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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.


2008.09.08 - Mudkiss Fanzine - Interview with Del James

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2008.09.08 - Mudkiss Fanzine - Interview with Del James Empty 2008.09.08 - Mudkiss Fanzine - Interview with Del James

Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:49 am


Del James needs no introduction,any Guns N' Roses fan knows.

He has done many things in life, but he is a writer. He writes horror stories based on real life. He was Senior Editor for RIP magazine, wrote for magazines such as Rolling Stone, interviewed people like Alice Cooper, Keith Richards, GN'R. He directed videos for GN' R, co-wrote songs with them, Testament and many others, wrote the story "Without You", which can be found in his book "The Language Of Fear". The story that inspired the video "November Rain".

The book features an introduction by Axl Rose………..Too many things to mention. Please refer to his webpage for a very detailed account of his life and work up until now.

Rachel - Hi Del, I wanna thank you first of all for being so gorgeously insane and agreeing to do this lil' "interview thingy", (as you said) with me. How's everything going in your life nowadays man?

Del - Thank you for having me... My life is pretty okay all things considered. The re-print for "The Language of Fear" has been well received. A lot of people have been very kind and supportive. There are negotiations going on with the people over at Cemetery Dance Publications about doing a limited edition hardcover of "The Language of Fear". You know how proud I would be to have a hardcover? For a writer, it doesn’t get any better!

My unpublished novel, "A Celebration of Pain" is currently making the rounds so hopefully that will see light of day sooner than later. It took me years to get a publisher to read my novel so I just kept re-writing it and trying to make it better. I get a lot of emails from people asking when is my novel coming out. I wish I had a definitive answer. Soon? Hopefully! I've recently taken a stab at screen writing and some really cool people have been receptive and are helping me along. That is one of my dreams- to see my visions up on the silver screen. And I'm going to make it happen. When it comes to certain goals, I am one of the most persistent people you will ever meet. I will listen and learn from those willing to teach and help me along and ultimately I will accomplish my goals. I may not be the smartest or nicest person or the most educated but I am determined. If someone tells me that I can't do something I'm like 'Fuck you, watch me.'  

Rachel - I recently read your infamous book "The Language of Fear", which incidentally has become one of my favourites. Many congrats on the reprint, all of us GN'R fans were really looking forward to it and horror fans too! Are you currently writing any more horror stories, and are they going to be released any time in the near future?

Del - I just finished a story called "The Fall" for the SHIVERS 5 anthology. It had been a while since anyone asked me for a story and if I'm not mistaken that book comes out next year. I hopefully will be submitting a short story for the next Dark Delicacies anthology. And if anyone is interested, there are a few stories up on my website that got published in various magazines and anthologies so people can go there and check 'em out.

Rachel - Do you write every day? What inspires you the most to write your stories?

Del - I do write every day. Or at least I try to. First thing in the fucking morning too. I remember reading an interview with one of my all-time heroes, Clive Barker, where he spoke about writing every day and how if you really want to be a writer you have to discipline yourself and do it even if you're not in the mood or uninspired. Makes perfect sense. Sometimes you get a lot of words written and some days not so many. I only write about what I know. If I had to write a story about nice, decent people I probably wouldn’t't know how where to begin? And them fucks are boring anyway. Addicts, fiends, bikers, perverts, infidels, and criminals are no problem. The lowly and the lonely. I know broken very well.  

Rachel - Will you give my love and best regards to Mayne Mann if you ever happen to see him again?

Del - Mayne says hi.

Rachel -Do you read any of the rock & roll biographies, in particular the ones about Guns N' Roses?

Del - Of course I do and it's amazing how much rancid bullshit not only gets printed but also unfortunately becomes accepted by some of the public as fact. It's fucked up. The hatchet job these people do on Axl is criminal. Mick Wall hasn't had any contact with Axl Rose in over fifteen years and that ended shitty yet he has the audacity to write a biography about him? I was there the day many many years ago when Axl went up to Mick and asked him whether he was writing, a book and Mick swore up and down he was not. Goddamn coward. He wears being disrespected in "Get In The Ring" as like some sort badge of credibility. Hey Mick, the guy called you an asshole.

