I was coming from. And those guys know more about that shit than most...’
 
The racial slur inherent in the song aside for the moment, how did Axl defend the taunt of ‘faggots... spreadin’ some fuckin’ disease’?
 
He began to fidget distractedly and talked vaguely about certain ‘damaging’ experiences he’d had as a teenager travelling the Greyhound bus back and forth from Indiana to L.A, but refused to elaborate. ‘I don’t defend it,’ he growled. 'I just record it...’
 
Was it partly because of questions like that, I wondered, that Axl granted so few interviews these days? Had he already begun to feel hounded by a past that was, in the jaundiced eyes of the world at least, still then only three years and one and a half albums old?
 
‘We haven’t done a lot of press things lately, not so much out of, like, Well, fuck you guys, we don’t need you, or this and that, you know? It’s just been kind of like... I mean, we want Guns N’ Roses to be huge and stuff and we’re glad when we get offered different interviews and all this stuff. But at the same time, you know, we get a bit sick of it, too. Seeing our faces all over the place.
 
‘And at the same time, you don’t want so much over-exposure and so you kind of like go, OK, I’m gonna do one piece. OK, which magazine am I gonna do that in? What audience do I want to hit with what I’m gonna say, you know? Like, how am I going to approach this interview? It’s like, if I’m doing a Rolling Stone interview, it’s not so much catering to the audience, it’s like I’m just gonna use a different facet of my personality, ’cos I figure I’m talking to different people. With Rolling Stone you’re talking to U2 fans, REM, you know, and different crowds, OK, than you’re talking to in RIP... So maybe what I want to say needs to be said that way. So you do one interview rather than, like, trying to keep on top of Metal Edge, Metallix, Blast, you know, and all the Japanese magazines — Burn, Music Life and all the others. ’Cos it’s like, we’ve had to focus in on trying to get our lives together to deal with this, you know? And we’re just now getting some things under control.
 
‘’Cos once we start touring and we get a touring budget and the cash comes in from touring and stuff like that our lifestyle’s gonna com­pletely change all over again.’ He shook his head slowly. ‘’Cos it’s all still new to us, it’s not something we’ve been around forever.’
 
And so, inevitably and with something approaching reluctance, but you never know, Axl returned to the subject of the next Guns N’ Roses album...
 
‘There’s, like, thirty-seven songs, and I know by the end of the record there’ll be forty-two to forty-five and I want thirty of them down.’
 
It was definitely going to be a double album then?
 
‘Well, a double record but a single 76-minute CD. OK? Then I want five B-sides – people never listen to B-sides that much – and that will be the backside of another EP. You know, we’ll say it’s B-sides. Plus, there should be four extra songs for an EP, if we pull this off, OK? So that’s the next record. And then there’s the live record from the tour... If we can pull this thing off, if we do this right, it’ll be five years before we have to make another album.’ Though he smiled as he said this it was obvious it wasn’t the first time this thought had occurred to Axl.
 
‘Sure. And we can have five years to... It’s not so much like five years to sit on our asses. It’s like, five years to figure out what we’re gonna say next, you know? After the crowd and the people figure out how they’re gonna react to this album, and then the mental changes we will go through...’
 
What kind of direction did Axl see the band taking on this next album? Did he plan to expand on his usual themes somewhat, or was he going to stick to the same sleazy half-world undercurrents of the first album for inspiration?
 
‘This record will have seen us grown a lot,’ he stated confidently. ‘There’ll be some childish, you know, arrogant, male, false bravado crap on there, too. But there’ll also be some really heavy, serious stuff.’
 
Nevertheless, by the time the new album – I was tempted to add ‘if the new album’ – eventually saw the light of day, it would be such a ridiculously long time since the release of Appetite, and what with everything that will have gone down in between, Axl admitted he sensed the rumblings of the inevitable backlash already beginning to build.
 
‘But it doesn’t fuckin' matter,’ he asserted. ‘This doesn’t matter, man. This is too late... If we record this album the way we wanna record this album, it could bomb, but five years from now there’ll be a lot of kids into it in Hollywood. Ten years from now it’ll be an underground thing like early Aerosmith and Hanoi Rocks. Because the material has strong enough lyrical content and strong enough guitar parts, you’ll have no choice. It’ll permeate into people’s brains one way or another,’ he predicted. ‘It’s like, if the album doesn’t fuckin' sell and be successful, some band ten years from now is gonna write a record and we’re gonna be one of their main influences. And so the message is still gonna get through – whatever we’re trying to say and the things we’re trying to say, it’s always gonna get through. Not so much like, our message is the way.’ He looked thoughtful. ‘But there's an audience for what we’re saying that’s going through the same things we are. And in a way, we are leading. Not like we’re leading the whole rock ’n’ roll world, but...’
 
But what? To my mind, Guns N’ Roses undeniably led the way – both artistically and commercially – in terms of what was, and just as importantly what wasn’t happening in modern rock music.
 
Axl said he was conscious of that but still didn’t feel entirely comfortable in a role he insisted had largely been foisted upon him. ‘It's been... shown to me in a lot of ways,’ he said, toying with the psycho-ball again. ‘I didn’t want to accept the responsibility really, even though I was trying, but I still was reluctant to the idea. Now I’m kind of into it. Because it’s like, you have a choice, man. You can grow or die you know? And it’s like, that’s what we have to do. We have to do it. We have to grow. You know, we can’t do the same sludge. I can’t play sludge, man, for fuckin’ twenty years!’
 
I rolled the conversation on: 1989 seemed to have been a peculiar year for the band.
 
‘Yeah, but if you look at it, it’s not peculiar at all. Because number one, we had to find a whole new way of working together, because everybody got successful.’ He leaned heavily on the last word. ‘OK? And everybody’s had a dream that when they got successful they could do what they want. And so that ends up with Slash bringing in eight songs. It’s never been done before, Slash bringing in a song first and me writing words to it. I’ve done it twice with him before and we didn’t use either of those songs. Out of Slash’s choice. Now he’s got eight of them that I gotta write words to and they’re bad-assed songs! Meantime, I was working on, like, writing these ballads that I feel have really rich tapestries and stuff, and making sure each note in effect is right.
 
