APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
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APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.

Cheers!
SoulMonster

08. 1987-1988: TOURING AND SUCCESS

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08. 1987-1988: TOURING AND SUCCESS - Page 3 Empty Re: 08. 1987-1988: TOURING AND SUCCESS

Post by Soulmonster Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:14 pm

EXPLAINING THE SUCCESS OF 'APPETITE'


Already before 'Appetite' started to sell well, in October 1987, Axl would explain what set them apart:

The fact that we focus a lot on our music. There are many people out there who are great pop stars, but don’t send a message with their music. There are also people who can sing very well, or are surrounded by studio musicians that may be really good, but play just for the money, without feeling anything special for what they’re doing. We try so that every little part of each song is as special as possible, and has a real and honest meaning coming straight from the heart. In the years I’ve been into this, I’ve seen many people who want to live the life of a rock star without wondering about the merit of their art. That’s something we care about. Each song is like a painting for us; we try to turn it into a work of art that we can be proud of in the next ten years. I don’t want to look back one day and say, 'I made a million dollars with this song, but it's the biggest crap ever made.
Popular 1, April 1988; translated from Spanish


Later, when asked about why Appetite became so successful, the band mostly showed humility:

When we went gold I was surprised. When we went platinum I was shocked. The fact that we broke the top ten is unreal. I mean, this isn't supposed to happen. This isn't right.

That void is something I was looking at for a long time. The punk movement was dying out, and there were all these metal bands starting up, so [guitarist] Izzy and I put out these ads for a guitarist for a “punk metal glam thrash band.” So we were looking to fill this void. Now it’s starting to get across in a big way. For a time there, we didn’t think it was going to. I thought after Poison we’d be welcomed with open arms as the logical next step. It didn’t quite happen the way we thought it would. But now it’s starting to explode. It took a lot of patience. When we first started out this band was banned. No one wanted to book us, manage us, take us on tour or play us on the radio. Now our video’s been in the Top 5 on MTV for nine weeks.

Well, right at this very point where, you know, we’re sitting down talking and everything has changed, we just broke into CHR, which is top 40, with Sweet Child O’ Mine. We’re basically getting picked up now by a lot of major stations. But what you’re saying is – I know what you’re saying - it’s that we could never get any airplay at all. You know, radio stations wouldn’t touch us, there’s profanity all over the album; people wouldn’t play us just because of the album cover, the original album cover; MTV wouldn’t touch it. And what happened is, it was really the way I guess things should be, which is we went out and played, and proved ourselves to our own audience to the point where word of mouth caused a big enough buzz where we were req... requested a lot – I can’t even pronounce English anymore. Anyway. And it was just getting to the point where the kids wanted it that bad, and the radio, in order to stay – you know, they’d better do something about it. And the record company put out more records and it just sort of snowballed. It’s still going, we’re almost two million. It just, like, went back to number 7 in Billboard, so –.

We weren't gonna let it not [become a success]. This may sound egotistical but I'm in my favorite band. I'm playing with my favorite people. The songs are close to my heart. We didn't know what was gonna happen initially. We had to hold on with everything we could just to get this record done. If everything else fell through, and I end up pumping gas, at least I'll have the record on tape.

[Being asked why he think they reached no. 1]: I'm not sure. I think the only reason it could have possibly gone to Number One is we're filling some sort of void. That's really the only thing I can attribute it to. It's not because the songs are all huge hits - that's the last thing they are, they're just a bunch of dirty rock 'n' roll songs. So I figure, we're just like the resident down and dirty rock band in town at the moment. Everybody wants to have that record because it's not really that safe... and it looks cool next to George Michael records in their collection.

I think the only reason it could have possibly gone to No. 1 is that we’re filling some kind of gap. A gap that hasn’t been filled by this particular kind of music for however long it’s been. That’s the only thing I can attribute it to. It’s not because the songs are, like, huge hits. They’re not, they’re just rock ’n’ roll songs and fuck the Top Forty, you know? I figure we’re just the down and dirty Guns N’ Roses band,’ he continued. ‘Everybody wants to have that album because it’s not that safe and it looks good next to the George Michael album...[…] Like I said, we filled a void which someone had left a long time ago. Aerosmith used to do, I think, what we do. But even Aerosmith isn’t the same thing any more. Even though they’re still around, because they’re older and experienced, been through the mill and this and that, they’re on another plateau now where they’re not gonna fill that gap that they left. So along come these guys... us, right? And we’re, like, fuckin’ ... just going for it.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

What is the reason? Timing. We didn't time it, it wasn't like, "Okay guys, let's get together here in 1985 and then," but it was just, we're at the right time at the right place, you know. There wasn't very many honest bands.

