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2001.05.30 - - On The Couch with Dr. Brain Damage: Izzy Stradlin

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2001.05.30 - - On The Couch with Dr. Brain Damage: Izzy Stradlin Empty 2001.05.30 - - On The Couch with Dr. Brain Damage: Izzy Stradlin

Post by Blackstar on Mon Aug 26, 2019 1:59 pm

Thanks to @Surge for sending us this article!

On The Couch with Dr. Brain Damage

1. What is your earliest memory?

What, as a human? (Well, before then, if you can remember that far back! - Dr D.) Music. When I was a young kid, my parents had a record player - Fats Domino…

2. What would you be if you weren't a musician?

Dead. (laughs) Because music gave me something to do in my life.

3. How do you get on with your parents?

Good. (Are they supportive in what you do? - Dr D.) Oh, yeah - especially once you sell a million records, you know! My mum was 100 per cent supportive - loved music, let Axl (Rose) and I play in our garage back in Indiana. My parents split when I was third grade or something at school, but I remember when I was a teenager, I bought an electric guitar and I went over to see my dad. He saw this guitar, he goes, "What the hell did you waste your money on a guitar for? You'll never make a dollar." And this pissed me off so bad as a kid - and I still give him some shit about it when I see him. But as soon as they see you making money, parents are like, "Oh, this is great!" I bought a house in Indiana in the late Eighties and I said, "Oh, I've made it now - my dad's out there, mowing my lawn on his riding lawn-mower!"

4. Who's been the biggest role model in your life?

Wow - that's a tough one… I mean, I have musical heroes and then I guess you have other people that are just nothing to do with music. That's difficult, I don't really have one, I have a lot of them - and then I'd have to start comparing them into different divisions!

5. How far would you say the image you project on stage is the 'real you'?

(laughs) It's me onstage, playing guitar and singing. I've read that Alice Cooper created this thing that was Alice Cooper, so onstage he's Alice Cooper, but if he's going to buy a car, he's Vincent Furnier - the other guy! Last year, I was thinking, "Man, that's pretty clever, if you could sub-divide into two separate entities…" But… it's me, you know?!

6. For you, is the glass half-full or half-empty?

(laughing, as he replaces the glass of mineral water he's just drained on to the table in front of him!) I see the glass as a vessel with an infinite capacity! I don't know, it depends. If I was drinking, I would say, "Obviously, it's half-empty", because the drink's getting low, so it was always a case of "Oh shit, we'd better get another one to fill it up!" But I haven't drunk for ten or 11 years, so I don't really think about it.

7. If you were to lose all your possessions, what one (non-living) thing could you not live without?

My tennis shoes. Really. That's the only thing - I'd need some shoes to walk around in. I have a phobia about being barefoot!

8. What are your best personality traits?

How could I know? My smile - but that's not part of your personality, is it? I try to be understanding, so I would hope that would be it. But I don't know - you got me!

9. And your worst?

Mood swings. But I think the older you get, the less it happens. Then of course, when you quit doing drugs and alcohol, that has a big effect. 'Cause I think if you have a shift in mood when you're hungover, it can really make a high and a low even more exaggerated, whereas now you just brush stuff off and say, "Aw - no big deal."

10. Do you lead or do you follow?

A leader. (Are you more comfortable as a solo artist than as a bandmember then? - Dr D.) The band has become a necessity for me. I was in a great band; we put out some good stuff in Guns N' Roses. But when it wasn't working for me, just as a person, I had no choice. Well, I had a choice: I could join a band or start another one, and it seemed more natural to start writing songs and get some guys to play with me and go that route. But at the same time, if Duff (McKagan) has an idea or Rick (Richards), I'll follow these guys. I follow people into musical territory.

Now, I can't imagine doing Guns N'Roses. I still talk to Duff once a week, I talked to Slash yesterday - I actually saw Steven Adler for lunch three days ago, which was… a trip! And other than the singer, we still all talk, so it would be easy for us to go in the studio and make music. It's only the singer - he's the only square peg in a round hole!

11. Would you say you have an addictive personality?

Personally, I don't think so, but I've had people tell me that I do. The last few years, I'd say less and less, but before that, yes, because I'd get into one thing and I would go head-first, no matter what it was - magazines, guitars, whatever… so it's possible!