Stephen Davis's GN'R book? His main sources are disgruntled ex-employees and former associates, the same ones you see constantly popping up trying to get their fifteen minutes of associated fame. Agendas! These people only remember what they want reported but forget a lot of the crucial details because it doesn't serve their purpose. Vicki Hamilton was around for like a few months when it was inevitable that GN'R were going to get signed anyway and she has milked that into a career. It's not like she got let go for being too good of a manager or too valuable of an asset! Steven Adler is always so quick to ride Slash's tip yet please remember that when it came down, Slash was among the first ready to fire Stevie and the last guy to sign the termination papers was Axl. And this is after Steven almost killed Erin Everly with drugs. Know you're fucking history. Slash QUIT Guns N' Roses after his solo projects flopped. Geffen Records President Eddie Rosenblatt literally begged Axl to keep the door open for Slash. And Axl did so what happened? Slash came back for some writing down at the studio, totally negative and belligerent, quits the fucking band and then publicly spins it into somehow he got pushed out. Didn’t go down that way, man.

Now you got me started! Slash and Nikki Sixx and countless others, their biographies are revisionist history, man. It's how they want their story to be remembered but not the way it actually occurred. That's the power that comes with the pen. Whoever is telling the story, if enough people read and believe something and there is no argument to the contrary, then it becomes accepted as gospel. Thieves, infidels, and compulsive liars somehow become noble and charming if they choose their words cleverly. Mediocre bands become great musicians.

Revisionist history people, that's the term for the day and that's what these rock n' roll books are.  

Rachel - You've seen it all, would you tell me one of your favourite rock stories involving, um, say, W. Axl Rose, if possible?

Del - You know, from the day that I met Axl Rose, he has been so righteous that you could not ask for a better friend. When we met he was starving and so was I but as he ascended into iconic status he has always given me amazing opportunities that I am grateful for. Axl didn't have to offer me any of the cool opportunities, like working on videos and coordinating the live album and countless others, but that's who he is. He is always the first to share the spotlight and look out for his people. He looks out for me like no one else in this industry ever has. And through it all, he's always been like most considerate, loyal friend you could imagine. When people talk shit about him, I'm like 'Fuck you! You don't fucking know him!'

Okay so you asked for a tell-able story, eh? During the Use your Illusions tour, GN 'R had a portable 12-person Jacuzzi for backstage. We were in Buffalo, New York and one of the security guards came up to me and says 'Axl wants to see you.' So I go and Axl's in the Jacuzzi with like ten smoking hot naked girls and there was room for one more person. I told you he was a great friend and man, you didn't have to ask me twice. I threw my clothes off and jumped right in! It was so Led Zeppelin or Queen decadent. We even had waiters bringing us drinks and cigarettes while all kinds of glorious wet action was going on around us. I can't remember fuck all about that night's concert but damn if I will ever forget the after-party!    

Rachel - Why is it that so many beautiful souls such as Stiv Bators should die before their time has come?

Del - I have no idea why the beautiful die too soon.

Rachel - What/who would you say helped you the most to overcome your addictions and, what/who helps you the most to get by nowadays clean and so happy to be alive as you are?

Del - I struggle with my addiction every day. You're never cured. The only reason I'm alive is because I made the choice to be a father instead of an alcoholic junkie. My two daughters are the reason I've lived this long but I'm always one heroin smile away from losing my shit. Fortunately, I've had a lot of help and support along the way. When I got sober, GN'R made me an offer that essentially broke down like 'Del, when you're all fucked up you make an already difficult situation worse but when you've got your act together you are an asset so as long as you stay clean, you will always have a job with Guns N' Roses. That's some serious love. People you might not expect, like Dizzy Reed, always look out for me. If Tommy Stinson sees me reach for a drink he smacks my hand! And I love it when someone that doesn't know me gives me flack for not partying. I just grin because in the back of my mind I'm like ' I've spilled more drugs than you'll ever see!'    

Rachel - You are a very deep, insightful man, have a twisted mind, crazy dirty wicked sense of humour and love debauchery and crime, hey, will you marry me? Haha! I mean tell us about the gig you played with Todd Youth and Co. the other night at the Cat Club? What was the set list? Why did you decide to do it?

Del - I met Todd when the Chelsea Smiles opened for my dear friends, the Backyard Babies. I knew who Todd was and he knew who I was so we get to chatting and got along just fine. We're both from New York, we both speak the same language, and he too is sober. I've been producing Dizzy Reed's solo record and there was one track in particular, "Reparations," that I knew Youth would perfect for. He said yes but it was the way that he said yes, like never asking me about payment or contracts or any shit like that, that made me dig him even more. And he ripped balls on that song! So then a few weeks later Youth, Christian Black, and Rockfist from Chelsea Smiles, Stefan Adika, and a few others were gonna jam at the Cat Club. Todd called me and asked me to sing a few songs? Are you fucking kidding me? Of course I'm in! I sang 'Search and Destroy", "All This And More", and "Honky Tonk Women" that night. You know, for as shitty of a singer as I am, I've been really fortunate that my talented friends let me jam every so often.

