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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.


2008.11.DD - Popular 1 - Exclusive Interview with Izzy Stradlin

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2008.11.DD - Popular 1 - Exclusive Interview with Izzy Stradlin Empty 2008.11.DD - Popular 1 - Exclusive Interview with Izzy Stradlin

Post by Blackstar Sat Dec 01, 2018 8:54 pm

Exclusive Interview with Izzy Stradlin

“It's difficult to stay sane when you're surrounded by madness”

In the only interview that he’s granted this year, Izzy Stradlin tells our correspondent in Brazil, Thiago Sarkis, just what any follower of this man wishes to know: Why he decided to tour again with Axl Rose, how he feels about the possibility of a GN'R reunion, how his present relations are with Slash, Duff, Steven and company, and how he remembers the glory years of the band.

What have you been doing the last two or three years? Sometimes it's difficult to follow your traces. Can you talk about the albums Miami and Fire?

Izzy: Sure. Every year I record material. The album "Miami" - I recorded it years ago in Miami, Florida, in an old studio. People like James Brown, The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac had recorded there, a fantastic place. After that album, I recorded "Fire" in a very short period of time. This one is a simpler more basic version than what I usually do.

Do you think that fans can appreciate facets of you as a solo musician that couldn't be seen in Guns N' Roses?

Izzy: Each song that I've released since I left Guns N' Roses is the same type of song that I used to write when I was in GN'R. What happened then was that I wrote a song, and then Slash added his part and Axl added his part, and that became Guns N' Roses. Whereas, what you hear when you put on one of my CDs, is the same ideas and the same inspiration that I had in Guns N' Roses but without Slash or Axl. It's the more basic version.

What are you working on now?

Izzy: Right now I am in contact with people in Argentina that want us to tour there, and I would really like to do that. And I've just released another album called Concrete that you can get through iTunes.

You talked about the songwriting process in Guns N' Roses. Since then, Slash has become an icon, thanks to his attitude, his image and his style as a guitarist. Nevertheless, we who followed GN'R from the beginning, know that you were one of the main songwriters of the band. How would you describe the way you worked with Axl and Slash in those years?

Izzy: There was a chemistry there that worked well. Sometimes our way of working was slow and complicated, if I compare it to what I do now, but the main thing was that the results were very good. It's much simpler now with my band. Now I don’t have to discuss with two other people whenever I write something.

Do you think that your role in GN'R was that of the creative composer, whereas Slash was mainly the guitar hero?

Izzy: The other day I read somewhere that Slash is the last guitar hero in history. (Laughter) I don’t know. I don’t know how to answer that.

What was your relationship with Slash like, at a musical level as well as at a personal level?

Izzy: Musically, we contributed stuff mutually, and we tried to put in more effort than the others. (Laughter) And at a personal level, well, we took many drugs together in the ‘80s, and after a while we got sick of it and quit. I still consider him a friend and we stay in touch.

You returned to tour with GN'R in 2006. How did you get back in contact with Axl?

Izzy: I don’t know... It’s been two years since we did that tour in Europe… I don't remember … I think they gave me his number... No, now I remember: I went to his house, then he called me because they were going to do some shows in New York, and I said to him: “Hey, why don't I play with you? It could be great." And we did it. And then we toured Europe.

By that time, you had already patched things up with him?

Izzy: See, I’ve known him for so many years that there's a familiarity between us. We grew up in the same place, the same atmosphere, and I believe that part of our friendship will always be there.

I’ve always read that you are a calm and reserved type, who doesn’t like to tour or to spend too much time far from home. What made you want to get back together with GN'R?

Izzy: “You know, there's a very special connection with rock' n' roll audiences, and I had the desire to experience that again. When you play such energetic songs as Nightrain, Mr. Brownstone or Welcome to the Jungle, there is instantly a connection between the band and the audience. There's something electrifying to that and I had the desire to experience it again."

How did you feel at your first show with the new Guns N' Roses?

Izzy: I arrived at the Heathrow airport, got in a van and they took me to the Donnington Festival. I had horrible jet lag, but I went on stage and I felt better right away. It’s like magic.

A lot has been said about the current incarnation of Guns N' Roses. What’s your opinion of the current band compared to the original Guns N’ Roses?

Izzy: They're tighter than we were. (Laughter) Those guys are great musicians. We were more spontaneous.

But do you like the way they play the songs or do you prefer your ‘80s style, more direct and wild?

Izzy: I only played four or five songs a night during that tour and didn’t see a lot of the show. So I really wouldn’t know.

Which GN'R song is most special to you, and why?

Izzy: "Knockin' on Heaven's Door” was brilliant. The fact that we took that old Bob Dylan song and turned and it into this great anthem was really special.

What was it like playing four or five GN’R songs every night? Did you have to learn some of them again?

Izzy: Yes, I had forgotten them almost completely. I had to learn to play them again.

Which one was the hardest?

Izzy: Nightrain. I kept forgetting the part in the middle. I don’t know why... after all I wrote it!

I've heard that you are in contact with all the original members of Guns N' Roses. How is your relationship with them?

Izzy: Slash, Duff, Matt and even Steven Adler, we all call each other from time to time, and sometimes we see each other in Los Angeles or wherever. We all have very good relationships. We're still friends.

Steven Adler has spoken a lot about his desire for a GN'R reunion. Tell me what you think of that and how is your current relation with Steven.

