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APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.

Cheers!
SoulMonster

2013.03.04/11 - Dropping The Needle Podcast - Interview with Alan Niven

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Post by Blackstar Wed Nov 28, 2018 2:12 am

In episode 43, March 4, 2013, of the Dropping The Needle podcast. In this episode Michael Brandvold and Mitch Lafon return to speak with former Guns N' Roses manager Alan Niven. This time it is ALL Guns N' Roses. Over one hour spent talking about the birth on Guns N' Roses right up to just when the band is about to break big. Keith Richards speaking with Slash about his leaving GNR. Who is the heart of the soul of GNR. His reaction to Slash trying out for Poison. Why, who and how they released and distributed Live Like a Suicide. The fake controversy of the album cover. The fake controversy the first time GNR went to England. And, the relationship with Geffen Records as things started to grow for the band.




In episode 44, March 11, 2013, of the Dropping The Needle podcast. In this episode Michael Brandvold and Mitch Lafon return to speak with former Guns N' Roses manager Alan Niven. Alan takes us inside the contract renegotiation with Geffen Records and so much more.



Transcript of March 4, 2013, episode:

Mitch Lafon: Alan Niven claims John Kalodner candied up their asses. Find out who on this episode of Dropping The Needle.

Voice-over: You're listening to Dropping The Needle, the podcasts where all music from all genres is discussed, new releases, classic albums rediscovered ,music signed and unsigned, no ass-kissing, just two guys talking about music. Here are your hosts Michael Brandvold from Michael Brandvold Marketing and Mitch Lafon.

Michael Brandvold: Everybody, welcome back to another episode of Dropping The Needle, the podcast that's been described as if Beavis and Butthead ever had a...

ML: I'm Beavis.

Michael Brandvold: Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of Dropping The Needle, the podcast that's been described as if Beavis and Butthead ever had their own podcast, this would be it.  I'm one of your co-hosts, Michael Brandvold from MichaelBrandvold.com and as always I am joined by that world-renowned illustrious superstar rock journalist, in his own mind, Mitch Lafon. You do admit-

ML: That's right! And I'm doing well. Doing so well.

MB: So we have got part two of Alan Niven.

ML: Yes.

MB: We we had him on.... I don't know, about a month ago where he talked about Great White. He was gonna just be a guest and talk about everything but we quickly realized we couldn't cover everything in his career in a 45 minute episode so we stuck to Great White, he said he'd come back and talk GN'R with us so this is the Guns N' Roses episode and Alan has promised to talk about everything basically. I'm really looking forward to sitting down and picking his brain and getting the stories of the formation of the band and how management started and the birth of Guns N' Roses.

ML: Yeah, well, also the creation of Guns N' Roses is that there's a lot of sort of behind the scenes manipulation going on that has been sort of rumored over the years and and I'm looking forward to asking him about that quite frankly.

MB: Yeah, yeah, you know, I'm always intrigued by the behind the scenes business of music so-

ML: Yeah, because what fans see and what actually goes on it are two very completely different things. I mean, it really is all the smoke and mirrors, I mean whether you like U2 or Bruce Springsteen or KISS there's always something going on in the back everybody fan doesn't know of.

MB: Yeah, I've always assumed that everything that happens was planned to happen, it wasn't a freak chance that this great thing happened or this interesting controversy happened. Always assume everything happened because it was planned to happen.

ML: That's why people in marketing firms get the big bucks because there's a lot of marketing plans involved in an album release.

MB: Better marketing plans are the ones that happen and you sit back and think it was just a spur-of-the-moment viral street uprising when the reality was it was planned by some corporation and they really pulled the wool over your eyes.

ML: Yeah, yeah, listen, you know, it goes back to that old saying: control the medium, control the message. And that's what a lot of these record companies do and news gathering places, they all control this and you think, "Wow! Look at this great dirty rock-and-roll band!" Well guess what, somebody said in a boardroom somewhere, "You need to be a dirty rock'n'roll band," "Here's how we're gonna make it dirty-"

MB: "And we're gonna spend a million dollars to make you dirty."

ML: Right, well that's exactly it, you know, and they-

MB: Go buy some new wardrobe to make them look dirty.

ML: So I'm hoping, I'm hoping with Alan we'll get him to unveil some of that because I know he likes it talk honestly and frankly so this is gonna be great. We'll call him up.

MB: Hopefully we'll find out some of the stories around the the creation and the birth of Guns N' Roses. Anyway, so let's get started on our chat with Alan today.

[clip]

ML: So we're we're back with Alan Niven who gave the world Great White, took him a few years to get that going, but he gave us Guns N' Roses, a band that put out three or four albums under his reign but yet has been in the public eye for 30 years now about... it never ends, greatest thing alive, right Alan?

Alan Niven: Greatest thing alive? But in terms of something being alive, I know that Slash is playing in Nottingham tonight and he's being very kind and being sociable with our boy Chris Buck there, they're hanging out together as we speak.

MB: So you are still on good terms with Slash then?

AN: I love him. I think he's a wonderful person. Fame of that kind it's an extraordinary thing to take on, suffer, deal with, and joy, whatever, and there's no warning of what you're gonna have to deal with. There's a line in a Joe Walsh song about people changing and Joe Walsh staying the same and that's very much kind of the experience you go, that peoples' behavior patterns around you changes as no sorority or attention intensifies but I think Slash has dealt with being Slash with remarkable grace. I think he's done it with style and I think he's a really, really good person, really centered and you can't say that for everybody who's been through that experience.

MB: How about the rest of the band members? Are you in contact with any of the other guys?

AN: Izzy came out out here to Arizona and visited once not so long ago. He's like the Flying Dutchman, you know, occasionally he'll emerge out of the mists of Nova and you'll go, "Oh! it's great to see you, good to see-" and then he'll disappear again and you're not quite sure if he really does exist or he's really a mythology of himself.

MB: Then Duff?

AN: Duff... the last time I actually saw Duff was when The Project was being put together which became Velvet Revolver and Duff and Slash very kindly invited me to be involved with that but for a number of reasons I thought it was a bad idea, not least of which I thought we were placing an extremely high bar of expectation in every aspect to convene everybody except Axl and I didn't think that was appropriate. And  to be perfectly honest, at the time there were one or two things that I wanted to do myself and I didn't have the sense or drive and focus that they would have required. I was also a little apprehensive about Izzy's commitment which I thought would be essential because to me Izzy is the... he's the heart of the soul of Guns N' Roses.

MB: Really? So why is that? I mean, I think a lot of people, just general fans, just fans would think the heart and soul is either Slash or Axl.

AN: I could give you a... I've just woken up from a nap so I can give you a really low sugar ridiculous analogy on that if you like. You know, they might be the big two big boobies on the front but Izzy was the heart beating in the chest.

ML: There you go.

AN: Now obviously both Slash and Axl are frontman per se but Izzy was the one who for me embodied the attitude, who is the most consistent and best writer, he had a wonderful sense of rhythm as far as his rhythm playing guitarists concerned, there was a sense of rock-and-roll syncopation in his expression that was perfect, the very first time I saw GN'R it was actually Izzy and Duff on their side of the stage who intrigued me more than anybody else, they just were beautifully centered and just had the sense of magnetism and I'm trying to avoid using word 'cool' but it was just the essence of cool from those two.

ML: You know, if we're speaking about the beginning, can we start there? Before Slash joins Guns N' Roses, he tries out for Poison. Has he ever talked to you about that try-out?

[laughter]

AN: Mitch, do you want me talk about all your girlfriend's [?]

MB: Yes, we want to hear about all the girlfriends.

ML: We do! But let's talk about Slash playing Talk Dirty To Me, I mean, come on, that's got to be great. I mean, has he ever mentioned anything to you about... I mean, he must have, he must have said something.

AN: Certainly not... often between gentlemen there is a sense of discretion. You're not gonna bring up all those relationships that are obviously, and plainly obviously, wrong.

[laughter]

AN: It's like being invited to be the best man at the wedding and you're standing there and all that's happening is that you're running through your head every terrible story you've heard about the bride, you know-

ML: That's true.

AN: [?]

ML: But when you first get involved with Guns N' Roses is it the lineup that we got to know as, you know, the Appetite for Destruction lineup or were you there when Tracii Guns was there?

AN: No, I got involved in the summer of '86.

ML: Okay.

AN: So the lineup was the lineup that everybody associates and sees as Guns N' Roses and you know I'll be... I'll express my opinion, I think Axl fronts at this point the most lucrative cover band in the world and that's not to say that, you know, I don't think Ron Thal is a great player and a really cool guy but it's not Guns N' Roses. Sorry.

ML: But a lot of bands change members also, but well-

AN: Yes, yes, no, I mean... you know Keith Richards took Slash out for dinner one night and told him that he really needed to think through his relationship with Axl and that the last thing that he should do is leave Axl. And basically, his pitch was, "You should love Guns N' Roses more and respect what it means to the fans to have this frontline that everybody has connected to and associates with," you know. And obviously Slash looked at Keith and said, "You have no idea," I mean Keith turned around, you know, and basically said, "You know, I dislike Jagger as much as you dislike Axl but I love the Rolling Stones more." Slash still said, "You have no idea." So... what was the question again? You lost me there.

ML: The question was, were you involved at the time when Tracii was involved. But we should explore the Axl and Slash relationship eventually but-

MB: Yeah, but back to the beginning, I want to say at the beginning- I would love to start with how you became involved with Guns N' Roses? Because as I understand it, you vehemently were like, "No, I don't want to work with these guys," a couple times?

AN: Yeah, it... you know, it's pretty well-known history but I was basically asked three times by Tom Zutaut, on three separate occasions, if I'd talk to the band. The first time he had just signed them and at that point I didn't want to get involved in a cattle call of management. I had no particular [?] for that. Besides which, it had taken me a year and a half to get Great White back onto a label and get that project moving as it should be and I didn't... having been through the process of being signed and then dropped I definitely valued the fact that the band were resigned and the last thing I was going to do was scatter my attention and energies, so that would be a problem that I really had to keep on at to make sure that went as it should. The second time Zoots came he was obviously having a problem getting somebody to take the band seriously and the one or two people he had been able to get to take the band seriously were a little scared off by them. Tim Collins comes to mind, who was Aerosmith's management. By that time, I'd done a little bit of research into the band and the very last thing I was going to do with my life's energies was hook them on to that kind of chaotic, disastrous, self-destructive, arrogant, ridiculous, out-of-control idiocy, so I said, "Thank you very much for considering me again and thank you." And Zutaut came back and he said, "Look, I'm in a real mess." I was aware of the fact that Rosenblatt was, who is president of Geffen, was thinking of dropping the band and Tom basically said, "Look, this might be the end of my career, I really need help," and I said, "Well on that basis, you know, yeah I'll go and talk to them, not gonna make any promises, and see if we can connect and see if we can get anything done."

ML: Let me ask you quickly about that, though, you know bands come and go from labels all the time and it doesn't mean it's the end of anybody's career, why was he particularly concerned about this? Because he had spent a lot of money on them? Because he needed a hit?

AN: No, it was high-profile. It was a high-profile signing for him. They had already gone through approximately $75,000 in cash advances, they didn't have any releasable masters recorded at that point, the band's reputation for being.... being a rock and roll band, in my eyes, or less than career orientated-

MB: Less than professional.

AN: They weren't Boston.

ML: Let me ask you about that. If they don't have any masters, they don't have anything that's recorded that's worth releasing, why does a label throws... I mean there's a lot of fans out there that don't understand this process, why give them 75 thousand? I mean, if you don't think they're worth it, why give it to them?

AN: Well obviously they did things that were worth it in the first...

ML: Okay.

AN: You know, from the get-go. What they found was that they weren't very easy to deal with, they weren't very easy to organize and there were... I'm pretty sure when you when you've got Eddie Rosenblatt sitting in his office and somebody comes in and says, "We want to sign this band," and they talk about it, discuss it and so on and so forth and he rubber-stamped signing and then now once they're signed he's living with them, it's a totally different experience. Now, now he's getting to deal with it, you know, at least second hand to the third hand [?].

MB: Were there at this time when Tom Zutaut was coming back to you for the third time, were they being managed by Rod Stewart's management company at that time?

AN: Yes, they were and they were desperate to get out. They had rented a house for them up in the hills and that's where I went basically to have my first meeting with the band. And it was what under normal circumstances would be a pretty decent house.

ML: Had you heard any music at this point or were you just going to meet these guys?

AN: No, no, I'd seen... by the time I went to have a meeting with them I'd always been to a couple of shows, I had music, you know.

ML: And how were you reacting to the music? I mean, did you think this was phenomenal or this needed a whole lot of tweaking or this, "Well, it's okay, it'll pass"?

AN: I thought it was really rough-edged, especially for the time period. I had a great deal of skepticism as to how radio would deal with it. I thought that if we could get organized and establish some degree of professionalism to the point where we could actually tour we had a really good shot of having a really good and worthwhile underground rock and roll band. The demos that I heard at that point indicated to me that Slash was a really, really promising player.

