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SoulMonster

1989.10.DD - The Face - The Daze of Guns N' Roses (Izzy)

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1989.10.DD - The Face - The Daze of Guns N' Roses (Izzy)

Post by Soulmonster on Fri Jun 17, 2011 11:36 pm

"Let me tell you about when Guns N' Roses really first... like, the moment of revelation, the moment which began this whole... movement. It was when our car broke down a hundred miles into the fuckin' desert when we were drivin' to our first ever gig. Duff, when he joined -- like we said, 'Hey, wanna jam?' He said, 'Yeah!' -- he got us these gigs in Seattle to play. Duff said, 'Yo! Seattle, it's right on top of America.' We said, 'Hey, cool,' y'know. 'Let's fuckin' go.' It was a complete disaster."

So we're stranded in the fuckin' desert, right. Ain't no way we're going back to Hollywood. I mean, these are 300 bucks a night gigs we're talkin' about here..."

"So we hitchhiked. After two fuckin' days in the desert a guy in a semi picked us up. Finally we made it to Seattle. We played. There were ten, maybe twenty people there. We didn't get paid. Finally we had to steal another car to drive back to L.A. again."

"And from the day we got back to Hollywood, it's been, like, whatever goes down, y'know, we're still united in this conflict against... everything, really. Guns N' Roses' motto from like that day on has been 'Fuck everybody,' y'know. 'Fuck everybody before they fuck with you.'"

"'Fuck the whole fuckin' world,' y'know. Just let's keep movin'."

And so it was that we are moving, Izzy Stradlin and I, in a long black limousine no less, hither and yon through the empty August streets of Paris, searching -- always in vain -- first for a guitar shop, then a pizza house, until finally we're just in transit, completely rudderless, no particular place to go. Just moving. On one lazy infamous street a single desultory prostitute stands, old and defiant. 'Is this the... uh, red-letter district,' he asks me uninterestedly in his slightly paranoid half-whisper of a voice. A lantern-jawed Midwestern farm boy with haunted eyes and a monumental Keith Richards fixation ('the guy is just so far out! I imagine he must be, 'know, just really, really numb, y'know what I'm sayin''). Stradlin's supposed to be on holiday, but today (Wednesday) is this interview and tomorrow's Germany, where he's going specifically to 'have all this new scientific shit pumped into my gums so my teeth won't keep fallin' out.' In between involves going through Customs and this imminent reality is clearly not sitting well with him at all. Though maybe it's just a pathological reaction dating back to a year ago, when on a flight to Japan with the other Gunners and ordered by his manager to get rid of all drugs about his person and Izzy had done so accordingly, sending himself straight into a coma lasting thirty-six hours that almost necessitated canceling the gigs they'd come to play.

But there is worse than Customs awaiting Stradlin the day after (Friday), when he must return to America ('which is just about to explode, man! The pressure there is too intense!'), specifically to LA, where, 'if I'm there over a month, you'll have to pretty much dig me out.' There he is set to regroup with Guns N' Roses ('the only guys I can really relate to on a day-to-day basis. You could say we live in our own little world. We see things in our particular way and that's it'): with Axl Rose (he's completely crazy... Without the other four of us around, I wouldn't even want to imagine what the fuck would go on in his head. Or his life.'); guitarist Slash ('Slash was born in Stock... Uh, Stoke-on-Trent, when he was just a little kid, you know what I'm sayin''); bassist Duff ('he plays sort of like a rhythm bass sort of thing, y'know); and drummer Steven Adler, hereafter referred to as 'fuckin' Stevie' -- in order to once more attempt the seemingly impossible dream of completing their next album without anyone dying -- or 'having their lives turned into absolute shit' -- in the process. Scott Fitzgerald made that famous quote about there being no second act in American lives, and Guns N' Roses, America's premier outlaw attraction of the eighties, currently the world's biggest selling rock 'n' roll band, are having a hard time disproving it long enough to achieve even the making of a second album. (Their second actual release, 'Guns N' Roses Lies,' is always referred to as an 'extended EP'.)

