APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
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THE HISTORY - IN THEIR OWN WORDS

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THE HISTORY - IN THEIR OWN WORDS - Page 13 Empty Re: THE HISTORY - IN THEIR OWN WORDS

Post by Soulmonster on Tue Nov 12, 2019 11:22 am

1996
'SLASH'S BLUES BALL'


Things were not progressing speedily with Guns N' Roses after Slash's return from his tour with Snakepit, so he filled his time with other projects [see other chapters]. One of these were blues music. In February 1996, it would be reported that he had jammed blues tunes with Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora and actor Steven Seagal at the Sunset Strip’s House of Blues [New York Daily News, February 5, 1996; Kenosha News, February 7, 1996].

In July 1996, Slash would announce that he would going away to play in a new blues band:

Gun has been trying to get the next record together and in the meantime, i've been working on soundtracks and just jamming arount town. i'm playing in Budapest on the 14th of Aug with a Los Angeles based blues band.

Well I'm on my way, actually this evening, well tomorrow morning, it is a three o'clock in the morning - I have to get ready and fly out to Budapest. So I'm doing this sort of band that I threw together to do like a whole bunch of old blues covers and we're just playing a festival.


Talking about hos the band was founded:

I didn't have a band together at the time, so I went down to this club called the Baked Potato, where I jam on Tuesdays, I put the band together […].


This blues band was originally called Slash's Blues Balls or Slash's Blue Balls, but it would be changed for later shows [WAAF, May 28, 1997]. One of the members of the band was Teddy "Zigzag" Andreadis, and the first gig would be in Budapest, Hungary, on August 14, 1996 [Netscape Online Chat, July, 1996].
Then I got a phone call to play a gig in Hungary; our manager Tom [Maher] goes, "We got this offer for headlining this festival in Hungary, and it's a big, seven-day event in a stadium." And I was like: "I don't have a band! How am I gonna do that?" I had to put a band together, but they had to be the right players-people who would consider Snakepit a permanent "day job." So I got Teddy "Zigzag" Andreadis, who played keyboards and harmonica in Guns, and we hooked up with musicians that he knew. That's how I hooked up with Johnny [Griparic, bass]. So we put a band together and called it Slash's Blue Balls-it was a joke, because in Hungary they'd think it was funny, but we changed it to "Blues Ball" later-and we went out and headlined the last day of this festival. We played some really cool old stuff, and the whole place went nuts, so we just kept booking gigs after that. And I kept changing drummers, changing rhythm guitar players, and this and that until Blues Ball became a permanent entity.


Talking about the gig in Hungary:

It was like a throw-together bar band in front of 23,000 people [laughter]. We had a great time.

[…] we flew to Hungary and played in front of 20,000 people. It went over well and was a lot of fun, so we decided to take it on the road.


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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Nov 15, 2019 1:27 pm

AUGUST-SEPTEMBER 1996
SLASH'S FINAL SESSIONS WITH GUNS N' ROSES


EARLY AUGUST - "WORKING TOWARDS WORKING"


In early August Slash had not been part of any earlier sessions by the band but they had been trading tapes amongst themselves [Kerrang! September 21, 1996; but interview from early August 1996]. At the time they were "working towards working":

The reason I’m talking to you now is that Guns are working towards working. We’re looking for a rehearsal situation that’s compatible. But who f**king cares anyway? People just want the record.

In the last three months, Duff and Matt have started rehearsing every night, and I’m coming in when I get back from Hungary. We all have tons of material, and we have a lot to work out.

I just want us to make a simple, kick-ass hard rock record.

We're definitely getting geared up to do another record. […] It sounds like the band again. Everybody's in good shape and Duff's looking really good and healthy. It was good that we took the time off, because at the end of the tour Duff was one foot in the grave. I mean it was like we were all drugged out. We just all stepped back out of the whole rock and roll debauchery for a while and just sort of mellowed.


This quote from Duff is likely from either August before they started working or in September when they did work together:

We’re back in. We’re writing new stuff, and we’re going to make a record and tour next summer. The two years apart actually took the edges off some of the issues, and we’ve handled the other issues flat out - maybe not in the best way, but they were handled. Now the amount of tension in the band is perfect for creating what we do.


As for how it would work out when they started playing again together, Slash was unsure:

We'll see where it goes. I haven't rehearsed with them, or even been in the same room with them, since before the Snakepit record came out [February 1995].
Kerrang! September 21, 1996; interview from early August 1996

The records that Guns have left behind are great. But we haven't blown our f**king wad yet.
Kerrang! September 21, 1996; interview from early August 1996


The same day when asked by MTV if they had any songs ready already, Slash would mentioned they had about 80 songs between themselves:

We have tons of songs. Between the three existing members, you know, like Duff and Axl and I, we've got probably about 80 songs, you know.


Describing the songs on the tapes they had shared:

It's amazing stuff. The songs are really good, and I have a good vibe about it. I wouldn't want to go out and do a bad Guns N' Roses record.


And what the record would be like:

Well, I think everyone's so pissed off and frustrated at this point that it's inevitable [the new record will be a modern equivalent to Appetite for Destruction]. It's gonna be an angry record, but that's what we were built on.
Kerrang! September 21, 1996; interview from early August 1996



LATE AUGUST-SEPTEMBER - ACTUALLY WORKING


Then, likely not long after Slash returned from his festival show in Budapest on August 14, the band started playing together with Slash finally being part of it:

We've been in for two weeks as a full band with Slash and Axl and me, and we go from midnight to five in the morning. With Guns, there's no problems with material. The problem has always been getting us in the same room. So now that we're in there, it's rockin'.

After all this starting and then stopping again, there’s finally been real rehearsals, which started two weeks ago. We’ve been rehearsing ungodly hours and there’s a real air of excitement. We’re not playing any of the old stuff — not even playing ‘Brownstone’ or something to warm up — we’re just going in and doing new stuff. It’s moving fast.

We started up again two weeks ago – you know, we started the record. And it’s a big deal, you know? It’s in the newspapers, everybody wants to ask me about it. And it’s like, “Wow, just let us go play,” you know? But we can’t [because of the media interest]. […] You know, we’ve been apart for two years. […] That’s really going great, you know. It’s really fuckin’ rocking and it’s really loud. We are the loudest band in the world. Yeah, it’s great, man. I mean, I can – I just can really tell you my life is going really good right now (chuckles).[…]  What can I say? Guns N’ Roses is really rocking. I’m really happy. I’m very satisfied with what we’re doing. And the chemistry with Guns, I mean, you know, it’s electricity.
Rock & Pop Argentina, September 1996; translated from Spanish

I must agree with [Axl], because he's a visionary. He knows what GNR should be 2 or 3 years in advance. When we got out of the plane [in 1993], he said: "Guys, we'll see us again in 96". It was 3 years ago. And now, we work together and an album will be released in 97.
Hard Rock, September 1996; translated from French

It was cool when Slash joined for a week.


Duff would also talk about the efforts to WYSP-FM (94.1) and state that although they were working, a new record was not likely before the middle of 1997 [Courier Post, August 8, 1996].


EXPLAINING THE DELAY - "POLITICAL CRAP"


And Slash would offer an explanation of why it had taken so long to finally start working together, by pointing to "political crap":

We just haven't sat down and actually done it because there's been so much political crap going on and I know that kids don't want to know about it but it does go on in this business and sometimes you have to deal with it directly because you can't, there's no other way around it and so, you know, we finally, you know, took the bull by the horns and just said, "look, we don't want to around anymore, let's just do it."


When asked if this political crap came from inside or outside of the band:

They come from everywhere [laughing]. They really do. You know, anybody that's young and starting a band at this point, because when I when I first started, I don't know if anybody cares, but when I first started people used to say, like, "how do you get about doing all this stuff?" and, like, I don't know, it's no big deal. But when it comes down to it eventually down the line it becomes something that you weren't expecting and it comes out of the blue and it's just like, and you have to deal with it. If you're gonna function as a working band you have to, you know, confront it.


Duff would also talk about outside pressure:

There's a lot of BS that went down. The media had built up this pressure. Some people know how to deal with it, some start believing their hype. But now we've grown up a little bit. ... There’s a natural angst now at rehearsal, but it’s great. Just try to put yourself in the shoes. It's like you’re brothers, and all of a sudden it’s like you’re married to each other, too, and you’ve gotta deal with life together. You can get a divorce, but it doesn’t make much sense, because there’s a lot of people out there who want to hear another record.



EXPLAINING THE DELAY - MENDING FENCES WITH AXL


One of the reasons Slash was back in the band was having worked out the differences with Axl:

Axl and I are on civil terms. At this point, we’re partially sober.

You know and then as far as Guns N' Roses is concerned, as of yesterday we've actually - I don't know - we've sort of concealed our contract so we're in working order as they say. […] Well...in contrast to everything that's been going on in the press, which I've been hearing a lot of, it's like "Guns is in the studio" or "Guns is this" or "Guns is that" or "I'm hanging up by handcuffs in a hotel room" [chuckling]. I mean, basically we've all been working and so now at this point we're actually going to formate [?] ourselves and get to work.


Part of this was having long talks with Axl, but Slash didn't seem entirely confident their differences had been all sorted out:

Well at this point now that Axl and I are really civil. We went out to dinner recently and had a bottle of wine together and like sat and talked about what we were interested in and so on and so forth. You know, more complicated I guess than it normally would be, but Axl is a very complicated guy. He does like to talk about the stuff, I like to just plug in and jam and that's sort of the thing that's the difference between guitar players and he is sort of a visionary - and it sounds like Spinal Tap - and I just like to play my guitar. But we did sit down a couple times and have a really good meeting and so at this point I start rehearsal in a week and a half or so and we just take it from there. That's the way I see it. If you were to talk to him it'd probably be like a little bit more... yeah, I don't know, planned out than that but I'll just show up and we'll go from there. It'll work out, though.


And neither did Duff, who would admit there were tensions but that they were "little things":

There's a certain tension with this band and there always has been, and there's some issues that haven't quite been cleared. Just little things. We've been together 10 years. We're not unlike brothers. So there's tensions, but that's how we thrive.

It’s rockin’. The problem’s never been the material; it’s getting us in the same room. There’s tension - good stuff.



EXPLAINING THE DELAY - AXL IS A PERFECTIONIST


Around the same time Matt would explain that the reason it takes so long time comes down to Axl's personality:

I had very difficult moments with Axl, but he's extremely intelligent, he's a very emotive guy who writes great songs. Sometimes, I have the feeling he's a genius. Right now, he's playing guitar and it's like he plays that instrument for 10 years. He had very difficult moments, when we toured in stadiums, sold millions of albums, when everybody wanted to tell us how great we were. Axl, as the leader of the band, had a lot of responsibilities. I told him many times: "Relax Axl, don't take things to heart like that". But he can't. You can feel those difficulties in his music. What he's doing is eating him, he's living it too intensively. That's why the new album is not done yet, he doesn't want to make a shitty record.
Hard Rock, September 1996; translated from French



THE LINEUP - PAUL HUGE STILL OUT IN THE WINGS


Duff would state that Dizzy was also part of these sessions in addition to Slash [Addicted to Noise, August 30, 1996] and that Axl would still be the rhythm guitarist [The Michigan Daily, September 12, 1996]. Yet, Matt would claim they were working with another unknown rhythm guitarist:

[Being asked if Axl would replace Gilby on rhythm guitar]: No, there's someone, but I can't tell you his name. […] He's unknown. But I can't tell you his name because I don't know if he will tour with us.
Hard Rock, September 1996; translated from French


Matt would also say that the record would likely feature many guitarists:

There will probably be several guitarists on this album, a lot of guests.
Hard Rock, September 1996; translated from French


Later, in an article released in November, it would be implied that Paul Huge was still part of the rehearsals [Metal Edge, November 1996], so it was likely Paul that Matt had been referring to.

Curiously, Matt would also talk about a "friend of a friend of a friend":

[…] there are so many people in this project. There's the friend of the friend of the friend. 3 years ago, I had a real role to play. Now it's between Axl and Slash. It' working well, so it's cool.
Hard Rock, September 1996; translated from French


Later, after Duff had quit, he would indicate that Axl had insisted upon Paul being part of the band:

I told Axl this was his band, he had ignored everyone and had hired his best friend for the band. I couldn't play with him. Paul Huge, that was the guy! He's a friend of Axl, he's a 'yes man'. […] Man, you can't be in Guns N' Roses just like that. That was a real band. […]  imagine you and I grow up together and you're my best friend. OK, I'm in Guns N' Roses and I tell the rest you're going to join the band. "OK, Slash, Axl, Matt, guys, this guy is in the band". "Duff, you got a minute?" "No, he's in the band" "Well, no. Everyone in the band has to vote it, Duff, so no way!" "Fuck you, this guy is in the band! I'm not doing anything unless this guy is in the band" "OK, you know what? We'll try and play with him, since you're that much interested in it. Hey Duff, the guy can't play" "I don't care" "Well that's not very reasonable." "I don't care" At that point, what would you do? I came to a point where I couldn't even look at him [Paul]. If I were in such a situation, if I were the friend joining the band, I'd say "Hey guys, you've done very good yourselves alone, I'm not going any further. Hey, Duff, thanks for the offer, but I'm breaking your band." But he didn't say it.



TALKING ABOUT THE SONGS


At some point, likely in August, Duff would describe what was happening:

[We are working on] 15 different things, some just riffs, some bodies. But it’s moving quickly, the spirit’s hot and there’s an excitement there that I haven’t felt in, God, I don’t know how long. It was getting to be like, ‘do I have a band?’. I was actually starting to forget.


The plan was to release the album in the spring of 1997 consisting of 12 songs with no ballads [Addicted to Noise, August 30, 1996] and then do a tour in early 1997:

We're already starting to make tour plans. We've got a possible tour starting in South America in January and then we're going to stop and finish the record and probably tour next summer.

We are working on rock songs that last only 4 minutes (laugh). We already did 7 songs and we will write 7 others.
Hard Rock, September 1996; translated from French

[The album] will be a single album with 10 or 12 songs.
Hard Rock, September 1996; translated from French


Despite the band diligently working on the next record, Slash took time to travel to Arizona's Blockbuster Desert Sky show on August 25 to play with Foreigner [Arizona Republic, August 28, 1996].

In August and September, Duff would describe the music they were working on:

Some songs are almost finished. […] It's only work titles, it's very stupid. I don't want to mention them to have bad luck!
Hard Rock, August 1996; translated from French

[Being asked if the new material is more like Appetite ot Use Your Illusions]: Appetite. It's normal. We haven't played together in a long time and our collaboration in fresh, just like in the beginning.
Hard Rock, August 1996; translated from French

[Being asked if the music was like Appetite or the Illusions]: I would say that it's in between. This is not as sophisticated as Illusion, but not as wild as Appetite. It's in the middle. Maybe more groovy. Musically, we are all better. I never heard Duff play like that.
Hard Rock, September 1996; translated from French

It rocks; it's heavy. With Guns, with what the chemistry of the band is, you're going to be able to tell it's Guns -- even if we're playing a polka, you would be able to tell it's Guns.

I really feel like we've just started. The last 10 years was [?] used to it, learning the tricks, and now it's time to apply 'em.

We’re making a 12-song record — no ballads, nothing slow. We’ve got to crush on this record. And there’s no better judges of our music than ourselves, so we really cut ourselves apart: We’re basically taking 40 songs and finding 12. But you’ve gotta watch each other’s feelings, so we never use the term ‘that sucks.'


And as for when it would be out:

[It] shouldn't be out any later than next spring.


Just a few weeks later, a staffer at the band's Los Angeles management company would be less optimistic:

[…] we’re hoping to have an album out by the end of ’97. But then, we’ve been waiting awhile. What people should know, though, is this is the first time they’ve rehearsed together in quite some time. Everybody’s finally showing up. So it is important.


At the same time these sessions were happening, Duff and Matt would be busy with their side-project, The Neurotic Outsiders [see previous chapter]:

On this [Neurotic Outsiders] tour we're doing, Matt and I fly back from Toronto and then we do four days with Guns (recording) and then we go back out, so Matt and I are playing every single night with one or the other (bands) in September.


Matt would also suggest that it was the activity in Neurotic Outsiders that had spurred Axl into action:

"I think Neurotic Outsiders is single-handedly responsible for Guns N' Roses being reunited. It seems like every time something good starts happening, I get a phone call from Axl, `We're going to start rehearsing tomorrow.' But seriously, when Axl heard that me and Duff had gone out and gotten this multi-million-dollar record deal and we're going to go out on the road, he started getting a little nervous.

And now that we got this band together, GN'R decides: "Ok, we're gonna do a record". So, hopefully, you know, we're gonna come out with a GN'R record soon as well. It's kinda thrown a little bit of a quality problem in the Neurotic Outsiders because, you know, we got a lot going on, me and Duff.

Getting Guns back together again has been an ongoing process for a while, but it might have had a little bit to do with the Neurotic Outsiders! Because it seems like every time we all try to run off to do something on our own, because we’re just sitting around waiting, it all happens. When it rains, it pours! I really think a lot of the reason we’re getting back together as a band is because he heard we were so good, huh Duff?


In September 1996, Slash would be asked about the new record and say he had been in the studio working on it for the last three and a half weeks:

You know what, we're working on it. […]  I've been [in the studio] for the last three and a half weeks.

Well, I’ve been back in Guns N’ Roses for the last three weeks. So we’re just, like – just writing stuff and reacquainting each other, with each other. […] [Axl's] healthy (laughs). […] he’s fine. I mean, we really haven’t gotten to the point – I mean, first thing first is to do an album and finish that. And then the touring plans come later.


Slash would also say the studio was in Los Angeles and that the whole band went there [The Howard Stern Show, September 30, 1996]:

We get there at 11 o'clock at night.  And then we go to a local....[bar, "or something like that"]…around the corner and about 12 o'clock, 1 o'clock we get working. We work till about 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning.


In an interview likely from September 1996, Duff would also confirm that the entire band was rehearsing, but that they also included a "friend of Axl":

We rehearse every night and I play bass! Axl is playing the rhythm guitar, and it works very well! We work from Monday to Friday, ha, ha! There's me, Axl, Slash, Matt, Dizzy. There's also a friend of Axl who helps him to learn to play guitar. But we play, and it works!
hard Metal, 1996; translated from French


This friend was again likely Paul Huge.