MB: What was the very first demo you heard from them?

AN: There were several tracks on there, things like Jumpin' Jack Flash, Move to the City, Mama Kin, off the top of my head.

ML: Yeah, we have to talk about the Live Like A Suicide album at some point, or should we just go with it now? Do you know that story, Michael?

MB: Oh yeah, but, you know, I'm sure many of our listeners don't.

AN: I thought we were just getting to the point where I went to my first meeting-

MB: Yeah, don't jump ahead Mitch!

AN: -and I get off my motorbike and the first thing I see is a smashed toilet outside the front door. Front door opens and this rather well-known stripper comes out the front door and there I'm getting my first impression of GN'R.

MB: And it only got better!

AN: Apparently so.

MB: So after that first meeting, did it take any more arm-twisting to get you on board or did you finally just say, "You know what? Alright I'll do this for you Tom. I see there's something here"?  When you said, "Yes," were you still doing it more as a favor to Tom or did you finally say, "You know what, there's something I could do with this band"?

AN: No, I couldn't just do it for Tom, there had to be some sort of engagement of personality and, you know, for example at that very first band meeting I went to, only two members of the band turned up. One of which nodded out at the table, that was Izzy, he nodded out at the table which just left me with Slash. And, you know, Slash then took me to meet his snake and I'm pathological fear of snakes, you know. And when you're dealing with characters like that it becomes a little bit engaging, entertaining. Axl was always aloof and not always gracious. Duff affected a punk intimidation, he exuded a sense of punk integrity but was a really, really soft and wonderful guy. I couldn't figure out Steven Adler in the band, you know, because he was this shaggy hair metal drummer who was just like a puppy and how he fitted with the personalities was a conundrum. But it was a very interesting group.

MB: So after that first meeting you said, "Yes, I'll take these guys on"?

AN: Yeah, I mean, the process was a little bit longer-

MB: A little longer, but that's essentially what came out of it?

AN: Yeah, I like a challenge too and a partner I had at the time when I played him the demos expressed the opinion that I could go down into the San Fernando Valley, pick any house, it's got a garage on with kids inside it, doing garage band, and in his estimation in all likelihood they'd be better than this band. And I thought, "Really now?" That's an interesting polarizing attitude. We'll see.

ML: But musically back then they were a little sort of loosey-goosey, I mean, you had to mold them once you got them to the studio, no?

AN: No, my biggest responsibility of all was to let them be themselves and keep the...you know, you're dealing with Geffen, you're dealing with the likes of John Kalodner and, you know, John Kalodner to me is somebody who has taken Aerosmith and just candied up their asses as best he could to make them a super market-safe as possible and sell our assets out.

ML: And he did the same with Great White later on, around 92 or 95 or something like that.

AN: Yeah, he was trying to stick it to me and prove he could do something without me but we know where that went. But bear in mind that I, you know, in the 70s I was at Virgin and I well remember the Sex Pistols coming onto the label and, you know, late '76, early '77. Edgy rock and roll. I mean, you know, you need somebody to be carrying that torch at some point all the time. Did I think that GN'R would be a standard bearer for the edge? Possibly but not in the extraordinary way and to the dimensions that they did. If anybody ever tells you that they knew that Appetite was going to be the seller it was, they're a liar or certifiable. You know, the fact that that records sold that many records, no one saw that coming.

MB: So you're on board as manager, what's the next step with the band in relationship to Geffen? Then what happens? You know, because me I love the... I'm not so much into the TMZ 'Who was sleeping with who' stories, I'm really intrigued by the behind the business stuff. So, you know, what was going on in the record label now that you came on board?

AN: Well the first most important thing was to get people to turn up for rehearsal and actually start working on pre-production for the record. I mean, I can remember a couple of early meetings where it was a less than brilliant conversation with Axl because he either didn't turn up or turned up really late, you know, what's new? You know everybody asks, "Did Axl get worse?" No, Axl was always Axl.

MB: I liked that, "Did he get worse? No."

AN: He was always Axl. The only thing that money and fame did was amplifying, just amplified all his personality traits and his behavior. So that was the first thing on my agenda, was to make sure that there was some regularity in getting into it SIR, and working through the songs, making sure the songs were, you know, as best they were going to be and getting a fix on a recording day.

MB: Did you have a producer? Was Mike Clink on board?

AN: Ah well... I mean fuck it, it's 20 years ago...

ML: um 30 almost.

AN: Yeah, I know. Mama says, you know, don't cast negative opinions if you have them. The first thing.. two of the first things I had to do when getting on board was actually housekeeping and the first thing I had to do was get the band away from Pasha Studios and Spencer Proffer. And Spencer did brilliantly with...

ML: Quiet Riot.

AN: But in my estimation Zoots was not thinking clearly here and putting Spencer with GN'R I didn't think that was going to be a good relationship. Zoots had also promised GN'R CEAA as an agency and I had to deal with that and pull that back a bit. I believe I'm still not allowed in the CEAA building but, you know, whatever, so no, we didn't. And in terms of looking for someone and again part of the relationship is, you know, Zoots and I had had a friendship for a long time but this is the first time we actually work together on something so we had to get ourselves in sync together and once we did we both clearly had a comprehension that whoever was going to produce this record was going to have to have the patience of Job and would preferably be really good with guitars and would also understand the instruction of 'no, we don't want this built and sounding like everybody else at the moment,' you know, 'we want somebody who can really capture what this band is live'.

MB: So how did Paul Stanley come to be considered?

AN: That was just before my time, thank God. But that said, that was either Paul going to Zoots or Zoots going to Paul. But anyway, Mike Clink came up and he just seemed to fit the bill well. His personality was not overbearing. I mean, he's not a Roy Thomas Baker type personality.

ML: Queen producer.

AN: Right. Yeah, Roy Thomas Baker is totally overbearing and divide and rule whereas Clink was really patient, pull it together, let me work Slash, I'll get it down rough and raw, and he did a brilliant job. He got burnt out when it came to mix time, as you can imagine, working with Ax and Slash and everybody, that would burn you out after a while [chuckles].

ML: I can imagine. Now what do you think resonated with the fans when they heard Appetite? I mean, the thing sold, what, 15 to 18 million, which is not bad for a debut record. What was a special quality in the songs that made people just fall in love with it?

AN: You are probably better at articulating that than I am. You know, you're both experts in the field and you listen to countless amounts of music and you'll probably far better equipped to articulate that than I am.

ML: Yeah, I actually hated it the first time I heard it. It took me, I think, the third or fourth listen to finally understand after-

AN: My best friend at the time thought I'd lost my mind, my marbles.

MB: Well I'm guessing that it.... you know, the way it took them to grow, it did take time for people to absorb. It wasn't an overnight success.

AN: No, it wasn't an overnight success. It was an overnight success that took two years.

MB: Right.

AN: You know, because in terms of my own personal involvement in that relationship it was basically two years from when I first started talking to them to when this thing took off.

ML: You know, Michael was talking about the marketing and the business side and I'm interested in that because you asked me-

AN: Let's stay with the music for a moment, I mean, it's kind of redundant and self-evident after 30 years, but one: there's an energy, two: there's an integrity to the approach-

ML: Any ghost musicians on there?

AN: Huh?

ML: Any ghost musicians on the album or was it the band, all the band?

AN: No, fuck no.

ML: Okay.

AN: It's Guns N' Roses, dude.

ML: Okay.

AN: You know, you've got an incredible energy, you've got a very straightforward and raw approach, you have an absolutely unique sounding frontman, I don't know how you describe him, I mean, you know. I've heard some people describe him as Ethel Merman, Merman on helium, but once you hear him, once, you never forget him. You've got who has become maybe the most recognizable guitar icon on the planet. You had a very, very solid and competent bass player and Duff was a former drummer and has got some good bass chops. And you had a little drummer who had an incredible sense of the beauty about his playing that the whole thing was based on. You know, Matt Sorum, and bless his heart, is a good drummer technically but he to me he's got you know heavy hands and he's two-dimensional. Steven is not the world's greatest technical drummer by any stretch of imagination but nobody's been able to replicate the energy and the feel that he put into those tracks which were part of his enthusiasm and his excitement of playing that material. No one matches that feel, it's his. So you put those elements together, you know, not hard to understand why it did quite well.

MB: You know, for me, not to really make it simplistic, but it was also counter to what was going on musically, it wasn't slick, polished, pretty boy hair metal, you know, it wasn't that, it was all of a sudden, "Wow! This sounds like a fucking rock band!" It sounds raw, it sounds dirty and that was, that was refreshing at the time because I think people were starting to get burned out.

ML: [...] was refreshing by the Sweet Child O' Mine video, the Welcome to the Jungle video was the big - well, look at my hair... let me up do it, hold on there, it was all up like that - I mean, they were trying to make it hair metal on the first video.

MB: But see, I would counter that. That first video did not... yes, they had hair but they didn't look like a hair metal band.

ML: Let's hear Alan on that one.

AN: No, on that one I was about to say that you need to get Mike to sit down and look at Jungle or vice versa. Axl's hair in the early days, I mean, every time there was a, you know, say a Troub gig or or a Roxy gig and Axl came in and bouffant his hair, Duff would walk in and fix him with a cold and beady stare and go, "Nice hair, dude."

MB: But I'm not saying-

AN: -didn't change from Jungle. The rest of the band, from Jungle on... you know, there's what it is and thank God, you know, something got done about Axl's hair and his clothes and he fitted in with the rest of the band. I think where we're slightly going off the road here is in the choice of words of saying that they were a "counterculture", that they were "contrary." I don't think that they were that contrary, I think what they were was more "elemental."

MB: Good word, that's good.

AN: They were more elemental and in terms of their visual representation and presentation... dude, all you got to do is put the fucking hairspray down and the lipstick down and you start looking like a real person, you know.

MB: And I think that's what it was to me and again I'm nuts, yes, they had hair but to me the definition of hair metal is just not having hair it's everything else they did, it's the lipstick, it's the pretty outfits, it's everything they did, made... and that's what Guns N' Roses to me as a fan when I saw that happening like, "these guys just are different".

ML: Right. That came at Sweet Child. The first video with the tight purple leather pants and the big hair, I mean there was a certain glam look to it. But I do want to talk about the marketing of the band. There are three things that you did at the beginning that were brilliant and important. First was, you know, you created fake controversy with the album cover. Let's let's start with the first album cover of Appetite, you had that sort of suggested rape scene on it which you knew was was gonna get press, right? So tell me a little bit how you manipulate the media to get that attention?

AN: Well you start off with the image itself, right? And I got a phone call from Axl one day saying that he thought he had found something that would be good and I went over to his apartment and he had been down to a place called the Soap Factory on Melrose and he had this postcard and I took one look at it and I went, "That's fucking perfect!" and he looked at me and said, "I was joking... I think." No, he wasn't two minds about it, you know. Bless him, Axl can triple and double and quadruple think himself on his double thinking. The image was incredible and from a manipulative point of view one thing that was very obvious to me is it could easily and probably would be totally misread and everybody, and of course we're in America here and I'm not American, I'm English, so I tend to laugh at certain purincism [?], false appearances, in the American psyche and entertainment world, and what I clearly saw in this image was Karma about to descend on entertainment technology for being exploitive, especially of the female form. To me it was really clear. You know, Robert Williams was saying, "This is what Hollywood is and this is what Hollywood does to women," right? And here comes Karma. But I thought that was dead-on. And that's also where the name of the album came from because the piece of artwork was called Appetite for Destruction. And it was very obvious that we were going to have either false or genuine outrage over it.

ML: And this was around all the PMRC hysteria going around.

AN: Yeah, absolutely. Which - pardon me - which had been going on for a while anyway but it was very clear that we would have run into problems with it. And so it was decided that we'd do 30,000 units of that artwork for the album cover and 30,001 we shifted over to printing what became the cover after that. And we did all the artwork and we did all the printing and before the record was even released we knew at 30,000 we were gonna flip and we figured that was about where it would happen and, you know, turned out we were fairly on.

ML: Right. So the album comes out with the sort of rape scene on it and then the media explodes and everybody says you're horrible and they call it for censorship and in the meantime you're sitting back there going, "Free press, baby, we're getting all kinds of great free press, what great promotion this is," and then you've flipped it. I mean, is it really that easy?

AN: Yes, it is that easy and you two know that as well. I mean, Gene Simmons is the expert and came out version [?] of rock and roll band pushing. I mean, when we went over to England for the very first time and did a run of three Marquee shows we had great coverage out of Fleet Street, out of the trash press in Fleet Street, simply because we put a story out there that Axl killed his dogs. All right, what's going to get the Americans upset? A picture of a girl with her knickers around her ankles. What's going to get the Brits upset? Dog killing. All right, you know, a bunch of drunken hacks sitting in their pub in Fleet Street, you bet we're gonna feed them a bone, you know, "Here, chew on this."

