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1993.09.22 - Unknown source - Interview with Izzy by Osamu Masaui & Steve Harris

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1993.09.22 - Unknown source - Interview with Izzy by Osamu Masaui & Steve Harris Empty 1993.09.22 - Unknown source - Interview with Izzy by Osamu Masaui & Steve Harris

Post by Soulmonster on Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:58 am



Transcript:

Steve Harris: I guess the album that came out of a year ago sold very well here, maybe didn't do quite as well back home in the States, but did you follow the sales status for each country?

Izzy: I know here that it's almost gold. I don't know what it did in the States. I know it didn't do gold. But I don't keep up on it that much. Only certain times, you know, every six months I call my manager and ask him, so if anything happens I’ll be checking a real job and all that stuff (laughs). But it did okay, I think.

Harris: Do you mind not keeping up with the business side or it’s just...

Izzy: It’s just too complicated. It’s just too complicated. I think whatever is gonna happen, is gonna happen, so... It’s unpredictable and it’s better just, I think - if there's good news you'll hear about it, eventually. That’s why I don’t pay attention to it that much.

Harris: You seem to be enjoying yourself, at least he says when he sees you on stage. And he would imagine that it can be attributed to the fact that you’re communicating. There’s more the feeling of music between you and your fans there. Is that maybe one of the things that you’re free from the business complications that seemed to always (?) in Guns N’ Roses?

Izzy: Yeah, lawsuits with those guys, lawsuits... With this band it's very simple and just straightforward, the music and the fans. I mean, in this trip here to Japan the fans were just great, just fantastic. I think that has a lot to do with it. There's a good vibe amongst the band as well, and that’s important. That's real important. I mean, you know, I think that determines - if you go out to see a band, you can see if everybody's not getting along or something, there's something. I don't know if you can pinpoint it, but the band vibe is good.

Harris: Is it just the musical thing or the personalities...

Izzy: It's a lot of both, I guess. I would say, I guess, musically probably first. But I think they’re equally important, personality and the music compatibility is important. And it seems with the Ju Ju Hounds we’ve got the best of both, so it seems to work. Yeah...

Harris: We understand that you’re enjoying yourself and things feel very good now, but are there any sort of stress causing situations now? Is there anything that you find tough to deal with?

Izzy: Just, like, lawsuits from years ago with Guns N’ Roses. You know, Stevie Adler, the original drummer, he’s suing the band. St. Louis, I had a summons to appear in court the day I left to come here; I’m going through my mail and there’s a summons to appear in court in St. Louis, you know. It’s stuff that I’m kind of like - because I was in the band at the time, I keep getting this kind of stuff. That’s the only thing that’s a pain in the ass. Other than that (?).

Harris: Not with this band though.

Izzy: No, this thing - so far it’s great; no major obstacles or problems. I mean, it’s like we all – we’ve been off for the Ju Ju Hounds tour. It stopped, I think, in March in the U.S., and everybody’s worked on different projects and different tours in the meantime, and it was real great for everybody to get together again back here in Japan and do this tour. It just felt good to see everybody again. It’s really great.

Harris: The problems that haunt you from your Guns N’ Roses days nonetheless, you played with the band in spring.

Izzy: Yeah.

Harris: You had a little...

Izzy: Yeah, five shows.

Harris: Five shows. Why did you agree to do that, in spite of all these nightmares...

Izzy: Part of the reason was I had time off in Indiana. I wasn’t really doing anything important. I was working on bikes, motorcycles, and I thought, “Well, maybe it’s fun.” You know, they played Turkey, they played Greece, they played Israel... I thought maybe it was cool to see those places I’d never been; and I knew all the music, so it wasn’t like I had to study or practice much, and I’d just take a guitar and go over. But the main reason was, for the year-and-a-half since I’d left them they had never paid me all the money that I was owed.

Harris: Is that true?

Izzy: Yeah, because there was dispute of what’s what. So I told them, “Look, tell your people to call my people and write some paperwork, and, you know, pay me my fucking money; and gladly I’ll come over and help you guys out.” Because they were kind of in a position where if they didn’t do these shows they would have lost, like, a lot of money – you know, Axl said he had this big three million dollar house and the mortgage payments were high (laughs). I said, “Well, okay. Pay for what you guys owe me and I’ll go do it.” So I signed off, you know, papers were signed and faxed, and I got on the plane. But after doing it, I was like, I could never go back and live like those guys live, and tour like they do it, and be a part of it. I just can’t relate to it at all.