It's not that we are that great or anything, but at least, you know, at least we're realistic and we're sincere about what we do. […] we're like affected by shit the same way that most normal people are affected. We don't, like, pose so that we can fit into the business. So it's like you don't get up in the morning depressed and you put on a smile on your face and go out to the offices and start going through the bullshit. We're, like, get up depressed, go to work depressed, and it's like, you know, one way or the other, you know. If we're happy, we're happy. That's just the way it is. So the album is, sort of like, very emotional, you know, and all the shit we do is usually very emotional. We have a really shitty crowd we get, you know, affected by it, we get pissed off, sometimes we really insult [?] the crowds because it's like, "Well, fuck you!" [laughter]. So somehow, I guess, that works, I guess. I mean, I don't think we would be as popular in 1976 or 77 as we are now because it was, I think there was more bands sort of like us. So I think would have been different. But we're the only band like us right now so it's just timing and shit, you know […].

[…]Aerosmith and AC/DC were still around, they're great bands, but I think kids, you know, of the late 80s here didn't really have a band who were their peers to cling on to […].

[…]everybody asks us that question, like, "Why do you think you guys have hit this point". It's a hard question to answer. I think one of the main things is that we sort of, like, filled, you know, a gap in music business right now, because for the last, since 1970-1980 it's been pretty bland as far as rock and roll is concerned, and so at least, if nothing else, the attitude of the band has come over and people are like, "Yeah!". I mean, that's sort of, like, what rock and roll is all about. And also that freedom-kind-of-thing.

You wanna know why I think it is? Because Steven is one sort who nobody can really explain. Izzy is another sort that nobody can really explain. Axl is like... Axl - who has brought this whole new thing with him that people try to imitate all the time now. And Slash is... what? He’s a "what?", that’s what he is. And there hasn’t been a “what?” in years, do you know what I mean? Am I making sense? Basically, it's obvious we’re all different kinds of people into different kinds of things. We don’t like absolutely everything about each other, we don't agree on everything. But we don’t lie about it, and somehow it works.

They just look at us and go, “What!?”
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990


Yes, Slash could also be proudly honest:

We've sold six million LPs because it's a good album. It's a fucking good album, it'd be fucking false modesty if I pretend it wasn't.


Andy Secher, the editor of Hit Parader, would shed his thoughts on why they caught on:

They’re presenting an image so strong that the music is almost secondary. They've presented this wild-man image. ... To a lot of kids, that's very appealing. […] It’s a major dilemma — how do you present these guys without glorifying what they do? You can only hope that they're just an outlet for their fans, that the kids can feel like they’re living vicariously through the wild actions of a Tommy Lee of Motley Crue or an Axl Rose of Guns 'n’ Roses, so they won’t feel the need to do anything nasty to themselves.


Axl would also discuss why it had taken to long:

Well, we've been working really really hard, we haven't let up. It's not necessarily so quickly to us. I thought it would happen a lot quicker because of the acceptance of Poison and Cinderella. I thought we'd get welcomed with open arms, but we were finding radio stations going, 'That's a little too much,' and 'We played too much rock 'n roll for the last couple of years, and we gotta get our advertising dollars back.' So it's just like it's always been.


Then, when other rock bands started to become more mainstream, door were closed:

[…] then they turned around and came out with the more commercial type stuff. That's helped close a lot of doors. They're going, 'Well, you have to write songs like that.' FORGET IT.


Looking back:

I mean, Guns was a fluke, to come out of LA at that time - it was a mesh of five people who just happened - I don't know if it was fate, however we met, but none of us were from LA, none of us were born there, and we all happened to meet - and we went through different bands, and we all ended up meeting each other over and over and over again, to the point where we the only band of its kind that could possibly exist in Los Angeles, we didn't get along with anybody else, inevitably, that was the case. And then at that time, it was during the 80s when music was during its weakest stage, and we were like the Anti-Christ, you know what I mean? And for some reason that caught on in Los Angeles, we got picked up by Geffen, they had the one guy with the ears to hear what was genuine - and I won't brag, but I will admit that Guns is probably one of the best rock'n'roll bands that came around at that time. And so we went on and we were like totally - not so much irresponsible, but we scared everybody! We couldn't get a manager, the record company wanted to drop us because we were more trouble than we were worth, and so on and so forth. So when we got signed they put us on the shelf for a while, you know - "We got to find someone to work with these guys, someone with a little bit of adventure..." And when the record was finally released, we toured opening for - you know, you name it, The Cult, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, all these different bands - Iron Maiden - and that's - all of a sudden, a year after the record was released, we broke, just from being an opening band. And that was just genuine fuckin' down-and-out rock'n'roll stuff. And it had nothing to do with exactly what style of music it was, it was the attitude.