MB: You're telling me all of this rock and roll that we love is fake?

ML: Yes!

MB: We're being manipulated, Mitch!

ML: Absolutely we are. Isn't it wonderful?

An: Purely, in any form of composition there's the dichotomy between gratifying oneself or gratifying an audience and very definitely we can go through a long list of bands and say they are obviously pandering to an audience in their form of construction, all right? Of course you're being manipulated. The thing is, with GNR, is we're talking about here is how did we manipulate getting attention for content, all right? Now, the content I will say that one of the reasons why people got next to it is because it was spirited and it was heartfelt and there was a common consciousness in that band that people could recognize. Now of course it's, you know, part of my job is to go around and push buttons and try and get people to notice this and bring this to people's attention.

MB: Mitch, we're familiar with pushing buttons, aren't we?

ML: Yeah, I think I did that just last night for a little sport.

AN: Present company is always excluded but you know basically as far as I'm concerned the press is fair fucking game.

ML: Absolutely.

MB: Yeah.

AN: Especially the English gutter press like the Sun and the Star and if I can get my little band from LA, you know, three or four inches of a column in the Sun when they haven't even played in the country yet just by saying that Axl kills dogs, you know, and I'm willing to bet that, you know, half the drunken hacks who wrote about it in on Fleet Street knew exactly what was going on and so it was a good wheeze, whatever.

ML: Sells papers, yeah.

AN: Yeah, sells papers, whatever. What matters is, "Okay, now we got the punters outside the Marquee - what's gonna happen when they go in? How's it gonna go down?" The Marquee show was a really, really, really interesting fulcrum moment and fortunately this is where having an English manager helped because I was able to explain, "Look, you're probably going to get an audience who's not going to be impressed with you, they're gonna think you're a bunch of tarts and wussies from LA, they're gonna give you shit, they're probably gonna gob acres of phlegm at you, and if you piss your pants you're done." And that first gig went pretty much like that and it was so bad at a point where I'm thinking, "I've got to take my jacket off," because I could see Axl was getting ready to come down and talk to one or two people, one-on-one specifically in the audience, that things turned and shifted and the audience got with the band and realized they weren't just a bunch of pussies from LA, they're a bunch of hard-asses from LA and if you wanna fucking talk about it one on one we'll come down, we'll fucking talk about it one on one.

MB: Basically they earned respect.

ML: Crowd participation.

AN: Yeah. You know, it's a strange animal, the rock and roll audience. Just as the band is a strange animal too. But particularly in England, that's something that over the years I've noticed. You've got to have your bottle and if you don't have your bottle they'll tell you apart.

ML: Now, the other thing that you did as part of this sort of marketing plan is you created this live album, Live Like A Suicide, and you gave this-

AN: It was demos with phony audience tracks on it.

ML: Right, well, I was gonna get to that. So you took the demos, they never played these songs live - at least not for this recording - you threw on some crowd noise which I think was from the NFL or something like that, and then you gave them their own independent label. Why did you want to create the perception that they had their own independent label and their own thing going on?

MB: Let me answer that as the fan who bought into that first-

ML: Sucker!

MB: No, I'll tell you. Let's go back to that point in time where there's no internet, you know, you've got pen pals who you write letters to, and it might be one person, so news, gossip doesn't travel like it does now.

ML: No, not at all.

MB: I'm a big rock fan, I had heard there's this band in LA called Guns N' Roses, there's a buzz about them, cool, cool, cool. You know, "Oh, they got signed to Geffen and they're gonna have an album coming out, awesome! Can't wait for that. But guess what, it was just learned that they have released, they had released before signing to Geffen, a live album and it's a very rare and very collectible and very hard to find live album, very few copies were ever printed. Oh my god, I've got to track that down! This band's got a buzz, Geffen loves them and there's this rare album! Where do I go find this copy of this album? At that time I'm starting to hear from people, "Oh, this could be worth $500-600 an album," so, you know, as a fan that builds the desire, the craving. "I got to see what this is all about." I've got a copy of it somewhere here, I didn't spend $500.

AN: Well that's more than I've got, Michael, cuz I don't have any copies left. They've all disappeared out the house. That's the cherry on the cake, Mike, that's definite, it's a cherry on the cake for me. It was far more mundane and boring and pragmatic than that in having put out the first Motley record on green world [?] on Leathür, then having done Berlin as an independent record then having done Out Of The Night, Great White, as an independent record, I'd gone through the process, and then again after that doing Shot In The Dark as an independent record-

ML: Great White.

AN: I've gone through the process sufficiently to be able to clearly understand the value of the work that you do on the independent record in terms of connecting with press,  connecting with writers, connecting with retail, with a little bit of the buzz, because an awful lot of people would get their information about whether the record is worthwhile or not from their friendly clerk and record store clerks, you know, the worst snobs of all you know, so if you could get them on your side and get them talking about something that was a tremendous advantage. The other thing too was I used to look at major labels as monolithic beasts and in those days pretty much the conventional wisdom was if you could get a band to somehow get to about the 300,000 sales mark you might actually get up on the corporate radar screen and they might actually start really supporting you and pushing you, so you had to do a work on setup on your own. And what I did not want to have happen with Guns is, I did not for one minute want Appetite to be a cold start for Geffen because I knew it's going to be difficult. I felt we were probably dealing with what would be ultimately be an underground band - what the fuck do I know -  and it was really important to me that I could do as much setup as possible before Geffen ran with our record and before they released it. So that was the whole point of doing Live Like A Suicide and I didn't think I was going to get away with it. To me the risk element was that they were already signed to Geffen and somebody would call me out for, you know, being a false poseur. But I thought it was a risk element I wanted to take because I really, really wanted to do some work with an indie release before Geffen started working on Appetite-

ML: But it was a Geffen release, though.

AN: What's that?

ML: It was a Geffen release, though, just under a different name?

AN: No, it wasn't.

ML: Oh, it wasn't?

AN: No, how do you mean a Geffen release? Let me tell you exactly what happened. Okay, Zoots and I went to Rosenblatt and said we're gonna do this and my stipulations were that there could not be one Geffen marking-

ML: Right. But you used their distribution network?

AN: There could not be one Geffen marking or Warner Brothers marking on the boxes that they came in, that they had to be absolutely scrupulous in that respect, and we did 25,000 units and when they were printed I drove up to Geffen, loaded them into a back of a van and drove off with them. And I took them to an independent record company called Important who were originally just based on the East Coast but they had at that time they had a West Coast warehouse and the guy who was in the West - and I really wish I could remember his name because he's a really, really cool guy and really good to work with, his boss on the East Coast was a total fucking asshole, but he was really good, the guy on the West Coast and I forget his name and I feel really bad about that - but I took the entire consignment to him and sold him the entire consignment. So Important were the distributors and it didn't go through Warner Brothers and it didn't go through Geffen, it went in the back of my rental van and then I went off down the road and Eddie Rosenblatt, you know, once over lunch said, "I rather wondered if I was over gonna fucking see you again." But the other is once I got the check for those 25,000 I went back to Eddie, he went to his office and he stretched his hand out for it and I kind of half-heartedly pushed it towards him and then pulled it back and he looked at me and I said, "We're gonna use every penny of this to go to England," and he sat there for a moment, thought about it and he said, "Ok kiddo, you're on." So every dime that came from that indie record empowered us to go to England and do those Marquee shows.

Why did I need to do that? Because Warner Brothers in London were a bunch of old drunks, you know the record equivalent of the hacks from Fleet Street, drunks in their local pubs who couldn't give a rat's ass about us. Ironically the guy who was running their [?] international office in London was somebody I used to play soccer with back in the day and I called him up thinking, "Oh, he's gonna be right on board," and I got a superior tone saying, "You know what, Alan, we'll tell you when it's time to come over," you know, "Maybe you should get a hit in your country before you come over and take up our time." And I'm sitting there going, "Listen motherfucker, this is part of my strategy of breaking the fucking band, I need you on fucking board now." And they wouldn't, and they wouldn't put up any money towards it. So that's why the money from the indie record was really crucial, because that's what funded our first trip to England.

And funding that first trip to England did a number of jobs for me. First of all there was the general strategy of, you know, if you're gonna break in America you've got a continental sized landmass that you've got to coordinate with information and energy and focus to get this band broken and people paying attention to it. If I'm in dear old little England it's a tiny little landmass and I can drive across it in five hours, it's easier to get a focus on a national basis in that nation. Secondly, there were three newspapers that came out every week, Melody Maker, Sounds and NME and they will weekly, print newspapers, and the press there was really, really important in those days still. And if you could get the press talking about you, you've got your following developing in that country, you've got people starting to take you seriously and give you attention. It's an absolute no-brainer, let's start in England, let's rile up Fleet Street, let's kill some dogs or tell them we have, let's go to the Marquis and play some hard-ass shows so the punters are talking about it. Boom! Now we got the press in the UK on our side. Suddenly in LA they're looking at a band with an international cachet [?], "They work in England so they're obviously going to work for us here" and, you know, if it works out well in the press in England it's obviously going to work. The other thing was in December the last issue of Music Connection in 1986 featured four bands on the cover, one was Guns N' Roses and there were three others and what does that do to me? Fucking freak me out because I'm going, "That should just be my band on the cover! What are the other fucking three bands doing on there?" So that told my consciousness, "I'm in a pack here and I've got to get ahead of the pack and I've got to be the first to get to the journalists, I got to be the first to get to the UK, I got to be the first to get to Germany, I got to be ahead of the pack because right now if Music Connection - which is printed in Los Angeles - is putting these four bands on the cover that means in the consciousness of people who actually live in LA they're seeing it as a tight little scene and these four bands are equal. There's a scene but my band is infinitely fucking superior to the other three, what the hell are we sharing the cover for?" That was imperative to get to England first.


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2013.03.04/11 - Dropping The Needle Podcast - Interview with Alan Niven Empty Re: 2013.03.04/11 - Dropping The Needle Podcast - Interview with Alan Niven

Post by Soulmonster Thu May 26, 2022 10:49 am

Transcript in preparation, I had to split over two posts:

ML: Yeah, the other thing I was gonna ask you, moving on the third thing that you did that I found interesting was within that time frame you accepted to go on tour with Aerosmith, Aerosmith was into this sort of real glam look with, you know, nice ballads like Angel and Dude Looks Like A Lady. It seemed to be completely opposite to what
GNR was, so why not work the clubs? Why the Aerosmith tour? And it's sort of a juxtaposition of dirty street boys with pretty boys.

AN: Let's get some chronology going. Are you talking about the first UK tour that didn't happen?

ML: No, no, I'm talking about when you came back stateside. Why did you choose to go out.. why, I mean, this was 19...

AN: -'88, summer of '88.

ML: Okay, yes, yeah, what happened with the first one in the UK that didn't happen?

AN: Obviously the strategy was: we'll go in there, we'll do these three Marquee shows, do a couple of shows in Germany, and then we need to come back on a good support slot and Aerosmith were going into the UK in the perfect time for us to be developing momentum and notoriously back in those days you couldn't really rely on Aerosmith getting their European dates done for whatever reasons.

ML: Right.

AN: God knows what distractions they had.

[laughter]

AN: I mean, initially with bands they go, "Niv, do we have to tour England? I mean, it's just, you know, warm beer and cold women. You know, with Aerosmith it's cold women, warm beer, and where's my fucking dealer," you know. But anyway...

ML: But when you look at it though, Aerosmith... and let's get back to when, in the States, was it...sorry?

AN: ...and if I remember correctly this would have been at the back end of October of '87 [that] we were supposed to be the [?] and this whole build through the UK was absolutely critical to the strategy I had for breaking the band and... the Aerosmith tour fell through so our English agent, was a guy called John Jackson, and John and I would, you know, I'd be up really late at night and he'd be up very early in the morning, we would be discussing these things. And John jokingly in one of the conversations said, "Why don't you just come and headline yourself?" And I thought about it for a moment and I said, "That's a great idea, John, why don't we?" And he said, "You know what I think, it might be possible,"  and I said, "You're kidding." He said, "Look, let me think about this for 24 hours and I'll come back to you." And John came back, he said, "You know what, if you're really prepared to take a huge risk we could put up five dates and as a possibility we might pull it off." Bear in mind that Warner Brothers hadn't even sold 5,000 records at that point and he's talking about headlining. And when he came back with his five dates the fifth one was Hammersmith Odeon, which is three 3,325 seats, if I remember correctly, so he's telling me that we can sell more tickets than [?] albums. And of course as a, you know, especially in the conditioning you had in those days you'd have to have a wide album base to sell that many tickets. He's going, "You've sold maybe three-four thousand albums but come and tour anyway." And we went for it. We had faith-

ML: What a risk, though.