Harris: This might overlap with what you were saying a second ago about never wanting to do it again. But with the Ju Ju Hounds you were on the club circuit, performed in small houses, and when you got back with Guns I guess you were performing in front of a large audience.

Izzy: Huge. 50,000, yeah.  

Harris: What did that tell you? I mean, what’s the things that you feel when you got back...

Izzy: Well, a good show is a good show. I mean, you can have a good show of 50,000 people and you can have a good show with 300 people. If you have a bad show, it’s the same thing: if it’s bad, it’s bad. You know, it’s just you never know. You never know what it’s gonna be. It’s always different, the level of intensity or whatever, but that keeps it interesting, too.

Harris: But the size of the audience is not for you, necessarily-

Izzy: No. It’s pretty thrilling to walk out to 50,000 people and hear that many people scream. I mean, it’s pretty exciting. But it’s exciting as well, you know, like these shows we did here this time around. It’s like, here, the first night we did in Osaka. I haven’t heard an audience since March. You know, five months off, I’ve been with motorcycles and dogs and all that kind of stuff, and then you hear these people screaming, like “Whooh!” It kind of wakes you up. It’s cool.

Harris: You could imagine that going back to Guns N’ Roses and playing the songs you’ve written a few years ago must have made you aware that maybe your Ju Ju Hounds stuff is quite a bit different and you changed. Did you sense a big gap between the two, between the Guns stuff that you wrote in the past and the stuff that...

Izzy: Well... Yeah, I think the Ju Ju Hounds stuff is a little bit simpler, a little bit more basic, which is really what I like. The main and the most obvious difference, I would say, is the vocal style of Guns N’ Roses,  because I could have taken a song like Shuffle It All or Cutting the Rug into the Guns N’ Roses band and, you know, because Axl is the singer and he’s got that high screeching voice, it would have been different. I’m sure he would have wanted to add some keyboards and a lot more extra stuff to it. Whereas in the Ju Ju Hounds, we get basic tracks done, we do them live and then maybe dub a solo and some backups, and if it needs a keyboard or some shaker, that’s it. And it’s done. So it’s much more basic, this Ju Ju Hounds...

Harris: More (?).

Izzy: Yeah, there’s more spontaneity, I think.

Harris: You don’t seem to perform new songs on this tour. How far are you on with new material?

Izzy: Four weeks. We’re going in to track the first half of the new album and probably in December or January we’ll finish the other half.

Harris: But you have new material completed now.

Izzy: Yeah.

Harris: How come you’re not doing it on the road?    

Izzy: Well, we... I don’t know. We didn’t play any new stuff this time. The first time we came here we played all this same stuff, but the record wasn’t out. So now that the record had been out for a while we kind of wanted to concentrate – you know, kind of play a lot of the stuff we played before hoping that people would be a little more familiar with it. The new songs will just kind of go over. You know, unless it’s... I mean, I like to play the stuff that people are familiar with.

Harris: For this song list, do you choose stuff (?), is that what interests you personally?

Izzy: Yeah, yeah. It’s some of my favorite stuff – for some reason, I don’t know why... But that’s – I guess I like the simplicity of it, because you can play the CD or the tape and you can hear the guitar, you’re gonna hear both guitars, you can hear the piano, you can hear the drums, you can hear the bass and you can hear the vocals. Everything’s so clear and that’s what turns me on about it. A lot of bands that are popular, like... I don’t watch, I don’t keep up so much, but usually if I’m looking on MTV or the radio in the U.S., it’s [mimics heavy and muddy sound], and I can’t make so much out of it, you know? I mean, I like new stuff like Nirvana. I love that stuff because it’s basic, and it’s primitive, and, you know, it’s instant. But I really like that older stuff.  

Harris: From the recent stuff, do you find yourself (?) other than Nirvana?

Izzy: I really like that Shaggy song, Oh Carolina. That’s knocked me out. When I heard it I was like, “That’s cool.”