As soon as I stopped drinking alcohol, coffee became my thing and I would start the coffee with a giant pot of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee and I would drink until it was gone. And I smoked cigarettes too, so this really had me going. Eventually, I stopped drinking the coffee, because I was shaking and sweating all day - it was like speed or something. I had migraine headaches for two days and I was like, "What is this?", but finally I figured out it was the coffee, the caffeine. So I went some time where I just stopped having caffeine altogether and now I can't even drink a soda pop, 'cause the caffeine just gets me! You clean your system out, you know.

12. Do you have any phobias?

No, not really.

13. What do you do to escape from the stresses of the music business?

I've taken up jogging in the last four months. Duff got me inspired to start running. He ran a marathon! This is a guy I used to see in the hallways of hotels and wouldn't recognise him, because he was so fucked up from alcohol - vodka, specifically. Here's a guy who almost died from having something blow up inside him - I forget what it was, but it was something important! (Actually, it was his pancreas! - Dr D.) So he inspired me to take up running, and that's a great escape for me. That, and riding sports bikes and scooters. In the last couple of years, I've been into 150 cc scooters and I find that really enjoyable and relaxing. And playing guitar, actually.

14. Have you ever had any paranormal experiences?

I've had altered state, out-of-body experiences - they were mostly drug-induced. I do meditation now, though, and I find that very relaxing. You know what? I try to practice meditation twice a day now and I don't always get it, but I've found that, half of the time, I can get to that same euphoric state that I used to get with opiates, or very close - and of course, not the hangover and you don't have to go score and risk your life. It's much better, you know.

I've never OD'ed on any drugs, so to speak, but there was one time, when I’m sure I was probably close to overdose. When I was first experimenting with opiates, I'd smoked some heroin and I remember laying down and there was a Who song on the radio in the background, 'Teenage Wasteland'. I remember hearing this, laying there, feeling very relaxed, and then that keyboard part came on - dicka-dicka-dicka-dicka-dicka-dicka… On opiates, if you do too much, your respiratory starts to shut down, so probably what was happening was my respiratory was about to shut down, but hadn't really, and I remember waking up just agasp - urhhhhhh! - one of those things, and that was really bizarre - really scary, actually. But then I felt fine and I was living with Stevie at the time, so we went back, started playing the guitar and drums again, and everything was cool. That was the closest I ever came to something very foreign to me. It was very strange and probably not good!

15. What do you dream about?

The first few years you quit using drugs and drinking, you have what they call 'drug dreams'. I didn't know what they were at first, but I had loads of drug dreams - 1991 probably up until '96 or '97, and the heaviest was probably the first few years. You know, you go out and you score coke or heroin or pot, whatever… Actually, the most common one was the drinking ones and I would have the dream where I'm at a bar and I'd see some friends or something and I knew I wasn't supposed to be drinking, because I was consciously making an effort not to, but then maybe I'd have a drink at the bar. Sometimes I would wake up, going, "Aw, shit! Did I have a drink last night?" And I hadn't, but I felt kind of funny, hungover. I had these for years, and I later discovered it's common for anyone who's used for long periods. What happens is when you abuse your body with drugs or whatever, it's a foreign substance and your body reacts, like a reflex, and then it adjusts. When you have these dreams, your body physiologically goes through these same reactions, as though you were actually doing the drug or drinking the alcohol. So in the morning, you wake up and you feel hungover or beat up. The good thing is, it wears off by noon, but for the first few years, I had a lot of these.

16. Which is better: music or sex?

Pherrrgh! Oh God, I'll have to think about it… sad, eh?! I was going to say ‘sex’ right off the bat, but I don't know… lately, both have been pretty even keel. That's a tough one… music or sex? I'd say sex, if I gotta choose!

17. What's the most important thing life has taught you?

If I stay sober, my life is fine and if I get fucked up, my life is over (laughs). For me, that was the most important thing - learning how to live without having to use the drugs and drink. Because I'd spent so many years as a kid, doing the drugs and drinking that that was the only way I knew how to get by day to day. So that would be it for me.

Dr Damage’s Diagnosis: Izzy Stradlin has cleaned up his act no end since he was the guitarist in ‘the most dangerous band in the world’. When Izzy was arrested for smoking and urinating on the floor during a US air flight, who’d have believed that 12 years later, he would have given up drink, drugs, cigarettes and coffee and taken up jogging instead?! And not only that, but he now looks ten years younger than he did in 1989! Bastard!

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