‘’Cos I also write with a lot of... whether I’m using a lot of instrumentation and stuff, I’ll still write with minimalism, right? But it has to be the right note and it has to be held in the right way and it has to have the right effect, you know?’
 
I said I never knew that Axl was such a perfectionist...
 
‘Sure. But what people don’t understand is that there was a perfec­tionist attitude to Appetite For Destruction. I mean, there was a definite plan to that. We could have made it all smooth and polished. We went and did test tracks with other producers and it came out smooth and polished – with Spencer Proffer. And Geffen Records said it was too fuckin’ radio. That’s why we went with Mike Clink. We went for a raw sound, because it just didn’t gel having it too tight and concise. We knew this. We knew the way we are on stage and the only way to capture that on the record is to make it somewhat live. Doing the bass, the drums and the rhythm guitar at the same time. Getting the best track, having it a bit faster than you play it live, OK, so that brings some energy into it. Adding lots of vocal parts and overdubs with the guitars, adding more music to capture...' He looked up at me hopefully but I didn’t know the right words either.
 
‘’Cos Guns N’ Roses on stage, man, can be, like, out to lunch. Visually we’re all over the place and stuff and you don’t know what to expect. But how do you get that on a record? But somehow you have to do that. So there’s a lot more that’s needed on a record. That’s why recording is my favourite thing, because it’s like painting a picture. You start out with a shadow, or an idea, and you come up with something that’s a shadow of that. You might like it better. It’s still not exactly what you pictured in your head, though.
 
‘And then you add all these things and you come up with something you didn’t even expect... Slash will do, like, one slow little guitar fill that adds a whole different mood that you didn't expect. That’s what I love. All of a sudden it’s like you’re doing a painting and then you go away and you come back and it’s different. You use the brush this way and allow a little shading to come in and you go, ‘‘Wow, I got a whole different effect on this that’s even heavier than what I pictured. I don’t know quite what I’m onto but I’m on it,” you know?
 
‘ “Paradise City”, man,’ he continued, eyes ablaze now. ‘That’s like, I came up with two of those first vocals – there’s five parts there – I came up with two and they sounded really weird. Then I said, look, I got an idea. I put two of these vocal things together, and it was the two weirdest ones, the two most obtuse ones. And Clink’s like, “I don’t know about that, man...” I'm like, "I don’t know either, why don’t we just sleep on it?” So we go home and the next day I call him up and now I’m like, “I don’t know about this.” But he goes, “No I think it’s cool!” So now he was the other way... So then we put three more vocal parts on it and then it fit. But the point is, that wasn’t how we had it planned. We don’t really know how it happened.’
 
Axl confided that ultimately he much preferred the whole business of recording to its wilder twin sister, touring. ‘If I’m psyched for the gig, great. Nine times out of ten, though, before the gig I’ll always not wanna do the fuckin’ show and hate it. I mean, I love it when I’m psyched, you know, let’s go! But most of the time I’m, like, mad about something, something’s fuckin’ going wrong... I’m nervous. I’m like, “I'm not playing for these fuckin’ people!” ’
 
Which people? The audience?
 
‘Not the crowd so much. It’s like, I’m not playing for whoever’s putting on the show, or like that. We have a lot of good relationships with promoters and stuff, so I don’t want that to be taken as the main example,’ he added cautiously. ‘But you know, situations are always different before a show. Something always fuckin’ happens. Something always happens. And I react like a motherfucker to it. I don’t like this pot-smoking mentality.’ He sucked in his cheeks. 'I feel like Lenny Kravitz... Like, peace and love, motherfucker, or you’re gonna die! I’m gonna kick your ass if you fuck with my garden you know? I like that attitude more.’
 
Had the overwhelming fame thrust upon him and his cohorts so suddenly and so voraciously bolstered that attitude, though?
 
‘What do you mean?’ he looked at me suspiciously.
 
You know, forced you to be larger than life, I prodded. Obnoxious because he knew there would always be somebody there to take care of it?
 
A long pause. ‘No.’ He was sure. ‘I’ve always been that way,’ he told me, eyes narrowed. ‘But now I’m in a position to just be myself more. And the thing is people allow me to do it whether they like it or not, you know?’
 
Did he feel he took advantage of that situation, though? To use the heights to which the public had elevated Guns N’ Roses to shit on those he despised below?
 
Another long pause. ‘No,’ he eventually decided. ‘No, usually I’m just an emotionally unbalanced person.’ He tittered. ‘Maybe it’s chemical, I don’t know. ’Cos maybe emotions have something to do with chemicals in your brain, or whatever. So then it’s a chemical imbalance... And it's like, I'm usually an emotional wreck before a show anyway, because of something else that’s going on in my life or whatever. I mean, something weird will happen in my family. Like, I finally found William Rose, OK? He was murdered in ’84 and buried in seven miles of strip-mining in Illinois. I found that out, like, two days before a show and I was whacked, right? It was fuckin’ gnarly...’
 
Axl wasn’t so much upset by the news – not to mention the manner – of his natural father’s death, he said, as he was disappointed not to have made the old man’s acquaintance. ‘I was trying to uncover this mystery since I was a little kid, you know? ’Cos as a kid I was always told that it was the Devil that made me know what the inside of a house looked like that I supposedly never lived in. But I knew I did. I knew I’d lived in this house when I was a little kid. Weird things like that happen... So I’ve been trying to track down this William Rose guy. Not like, I love this guy, he’s my father. I just wanted to know about my heritage and what my hereditary traits might be. You know, am I gonna have an elbow that bugs the shit out of me in, like, three or four years. Is that a hereditary trait or what? I wanted to know.’
 
Axl had said his father was murdered. I asked gingerly if he knew exactly how his father had met his ugly demise?
 