And when asked if they had any songs completed:



Some time, likely start of October, Duff, would be optimistic:

It's fun and the energy is there. It's awesome now, everything's killer, so I guess things like the time off do happen for a reason. I would hope, at the latest, Guns can have an album out by spring.


The band was hooping to hit the recording studio in 1.5-2 months:

We’re going in soon, very soon — a month and a half, two months maybe. We don’t have a producer lined up yet. Mike (Clink)’s awesome, but we haven’t even talked to him yet.

Right now, we’re just trying to get back on track. Remember it’s been three years since we’ve all been in the same room together! Axl’s really great, he’s in really good spirits. He just wants to make a record. Axl’s playing a little guitar and writing some cool songs. Slash is coming around. And we’re just trying to figure out what we’re going to do about the other guitar player. It’s a good thing; we really need to do it. I’m sick of walking down the street and people go, ‘What are you guys doing? Are you together?’ And now I can say, ‘Yes we are.’ I’m happy about that.



OCTOBER - AXL AND SLASH AT IT AGAIN


But things must have turned sour, because in mid-October Slash's comment on the new music and their work wasn't exactly promising:

I would like [the new record] to be hard edged like Appetite, but at this moment in time I have no idea what direction it's going in. I have only been back in the band for three weeks and my relationship with Axl right now is sort of at a stand still.


And from an interview published in January 1997 but likely conducted in October:

Right now we're in sort of a trial and error period. To me, the group is actually Duff and Matt and Axl. Where I stand is not etched in stone. I can't say it's all working out perfectly. That's part of the illusion of looking at five different personalities onstage and seeing them actually get on. It's not as easy at it looks. Over the last year, everybody has gone in different directions. Putting us all back together in one room is not simple.


And when discussing what they had done so far, Slash would emphasize that they had only been "collaborating":

At this point in time we have only been collaborating together. But we have been doing mostly Axl's material.


Although Duff would express - what in hindsight would seem misplaced - optimism:

I hope [a new record] happens, and I think it will. But I’ve gotten my hopes up before only to see everything kind of crash in around me. But I honestly believe that everyone wants to make a new Guns N’ Roses album now, and I think that everyone knows that if we don’t do it now we may not get the chance. It’s amazing to all of us to realize that five years have passed since Use Your Illusion, and that a whole new generation of fans has come along. But it kind of presents some new challenges to us, and that’s one thing we’ve always enjoyed. Whether it’s with Guns N’ Roses or the Neurotic Outsiders, when you place a challenge in front of use, the odds are that we’re going to take on that challenge.



STATUS AT THE END OF THE SESSIONS


Based on the quotes above, it seems the band had at least 7 songs recorded, and that there were no ballads among them. The musical style was described as closer to Appetite than Illusions, and, according to Slash, it was mostly Axl's songs they had worked on.

Slash would later look back at their efforts at working together again:

I went back for like ten rehearsals. It just didn't work out. It was worse than before I left […]

I went back to Guns for like 12 rehearsals on the forthcoming Guns N' Roses record to re-establish the band and where it was headed. And realistically from Use Your Illusion all the way up until now, Axl's been holding the reigns on taking it in his direction, and I just went, 'You know what? Fuck it then, you do it.' I would have suggested just do a solo record and let Guns do what it does naturally, but he insisted that Guns was his solo project anyway, so why did he have to do a solo project? So I just went, 'Fine, I'm gonna leave while the band's still cool, 'cause I don't know what you're gonna do with it.'

[Axl and I] had 11 rehearsals together around 1995. Through those, we learned what we needed to know.

Once I was done with recording and promoting [It's Five O' Clock Somewhere] live the way it deserved it, I came back to Guns N’ Roses and tried my best to work and get along with Axl. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it and so I simply ended up leaving the band.
Hard Rock (France), October 2000; translated from French

You can’t imagine how much fun I had on the It's Five O'Clock Somewhere tour. I felt like when Guns first started. I wasn’t trying to recapture a kind of magic, I just played with no holds barred, the way I like it. We toured for four months, I met thousands of kids and had a huge kick. So you can imagine how brutal the transition was when I came back to Guns. Very quickly, I thought: "Fuck that, it’s annoying. I want to play without torturing myself." Snakepit opened my eyes.
Hard Rock (France), October 2000; translated from French


Slash would later admit his heart hadn't been in it when he returned to try to work Guns N' Roses:

I sort of made a half-assed attempt at going back to Guns. But at the end of the day it was half-hearted, and I realized it wasn't going to happen […]


Finally, in November 1999, would Axl for the first time discuss what had happened when they tried to make a record while Slash was still in the band [MTV, November 8, 1999]. In this interview Axl would say that he, in contrast to rumours at the time, originally wanted to make an album more similar to Appetite in sound, but that he wasn't allowed to do so:

I originally wanted to make a traditional record or try to get back to an "Appetite [For Destruction]" thing or something, because that would have been a lot easier for me to do. I was involved in a lot of lawsuits for Guns N' Roses and in my own personal life, so I didn't have a lot of time to try and develop a new style or re-invent myself, so I was hoping to write a traditional thing, but I was not really allowed to do that.


When asked who had prevented him from doing that, Axl replied Slash, and explained why it wasn't easy to replace Slash:

Slash. […] Well, not really.... Not to make a true Guns record. It's kind of like, I don't know, if you know somebody has a relationship, and there's difficulties in that, and Mr. or Mrs. Right doesn't kind of just stumble into their path, or they don't stumble across that person, they can't really get on with things. Somebody didn't come into my radar that would have really replaced Slash in a proper way.


It is likely these quotes from Axl that Duff would protest against in a later interview:

I heard something that Axl was fucked up by Slash. More I heard, more stimulated to save friendship. Don't badmouth me or Slash! Stop it! I worked so hard and did as much as I could do to keep running the band and recognize the greatest band in this century. It's OK to say things about me, but I live my life frankly and have responsibility. If I do wrong, that hurts myself. I don't care what other people say. I did care about was lying this time. And that was very big one. I don't want to ruin the history what I was the part of the creation for rock n' roll. I couldn't stand that it was insulted by my friend when I watched that interview. He is just looking for excuse to make his band bigger. That's fine, but do not make me involved in. Slash is a killer rock n' roll guitar
player and treat guy. Axl would not be able to live in Malibu without us playing on the stage. Most important thing to him now is to make all the lies put it together and not to be contradicted. That's no way to make Slash to be involved. Finally that made me stand up for it. He has what he's saying. Off course each one of us has some. And there's the truth. A lot of things have been happening, but now I think I could show my status.
Burrn! Magazine, December 1999; poorly translated from Japanese


Axl would then talk about educating himself on new production technologies, and claim:

Slash told me, 'I don't want to work that hard.'
Rolling Stone, January 2000; interview from November 1999


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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Nov 15, 2019 1:28 pm

1996
TRYING TO REPLACE GILBY, AXL PICKS UP THE GUITAR


In relation with Gilby's lawsuit against the band [see separate chapter], a Geffen spokeswoman, likely Bryn Bridenthal, would say that a new record was due in late 1996 with an unnamed new guitarist [Billboard, December 16, 1995]. In July 1996, the press would report that this unnamed guitarist could be Axl [New York Daily News, July 11, 1996].

Bryn Bridenthal would comment:

Axl figures he’s going to play some guitar on the next album. Though I don’t think he’s up to lead-guitar quality.


Other band members would confirm that Axl had been taking lessons and was now playing guitar on his own songs:

[…] Axl is rythym guitar on his own songs for the time being.

He’s really rockin’ — and it’s great. It brings a whole new element to our writing process; now we’re all there together.

For the last couple of years, he started to go, 'Okay, I'm going to play guitar and actually learn what these notes are.' It's an innocent guitar, not unlike Izzy was, but Axl's got a lot more musically than Izzy ever did.

Axl is playing second guitar. […] He taught himself. He knows what he wants to play, so that makes the difference. Otherwise it’s still up in the air. But it’s not detrimental, as far as the writing goes, not to have a rhythm guitar player. That’s coming along real well.

That tripped me out when I first came back. I figured 'Okay, that's where his focus has been. I haven't really talked to him about it, to tell the truth. I guess he's just been sitting at home, figuring out chords or something. Maybe he's been taking lessons.

[Being asked 'How is he?']: How's Izzy? [laughter] I'm avoiding the question. [Being asked if he is better than Mick Jagger]: I've never paid attention to Mick Jagger playing guitar, so I couldn't compare them. Rose's sound is a lot more synthetic than anything I would get anywhere close to. That's about all I can say.


Some of the lessons apparently came from Paul Huge:

We rehearse every night and I play bass! Axl is playing the rhythm guitar, and it works very well! We work from Monday to Friday, ha, ha! There's me, Axl, Slash, Matt, Dizzy. There's also a friend of Axl who helps him to learn to play guitar. But we play, and it works! […] Believe me man, it kills!
Hard Metal, August 1996; translated from French


In September when the band was back in the studio working on the new record, Duff would be asked about Axl playing guitar:

Oh, he’s great, man!
Rock & Pop Argentina, September 1996; translated from Spanish

In an interview likely from September 1996, Duff would also confirm that the entire band was rehearsing, but that they also included a "friend of Axl":

This friend was likely Paul Huge, and it seems his role had been reduced to teaching Axl how to play.

In October Slash would say he didn't think Axl intended to be the rhythm guitar player:

As far as I know, Axl's intention is not to be the rhythm guitar player.
Online Chat, October 16, 1996; translated from Spanish


And when asked who would be playing rhythm guitar:

[…] we don't know.
Online Chat, October 16, 1996; translated from Spanish


From the answers it can be alluded that Slash was somewhat in the unknown regarding the plans of the band.

Later, after Slash had left the band, Duff would be asked if Axl intended to replace Slash on lead guitar and whether Axl would be interested in that



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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Nov 17, 2019 4:26 am

SEPTEMBER 27, 1996
THE MOVIE 'CURDLED' IS RELEASED FEATURING MUSIC BY SLASH


In September 1996 Quentin Tarantino would release the black comedy crime movie Curdled. Slash had been involved in making the music and to New York Daily News, he would say he had done on a couple of tracks for the movie [New York Daily News, July 24, 1996]. In a later interview, he would indicate it was only one track:

I've been doing a soundtrack for a movie called Curdled -  that's a Quentin Tarantino movie. I wrote a song for that.

“My music appears during the murder scenes, which is cool.


The song was 'Obsession Confession' with vocals by Marta Sanchez, and it would feature in two version on the soundtrack, an acoustic and an electric [The Howard Stern Show, September 30, 1996]. He spent one night recording each song [Online Chat, October 16, 1996].

[Talking about his inspirations]: Different kinds of music, and also, as an example, for the "Curdled" soundtrack, visuals. Like the lead actress in Curdled, Angela Jones. The movie has a latin theme, so that helped. And the twisted, bizarre, bloody mess that the movie is based on.


To Slash's surprise the song reached the no. 4 spot on adult contemporary music lists:

To tell you the truth, I haven't really grasped that whole medium of music where you end up on The Wave [an LA radio station]. […] I wrote this song for the movie soundtrack and that was basically it. I don't know exactly how to receive No. 4 in the adult-contemporary charts. Obviously that's a little left-field for me.

My mom called me and told me she heard me on the radio. I was like, 'What are you talking about?' She goes, 'That music you did on the radio.' I was like, oh God, now I'm adult contemporary? But I'm proud of the song regardless..


Talking about his playing:

I don't think it's really radical fusion jazz or anything [laughter]. There's something about blue-style guitar playing that fits into a lot of ethnic music. The Spanish chord changes are more of less the same basic style, so it feels very natural to me. It's not like I'm playing advanced flamenco guitar; I'm not that technically proficient. But I have a feel for it, I think.


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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Nov 19, 2019 3:46 pm

AUGUST 1996
TRYING TO REPLACE GILBY, SLASH WANTS RYAN ROXIE


In early August Slash would indicate Paul Huge was still in the picture but that Slash had another guitar player in mind that he hoped could be brought into the band:

Axl’s playing guitar now, so I have to deal with that. There’s also another guitarist, who I don’t want to work with. This whole thing started because of him. But there’s someone I do wanna work with.


When asked who this guitar player was, Slash wouldn't say but mention he had been in Alice Cooper's band:

[…] Izzy was an idea, but there’s a guitar player I worked with who was in Alice Cooper's band. He’s really good.


This would likely have been Ryan Roxie who would later he recruited by Slash's for the second Snakepit album.

[…] I got introduced to Ryan [Roxie, guitar] through Alice Cooper. When I first played with Ryan I was like, "This guy is great!" He was like a better version of Gilby, and also had some of Izzy [Stradlin] in him-that "other" style that I've never really been able to do myself, but I relate to it because of playing with Izzy for so long.


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Post by Soulmonster on Mon Nov 25, 2019 1:47 pm

1994-1996
THE PRESS


From 1994 Axl had stopped doing press. This could be because he was busy with personal work like his ongoing legal battles, that he felt there was nothing to say since the band was fragmenting and with no clear future, or because he didn't like the press and doing interviews. Regardless of the reason, this meant that the rest of the band members' opinions and statements would dominate, particularly Slash's.

Slash was doing interviews continuously and when asked if all the rumours about the band was allowed to run rampant due to their silence, he would say:

Well, I’m communicative. I’ll talk to anybody.
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Post by Soulmonster on Mon Nov 25, 2019 2:11 pm

AUGUST-SEPTEMBER 1996
THE END BETWEEN SLASH AND AXL


[Being asked if he can see himself leave the band]: Not really. I don't look at things in those terms, much. I'm not the kind of guy that has a secret Plan B ready to swing into operation if anything should ever go wrong with this band. We love each other too much as friends for me to worry my ass off about whether we might split up one day

The bottom line is that nothing can come between Slash and I, and as long as we have that bond we have Guns N' Roses.
Hit Parader, June 1993; interview from December 1992

Guns will be around forever, trust me. They know how I feel. They know I'm not going anywhere. I don’t have the inclination to quit Guns and think I’m cool.


____________________________________________________________

PREMONITIONS


As described in previous chapters, there were significant incompatibilities in the personalities of Axl and Slash and these had been obvious from early on.

The volatile chemistry between [Axl and Slash] puts them in the highest class, yet their inherent passion and pyromanic personalities will inevitably blow the partnership assunder sooner or later.


At times Slash would try to minimize the seriousness of these, and suggest that opposites attract, at other times it was obvious it caused a severe strain on the function of the band.

Sometimes you go 'What the fuck is it for?' Then you try to look where to escape to and there's nowhere to go. We been doing it for so long that we really would all feel sorta lost and lonely if it fell apart and we had to go out and do solo records. Because it wouldn't be Guns. None of us could reproduce that. Axl's got so much charisma - he's one of the best singers around. It’s his personality. He can go out and do something. What freaks me out is if the band falls apart, I'll never be able to shake the fact that I'm the ex-Guns n' Roses guitar player. And that's almost like selling your soul.

No, my bond with this group is pretty much in my blood. What can I do? It's like if I have to put it down to, 'Well, do you want to keep playing? Or, 'are you gonna get out?' I want to keep playing and that's what keeps me alert and dealing with some of the really crazy shit that goes down.

The only thing that is really, really secure is the relationship between the members of the band and with the people that we work with.



THE END


In early August 1996, just before Slash would do his last sessions with Guns N' Roses, it was clear that things between Slash and Axl still were shaky. This despite Slash and Axl having had some long talks:

Well at this point now that Axl and I are really civil. We went out to dinner recently and had a bottle of wine together and like sat and talked about what we were interested in and so on and so forth. You know, more complicated I guess than it normally would be, but Axl is a very complicated guy. He does like to talk about the stuff, I like to just plug in and jam and that's sort of the thing that's the difference between guitar players and he is sort of a visionary - and it sounds like Spinal Tap - and I just like to play my guitar. But we did sit down a couple times and have a really good meeting and so at this point I start rehearsal in a week and a half or so and we just take it from there. That's the way I see it. If you were to talk to him it'd probably be like a little bit more... yeah, I don't know, planned out than that but I'll just show up and we'll go from there. It'll work out, though.


And at the same day as the quote about, Slash would talk about their differences:

[…] the only thing that really draws us together is once we get in synch as players. Then you get to that earthy, 'all for one, one for all' thing, where you start hanging out together. I don't care what Axl might say - this band was formed on the camaraderie between a little gang, against all odds.
Kerrang! September 21, 1996; interview from early August 1996


When Kerrang! pointed out that they clearly were not a gang anymore, Slash responded:

Well, we have to re-establish that. We have to say, 'We're gonna do this, because nobody else is'. It's almost like starting over again. "Guns is like a family thing, but we've gone through so many changes - just going through the monstrosities of the business. Contracts, legal stuff, management... This whole huge conglomeration dealing with a stupid bunch of punk kids. It gets over the top.
Kerrang! September 21, 1996; interview from early August 1996

The plan is for Duff and Matt to take off their band, Neurotic Outsiders, for a while., leaving me and Axl to write stuff. If that spark gets rolling, then great. If it doesn't and we get into a fight, I'll just carry on playing gigs and jamming -with Snakepit or whatever. It's not complicated. At least, I don't see it that way. Axl and I could've done this sooner, if we'd just made a few compromises. But I guess that when bands get so big indecision becomes everything. There's no sense of, like, finite reality with Guns. It's just a matter of everybody coming together and the magic happens. I hate to sound silly about it, but I've found it's the same with a lot of the older bands I've got to know over the years. I talked to (Rolling Stones guitarist) Keith Richards, and he said he'd had more drastic but similar problems with Mick Jagger.
Kerrang! September 21, 1996; interview from early August 1996


In September 1996, to Howard Stern, Slash said that he and Axl had just got reacquainted and that they hadn't seen each other in "like three years" [The Howard Stern Show, September 30, 1996]. In the same interview Slash would describe his conflict with Axl as a "conflict of interests" and "not having a meeting of minds" [The Howard Stern Show, September 30, 1996].

