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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.


2005.03.06 - - Interview with Gilby

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2005.03.06 - - Interview with Gilby Empty 2005.03.06 - - Interview with Gilby

Post by Blackstar Wed 19 Dec 2018 - 12:12

Interview in Greek found in the (now defunct) Greek GN'R fanpage

Translated into English by me.

(Interview by Christos Stypangidis for
Sunday, March 6, 2005. A day after the show with MC5, we meet at the Imperial Hotel cafe for the interview Gilby has promised us. And while everyone (in MC5) insist on going somewhere to have lunch first, Gilby sends them away and stays behind to give us the interview that follows.
How is it going with MC5? Are you going to record with them or you’re just touring?
Gilby: It’s just a tour. When Wayne [Kramer] called me for the first time, he told me that the reason they were called DKT/MC5 was that it’s a tribute to the original band. But the singers and the guitarists in the band change all the time. Lisa is the only one who has stayed for so long and is a regular. If I was asked to do it again, I would. I had a great time with them. The music is very entertaining, and, being a guitarist, it’s very difficult to find music that fits your style and gives you as much freedom as you need. And in this case I’ve had a lot of freedom to do what I want, so I’ve had a great time. I don’t think I’ll record with them, though. If they make a record, Wayne will do all the guitars. I might play as a guest. We get along very well. Maybe they’ll record in my studio, everybody does, so... (laughs).
Last year you played with Heart. What was that tour like?
Gilby: Heart was... Let’s say it was an interesting experience (laughs). (Maria, the beautiful waitress at the Imperial, arrives with our order) What did you get?
Hot chocolate.
Gilby: Oh, hot chocolate... Nice. Where were we? Ah, Heart... I had a good time with them. There were some really good things on that tour. When they first contacted me, I was a bit confused, because I like old Heart, 70s Heart. I don’t like 80s Heart with all those classic songs. They assured me that they didn’t play many of those songs. When I went there, I felt right away that I was too rock ‘n’ roll for the whole thing. So I don’t think the chemistry was great. I believe I played well with the band and we had some really good nights, but I just don’t think we fit so well together. Mike Inez is one of my best friends in the world, so that went well. I made some other good friends during that tour; Darrian, who played keyboards, Ben, who played drums. Great guys. The travelling was fantastic, I liked it a lot. They're very family-centered, so my family came along, too. The tour was fun, but we didn’t have the right chemistry.
What happened with the Hollywood Rose CD? Did Axl try to block its release?
Gilby: I don’t know anything about what went on with Axl. Basically, people gotta understand this: I have a studio and I do many jobs; mixing, recording – a lot of recordings - and production. That was a favor for a friend, Brian, who is the owner of Cleopatra. He told me, “Gilby, I've got these master tapes, I’m going to release them. I think it’d be great if you mixed them. I know that you don’t play, but please do the mix, because you’re the only one who can do it.” So he brought me the tapes and then he thought that it would be a good idea if Tracii played additional guitar on some parts. So the only thing I did was mixing; nothing more. Plus, I knew the music, so I could do a better job. As far as Axl goes, I don’t know anything, because it happened much later.
There were more Hollywood Rose songs. Did you get to hear them all or only those that are on the record?
Gilby: No, I heard only those that are on the record. Nothing more.
I can send you some, if you want.
Gilby: No, don’t bother, the guitars were out of tune, they were really bad.
Let’s go back to 2000. You’re playing at the Cat Club as usual, and suddenly Axl shows up. What happened? Have you talked to him at all since then?