Guns n' Roses was the result of only five guys that could have gotten along together, in Los Angeles, as a band. We all had the same dislike for what was going on currently in the early Eighties. We all had pretty much the same tastes - everything from Kiss to Thin Lizzy, and underground bands like Hanoi Rocks and the New York Dolls. Aerosmith broke up, heaven forbid. AC/DC lost Bon Scott. John Lennon was killed. And then all these plastic bands came out. We put a band together against all odds at a time when the environment didn't welcome us with open arms. We were against the grain to the point where even rock bands of our own peers didn't like us. We said, "Fuck you!" That's why we had such a violent attitude, I suppose. And we had bad habits, and this, that and the other. And then around that time other L.A. bands like Motley Crue, Dokken and Quiet Riot started to surface - we hated all of them. When Guns got together we were doing our own thing, and for some reason we went from being way in the bottom of the barrel, under the barrel, actually, to becoming extremely popular. We attracted all different types of people with different musical tastes - we had punk and heavy metal people, the "hair" guys. We had pseudo-folk kind of people, some of the pop people. So on and so forth would come to our gigs for whatever reasons. I think we were more of a spectacle than anything. [laughs] Guns was a product of its time, but it was genuine and not just a fabricated thing.

I didn't think the album was going to sell even 15 copies. [laughs] I didn't know a platinum record signified that your album sold a million units. Back in the Eighties, record-industry producers tried to impress us by showing us their collection of gold and platinum records. We were like, "Do you have anymore Jack Daniels?" [laughs].


Last edited by Soulmonster on Thu Mar 24, 2022 2:32 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:14 pm

RONNIE STALNAKER - SLASH'S CLEAN-UP GUY


Slash was given a man, Ronnie Stalnaker, whose job it was to "follow Slash around when he was drunk" [Rolling Stone, November 1988].

I have to take a security guard with me when I’m on the road now, though, ’cos they’re scared I’m gonna die, or something. It’s sort of embarrassing ’cos nobody can just walk around and hang out with you or whatever. So it’s a drag in that sense, but it’s also cool because when a flock of people come up and they all want autographs, I don’t have the personality to just say fuck off. So he’ll keep them off my back and make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993
; interview from June 1988

I'm one of those blackout drunks. I get so fucked up I don't remember anything. I probably give the impression of being a real asshole most of the time, but I'm not really that bad.

When I get drunk I get like [Steven] does but I still manage to keep enough up here [in his head­] and to not fuck up things that concern my ultimate surroundings. [...] My most immediate surroundings I fuck up, but not the band stuff. Just my own personal shit. And, when Duff gets drunk he just gets very jovial, nice, and short-tempered. See, we take everything very unseriously, very lightly because, how really important [no matter what], in the general scheme of things [life in general], how important is a Rock & Roll band?

When the band could afford it, they put a security guard on me. His job was, basically, to follow me around and try to keep me out of trouble, which became really ultimately a big game. So I would do stuff on purpose just to see if he could catch me. (Laughs) And, you know, he sort of… I put him through the paces. [...] he locked me in my room and he was sitting outside the door. I was pissed off and drunk, and I tossed the Jack Daniels bottle at the TV set, and then subsequently fell asleep (laughs). You know, one of the things that he did, which was actually really cool and he didn’t have to do, is that he went in my room, took the TV set and climbed out the window - so as no one see him going down the hall with it – went out on the ledge, went to the room next door, switched TV sets, and came back in. But we were, like, 11 stories up (laughs).