One major issue for Slash was the continuous presence of Paul Huge:

So now, I’ve come back and Paul’s still there. Now, I’m dealing with this.
Kerrang! September 14, 1996; interview from early August 1996

[Whether he was willing to compromise regarding Paul]: No, I’m going to confront it. Either Paul goes, or he... Well, this is personal, I don’t want to get into this. But during this whole period, Axl’s been geared to get up and do it.
Kerrang! September 14, 1996; interview from early August 1996


Slash would also indicate he had suggested for Axl that he should do a solo record:

That’s what I told him to do [= do a solo record]. Get it all off his chest... Well, you're starting to pull stuff out of me now. In Axl’s mind, Guns is his solo project. He didn’t see any reason, as far as I know, why he should do a solo thing.
Kerrang! September 14, 1996; interview from early August 1996

For any younger bands reading this, you’ve got to watch the beast in this business that stops you from talking to each other.

Nowadays, when the tail-end of my generation gets confronted with it, they either die or disappear into drug-dom. That’s not where we come from. So we will fight and struggle through it.
Kerrang! September 14, 1996; interview from early August 1996


In October Slash would do an online chat that would result in an very ominous comment:

Right now, Axl and I are deliberating over the future of our relationship.


And:

I have only been back in the band for three weeks and my relationship with Axl right now is sort of at a stand still.


And:

There's no animosity between the guys in the band, put it that way. But I've been out if it for so long, and there's a reason why that hasn't changed all that much. I'm trying right now; if it works out I'll be ecstatic...And if it doesn't, I don't want everybody to think it's a done deal and everything is fine. If they turn around and I'm not in the band, I don't want everyone to say 'He Lied'. […] I have no regrets. It was basically a really good time.


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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:22 am

OCTOBER 30, 1996
SLASH IS OUT OF THE BAND


[Being asked how he would react if he suddenly got a fax saying Slash had been fired]: It would be difficult.
Hard Rock, September 1996; translated from French

_______________________________________

AXL SENDS A FAX TO MTV


As mentioned in previous chapters, Axl had stayed low for a long time, since their tour ended in 1993, giving very few comments to the press and allowing his band mates (mostly Slash) to keep the media updated on what was happening. But then, in October 30, 1996, Axl sent out a fax to MTV commenting on many on the ongoing rumours:

LIVE!!!! From "Burning Hills", California...

Due to overwhelming enthusiasm, and that "DIVE IN AND FIND THE MONKEY" attitude....

#1. There will NOT be a Guns N' Roses tour.

#2. There will NOT be an official Guns N' Roses web site.

#3. There will NOT be any NEW Guns N' Roses videos.

#4. There will NOT be any new Guns N' Roses involved merhandise.

#5. There will NOT be a Guns N' Roses Fan Club.

#6. There will be a new Guns N' Roses 12 song minimum recording with three original "B" sides.

  NOTE: If all goes well this will be immediately repeated.

#7. However*******Slash will not be involved in any new Guns N' Roses endeavors, as he has not been musically involved with Guns N Roses since April 1994 with the exception of a BRIEF trial period with Zakk Wylde and a 2 week trial period with Guns N' Roses in the fall of 1996. He (Slash) has been "OFFICIALLY and LEGALLY" outside of the Guns N' Roses Partnership since December 31, 1995.

                   ***************************************************

             Nothing here is Subject To Change
             Without A PERMANENT SUSPENSION
             Of the "Pseudo Studio Musician Work Ethic"


                             SINCERELY,
                             
                             W. Axl Rose

c.c. Big FD Ent., Inc.
Michael "Duff" McKagan
Matt Sorum


The text of the fax is copied from a blurry screen shot and may contain mistakes.

In addition to denying rumours surrounding a tour, web site, fan club and merchandise, but confirmed the band's plans to release a record, Axl officially announced that Slash was out of the band and had indeed been so since December 31, 1995.

Interestingly, although in the words of Axl, the press release also came from Big FD Enterprise Inc. and Duff and Matt, indicating that this wasn't a solo decision by Axl but had band backing.

Axl would not elucidate on Slash being out of the band until November 1999, when he did an interview with MTV:

We were trying to make things work with Slash for a very, very long time... about three and a half years.


And:

It was a divorce. The poverty is what kept us together. That was how we became Guns N Roses. Once that changed... Guns N Roses was like the old Stones or whatever. Not necessarily the friendliest bunch of guys.
Rolling Stone, January 2000; interview from November 1999

I never said that I was bitter. Hurt, yeah. Disappointed. I mean, with Slash, I remember crying about all kinds of things in my life, but I had never felt hot, burning tears...hot, burning tears of anger. Basically, to me, it was because I am watching this guy and I don't understand it. Playing with everyone from Space Ghost to Michael Jackson. I don't get it. I wanted the world to love and respect him. I just watched him throw it away.'
Rolling Stone, January 2000; interview from November 1999



COMMENTS FROM THE MEDIA


Naturally, the media would report on Slash being out of the band and the label would be quick to confirm that Slash was indeed out [Philadelphia Daily News, November 1, 1996]. The press would report that Slash had quit to focus on his band Snakepit [Philadelphia Daily News, November 1, 1996]. It would also be reported that it was a mutual decision between Axl and Slash [The Orlando Sentinel, November 1, 1996]. The mutual nature of the break-up would also be confirmed by a spokeswoman from Geffen who insisted on anonymity [Associated Press/The Daily World, November 13, 1996].

A label representative would also comment on the break-up:

They had been rehearsing together in Los Angeles, but couldn’t work out their differences.


Later it would be reported, based on band sources, that musical differences between Axl and Slash was at the core of their problems [MTV, November 8, 1996].

There was also concern over the financial outcome of the break-up, with Malcolm Dome, editor of Kerrang! saying:

[It is] total bloody suicide. Axl's new band could very easily come out and die the death. From what I can tell you, from our readers' reaction, they just don't care that much about Axl anymore.


And an anonymous French promoter:

In 1992 Guns played to 30,000 people on Paris, in '93 to less than half that number. If Slash were still in the band, he'd book them into a 60,000 seater.


And the general interest in Guns N' Roses was waning, as explained by an American promoter:

In his years away from the stage, Axl Rose's thunder has been stolen by younger performers. If the kids want a bad-ass hellion to admire, Phil Anselmo of Pantera, Jonathan Davis of Korn, and the singer from Tool do the whole 'I'm a fucked-up child and now you're going to suffer' routine. And if you want the beer-swilling drug-taking hooligan with charisma who sometimes doesn't turn up to gigs - look no further that Oasis's Liam Gallagher.


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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Feb 07, 2020 5:12 am

OCTOBER 1996-OCTOBER 1997
WORK ON THE NEW ALBUM


Despite Slash being out of the band, media would report that the band was aiming for a summer 1997 release [Philadelphia Daily News, November 1, 1996; The Orlando Sentinel, November 1, 1996].

According to a band representative, the band expected to work more efficiently now:

Things will move faster now, because working out the differences between Axl and Slash has been a major issue, so it’s reasonable to expect that Guns N’ Roses will move along at a quicker pace. Axl wants something out by summer.


Duff would also concur that he thought the band was better off now than a year previously [Online Chat, December 17, 1996].


WHAT ABOUT PAUL?


Paul Huge was still out in the wings, and it would be reported that it wasn't only Slash who was opposed to Paul, but also Matt and Duff [News Pilot, November 15, 1996]. Allegedly, Axl had been working with Paul continuously and Slash had refused to enter the studio to work on the new album if Axl or Paul was there [News Pilot, November 15, 1996].

From an earlier interview in August, while Slash was still in the band, it would be implied that Paul's role was only to help teach Axl guitar:

We rehearse every night and I play bass! Axl is playing the rhythm guitar, and it works very well! We work from Monday to Friday, ha, ha! There's me, Axl, Slash, Matt, Dizzy. There's also a friend of Axl who helps him to learn to play guitar. But we play, and it works!
hard Metal, August 1996; translated from French


That Paul was indeed still in the picture would be indicated from other sources too [Metal Edge, November 1996]. But the fact that Paul wasn't immediately and officially part of the lineup now that Slash was out [Daily Press, November 22, 1996], could be explained by Duff and Matt also not being warm to him.

Chris Vrenna, who played with the band for a short time in April 1997, would describe Paul and Axl's relationship:

Paul and Axl go back to Indiana. He's kind of like the guy that's always there every night. They record all their jams and study them. I remember Paul spent like a month going through thousands of hours, just compiling. He was the guy who was making sure everything got done.



DUFF LEAVING, TOO?


Rumours would also be claiming that Duff was leaving the band, which he would deny:

I will not elaborate, but yes I am [still in the band] & everything is going to be cool as far as that is concerned.



SHAQ RAPS


In april 1997, Shaquille O'Neal would take "a break from his own recording session in the same building and rapped over some Guns music":

I saw Guns N' Roses listed on the bulletin board in the lobby of the studio so I stuck my head in to check it out. They asked me to join them, so I started freestylin' over their track. It was the first time I ever performed with a rock group, and it felt good.



STATUS


It would be reported that Axl had "seven works in progress" and that he was considering which producer to use [Daily Press, November 22, 1996]. Duff would later briefly mention the songs in progress:

We have song titles, but no album title. I don't want to let the cat out of the bag.
[url=We are starting the record in February]Online Chat, December 17, 1996[/url]


Yet, when asked in December, Duff would imply that they would be entering the studio first in February, 1997:

I will not elaborate, but yes I am [still in the band] & everything is going to be cool as far as that is concerned.
[url=We are starting the record in February]Online Chat, December 17, 1996[/url]


And Duff would also state he had started working on his second solo album [Online Chat, December 17, 1996], something he had just a short time before, in September, claimed to be too busy to do [Rockline, September 9, 1996].

Duff would also be asked about the rumours that Axl wanted a different musical style for Guns N' Roses, to which Duff would prevaricate:

There are a lot of rumors going on. […] I don't know [if we will change our style]. We progress naturally. As far as the rumor that one person wants us to change, that's just not true.
Online Chat, December 17, 1996


In early 1997 it would be reported that Steve Jones, from the Neurotic Outsiders, would guest on the record [Rolling Stone Magazine, January 12, 1997], at the same times it was reported Jones might take Slash's place [see later section].

The unstable lineup caused problems, as implied by Chris Vrenna:

They wanted to guarantee that people would do the album and commit to the tour. With the shake-up that [the] band [had], I think Axl was just looking for a little stability.


And Vrenna would discuss how he thought the record would turn out:

I think it's gonna be much more of an old-school rock record than people are expecting. I have a feeling it's gonna be more like Appetite. Pretty rock.


And discuss Dizzy's setup:

Dizzy's got a monstrously cool keyboard set up. Macintoshes and pro-tools and sequencing. Drum beats and loops. They'd sample Matt's drums.


In an article published in October 1997, Moby who was now working as the producer, would comment on the mood in the band and recording studio:

Whenever I hang out in Guns N' Roses' studio - it's in some big warehouse in Los Angeles - the atmosphere there is just so nice. Everyone involved really likes one another. There's no rancor and they're all totally clean-living young adults. As far as I can tell, they're all completely straight now. You're not even allowed to smoke in the studio!


Around the same time a "source close to the band" would describe the music:

I wouldn't feel comfortable describing the music at all. There's going to be a techno influence, but it will still be recognizable as GN'R. It's not Axl's intention to make some wholly new cloth.


And the GN'R source would also claim that at the moment they had 300 DAT tapes with "ideas, loops and sketches" that was not "that different from the sound you know" and "electronic influenced" [Addicted to Noise, March 19, 1997].

And:

There's a huge closet filled with DAT tapes, but there isn't one final song for the record. Everybody brings their sketches, but the person who is most concerned with refining things is Axl. But he wants other people to bring a lot to the table too - he loves the fact that Dizzy is down there every night working with him. Axl gets agitated when people don't show up and contribute.


In May, Matt talked about the progress while attending Music West conference in Vancouver, Canada, and claim they had recorded "4,800 hours of music" and that they had "15 really strong songs" which will be ready "hopefully by next year" [MTV News, May 22, 1997]. Matt would also state that the music was leaning towards a Soundgarden style of rock although there were tracks where the Nine Inch Nails influence was evident [MTV News, May 22, 1997].. He told the small crowd that Rose's new favorite saying has been "loop it, loop it!" [MTV News, May 22, 1997].

Duff was attending the same conference and would say that "things had come together in the studio for Guns n' Roses just over the last month and a half" [MTV News, May 22, 1997].

Moby would not be afraid to try to describe the music:

The music they're working on has a very dramatic quality to it. They're using some modern technology. Axl's really excited about sampling. He loves the DJ Shadow record and Nine Inch Nails. The stuff I've heard is much more concise than, say, 'November Rain.' Not bombastic. Very stripped down. Very intense. It's not hard-rock music in the way that 'Welcome to the Jungle' was.


Later, in an article published in 2000, Moby would again describe the music and project around this time:

I found it difficult to chart a linear development of the songs that they were working on. They would work on something, it would be a sketch for a while, and then they'd put it aside and go back to it a year, six months later.

[Axl] became a little bit defensive when I asked him about the vocals. He just said that he was going to get to them eventually. I wouldn't be surprised if the record never came out, they've been working on it for such a long time.


The lineup at this time would be comprised of Axl, Robin, Paul, Duff and Dizzy, with Mike Clink being involved [Icon Magazine, October 1997].

In October 1997, spokesperson at Geffen Publicity would indicate that the record wouldn't be out until 1998, at the earliest:

They haven’t even begun recording any new songs and the soonest it will happen is the fall of next year.

At the moment Axl is far too busy learning to play guitar and doing lots of reading.



THE LONG WAIT


Media was quickly speculating on when the new record would be released, Bryn Bridenthal would comment:

All I can tell you is there will be an album when Axl says it's done.


The quote above indicates Axl had no intention of rushing the process.

There would also be suggestions that Axl wouldn't be able to pull it off and release a new Guns N' Roses record. Alan Niven would muse on the reasons:

I still say he has a remarkable voice, and he has an intense analytical focus that allows him to write with insight. I think him quite capable of creative excellence. His problem was always balance and self-editorial. If he can effect some balance, he could produce a good record. At the same time, I tend to think of Sly Stone, of how he self-destructed and compromised his creativity. Maybe Axl requires hate to drive his muse. David Bowie once told him that this drove his creativity, and the comment made a big impression on Axl. Maybe now he needs a new source of inspiration.


When asked when the band would be ready to release the album, an anonymous source close to the band would say:

That's the funniest thing I ever heard. They've been hoping to release this record every quarter for the last few years. So it could be a couple more years. Anything's possible when it comes to Axl.


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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Feb 07, 2020 5:18 am

1996-
SLASH AFTER GUNS N' ROSES


PRIVATE LIFE


In late 1997, Slash and Renee would divorce. Of the only two things he would regret in his life, getting married was one of them [FHM, April 2000].

One of my few regrets of my entire existence.


Apparently, he had started dating a new woman, Perla, about one year before the divorce with Renee [The Howard Stern Radio Show, June 7, 2000]. Slash would claim that with Perla it was the first time he was monogamous:

You know what? It’s the only time I’ve ever been completely, um… [Stern suggests monogamous.] You know? It’s weird, too. It’s not really weird, cuz, you know, all things considered, I love her to death. But before that, you know, I wasn’t necessarily the trophy guy when it came to being a good husband or something.


Slash had met Perla while touring [The Howard Stern Radio Show, June 7, 2000].

In August 1998 it would be reported that Slash had moved into a new house in the Beverly Hills, previously owned by Cecil B DeMille and former residence of Roman Polanski [Metal Hammer, August 1998]. His previous house, with the Snakepit studio, was sold to Billy Bob Thornton [KNAC.com, October 2000].


SLASH'S BLUES BALL


Immediately after leaving Guns N' Roses Slash would return to playing with his blues band, Slash's Blues Ball and would embark on a five-date tour [Associated Press/The Daily World, November 13, 1996]. Slash would describe the band as "really just a good-time band" and:

It's mostly all covers--and not necessarily a lot of blues. There's a lot of old-style rock in there as well. […] this isn't like the traditional blues cover band you see in clubs these days. There's definitely a hell of a lot more decibel levels going on. Nobody should be expecting a nice, quiet B.B. King type of thing. It's more of an approach of, say, like a Johnny Winter.

And no two shows are ever the same.


Slash would be occupied with Slash's Blues Ball throughout 1997, touring the USA.


SNAKEPIT


Immediately after the announced break between Slash and Guns N' Roses it would be reported that he would now focus on Snakepit [Philadelphia Daily News, November 1, 1996] and that he would be rehearsing new singers for the band [The Orlando Sentinel, November 1, 1996]. A source "close to Slash" would say that Slash wanted to "collaborate this time, instead of the way he made the first Snake Pit album with Eric [Dover], where Slash basically laid down all the music and then Eric came in and sang afterwards" [Addicted to Noise, January 13, 1997]. Early in January rumours were spreading that Sebastian Bach would join Slash's new band, after having jammed with Slash at a Slash's Blues Ball gig in Philadelphia on December 7, 1996 [Rolling Stone, January 12, 1997].

Sebastian Bach would seem exciting about the prospect:

Slash invited me to stay at his place for three weeks back in '92 or something and he put me in a room with a bunch of snakes and shit and a black velvet Aerosmith poster. I mean he's just a great guy! You wouldn't have to twist my rubber arm, I'm ready to sing.


But then a source "close to Slash" denied that Bach would be involved [Addicted to Noise, January 13, 1997].

It would also be stated that Slash would likely change the lineup and moniker of the band [The Hollywood Reporter/The Record, November 2, 1996]. He intended to release the second Snakepit album as soon as his home studio was finished [Addicted to Noise, January 30, 1997].

Slash would later say that Soundgarden's singer, Chris Cornell, had an open invitation to play with him:

I fucking think he's awesome. If he wanted to sing for a band outside of Soundgarden I would play with him in a heartbeat.


In August 1998 it would be reported that Slash was coming closer to find a singer and that he was now working with guitarist Ryan Roxie:

For a while, I've been getting all band members together, looking for singers. At this point, I'm not saying I have found one, but I'm pretty close. What we do is go upstairs during the week and write ideas, tape 'em, and the next day we go downstairs and record them. There's a couple of the Blues Ball guys in the band, and I'm s till working with Teddy Andreadis, although we don't use a piano for hardly anything. I'm using Ryan Roxie, who used to be in Alice Cooper's band, and that's it. We start at 1pm and play until one or two in the morning. I'd like to have a Christmas release and a pre-summer tour.

But I'm going to do a small tour before I do the record, just to break the material in, let it sweat a little. Right now, we're doing just demos, but all things considered, they're really good-sounding demos. The band sounds great; I haven't been in a band like this since Guns started.