‘No. But it was probably, like, at close range, man,’ he deadpanned. ‘Wonderful family, man. Just wonderful...’ He looked pensive for a moment. Then the cloud moved from his face. ‘We’re looking for Jeff Lynne,’ he announced suddenly.
 
I was confused. Jeff Lynne? Electric Light Orchestra and Travelling Wilburys Jeff Lynne? I enquired, somewhat taken aback.
 
‘Yeah,’ he drawled, pleased by my surprise. Ί want him to work on “November Rain”, and there’s, like, three or four possible other songs that if that works out I’d like to use him on...’
 
For string arrangements, I hazarded a guess?
 
‘Yeah. This record will be produced by Guns N’ Roses and Mike Clink, OK? But I might be using synthesizer – but I’m gonna say I’m using synthesizer and what I programmed. It’s not gonna be like, “Oh, you know, we do all our shows live,” and then it’s on tape. That’s not the thing. I just want to... you know, jump into today. I have never had the money to do it before. And I thought maybe someone like Jeff Lynne could help.’
 
Mention of ‘November Rain’, already being touted by those sup­posedly in the know as one of the major highlights of the next Guns N' Roses album, reminded me of something Axl had been quoted as saying in Rolling Stone, to the effect that if ‘November Rain’ wasn’t recorded to his complete satisfaction he would quit the music business.
 
'That was then.’ He bowed his head. ‘At that time it was the most important song to me.’
 
Did he still stick by his threat to leave the music business if it wasn’t recorded properly, though?
 
'Yeah. That's the the fuckin' truth. That's the fuckin’ truth, all right. But the worst part of that is if, like, you’re gonna look at it in a negative way, man, is I got four of those motherfuckers now, that I don’t know how I wrote. And I like them better than “November Rain”, and I’ll crush that motherfuckin' song... And it’s like, now I’ve got four of them that I gotta do and they're all big songs. We play ’em and we get chills and go “How did we do that? Let’s go have a drink!”
 
‘It happens all the time. We'll fuckin' write a whole song, we’ll write the whole goddamned song out, the music, the words, this and that, the melodies, everything. We’ll play the song, we’ll learn it, we’ll get it all completely down and then all of a sudden we'll go, “But what if we do this?" Like, uhhhh...' he grimaced, throwing up his hands in mock despair. 'And I did that in another way. I came in with this heavy piano part... It's like, real big. And it fits this blues-ish gospel thing that was supposed to be a blues-rocker, like "Buy Me a Chevrolet” by Foghat or somethin'. Now it's turned into this thing like “Take Another Piece of My Heart" [by Janis Joplin] or somethin’. We’re like, how did we do this? We don't know but we'll just do it.  And there’s, like, four of those...’
 
I was still mulling over the giddy prospect of Jeff Lynne working on the next Guns N' Roses album. Why him? Was Axl a closet ELO freak, then?

'Oh yeah, I'm an old ELO fanatic!’ he enthused, hands slicing the air like machettes. 'I love old ELO... Out of the Blue, that period. I went to see 'em play when I was kid and shit like that. I mean, I respect Jeff Lynne for being Jeff Lynne, but Out of the Blue is an awesome album.'
 
I was still baffled. What qualities did Jeff Lynne embody for Axl that he admired so much?
 
'Well, one: he's got stamina.  Two: he’s used to working with a lot of material. Three: he's used to working with all kinds of instrumentation. Four: he's used to working with all kinds of different styles of music. Five: he wrote all his own material Six: he produced it.’ He became wide-eyed for a moment. ‘That’s a lot of concentration and a lot of energy needed. Hopefully, I would like, if he’s available, to have him. He's the best. I don’t know if we can get him or not, but I’d like to try.’
 
And if they could find Jeff Lynne and actually get him to agree to work on the album – an unlikely outcome in the cold light of day – Axl would like him involved only for certain tracks?
 
‘That’s what we’d like to start with. I mean, who knows? Maybe him and Clink will hit it off just great and everybody’ll be into it. Then great, welcome to it, you know?’

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Book version (Mick Wall, Guns N' Roses: The Most Dangerous Band in the World)

Post by Blackstar on Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:52 am

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CONTINUED FROM THE PREVIOUS POST
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I remarked that Axl’s tastes in music were obviously more far- reaching than one would anticipate from the average ‘Heavy Metal’ singer. 'I sure fuckin’ hope so.’ He smiled wryly. As a little game, I asked him to pick three tracks from his youth that, for whatever reason, best summed up his musical tastes, maybe even helped form them.
 
He thought about it for a moment then decided to oblige. The first track he picked was ‘D’Ya Maker’; a rare Led Zeppelin hit single from their 1973 Houses of the Holy album. Axl admitted he’d never actually known what the correct pronunciation of the song was until I informed him that it was a play on the word ‘Jamaica’, the song itself having a strong reggae-feel – if not quite the beat.
 
‘When I was in grade school I used to write down the names of, like, all the novelty songs. Like “Spiders and Snakes” [by Terry Jacks] and stuff like that. Then I heard “D’Ya Maker” and I made fun of it like crazy. I was telling everybody about this weird song I’d heard on the radio. So I’m laughing at it and this and that, but by recess in the afternoon I’m sitting in the corner with my pocket radio and I just had to hear that song again. I mean, I had to hear it. That was, like, the first case of “I have to hear that song”. I had it going through my head and I had to hear it. And that got me into hard rock.’
 
Being then a student of classical piano, the first thing Axl did, he recalled, was try to learn how to play ‘D’Ya Maker’ on the family piano. An idea that caused a good deal of consternation in the household. ‘I remember getting knocked right off the piano bench by my dad. ’Cos I had learnt it on the piano. I would play and then I would do the drum-break on the top and just beat the shit out of the piano. Then get knocked right off. Biff!’ He smirked.
 
Axl was ‘nine or ten’ the first time he heard ‘D’Ya Maker’. It was the first time he had heard of Led Zeppelin. Ί heard that and then I was hooked. After that I was Led Zeppelin all the way. That song just blew my mind. I thought, how does he write like this? How does he feel like this? I mean, ’cos everything around me was, like, religious and strict. Even though we were in a city we went to a country church and stuff. I mean, the language was so much different. There was no, whoah, cool vibe and stuff like in that Zeppelin song. It was like, how did he think like that, you know?’
 
