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1993.03.04 - The Hartford Courant - Guns N' Roses, back to basics (Gilby)

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Post by Blackstar on Sat May 18, 2019 12:19 am

1993.03.04 - The Hartford Courant - Guns N' Roses, back to basics (Gilby) 1993_056


Guns N’ Roses, back to basics

Courant Rock Critic

Only two days into the latest Guns N’ Roses’ tour, guitarist Gilby Clarke knew he should be calling from some hotel or tour bus somewhere. Anywhere but from home in Los Angeles.

“Are you kidding, man?” he asked rhetorically. “We love playing. It’s things like this that we can’t stand: sitting at home, when we’re a week into the tour. I mean, we were goin’, man.”

As fate would have it, a week’s worth of concerts, leading up to this Saturday’s date in New Haven, were going, going, gone when they were abruptly canceled last week for reasons never officially explained. And here was Clarke, unexpectedly cooling his heels at home.

But Clarke vowed things will resume Saturday night, when the band is scheduled to make its Connecticut debut in a sold-out show at the New Haven Coliseum.

"I think we had some equipment problems or something,” Clarke said of the cancellations. “This is a brand new show we’re doing, and I don’t think they got it all together.”

Ironically, the new show is not as complex as earlier tours that followed the two “Use Your Illusion” albums.

The Guns N’ Bones tour, as this tour is being called, is without the two backup singers, three horns and additional keyboardist that had made the band nearly as big as Chicago since Clarke joined it in December 1991.

“After doing that for a year and half, the band was going, ‘Let’s be a rock band again.’ We stripped everything down. We got rid of the whole background section.

The set is like a club stage; there’s just one level and a back line,” Clarke said. “And it’s cool. It’s just down to us. And we’re playing songs that we’ve never, ever played before — a lot of songs off the ‘Lies’ record and stuff off the ‘Illusion’ albums that we’ve never played. It’s kind of like a harder, faster tour.”

But despite going back to basics, there were technical problems.

“It’s, like, wherever you were walking, you were not hearing anything. And Axl was just losing it. He just wasn’t hearing his vocals.” No less than rioting has occurred when impetuous lead singer W. Axl Rose has lost it in previous cities.

“The band still is the same — it’s very unpredictable,” Clarke says. “It’s, like, one day everything’s going fine ... and then it changes.”

Clarke, who made a low-key transition into the band as Izzy Stradlin’s replacement, has since been accepted as a full member of the band, appearing in all the band’s subsequent videos.

Clarke and Slash have been starting to come up with songs for the next album.

Clarke, former guitarist and songwriter for Kill for Thrills and a band called Candy, which opened arena shows by Rick Springfield a decade ago, knew of Guns from its days on the L.A. scene.

“I was actually friends with Izzy when Izzy first came to town,” Clarke said. “Then when Izzy got in Guns N’ Roses, I used to go see them because it was Izzy’s band.

“I kind of lost touch when they went on and became big and my bands were still playing clubs all those years,” he said.

“I hadn’t heard from them in about five years. Then I found out that Izzy was leaving, and I called up a friend of mine who worked for them and said, ‘If you’re throwing in names, throw in my name.’ And Slash just called me one day.

“They had a lot of people in mind. But I was the only person who came in and physically auditioned for the band, came down and played with them. The rest of the people, he pretty much met in a hotel and kind of like ‘vibed’ them. If they didn’t pass the vibe test, that was it. Me, I had known them, so I just went down there.

“With this band, the people that work for the band, it’s like a family. These people have been with the band since the beginning. So if someone new is going to come into their family, it has to be more than just ‘You’re a good guitar player, you can cover it.’ It has to be more like, 'Do you fit in?’ ”

Clarke fit in so well, he fooled a lot of the fans.

“I guess Izzy and I have got a similar look. So there were kids up front, especially in Boston, going ‘Yeah, Izzy! All right, Izzy!’ And I was like, ‘Wrong guy, man.’ ”

Clarke says he wasn’t nervous that first night in the band — mainly because he was so hung over from going out drinking with old Boston friends the night before.

“I’m calling it a hangover, it could be first-day jitters, I don’t know for sure,” he said. “But it really helped calm me down. Like, before the show started, seriously, I was the most calm person on the stage. Everybody else was way more worried than I was.”

But Clarke wasn’t worried about acceptance from fans as much as he was acceptance from the band — and especially from the volatile Rose.

“Axl was one of the people who really wasn’t in favor of me being the new guitar player. He wanted David Navarro.” Navarro’s previous band, Jane’s Addiction, had just broken up, and Rose wanted the cachet of the hip group.

“Once I got in, I really had a lot to prove to him,” Clarke says. “And after the first show, he came up to me and said, ‘I’m so happy you’re here.’ It made me feel a lot better.”

So, being on the inside, is Guns N’ Roses as wild as expected?

“Well, as far as wildness, we pretty much live the same lives, which helped me get in it,” he says. “What surprised me was the integrity of the band. Just watching how they do their business and the way they run the band. It’s never like: ‘We can make a lot of money on this; let’s do it.’

“It’s like, I watched Slash sit down and go over the designs of the T-shirts and stuff, and it’s like, ‘I wouldn’t wear that, why would I let someone who likes the band wear that?’

“It really impressed me, because from where I come from, it’s so hard to be successful in the music business, so you would do a lot of things you normally wouldn’t think is right. And for some reason, the band did everything they wanted to do. And it worked.’

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