The other members of the band at this time were drummer Matt Laug and and bassist Johnny Griparik [Guitar, September 1998].

Then, in late November 1998, Slash debuted his new band, including the new singer Rod Jackson, at the club the Barfly in Hollywood [MTV News, December 2, 1998]. The new record was expected to be out by the summer of 1999 [MTV News, December 2, 1998].

Talking about the new band and record:

The band is still hard rock band. The music is the kind of stuff that I've always played and always want to do. We wrote about 50 songs, and we've been picking out the 12 that we are going to be on the record. It's been an interesting process. I've been writing with different guys, so some of the songs are really heavy-heavier than anything Guns ever did. Some songs are more pop. There are a lot of different influences because I'm working with a lot of different individuals. Everybody meshes really well and the chemistry is great. We all get along-everybody is humble and appreciate everyone else's input.

I'm going with my gut feeling. Everybody is confused right now, but I think people are really hungry for a good hard rock record and we're one of the only hard rock bands who are about to put out a new record. Plus, the reaction has been great when we've played the new songs live. As far as I am concerned, a record shouldn't be recorded until the songs have come together through being played live. Songs develop so much better after you've played them in front of an audience. The songs really kick ass, which is what a hard rock song is supposed to do. But you can't think about these things too much. Rock and roll is best when you recognize it for what it is and you don't try to make it into something that it shouldn't be.


In February 1999, it would be reported Snakepit was without a record contract [Los Angeles Times, February 15, 1999]. In December the name of the album was revealed as "Ain't Life Grand!" and that it would be released on February 22, 2000, on Geffen/Interscope [MTV News, December 15, 1999]. In March 2000, Slash would say he had broken ties with Geffen/Interscope and would release the record on another label [knac.com, March 7, 2000]. That label was later confirmed to be Koch Records and the release was scheduled for September 2000 [Billboard, June 30, 2000], then delayed to October 10, 2000 [Los Angeles Times, July 16, 2000]. In July 2000, it would also be reported that Slash's Snakepit would open for AC/DC's US tour from August 1 to September 23, 2000 [MTV News, July 14, 2000]. To be accepted on the tour with AC/DC, Angus and Malcolm Young had to approve of Snakepit's new record [The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, August 23, 2000].

I can't wait, are you kidding me? Just getting (our new) record done and having it come out, but then getting the chance to play with AC/DC, that's like one of my all-time favorite bands, so I'm really excited about it. I'm totally star-struck by this thing. I've seen them a million times, but I've never played with them. I've never even met them actually.

Opening for AC/DC constitutes the fulfillment of a dream. We had signed for a deal with Koch, had finally managed to agree on a release date (our album was originally supposed to come out in February), and we were all eagerly waiting for a tour to begin. First, I split with all my former business relationships: manager, lawyer, agent, etc… I detached myself from all the people I had been working with for years, in order to definitely sever the bond I had to Guns N’ Roses. I didn’t want to work with people who would have an idea at the back of their mind. That’s why I hired new employees and the first thing I asked them was to create a concert schedule. Shortly after, our agent gave me the list of bands who had planned to tour in the States this summer, and I was almost petrified when I noticed the name AC/DC. I sent our album to their management and they liked it, so they proposed the opening slot to us. It’s amazing! In Snakepit, we all practiced on AC/DC’s songs when we were starting to play!
Hard Rock (France), October 2000; translated from French


For the touring in support of the record, Snakepit would play two Guns N' Roses covers, 'It's So Easy' and 'Mr. Brownstone' [Toronto Sun, August 14, 2000].


SOLO CAREER


In June 1999 it would be reported that Slash had started working on a solo record with legendary producer Jack Douglas with recording expected in July [MTV News, June 8, 1999].


LEGAL TROUBLES


In 1998, Slash would sue the management company, Gudvi, Chapnick, Oppenheim and business manager Michael Oppenheim [MTV News, December 8, 1999] for allegedly overpaying Renee under terms of a prenuptial agreement, and seek $224,000 in recovery [Los Angeles Times, November 15, 1998]. According to the Los Angeles Superior Court: “Plaintiff and his wife divorced, and she has refused to return the overpayments or any portion of them” [Los Angeles Times, November 15, 1998]. Other sources would have it Slash had never asked her to repay the money [MTV News, December 8, 1998].

In July 1999 it would be reported that Slash had been arresting after allegedly beating his live-in girlfriend, Perla Hudson [Los Angeles Times, July 26, 1999]. Slash would be released on a $ 50,000 bail [Los Angeles Times, July 26, 1999]. Slash's management would send the following statement to MTV News:

The alleged charges against Slash are the result of the recent break-up of Slash and his girlfriend of two years. Over the course of the breakup, Slash was staying at the Le Parc Hotel in Hollywood, under an alias to help ease the situation. His ex-girlfriend found out where Slash was staying and apparently bluffed her way into his hotel room where Slash was asleep. She initiated a physical dispute, and was removed from the room by the police, who had been called at Slash's request. Several day's later the ex-girlfriend opted to press charges.

There's a compelling set of extenuating circumstances in this case, but, as Slash does not want to further complicate the situation and cause anymore undue duress to either himself or his ex-girlfriend, neither he nor his representatives will be commenting further on the matter until it is resolved


And in August 1999, Slash would report a theft in his Hollywood Hills home [MTV News, August 26, 1999]. A total of 12 guitars had been stolen, including a Gibson "Slash" model Les Paul and two Guild Crossroad double necks, as well as a large amount of studio equipment, a bronze sculpture and some of his personal belongings [MTV News, August 26, 1999].

I don't know who did it yet. They took all kinds of stuff; mikes, studio gear, 11 guitars. They even took my rock-star stuff, all my top hats but one. These guys knew who they were robbing, so they better watch their ass. There's only so many places you can sell that stuff, so when they try, I'm going to hear about it, trust me. When I find them, it will definitely be an unfortunate day.


At some point, Slash was arrested after having smoked on an plane and had to appear before court:

I guess I smoke a lot; in the shower, on the toilet; in bed, everywhere. So I'm in this bathroom on a plane, and the stewardess starts banging on the door. I must've set off the smoke alarm or something. It was really embarrassing; everyone on the plane knew what happened. That's a federal offense, did you know that? I didn't.



OTHER PROJECTS


In early 1997 it would be reported that Slash was doing a collaboration with Insane Clown Posse:

Things just pop up all the time. As long as you're out there, you take advantage of whatever cool opportunities there are.

There's so many things out there that you can do, if you just make yourself available to go check out what they are.


Some of the other projects Slash was involved with, but not a complete list: a soundtrack for a Nickelodeon pilot called Fathead, a solo on the song Fix by Teddy Riley and BLACKstreet [MTV News, July 11, 1997], a collaboration with Roger Daltrey, a cover song for an Alice in Chain tribute [Metal Hammer, August 1998], and a collaboration with Graham Bonnett [Guitar, September 1998].

Slash even turned down an offer to work with Puff Daddy [Guitar, September 1998].

For one, I don't like him. I think he's flying on borrowed wings as it is.


Yet the very next year, in October 1999, he would perform "All About the Benjamin" together with Puff Daddy at a show in New York City [Rolling Stone, October 1999].

Puff Daddy was one of those phone calls where I just wanted to go play. It’s very spontaneous. I live for experiences.


In 1998, Slash was working on a Snakepit pinball machine [Metal Hammer, August 1998].

Talking about his jamming with other artists:

There are certain people that you just admire and love, and you'd give your left arm to play with them. Michael Jackson calling you up in a hotel room one day going, "Would you play on my record?" It's like, "Yeah! I'll play on your record!" Producer Don Was hooked me up with Iggy Pop, but I knew Iggy Pop when I was a little kid because he was friends with David Bowie, and David Bowie went out with my mom. Bob Dylan was a Don Was thing as well. Or somebody calls you up and you're like, "Oh yeah. Your music's cool. I'd love to do that." I just did a bunch of stuff with Chic, with Nile Rodgers and the late Bernard Edwards-I actually played with him the night he died. He is the "big daddy" bass player of all time, rest in peace; I love that guy. But we did three shows in Tokyo, and it was cool because I got to play with those guys, and Omar Hakim, Stevie Winwood, Simon Le Bon, and Sister Sledge-all together. It was like a big, huge "pop star" orchestra. That was a great experience.
     
But these are all things that happened by chance, just because I'd hook up with somebody that I like playing with. Like after I jammed with Bootsy Collins, I ended up playing with James Brown on his birthday - and that's just from meeting Bootsy at the Rainbow [laughs]. That's how these things happen; that's how you get the gigs. There's really no one "rule" on how it happens, it just happens by chance. Either someone likes you or you like somebody else, then one day you both meet, and then you pursue working together.


In 2000 he would tour with Michael Jackson for two of Jackson's shows in Korea [Kerrang! June 10, 2000]. He would also play with Michael Jackson at the Grammy's on February 23, 2000:

Michael's bad I played with Michael for the simple fact that he's something that I listened to as a kid. But he's like the genuine article, and he's one of the most talented motherfuckers I've ever played with. So when I got the offer, I was flattered.


In 2000 he also worked with Rod Stewart:

I go in and jam, but then it was all edited on computer, so it was one of the weirdest experiences. But Rod sounds great. That was just one of those phone calls, I was like it's Rod Stewart, f--k yeah. He's a hero of mine. Rod Stewart's bad.


And played with Tom Jones:

There are things I would turn down in a heartbeat, but are you going to turn down playing with Tom Jones at the White House? What are you, high? Even though I did put my vodka in an Evian bottle.


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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Feb 07, 2020 7:32 am

MANAGEMENT'S ROLE IN THE BREAK-UP OF AXL AND SLASH


Shortly after it was announced that Slash would be leaving Guns N' Roses, rumours started to swirl that the band's management had had a role [The Baltimore Sun, December 6, 1996]. The management would be Doug Goldstein who operated Big F.D Entertainment, mostly focusing on Guns N' Roses and Axl [Rolling Stone, May 11, 2000].

An anonymous music-industry source would describe Axl and Goldstein's relationship:

If Axl says, 'Jump,' he says, `Fine'. 'If he's in the air, he says, 'How much higher?


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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Feb 07, 2020 8:01 am

AXL, THE DICTATOR?


Being a member of Guns N' Roses wasn't always easy. Matt would allude to this when he in September 1996 talked about his relationship with Axl:

I think [Axl] has respect for me, he thinks I'm a good drummer et it's cool. I heard him say that and I was happy. You know, humm, he fired me 2 or 3 times and he called me back… […] (Laugh) You never heard the rumors? Yes, we all have been fired at least 1 time! You never heard about it (laugh)? Seriously, it's true that he sometimes goes too far. Sometime I open my mouth and I say "Ok, Axl, fuck off!", then he fires me. So? I know he will call me the next day. I feel I'm in security and I know I will be the GNR drummer for a long time.
Hard Rock, September 1996; translated from French


In a Rolling Stone Magazine issue from presumable late 1996, and which we don't have in our archive, it is implied that Axl was now completely in control of the band and that the other band members would have to jump when he said so. Duff was confronted by this and replied:

Absolutely not when it comes to AXL's permission. What was printed in Rolling Stone is incorrect & I'm pissed off about it.


But later Duff would point to problems with Axl acting like a "dictator":

Susan, my girlfriend, was pregnant. We were going to have a baby, but this band was becoming a dictatorship, everything had to get done Axl’s way or it wouldn’t get done at all. It wasn’t like that when we started out.


And explaining why it had come to this:

Because many people around him maintain [Axl] in that state of mind. They kept telling him he was right. Some of them feared him cause they were scared they were gonna lose their job.


And more:

Music wise, he was invaded completely by guys his brought. He brought a guy and said "He is our new guitar player." I said "What the fuck?" That's not right. That's same thing I bring a guy and say "He is a new member." There was no democracy. Slash started to take it seriously said "Fuck it. Is that his band? Since when?" That's ridiculous. Even if I went to rehearsal at nine at night, AXL shows up at four or five in the next morning for about two years. I could not keep up with the schedule. There was no respect for me.
Burrn! Magazine, December 1999; translated from Japanese

If you give too much to someone like Axl. Let's put it this way. If everyone around you is answering "yes" for years, if everything is reduced to "yes, yes, yes", then in your relation with other people, when someone says "no" you think that person is wrong. You're gonna tell him to fuck off! You're in this band from the start, and then suddenly everything turns autocratic, just because one person is surrounded by people saying yes to everything. It's not autocracy legally, but there is just one person thinking that's his band. Well then, keep your damned band! One can't stand it anymore. I love each and every member of Guns N' Roses, and that feeling is not going to fade away. I would do anything for them, no question. But people change. I have changed. I've got a larger goal in life now. So, what could I do? Be pissed and make a lot of money? To me, making music is not oriented to making money. If you're in it for the money, then you're in it for the wrong reason. You'll never make any good music, I tell you.

I told Axl this was his band, he had ignored everyone and had hired his best friend for the band. I couldn't play with him. Paul Huge, that was the guy! He's a friend of Axl, he's a 'yes man'. […] Man, you can't be in Guns N' Roses just like that. That was a real band. […] imagine you and I grow up together and you're my best friend. OK, I'm in Guns N' Roses and I tell the rest you're going to join the band. "OK, Slash, Axl, Matt, guys, this guy is in the band". "Duff, you got a minute?" "No, he's in the band" "Well, no. Everyone in the band has to vote it, Duff, so no way!" "Fuck you, this guy is in the band! I'm not doing anything unless this guy is in the band" "OK, you know what? We'll try and play with him, since you're that much interested in it. Hey Duff, the guy can't play" "I don't care" "Well that's not very reasonable." "I don't care" At that point, what would you do? I came to a point where I couldn't even look at him [Paul]. If I were in such a situation, if I were the friend joining the band, I'd say "Hey guys, you've done very good yourselves alone, I'm not going any further. Hey, Duff, thanks for the offer, but I'm breaking your band." But he didn't say it.


Despite Duff arguing that the band had become a dictatorship, Axl would insist that is was a proper band and that the "new material has been composed collaboratively with the new players":

It's not an Axl Rose album, even if it's what I wanted it to be. Everybody is putting everything they've got into singing and building. Maybe I'm helping steer it to what it should be built like.
Rolling Stone, January 2000; interview from November 1999


Chris Cornell, who was working with Josh in 1999, would confirm this:

I think they actually have a lot of creative freedom with what they’re doing with Axl, they’re getting to write parts and stuff - and when he’d come to work with me it’s almost the opposite of what you would think. I would tell him exactly what to play when the song was finished.
Metal Hammer, October 1999


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Post by Soulmonster on Wed Feb 12, 2020 8:44 am

LATE 1996-EARLY 1997
ROBIN FINCK JOINS THE BAND


STEVEN JONES?


Immediately after the announcement that Slash was out of the band media would report that the band was looking for a guitarist to replace him [Philadelphia Daily News, November 1, 1996]. In early 1997, the rumours had it that Steve Jones, band mate with Duff in the Neurotic Outsiders and previously of the Sex Pistols, would take Slash's place, but this was denied by a source at Geffen [Addicted to Noise, January 13, 1997].


AXL?


Duff would be asked if Axl intended to replace Slash on lead guitar and whether Axl would be interested in that:



In March it would be said that the band was still looking for a new guitar player and had worked with a few to record "sketches and ideas for guitar parts on the demos", according to a band source [Addicted to Noise, March 19, 1997]. One of these guitar players was allegedly a young and unnamed player who Axl particularly liked [Addicted to Noise, March 19, 1997].


ROBIN FINCK


Then, in May, on MTV News on May 22 would be confirmed that Robin Finck was replacing Slash [MTV News, May 22, 1997]. Just a few days later, MTV News would report that GN'R spokespeople refused to confirm the hiring of Robin [MTV News, May 28, 1997].

Matt would say that it was he who found Robin playing at Cirque Du Soleil and that he recommended Robin to Axl as a replacement for Gilby:

I told Axl to see him and he said, 'That's our guitar player,' I said, 'Bring in Robin to play alongside Slash,' but Axl said, 'I want him to play lead.'


Robin would explain how it happened:

[Axl] asked me to casually listen to some tapes and songs that he had been writing and recording. […] Gradually, after six or eight weeks of listening, playing and writing his songs and my songs, I left the circus and started doing a record with Axl.


Duff would talk about playing with Robin before Duff quit the band:

I played with Robin a few times and he’s a great guy.


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Post by Soulmonster on Wed Feb 12, 2020 8:44 am

ROBIN BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES


Finck joined Nine Inch Nails in February 1994 for The Downward Spiral tour and quit the band two months after NIN's tour with David Bowie ended in October 1995. After quitting, Finck joined Cirque du Soleil as the guitarist in the orchestra, and did that gig up until joining GNR. Previous to joining Nails, Finck was in the outlandish Impotent Sea Snakes" [Allstarmag, August 4, 1999].

Talking about joining NIN: "In ‘93, right after the completion of the recording of The Downward Spiral. I met Danny [Lohner] and the rest of them and we did the Self Destruct tour for what seemed like thousand years." [Real Detroit Weekly, April 11, 2000]

After spending a lost year in New Orleans, he joined Cirque de Soleil for a year as its guitarist. “It was exactly what I needed – a 180-degree, polar-opposite change,” he says. [Rolling Stone, October 14, 1999]

Guitarist. Met Trent Reznor in 1993 and joined Nine Inch Nails for the lengthy "Mr Self Destruct" tour. Left to become musical director of touring circus Cirque Du Soleil and then spent two years working with Guns N' Roses on their "The Chinese Democracy" album [Kerrang! December 11, 1999].

"It was difficult for me [at the end of the last NIN tour]. The Manson crew and the Jim Rose Circus were with us for most of a year and it got pretty stupid. Then coming off the road and landing in New Orleans - that's a tough place to try and re-collect yourself, because it's a city built on night-life and alcohol. I had to do something that was the complete polar opposite to Nine Inch Nails. So I joined the circus! Then Axl Rose called me up." [Kerrang! December 11, 1999].


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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:10 pm

THE BREAK WITH SLASH ONLY TEMPORARY?


Slash would comment on the break-up repeatedly and often indicate that he and Axl might find back together again:

Axl and I have not been capable of seeing eye to eye on Guns N' Roses for some time. We recently tried to collaborate, but at this point, I'm no longer in the band. I'd like to think we could work together in the future if we were able to work out our differences.


