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2012.05.17 - Interview with Dizzy

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2012.05.17 - Interview with Dizzy Empty 2012.05.17 - Interview with Dizzy

Post by Soulmonster on Thu May 17, 2012 8:35 am

Rocker still coming up gulls n' roses

Veteran keyboard player Dizzy Reed is older, wiser but still a little crazy, finds Jonathan Geddes.

Dizzy Reed is telling me about the problems with having a bird in your hotel room.

This is not, however, a riotous rock n'roll story from the man who's been keyboard player with Guns N' Roses for over 20 years, and he is certainly not using British slang for available female company after a gig.

Nope, this is a story about how a seagull tried to steal his food in Glasgow.

"Last time we did Glasgow, it was like a heatwave and it was crazy hot," he recalls, referring to a show in 2006.

"It was the hottest show I can ever remember. Everyone was packed in, and I'm surprised there weren't people fainting. After the first number I remember looking down and going, 'Who spilt stuff all over the stage?' And my tech was like, 'Nobody, that's just sweat'.

"So I drank a lot of water, I was back in my hotel, with a fan on, and the windows open. I was eating some room service, and this big giant seagull lands on my windowsill and just looked at my sandwich. It was like a seahawk, and I was worried about my food. But I love Scotland, my great-grandmother's from there and I feel at home there."

You can't help but suspect that Reed has seen a lot more than that in his time with Axl Rose. He's certainly witnessed a fair few departures from the line-up. He came in when the band still featured the majority of the classic line-up with Slash, Duff et al and has stuck it out through years of inactivity, irregular touring and, of course, the eventual release of Chinese Democracy in 2008.

Now the band is touring again, with an appearance booked at the SECC in Glasgow next week. Recent American appearances have seen them play three-hour sets, filled with a mixture of hits, new songs and several jams. (Reed gets to play through The Who's Baba O' Riley at one point.)

The length of the shows isn't the only talking point, given that the mercurial Rose continues to take the stage whenever he feels like it. For Reed though, Rose is a different character indeed, given that he's the man who first brought him into the band in the first place.

"He's been a great influence on me. He's the person who gave me this opportunity and I'll always be thankful or that," explains Reed.

"When we do hang out, it's always fun. He's a very funny guy, good with quips and his level of musicianship is high. He sets the bar pretty high and over the years it's made me a lot better at doing what I do. In that regard, he's made me a better person as well.

"We've had ups and downs, but he's always come out and delivered and that's a very tough thing to do when you're fronting a band like this."

Reed was already known to Guns N' Roses through his work with Sunset Strip bands like the Wild before Rose asked him to play keyboards on a smattering of new tracks in 1990. That led to playing on the best-selling Use Your Illusion records, followed by a world tour that visited some of the largest arenas and stadiums on the planet. Understandably, Reed admits it was a bit much to take in at first.

"It was a whirlwind of an experience," he says. "When I joined they were already very successful, and I felt awkward at times, as I was trying to fit in. A lot of times I didn't feel like I did fit in, although eventually I got there, but it was one of those things where every day I was still pinching myself and going, 'This is great'.

"That kept me on my toes and reminded of why it was great to be in a band and what I had to do. So it kept me focused. But looking back it was pretty crazy."

He's full of praise for the group's current line-up, even if it's the Appetite For Destruction era crew that are remembered most fondly by fans. It was that era's outfit that were recently selected for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an induction that Rose snubbed, and a subject that has been firmly declared off limits in this conversation. Reed feels the current band more than hold their own.

"All the guys in the band now have a certain level of professionalism, as far as putting on the best performance we can every night. I've never really looked at myself as being a senior member or having any seniority over the others. I'm part of a band and I'll do my part and do what I can to add to that."

Rock'n'roll is in his blood and he frequently plays club gigs with his own band just for fun. The days of any wildness, however, appear to have been left mostly behind.

"We're older now, we're more mature and we've been through all that clichéd rock'n'roll stuff," he chuckles.

"Not that we don't have fun or still do crazy stupid stuff, but I think we're a little more discreet about things now. I can't go out partying every night and then still do what I do onstage. We're human beings at the end of the day, but we're still alive and we're still lucky to be doing this, and I'm always appreciative of that."
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