(Laughter)

Izzy: Yeah. I mean they played it in Indiana on the radio. They’ve got a new radio station in Indiana that kind of plays alternative stuff, which is great, because up until the last year or so, year and a half, they still repeated Foreigner, Led Zeppelin and Molly Hatchet. I mean, it just played that stuff continuous sticks. And they were playing it and I said, “Oh God, they were playing this stuff in 1980 when I left to move out to California and they’re still playing this.” I like that music, but it was so cool to hear some alternative. It was nice. I guess Nirvana, Shaggy... what else? Other than that, I haven’t really kept up. I don’t even know what’s going on. There’s probably some great stuff that I’m missing.

Harris: You’re doing really well with the Ju Ju Hounds, as we mentioned several times now, but what do you think is more important for you? Should you approach music like a hobby for fun or should you approach it like a professional musician, as a career?

Izzy: Part-time job (laughs).

(Laughter)

Izzy: It’s just a bad habit or something. I don’t know. The career thing no, definitely not, because, I mean, it’s sort of iffy. It’s such a questionable existence, really, to be a musician. I mean, there’s just so many people that play that there’s no way they can make a living doing it. I’m sure there’s a lot of people in California, like when Guns N’ Roses first started. So many bands, so many people and they disappear each year, they disappear and disappear. But, at the same time, when we started that was the only thing that we were gonna do, so I guess instead of calling it a career it was just that it was our life at that time. But nowadays I don’t take it that seriously like that. I just look at it like, you know, I’m fortunate because people are interested to a point, so we can come to Japan and play some shows, and it’s great.

Harris: Well, if you open a shop in the corner, that’s a dubious prospect as well. Nothing can guarantee...

Izzy: It’s true. That’s true. I guess... yeah. I just don’t take it as serious as I used to. It’s not a life or death thing like it used to be.

Harris: You could get so deep in the bikes, motorcycle racing, that you would have quit music and opt for that instead?

Izzy: No, because the competition is... I mean, if you fuck up on stage it’s just like, people go “Uh,” you know, and they laugh. But if you fuck up on your racing, you usually break your neck, arm, legs, hips...

(Laughter)

Izzy: And the guys who race - I mean, the pro circuit back in the States, these guys are doing 130 miles an hour, you know, this far apart and... no. I like to watch a race for fun, and race my buddies and stuff; but this is probably a lot healthier.

Harris: You’ll do a kind of bike race with your dirt track?

Izzy: Dirt track, oval... mostly just dirt track. We’ve got a dirt track back in Indiana that we everyday race and practice on it. That kind of stuff.

Harris: But you’ve never been in a serious competition or anything.

Izzy: Not professionally. M.A. stuff. Just, maybe, fairground races or local races with local people. I mean, this summer - I’ve got a bike that I put together - I was practicing to race, but as the tour got closer to Japan, I was like, you know, if I get busted up and I’m in a cast or something...  

Harris: (?)

Izzy: Yeah, so I... But still, a day before I left I still raced, but not the pro stuff. Because those guys, I mean that’s their life. That’s their life. All they want is to be the fastest guys and... yeah.

Harris: Do you think that racing motorcycles is like, for you, an alternative or escape from music? Maybe when you were with Guns there with all that kind of pressure and stuff, was that an escape path?

Izzy: Yeah, totally. And when I stopped - back in ’89, 1990, I stopped using drugs and I stopped drinking. And suddenly you’ve got all this energy. and it’s like what do you do with it. Since I was a really young kid, I had a mini bike and each few years I’d get something bigger and bigger, and it was something that I’d forgotten about during the Guns N’ Roses days; you know, so much indulgence and that whole rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle bullshit, drinking and... Once that stopped, I was like, “Wow, man, bicycles!” and, you know, motorcycles... Yeah, because when I was out in California I’d go out in the desert and ride. You spend a day on a motorcycle in the desert, you come back, and you just feel good and calm, relaxed. Great escape for me it was, plus it saved my life.    

Harris: This is kind of part two of the questioning on how you’re writing songs now. You talked a second ago about how things are just natural and basic in the Ju Ju Hounds right now. I was wondering though, for example in Guns N’ Roses there seemed to be this idea that you guys were using hardship, you know, the idea of a person in dire straits as a seed for a song and that was an inspiration.

Izzy: Yeah.

Harris: But that is not really part of the equation now.

Izzy: Uh-uh. No, at that time a lot of the stuff that was written, at least when I was in the band, was – well, the stuff that I wrote, some of that stuff was actually older, the Illusions stuff was probably a few years older than the actual Illusion records, and it was just a time when that’s how I felt, I suppose. As far as Axl goes, God knows what goes on in his little mind and what... You know, I can’t speak for him, but for myself that stuff, a lot of that, was older material. With the Ju Ju Hounds it’s definitely a different vibe. It’s more positive, I think; and a different outlook, I suppose. A little bit different.