Slash's manager, Tom Marr, would also echo this:

You don't want to close all the doors. Right now, though, Axl and Slash just aren't seeing eye to eye.


Somewhat later, Slash would claim he hadn't officially quit the band, even implying it was exaggerated by the media:

For some strange reason, Guns N' Roses is like the catalyst for controversy, even before we had any kind of record deal. We were always the band in town that everybody liked to make up stories about. It's more of the same, only on a bigger scale. […] Axl and I have just not been able to have a meeting of the minds of such that we can actually work together. We've been through this a dozen times. It seems like a big deal now, but to me it's more of the same. I haven't really gone anywhere. I haven't officially quit the band. It's just that we're not seeing eye to eye on where Guns should be going. It's just such a pain in the ass. […] let the smoke clear and maybe we can talk about it later, rather than try and force something unnatural and have everyone go 'We waited around all this time for THIS?' Axl's whole visionary style, as far as his input in Guns N' Roses, is completely different from mine. I just like to play guitar, write a good riff, go out there and play, as opposed to presenting an image.


And again he would indicate this could be just temporarily and that it was a disagreement over musical direction that caused the split:

In a nutshell, Axl and I aren't really seeing eye to eye as far as musical direction is concerned. Where he's taking on a visionary direction, I'm still rooted in the original concept [from] when we first got together. We're sort of butting heads on that.

When I came back from the last Snakepit tour, I did go back to rehearsals [with Rose] to see if we could rekindle any kind of flame, but it just didn't work out.

If we ever decide at some point that we need each other, that we want to get back together, if we ever get back in a room together and it clicks, that would be great. In the meantime, I'm not gonna sit around and play rock star. I want to work. […]


And later:

It's not a real big concern with me right now because if it gets together, you know how I always put it, if we get together we get together, and in the meantime there's so many other things to do. […] [Axl] does [want to have the band back together], but he wants to... I don't know. For me personally we're just not...uh, let's put it, like a more civil kind of way of putting it, is we're not seeing eye-to-eye on the direction point of view and it's a lot of friction and it's just worth it. […] Once it falls together, it will. We've been through this so many times.


In April he would state that, despite Axl's fax to MTV, he wasn't officially out of the band [San Antonio Express-News, April 4, 1997].

I am not officially out of the band. […] I'm tight with the band; it's just that there's this thing with me and (lead singer) Axl (Rose). If we can have a meeting of the minds and put out a good rock 'n' roll record, I'll be there. I'd be more disappointed putting out a (lackluster) Guns album than none at all.



In May, Slash would indicate that the decision to go their separate ways wasn't necessarily mutual between him and Axl:

Uhm, it's real simple. Me and Axl had more or less a musical... difference of opinion as far as musical direction. Simple as that. You've heard it a million times. It's a rock n roll cliche. And instead of going where I didn't feel comfortable, I just said, "You know what, you do what you're gonna do, I'm just gonna go out and jam, and then, whenever we meet on the same ground, I'll be around." Simple as that. […] It wasn't necessarily mutual, you know [laughing] It's my way of looking at it and then his is probably a lot different, but...


And in December he would admit it wasn't at all amicable:

Um, no, it wasn’t really amicable, but it was sort of inevitable. This is a better way of putting it, you know (laughs).


Interestingly, in an interview published in December 1997, Slash would disregard the most recent problems with Axl from late 1996 entirely when discussing when he left the band, and say he left the band three years ago, in other words in 1994 when he started focusing on Snakepit [Fuzz Magazine, December 1997]. This sort of aligns with Axl's fax to MTV [see earlier chapter] where Axl, too, would say that Slash had been out of the band for a while except for a few weeks of rehearsal trials.

Things weren't much better between them in 1998:

Actually, I'm really good friends with everybody [from Guns N' Roses] with the exception of one [smiling]. You figure it out.


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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:29 pm

EARLY 1997-OCTOBER 1997
LOOKING FOR A PRODUCER - MOBY?


According to a GN'R spokesperson, in March and April 1997 it would be reported that Axl had met with several possible producers for the band's next record [MTV, April 18, 1997]. One of these was Moby [Allstarmag, March 18, 1997; MTV, March 18, 1997; Addicted to Noise, March 19, 1997]. Apparently, according to the sources, Axl and Moby had "spent time together, and gotten along well on a personal level, and now they're going to see if they can make some musical magic together" [Addicted to Noise, March 19, 1997].

Moby had earlier talked about Guns N' Roses and was said to like the band and had also defended Axl Rose for speaking his mind [New Musical Express, October 26, 1991].

The news that Moby was working with Guns N' Roses was first announced by Moby himself on a panel at the SXSW festival [Addicted to Noise, March 19, 1997], which lasted from March 8-17, 1997.

At the risk of sounding like a sleazy music biz guy, I met with Axl last week to hear their new demos. They're writing with a lot of loops, and believe it or not, they're doing it better than anybody I've heard lately.
Allstarmag, March 18, 1997; quote from SXSW, 1997


Another newspaper would present Moby's quote slightly different:

[Axl is] writing with loops and experimenting with electronics. Strangely enough, they’re doing it better than everybody. It completely blew my mind.
Hartford Courant, March 23, 1997; quote from SXSW, 1997


In May, MTV News would report that Moby is "producing some tracks for the next Guns n' Roses album" [MTV News, May 28, 1997].

Later, in October and November, 1997, Moby would talk about his role and indicate that he likely wouldn't do the job:

They've asked me to be the producer, but I'm not sure I'm capable of doing that because, if nothing else, making this record is going to be a long, long process.

I went out and met with (Axl Rose) a few times, but I don’t think I’m going to work on that record, because it would mean working on it at the exclusion of my next record. I don’t want to spend a year in Los Angeles just working on Guns ’n’ Roses.


And in February 1998, it would be confirmed by Bryn Bridenthal that Moby wouldn't produce the record [MTV News, February 11, 1998].

Talking about his decision to decline the project:

It was a very hard decision to make. The music they're working on is really wonderful.


Despite Moby's decision, Doug Goldstein would still say Axl was interested in letting Moby hear the music and offer his insights [Rolling Stone, February 20, 1998].

Moby developed a strong relationship with Axl and would defend him from criticism, particularly from Alan Niven who would publicly lambast Axl for what happened to Guns N' Roses [see previous chapter]:

[…] the ruthlessness that these people attribute to Axl, I can't relate to it. I've never seen it in him. Since I've become involved with him, I've developed this weird sort of protective, paternal feeling with him.


Moby would continue to talk about Axl and Guns N' Roses to the media in the years to come [see other chapters], resulting in Axl exclaiming:

I appreciate all the publicity he's been getting us, but shut up already!
Rolling Stone, January 2000; interview from November 1999


In 2000 Doug Goldstein would talk about the various producers who had been involved, and indicate that Moby's role had been very small:

The others were people we met with or tried out on some tracks [with]. With Moby, we just had a meeting with him.


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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:34 pm

APRIL 1997
MATT IS OUT


It got really bad. The band was going down the toilet. We grew up listening to great bands like Led Zeppelin and the Stones. Guns N' Roses made that kind of music and the lifestyle we wanted went with it-rock music, drugs, and women. You see these bands today talking about the excess and shit on VH1. It's all, "Waah waah, whine whine." It wasn't "waah" - it was a blast.

____________________________________________

In early April 1997, reports would surface saying Matt left the band and was replaced by Igor Cavalera, former drummer in Sepultura [News Pilot, April 4, 1997]. And at the same time rumours would have it Matt had been replaced by Chris Vrenna [Rolling Stone, April 4, 1997; MTV, April 18, 1997]. Vrenna was a friend of Robin and had played in Nine Inch Nails previously. Then, not long thereafter in late May, Dave Abbruzzese was said to be rehearsing with the band while the band management refused to confirm Matt was out of the picture [MTV News, May 22, 1997].

In an article from October 1997, when listing the band members, neither Matt or Vrenna would be mentioned [Icon Magazine, October 1997].

But Vrenna did come in and played with the band after Matt left but left to focus on his own project, Tweaker:

Fairly brief...two years ago, April of '96, right after Matt Sorum left the band, they had already gotten Robin Finck. They wanted the option of experimenting with electronics. The dude [=Axl] is super well-listened, he was always a big Nails fan. I got a call from those guys about going down and jamming. We messed around. Duff was still in it. It was a bunch of. the band was reshaping itself. It was jams. It was still rock. It wasn't cheesy electronic. They would still do stuff over loop. My role was supposed to be drumming and programming.they sent me a contract to continue to work with the band, but my own project Tweaker was going. My production stuff had taken off. I was in NIN for ten years and I wanted to do my own shit.

It was going to be a long commitment. There was no firm lineup. Axl had a definite direction he ultimately wanted to head toward, but at the time there wasn't even a song yet.

Matt Sorum had left the band, and I was one of the first people down there. Robin Finck, who was in Nails, was already down there as a guitar player, kind of in the Slash role. It was very new at the time. They were just putting stuff together, and I went down there for a little while, just for a few nights. It never materialized into anything […]


Talking about working with Axl:

He was really mellow. Real soft-spoken. One of the politest people. I go from Trent Reznor to Billy Corgan to Axl Rose and he was the politest person.

[…] but it was fun. I really liked Axl. I thought he was a really great guy.


And the music:

They were trying to get ideas together, see who was compatible with who as far as a band vibe.



IT IS CONFIRMED, MATT IS OUT


In February 1998, when asked about what the current lineup was, Bryn Bridenthal would not confirm that Matt was out [MTV News, February 11, 1998]. Around the same time, Doug Goldstein would say the following regarding Matt's status while confirming the band had rehearsed new drummers:

The jury is still out on [drummer] Matt Sorum.


Later, Duff would shed some light on what had happened:

Matt was never a full member of the band, he was on an ejector seat and Axl said: “I’m gonna fire him.” I answered that this decision required more than one person since we were a band, that he alone didn’t own the majority. All of this because Matt told him he was wrong. The truth is, Matt was right, and Axl wrong indeed.


And elaborate on what the issue between Matt and Axl had been:

About schedules and the way Axl was late for the next album.


Axl would also discuss Matt's departure:

That was [Matt's and Duff's] choice to leave. Everybody that's gone did it by choice. Matt was fired, but Matt came in attempting to get fired and told many people so that night. So it's kind of like everybody left by choice. They really didn't think I was going to figure out a way to make a record, [and they] didn't want to help really make a record. Everybody kind of wanted what they wanted individually rather than what's in the best interest of the whole.


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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:10 pm

1994-
THE TRANFORMATION OF AXL ROSE


THE PRESS SPECULATES ABOUT PHYSICAL APPEARANCE


With Axl leaving the public life in 1993/1994, the media would speculate about his looks and life. In particular would Axl's old enemies take the opportunity to ridicule him, like Courtney Love who would spread the rumour that Axl was balding. Moby would be asked about this and say:

Axl's always worn a hat when I've been around him. I don't even know if he has long hair anymore. He has a beard that's clearly not been groomed. If you passed him on the street, you wouldn't stop and say, 'Oh, there goes one of the most successful rock stars on the planet.'

The way I'd characterize him right now? He's really striving. He wants to make a great record. He wants to be a healthy, happy person. And he's certainly making very positive steps towards achieve those goals.

If you were walking down the street and Axl passed you, you'd never notice. He looks like a regular, decent guy.


In August it would be speculated that the band hadn't played any live shows because Axl had put on considerable weight [City Pages, August 5, 1998].

In November 1999, Axl would do an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, and be described like this:

At 36 Rose looks a bit older and more solidly built than the lean rock god of his ''Sweet Child O' Mine'' days, the result perhaps not just of the passage of time but of his kickboxing regimen and a lifestyle that's said to be largely nocturnal but zealously healthy.

He's dressed tonight in Abercrombie & Fitch, with his reddish hair intact and cut to a Prince Valiant-ish mid-length.


Later, an anonymous friend of Axl would state:

Axl's really easy to hate, and he doesn't understand why. He lives in a fantasy world, a parallel universe. He's self-­centered, like a child, but not so naive. When he calls, all he wants to talk about is his record and how Interscope can't fix things for him.


And another friend:

A family is what Axl wants more than anything in life. He wants to find within himself the ability to show affection. He's really, really incapable of showing gratitude and affection.



NEW DEPRESSIONS?


Moby would also indicate that Axl was not doing good psychologically:

Being the most successful rock star on the planet for a few years really took a psychological toll, and I think he invested a lot in his marriage and his friendships with the people in the band-and those things fell apart.

[Axl] seemed emotionally reserved and a little bit suspicious. He seemed a little bit like a beaten dog.

He seemed like he had an idea of what be­ing at peace would be like, and he was working toward that.


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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Feb 15, 2020 5:09 am

WHY CONTINUE WITH GUNS N' ROSES?


As discussed in previous chapters, Axl had at different times considered releasing a solo album. Why then did he decide to continue with Guns N' Roses when the personell had changed so significantly since Appetite and the Illusions?

Moby would be clear that Axl didn't consider Guns N' Roses his solo band, but wanted the entire band to contribute:

I don't think this new music is just a vehicle for him as a solo performer. He wants this to be a band where everyone contributes. On the music I've heard, you can hear everyone's distinctive voice coming through. Honestly, they're the nicest bunch of people I've ever worked with.


And an anonymous source close to the band:

You were talking about the way Axl tarnished his image. I think it's consistently the more interesting figures in music, or in cultural in general - they tend to be ambiguous. They're creative people who want to explore other elements of themselves. Sometimes they make mistakes. But I'd much rather a public figure make mistakes than just end up making Phil Collins-type records one after another.


Axl's decision to continue Guns N' Roses would also come in the face of harsh critique from the media:

While rumors of a new Guns N' Roses album coming sometime this year abound, fans can only speculate what the Big Return will be like. Right now, the album exists only in Axl Rose's bony cerebral orb, and considering the amount of gray matter taken up by his ego and advanced dementia, it will be a major miracle if we see a new Guns N' Roses album by the time the last bottle of champagne celebrating the new millennium has been uncorked.


In late 1999, Axl would finally shed some lights on the process, and remark that a change in lineup was overdue and imply that other band members hadn't been interested in figuring out how a modern GN'R record should sound:

So once it was really understood by me that I'm really not going to be able to make the right old-style Guns N' Roses record, and if I try to take into consideration what Guns did on "Appetite," which was to kind of be a melting pot of a lot things that were going on, plus use past influences, I could make the right record if I used my influences from what I've been listening to that everybody else is listening to out there. So in that sense, I think it is like old Guns N' Roses as far as, like, the spirit and the attempt to throw all kinds of different styles together.

[…]

To be honest, it was a long time for me since Guns N' Roses as the old lineup had been fun, and the new guys have been a breath of fresh air. People are really excited about what we got. They're really proud of it, and it was, again, it was just time. I'm not trying to put the other guys down. It's like, I think people really wanted to do different things other than try to figure out the right record here for Guns N' Roses. But at the same time, Guns N' Roses was a big thing. How do you walk away from that? It's a very complicated thing, I think, for everybody involved.


After having talked to Axl in June 2000, Gilby would indicate that this could be the case:

[Axl] talked about the new record and the new band. He was very excited. He said he's making the record he's always wanted to make and it sounds phenomenal.


Axl would also imply he felt obligated to keep the band going:

What we're trying to do is build Guns N`Roses back into something. This wasn't Guns N`Roses, but I feel it is Guns N`Roses now. […] It is something I lived by before these guys were in it. And there were other people in Guns N`Roses before them, you know. I contemplated letting go of that, but it doesn't feel right in any way. I am not the person who chose to try to kill it and walk away.
Rolling Stone, January 2000; interview from November 1999

It is the old story that you are told when you're a kid: 'Don't buy a car with your friends.' Nobody could get the wheel. Everybody had the wheel. And when you have a bunch of guys, I'm telling you, you are driving the car off the cliff. The reality is, go buy those guys' solo records. There are neat ideas and parts there, but they wouldn't have worked for a Guns N' Roses record.
Rolling Stone, January 2000; interview from November 1999


Axl would also express being hurt with people who didn't have any faith in him continuing with the band:

There is the desire definitely to do it, to get over some of the hump of the people that are trying to keep you in the past. There are people that I thought I was friends with who are all of a sudden in the magazines, going, 'They'll never get anywhere without Slash.' Thanks a lot. Like I made this happen, you know. I basically figured out a way to save my own ass. There was only one way out, and I found it. Otherwise, you know, I believe my career was just going down the toilet. I figured out how to save my ass and then tried to bring everybody with me.
Rolling Stone, January 2000; interview from November 1999


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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Feb 16, 2020 9:22 am

1997
DUFF ATTENDS BUSINESS SCHOOL


Duff was said to have done really well in school as a kid [see previous section]:

"McKagan's bull in a China shop manner gives the impression that he doesn't put much thought into anything but he'll surprise you. For starters he's not stoopid. McKagan was an honor student before he dropped out of highschool to tour with various punk bands, opening for acts like Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys; he says he intends someday to pick up where he left off. "I talked with a counselour, "McKagan says, "I have to take one year of junior college. But if I ace junior college, get up in the high threes or a four point figure, I can get into Harvard, because they like weird people at Harvard these days." McKagan says, he'd like study law; as hard as it is to picture him hobnobbing with the ivy leagers in his leather pants, it appears he's serious." [Rolling Stone, September 1991].

Being asked what happened to his plans of going to law school:

Duff: "I got accepted at Harvard just a couple of years ago. Actually, I was really good in school. I was like in the gifted program and shit. But I really see what lawyers are all about these days, so I really fell out of love. Because I was going to. I thougt, 'This is what I'm going to do. Mom - check it out!' But I'm not going to do it any more. I've been sued so many times - I might as well have just given all the money to you. Like I beat up two guys one time, okay? Two guys who asked for it, and they were stupid, and I ain't saying I'm a karate expert or nothing - I just know how to hold my own. And I broke both their noses, and BOOM! 400 thousand dollars later. You know, if I got in a fight and I lost, I wouldn't go around and suck dick and fucking sue the guy. That's so unmanly" [Metal Hammer, December 1993].

In 1997, it was reported that Duff was taking business college courses [Music West in 3-D, 1997].
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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Feb 16, 2020 9:25 am

1996-
AXL ROSE'S LIFE AFTER THE BREAKUP OF GUNS N' ROSES


I pretty much stay to myself, and that's about it.

