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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:05

WHAT ROLE DID MANAGEMENT PLAY IN THE BREAK-UP OF THE USE YOUR ILLUSION LINEUP?


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?


Later, Slash would imply that some people in Axl's circle weren't "doing [them] any good":

When the band's popularity exploded, Axl became more and more isolated once other people started getting involved. Those people weren't doing us any good. With the exception of the other original band members, whom I am all still friendly with, I don't want to talk to any of those people anymore

Just the thing got built into such a monster, which was led by a guy who had no real idea what was going on from a reality point of view. And then, everybody that worked for us that were, basically, hand-feeding him all this bullshit. And it would just keep going on, and I had no control over it anymore.


And Dizzy would claim the lack of communication was the fault of "the powers that be":

I don't think there was an actual downfall as much as everybody sort of outgrew what was going on. People lost track of how they got there. Sometimes when you're that young and you have that much success that fast you grow out of it. I think that had a lot to do with it. There was a definite lack of communication also, which when you have a group of people that work together that closely all the time, communication is extremely important. When there is a lot of money to be made, sometimes the powers that be will keep that communication from happening for fear that it might break up what's going on. Thus, the money machine will shut down.


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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:05

LATE 1996
DUFF STARTS WORKING ON HIS SECOND SOLO ALBUM


By late 1996 Duff was still single and living a quiet life:

I don't have a social life. I don't even have a girlfriend. Maybe I will find one tonight! [because Duff would be going out to a Sex Pistols concert in LA]
Hard Metal, August 1996; translated from French

Well, you know, actually when I go back to... I live a pretty – I try to live a pretty normal life. I don’t really go out that much. I’m not interested in, you know, going out just to be out and be seen. You know, I do martial arts and I water-ski... […] And I do a lot of other things, you know? I had enough of the excess, I did that, you know? So now I just got my life together in my house, you know, so – And I go to basketball games and I go sit wherever, and if somebody comes up to me, I just talk to another human. I don’t try to run away, I just go, “Hi, yeah. Yeah, I am Duff. How are you doing, man?” You know, “I’m here to watch the basketball game, let’s watch it, man, come on.”
Rock & Pop Argentina, September 1996; translated from Spanish


Duff had divorced his wife, Linda [The Howard Stern Show, July 25, 1996], likely in late 1994 or 1995. The marriage had lasted three years [The Howard Stern Show, July 25, 1996].

In September 1996, Duff would be asked if he was interested in a second solo album but state that he was too busy with other projects at the moment:

I have a studio in my house and, you know, I go down there and I always kinda put together songs. So, I'm kinda busy right now. You know, Guns is… is doing their thing and we're out touring with Neurotic. And that's… Our album's coming out tomorrow. So… I'm pretty busy right now.


Yet, not long after, in early December, he had started working on his second solo album [Online Chat, December 17, 1996].
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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:05

OCTOBER 1996-MARCH 1997
"300 DATS OF IDEAS, LOOPS AND SKETCHES"


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].

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.

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


Matt would end up leaving the band in April 1997 [see later section], and he would later discuss what had been done by the time he left:

[…] I was hanging around rehearsal rooms for years working on material. We had over four hundred hours of jams, riffs, and songs recorded on ADAT.


By March 1997, a GN'R source would 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].


WHAT ABOUT PAUL?


Paul was still involved, and it would be reported that it wasn't only Slash who had been opposed to Paul, but also Matt and Duff [News Pilot, November 15, 1996]. Allegedly, Axl had been working with Paul continuously throughout the past periods 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 and that his intended role was more to work in the background.

Later, in 2004, Dizzy would discuss working on new music in the late 1990s and say complimentary things about Paul:

I was down in a rehearsal studio recording ideas with a couple other guys, a guy named Paul Huge who was in the band for a little while, and basically that's what I did five days a week. Five or six days a week, I was just down there recording ideas. A lot of great songs came out of that. Its all still there. Something will happen with that stuff eventually. That was a very cool creative period and it was great working with Paul.



DECEMBER 1996: 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.


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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:07

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.


Duff would explain 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

Now people can say ‘Well Axl, you're after control of the band too.' You're damn skippy. That's right. I am the one held responsible since day one. When it comes to Guns n' Roses, I may not always get everything right but I do have a good idea about getting things from point A to point B and knowing what the job is that we have to do. Within those parameters, I give everyone as much freedom to do what they want something Slash has verified in several interviews.