AN: Yeah, it was, but like anything else it was calculated and my calculation was that I saw Warner Brothers UK would that fucked up, that they didn't represent what our base could be or should be and my sense of faith and power of the UK press was such that if we could for example get some silly stories in the press, you know, we will get people to turn out. And also, small detail, and I have one left framed, but the poster was a cross right. It looked fucking awesome on those walls in England and Nottingham and Liverpool where they pasted them up. And we pasted them everywhere and that was an eye-catcher and that really got you. They looked fucking awesome. It were. It was a risk. It were. Your question is 'why would you go with Aerosmith'?

ML: Well in the States, because I mean, you know, Aerosmith came back and they wore the red clothes and they were they were getting a little bit more flashy-

MB: But aren't you jumping ahead, I mean, GN'R-

ML: A little bit.

ML: -did dates with Alice Cooper before that, there... you were... you did smaller venues with bands... you know, like theatres, that was smaller packages. Aerosmith wasn't-

ML: Right.

MB: Yeah, I mean, I recall seeing them on a show in Rockford, Illinois, where it was Guns N' Roses, UDO and Zodiac Mindwarp.

AN: Yeah.

MB: So I mean, that stuff was happening before Aerosmith in the US.

ML: Yeah, I guess I'm giving you the Canadian perspective because for me Guns N' Roses was on Much Music and then, you know, next thing you know there's a Guns N' Roses with Aerosmith tour playing south of the border, a couple hours from here. But I don't recall Guns N' Roses doing anything else before that, up here at least I mean. I could be wrong.

AN: Michael? I think we've just had a very eloquent definition of Canadian winter described. Hibernation.

ML: Exactly.

MB: They hibernate, they miss, like, two years.

AN: Well, I mean, think about it:  album gets released in July of '87 so Mitch is completely oblivious all through the winter until suddenly in the spring of '88 he's going,  "Fuck me, where did Guns N' Roses come from?" The poor-

ML: [?] July, I think.

MB: July! A whole year goes by.

AN: So that's poor Mitch, I mean, he's in his goddamn igloo, you know.

ML: I mean, I've seen them on TV it was fabulous.

MB: You poor Canadians, you miss everything, don't you?

ML: You know, but, no, but honestly we do. I mean Canadian television and radio rules prevent that. I was gonna say, Canadian content rule, you know, we'd have this thing up here called CanCon, which I'm sure you must have run into with Guns N' Roses, you know, we never had MTV up here, [it] wasn't allowed, so we eventually had to wait for Much Music which came out three years after. You know, a band like RATT played the Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens once, never played any other Canadian dates. It's just the way it was. I mean, Canada protected its culture and its community and so unless you were the Rolling Stones or U2 or KISS and sort of were able to cross these international boundaries. We had Gowan and Honeymoon Sweet and Brighton Rock and that was it, you know. And Celine Dion singing in French before she even broke the... I mean-

MB: You poor thing. Yeah, I get the beautiful memories and I'm serious about that of being able to say I saw Guns N' Roses in a small theater with a lineup of UDO and Zodiac Mindwarp, and the band actually came out and did a meet and greet with like ten people afterwards. I mean, it was just, you know, you were part of something. I was able to see this thing growing. I saw them opening for Alice Cooper.

ML: Wow. Yeah, I mean, I saw them opening for for Aerosmith like I said and I saw Axl take a hissy fit and try to beat somebody up in the crowd so I was right in there on the ground floor of riots, it was great. Somebody threw a bottle at the stage, he jumped right at it, threw the bottle back and next thing you know there was a scuffle going on.

MB: So Alan, let's go back to what's going on in Geffen Records at this time. Are they still not sure about their commitment to the band? Have they finally said, "You know what, we're getting behind this band"? What's your relationship with Geffen is as this is starting to grow?

AN: Well, you got to factor in another element, in June of '87 I had a record released and then I had a record released four weeks later. They were both originally scheduled to be released on the same day and I prevailed on Eddie Rosenblatt to give me a bit of a break and let me do a little bit of work on one before I had to start taking on two records from debut records from new bands, or pretty much new, simultaneously. And the other band fortuitously absolutely lit up AOR radio and... but for god damn Geffen and their fucking Whitesnake, my band would have been the number one band at AOR radio that summer, but we were always number two behind Whitesnake. And that band went gold in November and when you have two things, I mean, you know, I'm really pushed to be able to recall were in rock and roll anybody in management had the privilege of the experience of two bands breaking simultaneously, which was fundamentally what I was dealing with and what I was working through and trying to drive, and I remember getting a phone call from the guy who ran ICM booking agency at one point and we'd just secured for November of '87 Motley Crue for a Motley Crue tour for GN'R and a month, the first month of Whitesnake playing in America for the other band, and this guy said, "How does it feel to have the two hottest up-and-coming bands in the nation?" and I said, "Not as good as having the two hottest headliners, let's get to work." Point was, I was trying to keep my head in a very grounded place and even so there was a sense of energy momentum and a little bit of accomplishment so when in December of '87 Rosenblatt took me out for lunch and sat me down and said, "You've done a great job, kiddo, we really appreciate it but we think you should prep the band for coming off the road and start getting them ready for a second album," and I'm getting this instruction from Geffen in '87, December of '87. I was a little stunned to put it mildly because at that point we were somewhere between we were closing in on about a quarter million sales and that had been done on the basis of word-of-mouth and press and touring. We'd had no support from album radio, we'd taken a kind of half-hearted and ridiculous run at top 40 radio with Jungle, which was obviously gonna go nowhere at that point, but my point was that if we could get almost a quarter million sales between July and December without radio playing the record and without one single showing on MTV. If we could turn a couple, one or other, of those mediums around I was thinking I might even be... you know, I'm an optimist but we could be looking in the platinum record here. So I was a little stunned by that. Zoots felt exactly the way as I felt about it and at the time, if I remember correctly, we've been offered to do a holiday show, you know, a December show in the Santa Monica Civic, which is one night, and you know, the money would be good but it was one night. And alternatively we looked at going to Perkins Palace in Pasadena which is a theater show. The economics weren't quite as brilliant but it was four nights. Four nights is an event. Four nights you got people talking about it. Four nights you're probably going to need people to come at least twice but you've got a better shot at getting journalists see. And four nights of an event you've got half a chance of getting some indulgent lazy fucking Geffen executive to come down there. And four nights especially when you're hiring the PR person who has a - shall we say - very close relationship with David Lee Roth that we're going to get some faces down there, and you get faces around an event and even a fucking record executive can notice that. So that's what we elected to do is to do the four nights at Perkins Palace. And it was an event and, you know, we were basically giving away tickets on the fourth night but it was still an event. And in the consciousness of Geffen when we came back after the Christmas holiday was, "Well, maybe this guy isn't totally out of his mind, maybe we should keep watching this record." And Geffen as a company and as an individual started getting on onto MTV. I had already sent a letter to John Cannelli, it was the very last thing I did walking out of my office prior to the Christmas holiday, I wrote this really toxic, acerbic acidic letter to John Canelli asking him why the fuck he was supporting all these gay, faggot bands - excuse me for using the language, but I did back in those days, God forgive me - from the UK when we had a good old American rock-and-roll band here that he was ignoring and John, bless him, took it graciously and he and I ended up being really, really good and close friends. But it was one of those bridge burnings letters where it was, like, the last thing I did was hit that fax button and walk out, locked the door and put it all out of my mind for the next week while we had the Christmas holiday, because I'd had next to no support on Greatwhite on MTV and none on GN'R and I was pissed, and I was getting [?] with him. And Cannelli thought it was funny.

[laughter]

AN: It was funny. And he was right.

ML: Yeah.

MB: Well, so Alan, you know, it seems apparent to me that we've we've been at this for an hour and there is so much GN'R stuff to talk about and, you know, we haven't even gotten to the band breaking yet.

ML: We haven't even gotten to Use Your Illusion yet!

[laughter]

MB: I think if you're totally -

AN: Is that record out? Was it released?

MB: We've released the record.

AN: Illusion finished and out?

MB: If you're up for this, let's let's do a part three that takes us into GN'R after things start breaking.

AN: Sure, whatever you want guys.

MB: Because otherwise... I feel like we've got another hour, two hours that we could talk and and I just don't want the listeners to have to sit down for two hours to get the whole thing but I don't want to miss that part of the GN'R story from you, so, I mean, this week I've been fixated, like watching a documentary here of all this, is amazing but again, yeah, we haven't even gotten to GN'R breaking yet.

ML: Yeah, we're still on side A of Appetite For Destruction.

MB: That's a good analogy, we haven't even flipped the vinyl yet.

AN: We got off to a little bit of a slow start and that was a bit my fault, I was... my blood sugar was down.

MB: Oh no,  not not at all, I mean everything we've been talking about here I've been fine and very intriguing and interesting and it's just there's so much more I want to talk about.

AN: Let me flip it for my in for a second.

MB: Okay.

AN: Because, you know, a lot of what we've been talking about, you know, it's fairly well known history, I think. I think what might be entertaining is, you know, if you're up for this, is I think it would be amusing to talk about the renegotiation that went on with John, with Geffen, with David Geffen.

MB: Definitely.

ML: Oh, absolutely.

AN: Because there are some moments of really high comedy in that and an area of which I think has been completely under-analyzed. And that is the role of the main arts in the destruction of the band. We can talk about the role of, you know, my dearly beloved Dougie Goldstein and, you know, so on and so forth, and in the demise of the band, but I think one of the more intriguing things cuz it gives you a fascinating microscopic perspective on Axl and his psyche but the acts that a couple of charlatans from Sedona Arizona, just over the hill from here, over the mountain from here, could take him for so much money, manipulate him as they did, and be - as far as I'm concerned - one of the primary forces in the breakup of the band, is really fascinating. I heard from both, you know, Reese and Goldstein, you know, the kind of money that these two charlatans took from Axl and his camp and those around him and it's stunning, it's staggering. I mean, most famously 75,000 dollars for an exorcism, you know, on top of that it didn't work obviously.

[laughter]

MB: Well, yeah, I mean, I think those are two amazing things to discuss and I feel like if we just... if we start discussing them now we've got another hour ahead of us.

ML: Or that or we're gonna gloss them over-

MB: Yeah, I don't wanna gloss them over and I don't wanna miss them. What if we do this, let's commit to our listeners that we're gonna come back and we're gonna do another episode and those two topics we're gonna jump right into?

AN: Sure, whatever you wanna do.

MB: Because I know that the renegotiations with Geffen, I would sit here and probably have a ton of questions about that and totally want to get into that.

ML: Oh, absolutely.

MB: And as Mitch said, I don't want to have you glossed over it and make it a fifteen-minute, here it is and-

ML: No, we're gonna rush it along-

MB: No, I don't want to rush along. You should not be rushed along on any of this stuff and I know Mitch and I are more than willing to talk to you as much as you're willing to chat.

AN: I'm here at your service, guys, and, you know, you're two wonderful people and whatever you require is always-

MB: Then let's do that. So everybody watching, here's our promise to you: this is part two, we have now committed to a part three and, who knows, Alan may become a returning guest that just keeps coming back over-

ML: Alan might become our third host!

MB: Who knows! But we will come back and we will do a part three that's gonna talk about those those two specific stories that Alan wants to bring up. I think they're gonna be extremely interesting. I don't want us to gloss over them for you guys-

AN: But you guys haven't had much of a chance to ask any questions either and there's, you know-

MB: Oh no, I feel like we've asked questions.

ML: Oh, absolutely. And by the time we get to tell us your thoughts on Chinese democracy we'll be Part 12 in the series, so I'm looking forward to that. But I will ask you one thing because we've got an attentive audience right now learning all about Appetite and all of that, quickly, just give a plug for the two projects you're working on right now Storm of Perception and Chris Buck, let's throw a little website action in there or, you know, iTunes plug-

MB: Storm of Perception just released their album this week or last week.

AN: Last week, yeah-

ML: Obviously available on iTunes. Do they have a website that we can throw in there just to get people seeing what are you doing now?

AN: On the websites you can find the albums that, you know... places like Amazon and, you know, there's some penetration into, you know, the Best Buys and so on and so forth but obviously it's very early days. But you can you can find it and in terms of a plug, I mean, you know, far be it for, you know, me to have to do my own shilling but if you think that we, you know, had half a clue in the past then I would say you're not gonna waste your time checking these two out.

MB: If you had half a clue in the past you've got three-quarters of a clue today.

AN: Hopefully.

[laughter]

MB: Seriously, check them out. Mitch and I have both heard these. Like I said, Storm Of Perception, I've been following them, they just released the album last week, you can find both of these guys on Facebook, they've got Facebook pages, they've got updates and information going on. Definitely worth checking out both of them.

AN: Yeah, the other thing is [?],  it brought a little bit of an old-fashioned sense of of quality to the packaging, you know, so, you know, my foundation is I believe in the mojo of touch me, feel me, see me. There's nothing [that] quite substitutes for having the real thing in your hand and we put a little bit of work into the packaging so as you connect better to the content, you connect better to the band, there's some little things to get your imagination going and think about what it's about, where it's going, why it exists.