Gilby: That was really strange, because that night was one of those rare nights that there were no people at all in the club. And someone from the band came and said, “Gilby, it’s Axl over there at the bar.” “No, it isn’t. What would he be doing in the Cat Club?” I hadn’t seen the guy in five-six years. So I walked towards the bar and he pulled my sleeve. We started talking, and the funny thing is that we began the discussion right from the point we had left it five-six years ago. What people should know is that Axl and I never had any differences. We always got along well; we have a lot in common. We've had a good relationship. We just have a big disagreement about the band. I think Guns N’ Roses was one of the greatest hard rock bands of all time. I think that Izzy and Steven are awesome. They made one of the most classic rock albums. But then things changed. When Izzy left, I thought that I fit in the band. I played my parts very well, the chemistry was good. I just didn’t agree with where he wanted to go musically. Plain and simple.
So that night at the Cat Club we talked about many things, but at one point I told him, “I gotta go play.” And while I was playing, I saw him standing in front and having a good time, and I said, “Would you like to come up?” So he came up and we played a couple of songs. I’d have let him play all night, if he wanted to. It was great. Very few people were there and it was one of the best nights at the Cat Club. Then we talked until late. He told me a lot of stuff about the new album, what was going on with that. He also talked about Slash a lot and the Snakepit album that we did. He tried to make it sound like Slash and I were against him. And I said, “It wasn't like that. You have the wrong idea about that. I’m just speaking for myself. I didn’t talk to Slash about how I felt; I only told you. We wanted to make a Guns record, not a Snakepit record. But we weren't able to, so we did the Snakepit album.”
A new GnR tribute CD is going to be released. Do you have any involvement with that?
Gilby: There are hundreds of those, I have no idea. I have nothing to do with it.
What is your most vivid memory from the tour with GnR?
Gilby: I remember a lot. Now, 10 years later, the good stuff is what I want to remember the most. I remember how easy it was, and the shows were so great, they meant so much to the people. I’m thinking that it’s sad. Some of the members had taken it for granted, that it would always be like that. But it was a great time. Look, I knew my place in the band and I did what I had to do. I went on stage, I had my Les Paul, I had the Marshall amp behind me. I had the greatest time of my life. I loved it. I just wanted to play rock ‘n’ roll.
What do you think of new Guns N’ Roses?
Gilby: I’ve only seen the thing on MTV. And I watched it live, because I knew some people from the crew and they had told me it was gonna happen. I think it sucked. And I gotta tell you, honestly, it made me feel really bad. What happened there was that he took a very important part of my life and turned it into something meaningless. It’s great to be in position to say you played guitar in Guns N’ Roses. Now I don’t even know how many guitarists have come and gone in Guns N’ Roses.
When Axl and Slash put the live album together and mentioned me only as an “additional musician”, and then they didn’t mention me at all in the Greatest Hits album... that was something that really hurt. I didn’t like that at all. It wasn’t fair. Just so the fans know, I played on almost all Live Era. I'm on almost every song on that album. It’s not fair to put Steven Adler as a member of the band, and put me and Matt as “additional musicians” and pull our pictures from the album. That was an Axl and Slash thing. To me, it made it very cheap. Now anyone can be in the band.
But I’m sure that the new album will be amazing, musically. Axl is very talented as a musician. I’m sure it will be a very good album.
Will this album ever see the light of the day?
Gilby: I don’t know. Basically, I’m very good friends with Dizzy. We talk often, but we don’t talk about that. We talk about baseball, but not about that. But he is very excited – and Dizzy knows where he stands. He thinks that it’s an amazing album and people will be thrilled.
Back to 1993, GN’R played in Greece but, because of an accident, you didn’t come.
Gilby: Look at my scar... (shows a scar in his hand). It’s from that accident.
So this is your first time in Greece. What do you think of the audience?
Gilby: Wow... I can’t believe I haven’t been here before. I don’t do many tours as a solo artist. It’s very difficult because of money. And it pisses me off, because I’d like to come to Greece so much. But it’s very difficult to talk to promoters and everything to be done right. The crowd was great. When we did the meet-and-greet, it was very cool to see people that are so passionate and love music so much. It makes me very happy.