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


But as far as deciding what to play at shows, Axl called the shots:

Axl decides on the spot. He says “this [song]” and we play it.
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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:07

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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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:08

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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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:08

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]. 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 anyone else would be mentioned [Icon Magazine, October 1997], indicating that Matt had indeed left the band.

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 and Goldstein 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.

[…] Matt Sorum came into the studio and announced to those working that night, "Watch..I'm going to get myself fired tonight".


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.


And Matt would give his version and indicate that Paul had been central to the final argument between Matt and Axl:

In '97 I got into a little bit of an argument with Axl about the state of the band. He'd brought in another guitar player, Paul Huge, and none of us really wanted to play with him. Axl really wanted him in the band and we didn't really want to play with the guy. Me and Duff were showing up, trying to be professional and get the work done but it just didn't seem to be going anywhere, and obviously it still hasn't.

I'm so glad I left because it was just stagnant. It didn't make any sense to be a musician to be sitting there not being able to put any of your creative energy out to the world. All my stuff was on some tapes on a shelf and four years had gone by. I was still making a lot of money. The band was paying me really well, and I was a member. I was getting a big check every month and living the high-life up in a big six-level house with a Porsche and all my (expletive).

One day I just said (expletive) this. I want to play you know, let's go! Me and Axl had an argument and I said, 'You should get Slash back and we should put the band back together. Get out there and do it.' He was like, 'I don't need Slash.' And I said, 'Well I think you do.' And he asked me, 'Are you gonna quit?' And I said, 'No I'm not going to quit.' And he said, 'Well you're fired.' So I left, and I remember walking out the door and I went back to my six-level palatial estate, where I was producing a band called Candlebox, they were in my house. And I said, 'I've just been fired from Guns N' Roses.' And we sat down and we celebrated.

I didn’t want to be part of a band where all the original members were gone, with the exception of Axl.

Then Paul Huge walked into the studio and made a bad comment about Slash. I said, 'You don't say that when I'm in the room'. Then Axl laid in, I argued with him and it was over. Huge followed me out into the parking lot and said, 'Come back'. I said, 'I can't come back, he's fired me. Do you feel good about breaking up one of the greatest bands that ever lived?' […] Paul Huge is the Yoko Ono of GNR.
Q, July 20010; interview from November 1999

And I remember one day sitting there - it was three years later, in 1996 - thinking, "I'm making a lot of money, but I'm not being a musician anymore. Somehow I've dug myself into a hole and my life has become more about my lifestyle and the money I'm making and not so much about my drumming."

I had let my drumming go a little. I was living an extreme rock 'n' roll lifestyle, and I wasn't practicing as much. I had bought a huge ranch in Malibu and a condo in town, and I wasn't playing. And when I was, I wasn't enjoying it anymore. So I said to myself, I have to quit this band. I really didn't want to quit, because I always try to see things through to the end. But Axl and I got into it and he ended up firing me.

At that point, Slash wasn't around, so I said, "We've got to get Slash back and start making this record." Axl said, "We don't need Slash," but I said, "Seems to me all the great songs - 'Welcome To The Jungle' and 'Sweet Child Of Mine' - were very much you and Slash. We need you two guys together." So he said, "Are you going to quit then?" I said, "No, I'm not going to quit." And then he said, "Well, then you're fired." And about a month later, I got the notice from the lawyers that I was out.

[Being asked when he left Guns N' Roses]: An evening in 1997. (laughs) I can't remember the month. All I remember is that I was had a candle box at my house, so it was freezing. I came home, and I said "I've just been fired". I remember what time of the year it was... I think it was summer time. Might have been April... March or April. I think so, 1997. […] We weren't getting along. (laughs) We weren't playing live. I wanted to get out and play. But no one else wanted to play so we... […] I like to call [Paul Huge] the Yoko Ono of Guns N' Roses. (laughs). […]  The man who broke the band up. You are the first guy who ever got me to say that. But, yeah. (laughs) […] So I guess Axl's lawyers are going to be contacting you. (laughs).

Years had gone by when we stopped touring, where we were trying to make the next record. We stopped touring in 1993, we were still in the studio trying to record a record in 1997. I started not feeling anything for the music anymore. I'm like, "Man I'm hanging out because I'm still getting this check, and getting paid. Man, I gotta get back to playing music. I'm a musician."


