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1989.05.DD - RAW - The Biggest Appetite for Destruction

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1989.05.DD - RAW - The Biggest Appetite for Destruction Empty 1989.05.DD - RAW - The Biggest Appetite for Destruction

Post by Soulmonster on Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:03 pm

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"YOU KNOW, I've been voted 'Best Guitarist' in the polls conducted by a number of magazines across the world. But this doesn't mean I'm the best in the world. It's simply that my band is really popular." — Slash (lead guitar, Guns n' Roses). Legend has it that Gn'R drummer Steven Adler once accosted Steve Val (now guitarist with Whitesnake), telling the virtuoso player: "You might be the greatest guitarist in the world, but we've got Slash!" Perhaps that says it all. You can attempt to criticise the level of musicianship within the band, but ... the chemistry works. And over ten million people worldwide have bought the band's debut album 'Appetite For Destruction' . . . heard any complaints from them about the quality of the musical content? I doubt it.

Yet, never make the mistake of underestimating this group's creativity and marketability in this sphere. They are no lame ducks. Basically The Gunners work on a see-saw effect. Providing the fulcrum, and by implication the necessary balance, is the rhythmic triumvirate of Izzy Stradlin' (guitar), Duff McKagan (bass) and the above mentioned Adler. None of them are exceptionally skilled, yet they are ALL vital to the core of the band. Because any group made up of five virtuosos is of necessity asking for major trouble. These three force Slash and vocalist W. Axl Rose to compromise on their vast abilities, thereby securing the valuable concessions required to make Gn'R palatable to the masses. As I said, the fulcrum. And whilst frustration often sets in when both Slash and Axl attempt to introduce their own, oft-complex ideas to the others, nonetheless it's the compromises they have to make to gain the consent of Izzy, Duff and Steven that makes Gn'R a viable band.

And so to the two true musical forces. They are both weighty talents, falling on either side of the fulcrum, providing drastic shifts in style and feel. Both are volatile enough and sufficiently self-reliant to upset the balance, yet when they get the co-ordination right the result can be as strong as 'Sweet Child 0' Mine' or 'Welcome To The Jungle. Sheer class. The volatile chemistry between the pair puts them in the highest class, yet their inherent passion and pyromanic personalities will inevitably blow the partnership assunder sooner or later.

Slash, in particular, enjoys jamming with others outside of his own crew. He has spent considerable time with the Megadeth pair of Dave Mustaine (guitar/vocals) and Dave Ellefson (bass), working on fresh ideas. Indeed, as a joke Slash was asked to join the 'Deth squad . . . "And I toyed with the idea of winding up the rest of Guns n' Roses by telling them that I'd accepted this offer. Ha!"

Slash has also talked about getting involved with other outside projects simply to let off certain creative instincts that don't fit into The Gunners' style. Of all the members of this band, his is the greatest frustration. Any group is automatically a compromise. And when you're as uncompromising as Slash there are bound to be crises.

For Axl this is perhaps slightly lessened because this is very much his band and very much his driving force that keeps everything on certain rails. He is the leader, Slash (at least in band terms) his own man. Of necessity that puts the onus more on Axl to keep the Guns n' Roses juggernaut motoring, leaving Slash more time to ruminate on his own position.

IF TOP HATS or bandannas are now de rigeur, then perhaps one can thank Slash and Axl for this. Any style will become an image and, if successful, revert back to being a style. 'Photocopies' of Guns n' Roses' dress sense have emerged across the world of Hard Rock. Premeditation has sunk its hooks into The Gunners and ensnared them as a band to be imitated.

The fact is that the five did indeed set out to be noticed, yet their gypsy stance and street sense ensured that they never gave up their ideals to copy others. They took whatever was around and turned it into a striking revelation.

"We are for real!" says Slash. "We are not Glam shit or anything else. We are just Guns n' Roses."

The development of the band's image is easy to encapsulate —they set out to be noticed, to stand apart from the crowd. Whilst most bands in Los Angeles are content to copy what's hot and hip, this lot deliberately went for something fresh, new and vital. It works because they have the personality and the individuality to carry off their ideas.


"I HOPE that we've re-introduced the idea of being natural, of being for real and adopting a down-to-earth approach," says Slash, adding that, "We want to put integrity back into music. But I do know that there are an awful lot of bands out there who just copy us rather than be themselves."

Guns n' Roses were premeditated. A decision was made somewhere down the line that the compromising and butt-f*king most acts adopt to break into the musical scene (especially in LA) didn't interest them. Stand out from the crowd, and if you've got the talent and the force of personality you'll create the next trend. That's always been their way. And whilst the band is very much an extension of them as people, nonetheless it takes planning to put something like this into operation. Make no mistake, Guns n' Roses didn't happen by accident. Yet ... what you see and hear is for real and not another designer cover on the same old model.