For his second choice, Axl chose ‘Benny [sic] and the Jets’ from the 1973 Elton John double album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. I raised my eyebrows over that one. Though I shouldn’t have. Axl once told me he was great admirer of Elton John’s lyricist, Bernie Taupin. He’d even said he would like to interview Taupin about his lyrics for a magazine. So far, however, there had been no takers. Taupin, for his part, when asked for his opinion of the young Guns N’ Roses singer’s work, graciously replied that he was ‘an admirer’ and that he was particularly enamoured of the lyrics to ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’.
 
‘Elton John is the baddest! There’s nobody badder when it comes to attacking the piano and using it in a rock sense. I mean, you’re gonna tell me that “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” or “Grow Some Funk of Your Own”, or like, “Ballad of a Well-known Gun” or “Somebody Saved My Life Tonight” and things like that ain’t heavy songs? There’s no way!’ he crowed. ‘Those guys wrote seven No. 1 albums in the U.S. from, like, ’72 to ’75 - in three years! Bernie Taupin was twenty-five years old, writing off the top of his head, writing albums in two hours! And the guy’s vocabulary and education...’ He shook his head in guileless awe.
 
'It was so amazing they decided to go rock ’n’ roll rather than go classical or whatever. And they blended all these different styles. Amazing... And “Benny and the Jets”,’ he picked up the thread again, with the ambience and the sound and the way it’s recorded, made me want the stage. That’s the song that made me want the stage, 'cos it made me think about a concert and being on a stage and the way it would sound in a room. Things miked out and this and that... Plus, it just reminded me of the Glam scene that was going on around America, and the clubs that I would read about in the old Creem magazine and stuff like that.
 
‘It's amazing. Elton John’s singing is amazing and that piano solo can’t be touched. It’s an amazing record... Then when I got the piano book and was trying to learn the song, I discovered the guy’s playing ten fingers of the weirdest chords in the world you know? It’s like, what made him think to hit this combination of five notes – that makes the initial bomp-bomp-bomp? It’s not just, like, a major note, it’s all these weird combinations. He just pulls stuff off that nobody else does...’
 
Would he consider Elton John’s music a major influence on his own songwriting style then?
 
‘Sure,’ he nodded approvingly. ‘I’ve played piano in a style influenced by Elton John and Billy Joel. But it’s minimalistic, you know? I know what I can and what I can’t do, so I aim it real carefully. But it’s basically influenced off Elton John’s attack. And his singing is amazing. If you want to learn how to sing all different styles, try singing like Elton John. Anything from the blues on. Anything.
 
What about his post-eighties output, though?
 
‘I don’t know,’ Axl wavered. But he was gentlemanly about it.
 
‘His newer stuff to me is for an older audience. But, you know, they’re older people now. But their younger stuff is still amazing, and it amazes me that radio in America doesn’t give Elton John the space that they give Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and the Stones. You know, you don’t have the Elton John Hour, yet you can have 400,000 people going to Central Park to see Elton John, and you’re gonna have sold-out tours all over the country. I don t understand it.’ And he looked like he really didn’t.
 
‘The music’s amazing and, like, Elton John’s one of those records that... I haven’t met a group of people that after you’ve played everything all night and you put on an Elton John record that don t go, “Cool...” and kickback, and like it that the album’s on. Whatever album it is,’ he continued, gabbling about his hero just like any other fan, ‘any of the first seven or eight albums, you put one of those on and everyone just relaxes. ’Cos they grew up with it and it makes you feel good ’cos of the vibrations in the styles of the songs, the styles of writing. And the way they take you so many different places on, like, one album...’
 
Axl related a story about how Elton John sent flowers to his dressing room after the band’s first fateful show with the Stones. ‘Yeah, it was great. He sent these flowers and a note. He didn’t mean it against the Stones, it was meant towards the press and anybody else who was against Guns N’ Roses. It said: “Don’t let the bastards grind you down! I hate them all too... Sincerely, Elton John.” That was just the greatest.’
 
Axl’s third and last choice was perhaps the most surprising, how­ever: ‘I’m Not in Love’: a No. 1 single, in both Britain and America, for 10CC in 1974. ‘That song goes back and forth along with “Layla” by Derek and the Dominoes and Metallica’s “Fade to Black” for me,’ Axl did his best to explain. ‘As weird a cross as it may seem, those three songs are my favourite songs of all time... But we were talking about when I was young. “Layla” I didn’t get into till I was a bit older.
 
‘10CC... I used to go to piano lessons, right? I’d go to piano lessons and go early, and I’d go to this drugstore that was very nice and conservative but had this liquor section that you weren’t allowed into unless you were twenty-one. And they had magazines like Playboy and stuff like that. So I would go there early and I’d hang out for hours in this drugstore. Like, steal a look at these magazines. I was really into Oui magazine. The photography was amazing. And I’m just discovering girls and stuff like that and I’m, like, going with the girls in my school and stuff, in my class. But they’re boring.
 
‘But in these magazines, like, these are women and they’re great, you know? All right. Well, “I’m Not in Love” was always on in this place. And the production is so amazing. It’s this guy who is in love, but yeah, doesn’t want to be in love, or whatever. Doesn’t want to deal with it. He’s contradicting himself all the way through the record. Plus, it’s like, the coolest attitude. It’s like,’ he began to sing softly, ‘ “I keep your picture on the wall / It hides a nasty stain that’s lying there...” That’s so, like, nonchalant, so cool. But the produc­tion and the song has always stuck. Whenever I’m having a heavy emotional situation, or meeting someone, it’s like I’ll get in the car and I’ll just turn on the ignition and that song will always be on the radio! I mean, that song messes with my life, man.’ He positively glowed.
 