ML: And it's audio and video. You got a CD and a DVD so it's the full experience.

AN: Yeah. it's [the] price of a single CD and, you know, you get a DVD as well so, you know, and if you tear off the coupon you get a packet of Doritos when you go-

[laughter]

ML: That's right, free M&Ms for all.

MB: Exactly.

ML: No wait, free Dr. Pepper when you're talking about Guns N' Roses.

AN: Yeah, Dr. Pepper, there you go.

MB: Alan, you know, thanks so much for sitting down with us for for for this episode and the amazing insight and-

ML: The miniseries.

MB: The miniseries...and I can't wait to get you scheduled again to come back and and we'll get more.

AN: Anytime, it's been my pleasure.
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2013.03.04/11 - Dropping The Needle Podcast - Interview with Alan Niven Empty Re: 2013.03.04/11 - Dropping The Needle Podcast - Interview with Alan Niven

Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 26, 2022 10:04 am

Second video:

MB: Everybody, welcome back to Dropping The Needle. This is part three of our ongoing Alan Niven Behind The Scenes Of The Rock And Roll World that he's been involved in, Great White, Guns N' Roses, you name it. I'm one of your co-hosts, Michael Branvold, from michaelbranvold.com. And as always, I'm joined by Mitch Lafon, that great rock and roll journalist that we all know and love him for. And as always you can see Alan, Alan is almost like the third co-host for us by this point in time. How you doing, Alan?

AN: Yeah. Yeah, you probably had enough of me already. And I think it's absolutely splendid that here we are still in the middle of a Canadian winter and somehow we have Mitch being present and attentive instead of in an igloo.

MB: So the the response to the last episode has been really good. There's a lot of just great, "Hey, I love the stories that Alan has been telling and sharing with us," and they're all looking forward to the continuation of the Guns N' Roses story. So let's sort of just pick it up where we ended it. You know, we were talking, I think we ended it around, they were doing what, four nights in Pasadena as a Christmas thing. You had sent a fax off to MTV. And you know, we're kind of at that point where I think things are going to start breaking open for Guns N' Roses. So go for it.

AN: Well, if I'm [?] guys, I think that if we have a truly valid purpose to what we're doing, the three of us today, it's perhaps best to avoid being chronological and treading down a path that has been probably over-trodden by now, you know, with with all all the known history. And I think if we go digging for unknown truffles, things that haven't, I don't think, benn discussed before or that I don't think anybody's cast an eye on, I think that might be a little more entertaining for, you know.

MB: Okay then, then one of the topics we had discussed was talking about the band's renegotiation with Geffen Records.

ML: And of course, just talking about David Geffen himself. I mean, what kind of person was he? Or is he?

AN: I'm not sure that I'm entirely qualified to have a definitive perspective on David, but I certainly have a perspective on him. And the renegotiation itself was interesting.

MB: Now, when did the renegotiation occur?

AN: Uh, this started in... it was either ... It was an early '91. In February '91.

MB: And the renegotiation was because the original deal with Geffen was for how many records, and then you had to re up. Is that what it was?

AN: No, the band were only about a third of the way through the contracted obligations that they had to get from Geffen, but obviously they were signed to a new artist contract. And it was a very decent contract, but by definition it's a new artist contract. And for example their royalty rate for records sold, as I remember, was, I believe, 12%. And from my perspective-

ML: Which is really nothing by the way.

AN: 12's decent. For that time period a new artist getting a 12 point royalty rate was decent. And just as an aside, I think contracts are bullshit as they have been known. I think there should be one standard contract for everybody. And I think it should be absolutely escalation-based.

ML: Right.

AN: And if you sell a lot of records, your royalty rate goes way, way up. If you don't sell a lot of records, your royalty rate stays low. And it would be on the performance of each and every record. And I think that could be standardized. But from my perspective, I thought it was unfair that having sold a lot of records for David that they should be still confined to a new artist royalty rate. They had proven that they were going to sell a lot of records in the future-

ML: Yeah.

AN: -and that ought to be acknowledged and honoured. I didn't see why Don Henley should have a vastly superior royalty rate than Guns n' Roses. As much as I completely admire Don Henley for his artistry and the brilliance of his records, especially the latter ones. GN'R uis selling more records than him.

ML: True, but Don Henley has been around... you know, he's an established artist where he had-

AN: That's my point.  

ML: 15-20 years and Guns N' Roses had, you know-

AN: You miss my point, Mitch.

ML: I know.

AN:  You miss my... totally. My point was that depending on how many records you sold, thereby should your royalty rate be set.

ML: Right.

AN: It doesn't matter how long you've been around. You know you can be around for 100 years and if you sell 700,000 units every time, fair enough, and you can be around for 10 minutes and sell 10 million, that needs to be acknowledged. I had some good friends in the Geffen milieu and one of them pulled me aside one day and said, "I've got a little piece of information that you might be interested in," and I said, "Oh, really, what's that?" and he said, "Tim Collins has been into David and Eddie and asked for the Aerosmith royalty rate to be increased and to renegotiate," and I said, "Oh, how did he do?" and they laughed and they said David's basically told him to get lost. And I said, "Well, that doesn't surprise me," knowing David as I do. And and they said, "You know, there's something else you should be aware of too", because they knew where my head was at on this issue, they said that Howard Kaufman, who is managing Whitesnake had also come and asked to have the Whitesnake contract renegotiated, and David had demurred in that instance, too. Bear in mind both these acts had sold 5,000,000 units domestically, which is a tremendous amount of records to sell,

MB: And just so people get a little background here. How commonplace was it for an artist to be able to go in and renegotiate a contract before a contract was up?

AN: It depended on the label. For example, Capital Records offered to do a renegotiation with Great White. But in that instance the band was very close to fulfilling all their obligations to Capital and the quid pro quo would have been that they would have wanted a whole lot more records and I wasn't sure at that point whether that was a good decision to make given how many times we had changed President of that company over there. But to get back to Geffen, Howard Kaufman then apparently went back to to David Geffen with David Coverdale with him thinking that Coverdale's presence would leverage David into saying, "Sure David, you sold a lot of records, let me up your rate." And Howard had to suffer the indignity of David being somewhat blunt and inviting them both to leave his office. So what did I learn from that?

ML: Don't bring Axl?

AN: No clos, Mitch. What I learned from that is if you don't ask David. It won't work.

ML: You tell David.

AN: The only possible way I had of improving the royalty rate that Guns would get, and which they richly deserved, was to find a way to tell him. And in that way, I was having a birthday party at the beginning of February and it was a private dinner in a restaurant that I liked on Melrose. And amongst the guests were Eddie Rosenblatt and his wife. And I sat next to Eddie and I counted the number of glasses of Chardonnay that he drank. When I felt he'd had enough, I leaned on him closely and whispered in his ear and and basically said, "Look, don't shoot me, I'm only a messenger, but you need to go back to David and tell him that if he wants the Use Your Illusions delivered, he's got to renegotiate. And let me tell you, if he doesn't renegotiate I'm gonna put the tour on sale and we will go out on tour and the band will have a fantastic time and they will make pots of money for themselves and David will be sitting there without without a record." And I was also aware that David was trying to sell Geffen at that time and was looking for the best offer he could get. And I could see in his perspective he really wanted to get the Guns record before the sale, make the profit off that and then sell the company. Thereafter he wanted to get that Guns record out. And Eddie and I figured out that sales on Use Your Illusion globally within the first months would be in the $100 million range. Eddie had asked me one one day how many records that I thought Use Your Illusions would sell and since I had prevailed on Axl to do it two single records instead of one double record, I felt safe in saying that I thought it would do about four million of each half, of each single record. And that turned out to be a fairly accurate assessment [of] initial sales. But I unfortunately obliged Eddie to go back to David and say he wasn't gonna get his record unless he renegotiated. And I didn't hear anything for 10 days. And I was watching the calendar carefully because we wanted to be out in the summer and despite what Mr. Rose says these days, everybody wanted to go out and tour and headline in the summer of '91. Just as I digress, I will make the point that there was a a meeting I remember at the Record Plant where I sat Axl down and said, "Look, what I'd like to suggest here is that we start Australasia, then we do Japan and then we come into America. That gives us time to work out the kinks. As a headliner, it gives us time to set up some sense of excitement and anticipation. And it means that we can work through being a headliner without being under the microscope of the American press." If we're all the way around in Australia and then we're in Japan, those are... you know, we're a long way from American press. And Japan are a very forgiving audience. We could be really rolling by the time we hit America and he loved the idea. Those dates didn't get put on the board because we didn't get the album finished in sufficient time.

MB: Alan, at at that time when you are having those sort of discussions with the band, is Axl taking the role of bandleader? He's making the decisions on behalf of the rest of the band? Or is it equally amongst everybody? Or is it Axl and slash? What's that dynamic?

AN: No, he definitely wasn't taking the role of leader. To be able to sit down with Axl and talk about anything pragmatic was usually a difficult thing to do anyway. Conversations like that were more easily held with Izzy, with Slash, with Duff. And believe you me, everybody, you know it had been ages since we got this record done. We've gone through the process of having to get another drummer to finish the album. I mean, everybody was really keen to get active again. When Axl goes into the press and says that "his safety and well-being was not being cared about," I don't know what the hell he's talking about.

ML: I did want to ask you about that. You know, Axl and sort of the new Guns N' Roses are on tour right now in Australia and he just gave a interview with a newspaper there. And he said quite bluntly that in his opinion, Alan Niven and Slash wanted money and wanted to get on tour and didn't care about his circumstance nor his health, you know, "his safety and well-being were not their concern". Were you not concerned for Axl and what was his circumstance?

MB: Yeah, what was his safety and well-being that he was being concerned about?

ML: I mean, did he have a disease that we didn't know about?

AN: Once again, you would have to sit down and try and divine that out of the labyrinth of Axl's mind.

ML: Right.

AN: If I ever had a consistent concern about safety and well being, it was in dealing with the addictions of Slash. Izzy had got a control of his and was now sober and running. Duff-

ML: Steven Adler?

AN: Don't forget Steven was out of the band by then. We'd lost him. We'd lost him. We tried forever to keep him in the band. I don't want to get into that because that's all been talked about 1000 times and you know everybody knows about that. But what Axl's talking about, I have no idea. He was healthy, he was working out. What his safety issues were, God alone knows. Or well-being issues were, God alone knows. And to say I was in it for the money is patently ridiculous. If I was in it for the money, would I have deferred being paid for the first year of working with GN'R because they needed it more than I did? And I was new parent at the time and could have used it. If I was in it for the money, would Great White have owed me over 1,000,000 bucks when we parted ways? No, I don't do this for the money. If I was in it for the money, would I've been unenthusiastic about working with Bon Jovi, which is something that David Geffen tried to put together after I parted ways with GN'R? I didn't particularly want to work with with Bon Jovi, it would have been lucrative, but he's not an artist.

ML: Let me quickly ask you about that-

AN: He's just pretty boy. But let's go back to the renegotiation.

ML: Yeah.

AN: So Rosenblatt went and told Geffen and the basically had to renegotiate or we weren't going to finish the record and we were going to go on tour. And I did put the first dates up on sale. Which showed Geffen that we were gonna sell a lot of tickets very quickly.

ML: Now these are the dates in America though, right?

AN: What's this?

ML: These were the dates in America? Because I remember seeing the band in June of that year with Skid Row and the album was two months away, three months away.

AN: Yeah. But in any case, that went back to David and I, you know, eventually I got a phone call and he invited me to a lunch. And unfortunately it was in my favorite restaurant, you know, so. He got there before I did. And I sat at the table with him, and then he started to scream and yell at me with such vehemence, I swear to God my hair was horizontal behind me. That he wouldn't be dictated to. He wouldn't be told what to do. And there was actually at the very next table, a well known TV actress, Jane Seymour, and out of the corner of my eye I could see this poor woman shrinking and shrinking and shrinking as David's tirade got more and more vehement and loud. [phone ringing] But of course, as I'm sitting there and he's yelling at me, what's going through my brain? [phone keeps ringing]

ML: Who's ringing?

