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1992.07.29 - The Greenville News - Pedal to the Metal (Gilby)

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1992.07.29 - The Greenville News - Pedal to the Metal (Gilby) Empty 1992.07.29 - The Greenville News - Pedal to the Metal (Gilby)

Post by Blackstar on Fri Mar 29, 2019 5:06 pm


Rockers Guns N' Roses, Metallica put
Pedal to the 'METAL'

GNR guitarist talks about being part of group

By Lynne Lucas
Lifestyle staff writer

For guitarist Gilby Clarke, the newest member of Guns N’ Roses, joining the world's hottest rock 'n' roll band could have been an intimidating experience.

But it wasn't. First, he knew most of his new bandmates—lead vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash and bass player Duff McKagan — from the days when they were all playing the same gritty Los Angeles clubs in the early to mid-'80s.

And also, he couldn't afford to spend any time on anxiety.

"I had so much work to do," said Clarke, in an easy-flowing phone interview earlier this week. "I mean, I really had to learn almost 50 songs in two weeks - that I didn't have time to fathom thoughts of 'What's Axl going to say...,' you know, 'What if they don't like this lick?', 'What if we don't get along?', What if I'm not wearing the right clothes?'"

Still, the former lead singer/guitarist/chief songwriter for Kill for Thrills knows that it wasn't only his guitar skills that got him the job replacing original GNR member Izzy Stradlin'.

The reason I got it was because we do all fit together, we do all get along and we do have the same lifestyle,” said Clarke, obviously glad to be a part of such a successful band after 10 years of paying his musician's dues.

Yet the Guns Ν’ Roses lifestyle is growing tamer as the band members grow older, the 29-year-old said.

"The band is really cleaning up quite a bit,” he said. “I mean there's no drugs or anything any more. We're still drinking a little bit, but that’s about it.”

And still enjoying some rather wild-sounding parties. It seems that the post-concert activities had grown a little dull on the band's recent tour of Europe, so Rose appointed his brother, Stuart, to liven things up on the current blockbuster tour with Metallica and Faith More Tour. The tour stops Aug. 2 at Williams-Brice stadium in Columbia.

Now in the new Guns N’ Roses party room backstage, there is a different theme party after every show that keeps the band “busy” until about 6 a.m., said Clarke. A recent party theme was Roman Toga.

“People were handed those little wreath things for their heads,” he said. "The people that will work back there — usually really attractive girls — (were) in the toga uniforms.”

After the concert in Indianapolis, the party theme was the Indy 500 with the girls dressed up in race uniforms. At a '60s theme party, there were black lights and girls dancing on a “Twister thing,” said Clarke.

Where do the girls come from?

"I don't know,” said the good-humored guitarist, innocently. "That's not my part. I just kind of see them when I get there.”

If it sounds like a loose time after the show, Clarke said the band has total freedom on stage as well. The lack of a planned set-list each night keeps the improvisation and spontaneity on high, but it can also mean some moments when nothing is quite jelling.

The other night the band launched into “Sweet Child O' Mine” and one of the guitarists was out of tune, said Clarke. Each one assumed that he was the one out of tune.

“We have good crew guys; we can change a guitar in an instant,” he said. “So all three of us (Slash, McKagan and Clarke) all went to change guitars at the exact same time.”

There was this big blank in the music, said Clarke, when all the guitars suddenly died, and Rose stopped the song to start it again. The crowd seems to relish such imperfections, he said, because it makes the band seem more real.

But the crowd doesn’t always love it when the band doesn’t come on stage for hours, a practice that Guns N’ Roses has become notorious for over the years.

On this tour, there is a complete lighting set change, as well as some other set-up activities, that requires a long break between the performances by Metallica and GNR.

“Some people are now thinking we're still up to our usual tricks of waiting two or three hours,” said Clarke, "but it really takes about an hour and half to change (sets).”

The press has frequently turned this tour into some kind of “boxing ring” match between Metallica and GNR, said the guitarist, which was not the intent at all. The two bands joined forces for this tour to bring a “money's worth” multi-act show to their fans, said Clarke, and so far, egos and competition have not been part of the picture.

A long night is in store for fans who attend the concert, he said. The 6:30 p.m. Columbia concert probably will not be over until 1:30 or 2 a.m., as Metallica has a two-hour-long set and GNR usually plays about two and a half hours.

“Get plenty of rest (beforehand),” Clarke advised concert-goers. “(You) are going to feel beat up, but just come prepared because it is a very long show.”

And as for the outspoken Rose, Clarke said he’s been a “bad boy” ever since his old club days, when Clarke first met him. But that can have benefits, he said.

“Axl is a very eccentric person, very talented,” he said. “And if he wasn’t eccentric and talented we wouldn’t be where we are right now.”

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