______________________________________________


AXL GOES MISSING AND RETURNS IN LATE 1999


Axl was keeping a very low profile and was rarely spotted. In April 1996 he was spotted backstage at a Red Hot Chili Peppers show:

He’d cut his hair short and grown a beard. I didn’t recognize him.


Other musicians would joke about his vanishing act:

Has he gone missing or something?

Is he on a milk carton?

I haven't seen Axl since '93, I don't think -- no. I don't think anybody has. Has anybody seen Axl since '93? I just fuckin' -- I miss the competition. (Laughs) I just wish: Fuckin' make a record.


As Gerri Miller of "Metal Edge" would say:

He's a recluse. I haven't even seen the guy. I live in L.A. I've lived here for four years. I've not run into him once. He doesn't go out.


Tommy Lee from Motley Crue would also have a theory:

I would imagine that he's maybe avoiding going through some of the painful things that we've actually been through. When you release a record, and it's just a different time and just a whole new wave of music and a lot of changes took place. Maybe Axl's got his storm windows up and they're all boarded up and he's waiting 'til it passes.


Bryn Bridenthal would comment:

Well, he's been doing a lot of reading and learning a lot of new instrumentation, he's been learning how to play guitar.


In July 1999, Spin magazine would release a large feature about Axl Rose and his current life [Spin, July 1999]. Marc Spitz, addistant editor for Spin, and one of the researchers of the project, interviewed 40 people as part of the article but was not able to get an interview or comments from Axl [Indianapolis News, June 22, 1999]. "Through the grapewine, Spitz had received the information that Axl thought the article was a bit premature:

I think [Axl] thought it was premature, which is a little ridiculous. How can something that’s five years in coming be premature? I see his point, but the world wants to know about him.


Spitz would say the following about Axl:

I think he’s a very smart person in terms of what’s going on now. He’s very aware of his place in rock ’n’ roll and very aware of how to preserve his relevance.


Then, in November 1999, Axl emerged for a surprise interview with MTV's Kurt Loder [MTV, November 8, 1999]. One of the first questions to Axl was, "What have you been doing for the last six and a half years?" to which Axl replied:

Trying to figure out how to make a record.


As for what he's been up to:

I pretty much stay to myself, and that's about it. […] [Laughs] I just, you know, I pretty much work on this record and, and that's about it. It takes a lot of time. I'm not a computer-savvy or technical type of person, yet I'm involved with it everyday, so it takes me a while.

The reality is that I'm not clubbing because I don't find it's in my best interest to be out there. I am building something slowly, and it doesn't seem to be much out there as in here, in the studio and in my home. So many times, I have come down here and I had no idea that I was going to be able to. If you are working with issues that depressed the crap out of you, how do you know you can express it? At the time, you are just like, 'Life sucks.' Then you come down and you express 'Life Sucks,' but in this really beautiful way.
Rolling Stone, January 2000; interview from November 1999


He would also mention having a studio at home:

Yeah, I have a full studio, and that causes me great pain and pleasure. [The pain being] basically my inadequacy with modern machinery.


Goldstein would comment upon Axl's decision to stay out of the public eye:

[Axl's] world is very insular. He doesn't like very many people.



1997-2000: AXL'S STALKER


In November 1997, 39-year Karen Jane McNeil who had been stalking Axl, was sentenced to jail for one year for violating a 1997 court order to stay 300 yards away from Axl's Malibu home [People Magazine, November 29, 1997; MTV News, May 31, 2000]. She had attempted to enter Axl's house on May 16, 1997 [People Magazine, November 29, 1997].

Then, three years later, on May 16, 2000, McNeil visited Axl's home again and was arrested [NME, May 18, 2000]. After discovering that McNeil was trying to enter his property, at around 8 pm, Axl called for the police who came and arrested her outside of his property [NME, May 18, 2000; The Californian, May 18, 2000]. Deputy Boris Nikolof, of LA Country Sheriff Department, confirmed that McNeil was a suspect in several prior stalking cases involving Axl [NME, May 18, 2000].

McNeil's trial was set for June 19, 2000 [MTV News, May 31, 2000]. At the trial, Beta Lebeis would testify that McNeil had visited Axl's property at least six times in the past four years [AP/Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 20, 2000]. It would also be revealed that once she had followed a gardener through the gate and found Axl playing guitar in the kitchen [The Californian, June 21, 2000]. McNeil had told authorities that she believed she was Axl's wife and that they could communicate telepathically [The Californian, June 21, 2000].


1998: "WHITE TRASH WINS LOTTO"


In March 1998, likely without Axl's blessing, a musical satire was under development loosely based on Axl, called "White Trash Wins Lotto" [E! News Online, March 6, 1998]. In October 1998 the musical would be performed in Hollywood [Los Angeles Daily News, October 9, 1998].


BETA LEBEIS AND HER FAMILY


In May 2000, Rolling Stone would publish a large feature on Axl Rose, titled "Axl Rose: The Lost Years" [Rolling Stone, May 11, 2000]. In this article Axl's, the name Beta Lebeis, would be mentioned for the first time, now as Axl's "housekeeper" [Rolling Stone, May 11, 2000]. Beta had been Stephanie's nanny (for Stephanie's son Dylan) when Axl and Stephanie were dating [Rolling Stone, May 11, 2000]. In addition to working as Axl's housekeeper, she also travelled with him and acted as his chauffeur [Rolling Stone, May 11, 2000]. An anonymous source would describe their relationship:

Beta moms him. She's as close as she's ever had to a real mother.


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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Feb 16, 2020 9:30 am

WHY SLASH LEFT


When I made my decision, that's the time. My dad taught me not to be with a sinking ship. That's it. I was so desperate when I left the band. I came back from rehearsal at six or seven in the morning and I was so desperate after an hour sleep. I'm sure I was dead if I did that(heroin) then. No one can imagine how much I depressed. After a while I tried to make some cocktail, smoke cigarette and watched a few episode of "Wings" then went back to sleep. It was a little better when I woke next, but I was still unstable. Most important thing is peace of mind to me. But it was too far to be stable. There is no light at the other side of tunnel. I was like wandering in the dream. But I was awake though. I went back to sleep again and I was alright next time I woke up, so I quit the band. I started to call around and said "That's it. I can't go back there!" That's the final decision. There was no other way to go, but I had it. Let me go on.

When the 90’s rolled around, Axl got really, really into the whole trip and became a more exaggerated version of someone I already knew. Nothing that Axl does now surprises me. It’s just a bigger, more exaggerated version. That’s where he was headed. […] I just wanted to go back in and do another record and keep going, but we just never fell back in sync. So I just quit.


DISAGREEING WITH AXL OVER MUSICAL DIRECTION


After leaving Guns N' Roses, Slash would stress differences in opinion on the direction of Guns N' Roses, as the reason.

It's just that we're not seeing eye to eye on where Guns should be going. It's just such a pain in the ass. […] let the smoke clear and maybe we can talk about it later, rather than try and force something unnatural and have everyone go 'We waited around all this time for THIS?' Axl's whole visionary style, as far as his input in Guns N' Roses, is completely different from mine. I just like to play guitar, write a good riff, go out there and play, as opposed to presenting an image.

In a nutshell, Axl and I aren't really seeing eye to eye as far as musical direction is concerned. Where he's taking on a visionary direction, I'm still rooted in the original concept [from] when we first got together. We're sort of butting heads on that.

It's not a real big concern with me right now because if it gets together, you know how I always put it, if we get together we get together, and in the meantime there's so many other things to do. […] [Axl] does [want to have the band back together], but he wants to... I don't know. For me personally we're just not...uh, let's put it, like a more civil kind of way of putting it, is we're not seeing eye-to-eye on the direction point of view and it's a lot of friction and it's just worth it.

Uhm, it's real simple. Me and Axl had more or less a musical... difference of opinion as far as musical direction. Simple as that. You've heard it a million times. It's a rock n roll cliche.

It turned into a job. It wasn’t because of the music. It wasn’t because of anything other than Axl was going one way and the rest of us were trying to get better at what we thought we were good at.

That’s probably one of the reasons I left Guns. It took a strange left turn somewhere. I’m still trying to get the raw, pure rock thing down.

I went off and I did the Snakepit thing and the tour and everything and by the time I came back, I realised that the direction that he wanted to go in, or whatever, the conflict of interest, was definitely against whatever it was that we'd been doing, and that we weren't going to come to any kind of plausible meeting of the minds.

I guess I last saw him in an attorney’s office. I quit the group because of musical differences. I wanted to continue doing the hard rock thing, and he wanted to do techno-rock or something. We’re still to see the end result. I just do what I do because that’s what I like doing, but his thing seems to be a little more convoluted.

After all, although Axl and I were often in disagreement, sometimes we shared the same points of view. But we tended to become unnatural when we messed up the line-up, when we introduced foreign elements to rock. That’s why I felt at peace with myself when I left the band.
Hard Rock (France), October 2000; translated from French

I left the band when it was still cool. I don’t have time to regret anything, life is too short and goes on, with or without Guns. I still have a lot of things left to prove. Actually, the only thing that bothers me is what our true fans think: "You had everything to be huge. Why?" The problem is that behind this facade, there was a strong tension. It was easy for me to plug my guitar and play. It wasn’t so simple for Axl. He was always fucking everything up. It had gotten to a point when we spent all our time fighting and we went backwards musically. I felt it coming, I already felt it during the recording of Use Your Illusion.
Hard Rock (France), October 2000; translated from French

Me and Axl had grown so fucking far apart as far as what we thought we should be doing, that I inevitably ended up quitting.


On may 30, Slash would describe that direction as "techno-grunge" [The Boston Globe, May 30, 1997].

I just quietly walked away and told him, ‘When you want to do a rock ’n’ roll record, let me know.'


Tom Zutaut would confirm that differences in opinion over musical direction was a huge problem:

Axl had a vision that GN'R should change and Slash had an attitude that Guns N' Roses was Guns N' Fucking Roses and that's who they were. I don't think they could get over their breakdown in communication. It wasn't announced publicly because nobody wanted to say the band had broken up.



PAUL HUGE


Despite Slash stressing the differences between him and Axl, rumours would also have it that Paul Huge's continuous presence in the band, with Axl now wanting his as a writing partner, was annoying Slash [Addicted to Noise, January 13, 1997].


BEING MISERABLE


There's really not much to say. I'm not a person to quit anything, but it got to the point where it was a miserable situation and I had to leave.

[Whether the decision to leave was a hard one to take]: Not so much actually. All in all, I was only a fifth of Guns N’ Roses. I couldn’t go on like that. It just appeared obvious to me that I had to leave, it was a question of survival.
Hard Rock (France), October 2000; translated from French



AXL'S BEHAVIOUR


Now I don't wanna go back in those days. There was nothing fun at all. Three hour delayed show caused by only one brat. And twelve year old girl was beaten up during the riot, police was carried on a stretcher. There's nothing good.

It was hard to get up in front of an audience and say, ‘We’re sorry we’re three hours late. Thanks for showing us your tits on the monitors.



THE BAND HAD CHANGED TOO MUCH


After Izzy and Steven left, I realized core of the band was lost. I was pushed to the point that I leave the band to keep the state of mind. […] I'm not the person who gives up easily, but terrible situation made me to do it. That was the only way left, I have to take care of myself. Replacement is OK with me, but I have to choose "quit" when the band itself has broken. That was all up to me, other guys were quit or fired though. Leaving the band eased my mind. I could do differently when I recall now, but I couldn't even think that time, because we were so fucked up. It took two and half years to think that way.

I didn’t want to go down with the ship, so to speak. Alright? So I left when it was still just, like, cool.


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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Feb 16, 2020 2:24 pm

MAY 1997
LOOKING FOR A PRODUCER - MIKE CLINK?


Despite Moby recently being confirmed as the producer select, an MTV News report from May 1997 would claim the band had settled on Mike Clink [MTV News, May 22, 1997]. This did not exclude Moby, and a source at Geffen refused to confirm that Moby would participate but state that "I expect he'll be working on a couple of tracks" [MTV News, May 22, 1997].

Later, in November 1998, Rolling Stone magazine would claim Clink had left the project after just a few months [Rolling Stone, November 14, 1998].

Clink would comment on what Axl was doing:



Later, Goldstein would talk about producers who had been involved, and not mention Clink [MTV News, April 28, 2000].


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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Feb 16, 2020 2:33 pm

MAY 1997
LOOKING FOR A PRODUCER - RICK RUBIN?


At the same time as Mike Clink was said to be the producer of the next record, or at least parts of it, Matt would say that Rick Rubin was involved in the project [MTV News, May 22, 1997]. This rumour was quickly shot down, though, when a spokesperson for Rubin said it had been discussed a while ago but that "it didn't work out" [MTV News, May 22, 1997].

Later, Doug Goldstein would talk about producers who had been involved, and not mention Rubin [MTV News, April 28, 2000].


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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Feb 16, 2020 2:39 pm

MAY 30, 1997
WEST ARKEEN DIES


On June 2, 1997, the following story would be published by MTV News:

June 2 [8:35 EDT] -- West Arkeen, best known for co-writing a number of Guns n' Roses songs, died suddenly at his home in Los Angeles on Friday. Sources close to Guns n' Roses as well as posts on the Internet suggest that he possibly died of a drug overdose.

Arkeen co-wrote "It's So Easy," "Patience," "Bad Obsession," "The Garden" and "Yesterdays" for Guns n' Roses and also penned "Make Your Play" and "Pressure" for Brother Cane. He's not known to be involved in the G n' R material currently being composed and about to be recorded.

Arkeen had been working on his own project, The Outpatience, a band he formed two years ago with vocalist Mike Shotton, bassist James Hunting, guitarist Joey Hunting, drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. and keyboardist Gregg Buchwalter. The band just released their debut album, Anxious Disease, in Japan and were shopping the record to labels in the States. The album boast strong G n' R connections: Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan appear as guests (Rose sings backup on the title track), and former G n' R member Izzy Stradlin co-wrote one of the songs.

Stradlin and McKagan are among those mostly closely associated with Arkeen. The trio played in the The Drunkf**ks side project together; Arkeen co-wrote two of the tunes on McKagan's solo record and he played bass on Stradlin's Ju Ju Hounds CD.


The next day it would be reported that West's manager, Dan McConomy, confirmed it was an opiate overdose and that West had been using opiates as a pain killer after suffereing severe burns from a barbeque accident [AP/The Sacramento Bee, June 3, 1997; MTV News, June 3, 1997].

Duff would write a song about West called 'Missing You' intended for his album 'Beautiful Disease', which was never released:

I lost so many best friends to heroin. This song's about [songwriter] Wes Arkeen in particular. Wes trained with me. He lasted a year. I got him out of the hospital with gangrene on both of his arms. Open abscesses. They were going to remove both arms! So he came from that to my dojo and turned into another person. I thought, "Aah, he's finally made it." But I told him again - I said, "Wes, if you ever go back to heroin, I can't go through the pain of you dying, so I swear to god, I'm gonna just detach myself from you 'cause you are gonna die." Sure enough, after a few years, he fell back in. When a friend of his died in his bathroom, I thought that would make him up. It didn't. So I stopped returning his calls. He would call so stoned. I'd hang up. Until someone else called me to tell me he was dead. He was my best friend! But there was only so much you could do, and my first reaction was, I WAS PISSED!


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Post by Soulmonster on Mon Feb 17, 2020 4:31 am

AUGUST 1997
DUFF QUITS


When I was a kid, I had a baseball coach who told me, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." I know that's a silly cliché, but it's true, and it's something that's always stuck with me. The wimps go by the wayside; only the tough are gonna persevere.

What did I do today?
Some people think I went and threw it away
But that was yesterday
I can't remember much of that anyway

I wonder who's to blame?
Or does it really matter much anyway
Or if we stayed the same?
If anyone of us would be here today... yeah
Lyrics from the song Who's To Blame? off Beautiful Disease

_____________________________________

In August 1997 Duff quit the band [Popular 1, July 2000]. It apparently wasn't etched in stone, though, because in February 1998, when asked about what the current lineup looked like, Bryn Bridenthal would not confirm that Duff was out, but say it was "difficult" to predict his status in the band [MTV News, February 11, 1998]. And around the same time Doug Goldstein would say the spot was open to Duff, and indicate he had decided to quit because he had recently become a father [Rolling Stone, February 20, 1998].

I was in the band until I quit. I was pretty miserable. I wasn't having fun.

There was a period when I got disenchanted with music. But I realized what I was disenchanted with was the lawyers, the big macro aspect of it. I'd never got into the music for the money, and I realized one day that, 'Why the hell would I want to start now?' That's when I decided to leave Guns.

I don’t want to do anything that goes against what I am now. I’m honest with myself and with the people surrounding me. Had I stayed with Axl, I would have acted against my personality. And nothing worse could ever happen to me. In this story, the real losers are Guns N’ Roses fans, unfortunately.

I left Guns N’ Roses because the band didn’t correspond to me anymore. What’s left of the band has nothing to do with what we had created.

About a year ago, Axl and I met and made tapes and met with Slash, but he's hired all new guys now. I'm probably just as confused about the situation as anyone. It all stems from big business stuff. I chose not to go that route. I'm not in it for the money. I backed way away from it because it's the real ugly side of music.


Although Duff didn't agree with Axl and his decisions to continue with Guns N' Roses, he would stress they were still friends:

Yes I am [still friends with Axl], but it doesn’t mean we agree on everything. We’ve been thinking too much about this band. We’ve been teenagers together, we became adults together. Nobody can ask me not to be friends anymore with my brother.


Later, Axl would emphasize that it had been Duff's decision to quit and that he hadn't forced anyone out:

That was [Matt's and Duff's] choice to leave. Everybody that's gone did it by choice.


Despite this, it seems like the press would indicate Duff had been fired, because in an interview from December 1999, Duff was eager to point out he left of his own free will:

Actually nobody could fire somebody in that band, because everyone was the equal partner. I quit. I left the band two weeks before my daughter Grace (she is two now) was born. It was not fun. That's the reason. The reason why I stayed in the band was to be a bridge between Axl and Slash. That's what I stick to. But I didn't want to stay there, cause that's not GN'R any more. There were only three guys left. What they want us to do? Me and Axl release the album as GN'R?