AN: That's the other phone. Sorry about that. The one thing that's going through my brain is that if David is yelling at me in this circumstance, then I've got him. Anyway, he didn't eat his food. He stormed off and just left me sitting there. And I went back to the office and then two or three days later I get a phone call, and David's manner was always imperious, didn't matter what you were dealing with, if David called and he said I want you in my office right now, he expected it. And it was a little tiresome, but David is David. So you afforded him certain understanding. And it was a very fast phone call, it was just, "Be in my office now." OK. So I get in the car and I drive up to Geffen and walk in and I walked into his office and he has the entire A&R department in the room, he has the entire business management, executive, in the room and he has accountants in the room. And they're all standing in the bay window together and there's one little seat on the other side of the room, designated obviously for myself, and [he] showed me to it. And then to unnerve me even more it was a big drinks tray in the other window and David goes over to it and starts playing butler. "Alan, what would you like to drink? What can I get for you?" And I'm sitting there going, "What the fuck is going on here?" And he turns around to me and basically it was a total ambush. He turns around to me, and he goes, "You want to renegotiate. What do you want in the contract?" I am not there with the band's lawyer to represent them. Quite frankly I haven't spent that much time thinking about what I want in the contract, but in that particular moment I had a clear vision. And I looked at him. I said, "Well, David, I want the best contract he's ever written for an artist." And he stood there and he said, can't happen, won't happen. And I said, "Really, David, why is that?" And here I am, sitting on my own in my little chair with all these people standing, staring at me. And I said, "Why's that, David?" And he said, "Because Henley's got it and he's got a favored artist's clause, and he has the best Geffen contract and always will." And I sat there for a moment. I said, "Well, David, it's really no problem. We'll have the same as Don and every time you account to us I will go to the bank and get a perfectly minted crisp $1 bill and send it to Don."

ML: So it's a buck more.

AN: Well, it's all hypothetical. And Geffen just stood there and stared at me for a while and I was wondering if he was going to reach for his baseball bat. And then he just suddenly said, "Meeting's over," and shoed everybody out of the room and he said, "You stay." And all the other people left and he looked at me and he said, "Get the lawyer to get in touch. We're renegotiating this. You've got your renegotiation." And I walked out and as was going out I went past Rosenblatt's office and Rosenblatt said, "Hey, kiddo, come in here a minute." I walked in there and I looked at him and he said, "You know, in all my years in the record industry, I've never seen a scene like that before." I looked at him and I said, "Eddie, nor have I!"

[laughter]

ML: Now let me just follow up on that-

AM: The band deserved the renegotiations. Axl has implied that it was greed on my part, how absolutely inane and insane of him. My responsibility was to maximize their earning capacity. I did my job.

MB: Yeah. It seems to me, why wouldn't he or any other artist out there want to earn as much as they potentially can? They're not doing this for free.

ML: Right.

AN: Right. Well, this leads on to the fact that he bullied the others into signing over the name. And in signing-

ML: Can I just ask you before we get there? So you finish this meeting and you obviously must get back to the band somehow, either via phone call or you meet them a few days later and you tell them. What's their reaction? I mean, does Axl storm out? Does Slash say, "How dare you!" Do they say, "Great!" and hand you champagne?

AN: Everybody was really pleased and happy to know that there was going to be a renegotiation. Who wouldn't be? We're going to get paid more.

MB: Yeah.

ML: But Axl has complained since then. I mean, in the last 20 years, he's complained. Was his initial reaction one of joy? Or did he say, "Hey, you should have called me first"?

AN: No. Why would I call Axl? What would he have to contribute to that?

ML: Nothing. But he does absolutely see himself... I agree. But did he see himself at the general?

AN: He was really happy there was a renegotiation going on. And in terms of his complaining. I buried him in the back of my mind years ago and I can still hear him complain.

MB: I know.

AN: God's [?]. I mean, no appreciation at all. Where was he when we first started working together? Where was he when we parted ways? If he had any grace, he had at least say, "Look, Niven and I didn't have the greatest of chemistry." I was the only person on the face of God's earth who would say no to him. There wouldn't have been an Aerosmith tour in '88 if I hadn't forced the issue. Alright and believe you me, there was no forcing the issue in '91. Everybody wanted to go on tour there. Everyone, including Axl. This is revisionist, labyrinthine bullshit out of his spaghetti incident brain.

[laughter]

ML: We have to get to that album at some point.

MB: Is that where the album came from?

AN: No. And you know, it had nothing to do with me either. The fact that he is still whining and complaining is just... I just don't get it. I mean, for God's sake, man. We opened the last interview you asked me how I felt about Slash, and I told you how I felt about him. I think he's been remarkably gracious and handling fame. I think he's of the light. I think he's a loving person. And I think he's a really, really good guy. And as far as Axl is concerned, what comes to mind is the statement that he who does not know himself will be defined by his fame. You tell me what he stands for, apart from narcissism, power and ego?

ML: You want me to tell you what he stands? I mean, the only thing I can think of is that, you know, he's a good singer, you know.

AN: Yeah, he's a good singer. I mean, in dark moments, I'd look at him and I think he's a reverse Dorian Gray. You know that there's an old saying, "You all have the face you deserve by the time you're 35 or 40 and there are pictures of him in recent history that make him look like he is a reverse Dorian Gray.

MB: Let me ask you this as a comparison sake. So there's a, there's a lot of people who have said in the history of Kiss 1976, right post-Kiss Alive when business broke out for that band, the band changed at that point. Everything started to change for them. They became different attitude. You know, the road crew got completely changed. Everybody who was there from the beginning, except for management, was basically gone. Was there a point where you saw in Guns N' Roses that, "You know what, the Appetite For Destruction-Guns N' Roses changed, they're not here anymore. We now have a different Guns N' Roses." Was there a point where you felt like that had happened with them?

AN: Oh, absolutely. I mean, losing Steven was part of it. I remember very clearly there was. I went out with Slash one night and one night turned into a whole weekend. And the main part of that conversational thread through that weekend was that Slash was getting really, really frustrated with the material that became Use Your Illusion. And he felt that the rock and roll drive of the band was being compromised by the kind of material that Axl was writing. And I looked at him and I said, "Look, if you really, genuinely feel this way, you've got to articulate this to Axe, and you've got to work it out with him." And he looked at me and he said, "I'll make any compromise I have to do to make sure the check comes in." There was a very much in everybody's consciousness a lack of confidence that Axl could sustain through a headline tour, that could be kept going and that he'd be able to do it, and so on and so forth. There were doubts in our mind about whether he'd do it or not. Why the hell do you think Slash and Duff signed over their rights to the name so that they could go on tour?

ML: Right. You were just about to mention that before I interrupted you. So-

AN: -and in terms of people wanting money. Obviously it's disingenuous to say that everybody would look forward to the fruits of a headline tour. I mean, you know, of course, everybody wants to do that, but is that the primary goal? No, it's not. It's going out there and doing great shows and seeing audiences in front of you and having that energy. I mean, that's what you live for. That two hours when magic is boiling in an energy of a great show. But I'll tell you one person who kept on about, "Let's get out on tour and let's make money and let's make money," and that was Doug Goldstein. He was up my ass all the time about, "We got to go, Niv," and "We got to get this done, we got to go, I want to be at the back end of this tour with five million in my bag." I remember taking a walk on the beach with Doug one night, down in Redondo Beach, and probably not very cleverly, I was sharing a little sense from my personal fatigue with dealing with everything and Doug was going, "We gotta get this tour done, we gotta get this tour done," you know, "Then we can put all that money in the bank," and I'm looking at him like, "Is that what this means to you?"

ML: Was there a sense of urgency from him because he thought Axl would implode and then he thought the band would implode? Or is this sort of normal business, you know, business as usual? You got a band, get them on the road and let's make money?

AN: No. Well, obviously with 20/20 hindsight there was a lot more going on there than I knew about.

ML: OK.

AN: You know. it's historically self-evident, I went, Dougie took over. Gosh, I wonder how that happened, you know? Good golly, let's figure that out between us, three of us, if we can, let's put our rocket scientist here, see if we can fathom that one out.

MB: How did that one play out?

AN: Yeah. And I mean, for example, you know, the Maynards' role really interests me.

ML: Now they were shamans?

AN: They were representing themselves as spiritual counselors, right, and they they were based in Sedona-

ML: -Was their roles to try to become management or did they just want to be sort of Axl's personal witch doctors?

AN: I think the latter. As long as the checks were being written.

ML: OK.

AN: I think that's exactly what they what they wanted. I think they were absolute out and out charlatans. And Axl somehow got involved with them without my knowledge. And I remember being at the Record Plant one day an Axl goes, "Niven, I need a picture of you," and I'm going, "Sure, fine." You know, he takes a Polaroid of me. I later find out that these Polaroids are taken to Sharon Maynard so she can read the auras and tell him who's good for him and who's bad for him. Now, obviously, I'm bad for him because I'd kick a charlatan down the fucking street and say, "Get on your fucking bike," you know? So obviously I'm bad for Axl. And I kind of wonder what kind of relationship Doug had with them, and, you know, there are a lot of questions there.

ML: Do you do you think Doug was-

AN: I was gonna say, you know what's really, really sad about that? It's not that they were a major instrument in my going and the degeneration of the band. What is really, profoundly sad about this is that obviously Axl knew he needed spiritual guidance. He he was trying to find something, he was trying to find his center, trying to find whatever who he is. Trying to define a sense of purpose. And he falls amongst thieves. You know, he takes the lamb in his consciousness and delivers it onto the wolves. And these fuckers charged him $75,000 for an exorcism. They also used to have weekend retreats where Axl's inner circle had to attend and each paid 10 grand to attend weekend. These fucking charlatans would get on a plane, Mitch, and you'll find this amusing, and come up to Canada on the Monday or the Tuesday after the weekend and go and buy land in Canada. After that-

ML: But only in the summer, only in the summer.

AN: After they had had their little Axl-fest out in Sedona. I mean, you know, I heard from both Reese and Goldstein that those two took - I have thought it was 10s of thousands - but Reese told me it was hundreds of thousands.

ML: From Axl. Whatever happened to those two?

AN: - it was around him. But the sad thing is, here's a guy who's who's looking for help. And what happens? He gets taken to the goddamn cleaners.

MB: Alan, on that topic, and not specific to Axl or any of the other artists I might mention here, but because you've been close with major international superstars, it seems like that's somewhat of a potentially common thread. Example: it's well known that at some point KISS was being managed by Paul Stanley's  psychologist. Metallica did a whole movie with their therapist as he's trying to control and help the band along. What is it about these artists at that level that opens them up and makes them susceptible to some people like that coming in and controlling?

AN: Let let me take you back to something I've already said. "He who does not know himself will be defined by his fame." In other words, I think Slash has been very adept at dealing with this fame and done it with grace because he knows himself. When Slash gets off stage, and I mean it used to tickle me, you know, because you'd visit him in LA or something and you'd go out for a bite to eat, top hats gone, sunglasses are gone, his hairs pulled back and put it in a ponytail behind, and hardly anybody even knows it's Slash and you can sit there and relax and talk and be himself, you know. I think he has a a greater sense of grounding. You know, my question is regards to Axl is: What do you stand for, apart from your own narcissism and your own ego? What do you stand for, apart from an exercise of power around the sycophants around you? There was a moment of pure magic for me, in the Use Your Illusion period, and that's when I first heard what he was working on that became Civil War. And I thought that was fucking brilliant. In my consciousness he was Axl maturing into an incredible statesman of the medium to write a song like that and make a statement like that, I thought was absolutely brilliant. And, you know, and for me, brilliance in my perception is defined by John Lennon and Bob Dylan and I saw him moving to stand on the shoulders of those two giants. And then the fucker turns around and writes Right Next Door To Hell, you know. Which is about a little woman who lived next door to him who he beat over the head with a wine bottle. I mean, "Come on, dude," you know, "Perspective. Edit!" I mean, we all have shit to deal with in our lives and none of us is perfect, and we all make mistakes and we all have arguments and maybe not get on with our neighbors. But you're the front man of one of the biggest bands ever. What do you want to use that platform for?

ML: Speaking of that, cause, you know, he also did that song Get In The Ring that was attacking Andy Secher from Hit Parader-

AN: Mick Wall.

ML: Mick Wall was it? Was it a mistake to put out Use Your Illusions as, you know, 2 albums should maybe - when you're talking about edit - should you have made it just the best nine songs or the best 10 songs and made it one album?

AN: Look, let's give the GN'R trolls another bone to bite on, OK? I'm gonna say that part of my perception with Axl is that he was a small town consciousness who was injected into a global circumstance?

ML: Right.

MB: OK.

AN: And there's obviously a disparity there, you know, he needed time to catch up. With Use Your Illusions he wanted to have his Physical Graffiti earlier in his career than Led Zeppelin got their double album, and that was the thinking. OK, I'm sitting there going, "Why are you basing your creative judgment and your creative output on basically a Guinness Book of Records frame of reference? Is that really relevant?" And you know as much as Slash had given up a little bit, I'd given up a little bit because I was looking at it and going, "The only way we're gonna get this record out is if Axl puts everything into it he wants. And as far as I'm concerned, my responsibility is to get this record out and my responsibility is to get this band on the road. My responsibility is to maximize their earnings out of this, because who knows how long it's going to last for them." And by the way, Axl, I was doing quite nicely as a producer, composer and manager in my own right. It was one of the things that he hated was that he couldn't own me. He hated that. He hated Great White with a passion because, you know, whether he liked what they did or didn't like what they do, to him they represented his inability to be able to control me like a fucking puppet, you know? And if I didn't agree with him, I was going to say I don't agree with you, you know. But we were rolling. We wanted to get this thing done. We wanted to get it out. And quite honestly, when I was looking at a double album and the price point, the double album would come out at, I was having nightmares about it. I'm going, "We are going to slam against the wall and people are going to say this band are over." And that's where I came up with the concept of, "Look Axe, let's do this two single albums," and I pitched it to him on the basis that a lot of our following is not that wealthy. To buy one out from a week it's a big deal, to buy a double album they really may have to stretch. But if we do two single albums they can buy one album one week and not have their budget crimped and then buy the other album the next week and not have their budget crimped. But I think anybody with a sane brain was looking at the situation and going, "You know, there may be one good album in here somewhere."