Rachel - You have several tattoos honouring some dead people whose wildness went too far and lead them to an untimely, early death. Would you tell us their names?

Del - The first name I got tattooed on me was in memory of Timmy Meeske.

Timmy was my best friend back in New York, had he not died I doubt I would have ever left home. Me and that guy had so many amazing adventures. I mean the first night I met him, we were in a bar in New Rochelle. I knew Timmy was tight with my friends, which automatically made us friends. He was having some sort of problem with like these short-haired jock looking fucks so I told him, 'Hey man, if you got a problem then I got a problem too. I got your back.' We start drinking like only young men can and eventually step outside to fight these guys. And damn if they didn’t kick our fucking asses! I mean I got kicked through the front window of a Laundromat. How was I supposed to know these assholes knew karate? But ya know what? It doesn’t matter that I got my ass kicked; I made an amazing friend that I will always cherish. Timmy was there the night I got stabbed. The night I crashed my bike. All kinds of wild times and he carried me when I couldn’t walk. He was a righteous brother and I wish I could have done more for him. Hardly a day passes where I don't reminisce.

The other name tattooed on me was in memory of Todd Crew. Todd was the bassist and the heart and soul of a band called Jetboy. Todd just exuded cool and people gravitated towards him. I was fortunate that he accepted me and we became gang tight. He and I ran a lot and I wish I had known back then what I know now. See, Todd was drinking way too much, and please understand that people like myself and Todd and West Arkeen were always far worse alcoholics than drug abusers even if technically drugs are what took those two fellows out. Did we take copious amounts of drugs? Sure and it didn’t matter what it was. If someone had coke, we snorted coke. Pills? We swallowed them then asked what they were. Heroin? Bring it on. My thing was speedballs. But we drank lethal amounts of booze every day. From Night Train to Jim Beam and everything in between, there was not a day that went without us drinking excessively, waiting for the blackout. We would drink instead of eating and pissing blood was not at all unusual. Recently in the error-filled Stephen Davis GN'R book "Gonna Watch you Bleed" the author paints Todd out to be the worst junkie out of the lot. I don't know who he got his information from but you're dead fucking wrong! I was living in an apartment with one of the scene's biggest dealers, and no it's not Izzy Stradlin. If Izzy was running low, he would come by and cop. Me and Billy McCloud from the Prodigal Sons lived there with this other dude who shall remain nameless and that place got so out of control that my friends forcibly evicted me and moved me into Hell House, okay? Fucking high is an understatement. Todd would come by and we'd get high but he was never a full-blown junkie. He wasn't pawning shit or stealing or doing anything dishonourable. He was a problematic soul who'd recently been kicked out of his band for being too much of a drunk and sure he enjoyed drugs. We all did. A bit too much but that's irrelevant. We were all wild and in our early twenties and we weren’t afraid of anything. Being an alcoholic was a badge of honour. We wore it proudly. And stupidly. I wish I could have been more responsible and mature. I wish I could have been a better, smarter friend.

When I move out of the dope apartment, my heroin use declines drastically. So did Todd's. We didn’t consciously set out to get clean per se but just by not being there, dope wasn't around 24/7. Could Todd still have been using without me? Sure but I was with him a great deal of the time drinking. That's what we did. We fucking drank! He stayed wherever I stayed, either Hell House or later on in apartment I shared with Duff and the mother of my children, Debbie Woodworth. Todd and I often talked about going to go cop some dope or coke but talk is cheap, especially when yer broke.

When he and I went to England with GN'R in June of 1987, we were both clean in terms of heroin usage. We were drinking like animals and would take any substance you put in front of us but by no means was Todd the strung out junkie that Davis made him seem. I was fucking appalled by the ugly, inaccurate lies Davis spewed. You weren’t there. Fuck you motherfucker! You and whoever gave you your information don't know what the fuck you're talking about.

What kills Todd Crew is his non-stop alcohol intake, depression over losing his girlfriend and band, Slash not handling Todd's overdose properly, and yes, obviously the heroin. When Todd arrived in New York, he had to be carried off a plane by Josh Richman. Todd hooks up with Slash and some dudes from LA and they cop. If Todd had been using heroin regularly, like -I believe in my heart of hearts he was not, then $20 or $40 worth or however much they bought, which back when we were using would have no been no big deal, becomes enough to kill him because his body couldn’t handle it. And it fucking does.