Just then the Cheap Trick In Colour album came wafting out of the hi-fi speakers and Axl’s mood swung violently as he launched into an impassioned diatribe against Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielson.
 
Why? What was the story there?
 
‘There was a thing in Rolling Stone where he said he fuckin’ decked Slash. He didn’t deck Slash. Do you think fuckin’ anybody’s gonna deck Slash with [Gunners co-manager] Doug Goldstein stand­ing there between Slash and them?’ he protested. ‘It’s not gonna happen...’
 
It seemed like the whole world and its big sister wanted to claim they’d beaten up one of Guns N’ Roses. Why did Axl think he and the other members of the band provoked that kind of reaction?
 
‘Because Guns N’ Roses have this reputation,’ he assumed a shrill, haughty voice, ‘for being bad and the new bad boys.’ He shook his head sardonically. ‘And so, like, hey man, it perpetuates fuckin’ Rick Nielson in the youth market and whatever else, and he’s bad, you know?’
 
Another case of apologies first, ask questions later? It was my turn to be haughty.
 
‘Yeah,’ he nodded, stifling a laugh. ‘But if he had any balls he’d apologise in the press, not in person. He can come up to me and say he’s sorry all he wants but it doesn’t mean shit till he says it in the press. Now Bowie’s a different situation,’ he pointed out, ‘because Bowie hasn’t talked to the press anyway. It’s not like he went and talked to the press, OK? So Bowie can apologise to me and then when they see photos of me and him together they’re, like, fucked. You know, “We tried to start a war and look at these guys, they're hangin' out! Goddamn!” And that’s cool, you know? Like, Jagger was supposed to have told me off and then I’m on stage singing with him. That kind of fucked with them all.’
 
‘And before that the papers over here were coming out with all kinds of stuff about the Stones and us. The Herald Examiner came out with a big piece, and it was great because then the Herald Examiner went out of business. It was like, yeah! YEAH!’ he hollered. ‘WAY TO GO!’
 
The actual story the old Examiner ran, according to Axl, ‘went, like, “Fear and loathing surround Guns N’ Roses...” and dah dah dah, and this big picture of me and AXL in these big letters and stuff. And then this whole thing about how some chick’s scared I’m gonna come kill her cat.’ He stared at me dumbfounded. ‘Like, I’m gonna go kill a cat?’ he asked, a pitiful expression belying the ice in his words. ‘I could make a joke about it, but...’
 
Switching tack, I asked when Axl expected the new Guns N’ Roses album would actually be out? It was the old, old question, of course. But I figured if anybody might know the answer to it, it was more than likely this guy.
 
‘Hopefully, this summer the record will be out,’ he said without batting an eyelash. ‘But I don’t have any idea about the schedule for touring. We definitely want a major world tour and we want to play in as many places as we can. So it’s whatever the best timing is to pull that off the best way we can. I don’t know if England will be first or America, but we’re not trying to neglect anybody this time. It’s just trying to make it work the best way for everybody.’
 
Asked which places Axl was most looking forward to getting out and playing, he was unhesitating in his reply.
 
Ί really want to play all of Europe, actually. I’m really into England, but we’ve only played in three countries – Germany, Holland and England. Now I want to play all of Europe. I want to go down to Panama, too,’ he added glibly. ‘’Cos you know they played Guns Ν' Roses songs down there to get Noriega out?’ And it was true they had, the U.S. Marines flushing the good general out of his diplomatic hidey-hole with an illicit confection of AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses tapes blasted out of speakers assembled on the hoods of their tanks for seventy-two hours straight before the previously impregnable Noriega nervous system finally collapsed and he gave himself up in tears to the heavy metal GIs. 'I wanted to fly down last night, and I should have done, ’cos if I’d known he was gonna turn himself in I would have been there. I wanted to go down there and stand in one of the tanks with all the troops,’ said Axl, and this time I didn’t know if he was kidding or not.
 
I commented that Axl seemed very happy and relaxed tonight. Had he had a good Christmas and New Year, perhaps?
 
He brayed like a donkey. Ί had the worst New Year’s and Christ­mas in my fuckin’ life, man, as far as I was concerned. I’m in a good mood tonight ’cos it’s fuckin’ over and I fuckin’ lived through it,’ he sighed. ‘You know, like, I fuckin’ hibernated, didn’t see anybody. People say that’s wrong. But it wasn’t wrong, it worked out really good for me. Then last night I had, like, eight people here and I was, like, in shock... You know, I was into it but it’s like eight people that were all close friends. Like, whoah! Immediately it was like, OK, we haven’t seen each other and it’s all heavy talk – this happened with my family, oh yeah, this happened with my girlfriend dah dah dah. It was just heavy. Heaviness all around.’ He looked bemused. ‘So tonight I’m just, like, ready to sit back and relax. I’m happy because today everything’s under control. Tomorrow it’s fuckin’ over. Something's gonna happen, you know?
 
‘And there’s only one thing left and that’s this damn album, man,’ he concluded enigmatically. ‘That’s it. And I mean, we may do another record but it’s like, Guns N’ Roses doesn’t fully function, nothing ever really happens to its utmost potential, unless... it’s a kamikaze run. Unless it’s like, this is it, man! Like, fuck it, let’s go down in fuckin’ flames with this motherfucker... you know?’ He picked up another cigarette. Torched it. ‘And now that’s how we are about the record. Everybody’s like, we’re just gonna do this son-of-a- bitch. And I just wanna shove it down... I mean, people are gonna say a lot of hostile things, in magazines and stuff. But I don’t wanna spend my time doing interviews telling everybody that’s into Guns N’ Roses to relax, we’re not saying anything against you guys...
 
‘But, like, there’s gonna be a lot of abuse aimed in my comments and in my words and stuff, and that’s to the fuckin’ people that don’t like Guns N’ Roses. It’s like, hey, fuck you! You can like what you want but don’t be saying shit about me. I don’t go on in my interviews saying a whole bunch of shit about New Kids on the Block, you know?’
 
The hour, as the prophet sang, was getting late. Axl was still animated, though. The singer casting a slant-eyed glance into the year ahead for himself and his band...
 