Cocaine dealer has all kinds of drug and start to hang out with them, cause they give me drugs for free.  That's it why we all five were falling apart. Each of us were surrounded by close friends and they all have their own point of view. So I had to deal with Axl and dozen of his guys, not only Axl. That's same situation from Axl to me. I want to be hard on myself. I'm very responsible. I was trying real hard. I have been sober since around '94 and I thought we could do better when I recall and analyze. Me and AXL were getting along well and we had very good conversation. Three of us could keep doing together. There was no doubt about it. There was no progress though. And it came to the end without facing and shaking hands saying "What the fuck were we doing?" […]

I didn't want to stay the band. It was not good as it used be. It won't go well. Only three guys, not five. And Axl wanted to do something else. He didn't know what he was doing.
Burrn! Magazine, December 1999; translated from Japanese

I'm planning to fix the story that I got fired. The reason I didn't say anything is that it is OK for me knowing for myself how it happened. I don't care what the rumor is, fired or I quit, cause I know what I have done.
Burrn! Magazine, December 1999; translated from Japanese

That's enough, so I quit. I went to dinner with Axl and his manager. He was a manager of GN'R and still Axl's. I said "Axl, We had much fun together, but it's your own band now. I'm not interested in you as a dictator. I didn't come here to talk about the money advanced for the next record. You can have it. See ya." That's it.
Burrn! Magazine, December 1999; translated from Japanese


Later he would shed more light on his decision to leave and Axl's becoming a dictator:

If you give too much to someone like Axl. Let's put it this way. If everyone around you is answering "yes" for years, if everything is reduced to "yes, yes, yes", then in your relation with other people, when someone says "no" you think that person is wrong. You're gonna tell him to fuck off! You're in this band from the start, and then suddenly everything turns autocratic, just because one person is surrounded by people saying yes to everything. It's not autocracy legally, but there is just one person thinking that's his band. Well then, keep your damned band! One can't stand it anymore. I love each and every member of Guns N' Roses, and that feeling is not going to fade away. I would do anything for them, no question. But people change. I have changed. I've got a larger goal in life now. So, what could I do? Be pissed and make a lot of money? To me, making music is not oriented to making money. If you're in it for the money, then you're in it for the wrong reason. You'll never make any good music, I tell you.


And Axl's insistence that Paul was in the band, was also a major issue to Duff:

[Being asked how he quit]: Yeah, just talk, sit down and talk. I told them I had changed. I said if they needed help, they could just call me. I told Axl this was his band, he had ignored everyone and had hired his best friend for the band. I couldn't play with him. Paul Huge, that was the guy! He's a friend of Axl, he's a 'yes man'. […] Man, you can't be in Guns N' Roses just like that. That was a real band. […]  imagine you and I grow up together and you're my best friend. OK, I'm in Guns N' Roses and I tell the rest you're going to join the band. "OK, Slash, Axl, Matt, guys, this guy is in the band". "Duff, you got a minute?" "No, he's in the band" "Well, no. Everyone in the band has to vote it, Duff, so no way!" "Fuck you, this guy is in the band! I'm not doing anything unless this guy is in the band" "OK, you know what? We'll try and play with him, since you're that much interested in it. Hey Duff, the guy can't play" "I don't care" "Well that's not very reasonable." "I don't care" At that point, what would you do? I came to a point where I couldn't even look at him [Paul]. If I were in such a situation, if I were the friend joining the band, I'd say "Hey guys, you've done very good yourselves alone, I'm not going any further. Hey, Duff, thanks for the offer, but I'm breaking your band." But he didn't say it.



DUFF IS OFFERED MONEY TO REJOIN


From the following quote it can seem like Axl offered more money to Duff for joining the band again:

So much has gone on in my life over the last few years. Some of it was less then thrilling, but other parts have been really good. Having to battle against the ravages of my lifestyle was really difficult, but overcoming my dependencies was the best thing that ever happened to me. It opened my eyes-it turned my life around. It made me realize what was really important to me. I was offered a lot of money to stay in Guns N' Roses, and I was very honored by that. But I realized that I had never gotten into making music for the money in the first place, so why should I start doing money for things now?


Later it would be revealed that this money likely came from an offered show in Germany:

Susan, my girlfriend, was pregnant. We were going to have a baby, but this band was becoming a dictatorship, everything had to get done Axl’s way or it wouldn’t get done at all. It wasn’t like that when we started out. At one point, we were offered a huge sum of money to play a concert in Germany. I thought, “I never played for money and I’m not gonna start now!” I’ve got a house, I’m secure financially. Post-Neurotic was the worst moment of my career in Guns. I went out for dinner with Axl and I told him, “Enough is enough. This band is a dictatorship and I don’t see myself playing in those conditions. Find someone else.

Yeah, I was [offered money to return]. But it's nothin' but big business these days. That's where it all went, and I was wrapped up right in the middle of it. I had folks yelling in my ear, "Hey man, you can't walk away from this million and that million, blah, blah, blah." I had been doing it more for other people then myself. The manager, the label, the band, a bunch of other people. I finally woke up one day, I swear to god, it was just like, "Well, I never started doing this for the money in the first place. So'¦" Hey, when I moved down to Hollywood, I never thought money when it came to music. There was no way I was ever in music for money. Fame, yeah. Girls, yeah. To be up there on stage, shit yeah. But money? And it didn't really hit me until I had already got the house, the car, then two houses, then two cars, and I realized, whoa, I was doing it for the money. It wasn't fun anymore. So when they asked me back, I asked myself, "If I went back now, it would only be for the money, so why should I start doing it for the money now?" No way. It was ridiculous. It was an absolutely ridiculous thought and that's when I just went, "Screw this, screw the lawyers and the accountants and everything else that's supposed to be so damn important. I want out. I wanna do my music." So that's what I did.

Everybody was trying to persuade me to stay in the band for money.
Burrn! Magazine, December 1999; translated from Japanese



REGRETS


I regret that Guns N’ Roses never recorded one last album for its fans. This is probably my biggest disappointment. This band didn’t have a proper ending. If we’d had a crystal ball and we could see what was going to happen, we might have acted differently. I know I'm not the only one who is disappointed. The fans are, too. We never gave them that last album.


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Post by Soulmonster on Mon Feb 17, 2020 6:22 am

1997-2000
SLASH WANTS TO PUT TOGETHER A BAND OF FORMER GN'R MEMBERS


As described in a previous chapter, various band members had played and/or written music with Izzy in 1995-1996, this continued in 1997.

In April it would be rumoured that Izzy had written music with Axl [MTV, April 18, 1997]. The same month Slash would talk about working with Izzy while in Spain (where Slash went to partake in a music video for "Obsession" [The Index Journal, March 26, 1997]), and that he had then involved Duff and Matt. Duff was still in Guns N' Roses at the time, but it would be around the time Matt was leaving the band.

The day before last, me and Izzy worked on two new songs in Spain. We came back with Duff and then got Matt to come in.


In late 1997 it was rumoured that Slash wanted to put together a band of former GN'R members [MTV News, September 29, 1997]. The rumour got wings earlier in September when Slash and Steven joined Gilby's band on stage at Billboard Live in Hollywood for one song [MTV News, September 29, 1997].

In an interview published in December 1997, Slash would say he had been working with both Izzy and Duff recently [Fuzz Magazine, December 1997].

In early 1999, Slash would again talk about his work with other ex-GN'R members:

I'll hook up with Matt sometimes if he's got a gig going on and he needs me, or vice-versa, if I need to get in touch with Duff for something, or Izzy for that matter. We just hook up and play because we dig doing it.



JANUARY 1999: SLAMDANCE


In January 1999, Slash would reunite with Duff and Matt for a club gig at the Slamdance film festival [Sonic Net, February 1, 1999]. The show would include several Matt compositions from the Slamdance film, "Soundman", as well as covers of the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan [Sonic Net, February 1, 1999].

Before we left, people were saying... it's on the Internet, it's in 'Variety' that Guns is back together to play.



And that's just like so far away from anything that's true. We're just here to play. It's not that big of a deal, but we play good together.

[Slam dance was very] fun. Matt worked on the soundtrack for a movie and he arranged all the songs and musicians. I sang a song and Slash played guitar. I don't know if you've seen the movie, it's a low-budget, independent movie that was accepted in Sundance Festival. So we went and played at the movie party. It was just us letting loose, playing and having fun.


When asked why they didn't just make a new band, Duff responded:

I believe this will happen. And I think that would be fabulous. We’re very close friends as well as with Izzy. We’re in daily contact. Slash, Matt and myself played at the Slamdance Film Festival [in Park City, Utah]. You can’t create a good feeling between three or four people. It has to be already there. And when we played together, not only was there the feeling, but also a big energy. Those who attended that show probably remember it cause it was really powerful. We felt so good on-stage that the music just seemed to flow. It was one of those magic nights....


Being asked whether it isn't "unfair to play this semi-Guns concert, given that the band’s not complete":

We play together very often and what would be unfair would be to ask us to stop doing it. It would be like forbidding a kid to go play outside with his friends or telling him, if his parents were divorced, that he had to stop seeing one of them. But I think that, if we don’t want to form a band right now, it’s because we want to get away from that Guns image. We’d like to prove to ourselves that we are musicians.


Then in the end of January, Duff was scheduled to play at the Whisky in Los Angeles together with Gilby, Tracii and Teddy (Zig Zag) Andreas [MTV News, January 29, 1999].

Late in 1999, Slash would indicate that there were no interest from anyone to reform in a new band:

No one of the members include Izzy and Steven are not thinking of reforming so far. But this doesn't mean the end. This doesn't mean we won't do anything from now on. I don't know what I'm going to do if one of the members wants to do something together. But no one is planning the day of reforming, even Axl. Because he has his own band GN'R.
BURRN! Magazine, 1999; translated from Japanese



2000: RUMOURS ABOUT REHEARSALS


But in an interview published in January 2000, Slash would talk fondly of his old band mates and mention he had met with Izzy and Duff "some months ago":

Guns is still close to my heart. I'm loyal to the day I die, I suppose. We weren't out to change the world. We were just doing what we liked to do. But the success put a lot of pressure on us. Now that the pressure is off of us, we're probably getting along better than ever. I still have a great amount of respect for everyone and their individual talents. […] Izzy and Duff came by my studio a few months ago, and it was weird. They looked all grown up. I was the only one with a cigarette and a drink in my hand.


And in May 2000, there would be rumours that Slash, Izzy, Duff and Steven were rehearsing in a secret location in Phoenix, Arizona [NME, May 18, 2000].


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Post by Soulmonster on Mon Feb 17, 2020 6:24 am

FORMER BAND MEMBERS VIEW ON AXL CONTINUING WITH GUNS N' ROSES


I'm sure whatever [Axl] ends up doing will be brilliant. But it won't sound like what I would consider a fucking hard rock band that's all gritty and shit. But, you know, what do I know? I could be wrong.

[Axl] basically worked me out of the band and Slash out of the band, and now Duff and Matt have left. He wants it to be his band. We wanted a band where we play together.

So I left Axl to do whatever, and he’s still doing it. The rest of us quit, so that’s that. You have to ask him about what the future of the Guns N’ Roses thing is.

So now it’s Axl by himself. He's got a whole new band together. They’re going to do a record. It'll say ‘Guns ‘N Roses’ but it won’t be Guns N’ Roses.

Oh Axl owns everything, it’s his band now, why not… If only he’d release a record, maybe he’ll release a record, but we haven’t heard anything... Maybe one day he won’t have any more money and he’ll have to do something…
Rock & Folk, April 1998; translated from French

What’s left of the band has nothing to do with what we had created. I even think what’s left is not Guns N’ Roses.

But if I were Axl, in no way would I call that band Guns N’ Roses. The kids know GN’R. No need to explain to you, just listen to the albums we recorded. You can’t argue with that. For me, too much discussion would make the music lose its value. The kids have an idea of what that band is. My reaction? I thought, “This is not cool, it’s not the right thing to do.” But it’s none of my business. If he thinks it’s right.…

But [Axl's] got a problem - too many people around him confusing his mind. To be honest, he probably doesn’t live in the same world as you and me.

I hope Axl won’t feel like I let him down. I was just honest. I didn’t wish to go on that way. I don’t think it’s fair for our fans, and it’s certainly not fair for Slash and myself since we were the founders of this band too and contributed to its identity. But life is unfair, so I’m not gonna waste my time complaining.

Fans will be the real test. The group is likely to get away with it if they can go on a big tour, but I’m not even sure the public will come. When Led Zeppelin reformed without their bassist, John Paul Jones, I didn’t go see them. Page & Plant wasn’t Led Zeppelin. In my opinion, John Paul Jones played as big a role as the others and the band without him was worth nothing. I didn’t go see Aerosmith on tour with Jimmy Crespo and Rick Dufay [for the album Rock In A Hard Place]. It wasn’t Aerosmith to me.

I mean, it really isn't part of my life anymore so I don't think about it that much. Of course, it was a huge part of my life. I gotta admit, it was a magical time. [speaking softly] We really were an amazing band. The electricity in the room when we rehearsed was incredible. You could feel it! You can't match what we had. I love a lot of different music, and the guys Axl's got playing now are great guys, I know them all, but it's not Guns. Commercially, I think that's where it's going, that's the reason. What a shame. You and I can talk and remember the Beacon gig, or the Ritz gig, and say it was good. It was amazing, but big business rules all. I have to look at it now with that sort of cold eye. That's what it is and that's the way it's going. I've got to move on and I'm happy the way I am. I am so glad I'm not there. Axl's a good guy, but we tried and it just didn't happen. The timing wasn't right.

I want him to release his own record that shows what he really wanted to do. […] Anyway I want him to finish the album. Then I'll listen to it once and each one of us go on our own way. […] he records a different version of "Appetite for destruction". I want to know what the sounds like.

I don't know why he puts so much effort to renew a huge band from the root. That's our own fault why he needed to renew. Destroying the huge band and disappoint millions of fan breaks my heart. Millions of loyal fans were really counting on us. Actually I've met those fans. Destroying those things and he is thinking to release what he has already done before. I have no idea what Axl wants to do as a musician. Because he has nothing new released for many years.

Let me say like this, each of us had responsibility, and each member was one fifth of the band. I think GN'R has to be those five guys. Axl might not think so, and speaking of Steven, it's obvious that he was not thinking like I was. But Axl was counting on Duff, so was Izzy and me. Now I can picture it, but I don't care and want to talk about it. When we get together, we could create best thing, so we don't care the rest. Each part had strong power, so we might scared that one of us leaves the band. There's no way to play with that live [?], because that was the foundation of GN'R. I guess he might not notice that, cause we didn't hang out with him. He started first to insult me, so I did it back.

I don't want to say anything negative about what AXL is doing with new GN'R. He has his own idea and people would take his work for granted. I think he will make killer thing. Because he is brilliant.

There’s a lot of very loyal fans out there that think Guns is not Guns without the original members that started it and so on and so forth, and I can understand that.

I don’t know if I’ll be comfortable watching the other guys play, you know, Sweet Child O’ Mine. I don’t know how that’s gonna come off. But he seems to know what he’s doing. It’s taken him a while, but I hope it works out for him.

I just wish the fucker would get the fuckin’ record out so I could see why he took something so cool and systematically, destroyed it. I want to hear where he was headed, and what he was trying to communicate that none of us in the band could relate to.

If he puts out a record and it is good, he's gonna be alright. He's very scared about this.

But as hard as it is or as hard as it's been for me to get all my shit together on my own, he's (Axl) going through the same thing, because he's the only remaining member of Guns N' Roses left. So my heart goes out to him, because I know what a tough fucking job it is.

Here’s how I feel: I’m dying to hear anything that Axl will release, these songs which more or less accelerated the split of GN’R. I won’t systematically say anything bad or reject something I wasn’t a part of. […]  I really can’t wait to hear what he has written since we split up. That’s his work, he lives for it and doesn’t do anything else. The other day, I met Izzy at my birthday party and asked him: "So, what’s up with him?". Everybody’s asking themselves the same question. (laughs) None of us has really changed over the years. Except Axl, of course....
Hard Rock (France), October 2000; translated from French

Everybody goes, 'Well, why didn't you take a percentage off the name? Or take part of the name, or whatever.' I'm not going to do a Guns N' Roses band without the band. And Axl wanted to do that. So I was like, 'Go ahead, see ya.' I think it's sort of dumb. I think one of the easier ways of looking at it would have been along the lines of what me and Izzy and Duff did. Obviously, we're not all playing together. Put together another name -- it's gonna draw attention based on the success of Guns anyway. If James Hetfield were to do a solo record, we'd all know about it, regardless of what it was called, it's James from Metallica. If Axl had fucking taken on another name, and just split his way and I went mine and so on and so forth, then Guns would have been sort of like, just, safe. Like Guns N' Roses was always there, and everybody just took off to do this that and the other, but the name wasn't tarnished. Now, the name's fucked up.


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Post by Soulmonster on Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:12 am

MATT AFTER GUNS N' ROSES


In November 1997 it would be reported that Matt would have a role in an indie movie called "The Sound Man" [MTV News, November 25, 1997].

At some point in likely early 1998, Matt would describe himself as "happily divorced" [Rock Express, 1998]. He would also talk about his hobbies:

I collect sports cars. I have a Porsche, some old corvettes. I recently started collecting corvettes and dreaming of buying a Cobra one day, an old and very rare model. […] n expensive hobby, but I can afford it and as I said, I want to get the most out of my life. We have sold over 60 million records so I don't think how much money I have. Millions (laughs). But girls are my real hobby (laughs). I try to live life as much as possible, I love to travel, I love the sun and I try to be where it is as much as possible. In short, I enjoy life and strive to maximize my pleasure. My second hobby is pinball, I started playing pinball when Slash gave me a G'n'R pinball pin that he designed. He is really a fanatic and he invented a bunch of video games and pinball machines. In the G'n'R pinball player receives a bonus of 6 balls, as many musicians, and each bears one's name. The object of the game is to use as many of these bonus balls as possible. When you throw a ball where it belongs, the name that the ball bears appears on the screen. Of course, during that time, the music, Paradise City, came out of the pinball machine. No wonder all the big rock bands have their pinball machines. I was gifted this Slash pinball machine for my birthday. He is really a fanatic, he has about 20 pinball machines in the house, he goes crazy for them, he plays all day.
Rock Express, 1998; translated from Serbian


Matt would also talk about getting sober, although it is not clear when this happened:

When I got undressed and a year passed - and that is a long time - without the use of narcotics, I was very proud of myself for having endured so much and for realizing I could do without them. And I started to feel much, much better without them. While using narcotics, I thought that by doing so I could feel better, that I would be able to solve all problems so easily, and that, for example, I could recover and gather new energy. but in the morning when you wake up you see that the problems have not only disappeared but new ones have appeared and instead of getting better, you get worse and worse. When I stopped, my life changed from the root, I became more cheerful and more energetic, more to look forward to, to travel - to enjoy more, more resilient, fresher. I'm happier.
Rock Express, 1998; translated from Serbian


And talking about his friends:

[Duff] is very close to me and probably the closest friend to the band. And Slash of course, Slash is an OK guy. In fact, I have many friends among musicians, Rob from Skid Row, Tommy Lee from Motley Crue. Tommy is one of my closest friends in general, a brother in arms (laughs). Admittedly, while he was with Pamela, I rarely saw him, I guess she didn't let him out of the bedroom (laughs).
Rock Express, 1998; translated from Serbian


In April 1000, Matt would rejoin with Billy Duff and Ian Astbury from The Cult at a Neurotic Outsiders show at The Viper Room in Hollywood [Music News Of The World, April 6, 1999]. They would play three Cult songs together [Music News Of The World, April 6, 1999].