Rachel - What movie did you see last night and what music are you listening to right now? Quickie!

Del - I just watched a flick called "The Burrowers" which is this horror western with these really awesome monsters and it kicked my ass! As far as music goes I've been listening to the new Backyard Babies album! And oh yeah, obviously since I'm producing Dizzy Reed's solo album, I've been listening to that everyday and while it is work, it is a labour of love. Dizzy is such an amazing songwriter and talented musician that his album is going to blow people away. Mark my words!

Rachel - As an avid reader, which books do you happen to be reading these days and which ones got you the most hooked?

Del - I just finished reading the new Michael Slade book, "Crucified" which was incredible! Must-read as are all of Slade's books. I just read and LOVED Clive Barker's Mister B. Gone. "cows" by Matthew Stokoe is one of the most disturbing reads ever! I love everything by Dennis Cooper. Poppy Z Brite, David Schow, Skipp & Spector. Bukowski, Palahniuk, Burroughs, Elroy- the usual suspects. Every month there are three things I can't live without reading-- the latest issues of The Walking Dead, 100 Bullets, and Rue Morgue Magazine.

Rachel - Your parents come from Cuba, is that where your love for cigar smoking comes from, or is it just because you love Satan? Haha... Or any other reason?

Del - Axl gave me my first Cuban a few years ago. This is after I quit smoking cigarettes. Cigars are a really fantastic vice. And for me personally, one of the sexiest things in the world is a hot chick smoking a cigar.

Rachel - Have you ever thought of writing your autobiography some day?

Del - No one would believe my life story but I do sneak a lot of my experiences into my fiction, exaggerated of course. And if I did write my autobiography I'd fall into the same trap as everyone else and paint myself as the coolest, the toughest, the cleverest, and the guy who always got the beautiful girl. I'd never be an asshole or selfish or inconsiderate because it wouldn't be in my best interest. I'm just me and I can tell a pretty decent story at the bar and for what it's worth, I take great pride in being with a close friend the day after we've done something absurd or dangerous and they're like 'Oh my god, did we really???' And ya just grin and share a bonding moment that lasts a lifetime.

Rachel - What's the thing you've been the most delighted to steal? Did you give it away or kept it for you?

Del - I'm not particularly proud of my days of stealing. Thieves are scum bags.

Rachel - I suspect you're a gun lover. The way they look, the way they shoot.

Del - I do love guns but if Americans actually read the Constitution they would find out that they do not have the right to bear arms. They have the right to bear arms during a time of upheaval or conflict, like a war. The right to bear arms should be earned, not guaranteed.

Rachel - How do you fuck the system, Del?

Del - You fuck the system by beating it without compromising your personal values. By succeeding without selling out. By saying 'Fuck you, my way is the right way' and then going out and proving that it was.

Rachel - Come on and tell me what your thoughts are when you think about these people below:

Del - Elvis: "You Are Always On My Mind" is arguably the most perfect love song ever written. That song always strikes a deep personal note with me. Man, did he ever love Priscilla. I love the King, especially jumpsuit, Las Vegas Elvis. There's a framed and matted Elvis concert ticket in my house. My favourite Elvis movie is Bubba Ho-Tep starring Bruce Campbell. That film is a slice of genius! Then again it's based off a Joe Lansdale short story so what did you expect?

Thin Lizzy:Thin Lizzy are my favourite band of all-time. I can talk about them for hours and I own tons of Lizzy memorabilia. I once had a shot at buying the original Thin Lizzy mirror sign; the one that went over the drums, for like $10,000 but the mother of my children wasn't having it. And you wonder why we never got married! Lizzy are everything that is right about rock & roll. Perennial underdogs, poets and fighters, flawed, strong. Listen to the sincerity in Phil's lyrics, man. Pure genius but genius from the streets. From the heart. His voice heals me. And Scott Gorham? Fuck, has there ever been a cooler guitarist? And the bitch is he's so underrated. Solos and parts that Brian Robertson or Gary Moore get credit for were actually Scott's. Thin Lizzy were a band who would play with any other band, anywhere, any time, and blow them off the stage!  

Wendy O Williams: Like back in '77 or '78, my family was like the first on our block to own a VCR. Top loader, big heavy machine. I recorded the night Wendy O blew up the car on the Tom Snyder show that essentially gets him kicked off the air. She spray-painted 'Fornicate The Status Quo' on the side of the car before blowing it up! That statement was so profound and perfectly sums up Wendy O better than I ever could.