‘Let me say a couple more things. With the next record... the main part about this record is this is our dream. To get these songs out there to the public. Then once we get out there, then we’ll fight for ’em with the business-side and stuff. But at this point that’s not what’s impor­tant. It’s recording the songs.’
 
And, Axl was quick to stipulate, the idea of commercial failure held no fear for him. ‘If the business comes down really hard on us in a weird way, then we’ll make a choice: do we wanna deal with this or do we not wanna fuckin’ deal with it, you know? The record will sell a certain amount of copies the moment it comes out, anyway. We could fuckin’ live off that for the rest of our lives and record our records on small independent labels. It doesn’t matter. I mean, that’s not in the plans but it just doesn’t matter, you know? And so it’s gonna be kind of like, what do we wanna deal with? Do we wanna, like, be giving everything that we feel we have inside of ourselves to do the shows to our top potential and stuff?’
 
And, well, do they? Would they?
 
‘Sure. But I mean, I don’t choreograph things... I don’t know when I’m gonna, like, slam down on my knees. There’s a couple of moves I do that are always the same, ’cos it fits the songs. Like the beginning of “It’s So Easy” or “Mr Brownstone”. The rest is just... what happens, you know? And it’s like, do I wanna give all that and fuckin’ have someone spittin’ in my face? Does it mean that much to me? No. I dig the songs, man, you know, but if you don’t want ’em, fine. I don’t have to give ’em to you... I guess it’s how much you want the cash then, when it comes down to that. And touring. ’Cos that’s what it comes down to, is making the money off the touring, you know? And do you wanna go through... Like, the fans are great, but the newspaper said you sucked, you know?’
 
Maybe sometimes the fans were wrong, I suggested?
 
Axl, predictably, did not agree. ‘When the pictures are of the people into it, you didn’t suck. Whatever they say. Somehow you did some­thing that they liked.’ He looked petulant.
 
He had often threatened it in the past, of course, but could Axl now really leave all this behind, I wondered? The band, his career in music? Not just financially, but artistically, spiritually, emotionally, even? If he wanted to could Axl really turn his back on Guns N’ Roses and just walk away?
 
‘If I wanted to badly enough,’ he asserted. ‘This is all right, in bits and pieces. But whether it’ll take up all the chapters in the book of my life, I don’t know. But I’ll write in bits and pieces – whether I ever compose it into a book or not – for the rest of my life. I’ll always do that. But I would also like to record for a long time. And... I have to make this album. Then it doesn’t matter. This album is the album I’ve always been waitin’ on. Our second album is the album I’ve been waitin’ on since before we got signed. I mean, we were planning out the second album before we started work on the first one, you know?
 
‘This is the thing, OK? But as much as it means to me, yeah, if it bombed or whatever, if that would happen, yeah, I’m sure I’d be bummed business-wise and let down, or whatever. But at the same time, it doesn’t matter. It’s like, I got it out there, you know. So what? That’s the artistic thing. And then I could walk away. It’s like, I’d like to make the cash off the touring. I’d like to walk away knowing that, like, I can support my kids for whatever they want for the rest of their lives off my interest rates, you know? And still donate to charities,’ he smirked.
 
‘I’d like to have that security. I’ve never known any security in my whole life, you know? Some people are like, oh, why don’t you give money to this or that? You know, you have all this money. I’m like, well, no, I got a certain interest rate and I bought my security. You bought your house, didn’t you? I worked for my livelihood too, you know?’
 
But what did the money bring? What was its true worth to someone like W. Axl Rose?
 
‘The financial aspect is to get that security,’ he said steadily. Ί have that in the bank now and I’ll keep it, you know? What I can spend off interest and shit like that, I’ll do. But I don’t wanna give away my security unless I’m like... When I was gonna quit the band, then I would have done that. Except I’m not gonna take Duff’s money, I’m not gonna take Izzy’s money, for something I decided to do...’
 
Last question. First question. The same question, in fact, that I had been asking for the last two years...
 
‘It’s taken a lot of time to put together the ideas for this album,’ said Axl earnestly. ‘And... in certain ways nobody’s done what we’ve done. Come out with a record that captured, like, an essence of the Sex Pistols’ spirit, and stuff like that. And then got taken all the way... And no one’s followed it up,’ he added pointedly. ‘Well, we’re not gonna put out a fuckin’ record until we can, you know? That’s all. So we’ve been trying to build it up. And now it’s like, I’m writing the right words. And that’s just really started happening in the last month. And now, as of last week, I’m on a roll with the right words for Slash’s stuff. So it’s taken that long time to find ’em. And, you know, I hope the people are into it. I think that the audience has grown enough. Has grown with us. It’s been three years, they’ve gone through three years of shit too. So hopefully they'll relate to some new things.’
 
I asked Axl if he could be more specific about the new material. In what way particularly had it 'grown'?
 
‘Well, say you go through something that like — one period of your life you become almost like a monk or something, right? And that’s your attitude and you write about that. Then you realise that some of your audience can relate to that but they don’t want a whole album of that. And you’re realising that. And you have to go through different things in your life and then write about it. When you’re writing off your life and not fantasy you have to, like, have gone through these different phases. And now I think there’s enough different sides of Guns N’ Roses that, like, no one will know what to think, let alone us. Like, what are they trying to say? I don’t fuckin’ know! There's all kinds of titles for the record, too. There’s, like, GN’R Sucks. That’s one of our favourites. There’s BUY-Product, B-U-Y product, like, Guns N’Roses -BUY Product.
 
