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2018.10.23 - - Why is Nine Inch Nails' ex-drummer teaching college in Alabama? (Chris Vrenna)

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2018.10.23 - - Why is Nine Inch Nails' ex-drummer teaching college in Alabama? (Chris Vrenna) Empty 2018.10.23 - - Why is Nine Inch Nails' ex-drummer teaching college in Alabama? (Chris Vrenna)

Post by Soulmonster on Thu Oct 25, 2018 7:58 am

AL recently did an interview with Chris Vrenna, talking about his musical career. Here are the excerpts regarding his tenure in Guns N' Roses:

Matt Wake wrote:Where exactly where you when Axl Rose first called you to ask about playing drums with Guns N' Roses, in 1997?
Billy (Corgan) had put me up in a hotel in New York. And I had a message on my phone and it just said, "Hello this is Axl Rose I'm looking for Chris Vrenna." And I just kept hitting repeat on the voicemail over and over and I thought, "My God, it really is him."

And he called because at that time Robin Finck, the guitar player from Nine Inch Nails had quite Nine Inch Nails and was playing in Cirque du Soleil. Slash is already out of the band, but Duff (McKagan, classic-era GNR bassist) was still there though. But (GNR) all came down to see Cirque du Soleil and I don't know how they recognized Robin. And they waited after the show and tracked him down and he went and joined Guns N Roses. So, Robin was the new Slash. And the next person to leave (GNR) was Matt Sorum, the drummer, so that's when I got the call.

Axl, I love that guy. His musical tastes were far more advanced than his fanbase's. He loved Nine Inch Nails. He's wearing the white SIN shirt in one of their videos that was one of our tour shirts. And he loved the Passengers (album "Original Soundtracks 1") that U2 did (with Brian Eno). I got asked to go down and ended up sitting in and the next thing you know six or eight months later, I was still there.

So, Guns N' Roses during that time was you, Axl, Robin, Duff McKagan, (keyboardist) Dizzy Reed and (guitarist and Rose's childhood friend from Indiana) Paul Huge?

Was the former Pearl Jam drummer Dave Abbruzzese working with GNR during your time with them?
Dave Abbruzzese was after me and then after Dave was Joey (Castillo). And then Joey was the drummer for quite a while and then Joey ended up playing for Queens of the Stone Age after that.

What facility did the Guns N' Roses sessions take place at?
It was in Santa Monica, a rehearsal room. A big famous rehearsal room but he had brought in a portable recording stuff, because it was all jamming, trying to come up with parts. There were no songs written or anything, so every single thing that was played in the room got recorded just in case somebody came up with something good. It was nuts. Axl was like a night owl so you'd go down there at like seven o'clock and you were there until sunrise, five nights a week.

When "Chinese Democracy" was finally released in 2008, did you recognize any music from the period you were working with Guns N' Roses?
Nope. Not a thing. Because by then they'd gone through nine drummers, 14 guitar players, seven producers. Because I kept up with it after I was there. When I was there, (the electronic musician) Moby was going to produce. Axl didn't come in very often. He'd show up about once a week. So sometimes we jammed. Sometimes me and Moby just sat and drank coffee and talked about music. Moby was rad. Can you imagine a Guns N' Roses record with Robin Finck and me and Moby producing? And Axl really wanted it to have an electronic element. He kept referencing the Passengers album that U2 did and it's wonderful. It's so good. That and Nine Inch Nails.

He thought that was where he could see the sound of Guns N Roses going, modernizing it: "We're not a bunch of '80s, strung-out-on-heroin dudes on Sunset Boulevard anymore." And I applauded Axl and that's why I stuck with it for as long as I did, and I got Axl's vision.

The best time I ever had though was when Axl came down and he was just in the mood to play and he was like, "Alright we're going to run "Appetite (for Destruction," GNR's 1987 debut album), top to bottom. Ready. Go." And I was like, "Holy crap." And we played the whole album, top to bottom. One time I got to do that. And I got home in the morning and I couldn't sleep I was so excited I got to do it. He sang half of the words, half voice - he didn't want to blow himself out. He sat and played the grand piano for some of the songs. Axl's talented, man.

What did those proto-"Chinese Democracy" Guns N' Roses jams sound like, that you were a part of?
It was a little all over the place. And Paul (Huge) made it change a little bit. By that time everything was so fractured, and everybody had an opinion of what the band should do. After Duff left, that really bummed me out. Because Duff was a good hang and he was the last thread to the first record.

After he left I even had a talk with Axl one time like, "You know, you're changing the sound of the band and it's really just you and we're all new dudes and we all come from cool places. But have you ever thought of just saying, f--- Guns N Roses. That name is dead. The band is over. We are now called 'blank.'"

And he goes, "Yeah you're not the first person who's told me I should probably do that. But Guns N' Roses is an international brand name, and to start over when I can just use the brand name that everybody knows, I can't sacrifice the branding that's already been established."

And I got his argument for not changing the name. But I also firmly believed in what I was saying. If Axl Rose came out and said, "Look, man. Everybody's quit the band. If I call this Guns N' Roses you guys are going to laugh at me," which a lot of people did. Because it's not what we know as Guns N Roses, so call it something new. You're Axl Rose, it will be big and people will know that new logo and that new name and that new whatever.

When "Chinese Democracy" first came out, without Slash there I didn't give it a fair shot, but over the years I've grown to like it.
If I was a die-hard fan, I wouldn't want Tommy Stinson (on bass) and Brain on drums and Robin Fink and Buckethead (on guitar).

Was Buckethead around for any of the Guns N' Roses stuff you were?
No, Buckethead came way later.

What's something about Axl Rose as a day-to-day guy most people don't know?
Just really a soft-spoken guy, very knowledgeable about music and art and film and just would like to sit around and talk about film and art, the way I talk about TV. Same kind of talk. But very soft spoken. He's actually not that crazy. I think maybe he outgrew it too, like we're all young and nuts at one time and then you eventually get older. Now Guns N' Roses goes on on-time, every time. People change.

That's one thing about everybody you've asked me about. People grow up and people's tastes change. I don't listen to the same music now I listened to when I was 16. I don't like the same kind of movies when I was 22. Trent's married and has four kids. He scores movies.

The problem becomes this weird thing where fans don't want you to ever change what you were. They don't want Manson to be anything besides "Beautiful People," "Antichrist Superstar" Manson. Even though Manson's going to be 50 next year. No one wants to see 50-year-old Manson in the same fish nets and bustier thing and jock strap. Nobody wants to see that, so let him wear a suit and a tie because he looks good in a suit in a tie. Let him not wear as much goofy makeup like he used to wear on "Mechanical Animals." You can't please anybody. A few people get lucky and can.
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2018.10.23 - - Why is Nine Inch Nails' ex-drummer teaching college in Alabama? (Chris Vrenna) Empty Re: 2018.10.23 - - Why is Nine Inch Nails' ex-drummer teaching college in Alabama? (Chris Vrenna)

Post by Blackstar on Sat Oct 27, 2018 4:49 pm

Interesting interview. Some of the information is new to me.
I agree with Chris Vrenna about the name. Axl was widely recognizable. His name is a brand name in its own right. He could have been successful if he started something new and I think he would have been more free; maybe we would've had more music from him.

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Post by Uli on Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:15 pm

@Blackstar wrote:Interesting interview. Some of the information is new to me.

Same here, I didn't even know they'd had so many drummers at the time! Surprised

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