Later Matt would say that it had been impossible to tour with Neurotic Outsiders because Slash would ask him to come back and record with Guns N' Roses, but then Slash wouldn't come to the studio, leading to so much frustration that Matt eventually quit:

Every time we went out on the road [with Neurotic Outsiders], Slash would pull us back in and say, ‘Don’t tour, we’re going to record,’ and then he wouldn’t show up at the studio. So it started to be a pisser. It became a real thorn in my side, and I was like, ‘I’m going to have to let down the moniker of ‘Drummer of Guns ‘N’ Roses’ and just go back to being ‘Matt Sorum, Drummer.” I felt the music was becoming secondary to my position or status, so I let go of that. [...] Then in 1997 we got into an argument and I said, ‘This is not right, we’ve got to pull the band together. This is not brain surgery, this is rock and roll: two guitars, bass, vocals, and drums. Don’t over-think it.’ He said, ‘Are you going to quit?’ I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘You’re fired.'


It is also possible Matt is referring to Axl not showing up at the studio.


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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:09

MATT AFTER GUNS N' ROSES


After leaving Guns N' Roses, Matt played jazz with The Buddy Rich Orchestra, did a one-off Christmas performance with Billy Idol, produced a record for Candlebox, and collaborated on Poe's hits, "Angry Johnny" and "Hello" [Lawrence Journal World, June 28, 2001]. He formed a production company called Orange Curtains Productions with his partner Larry Cordola, but eventually quit:

I said, ‘I’m tired of this band business.’ It was getting too political. So I got into making music with people.


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] and together with Slash, Duff and Joh Taylor, Matt would make the soundtrack for the movie [Lawrence Journal World, June 28, 2001].

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

I've got my life in perspective. I'm all cleaned up. I'm in better shape than when I was in Guns. That was one big party.


To get sober Matt spent time in rehab, and there he would share a room with Scott Weiland [The Howard Stern Show, May 24, 2004].

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



THE CULT


In April 2000, 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].

Billy Duffy came and stayed at my house in the summer of '98. I had a gig down at The Viper Room (in Los Angeles), and I invited Billy and Ian to come up onstage with us. We played a couple of Cult songs and the room went freaky and loved it and we said, 'Why don't we put the band together?' So we booked a tour around the country and we did 25 almost-sold out dates. It was very cool and it felt very good. We had a good lineup and the band was rockin'. We did seven nights at the House of Blues in L.A. All the celebrities were showing up and it felt real exciting; it felt like people really wanted us back.

We took a year and a half to make the record because we were searching for the new sound of the band. We wanted to be viable now. We didn't want to be the retro-Cult. We didn't want to be a band reforming for the sake of getting back together. Ian refers to it as unfinished business. It's modern, you know? It'll compete against anything that's out there ? Any Limp Bizkit, but we don't want to be Limp Bizkit, we never were. It's heavy and it's a rock 'n' roll album, and I think what I sense from people out on the street is that there's a lack of it. There's a lot of attitude-rock and a lot of soft (expletive), but there's nothing in the middle. Aerosmith is more of a pop band now. There's Stone Temple Pilots, but their new album is even a bit soft. There's not that many.

I ran into The Cult guys again. They asked me to go out on the road. We put a jam together and played at The Viper Room when Billy Duffy [guitarist] came into town. Then we called Ian [Astbury, singer] who came down and sang with us and the crowd went nuts. We decided to book a tour last summer and it sold out everywhere. Then the labels started coming around and we got signeed. The album itself took quite a while to make. We finished it up this spring. The drums were cut pretty quickly - a couple of weeks. I cut four or five takes, and they edit them together, which is how a lot of people do it these days.



The Cult
2000


We got back together for a reunion tour, had an awesome time, and then a bunch of labels had a bidding war. We made a record with Bob Rock, Beyond Good and Evil, which came out on the Lava/Atlantic label, and did a big tour around that. It was very fun, but Ian (Astbury) and Billy (Duffy) really didn’t like the radio business and that kind of stuff. Times have changed, you have to kiss a lot more ass, and we weren’t willing to do it. [...] The record sold 200,000 copies, which isn’t bad, but not much in this day and age. We opened for Aerosmith and did some arenas, which is where I feel at home – I love that stuff. But then there was a lot of stuff happening with the record company. It got bought out by AOL Time Warner, and any band that hadn’t sold enough units was let go. We were let go.