‘It’s like, I wrote this thing today... I don’t write stuff down usually, I always write stuff in my head...’ He closed his eyes and began to recite. ‘It goes, ah, “Call us violent / I say we're a product of our environment / Call us hostile / Babe, we gotta survive / You call us heartless / Before we had the money nobody gave a damn / You call us deadly / All my life you been killing me...” ’
 
The eyes snapped open again. ‘So the mean stuff is there at the same time as the ballads are now. And then Izzy’s got his sense of humour in there, too. Like, "There were lots of other lovers / Honey, you weren't the first...” Then something, something, then, “But you were the worst / Yes, you were the worst...’’’ He dissolved into peals of infectious laughter. ‘I’m gonna try to get him to sing that one,’ he said. ‘Izzy sings it the best, he sings it the best. But, like, there’ll also be, like, Wes playing on “The Garden”. You know, we’ll try and record that with Wes actually playing guitar. Because Wes plays that song the best. And Slash wants to do the solo. He’s like, “I’m gonna nail that motherfucker this time!” He’s been trying to nail the solo for “The Garden” for the last three years. Now he’s like, I’m gonna get it. And Wes can just play it, you know? And we’ll figure that out. We’re gonna try and do four songs from working with Wes that we did three years ago.
 
‘So with all those different things... Because what I’ve been afraid of is just putting out one point of view, you know? And losing certain fans, losing people, and having people only see that one side of us. You know, we need to give a broader picture of Guns N’ Roses. And I look at it like a trilogy - Appetite, GN’R Lies and this, OK? That those three albums were kind of like, Guns N’ Roses can do whatever the fuck they want. It might not sell, but like, it will break our boundaries.
 
‘The only boundary we’re keeping is hard rock. We know that’s a limitation, in a way. But we want to keep that because we don’t want it to die, you know? And we’re watching it die. At least we were before Guns N’ Roses formed. We were watching it just kind of being obliterated. By radio. By, like, all the stations not playing heavy metal any more, and all this crap. And so we decided, OK, we like a lot of guitars, we wanna keep it.’ He paused, looked at his cigarette then grunted, ‘That’s enough.’
 
And it was. For now, anyway.

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CONTINUED IN THE NEXT POST
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Book version (Mick Wall, Guns N' Roses: The Most Dangerous Band in the World)

Post by Blackstar on Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:00 am

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CONTINUED FROM THE PREVIOUS POST
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EPILOGUE
 
Losing the Illusion
 
[...]
 
The last time I spoke to Axl was over the phone, a couple of months later and just before the publication in Kerrang! of the edited-down version of our interview reproduced in the last chapter.  Looking back at some of the more inflammatory quotes contained in that piece shortly before it went to press – specifically, the desire to ‘take out’ Vince Neil of Motley Crue – I was concerned that some of his statements, made in the heat of the moment, might be the cause of some regret later on and I wanted to check with Axl that he still stood by what he had said.
 
‘Is this on tape?’ he asked sharply. It is, I told him. ΌΚ, the Motley thing,’ he began evenly. ‘... I feel childish now about my comments, at the same time I’m still glad I said what I said. But I do feel a bit childish about it and I feel that my anger fell into what I believe is Nikki Sixx’s game of publicity. I fell into that but decided at that point that I didn’t care. If I had to do it over again I might not necessarily make those comments but, at the same time, I’m willing to live with them.’
 
What if Vince Neil were to actually take him up on his offer, though, and come after him? ‘Fine,’ he said, unabashed. ‘You know, whenever he wants it. I don’t have the time to worry about going after Vince. If Vince wants to come out after me I’ll clean up the floor with the motherfucker.
 
Ί feel bad that we had to put the dirty laundry out in public,’ Axl said. ‘But I’ve never been a closed person. I’ve always been an open book and basically, you know, they took advantage of us in a lot of ways other than that particular fight, and we’re getting tired of it. At the same time I wish the best for Motley Crue. Nikki Sixx is a survivor and I respect that.’
 
While I had Axl on the phone I took the opportunity to try and clear up another weird tale that had then recently been scalding the phone lines out of L.A. Namely, that Steven Adler had been fired from the band – his continuing failure to kick his heroin habit cited as the chief reason why recording of the new album had once again been iced.
 
‘No,’ Axl insisted. ‘He is back in the band.’ But he was definitely out of the band for a period, then? ‘Yeah. He was definitely out of the band. He wasn’t necessarily fired. We worked with [former Sea Hags drummer] Adam Maples, we worked with [former Pretenders drummer] Martin Chambers. Then Steven did the Guns N’ Roses thing and got his shit together.
 
‘And it worked. He did it. And Steven plays the songs better than any of ’em. He’s just bad-assed and he’s GN’R. And so, if he doesn’t blow it, we’re gonna try the album with him... and the tour,’ he added after thinking it over for a moment. ‘You know, we worked out a contract with him. He’s going to do the album and, if he doesn’t blow it, then he’s going to do the tour. Then if he doesn’t blow that he’s fully reinstated.’
 
You mean you’ve given him a straight choice, I asked: give up the drugs or give up the band?
 
‘Yeah, exactly. But like, you know, it’s worked out. You know, it's finally back on and we're just hoping that it continues. It's only been a few days,' he explained. 'What's today? Saturday? It's only been since Tuesday it was on and he's doing great.' 
 
How much of the new album had they actually got done before the situation with Steven forced them to pull out yet again? Another pause. ‘Ah... we don’t start recording till May 1st. We pulled out of the studio and went back and rewrote some of the songs, and because of the Steven situation. But what was cool about the Steven situation is that it made the four of us realise that we’d got to get our shit together. Because if we bring in Martin Chambers then we better have the songs down. You know, so then we worked out eleven songs in a week, that we really had down. And so we worked those out and got those tight. And then worked on a bunch of things in rehearsal, you know, with other drummers, and got all of our weak areas pretty tight. But here is new news,’ he interrupted himself, brightening suddenly. ‘There is a new member of GN’R.’
 
What? I was caught off guard. There was a new member of Guns N’ Roses? ‘Yeah.’ Who? ‘Erm, a guy named Dizzy.’ I repeated myself – Who? ‘Dizzy. D-I-Z-Z-Y.’ Does he have a last name? I enquired. 'I don’t know,’ Axl replied, deliberately oblique. ‘We just call him Dizzy. But he’s the sixth member of Guns N’ Roses. He’s our keyboard player and piano player.’
 