That thing in 1993 was strange, you were replaced by the guy you replaced...
Gilby: It was really very strange. The funniest thing was that when Izzy came back, the first phone call I got was from Slash. He asked me, “How are you feeling?” and I said, “What do you mean?” “How is it going? How is your hand? When are you coming back?” I said, “What are you talking about, man? I just had surgery.” And he said, “We really need you back.” (laughs) The next phone call was from Doug, the manager: “Hey, Gilby, how are you doing? When are you gonna get better? We need you.” And that was before the first show with Izzy, when they were just rehearsing. And the next phone call was from Izzy: “Hey man, when are you getting better? You gotta come quickly...” (laughs). I think it was very funny, because I got three phone calls from both sides, which goes to show that things weren’t good and both sides knew it.
What do you think of Velvet Revolver?
Gilby: I’m very excited. It’s good for me, too. It’s a very good band. I think it’s great that they’ve been able to do what they have done and be as successful as they've been. They deserve it. Scott is a great singer, great frontman. And it’s encouraging for me, too. I’ve always been trying to find a good singer, so that I play guitar and he sings. But it’s been 23 years since Guns and I haven’t found one yet.
Have you been talking to them at all?
Gilby: Not often, but when I see them, we talk. I see Duff more than everyone else, because our wives hang out together. Sometimes I talk to Matt, but he’s always on tour, so it’s difficult. I’ve never seen them live.
I can send you a dvd, if you want...
Gilby: Never mind... It’s a record I wouldn’t buy, so never mind. They don’t buy my records, I don’t buy theirs (laughs).
What do you think about the music industry and the direction it has taken? Are there any good bands out there?
Gilby: I like Jet and The Hives a lot. Cool bands. As much as everyone hates the music industry, and so do I, there are still good bands out there. My wife and I saw The Hives live and they were fantastic.
Have you seen Adler’s Appetite live?
Gilby: No.
We had them here a month ago.
Gilby: How did it go? Did it have any attendance at all?
There were about 200 people and it was very good.
Gilby: Ah, not as many as at the MC5 show.
Unfortunately not. They were mostly GN’R fans and there were also some Ratt and Love/Hate fans.
Gilby: Nice setlist, though (laughs). If we played these songs with my band, we would be fantastic. They are great songs, it’s hard to screw them up (laughs). I haven’t seen them, but I know everybody.
They released an EP and it got good reviews, so they don’t play only GN’R songs.
Gilby: Oh, that’s cool. I know Steven and he’s a good guy. Very amiable. He lost his path a bit, but he’s a good guy. He deserves it. He found a way to go out on the road and play music again. I’m happy for him.
What was the last CD you bought?
Gilby: I buy from iTunes and I think the last one I bought was The Hives.
What are your plans for the future?
Gilby: I’m working on a solo album. But what I want right now is to find a singer so that I can just play guitar.
But why? You have a very good voice.
Gilby: Many people have told me that. But I mostly want to play guitar. I like it more than singing. I’m gonna put the record together and if I find a singer I’ll have him sing on the songs, otherwise I’ll sing myself again. I want to go out there and play festivals again, like I did with MC5, Heart, Nancy Sinatra...
Oh, I forgot about that. What was it like?
Gilby: Amazing! Nancy was something really good for me as a musician. When you play with better musicians than yourself, you learn a lot. It was a challenge for me to play with those musicians and I had an awesome time. Many people ask me why I didn’t join Velvet Revolver or other bands. The answer to that is that I was never asked to join, but even if I were I wouldn’t do it, because I don’t want to play rhythm any more. With MC5 I play lead. I’ve always been a lead guitarist. The reason I played rhythm in GN’R is obvious. But the experience with Nancy was fantastic and I learned so much.
That was my last question. Do you have a message for your Greek fans?
Gilby: I have to admit that Ι’m surprised there are so many of them. It’s amazing. That band hasn’t played or released a record in years, and yet I still sign albums. I love you, and I wish I could play for you again. I’ll see what I can do.

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