ML: That's certainly how I feel about it.

AN: I mean, there were things on that record where he was turning himself into Elton Rose that I just couldn't be moved by. Coma? [?]

MB: Would you say that-

ML: That's the song I was thinking about.

MB: -compared to Appetite,and the way Appetite was worked on as a band, that Use Your Illusion was more of an Axl Rose solo effort with the band behind him?

AN: Entirely! Chinese Democracy basically starts before Use Your Illusions is finished. Now in the thing that Mitch read last night, there was, you know, when I say something lights up to you when you're reading it?

ML: Mhm.,

AN: You know, you're reading through something and there's a sentence or a phrase or a statement that just seems to glow out of the text and draw you in and go, "Oh my God!" While I'm scanning through this thing of Axl's Adelaide thing and there was a thing that, you know, and it wasn't my name or his negatives or is bitching or is complaining or is lack of gratitude, that caught me. It was a statement, "Guns N' Roses is my life, it's nobody elses." And I sat back and I went, "Ladies and gentlemen, there you have it." That's how he sees it. It's his life, his band. I mean, he even had a a photo up in his apartment of the band and I think everyone's onstage, it was a photo taken when they were on stage at the Country Club, and it says underneath, "My band." I mean that's how Axl sees life. And he's obviously got, you know, he's a complex character and that kind of fame puts an incredible microscope on an individual psyche, I mean, not me, not you, not Mike, we don't have to endure that, we don't have people picking us apart like people pick Axl apart and my heart goes out to him genuinely that he has to live with that and he's obviously got a lot of issues. But his issues, I think, are about control and power. And I'm not a psychologist but I would suggest that that goes to a little bit of self loathing in some way. I mean, you know, has he had a wife in the last 20 years? Has he had a girlfriend in the last 20 years? Has he had his own children? Has he raised children? And Mitch and I are both parents, I mean, you know, we've had, you know, we're in rock and roll, but we still led kind of ordinary lives in that we've raised families. He hasn't. You know, that to me suggests an incredible level of self-involvement, you know, which is fair enough. I mean, you know, he's pursuing his life, his destiny and his fate. But I'm still left with the question of what do you stand for, Axl? What do you represent? Beyond power, ego and narcissism. With Slash, I can look at him and go, "I know what you represent". Love is in action.

ML: Right.

AN: And what you do? And I often see Slash doing generous and loving things. Is Slash a perfect person? No, he's not a perfect person. Who amongst us is?

MB: Right.

ML: Right.

AN: Who wants to cast the first stone? Who wants to pull a plank out of their eye? You know, those are references that Axl should should be able to connect with. He had a lot of a lot of religious indoctrination in his youth, and he obviously had a lot of dysfunctional family issues to deal with, but guess what? We all did. I got sent to fucking boarding school at seven years old. There was my sense of security exploded at the age of seven. Put into that environment, in England. You know, if you watch Downton Abbey, there's a great moment when the Lord of the Manor is talking about one of his homosexual staff and he goes, "Well, gosh, if I  had got upset every time somebody tried to kiss me at Eaton, you know, I'd been upset all the time." Who puts their kid into a boarding school? You know, that was my [?] you know. There's an old analogy that most of us involved in bands and making rock and roll that subconsciously what we're trying to do is form the perfect family to replace the dysfunctional one we experienced as children. And I can see that. And I can see that with Axl. I can see that with GN'R. I can even see it a little bit with Great White, but not that much because Jack Russell had a great childhood. With Jack I just look at somebody who I have to say is he's a sociopathic narcissist. Always has been and always will be. But my question to Axl is, "What do you stand for, Axe?"

MB: You know, this is a really interesting hearing coming from you because now as the perspective of just a rock fan who just, you know, we talked about it on the earlier episode, who had an Guns N' Roses advanced tape because he heard about this band in the underground. Got Appetite. I fell in love with it. For me the moment where that band was no longer Guns N' Roses was Use Your Illusion. I will say right now I don't own Use Your Illusion one or two because that was not Guns N' Roses for me as a fan. I was like, "What the hell happened here to this band?" All of a sudden there's these epic, long, drawn-out songs when this last album was a ballsy in your face, rock your ass off album. And something dramatically changed there to the fact that as a Guns N' Roses fan, I was like, "I don't like this band any more."

AN: Chinese Democracy in some respects might be better called Chinese Water Torture. You know, because that's Red's modus operandus is: he'll make people miserable and make people miserable and make people miserable until he gets his way. And he's always done that. And, you know, it's part of the reason why we lost Steven, because Steven couldn't get next to that material either. And he had a real difficult time playing it the same way twice. And you put that with an addictive personality and heroin and pressure and money and you know Steven, God bless him, you know, he's not a Road Scholar. You know, it's difficult for him to deal with that and he just got lost and couldn't deal with it. And unfortunately the pragmatic decision had to be made after over a year of trying to work with him, well over a year, was perhaps two years of trying to work with him, that, you know, obviously Steven wasn't going to get it and we had to get a drummer in who could get what Axl wanted.

ML: Yeah. You know, I don't think we, I don't think we've-

AN: And Izzy's getting marked with getting more and more marginalized. It's a shame you don't have Use Your Illusions, pull out a track called Dust N' Bones, that is Guns N' Roses, man.

MB: And you know what? And I guess, here's the thing. There's probably, not probably, there is great stuff in there, but it got so lost in my mind as a rock fan of like two albums of this epic stuff. When you described it as Axl wanting to do his Zeppelin album, that's exactly how I see it now. And maybe that would have been perfect two or three albums down the road. But it was such a fast transition from Appetite to Use Your Illusion that it was like, "Holy crap! This band morphed!" You know, for all intents and purposes overnight into something completely different that the fans, I think, you know, just speaking for myself, were shocked.

ML: Yeah, and the member changes came quickly, too. I mean, you went all of a sudden to Gilby Clarke on guitar and Matt Sorum on drums and, you know, if it hadn't been for the Terminator soundtrack and You Could Be Mine, I might not have bought those two albums, but I enjoyed You Could Be Mine so much that I had to go get it. But I remember listening through-

AN: Mitch, the three singles that were used to promote that record, and bear in mind that these were not my decision to make because I'd been fired by then, but there's three singles that were used to promote Use Your Illusions were the three tracks we held over from Appetite.

ML: Was Estranged from Appetite?

AN: Was that even a single?

ML: It was a video.

AN: There were hundreds of videos. I mean, there's another great topic, all right-

ML: But that video was long and tedious, and there was dolphins. And oh my God.

AN: Yeah, well, that's Axl in control again.

ML: That was terrible.

AN: The first four videos were done at a combined cost of $500,000. Half of that money went into one video.

ML: November rain?

An: No, no, no, no, no, no. Paradise city. OK-

MB: Ah, first four.

AN: First four. We had a we had a six camera shoot at Giant's Stadium.

ML: Right.

AN: Heavily unionized circumstance. You get raped?

ML: Yeah. In Jersey, yeah.

AN: Yeah, and I just spent $250,000 on a video I thought was totally ludicrous and insane but what the hell. We'll do it. We'll do it once. OK. I get fired. Next video up is November Rain and apparently their bill for that was $1,250,000 and I'll guarantee maybe a quarter of a mill went on to the screen. The rest they were just ripped off because nobody was watching, no one was in control, or maybe somebody was getting backhanders. I don't know. I wasn't there, but I will tell you that I think most people focus on the first four videos. November Rain is a great song. It's a terrific song. Is it a great video? You tell me guys.

ML: I would say no.

MB: As I was coming into this interview I was thinking, in all honesty, I can say Appetite is an album that would be in my, easily, top 10 rock albums ever released-

ML: Absolutely.

MB: - by rock bands. Use Your Illusion? No. That's, I mean that's what the difference between those two is. You're right, November Rain, it's a good song. It's-

ML: Too long! It's too long!

MB: Yes, I already said a lot of that stuff was way too long and drawn out.

ML: There's a demo version of it floating around on a bootleg that's about four minutes long, and it's done reasonably, just acoustic, not the whole piano thing. And it's perfect.

AN: Gentlemen, let's get a perspective here on Mike's statement. And of course, this is just my opinion of moonlight [?] and, you know, quite rightly everybody accuses me of being incredibly opinionated and they're right, I am, but in my opinion it's incredibly rare for a band to make a perfect record. For me, the Eagles did it once with Desperado which, ironically, at the time was considered a flop. Pink Floyd have done it to me for me four times. The Rolling Stones, with their incredible output, have done it for me three times. Beggars Banquet, Let it bleed, Sticky Fingers. And all the critics love the one, the double, that comes next. But they're wrong. That's my opinion. And I'm opinionated. Those three records are an incredible apex of feel, spirit, musicianship, insight. Just great. Guns N' Roses did it once. Just like the Eagles. Alright. Well done, guys. Well done. You know the Eagles have, you know, what is one week it is, one week it isn't, the best selling album of all time, their greatest hits record.

ML: Right.

AN: OK? But in terms of their studio output, I can only point at one record and go, "You did it from A-Z. You made the whole journey on that record." Right. So if Guns N' Roses only put out one perfect record, I take my fucking hat off to them because they did it.

MB: Oh yeah!

ML: Yeah.

MB: By all means.

ML: Have you heard KISS The Elder, by the way?

MB: Oh, shut up, Mitch.

[laughter]

AN: You are shameless.

MB: Shut up.

AN: Lord!

MB: No, no, by all means. I mean, I'm not saying it's the best album in just a genre. Yeah, a band to make an album that great, hats off and congratulations. You did it-

ML: It got everything.

MB: It's up there with AC/DC's Back In Black as a rock album. Perfect. I just, you know-

AN: Oh, come on! Come on, Mike, it's way better than Back In Black. Oh my God! AC/DC would be lucky to be hired on as crew for Guns N' Roses, as far as I'm concerned. You know, they could be hired on as guitar techs and drum techs.

MB: I'm not saying I love everything else but AC/DC, by all means-

AN: We're about to go spinning off in a different direction here, because then we're going to start talking Bon Scott. And that's something that you should talk to somebody about, who was Bon Scott, what did he bring to AC/DC, and what did they lose when he was gone? But, you know, we're talking about Guns N' Roses, I suppose.

MB: Speaking of Guns N' Roses, post-negotiation and even up until now, what's your relationship like with David Geffen? Did he have a different respect for you after that negotiation? Because it's like, "Here's a guy who came in and he told me what I'm gonna do."

AN: Look, David terrified most people. They were scared of him. And if you watch interviews of David, for example, I watched an interview where there was about LA and the birds to the Eagles. And at one point in the interview, David is saying, you know, "One of the things I have to do as a manager is protect my artist from the river of shit that is trying to come down on them." And most people, when they hear a remark like that, have no clue what he's referring to. But I have a little bit of an idea. A lot of self-important people in the industry who want to be connected to your successful band, want to get close to somebody, wanna make money off them, and you're fending off a lot of scavengers and parasites, and idiots. With David Geffen, let me take you back to this, my first perception of David Geffen was a song by Joni Mitchell, Freeman In Paris. "I was a free man in Paris, there was no one calling me up for favours, no one's future to decide." And it's about David. And he lived in that environment very successfully. People called him toughness shark [?]. The envious, or those who don't care to like you, will make lots of negative comments about you. I'm sure there are a million people who will tell you I'm crazy. It's the standard way of Hollywood marginalizing somebody that they can't deal with that well. "Oh, he's crazy!" "He's not go along, get alone." But that was my first impression of David, and David was tough. In the renegotiation, obviously, I couldn't go and ask him to renegotiate because he'd tell me to fuck off. I had to tell him to do it. You know, he's after maximizing his profit and looking after David. My responsibility was to look after GN'R. Well, guess what? We would arm-wrestle over this. I heard a story from Goldstein that he claimed was told to him by Kalodner that I thought was very illuminating, that when David finished a personal relationship he would buy that person a [Jeep] Wrangler as a parting gift and within the week it would get burnt to the ground. Now the recipient of the generous gift of the vehicle could obviously get it replaced on insurance. But what an amazing statement to make about discretion! You don't talk about David. I thought that was an incredibly powerful story and illuminating what David felt he had to do to preserve own environment and preserve privacy. To have to go to those lengths, what a mad world he lives in! I mean, if anything, I have an empathy that goes out to him there.