2000: WONDER GIRLS WITH SCOTT WEILAND


In 2000 he would guest with the supergroup Wonder Girls which featured among others Stone Temple Pilot's Scott Weiland [Loudside, April 9, 2000].


2002-: CAMP FREDDY


From May 2002, Matt would be playing in the cover band Camp Freddy together with Dave Navarro [Blabbermouth, September 17, 2002]. The band would have a lineup of five members but feature many different guests [Blabbermouth, September 17, 2002]. On June 14, 2002, Camp Freddy played a show at the Moomba and Slash and Moby would guest [Moby.com, June 16. 2002].

In October 2003, it would be reported that Camp Freddy had signed with Sanctuary Records [Blabbermouth, October 8, 2003] and in January 2004 they were working on their debut album [Blabbermouth, January 28, 2004].


2002-2004: VELVET REVOLVER


Matt's time in Velvet Revolver will be discussed in a separate chapter.


JUNE 1, 2004: HOLLYWOOD ZEN


In 2001 Matt been working on a solo album called 'Hollywood Zen':

Like a lot of other drummers, I sometimes feel I'm not getting enough input in a band situation. I've found that I've got other talents and I can take those talents into other forums. Like the film work that I'm doing, for instance. It's been really fun and there are a lot of cool things I can do with percussion and film, plus I play other instruments, which is helpful. I've scored about five films, and the latest is one for Dreamworks. I've been able to do some very percussive scores and use some Native American instruments, which was fun. Anyway, my solo album happened because I wrote some songs for this Cult album that didn't get on there. So a friend of mine gave someone from Conspiracy Music a tape of my songs and they called me and asked me to do a CD for them because they love my style. It's called Hollywood Zen and it will be out later this year.

While I was waiting for The Cult record to finish up with guitars and vocals, I wrote a few songs. Then a friend of mine gave my tunes to a label called Conspiracy Records, and they called and asked me to do a record for them. It's called Hollywood Zen, and it's coming out shortly. It's about my experiences. There's a song called "3% Solution," which is real jazzy. There's a drum solo at the end over a chord progression. There's a tune called "Sunset Blvd," which is really mellow. I play super light on that one, and I padded up the snare drum with a wallet, like Ringo. I did all the drumming, sang, played guitar, and wrote the songs - kind of a Dave Grohl/Phil Collins approach.

I'm known for being a rock drummer, but I'm trying to diversify. I'm looking for other avenues for my drumming, like the film scores I've done. I'm studying more world music and other aspects of music. I'm constantly listening to a lot of new music. So I'm focused on the new, but with one foot in the old.

It's a personal album; it's about my experiences living in Hollywood. I've been living there 21 years. So it's sort of coming to the terms living there.

[Talking about how his drumming had changed after leaving Guns N' Roses]: I gotta tell you, I backed off on some of my big stadium moves. It was hard at first, because when you play with Guns it's such a big thing. A lot of what I did on the drums got very big and grandiose. I pulled back and got rid of a lot of my antics and tightened up my drumming again.

With Guns I was more on top of the beat, more aggressive, and punkier. The Cult has more of a pocket, more groove, especially the older stuff. The newer stuff is more agressive, but on the older stuff I have to emulate drummers like Mark Brzezicki and Mickey Curry, who played on those early records. I have to take all the different styles from the music The Cult has done and mesh them into a middle ground.


He also planned on turning it into a band and play live:

I want it to be a real band and I'm talking to a girl drummer who's pretty famous. I will be fronting the project - playing guitar and singing. I think all of us drummers are frustrating guitarists [laughs]. But now I have newfound respect for singers after trying it myself. That is really hard.


On June 1, 2004, the record was finally released.


Hollywood Zen
June 1, 2004



It’s called Hollywood Zen and it was produced by Lanny Cordola, who I’ve worked with on various soundtracks and things before. It’s really not a ‘solo drum record’ at all. It’s about songs and I sing and play guitar on it. Slash plays guitar on a track too, which is cool.

