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2011.12.01 - Interview with Tommy - Detroit News

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:21 am

Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose is still the most mysterious figure in rock.

He does what he wants when he wants and makes no apologies, whether that means going on stage at 1 a.m. or refusing to promote an album he spent close to two decades making. Why does he do it? He's Axl Rose. 'Nuff said.

Or at least that's what people who spend their time wondering about Axl Rose are forced to tell themselves. The man himself isn't offering any answers. He recently sat down with VH1's "That Metal Show" for his first interview in five years and offered very little in the way of insight, mainly managing to shift blame for his many eccentricities on shady business people, crew members and other unnamed forces of the universe.

So what, exactly, is the deal with Axl Rose?

We asked the very question to Tommy Stinson, Guns N' Roses bassist since 1998, who struggled for an answer to the admittedly open-ended question.

"You're asking me to (expletive) write 'War and Peace,' dude," says Stinson, who performs with GNR at The Palace tonight, while on the phone from Chicago last month.

Narrowing it down, Stinson says Rose isn't all that different from Paul Westerberg or Dave Pirner, singers in the Replacements and Soul Asylum, bands he played with before Guns.

"I think they're hugely talented, a bit misunderstood in a lot of ways, and maybe I subconsciously think I can help them in some way," says Stinson, 45. "I guess I'm kind of used to that kind of personality; maybe I'm drawn to those kind of people and they work out good for me. Maybe I've got a yin and yang kind of thing about it."

Is Rose difficult to deal with?

"Not for me," Stinson says, in between bites of fruit salad a few hours before going on stage at Allstate Arena. "The rest of the free world? Sure."
No denying talent

For all of Rose's difficulties and baggage, however, he still is hailed for his abilities as a performer. Guns' current outing, its first American trek in five years, has earned solid reviews, with critics praising the 49-year-old's still-robust vocals. Why the tour took so long to get rolling is another story.

"Chinese Democracy," GNR's first album since 1993's "The Spaghetti Incident?" was released in 2008 after one of the most elongated delays in rock history. The album — which actually sounded like it had been tinkered with for close to 20 years — underperformed commercially and was barely promoted, with no proper single or video releases and no interviews. After earning mythic status during its creation, "Chinese Democracy" came and went in the blink of an eye.

Stinson blames record company politics for its lack of promotion, "and I don't think Axl has gotten over that," the Minneapolis native says. He calls the debacle "dumbfounding," but says Axl may not be completely finished with the record. "I think in his head there's still some stuff left to be done," Stinson says. "If what he wants to do happens, it could drag it out for awhile. But we'll see what happens."
Setlists decided on fly

On tour, Stinson says Guns has been going on stage around 10 or 10:30 p.m. — reports put them closer to 11 — which is rather timely for GNR.

For them, "it's like noon!" he says. The band isn't working with regimented setlists but culling from a list of about 40 songs and calling them out on the fly by communicating on stage through in-ear monitors.

Looking ahead, Stinson says the hope is to write new songs next year and move forward with GNR, which is nominated for entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2012. There are songs left over from the "Chinese Democracy" sessions that are almost ready to go, he says, and could be polished up for potential release.

"Who knows, maybe there will be Chinese Democracy 2," Stinson says. "Who knows?"

When it comes to Axl Rose, "who knows" is as close to an answer as you're likely to get.

From The Detroit News:
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