Another time when we were in Dallas, Duff and I had adjoining rooms connected by a door and we invited over too many friends with piles of coke. Our party lasted all that night and well into the next afternoon. Things got out of hand, of course, and a big glass coffee table got smashed, and I walked all over it barefoot and bled everywhere. At some point someone kicked the dividing door off the hinges and tipped the beds over and smashed all of the lamps. There were too many of us behaving badly for Ronnie[/i] [=Stalnaker, Slash's security guy] [i]to deal with, so he came up with a plan to get us out of the hotel without the management noticing. He somehow herded us into a service elevator and snuck us out of a loading dock and onto the bus. The hotel had heard all of the noise and was very aware of the party going on, but Ronnie had kept security out of there somehow for an hour or so. We thought we’d gotten away, until the cops pulled us over a few miles down the road at a convenience store where, if memory serves, I’d actually just stolen a bunch of candy.

We were lined up against the side of the bus and taken in for trashing the hotel rooms. It was expensive and I can say in all honesty that it was the last time I’ve ever really destroyed a hotel room. Sure, I’ve been through a couple of TV sets and done a few other stupid things since, but that was the last time I engaged in total annihilation because I got the bill for that one.
Slash's autobiography, "Slash", 2007


Last edited by Soulmonster on Thu Mar 24, 2022 2:32 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster Thu Mar 24, 2022 2:32 pm

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS


As the band grew in popularity, the band members would argue that they were picking up on the business side of it:

We learned how to survive. We learned who's who in the music business. We learned how to tell when someone's full of shit. We've learned some hard lessons and had to pay some out-of-court settlements. At least we're smart enough to talk straight business now. If someone in this band is like, 'Okay, we're up against a wall' we have people - lawyers, other lawyers and other accountants - so that any mess we manage to get into, we can get out of.

What I'd tell any kid in high school is "Take business classes." I don't care what else you're gonna do, if you're gonna do art or anything, take business classes. You can say, "Well, I don't want to get commercial," but if you do anything to make any money, you're doing something commercial. You can be flipping hamburgers at McDonald's, but you're a commercial burger flipper.

Izzy and I had always done a lot of reading on Alice Cooper. Not only because we admired him, but also because we figured that anyone who could get this act off the ground had to be a genius ­and that would be his manager (Shep Gordon). So we'd always read as much as we could about Shep, and we met Shep in Long Beach that night [February 26, 1988], and we told him about how we'd read about him. And he said, "Yeah? Well, that's great, man, because I always used to go in and pull out my book on Elvis when we were first starting out." He told us that Elvis had in his contract that when he put out a record, every piece of RCA stationery must have the title of his new record on it, no matter which act it was promoting. Shep wanted to do that, and the record company said it couldn't be done - and Shep got his Elvis book and said "It's right here on page 42"


And their friend, Robert John would concur:

[…] as far as business goes, these guys really know what they're doing.


Duff would also say their competency came as a surprise to people:

We've not been given enough attention or been taken too lightly, just because the press figure that we're a bunch of drunks, too childish, or whatever. People will try to take advantage of that aspect of us. Then, when they come face to face, they realize we're not actually like that. Our organization is really tight and efficient.


Still, in 2007, Duff would claim they didn't know much at the beginning:

We knew nothing about money, and so we had this sort of gang mentality toward anybody who worked for us. It sounds funny now, but that’s all we had to rely on.


As the band blew up in 1988/1989, Slash was probably the band member mostly involved with the day-to-day running of the business [also see previous chapter from the very beginning of the band]:

[Being asked about his typical day]: A typical day? Some days I get up at eight-thirty, nine o’clock in the morning. Go down to Geffen - talk on the phone to radio stations. Do all this other shit... […] Depends on how hard I’ve been at it the night before. I’ve done phone interviews at five-thirty in the morning - talking to Japanese press and all that shit. Except I don’t get up for those, I just stay up... It’s a small price to pay for not having to worry about your rent and getting to work on time,’ he added. ‘You don’t have many responsibilities as a band member - you have to fuckin’ be there for the few responsibilities you do have.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

I do take care of all the business and stuff for the band aside from what the manager takes care of. But I'm the one member of the band. Not just me, I mean, Axl does, too. And so, but it's the one thing that I've always been a very conscientious about. […] I'm always involved in knowing what's going on with promoting, what's going on with when we're on the road with the T-shirt sellers and the like... You know, it's just everything. Just like, how a gig went as far as to, you know, ticket sales. I take care of all the interviews and make sure that they all get done, because Axl doesn't really like to do interviews, and I make myself available for it and stuff like that. I always am the first one to pick up on, like, when there's a new video. I'm the first one to look at it and give my opinion on what's good and what's not. And so on and so forth. I mean, everybody in the band is concerned and everybody's involved. It's just something that I'm on top of right away because, you know, I'm just like a workaholic and I like, you know, everything that's going on.

