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1998.03.20 - Los Angeles Daily News - A Clean Break From GN'R (Izzy)

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1998.03.20 - Los Angeles Daily News - A Clean Break From GN'R (Izzy) Empty 1998.03.20 - Los Angeles Daily News - A Clean Break From GN'R (Izzy)

Post by Blackstar on Tue Feb 25, 2020 2:34 pm


Fred Shuster
Daily News Music Writer

Izzy Stradlin, ex-rhythm guitarist with Guns N' Roses, has lost his appetite for self-destruction.

The friendly musician, who moved back to his unpretentious hometown of Lafayette, Ind., two years before quitting Guns N' Roses in 1991, says he's had few regrets since walking away from the drug-infested Hollywood rock lifestyle of the '80s.

"I needed to get out of L.A. for my own sanity,'' Stradlin recalled. "I was tired of the whole scene. I didn't move there as a junkie. I became one in L.A. It came with the turf.''

Stradlin, who recently released a rootsy solo album, "117 (degrees)" (Geffen), co-wrote many of Guns' biggest hits and had earned many millions from touring, song publishing, merchandising and record sales.

"I moved back to Lafayette because I thought it would be harder to score,'' he continued. "In the late '80s, you had to go to Indianapolis or Chicago. It helped being far away from that. But you've got to really want to stop. Back home, I would never have thought to use that (trash).''

Around the time he quit Guns, Stradlin had gotten sober - the only member of the group to do so at the time. The band had been involved in an ugly riot at a St. Louis arena and Stradlin had been arrested in Phoenix for drunkenly urinating in the cabin of a commercial flight.

"The machinery was working, the planes were flying, the shows were happening just like always,'' the guitarist said. "But once I quit drugs, I couldn't help looking around and asking myself, `Is this all there is?' I was just tired of it; I needed to get out.''

Stradlin purchased a house in Lafayette for $100,000 and moved back to the town where he was raised and formed his first high school band with singer Axl Rose, currently the only original member of Guns N' Roses left in the band.

"It was cool growing up there,'' he said. "There's a courthouse and a college (Purdue University), a river and railroad tracks. It's a small town, so there wasn't much to do. We rode bikes, smoked pot, got into trouble - it was pretty 'Beavis and Butt-head,' actually.''

After high school, Stradlin, then a drummer, moved to Huntington Beach and hooked up with an Orange County three-chord punk band. Shortly after switching to guitar, Rose came out with a backpack and stayed for a week. A year later, he returned and Stradlin and Rose started a band called Hollywood Rose.
The rest is history.

In 1985, the group morphed into Guns N' Roses, a band that brought raw, dirty rock 'n' roll back into the charts at a time when pop was dominated by dance music and pop metal. Stradlin and lead guitarist Slash spit out dueling riffs worthy of the Stones while Rose's trademark howl put across songs like "Sweet Child o' Mine,'' "Welcome to the Jungle'' and "Paradise City.''

Guns' multimillion-selling debut, "Appetite for Destruction'' (Geffen), is widely considered the best metal album of the '80s.

"I never regretted the decision to quit,'' Stradlin, 31, said. "The week I left I was back in Lafayette and I watched this big pay-per-view thing they did from Paris. It was weird but I was thinking I'd much rather be here watching it on TV then shlepping around with those guys.''

In 1992, Stradlin formed the Ju-Ju Hounds, a Stonesy outfit that released one album and traversed the globe twice.

After this extended road trip, Stradlin kept up the momentum with long stays in England, Trinidad, Costa Rica, Spain, Denmark and Sweden.

In Madrid, he rented a house with no phone. The boredom got to him.

"That was a little tough,'' the guitarist said. "It got to where I had this uncontrollable urge to send a fax or something.''

Once back in Indiana, Stradlin resumed one of his favorite activities - racing - at a quarter-mile oval track he'd managed to build in a field near his house.

"We started out racing bikes, these specialized models,'' he explained. ``But then we moved onto cars - old BMW 2002s and Alfa Romeo GTVs from the '70s. You can pick them up pretty cheaply and they run real well. Racing is a great tension release.''

In late '95, Stradlin traveled to L.A. where he met up with his old friend Duff McKagan, the ex-bassist from Guns. The two soon found themselves in a studio with a couple of musician friends.

"We recorded 10 songs in eight days,'' Stradlin said. "It got me excited about music again. I realized how easy the whole process could be. Those sessions were fun and painless. We just had a great time.''

Around the same time, Stradlin heard drummer Taz Bentley had left the Reverend Horton Heat. A huge fan of Bentley's work, the guitarist tracked him down and asked if he wanted to come to L.A. and write some songs.

Ju-Ju Hounds guitarist Rick Richards and McKagan came aboard and the new album was born.

"The album is totally random,'' Stradlin said. "It's just about situations I've been in over the past few years, mostly in Lafayette. That's always how I approach songwriting - no big statement, just telling it like it is. Otherwise, you take all the fun out of it.''

Stradlin, who has no tour plans, says he's still on good terms with at least two of the original Guns N' Roses members.

"We're still pretty good friends,'' he said. "The only guy that doesn't call anyone is Axl. I don't know what his problem is.''

Stradlin also has no more plans to promote the record. After his phone conversation with the Daily News, he called his manager, permanently canceled his interview schedule and flew to Hawaii.

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