Would I know him from anywhere? I asked, still not sure if Axl was putting me on or not. ‘He was in a band out here called The Wild. And he used to be our next-door neighbour. He was actually asked to join three or four years ago. But the very same day that we decided we were gonna ask Dizzy to join the band he was in a car wreck and had his hand smashed, so he had to get pins and stuff put in it. Then he came into rehearsal a few months ago and played three songs that he’d never heard before, songs that we didn’t even plan having piano in, that were heavy metal. But he put heavy metal piano into it, you know? And it was amazing.
 
‘So the other day, Monday, I found out he was going to be put out on the streets... no, it was a Sunday night. So I called Alan on Monday and I said, secure this guy, hire him, write up the contracts. Put him on salary and give him an advance so he can get an apartment. So now we have a piano player...’
 
And that was it. Apart from a last brief enquiry as to whether he had received some Charles Bukowski books he’d asked me to send him – ‘Yeah, I’m on my seventh one now, dude!’ he barked – for a myriad of reasons both personal and, as ever, stubbornly unprofessional, the shutters came down after that. With the exception of a solitary brief interview with Rolling Stone's Kim Neely, which he later went to great pains to disavow to an audience in New York – ‘If you want to read it, steal it!’ he cried – Axl has refused to speak in public to me or anyone else since.
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Re: 1990.04.21/28 - Kerrang! Stick To Your Guns (Axl)

Post by Soulmonster on Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:52 am

It makes a lot more sense when you read the full interview in the book. Then it is clear that the comments on Steven was said on the phone with Mick Wall just before the issue was published, so likely in early April (which fits well when Steven was handed the probation contract. The book interview also presents Axl in a less aggressive light re: Vince Neil. It is almost like Wall decides to tone down the parts that couldn't have been on the record.

The question still remains: What is it that Axl objects to? Why did he attack Wall in Get in the Ring? Was he seriously angry with Wall, or just slightly angry with him at the time and decided to name him in the lyrics? If it was due to this interview, what part did he object to? The fact that Wall had obviously pieced together stuff from different times (the Steven quote being an example)?

It is really annoying to not know what -- if anything -- is contested by Axl here. As it reads right now in the book, it is hard to find much that sounds wrong. Axl even admits he almost regretted the challenge of Vince.

If I was to guess, I would think Axl objected to how childish he came across in the first interview that was published in Kerrang! He comes off as a crazy, blood-thirsty maniac, whereas in the book, especially when you read the epilogue, he seems more okay. So maybe it is the optics that Axl disagreed with, how Wall wrote it up, emphasized and likely embellished the parts not on record, to make Al come off as more immature and volatile than he perhaps was.

And btw, fantastic work on typing out those parts from the book!
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Re: 1990.04.21/28 - Kerrang! Stick To Your Guns (Axl)

Post by Blackstar on Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:52 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
The question still remains: What is it that Axl objects to? Why did he attack Wall in Get in the Ring? Was he seriously angry with Wall, or just slightly angry with him at the time and decided to name him in the lyrics? If it was due to this interview, what part did he object to? The fact that Wall had obviously pieced together stuff from different times (the Steven quote being an example)?

It is really annoying to not know what -- if anything -- is contested by Axl here. As it reads right now in the book, it is hard to find much that sounds wrong. Axl even admits he almost regretted the challenge of Vince.

If I was to guess, I would think Axl objected to how childish he came across in the first interview that was published in Kerrang! He comes off as a crazy, blood-thirsty maniac, whereas in the book, especially when you read the epilogue, he seems more okay. So maybe it is the optics that Axl disagreed with, how Wall wrote it up, emphasized and likely embellished the parts not on record, to make Al come off as more immature and volatile than he perhaps was.

I think it was that, more or less. Axl doesn't like being paraphrased or misquoted. Since the part about Vince Neil wasn't on record, Wall paraphrased it and probably, as you say, embellished it for the Kerrang piece. For example, in the book there's nothing about "guns and knives"; and in some of the quotes in the Kerrang version there are expressions that really don't sound to me like expressions Axl would use, like "I'm the boy who will give it to him."
Probably also Axl didn't like the way the interview was edited down in the magazine overall as well as that Wall picked only the part about Steven from the later phone interview and ignored the part about Vince Neil (btw, it's odd that Wall omitted the part about Dizzy since it was news). In the book, in the beginning of the phone interview, Axl asks if it's being taped, so he maybe expected that what he said would be included; and, although he told Wall that he could live with the childish stuff he had said about Vince Neil originally, what he read in the released interview wasn't what he remembered saying.
So I think Axl was angry because Wall ignored parts that were on the record but printed off record stuff paraphrasing it. And I imagine that Axl wasn't pleased with the way an in depth interview he gave appeared on the cover of Kerrang:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Moreover, as Mick Wall admits, he refused to "cooperate" afterwards when Axl asked him for the tape and that also factored. Wall said that Axl later told him that he didn't want him to put a book out and claims that he even threatened him. Axl had issues with Danny Sugerman's November 1990 piece for Spin too (which was an excerpt from his upcoming book), but then Sugerman agreed to let Axl proof read the final draft of the book and correct factual mistakes in it before it was released, so Axl didn't have a problem with Sugerman's book.
Wall also claims that Axl probably was further pissed of because of his piece on Rock in Rio. I bought a Kerrang issue from February 1991 which had coverage of RIR, but it turned out that it had only the first part of Wall's piece that was only about the festival in general, and the second part about GnR was in the next issue.

I hope Marc Canter will give his input on this. But I think the person that would know more (apart from Axl and the rest of the band of course) is Arlett Vereecke. Mick Wall has claimed that she was present when the interview was recorded.
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Re: 1990.04.21/28 - Kerrang! Stick To Your Guns (Axl)

Post by Soulmonster on Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:22 pm

Very interesting, and all you say makes sense. And that cover page really is sensationalist. I can understand Axl would dislike it when the interview was about so much more.
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Re: 1990.04.21/28 - Kerrang! Stick To Your Guns (Axl)

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