[Slash] was an ace at the business end of things as far as the band went and was always working, always on the phone 24/7 and busted his ass to make sure rehearsals and sessions went smoothly and cost effectively.  He was really very aware.  When they were out on the road, he was busting his ass working and waking up at 8 oclock in the morning to talk to 100 different reporters for press and everything.  He was a terminator and there was nothing he would not do in the name of Guns N’ Roses.   He’s always been able to handle an extremely heavy workload and multiple jobs and somehow balance everything.


And explaining why he worked so hard:

Yeah, I do it. I’m up for it. If I don’t do it then I’ll just sit around and do drugs and get drunk. There’s also a feeling of if I don’t do it no one will.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988


When asked if he was alluding to Axl:

Axl's very involved - he does it and gets really into it, then other times he doesn’t want to do it. He’s very emotional, so I’ll do it. But if he wants to he could be talking to fuckin’ somebody from Trouser Press for three hours... Axl does this, this and this - and this, this and this, Axl doesn’t do. It’s not any particular thing, it’s just what his frame of mind is.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988



THE NINETIES


Before we had to figure out where to live, now we have to figure out how to deal with whatever legal things are going on.

You know, as far the business side of things go we have to be able to get up in the morning and do shit, otherwise it just flies over your head and it’s too late. I’m constantly on top of it and Axl is too on a daily basis. It never stops. It’s cool because I’m in my element and I enjoy it. […] normally we wouldn’t talk about it, but since we’re getting picked apart so much we might as well tell people what goes on. It’s a huge contrast to when we’re on stage. It has nothing to do with music. I’ve always done business for the band ever since we started. It’s just the way I am. I dig the challenge of doing the business as much as I like to Rock out. I’ll take the latter over the former any day, but someone has to do. If you want something to be done you have to do it yourself. Our manager (Doug Goldstein) is great but you have to communicate what you want because his final decision may not be the right decision for what we do as a group. Financially it may be, but not as far as what you believe in as a Rock band.

The last tour we did cost us two million dollars and we didn’t make a penny off the tour except for maybe the ‘T’-shirts that we sold. The truth is that I’m still watching my money. We put so much back into the group that we won’t really see anything until a long time down the line when we’ve sold records consistently. We haven’t even re-negotiated our contract so that might never happen. To me that means I still feel the same as I always have. I’m happy though, but it’s like that old Jimi Hendrix quote which goes ‘The more money have, the more Blues you can sing’. People like to see the glamour that surrounds bands. They like to think that that’s what it’s all about and it isn’t.

One of the few indulgences is getting drunk. Otherwise we’re always working. I get up in the morning, and I know this is gonna sound terrible, but I get on the fuckin’ phone to take care of business and get more dates, dealing with promoters and shit. Being on stage is great, the travelling is fine, but doing what we do is far from glamourous and I think people probably wouldn’t last five minutes doing what we do. I don’t mean that to sound bitter because it isn’t, but there’s times when we’re slaving away and we can’t even get jet-lag anymore because we just don’t sleep. At the same time people have paid to come and see us and they don’t give a shit and you’ve got to be able and deliver every night, whether you’re sick or not.  There’s no work compensation in this business. I’m not knocking people who lead regular lives because that’s their choice and they probably complain in the same way as anyone else, but we ain’t just out here living an easy life.

I was real fortunate that I grew up in this business, so I watched a lot of people fuck up before I even started, you know (laughs).


Gilby would comment that the band had integrity:

What surprised me was the integrity of the band. Just watching how they do their business and the way they run the band. It’s never like: ‘We can make a lot of money on this; let’s do it.’ It’s like, I watched Slash sit down and go over the designs of the T-shirts and stuff, and it’s like, ‘I wouldn’t wear that, why would I let someone who likes the band wear that?’ It really impressed me, because from where I come from, it’s so hard to be successful in the music business, so you would do a lot of things you normally wouldn’t think is right. And for some reason, the band did everything they wanted to do. And it worked.


In early 1994 Slash would say he enjoyed the business side of the band: "It's more or less my constant function with this band. I love the fight; I love to get into it, get our point across and make decisions people can't argue with. So that's fun" [Kerrang! January 8, 1994].
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