Harris: Maybe we can go more specific. What stuff would have inspired you back then that doesn’t inspire you now? And what is your inspiration now that you didn’t have back then?

Izzy: I think aggravation was a big inspiration for Guns N’ Roses. Aggravation of being this band in L.A. that was not popular at all, very disliked in the beginning, then huge success and suddenly everyone liked them. And there was sort of aggravation, confusion combined with indulgence and just stupidity, I guess, I don’t know. Just all the stuff thrown in the one big kettle, and that’s some of the music that came out, you know?  

Harris: So negative was feeding off...

Izzy: Yeah, negativity, a lot of negativity. Yeah, it sort of fed on itself.

Harris: Now you don’t have that-

Izzy: The day I left that band, you know, I was driving out of California. I got to the state line and I just felt like this big weight came off my back. I mean, I was like “Wow!” I didn’t know what the hell I was gonna do, but I just felt this big relief, and it was a lot of that; you know, I let it behind, I let it go.

Harris: So now a lot of the music is fueled more by joy or by a pure good feeling, or what?

Izzy: I don’t know what. I don’t know. It could be anything, really. It’s just something that happens once in a while. You’re just not thinking about music, but all of a sudden something starts happening, picking up something in your head, and you gravitate towards a guitar, or a drum kit or something, a harmonica maybe, and you try to capture that idea on just a tape recorder, push record and kind of build from that, I think.

Harris: Just more of a natural, pure musical experience (?)

Izzy: Yeah, it’s something that-

Harris: (?) it’s like trying to get out.  

Izzy: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. It’s more of a flowing thing instead of... you know.

Harris: You have changed quite a bit since the Guns N’ Roses days. Having worked again with Axl, did you find that he changed much as well?

Izzy: (Whispering and laughing) No. He's worse.

(Laughter)

Izzy: No. He was more aggravated when I went in to do their shows than he was when I left the band. He’s just always, you know... He’s always tense, aggravated, flustered, pissed off or something.  

Harris: Maybe that’s his natural thing.

Izzy: That’s his nature.

Harris: Yeah, yeah. So he’s not gonna brow out now. (?)

Izzy: One day he’ll internally combust.

Harris: (Laughs).

Izzy: You know, those people, that Spinal Tap that...

Harris (laughing): You’ll find a pile of Axl backstage (?)  

Izzy: In a hotel room. “Axl, time for the show! Time for the show!” There was a joke in L.A. once on the radio. It was just, “What pisses Axl Rose off more than anything in the world?” and the answer was, “A Guns N’ Roses show.”

(Laughter)

Harris: What he likes best pisses him off.

Izzy: Yeah. He’s a strange bird. He’s got a lot of talent, though; I gotta say that for him. I mean, he does. It’s just misdirected.  

Harris: Misdirected? I mean, obviously he’s producing (?)

Izzy: It works for him, yeah. Yeah.  

Harris: The people are taking off...

Izzy: Yeah. Oh God, it’s amazing. I mean, we went to Istanbul, Turkey, you know? You look on the map and it’s quite away, and you think what would the culture down there, the people down there, what would Guns N’ Roses – how would they appeal to people down there. I mean, that was my first question when they called me to do these shows. I thought it would be interesting to see. When I went down there, there was, you know, 30,000-40,000 people and they were right there with the band and that was... It’s amazing, it really is.

Harris: Obviously they’re getting through something.

Izzy: Somehow. Something, it must be the energy or the vibe or something, who knows. Mass marketing, I don’t know.

Harris: MTV Awards.

Izzy: MTV, yeah.

Harris: MTV. The Turks have MTV (laughs).

Izzy: Yeah (laughs).

Harris: Some fans would be tempted to liken you and Axl to a Keith Richards and Mick Jagger type of relationship, always at odds with each other or cursing at each other.

Izzy: Right.

Harris: But we know they’ve known each other for a long time and there’s an inextricable bond, you might say, between them. I guess the average Guns N’ Roses fan wants to believe the same of you and Axl.

Izzy: Um, I don’t know him very well, it seems, these days, I don’t. I thought I did a long time ago, but I went and did the tour and he’s... I don’t know, maybe we’re at two different points in our lives. I’ve taken a different exit than he did. So, you know, I don’t...

