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Guns N' Roses bring "Democracy" to the masses

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Guns N' Roses bring "Democracy" to the masses Empty Guns N' Roses bring "Democracy" to the masses

Post by Soulmonster on Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:53 am

"Appetite for Destruction" felt as much like a rejection of the status quo in 1987 as the Sex Pistols' "Never Mind the Bollocks" had a decade earlier. But Guns N' Roses took their revolution to the masses in a way the Pistols never managed, topping the charts with the reckless abandon of a first release that sent three singles to the upper reaches of the Hot 100, including the chart-topping "Sweet Child O' Mine" -- a power ballad with actual power.

It was a glorious racket, like the Rolling Stones or New York Dolls as raised on punk and heavy metal, topped by Axl Rose's headline-grabbing cult of unhinged personality, his words delivered in a voice that could snarl and sneer as brilliantly as it could wail.

It's been two decades since they followed the spontaneous combustion of their masterpiece with the ambitious twin release of the "Use Your Illusion" albums. And the Guns N' Roses playing Phoenix on Tuesday, Dec. 27, doesn't look much like the Guns N' Roses that helped drive a stake through the heart of the hair-metal '80s. After spending 13 years on the sessions for "Chinese Democracy," Rose remains the only link to "Appetite," the 18-times-platinum calling card that all but guaranteed they'd be inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.

They started losing members during the sessions for "Use Your Illusion" with the 1990 firing of drummer Steven Adler. Izzy Stradlin, the rhythm guitarist who'd written or co-written nine of the 12 songs on "Appetite," quit in 1991, followed in 1996 by lead guitarist Slash, with bassist Duff McKagan holding out the longest. He resigned in 1997.

Meanwhile, Rose's reputation as an erratic control freak continued to flourish, helped along by a disastrous tour in 2002 and the "Chinese Democracy" sessions becoming a rock-and-roll punch line.

But against all odds, the album was released in late 2008 to mixed, if generally positive, reviews.

And as guitarist Dj Ashba, who joined in 2009, sees it, those reviews will just get better over time.

"It's gonna be one of those albums that people aren't gonna get right away," he says. "I mean, 'Appetite' didn't take off for a year. Nobody understood it. Nobody got it in the very beginning, if you remember. Axl's voice is very unique and nobody really knew what to make of it.

"Eventually, they released 'Sweet Child O' Mine' and it blew up. But that album had a lot of trouble getting off the ground in the beginning."

Keyboard player Dizzy Reed has been on board since the sessions for "Use Your Illusion." And being invited to join in 1990, at the height of Guns N' Roses' popularity, has made him especially loyal, standing by Rose when even Slash had had enough.

"Axl gave me a shot," he says, "gave me a chance. It's hard for me to turn my back on people that have helped me out."

Those early days in GN'R were "amazing," he says.

"I was sleeping on people's couches. The next day, I'm on a ... private jet going to New York to play a show, you know? So it was pretty cool. Extremely cool. Axl and I had been talking for quite a while, and he stuck to his word."

Both Reed and Ashba say working with Rose is not at all like you'd imagine based on Rose's image in the media.

Ashba says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer or funnier guy.

"You'd think 'Oh, Axl Rose, this egomaniac' and everything you've ever heard," he says. "He's quite the opposite. He lets me write my own solo pieces right before I hit 'Sweet Child O' Mine' every night. It's really funny to me to read some of these things out there on him, because it's just a completely different guy than I know."

Reed says he won't even read their press at this point.

"I stopped reading things about the band a long time ago, just because it was always so negative and hurtful," he says. "But Axl's a great person. He's like a big brother or something. He's funny. Fun to be around most of the time. And he gets the best out of everybody that works with him, which is pretty amazing."

Asked if he ever worried that "Chinese Democracy" would never see the light of day, Reed says, "Obviously, those kind of feelings are inescapable sometimes, but it was just too great to not come out, to not be finished. I just kept telling myself that."

And yes, there were times, he admits, when he thought the album could have been released before 2008.

"But you know, I'm just the piano player, man," he explains, with a laugh.

It was tough on Reed watching the other original members bail on Guns N' Roses.

"Honestly? I was pretty emotional about it," Reed recalls. "To me, the band is always like my other family. So when someone quits, it's kind of like a slap in the face or a stab in the back. It doesn't feel good. Ever.'"

Asked if any member of the early lineup stood out as particularly irreplaceable, the keyboard player shrugs it off with, "You realize at the end of the day, we're just musicians, man. We're not, like, Gandhis or anything."

Reed has been quoted, in fact, as saying that this current lineup is the best version of Guns N' Roses that he's ever been in -- even better, that would suggest, than the lineup that played on the sessions for "Use Your Illusion."

And he isn't backing down.

"It really is, I think, a great collection of musicians that all work together really well," he says. "And some of us have been playing together for a while now."

As to what the future holds, there's plenty of material to sort through when they do decide to work on a new album.

"What people don't realize is that he has so much music sitting there that no one's ever heard that's just amazing," Ashba says. "He has two to three albums worth of great stuff up his sleeve. And again, it's his baby. It's his vision. And when he feels the time is right, there'll be a new Guns record."

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Guns N' Roses bring "Democracy" to the masses Empty Re: Guns N' Roses bring "Democracy" to the masses

Post by DanyYo on Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:43 pm

OK, we've already heard that there's so much music sitting there. We haven't heard when we'll hear it.

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