MB: When was the last time you talked to him?

ML: Well, after this interview he'll be getting a Wrangler anytime soon.

AN: Cool. Burn it and then let me get it back again. I spoke with David a few years back. At the time, I was not at my best, but he was gracious enough to take my phone call. And to be perfectly frank, though, I was in the middle of a very severe depression and probably completely incoherent to him but he was sweet enough to take my call. Then again, David and I, you know, obviously had some differences of opinion and some screaming matches. For myself, I observed that everybody wants to get close to him, be in his good graces and ask him for things. So when David gave me his telephone numbers to his private penthouses and all the numbers where he could be reached, 24/7, I never used them. I didn't need David to do my work. I didn't need him to do my work for me. That's not to say that, you know, we didn't butt heads once in a while. I mean, he called me up. I was in New York, and funny enough I was at the Capital EMI building for a meeting there. And you know, there's this kind of, "Ah, Mr. Geffen's on the phone for Mr. Niven!" you know, it's like, "Gosh, hush, hush! This is really important!" It's right, you know, just the mention of his name would get people hopping and jumping. And I had the flu at the time and I went into an empty office and David was... he had this movie coming out, a Tom Cruise movie. And he wanted an Appetite track for it. And I'd done a little research on it, you know, and I have to say, I'm not the biggest fan of Tom Cruise and the research I'd done on the movie was that it was a bit of a stinker. And that all went to the fact that David was trying to get a GN'R track on it, to hype the movie and sell tickets on the movie before people found out that it wasn't a very good movie, and it was called Days Of Thunder or something.

ML: Yeah, I was gonna ask you if that was Days Of Thunder, yeah. I remember that.... the racing.

AN: Yeah, yeah. I mean, not a great movie. And I told him no. He couldn't have a track and he went fucking ballistic, screaming and yelling. You know, and I had a temperature of 101 or something and was full of chemicals to try and fight it so I'm screaming back at him. And I walk out of the office and I look around and it's literally like people hiding under their desks, you know, so that they don't get hit by the shrapnel from the, you know, from the argument. And I thought about it for a little while and I got a better perspective on it and my perspective was: David was there for this band. He obviously needs help with this movie. "No, I don't want to attach an Appetite track to it and undercut the sense of value that I have in those tracks and Appetite by associating it with a shitty movie, but I tell you what I will do, I'll call up Axe and Iz and say, 'Look, what if we gave him something else?'" You know, and that's how Knockin' On Heaven's Door came about. So I talked to Axe about it, and I talked to Iz about it, I talked to Slash about it, and I said, "Look, you know, here's the situation: I really don't want an Appetite track on this, nor do you. But what if we go and cut him something else?" And that's what we did. So he got his GN'R track and we got a Dylan track that has been, you know, overplayed and overplayed and overplayed ever since. Geffen would scare a lot of people. The only time I ever asked him for anything was after Axl had fired me. I asked him to make sure that the band would be able to be sufficiently solvent to pay me off out of my rights and get me out of this situation. I told David the one thing I don't want in my life anymore is Guns N' Roses. Alright. So I sold my perpetual commission rights back to the band for way less than was already in pipeline earning. So again, I'm not in it for the money, Axl! In fact, I got out of it because I didn't want to be fighting with you over what I was due to be paid for the rest of my life, right? I was in it for the spirit of Guns N' Roses. I was in it for the personalities in Guns N' Roses. I was in it for the fact that I could look at Guns N' Roses and go, "You know what, this makes sense to me because it represents somebody espousing the value of every single spirit in the world, especially and including the urchins from under the street themselves, even they are of the value." And that's what I really loved about the collective conscious spirit of that band was they stood for the worth of every single spirit.

ML: It really did. Now I see that we're an hour in. do we go on to some other topic or do we wrap this one up today?

MB: I think, let's let's wrap this up. You know a parting question. Looking back at at your involvement with GN'R and Geffen. Was Geffen the right label for Guns N' Roses? Or would you have said, you know what, there actually was a different label that would have done more, would have had a different outcome or was it all perfect?

AN:: Nothing's perfect. I mean, for example, you know, does Geffen's power inspire good thinking or bad thinking? I went to Eddie Rosenblatt one day and I said, "Eddie, we're about to play the Roxy for the last time, advance me 5 grand so I can wheel up a mobile studio outside the Roxy and record it for posterity." And Eddie said no to advancing 5 grand so as I could record what I thought would be the last ever Guns N' Roses club day. Can you imagine what that would have been worth to Geffen? An '88 or '89? That $5000 would have turned into... dumb, stupid decision.

MB: But you could just go manufacture another live album.

[laughter]

AN: No, not at that point. Now, what I will say is this, is... and I've got a couch [?] in terms of, you appreciate everybody's energy that they give to something to help make it a success and especially in the early days of Capital they were wonderful to me, and wonderful to Great White. It was unfortunate that we went through three presidents and by the time we got to the third president, the relationships were not what they should be. But I will say this: I had two bands going down a railway track at the same time and I look at what I could get Geffen to do, and I'd look at what I could get Capital to do, and I'd look at what Geffen would do on their own, and I'd look at what Capital didn't do it on their own, and Geffen had a reputation in the day of being the best. And they deserved it, and they earned it. They had smarter people there. Absolutely. And I will say that the smartest decision Guns N' Roses ever made - apart from my management contract -

ML: Was hiring Matt Sorum.

AN: No. Was signing to Geffen. I don't think another label would have got them where they got to. I really don't. I don't think it would have worked on Capital. It definitely wouldn't have worked on MCA. It definitely.... I mean, I can go through the list, RCA... Warners, maybe. But I mean, there's a old hippie vibe at Warners that were still [?] there. Geffen got it. He understood. Both the individual and the company, Geffen got it.

ML: And I can say even as a fan, I could see that whenever Geffen would put out a record, and I remember very clearly, I would see Geffen on the back of a Whitesnake album or or the back of Aerosmith, and I'd say, "This is gonna be a good album," and I would buy it. And MCA and RCA and all those ones, they didn't inspire that kind of confidence. But for me as a record buying fan, when I saw a Geffen album, I went, "This is going to be in my wheelhouse. This is gonna be sounds that I'm gonna like." They certainly understood hard rock.

AN: The one thing that I think is a special delineation as far as regards Geffen, is that it was very apparent to me that in the Geffen consciousness that they thought Bon Jovi was a scene indicator or a market leader. And that would tend to point you at pretty boy superficiality. And you can see why Kalodner was doing what he was doing with Aerosmith and what he was doing with Whitesnake and, you know, great ear candy, slick and pretty videos.

ML: Agreed.

AN: So we were in a strong, slightly alien environment in terms of collective consciousness at that point. But I had Zoots who got it and Zoots and I between us managed to protect the band and let them be what they could be. And believe you me, there came a point when David Geffen got it in spades and he went, "No, it's not about pretty boys. It's about something more elemental."

ML: Elemental. We also mentioned live albums. Well, let's stop on this. You didn't record the Roxy shows, but you did have the Ritz show in the can that you had recorded for MTV. Why was that never turned into an album? That certainly could have been worth millions to the band.

AN: Why it hasn't been put out, I don't know. I mean, the biggest question I ever have about a non-released record. Who's the greatest country band that ever lived?

ML: Rascal Flatts?

AN: The Rolling fucking Stones!

MB: Rascal Flatts!? Canadian winter again is frosting his brain.

[laughter]

AN: Why has no one ever put out an album of Rolling Stones country songs? I mean that album would just sweep country, sweep rock and roll. I mean, that album would be huge. The Rolling Stones country songs. Oh my God, what a record that would be. Parachute Woman.

ML: I've just always wondered about the Ritz show. You know, in Guns N' Roses lore it's always considered as the video that captured the spirit, the angst, the songs, the sweat, the smell... I mean-

AN: Absolutely.

ML: And yet it's just some poor bootleg that you can download off the Internet in this, you know, terribly grainy version and-

AN: -Well, here's a question for you.

ML: It would make a fortune.

AN_ Well, you guys are the experts. But if it were my responsibility. Yes, I wouldn't put it out as an album. I-

ML: A DVD?

AN: Yeah, I would absolutely demand that you had to have the visual with the sonics.

MB: Yeah, yeah.

AN: But to just have the sonics you're being absolutely deprived that-

ML: You have a point.

AN: -you need to. You need to see the environment. You need to see the the body language. You need to see how fucked up Slash was.

ML: I agree. And you need to uncensor it. Unlike the MTV version so that you can hear all the bad words that are part of the whole angst and the whole vibe.

AN: Yeah, exactly, exactly. I've had a number of people, young people, much younger than I, express the opinion that if you if you were not to know who Guns N' Roses were, that's the one thing you'd go and look at. The Ritz show.

ML: It's classic.

AN: In my memory....

ML: Great White opened that, didn't they?

AN: What's that?

ML: Great White opened that show, didn't they?

AN: Well, originally Great White were closing. And originally, originally I got the thing because MTV wanted to record Great White and I said, "Well, if you want to do this, then I want the opening slot as well for my other band." And they said, "Fine, you can have Guns open." Alright. Because I wanted Guns to be filmed and be a part of, you know, be in that circumstance as well. But it was originally set up for Grey White and after that was done, by the time March rolled around, I sat the white ones down and I said, "Listen, what's the maxim? The maxim is 'be a hard act to follow instead of following a hard act'. If you're smart here, you're going to invite Guns to close because there's the momentum on them at the moment is so huge you'd be idiots not to do it." And the white ones listened and they said, "Fine, let them close. We'll play first." After the Great White set Slash came running into the dressing room, the white ones dressing room, and said, "How the fuck are we supposed to follow that?"

MB: So they-

AN: But they did. They did. Both bands played a blinder that night. It was a great night of rock and roll, and I've got somewhere the audio of Great White at the Ritz, and there's a version of Since I've Been Loving You on there, that just, you know, gives you goosebumps. Gives you goosebumps.

MB: Alan-

ML: I would love to see that.

MB: You know, this was another amazing discussion. As I said, I love the behind the scenes stories, the Geffen stories, the insight into the business minds and the business world. This was amazing. I think this is a great follow up. What do you think, Mitch?

ML: Yeah, absolutely. You know it, the stories just suck you in. I mean, you can tell, I was quiet for most of it. You just have to listen.

MB: Yeah, just letting the story flow. Just letting it all happen so.

AN: I did notice that KISS had to be inserted somewhere.

ML: Well, I'm very good at that, aren't they?

MB: I love how he inserted it. I at least inserted it in a context of a question, Mitch.

ML: No, mine was gratuitous.

MB: Yours was-

ML: That's the way I like it.

MB: At least you didn't just add Bob Ezrin in there.

ML: - trying to work him in there.

AN: If we're going to insert something gratuitously, I would like to close by thanking you both for your incredible hospitality. I think you have a state of the art form of conducting an interview in this manner. I think it's a brilliant way to do it. And I would like to close by saying: Go and buy Chris Buck and go and buy Storm of Perception. You're not wasting your money.

MB: I will also add to that, for all you GN*R fans, Slash just tweeted about Chris Buck.

ML: Yeah

MB: Yesterday Slash sent out a tweet talking about how great Chris Buck is. So there you go. I mean, Slash likes this guy. Go out and get him.

ML: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know, next time out, I think I would be curious to find out what Alan would think of Guns N' Roses having worked with Bob Ezrin, if they had ever done it.

MB: That that way you could at least blame Bob Ezrin for breaking the band up.

ML: Absolutely. But I'm just wondering, would it have been a good album or would Slash have just gone completely ape shit? Or I mean...You know-

AN: It's all interesting hypotheses. And really, as far as the recording of Guns N' Roses is concerned, one has to raise one's hat to two people, in particular. Mike Clink, first and foremost, who I think was a fucking amazing trooper, and Bill Price. Here's something else we didn't talk about was the original mixes on Use Your Illusion, but Bill Price came in and saved the day there and my hats off to him as well. And another little story. I don't know if you know, but do you know who did the first mix for a track of Appetite?

MB: Paul Stanley?

AN: No, no, don't be a silly boy, Michael. It was Michelotti [?] and myself. We did the first mix for any track off Appetite and we did Brownstone.

ML: Oh, did you?

AN: Yeah.

ML: Does that track or that mix exist in your vault of-

AN: Yes, yes it does, and Geffen used it on countless B sides and we never got paid a dime.

ML: There you go.

MB: So Mitch, now you're going to be tracking that down to give it another listen, aren't you?

ML: Absolutely. That's what I do. Gotta be familiar with all your material.

MB: Yep, Alan-

ML: Alright.

MB: Thank you so much. This was amazing.

AN: You're very welcome, guys.

MB: -always are awesome. And you take care and have yourself a great weekend.

AN: You, too.
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2013.03.04/11 - Dropping The Needle Podcast - Interview with Alan Niven Empty Re: 2013.03.04/11 - Dropping The Needle Podcast - Interview with Alan Niven

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