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2011.12.DD - Hit Channel - Interview with producer Bob Ezrin (excerpt)

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Post by Blackstar on Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:43 am


I’ve read that at some point during the Guns N’ Roses lengthy “Chinese Democracy” recordings, Axl Rose called you to evaluate what he had already done. What really happened?

Hm.. Well.. (ed:pause) I’m not sure!! (laughs)

I’ve read that you told him he had about 2 ½ songs or 3 ½ songs. Something like that.

Yeah, I probably did. It started off when Jimmy Iovine (ed: producer, chairman of Interscope/ Geffen) asked me for a big favour. They were stuck, they were stuck in a studio in North Hollywood for years with Roy Thomas Baker (ed: Queen’s producer), and nothing was happening. They were paying enormous rental bills and they were paying people to sit around the studio waiting for Axl to show up and it was just a disaster.
I agreed to go there immediately and listen to a bunch of stuff. What I heard was – I don’t know how to say this without be insulting, I don’t want to be insulting because he worked very hard on it – but what I heard was something that he had painted over too many times. So, by the time I heard it, the original content was lost and it was just a highly produced piece of something…
Anyway, I agreed to help out if Axl would agree to work with me, which he did. He had the idea that the only person who could finish the album with him was me, based on what I don’t know. I came, I listened, I said to him I will listen and will give you notes we will see together.
I spent a lot of time listening. I went to see Jimmy Iovine and I gave him my perception of the situation, including the fact that they had to get out of Rumbo Studios immediately – not because Rumbo is a bad studio, it’s a wonderful studio –  but because they needed to be closer to the scrutiny of the record company and Jimmy’s team, so there could be at least some measure of control. And I recommended we move them to the Village Recorder in West Hollywood. So, they did that, and moved everybody there.
I had to wait to talk to Axl because he avoided me. He was nervous about hearing what I had to say.
We finally met, on a night when my wife – who was then my girlfriend – came down from Toronto to visit me and we were having a dinner with friends at my house. She was cooking when I got a phone call from Jimmy Iovine saying that I needed to come meet Axl and I said “I can’t tonight. I’m booked”. And Jimmy replied saying “ok” (laughs). No he didn’t. When he wants something, he really knows how to get it. Anyway, he basically guilt-tripped me and I told him “Ok, I will be there at 8pm and I will leave there at 8.30, whether Axl shows up or not”, because that was Axl. Because last time we had an appointment at 10pm and Axl showed up at 2 in the morning. “So tell Axl that’s it”.  
I went to the restaurant at 8 and a team of Axl supporters and hangers-on showed up and joined me at the table – and no Axl. Axl finally came about 8:25 (laughs). Anyway, I told him basically what you’ve heard. I didn’t tell him “you have 2 ½ songs” and when he sat down, he started saying me that he has finished the record. And I said “Axl, we are not ready to mix this record. This record isn’t ready to be mixed”. I said “there are two great songs on it and I know that you’re capable of more, that’s the reason why I’m here.  You’re such a great talent and I would do you a disservice if I didn’t tell you the truth, which is that most of the songs aren’t great.  But I‘m very happy to help you get there and I believe that it’s possible, if you would like to continue to work on the record, to make it better”.   He said “I don’t agree with that. We are ready to mix”. And I told him “you have my number, if you change your mind let me know, but I have a dinner party at home now and I had to go”.  I left and I haven’t heard from him since. It was years later when it came out.


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