With GN'R mania at its nerviest peak in America, you could be forgiven for thinking the whole country is just waiting for one of these guys to die. I ask Stradlin what it's like to open People and National Enquirer every week and be told over and over again that you've got between three and six months to live. It's sick. Freaks me out. Like the last thing... Just before I left the States to come here... I saw this thing in National Enquirer and... It's fuckin' Stevie, man. Apparently he went to Nevada, got fucked up, met some girl and, like, ended up marryin' her or somethin'. And the headline, y'know... It read something like "GN'R DRUMMER MARRIES GIRL: SAYS I CAN STILL FUCK AROUND". In-credible!

"Talkin' of sick," he seemingly free-associates. "Y'now Motley Crue? Sick fuckin' guys, man! Real sick fucks, those guys! In '87 we were supposed to come... here... to Europe, man... with fuckin' Motley Crue, and they burnt out on us and had to go into detox. You wouldn't have believed these guys. Like they're doin' an ounce of cocaine each a fuckin' day. These guys are walkin' into fuckin' walls, man. And they're doing this shit... Y'know, havin' this chick tied to the bed and stuff. And they tried to get us into that shit too, just to fuck us up, right. Which is what happened." And here he straightens up. "I mean, can you believe... These guys gave fuckin' Stevie fuckin' Ajax to snort all fuckin' night. Fucked him up. You don't pull that kinda shit on another musician!"

"Then after Motley Crue burnt out on us, we got a call sayin' Alice Cooper ha d like two weeks of support dates in the Midwest. We said, 'Alice Cooper... Fuckin' A!' Hey, I grew up listening to y'know "Sick Things", "I Love the Dead". It was a lot better than fuckin' reality. So we did 'em. Alice was cool. He's still... Y'know... "Alice". Anyway, after like a week Alice's old man died or somethin', a gig was canceled and we got, like, really slaughtered in a Holiday Inn like somewhere in West Michigan. And it's snowing, right, fuckin' Stevie's fucked up, he goes and punches out a fuckin' electric light bulb in the fuckin' street, man. His hand's fuckin' swellin' up like an egg and he's on the bus cryin' and shit. We're goin', 'Shut the fuck up!' This shit tends to use up an awful fuckin' lot of our time."

"But see," he adds ruefully, "whenever we've played with other drummers... I mean, these guys can be meter-perfect but it just has never worked. Stevie's timing is all "up and down", "up and down". It speeds up. Then it slows down. It's fucked up but it works. And like that's the thing about Guns N' Roses. The more fucked up things are the more they seem to work for us." Strictly on a cartoon level, Guns N' Roses are probably the most singularly entertaining and titillating group in the whole of late-eighties rock pop culture right now. After all, they're the youngest, the thinnest, the rowdiest, the most calamity-prone, etc., etc. Plus there are a number of Spinal Tap comparisons (the ongoing drummer problem, the fact that the GN'R manager, New Zealander Alan Niven, apparently bears an uncanny resemblance to the Tap's long-suffering celluloid counterpart). But to just brush this group off as another tasteless fad -- like hula hoops or something -- is to miss the point entirely. Many have argued that Guns N' Roses have single-handedly brought rock 'n' roll back to life, that they are to the eighties what the Sex Pistols were to the seventies -- a short sharp shock to the youth culture, bristling with authentic rage and outlaw irreverence.

Their music when you confront it is rock stripped down to its absolute pig-iron fundamentals. That is to say, there is no real imagination at work here, no wit, no joy, no irony, certainly no originality whatsoever. Their sound is all relentlessness and paranoia, all 'they're out to get me -- I'm fuckin' innocent', all 'the world is fucked up and so are we'. Basically, their music is primeval ("It's just such a twisted and demented effort for all of us, "Stradlin claims). It confronts you, it gets right up into your face with its one barbaric message: 'Love us or let us run wild. We're Guns N' Roses. What are you going to do about it?' Of course, in America the hype says they they're the new Rolling Stones and it's a hype that the Stones themselves have bowed to, finally after months of public speculation inviting the Gunners to share the bill with them for two mid-October Los Angeles shows -- a sort of late-eighties rock 'n' roll Pat Garrett meets Billy the Kid affair, if you like.

And even though the GN'R rhetoric has more in common with the Hells Angels of 1969 Altamont than the gloriously disengaged insincerity of Mick Jagger, there are obvious similarities between the two in that GN'R currently pose the question that Nik Cohn asked about the Stones twenty years ago: "What's so good about bad?" For as one-dimensional and cartoon-like as they can sometimes appear, Guns N' Roses' popularity is maintained by dint of a genuinely raw charisma that one can't help but view as also being genuinely 'diabolical' as an influence on young people. 'The kids understand us,' they say, but what is there to understand here? That 'you can say we're not exactly life for life's sake kind of guys'? That already fans have been killed at their concerts, specifically at last year's Donnington festival? That, in the nineties, cutting edge rock 'n' roll will be all about death and dissipation, dumb racism and even dumber isolationism?