The band are in this for themselves, making music they love, and if you happen to enjoy what they do, then fine. If not . . . don't expect them to be heartbroken. The Gunners don't respect weakness or spineless, gutless wonders (and this business is full of 'em), but they rarely incite, preferring to respond. The hallmark of self-confidence.


OBVIOUS, REALLY. In this business if you're a success everybody goes out of their way to imitate your style, both musically and visually. In the wake of 'Appetite . . .', Mike Clink became the hottest producer on the block, as the coiffeured ghosts posturing around the Rock scene attempted to take on the Gn'R shape. Ha!

Guns n' Roses have defined an approach. They are the benchmark. Others may protest that they are really better than The Gunners, but it matters not a pencil dot. This is the one phenomenon in the genre, their position is secure against any and all imposters. Amen.

Yet beyond this form of influence (which has even gone so far as to start a trend of 'acoustic releases' from Hard Rockers, and inspired burgeoning US acts to follow their example and come to the UK very early in their careers, as well as riding down the more obvious lines), the band have also been involved on a different level by encouraging others, using their position and values as a means of gaining exposure for those who would otherwise struggle.

In particular, Axl has been active in this area. He was the first person to tell me about Jane's Addiction, Junkyard (the latter even supported The Gunners on a series of headlining dates during December 1987 in Pasadena) and TSOL. He's jammed onstage with the superbly named Saigon Saloon (there's a Hanoi connection), performing the Hollies"Long Cool Woman' with them recently at The Roxy in LA, and has also heaped praise on Canadians The Pursuit Of Happiness. Now that's patronage worth having and a worthy use of status.


I'VE GOT a tape somewhere that the band compiled for producer Spencer Proffer when they were negotiating with him to produce 'Appetite For Destruction' (Mike Clink eventually got the job). It's called 'Spencer's Easy Listening' and details some of the band's primary influences, ranging from AC/DC to Rose Tattoo, Motorhead to the Sex Pistols, Angel City (now just known as the Angels and managed by Stravinski Bros., the same organisation who look after Gn'R) to Aerosmith. That's an indication of where this bunch lie.

Add in the fact that they've demoed in the past versions of Elvis Presley's 'Heartbreak Hotel' and the Stones lumpin' Jack Flash' and this cements the feeling. Rock 'N' Roll in all its glorious, decadent, reviled, nasty forms is what inspires this lot. Slash still recalls his first greeting from Aerosmith:

"I was 13 to 14 at the time and had been trying for ages to get into this girl's pants. Then one day she invited me round to her house for tea and I thought, 'This is the big moment!' So I dashed round there and she put on the Aerosmith album 'Rocks, which I'd not heard before. It stunned me. I played it three or four times in a row and completely forgot about the girl — I didn't even talk to her — and then rushed straight home. It totally changed my approach to life."

For Izzy, Keith Richards and his Stones have always been seminal, whilst Axl.. . well, he follows the Huey Lewis maxim that there are just two types of music: good and bad. Sure, he's a devotee of Hard Rock, but he can appreciate talent in any sphere or form.

"I think the Pet Shop Boys write great songs," he once told me unashamedly, and he was absolutely delighted when songwriting great Bernie Taupin (Elton John's partner) praised his lyrics. And let's not forget George Michael. Axl has long been an admirer of the Pop hero, a feeling obviously reciprocated because The Gunners frontshooter was invited last year to a GM party at the Playboy Mansion in LA.

"I told him that his songs would sound even better with more guitar and he said that mine would sound better with less guitar!" Axl laughs at the memory.


IT SEEMS everybody is waiting for The Gunners to die, to go down in a hail of needlemarks and dripping bottles. A graveyard of broken dreams. And certainly The Media in general are doing their utmost to exaggerate every aspect of their lifestyle. I've read stories recently claiming that the band pack machine guns on tour and threaten the audience with 'em, and that they take cattle prodders onstage (used for administering electric shocks to livestock in order to get them moving) and actually turn these on the fans! NONSENSE.

Sure, Axl has been known to jump into the crowd to have a go at someone who is being particularly nasty to him. He doesn't take kindly to insults. But he is misunderstood ... honestly. Look, there was a story recently in a major American publication on the band. It claimed amongst other things that Axl didn't turn up for a pre-arranged photo session because he couldn't be bothered. It upset the singer greatly.

"What actually happened was that nobody gave me the address of the photo studio. I had the telephone number, but no-one answered, so I couldn't find out where it was. I apologised later to the guys in question . . . and then they wrote that shit about me!"

