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1992.09.30 - RAW Magazine - Talk Is Cheap! (Izzy)

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1992.09.30 - RAW Magazine - Talk Is Cheap! (Izzy) Empty 1992.09.30 - RAW Magazine - Talk Is Cheap! (Izzy)

Post by Blackstar on Thu Jun 11, 2020 6:46 pm


Less than a year after his better separation from Guns n' Roses, IZZY STRADLIN is back with a new band and his first solo album, 'Ju Ju Hounds'. PAUL REES finds him determined to concentrate on the future!

Izzy Stradlin sighs, the opening question is going to be the same for a long time. "Probably what happened with Guns N' Roses, right?" he guesses. "You know it's one of those things where all I can say at this point is that I left for my reasons, and I really can't talk about it right now. I mean, I've gotta leave it alone for a bit. There's too many unresolved issues, so if I talk about it it's not gonna help things any. I hear this, I hear that, but I figure, let it fuckin' blow. Hopefully, down the road the stuff will all get cleared up."

Stradlin is putting his own life back in order first. The guitarist moved back to his hometown - Lafayette, Indiana - following the split, and re-employed the manager Guns n' Roses had discarded, Alan Niven, to handle his affairs.

"Well, I've been based outta here since '88," he says. "It's one of those things where I've been back and forth for the last four years. I like it here, it's a little bit more laid back than LA or New York, of course. It's the other side of the coin.

"With Alan, well it wasn't my decision to get rid of him. It was something I pretty much had to accept at the time, and I always thought he was a real good manager. We've known each other since '85, and I think he was a pretty important part of the whole Guns n' Roses scam."

At this point the Black Crowes were also looking for a guitarist, with Stradlin's name being mentioned as a possible replacement for Jeff Cease.

"Well, I was not so much proposed," he begins. "I stopped by Rich (Robinson)'s house in Georgia, and he said if I wanted to get together with him and work on any songs or anything, then we could do that. I told him I was gonna drive back to Indiana and relax there for about a week. What happened was that I got the bike out, so I didn't really do anything with music for that period. It was too soon."

Once he had settled, Stradlin slowly returned to songwriting and music. "I was just thinking that I was gonna race motorcycles, I was competing in Trials Bikes up until December," he recalls in a hushed drawl. "Then winter came and the events were over in the Midwest, 'cos it's too cold. So, there's a guitar sitting in the corner of my room, and I just looked at it and thought, 'What else am I gonna do?' I've got an 8-track recorder, so I dug that out of the garage and hooked that up. then I dragged out a drum kit and a bass guitar, and the next thing you know it's one thing leading to the next. I had a few people call me up to write songs with them. I mean, that was a big surprise. I thought, shit, I guess I could, 'cos it's not like somebody calls me up every day to work on their car.

"I started writing songs again. I figured, shit, I can do a record with Geffen so I might as well do a record. I figured, man, if they sold millions of records with Guns n' Roses, y'know? I never had any major problems with anybody at the label, and I was pretty happy with the results that they'd produced. If you've got a good thing, why change?"

The band came together in much the same carefree manner.

"Well, I put together 12 or 13 songs, and then I hooked up with Jimmy Ashurst (bass) out in LA," Stradlin explains. "He's an old buddy of mine from the mid-'80s. I called him and asked him what he was doing and he said that his band, Broken Homes, had split up so he was just hanging out in LA and working in a record store. I said that I'd got a record I was thinking about doing, and I asked him if he'd be interested. We got together, so I put all my shit back in the van and headed out to LA again.

"Rick (Richards, guitar) came from the Georgia Satellites obviously, and Jimmy's got the phone numbers on everybody. When we needed a keyboard player, I asked him what he'd got under 'Keyboards'. That's how we ended up with Nicky Hopkins (who appeared on several Beatles sessions and toured with the Stones on their 'Steel Wheels' tour), he did a track. Ian MacLagan (ex-The Faces) also did some stuff. Anyway, Rick came out of that book, too. I didn't even know the Satellites had split up. Charlie (Quintana, Bob Dylan's touring drummer) had played with Broken Homes in some form or other, I don't know when.