Thus it was that I went along to this interview not so much to come to terms with Guns N' Roses as to further define terms with them:

Let's get personal here. How are the other members of Guns N' Roses right now?
Well, uh, Axl is probably the most physically... together of us right now. Slash? I hear he's doin' better, y'know. Haven't seen him in three to four weeks but I hear he's doin better than in a long time. He seems to realize now that with this new album to be made there's like a... uh, time period he has to be sustainin' right. Which he couldn't do before because of the way he's livin' his life.

Hasn't your drummer Stevie been in and out of detox clinics in the last year like a proverbial yo-yo?
Uh... uh... Who... Stevie? Uh... When somebody in the band just gets too fucked up, sometimes the manager will just... No. No, I mean, yeah, Stevie has probably been on several of those missions, yeah.

Isn't there a time limit involved in all of this?
Uh, it depends. [Pause] Definitely, I'd say. Like, when we're touring it's like we have to be on ten all the time anyway, right. So you can indulge hundred times more, right. Because a lot of that physical and mental abuse... You can take it, it just drops off of you like fuckin' dust and you can walk away. 'Cos you're movin' all the time, right. But if you're sittin' around in Hollywood with your adrenaline charge shut off, then... bad shit can happen. If you're the sort of person who takes drugs, man, that's when it gets to you.

Are you currently addicted to drugs?
Uh... addiction... That's a very heavy word... That depends. [Another pause] Do you mean physically or mentally?

Are you physically addicted to hard drugs?
I mean, that's what everybody infers about you guys. The big national rumor is that you're all junkies. Listen, I can't even... I don't... I'm OK, y'know. Everyone in the group's OK. I mean, everyone's talkin' about this shit all the time. I mean, I never said nothin' about "drugs". Everyone has to know their own limits. That's all I wanna say.

Well, the other thing I wanted to ask you -- irrespective of whether you are addicts or not -- being the most and visible examples of that kind of lifestyle, don't the police or the CIA or FBI or whoever keep constant tabs on your activities?
There's a lot of that bullshit, yeah! Put it this way, when I'm on the telephone anywhere in the USA I'm always very careful what I say. Always. It's all so new, this shit, that only now am I starting to understand it. Strange people come to your door... Even in hotels they just walk into your hotel room and try to sell you stuff, y'know what I'm sayin'. I'm fuckin'... I'm supposed to go back on Friday to do the album and already it's worryin' me 'cos the police have our names and numbers there, y'know. And I've been arrested once already. It's just a nightmare. I don't go out anymore. All my friends are the same way. But that's LA for you. I go out for a drive, I get pulled over. First thing, the cop pulls a gun in my face. I'm sittin' there... "Officer, what did I do?"

So what sort of perspective does being the premier outlaw band of America give you about the current state of your country?
America is about to really just blow up in some kind of drug war. There's just so much of it around. Right now in West Hollywood it's a complete Gestapo situation. If you're walking down the street they'll jump you, beat you up, plant shit on you and haul your ass off to jail. Then you're in court and it's your word against theirs. I mean, who are they going to believe? When I go back, I'm just going to stay cool and not hang out in the city. I've seen too much shit go down. I know too many people associated with Guns N' Roses whose lives have turned into absolute shit because of this drugs media angle. I mean, that's why I'm over here.

A number of other rock acts have commented on the 'undignified' way you're handling success...
Fuck them! What do they know? There's all these burnt-out old fucked-up rock stars we get to meet in clubs and bars in Los Angeles, y'know. They want to talk to us but they've mostly all got this attitude... like they're a bit "interested", a whole lotta "jealous" and a little bit "fuck you", y'know. Fuck man, it's not success that's hard to deal with, it's... uh, the other thing. But we've got it licked. We'll just make this record and then just keep movin', y'know.