The Media wants one of The Gunners to die, of that I'm certain. They don't care about the distress involved. They have no feeling for the band. Hence the stories spread last year concerning Axl's supposed death in a car crash...

"Every day, there was a different story on the radio in the US about Axl dying," recalls Slash. "There was even one report that I'd shot him!"

Sure, The Gunners (especially Axl and Slash) live on the edge, but they have strong survival instincts and, let's face it, there are a lot of people who walk right to the brink, stare down . . . but never step off. In Rock 'N' Roll few die through deliberation. Mostly, it's accidental. And The Gunners will not take their own lives. They've still too much to prove.

"There is a self-destructive element about this band," admits Slash, "but the will to survive is infinitely stronger — about twice as strong — and that will ensure were gonna be around for some time to come!'


TEN MILLION copies of 'Appetite . . ! sold worldwide, eight million alone in the US, where the LP (a previous Number One) is still in the Top Ten nearly two years after its release. In the UK it's a gold record (sales of more than 100,000) and a Top Ten hit.

It's spawned three Top Ten singles in the American charts, including a chart-topper in 'Sweet Child 0' Mine' (the other 45 ayes were 'Paradise City' and 'Welcome To The Jungle'). The video for 'Sweet Child . . ! was the Number One video of 1988 on MTV. 'Sweet Child . . .' and 'Paradise . . ! were both UK hits.

`Lies . . ! was a Top Five album in America (at one time the band ad two LPs in the Top Five, a feat never equalled by the likes of Bon Jovi, Def Leppard . . . or even the Stones and Zeppelin), yet it as released with no prior publicity or promotion. It's now sold lose to three million copies out there. And in the UK it has also reached gold status.

On the live front, the band have played shows in America with the likes of Iron Maiden, The Cult, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, performed at Donington, taken Australia and Japan by storm and established a matchless reputation worldwide. Yet they always show a degree of responsibility onstage that is formidable. Witness Donington last year when to calm down a seething crowd they changed their set mid-way, sacrificing the performance for the sake of safety. And contrary to certain hysterical beliefs, the band didn't know about the two tragic deaths to take place during their set until afterwards, at which point they were genuinely upset and distraught.

"I think they have a certain responsibility not to look like slobs," claimed House Of Lords keyboardsman Gregg Giuffria in RAW Issue 14, during a misguided diatribe casting aspersions on all aspects of the band. Well, Mr Giuffria, this is one band who DO take their responsibilities seriously. Oh, and as for the claim in the same quote that 'babes' don't find The Gunners attractive, females across the world seem to find the boys infinitely attractive. The Gunners might just be the most sexually potent Rock 'N' Rollers to emerge in years.


"I THINK Guns n' Roses are a great band. But what will happen to them when they lose their street feel? I worry for them at that point" — Jon Bon Jovi.

Jon's right, of course. The moment The Gunners lose that street attitude and hurt they are over. But there's no sign of this happening yet. With 'Appetite . .' still selling enormously well ("I want this to be the biggest selling debut album from a Rock act — ever!' states Axl), the pressure is off in so far as doing a new LP is concerned. But they are writing and rehearsing at the moment in LA.

"I've written seven or eight tunes," says Slash, "and the others are learning them at the moment. Some of these are more complicated than anything we've previously attempted. And Axl's coming up with some cool shit on the lyrical front."

The plan seems to be for the band to go into the studio during September to begin the recording process with producer Clink. And because of this they've had to turn down an offer to tour with the Stones during the Summer. Axl, though, has a two-year master plan . .

"I want to do five records in two years," he says. There's the next studio one (possibly a double), the live one, his own solo LP plus two EPs, firstly a Punk covers record and, secondly, another acoustic set, this time with X-rated versions. And then there's the films . . .

Already they've had a cameo role in 'The Dead Pool, the latest Dirty Harry flick from Clint Eastwood ("He was pretty cool," accedes Slash). 'Welcome To The Jungle apparently turns up in a future sleazy movie (as yet untitled) and expect 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door' to appear during 'Lethal Weapon II, again starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.
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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:45 pm

@Blackstar: Can you remember which American publication this must have been in reference to?

"Look, there was a story recently in a major American publication on the band. It claimed amongst other things that Axl didn't turn up for a pre-arranged photo session because he couldn't be bothered. It upset the singer greatly."

I remember having read this, but I can't remember where I read it.

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Post by Blackstar on Thu Oct 18, 2018 4:07 pm

It reminds me of something too, but I can't figure out which article they're referring to, especially in that time frame (late '88-early '89).

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Oct 18, 2018 4:28 pm

This article in RAW is interesting, by the way, it is one of the first to talk about mounting differences between Axl and Slash, Slashes growing frustration and offer to join Megadeth, and the first notice I have seen of Axl wanting to do a solo record.
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