"We worked out in LA, at Total Access Studios, 'til April. I like it there 'cos it's out of the rush of Hollywood and all the usual fiasco. then we went to Chicago from there. We ended up at Chicago Recording Company, which is right by the lake. We're going back up there to start rehearsing.

"I'm not really gonna try and control any of it," he insists. "We'll rehearse, get a set together and set up gigs, then we'll see where it goes. I mean, it's not right for me to lay anything down on these guys, like how to live or how to play or anything."

The 'Pressure Drop' eP, featuring a cover of the Toots And The Maytals Reggae standard, is the first solo Izzy Stradlin release. It's followed in October by 'Ju Ju Hounds', a fine Rock'n'Roll album in the purest sense. Stradlin sounds like a man who's spent long hours listening to The Stones and The Clash, copying Keef Richards' fag-scarred vocal mannerisms in the process.

"The EP is a lot rougher sounding, probably a little faster," he reflects. "The top three songs on that (the title track and the cool Punk of 'Been A Fix' and 'Came Unglued') were the more upbeat ones. The album's got an acoustic song or two, it's got some faster stuff than 'Pressure Drop', it's a lot more varied. There's a coupla songs that I guess are a little bit reflective, it pretty much speaks for itself. There's no heavy concepts or political messages.

"It was a crack up pretty much. Everybody was having a good time and it was one of those records where we'd start recording in the afternoon and work until the night. A lot of it was recorded in the daytime, which was a bit of a switch for me. It seemed natural, y'know, before the only other thing I did outside of Guns n' Roses was helping out Alice Cooper back in '88. They sent us a tape down that was 'Under My Wheels', and me and Slash and Axl played on it. Other than that I'd never really worked with outside bands or musicians. It was interesting, 'cos I got to see some different personalities and ideas."

Out of the G n'R circus, Stradlin has rediscovered his inspiration and enjoyment.

"Well, I've got enough money to live k'know. the motivation is just to lay, to hear the amps, write songs. 'Cos that was what it was always about in the beginning, before anything happened in the band," he says. "That was the thing that bought everybody together in Guns n' Roses, I think we all wanted to play.

"The record and everything wise, I mean, I payed for all that stuff myself, just because there wasn't a contract ready or any of that stuff. Once I hooked up with Jimmy I figured I wasn't gonna sit around and wait for everybody to get the paperwork in order. The excitement has come back three-fold, 'cos it's so fresh and new I guess."

Stradlin returns to the road in the autumn, taking his band around the clubs of Europe and Australia. Whether he'll perform any Guns n' Roses songs or not is still undecided.

"I've thought about it, it might be a good idea. I'll wait and see what the hecklers are yelling. I do know we're not gonna be doing 'Welcome To The Jungle', though."

Or any sideways shuffles across the stage?

"It's hard to do that with a guitar, man."

While Stradlin has sorted himself out, fellow G n'R refugee Steven Adler s still living the nightmare. He's now out of Roadcrew, the band he formed with Davy Vain, presumably for the same old reasons.

"I spoke with him a while back, two or three months ago, and he was kinda hanging in there y'know," Izzy reveals. "I gave him a little support, because I always got on with Stevie really great and I always considered him a really good friend. It was very unfortunate how things went down. It was good to hear his voice, y'know.

"People in this sort of business come and go, and I hope all the best for him. I hope he gets himself together. I told him to get some studio work."

Would Stradlin consider employing his former colleague in the future?

"Stevie? I dunno, I'll see what the future holds," he shrugs. "this year I'm booked for this record and the tour. I suppose if he came around, and he was in good shape, I'd do a coupla tracks with him.

"I'm very content at this point, in the sense that I've got a new band going and it's a different road. Well, it's all the same isn't it? The same old shit, it's Rock'n'Roll and you go out and play. You make records if you're lucky, and fuck it."

Izzy Stradlin is the lucky one. Leaving Guns n' Roses might just be the best thing that could have happened to him.


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