But let's talk more about success, about your success.
Well, it's frightening, that's what it is. I mean, a week ago I flew with Axl from New York to Lafayette, Indiana, with one lay-over flight and by the time we hit Lafayette there were people just milling around the fuckin' airport. Mainly for him. Axl really brings out the fuckin' crazies, man. They relate to him particularly in this very weird, intense way. But that's the same with all of us, y'know. It's like a sickness. 'Cos they don't want to shake your hand or get your autograph. They want to scream in your face or mess with your head, sneak around your house, sneak into your hotel room and fuck with your head. It puts you right on edge, man, all the fuckin' time. Because a lot of these kids carry guns, right. And you never know what the fuck they're up to. And that's not half the shit. I've been ripped off... nine months ago I moved into the Valley; in one week I was robbed, y'know, of everything. Four months later I had to crawl out of LA and cool out in the Midwest. I find a place there and four days later it's been stripped clean. You figure you have to get rifles. Just to deal with these people. You don't want to shoot anyone but hey, if that's how it goes down...

I'm sorry, are you saying your fans actually pull guns on you?
It's happened, man. I'm walking into my house, there's five guys parked in my yard, just waiting for me, right. One gets out -- "We wanna autograph!" I tell them to get the fuck out of my yard. But they don't see it that way.

I've had my windows shot out. Many times. You think, 'Why the fuck would anyone wanna shoot my fuckin' windows out?' I mean, there's currently a wave of fuckin' murders in Los Angeles involving "personalities"... Some actors just got blasted point blank in a place on Fairfax on the same fuckin' block we used to live in. It's bullshit and I don't like to think about it but sometimes it gets to you, y'know.

You keep talking about 'explosive pressures' in your country. You talked just back there about an imminent 'drug war'...
Listen, America right now is one big fuckin' drug, OK. Like, cocaine is... It's like this cigarette [reaches for a Marlboro]. And the press can talk about it, say, "Don't do it. Just say no...", it don't make a fuckin' bit of difference. Because, hey, South America and Mexico -- where the stuff originates from -- are right below the Southern USA -- You got Florida, Texas and the Tijuana border over to LA... It's a sick joke. A bad fucked-up sick joke. They should just legalize it. Instead they're just crowding out the prisons. I mean, I know this for a fact right. The prisons are so overcrowded -- and it's a 70-80 per cent drug offences ration -- that the powers that be are currently doing up all these defunct old army bases all along the Mexican border for the express purpose of taking the overspill from the jails and doing experiments on them. Like the Germans did during the fuckin' war. You can bet neither me nor the rest of Guns N' Roses are going to be around for any of these experiments.

There's so much paranoia and belligerence in your music... Isn't all this violence you give off very contagious?
Yeah! We seem to stir up real violent emotions in people! I've noticed that. But, see, violence happens only when we're being fucked with. I mean, like tryin' to make a living playing your music. And you've got these assholes who work in these clubs -- they're just fuckin' animals, these people -- who just want to push you around. Treat you like you're just another fuckin' band. Shove you in the ass. And we were only doing our own thing. Then things would happen, y'know. Some fucker would get onstage -- some drunk would fuck with you -- and that was... That was it. We'd just dust 'em, just kick them down. Kick their asses to the back of the stage, back into the fuckin' crowd.

Why?
I don't know why. 'Cos they're fuckin' with you, I guess. So that's part of the violence. The other is this bullshit whenever we've been a support act... like, you open a show, you get your standard thirty, forty minutes, right, which we always tried to play over. So the headline act would pull the fuckin' plug. Fights used to start a lot 'cos of that. We know what it's like to be fucked around. Even still today we get fucked around. I mean, and who knows, man? Maybe the Stones are lettin' us play these two gigs with them just 'cos they can fuck with us? Maybe the Rolling Stones just want to fuck with us, y'know what I'm sayin'. That would be... a trip.

How do you respond to guys like Jim Kerr of Simple Minds or U2's Bono who say they're playing rock 'n' roll to save the world and that Guns N' Roses just want to pollute and destroy the world with their music?
We don't want to destroy fuck. We're just writin' and singin' about what we see. Maybe those jerks see somethin' different. I don't give two shits about them and their world anyway.

But your world lyrically is seen through the eyes of your singer, Axl Rose, and he's completely mad...
Yeah, he is! He's very crazy, y'know. Like, sometimes he can be very rational and other times he's just deep left-field. It's always up and down, up and down with Axl. He just has a very hard time relating to other people.