Towers of London: So cocky, so wonderful. I campaigned to get them on some shows with GN'R back in 2006 and it happened. The Towers were fucking awesome. A lot of people were concerned that they'd misbehave or cause problems but they're great and very respectful! It was a bit of a time warp in the sense they reminded me of GN'R back when GN'R opened for The Cult on the Electric tour. "Kill The Pop Scene" and "Fuck It Up" and "How Rude She Was" are such great songs!  

The Misfits: Everyone who loves horror loves The Misfits. What's not to love? It's genuine and pure and aggressive and from fucking New Jersey. And it was Glenn Danzig's vision. His pen and his voice made the Misfits special. My favorite record is "Static Age".  

Aerosmith: The last great Aerosmith record is Done With Mirrors but A Rock In A Hard Place, with Jimmy Crespo instead of Joe Perry is a better record. When A&R man John Kaladoner got involved with Aerosmith he took away their rawness and their soul. Even their raunch was manufactured. They may have become bigger than ever in terms of sales and stuff but it's neutered. It's bubblegum pop. I still listen to the first six Aerosmith record religiously but for a band who had a hit called "Livin' on the Edge" damn if they didn't lose their edge. I wonder if they like their Geffen catalog as much as they like their old Columbia catalogue.?

Testament: The comeback of the year! Forget the new Metallica record. If you want to get yer ass kicked by some old school thrash metal, pick up Testament's "The Formation of Damnation". That record kills!  Paul Bostof on drums is devastating. So is the whole record and I'm very proud to have been a part of it.

Sid Vicious: The sneer, the swastika shirt, the chain, that hair. There is no better 'Fuck you' image than Sid Vicious. Man, I remember being scared of the Sex Pistols. This was before I heard their music and was like following them on the news and reading about them in magazines. They spit and took drugs and stirred trouble everywhere they went. Then I heard 'Never Mind the Bollocks' and lost my mind over how great it was.  

Marilyn Manson: Anti-Christ Superstar era Manson was so far ahead of his time. You wanna talk about constructing an image with a sound to match. So over the top and people bought it. Just like Alice Cooper or Venom but Manson was even more dangerous. He blasphemed and practised unsafe sex and defied authority and the kids ate it up. Ziggy Stardust with a pentagram. The general public fucking bought it and believed it and blamed him for Columbine and everything else corrupting the youth of America when all Manson was ever guilty of was being clever.

The Backyard Babies: The Babies should have been the heir apparent to GN'R. Between "Total 13" and "Making Enemies Is Good", you have two of the most exciting, raw, and rocking albums around. There's no bullshit when it comes to Backyard Babies. Those four fellas eat, drink, smoke and shit rock and roll. Live there is no better band around. They've made some mistakes along the way but that's also part of what makes them more real than a lot of the successful poseurs pretending to live the life. They need to get on like the Warped tour or Crue Fest and just kill the kids.  

Steve Marriott: My favourite singer of all-time! Steve Marriott should be name checked the same way we talk about Robert Plant or Janis Joplin or Freddie Mercury. Such a soulful yet powerful voice. And as a live performer, no one could touch Marriott. Please go to youtube and check out some Small Faces or Humble Pie and see for yourself. Humble Pie are one of the most underrated rock band of all-time!

Rob Zombie: I have so much respect for Rob Zombie to the point of being jealous. He's done literally everything I wish I had. He fronts a killer rock band AND gets to make the horror movies he wants to make. How fucking cool is that? I like watching "House of 1,000 Corpses" and "The Devil's Rejects" back to back. In my opinion, "The Devil's Rejects" is a far superior film and his best to date. Such an amazing exploitation film but if you watch closely, you'll see elements of a western in "The Devil's Rejects". His movies sweat. They have a certain grit and grime that is essential to suspension of disbelief.

KISS: The first album I ever bought was KISS ALIVE. I was in 4tth grade. That record changed my life! I'd never heard or felt anything quite like it. I was hooked and when I grew up I wanted to be Ace Frehley. Ace was soooo much fucking cooler than the other members. Fast forward like thirty years and my childhood friend, Steve Werner, is the drummer in Ace's solo band. I got to meet and become friends with Ace and let me tell you, that guy is the real deal. Just a cool motherfucker. One time we were in a dark bar and Ace had these night-vision goggles that one of his Secret Service buddies gave him. Sure enough you can see really good in the dark while wearing them. So Ace puts them on and says 'Hey Del, go hide.' So I did and I'm like 'Am I really playing hide and go seek with Ace Frehley?'

Rachel - Thank you again Mr. Del James, I'm BLOWN AWAY.

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