Harris: (?)

Izzy: Yeah. Yeah, he’s...

Harris: Certain differences can’t be overcome.

Izzy: Yeah. I think the things that are important to him aren’t important to me. I think it’s probably a lot to do with it.

Harris: Different values.

Izzy: Different values, yeah.

Harris: (Laughing) (unintelligible question)

Izzy: (Laughing) No, just a set list.

(Laughter)

Harris: (?)

Izzy: No. Well, it’s – another thing I could say is, like, if – there’s never any serious debating or analyzing anything in this band when it comes to songs or parts. It’s always real quick and if it doesn’t work instantly it switches to something else. So it’s sort of - how would you describe that... It’s sort of, when you analyze it, I guess you would miss the point. Well, we have no (?) though. It’s just more freestyle, I guess.

Harris: It works like that.

Izzy: Yeah. It’s pretty quick and there’s not much – we don’t spend any time thinking about it at all. We just play.  

Harris: Use it or lose it (laughs).

Izzy: Yeah. That’s it (laughs).

Harris (laughs) That’s it. You’ve never been gripped by the anxiety of the prospect of, like, being completely unable to sell records, completely unable to make a living as a musician, have you?

Izzy: In the early GN’R days. everybody in the band was very desperate. It was hard to... We knew at one point - there was a point where we reached a popularity in L.A. where we figured, “Well, if we get a record deal, then we’re set.” You know, everything would be great, “We’re gonna leave the U.S. and tour the world.” And we got a record deal, and I think we spent the advance. They gave us an advance, and we spent it in, like, four weeks, five weeks. Everybody’s going, “How much money you got left?” “150 bucks” and you know, Stevie’s gone. Suddenly we’re going, “What the fuck do we do?” And we hadn’t even cut a record. We hadn’t even gone into the studio to do the album. Then, when Alan Niven came in to manage the band, he put everybody on salary of 100 bucks a week and at that point everybody started feeling – I know at least for myself it felt like, “Well, now at least we know we’re gonna have 100 bucks a week for the next year while we do the record and find a producer, and all that stuff.” I’d say from that point on there was never any anxiety of if we were going to be able to make a living. Funnily enough though, once the band did make it big and everybody made a lot of money, suddenly there was a lot of people coming out of the woodwork and, you know, countless lawsuits and stuff, and people claiming that they had written this and had written that. And you’re going, “What’s going on here?” You realize it’s like, when something happens that big and there’s that much money involved, there’s also these other factors that surround it and, you know, that can be kind of disturbing as well. Then now I just look at it all as like - I don’t know. I mean, I’ve had nothing and I’ve gone full circle from having nothing to having a house, a car, a bunch of motorcycles and - you know, it’s...

Harris: That’s something to really think about.

Izzy: Yeah...

Harris: (unintelligible question)

Izzy: No, it’s... Yeah, I mean on the last tour we toured for six months. But, you know, touring is very expensive and we didn’t make any money. We lose money. But you figure you’ll do a record, do some touring, do another record, and just continue. Who knows where it goes...

Harris: About you now, I mean you’re very relaxed and enjoying yourself. Do you think you’ve returned to the original you or do you think that you’ve become this way as a result of having (?) the hardships and whatnot in Guns N’ Roses?

Izzy: I think I’ve just sort of become this way, because as a kid I was always like angst all the time, always moving around. But, you know, I’ve gone through a lot of changes, a lot of different changes, I guess, from not knowing anything about what it was all about, but just wanting to play music and be able to travel. That was the only real reason I ever thought it would be great. You know, because you think how great it can be to form a band, which is like a small gang or something, a group of friends, a club or something, and then be able to take the club all over and travel. That was the main thing that appealed to me. I thought it would be great if that could happen and... that’s something else. But I mean, it’s never, I guess, like you imagined it. But I’ve got no complaints. I’m happy with it.

Harris: Thank you, Izzy.

Izzy: Thank you.
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1993.09.22 - Unknown source - Interview with Izzy by Osamu Masaui & Steve Harris Empty Re: 1993.09.22 - Unknown source - Interview with Izzy by Osamu Masaui & Steve Harris

Post by Blackstar on Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:36 pm

I have added the transcript of this interview that was not transcribed. I couldn't hear some of the questions.
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