Sometimes he just goes off the deep end and if anyone can make sense to him in those states, I think it's me. Because we still relate as friends coming from "bumfuck" Indiana. The rest doesn't mean much. I can kinda talk him down when he freaks out and locks himself in his room and we've got to play a gig or record.

How do you relate to some of his lyrics -- like the immigrants and faggots slur in "One in a Million"?
I have a big problem with that lyric. I've talked to Axl many times about his lyrics. 'You don't need to say that, Axl. You're a fuckin' immigrant yourself. Everyone's a fuckin' immigrant in America. Don't you see you're putting down the whole of fuckin' America? And if they faggots, well so what?' Axl... is very... confused.

But I was pissed off. I was very against that shit going on our record. 'Why'd you have to say that, Axl. It's hard enough just gettin' by.' [Pauses] But at the same time, y'know, this is just fuckin' rock 'n' roll music. When it's fucked up, it's more interesting. Whoever said this was responsible music, y'know? We're not fuckin' role models. At all. But 'One in a Million' is just flat-out racist. Like that about niggers trying to sell you gold chains. I mean, I think Public Enemy and NWA are racist but... Have you heard of Niggaz With Attitude? They write about exactly the same area that we wrote "Welcome to the Jungle" and "One in a Million" about, the same fuckin' area we're going to be playin' with the Stones in a couple months. You wouldn't believe this fuckin' stretch, man. Talk about racial differences! You park your car, they'll sell you the parking space, then they'll strip it of tires! A guy livin' there goes out for the evenin' he comes back, someone's sold his house and his yard behind his fuckin' back! There's just so much fuckin' friction there between black and white. This "we've all got to live together" shit... it just isn't real, y'know. It's not realistic. I can't save the world, man. 'Cos what's going on out there is just a fuckin' jungle. We just observe it. But Niggaz With Attitude - man, they're baaad! They dig us too. They wanted either do a cover or do a sample of "Welcome to the Jungle". They rang up the office. I don't know if Axl was too... receptive to the idea.'

Tell me about Donington.
That was... very strange. I mean, I saw it all go down. I stopped the gig three times. Kids were lookin' at me, givin' me this real intense look, like "something really, really bad is going down." You could read it all in their faces. I tried to stop the band... like three times... but they just kept playing, y'know on and on. Then I turned around and I could see the bodies being pulled out.

Didn't you think by then that there really was a genuine hex on Guns N' Roses?
I just realized that Guns N' Roses had become way, way bigger than anything you could possibly hope to control as a musician. I mean, when you play clubs you're pretty much in control. But the energy forces in these stadiums and arenas are beyond anything... It's frightening, y'know. And the fuckin' money that's involved... like with us, then with this Stones tour... I mean, what are the promoters goin' to off us next? Is that next? Y'know, "Come to our city and take all these drugs." Listen, the last time the Stones played the Coliseum, eight years ago, it was insane! I didn't have a ticket but I was outside hangin' out. There were, like, 50,000 inside and 20,000 outside, selling drugs, selling fake passes and everythin', man. Undercover policemen. When the Stones went on... y'know, forget that. Then a riot broke out in the back of the Coliseum. Me and this little kid were in a fuckin' tree peering around these pillars. Then I see these pigs on horses with the shields and all the riot shit on, just mowing these people down, man, crackin' black skulls, Hispanic skulls, you name it. Then a whole bunch came crackin' and beatin' us out of the trees.

And to think now, in 1989 with what's going on in America and particularly the West Coast -- and where the Coliseum is one for the worst racial areas you can go to -- that we're going to do these two gigs with those guys there! It's going to be very interesting.

You mean, 'interesting' like Altamont?
Maybe. If that's how it goes down. It's going to be... a trip.


Last edited by Soulmonster on Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: 1989.10.DD - The Face - The Daze of Guns N' Roses (Izzy)

Post by Blackstar on Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:50 pm

It seems that the date of this interview is October 1989. The cover and the contents page of the October 1989 issue:

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The journalist (Nick Kent) and the location of the interview (Paris) are the same.

And the cover of the January 1990 issue (nothing about Guns N' Roses):
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Re: 1989.10.DD - The Face - The Daze of Guns N' Roses (Izzy)

Post by Soulmonster on Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:30 pm

Thanks! That makes more sense.
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Re: 1989.10.DD - The Face - The Daze of Guns N' Roses (Izzy)

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