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1993.03.26 - Edmonton Journal - Guns N' Roses (Duff)

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1993.03.26 - Edmonton Journal - Guns N' Roses (Duff) Empty 1993.03.26 - Edmonton Journal - Guns N' Roses (Duff)

Post by Blackstar on Fri May 17, 2019 5:47 am

1993.03.26 - Edmonton Journal - Guns N' Roses (Duff) 1993_044



Illusions aside, it’s a whole new, back-to-basics show from the world’s most notorious rockers

Journal  Music  Writer


Things easily spin out of control when you’re on the inside of the world’s most notorious and volatile rock band.

For bassist Duff Me Kagan, one of three remaining founding members of Guns N' Roses, often the only solution is to close his eyes and try to shut out the screaming images that constitute his life on the road and on the stage.

“It goes back to the philosophy of having no philosophy, of not thinking about it,’’ McKagan said Thursday from Winnipeg, the morning after the second Canadian date on the band's new Skin N’ 'Bones tour.

“You drink your protein shake, do a couple of deep knee bends, and you’re off.”

Otherwise, he said, if he did try to make sense of the confusion around him, it would get to be too much. A well-choreographed schedule of events would become a sickening blur of private jets and limousines, generic hotel rooms and groggy mornings after.

Take the Use Your Illusion world tour, which started in Wisconsin in May of 1991 and has included shows in Japan and Colombia and will see the band visit Tel Aviv in a couple of months.

The gigantic shows that made up the bulk of the tour have finally ended, and McKagan sounds like he’s just been released from prison after more than 18 months of breaking rocks in the hot sun.

“When we started (the Use Your Illusion tour) it was just the band, and then we decided we wanted to get the horns and the backup singers, and do something big.

“And we did it. We did all the stadiums. Every night it was between 80,000 and 145,000 people.”

But the incessant touring took a toll and often led to fiasco.

Early on, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin quit the band to pursue his solo career and the group scrambled to replace him with Gilby Clarke. There were riots in several cities, including Montreal, after Guns N’ Roses cancelled concerts in mid-performance.

Lead singer Axl Rose, who is known for his hair-trigger temper and delaying the start of concerts until he feels like going on, was involved in several ugly incidents.

In Missouri last November he was convicted of assault and property damage charges after an aborted concert escalated into a riot (Last week in Hamilton, Rose stormed off the stage after he was hit by an object thrown by a fan.)

“I don’t think we would have survived much longer doing all those big shows," McKagan says.

“It was too big, man. Check it out OK? Here’s the deal. We had 140 people working for us. Nineteen semis. Nineteen buses. Two 747s to take the (equipment), OK? And another plane for the band. It was too big It was every day.

“And when it comes down to it it’s myself, Axl and (lead guitarist) Slash who have to take care of all the financial (details) because we started the band and all that. So here we are being businessmen, and trying to get out and rock every night, and you know, you’ve still got faxes falling out of your pockets when you’re up on stage.

“It’s like, this ain't happening, man. It was cool for a while, but it just got too much. And you’ve got the backup singers and the horn players scream-ing that they want bigger rooms — it just goes on and on. So we’re back to square one, and it’s great.”

The Skin N' Bones tour that Guns N’ Roses will bring to Northlands Coliseum Sunday evening with opening act Brian May — the former lead guitarist for Queen — is the final leg of the Use Your Illusion tour.

But in reality, it’s a whole new rock show — a back-to-the-basics concert tour that started in late February and will hit 26 North American cities before the end of April.

Gone are the horn players, the backup singers and their demands for bigger rooms. Also shelved are the two-tiered stage, 270 metres wide, and most of the equipment that was piled on and around it.

“It was a cool thing to do,” says McKagan, “but we got it out of our system and we re back to what we are, which is a rock band. Now we’ve got an acoustic set in the middle, and a small stage, and we’re playing smaller places, arenas, and it's really cool. It’s just good to have that band feeling back and not like this obscene huge circus going around the world.

We’re coming back to prove what we are — Guns N’ Roses, a few guys on stage trying to play what they like to play.”

The new concert features songs from the group’s first EP and songs from the two Use Your Illusion albums that didn't get heard in the big shows. On stage this time around will be only the Gunners themselves: Rose, Slash, McKagan, Clarke, drummer Matt Sorum and keyboard player Dizzy Reed.

McKagan says the sheer size of the Use Your Illusion tour at its most grandiose was overwhelming. To cope with the pressure of performing to huge audiences, he'd try not to think about anything else than the songs he was playing.

“On this tour alone we played to over 25 million people. If you start thinking about it you’re going to start going nuts. ‘OK, we re going to go out tonight and play in front of 145.000 people.' If I were to let that bounce around in my head for a while, I’d lose it.

“We played Sydney (Australia) a month or so ago. We played the biggest gig ever played in the Southern Hemisphere. We were told that before the gig and you can’t think. You've got to put that out of your head. That’s pretty major, you know? And here we are, just a couple of lunkheads.”

Have things really changed for Guns N’ Roses since Use Your Illusion was transformed into Skin N' Bones?

Talking to McKagan, it doesn’t sound like the difference has been all that dramatic. When he spoke to The Journal at 4 p.m Winnipeg time, he had just woken up. In his hands was a fresh copy of a local newspaper.

“Axl (Rose) and I are on the cover, and it’s a really horrible picture of me,” McKagan says.

“I’ve got like 15 double chins. Really nice. But it was a good review and was a good show last night really good, although we went on a bit late.

“Which is par for the course, I guess.”

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