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Post by Soulmonster on Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:12 am

DUFF AFTER GUNS N' ROSES



On August 27, 1997, Duff and his girlfriend Susan Holmes became parents to Grace [Online Chat, March 16, 1999; Guitar, September 1998; Los Angeles Time, November 27, 1998].

In August 1999, Duff and Susan married [Popular 1, July 2000].

Duff would also keep himself in good shape:

When I got my head back on straight, I was 29. I met a sensei, Benny The Jet, he's the middleweight world kickboxing champion. I also started mountain bike riding, and got one of the guys from The Stone Roses into it, and he broke his collarbone and they had to cancel all their gigs. Ooops. So I was getting into martial arts stuff, very hardcore training.

He took me down to nothing, like boot camp, and built me up a little each day. He would crush me, then say something... a mental pick-up while he was building me physically. It's brought me peace of mind. Like my analogy is this: I drive a lot and a lot of people are very aggressive on the freeway. I see it all the time, but it doesn't affect me. I feel sorry for them. Back then, I probably would have a gun or a baseball bat.

On the road, I bring a jump rope and gloves, and if we're staying in a high rise I'll run the stairs a billion times. I do light weights only as I don't want a big chest. I mostly do push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups, hitting the bag and jumping rope. Yesterday I ran three miles, did two miles on a Stairmaster at full speed. I think this is the best shape I've ever been in - no red meat, low fat, high protein diet. It's a lifestyle.

So much has gone on in my life over the last few years. Some of it was less then thrilling, but other parts have been really good. Having to battle against the ravages of my lifestyle was really difficult, but overcoming my dependencies was the best thing that ever happened to me. It opened my eyes-it turned my life around. It made me realize what was really important to me.

Studying martial arts has helped immensely [to keep me sober]. I'm studying with the real guys, guys that have what it takes to get a real black belt. Now, you pay two grand and you can buy a damn black belt these days. It means next to nothing anymore, it's like buying doughnuts. Especially in Los Angeles - there's a dojo in every strip mall. But back in the day of the real full-contact karate, these guys I train with would just tape up their knuckles with black duct tape or black electrical tape, tape up their toes, and go. That was it. They'd really blood each other out, really hurt each other, but that was the development of American contact fighting. […] The physical part of it is only about 30-percent. My sensai trains a lot of kickboxing champions, and I'll get in the ring as just a sparring partner for somebody getting ready to fight. I'll get my ass kicked, but I'll get in the ring. That's how far you can go without any fear. And it has nothing to do with being a macho guy. It has more to do with being so at peace with yourself that you can do anything without fear. It gave me the self confidence to walk and talk without compromising. I got broken down to a point where I was below human, but through a lot of work, a lot of pain, and a lot of truth, I'm back. And I'm glad for every minute of it.

The thing is, I don't crave it. I'm a recovering drug addict. "Recovering" means I'll be that was until I the day I die. That was a different life. Physically, I broke down my muscles to the point where big poisonous boils were actually coming out of my skin! This is when I was kicking drugs and trying to get back into shape. The condition was so hardcore, that stuff was just oozing out from deep within me. But, it's all out of my system now. I don't even crave a drink or anything. It's totally cool.


Looking back at having left Guns N' Roses and whether he has a love/hate relationship with the band:

Not towards the music we created. You know what’s great? I can come to France and play in bigger places thanks to my past in Guns N’ Roses. The public comes to see what I do now thanks to the interest they had in my previous band. And I do hope they’ll like Loaded cause it’s a cool band. It’s a plus. I don’t want to be tied to GN’R, but the fact is that it opens some doors if I want to go to Europe, South America or Japan and play big places. That’s the smart side of the story.



TEN MINUTE WARNING


In late 1997 it would be reported that Duff would release a debut EP with his old Seattle band, Ten Minute Warning [MTV News, December 31, 1997] on the label Sub Pop [Guitar, September 1998]. Duff had played with the band back in 1995, too [see previous chapter], but now being out of Guns N' Roses he probably had more time to release something with them.

Jonathan Poneman [of Sub Pop] said he'd really love to have the real history of Seattle. Ten Minute Warning was two years prior to Green River, and before Sub Pop, and we toured with the Dead Kennedys and Black Flag. We were the biggest band in Seattle.

The guys from Sub Pop [an underground label of punk and grunge bands] called and told me, “We’ve got all the Seattle bands since 1985, but you were there before and we’d like you to record an album.” Ten Minute Warning was quite a legendary Seattle band and Sub Pop would have completed their collection of the city’s music history with our album. We talked about it, we played together and it felt right. So we recorded an album. Afterwards, we didn’t think, “Let’s go on tour, let’s form a real band.” We recorded this album just for fun.



'LOADED' AND THE ALBUM 'BEAUTIFUL DISEASE'


In 1997 it would be reported that Duff was working on a new solo record with Al and Kurt Block, from Wool and Fastbacks, respectively [Music West in 3-D, 1997; MTV News, May 22, 1997].

In the summer of 1998, Duff was working on his second solo album, Beautiful Disease [Allstarmag, June 27, 1988; Guitar, September 1998].

I was working on my record, "Beautiful Disease", every day, six days a week. That's what I did. I left [Guns N' Roses] in August and worked on the record from August to January.


The album would feature Slash and Izzy Stradlin, Faith No More/Ozzy drummer Mike Bordin, Seal drummer Abe Laborio, and Seattle-bred musicians Kurt and Al Bloch, and Michael Berrigan and his band, Plexi [Guitar, September 1998].

Talking about his band which would later be revealed to be called 'Loaded' [Hard Force Magazine, June 1999]:

My band consists of Paul Roessler, Michael Barragan and Dez Cadena. I met Michael through mutual friends. Dez [now rhythm guitarist] and I met when we sang a song with the Melvins, but I'd seen him in bands before. I remember when he joined Black Flag. We're brothers. He's a good guy. Paul [keyboards] was a recommendation... Michael played in this band the Morning Glories and Paul was the singer, plus Paul was in Twisted Roots, DC3 with Dez and he played with Nina Hagen for the last eight years.


On why the band name 'Loaded' and not just the 'Duff McKagan Band':

We’re more than that, we’re a real band. As I told you, the name Duff McKagan can only open some doors and allow us to play in bigger places. And I prefer to find a name for the whole band, it’s more representative than just one musician. I’m not the only one involved, and you’ve got to keep that in mind.


And talking about the record:

It's a song about kind of losing it, snapping for a second, but being healthy about it. I'd just been freed from so many things -- a shitty marriage, I got sober. It was like, 'Fuck, I want to live.'

It's hard, but it's not Guns N' Roses-like music. There aren't a lot of guitar solos, more like slammin' parts. Michael uses an Echoplex, and guitars through a Moog, and screams in the pickups. It's really cool.


One of the songs, 'Who's to blame?', would deal with the break-up of Guns N' Roses [Allstarmag, January 1, 1999].

To support the forthcoming release, Duff was supposed to go on a tour in late 1998 together with guitarist Dez Cadena,  keyboardist Paul Roessler, and drummer Walter Earl [Los Angeles Times, November 27, 1998].

The album which had been scheduled for a January 26, 1999, release, was later delayed to February 9 (international release) and March 9 (US release) due to restructuring at Geffen Records [MTV News, December 3, 1998].

It's been 4 1/2 [years since I've been clean and sober]. This is still new to me. Just going to bed at midnight and getting up at eight in the morning and reading a book is still thrilling to me.

I'm not in the spotlight, which is a bonus. I'm the front man now, but it's not like I'm in this mega-band. It's back to where it was [before Guns]. It's just fun.


Due to the big music label consolidation in late 1998 [see later chapter], it meant that Duff's album was put on hold [Sonic Net, February 1, 1999]. Duff would recount his feelings when he heard of the consolidation:

My first instinct was, Oh shit! I've done all this hard work and now what? You're not going to work here? This is not going to be a company? This building is not going to be here? […]

I'm just going to keep moving forward and pretend nothing is going to happen. Until I'm told differently, [Beautiful Disease] is coming out in March. I've got people reassuring me that it's going to be fine and that Interscope [the label that will now decide the fate of his Geffen album] wants to put it out.

Then again, I know the record industry. I might get a call tomorrow saying they're passing on it. There's nothing I can do about it. I worked too hard to let a corporate merger get in my way. I've got a band together and I'm ready to go.


In March 1999, Duff would be part of an online chat and discuss the record:

My release date was feb. 9th however, Geffen Records was bought by Seagrams Corp. My record now sits in a vault somewhere in Corporate BASTARD LAND. […] My record will be coming out on a different label, not sure which, but I have a kick ass band and we start tour tomorrow night in LA, than in Austin TX saturday night. […] I'm making a live record at Al's Bar tomorrow night that you can get through my web page, to get past the corporate bull shit. […]  the live album will be mostly new with a little cool old songs, Izzy did the pics for the album today.


Then it was revealed that the label had decided to not release the album [Hard Force Magazine, May 1999].

Last December, the album was recorded, mixed and mastered. I met the Geffen staff and everybody was really enthusiastic. I started the promotion and tons of magazines reviewed the record. Then Seagram [the company that owns Universal] came, bought Polygram and fired everybody at Geffen in less than a month. So I had another reunion and I just wanted to know if the album was going to be released or not. The only answer I got was that it was impossible to answer me! I was out of my mind. I had a band, we had started the promo, the tour, everything was ready and the only thing they could tell me was, “Maybe.” Finally, the album was supposed to come out on the 9th of February and that very day I discovered it wouldn’t.


Loaded then went on a club tour:

The people in the band, who were going to be out with me on the road, after the record was not released said "Fuck it, let's tour anyway". We did the tour under the name Loaded, and it was like a punk tour, always in punk clubs, and it was a lot of fun, something I really needed to do.


Duff then decided to release the songs as an independent live album:

Yes, but nothing happens without reason. One week later, I still hadn’t recovered, especially when I thought about all this fucked up work. I had worked every day, except on Sundays, for one year. Put yourself in my shoes. I got this phone call, I had to face the situation, and the ones who helped me the most were members of my band. I used to pay everyone, and spontaneously they told me they felt involved and didn’t want to get paid anymore. Michael, the guitar player, owns a loft in the center of Los Angeles and he proposed to rehearse there. It was really cool. Then we launched a website, with no publicity at all, but the kids found it nevertheless and started sending us tons of messages like “Where’s the album?” So I launched a live chat on the Internet and I received hundreds and hundreds of questions. Most of them dealt with the album. I explained the whole situation with Seagram and suddenly that idea came up to me. The only way to get around Seagram was to turn the album into a live one. I asked kids their opinion, and the response was so straightforward that we adopted that solution. A live album shall thus soon be released with most of the songs present on Beautiful Disease. We recorded sixteen tracks at two shows in LA. We mixed the whole thing and the result sounds very convincing to me.

It won’t be on a label, because we don’t want the kids to spend too much money. We’re gonna make the cover ourselves, very independently. Cargo records will distribute the album in Europe but it’ll also be for sale on the Internet. I’m also thinking of pressing a limited edition for the fans. The idea is there’s a request from the most die-hard fans and I really want to satisfy it.


As for the original album:

We’re rerecording it, but the version with Slash, Izzy and Mike Bordin will never come out. Currently I have four offers from labels who are interested in Loaded. We’ve already started the rerecording and we’ve done half of it. We’re gonna choose the best label and go on tour throughout the world. We want to be a big band.




IZZY STRADLIN'S 117 DEGREES AND RIDE ON


In 1998, Duff would be featured as the bass player on Izzy's solo record 117 Degrees [see previous chapter for more information on this].

In 2000 Duff would also tour with Izzy in Japan after Izzy had released Ride On [see previous chapter].

Talking about how it was to play with Izzy again:

Awesome! We are real fast friends. By the way, when my pancreas fucked Izzy phoned too. We've always been friends and our friendship has gone beyond music. We've been through a lot of things together. I play in his records, which usually takes no more than two days. It's like "Here's the song, play, thank you". For this last record he wanted to go away and play some shows with me. We were rehearsing in Hollywood for a week and then we wanted to play some shows, which were really fun. It was so easy! In Japan everybody was around us freaked, seeing the two of us together. It was exciting. We are recording a new album in two weeks time. Rick [Richards, guitar] is coming from Atlanta and Taz [Bentley, drums] will come from Dallas. The same guys that were in Japan. It's nothing but that - things are pretty easy with Izzy. The songs are not very hard actually, they are based in good old rock roots. That's what I like about Izzy. I think he's keeping something essential - rock roots. They are slowly being lost and no one seems to do what he's doing. He's mixing country and rock and roll, and he's good at it.



1998-2000: MARK LANEGAN


In April it was reported that Duff was collaborating with fellow Seattle musician Mark Lanegan [Allstarmag, April 1998]. Together they completed 15 songs and were considering founding a band [Allstarmag, April 1998].

It's a totally new entity, and it's really bad-ass, with a stylistic range from funk to Burt Bacharach. And Mark loves Burt Bacharach.

Nothing is done yet, but it’s very likely to become a reality in the future. We’re friends. I think I’m gonna play on his solo album first. Actually, right now he’s downstairs [in Duff’s house in Seattle] so I don’t want to talk too much about him. He would become big-headed....no, I’m kidding.

Well, like I said before I'm in a new band. It's me, Mark Lanegan, Mike Johnson and a drummer from Seattle. We are going there tomorrow to do some playing. Mark, Mike and me are demoing stuff with a drum machine. He's the drummer in New American Shame. This is a project Mark and myself have been planning for a long time now, and it is the first time I tell anyone, because it's been quite secret. There was even a rumor in MTV News that we denied, because we wanted no one to know about it. When you are in the music business you need to keep some things surprising, so that people will say "Wow, this and this guy together!". Though the truth is, the fact that we come from different bands does not affect us in any way. We knew each other already, because we actually come from the same place and we grew up listening to the same music - The Saints, Bad Company, Stranglers, and I could go on and on about our common influences. I wrote a record for Geffen, "Beautiful Disease", and when it was about to be released Geffen was absorbed and the priorities changed, so in the end it was never released, and never will. However Mark loved some of the songs. Maybe all this was bound to happen. We're gonna record three cuts from that album, so now we're working on the songs. Like when the Neurotic Outsiders thing, which was not anything too serious for any of us. We never rehearsed the songs with Neurotic. We just wrote them in five minutes or Steve Jones had already done. We were not into in 24/7. This is what we are doing now.

I'm playing both guitar and bass in the current sessions. We're thinking of looking for a bassist, with me and Mark on the guitars, but who knows. I offered myself as the bassist, but Mark likes my guitar playing a lot so that's what it's gonna be.

We're gonna record a demo and play live like everybody else does. But we're going to record a demo that no one will be able to reject, so we'll choose whatever label we please. That's the plot, world domination and all the stuff! (laughs). I'm very happy to be working on something that's going to redefine me to the audience.

Our goal is to sound as good as Pink Floyd in "The Wall". Is it going to sound like Pink Floyd's "The Wall"? No! Everybody knows what Mark Lanegan's voice sounds like and the darkness it hides. All that is going to be in there, but regarding the songwriting this is where Mike Johnson and I come in. The songs are oriented to places where Mark would be likely to feel attracted to. The common influences are the same, like Burt Bacharach, Badfinger and the list goes on.

We've written some 30 songs […].


For unknown reasons nothing came out of this, although Duff would feature on some of Lanegan's later releases: the drummer and bassist on the song 'Fix' off the 2001 album 'Field Songs'; together with Izzy as background singers on the song 'Strange Religion' off the 2004 album 'Bubblegum'; and the bassist on the songs 'Deepest Shade', 'Brompton Oratory', and 'Autumn Leaves' off the 2013 album 'Imitations'. It is possible that some of these songs stemmed from their 1998 collaboration.


CONTINUING BUSINESS SCHOOL


I usually take night classes [at Santa Monica College]. So there aren't a lot of kids on campus. But a lot of kids wouldn't even [recognize me]. I've got short hair. I wear jeans and a T-shirt. . . . In a class, you're all equals.

I'm really overwhelmed by it! I'm going back to school. I took one year-and-a-half course in business management. We sold a lot of records and made a lot of money, but no one in Guns got their school degree. I didn't know what bonds or the stock market was about, or other financial terms. It all was part of rebuilding my life again and finding out the direction I should take. So I'm back to school and I'm a brilliant student, nothing but A's. It's really fun! If you are in your 30s, you better get an A or else what the fuck are you there for. I'm growing thanks to school.

[I went to] Santa Monica College. Very impressing. I went to the evening class. Eighteen year olds were freaked to see me around. Everybody said, "We ain't telling no one you're here!" It was great, a wonderful experience.


Although studying, Duff would state he got no degree, just individual courses [Popular 1, July 2000].


OTHER PROJECTS


In May 1997, Duff was having a role in the TV series "Sliders" about rock and roll vampires [The Vancouver Sun, May 8, 1997; MTV News, November 25, 1997].

From his home studio, Duff was also producing other studios artists, including Butt Trumpet, Betty Blowtorch, and the Ya-Yas [Guitar, September 1998].


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