Izzy: Steven lives a very confused life.

But if the opportunity occurred, would you consider the possibility of a reunion?

Izzy: Yes, of course. I wrote a great deal of that material.

You said once, when Matt Sorum entered the band, that you missed the style of Steven Adler. What differences did you see between the two of them?

Izzy: Steven had a more accidental style and Matt is more precise.

Have you read Slash’s autobiography?

Izzy: No, I have not read it. I listened to something about it on the radio the other day and it sounded cool to me.

Slash talks in the book about the last shows that you did before you left the band, when you asked Axl to show up on time.

Izzy: Axl continued arriving at each concert behind schedule. In 1991, the regular thing was that was that Axl delayed each show for like, minimum, two hours.

Why did you turn down the invitation to join Velvet Revolver?

Izzy: I wanted it to be a quartet: Slash, Duff, Matt and I, but they really wanted a singer, and as we know, singers can be quite problematic sometimes. So I simply decided to follow my own path.

Is it true that you suggested that you and Duff would take care of the vocal tasks in the band?

Izzy: Yes. That would have been better.

How did they respond to that idea?

Izzy: I believe Duff liked the idea, but Slash didn't.

Don’t you think that Scott Weiland was a bad choice for guys like them, who had so many problems with Axl in the past?

Izzy: That’s a very legitimate question, but I don’t have an answer.

It was impossible for something like that to work.

Izzy: I don’t know.

As I commented to you before, your public image is the one of a calm and reserved man. Is it hard for you to have to always respond to questions on GN'R from fans and the press?

Izzy: You're the first journalist I've spoken with this year, so it's not something that happens too often (laughter).

Oh, thanks (laughter).

Izzy: In the recent years I’ve limited myself to releasing one record every year with iTunes, and I don’t do any interviews.

But, how does it feel to be an ex-member of such an influential band in rock history?

Izzy: It’s hilarious when I’m going to a store to buy cords for my guitar, and the young employee tries to sell me a Les Paul guitar with Slash’s name on it. (Laughter) The guy asks me: "Have you seen the new Slash Les Paul?" I say "No," and he says to me: "Oh, we just got five today!" (laughter)

That must be strange for you, but at the same time, I imagine that it feels good to know you were part of the same band.

Izzy: It feels good. At some point in the mid-'80s I heard a song of mine on the radio and that was when I felt that something important had happened. Even now, sometimes I hear songs that I wrote and recorded in the '80s on the radio, and I say to myself, "Wow, incredible, there I am, but I was still just a teenager who just wanted to play guitar."

What do you think about the fact that Live ... Like a Suicide and especially Appetite For Destruction became so popular?

Izzy: I had no idea that the band would become so big. Our lifestyle was very self-destructive, but at the same time we were very motivated by music. Nevertheless, I never imagined that we would ever become so famous.

What are your memories of recording GN'R Lies?

Izzy: Good times. Those were very crazy times. I have memories of recording sessions, filming videos, touring, more recording sessions, more videos... It's a cycle that was repeated for seven or eight years.

People think that being a rock star is easy, but of course it isn't.

Izzy: It's hard to stay sane when you are surrounded by madness.

What do you think is the reason that Guns N' Roses ended up breaking up? Do you think that drugs played a big part?

Izzy: I don't know if drugs were the reason. When I left the band, I was completely clean for two and a half years, from 1989 on. And when I was myself again, I really didn't know what was happening, because I wasn't there any longer.

But did the drug use in the band led you to the decision to leave?

Izzy: Yes. As I told you, I was clean for two and a half years already. I was seeing how my friends were dying, and after some time I decided that I'd had enough. I didn't want to continue being a part of that. Now we're all clean, and that's great.

Most fans blame Axl Rose for the breakup of Guns N' Roses. Is he as problematic as he seems?

Izzy: Axl is a very complicated guy, but very talented.

Yes, but everything seems to point to the fact that he was in charge when the band broke up.

Izzy: As I said, I wasn't there anymore, so I don't know.

Yes, but in your last years with the band, I suppose that you saw it coming...

Izzy: At that time, my opinion was that the band should've taken a year off. But there was nowhere to go. When the flame is burning, it's very difficult to say: "OK, now we'll take a break." That never works.

After spending so many years sober, do you think it's possible for you to return to playing with your old mates?

Izzy: Yes. Duff, in fact, plays on three songs on my new album. I talked to Slash the other day and I was on the brink of playing a show with him, but it didn't work. Everyone is very active, healthy, and have lots of work to do.

Do you believe in Chinese Democracy? And I'm not talking about if there's democracy in China.

Izzy: (Laughter) I believe that there's a record somewhere that is called Chinese Democracy. (Laughter) I've heard some tracks off the record and I liked them.

With the album delayed for so many years, have you ever considered the possibility of re-recording Chinese Democracy with the original GN'R lineup?

Izzy: No. (Laughter)

Thanks for your time, Izzy. This is the first interview you've given this year, so it's a great honor for us.

Izzy: Thanks for calling me.

It wasn't easy to get in touch with you again, so thank you very much for taking the time. One last question: we always ask the musicians we interview what their five favorite albums are. So, can you please choose five albums that have had the greatest impact in your life?

Izzy: Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, Toys in the Attic by Aerosmith, Never Mind the Bollocks by The Sex Pistols, Road to Ruin by The Ramones and Exile on Main St. by The Rolling Stones.

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