I’ve always been aware of playing around vocal phrasing - accenting certain phrases or leaving space for lyrics to come through. But I’m so much more switched on to that stuff now having been through the experience of making this record. Because I’m playing drums and singing, I know exactly where all the space needs to be, and I’ll be taking the lessons learned on it into everything I do.



LOOKING BACK AT HIS TENURE IN GUNS N' ROSES


I became sucked into the glamour. I don't have a family and I took advantage of everything on offer. Music became minimal importance to me. The fact that Axl Rose started acting like a total moron to everyone in the band didn't help either.


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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:09

APRIL 1997
CHRIS VRENNA COMES AND LEAVES


In April 1997, reports would surface saying that Matt had left the band and was 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.

At the time it was not confirmed that Vrenna was coming in to replace Matt, but Vrenna would later discuss having worked with Guns N' Roses in this period, but soon left to focus on his own project, Tweaker:

Fairly brief...two years ago, April of '96 [Vrenna must mean 97], 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 […]

I was with the Pumpkins for six months. Then during that time I checked my machine one day and Axl Rose called and that's when that whole Guns N' Roses thing happened. [...] When Axl was rebuilding the band every week I was the first guy that was going to be the new drummer after Matt Sorum left. So I was going to be the programmer, drummer and Moby was going to produce. It was like the first incarnation of new people. Duff was even still there and Buckethead wasn't.


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.

Everyone was really nice but I just didn't really want to do that. I just got out of ten year group and if I was going to do it I would have had to sign a long term commitment. I said if you've already spent eight years trying to make a record and you're only still doing this, then it could be another eight years. It was not long after that when I started jotting down stuff about tweaker.


And the music:

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


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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:10

APRIL-OCTOBER 1997
"A CLOSET FILLED WITH DAT TAPES"


Chris Vrenna 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.


Matt would later discuss what had been done by the time he left the band in April 1997:

[…] I was hanging around rehearsal rooms for years working on material. We had over four hundred hours of jams, riffs, and songs recorded on ADAT.


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]. Matt told the small crowd that Axl'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].

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 involved as a possible 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!

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.


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.

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.


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.



APRIL 1997: SHAQ FREESTYLES WITH THE BAND


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.


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Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:10

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 Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:10

1994-2000
THE PRESS SPECULATES ON AXL'S 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.


When the press finally got to see him in early 2001 it would be reported he was a bit stockier than in his youth. Beta Lebeis would defend his looks:

He hasn’t got fat! He loves feijoada, he loves black beans with rice. But now he’s leading a healthy lifestyle. He has a personal trainer and has gained 20 pounds (nine kilos) in muscle. He works out four to five hours a day and goes running every other day. Axl is very healthy, he doesn’t smoke and he doesn’t do drugs.


Izzy would not:

I just saw a report on them in Q, in England. There was a photograph where Axl was not really to his advantage, he was large and puffed up. I hope that that sounds better than it looks.
Guitar & Bass (France), June 2001; translated from French
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Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:11

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

[being asked if he ever thought about playing under his own name and not Guns N' Roses]: Sometimes. But it’s more important to do the Guns N’ Roses band, and I felt that, you know, Guns N’ Roses has an important place in many fans’ hearts and I personally want to be able to try to live up to that for them. And I’m lucky to find people who wanted to help me do that.


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


In 2002 he would go in more detail:

If one were to say well then why not do it now [either work on the material written while Slash was in the band or reunite with previous band members] there are several reasons.1) My band, too much time, too much effort and hardship. Confidence in our material. Excitement in watching this grow and being a part of the whole experience. 2) Money. You get what you play for and nothing's free. Can you cover the cost of this venture and its financial potential that I am just supposed to walk away from and for what? To where? I do not believe in any true effort or potential regarding most of my past relationship from the other party or parties, creatively or emotionally. Without that the money from a reunion doesn't mean much and though I'm sure the alumni is up for it for me it would be as or more lacking than it was during our attempts to work together previously. As a friend and former friend of Slash said to me in regards to working with Slash, "you can only do so many pull ups." This is my shot and you can root for me to fail all you want, but there is simply way too much put into this to cater to someone else's selfish needs and destroy peoples dreams I truly care about including my own. Not too mention that though I've fought what feels like the heart of the nature of this entire industry, my own people would probably eat me alive if I opted for a lesser course. 3) Slash has lied about nearly everything and anything to nearly everyone and anyone. It's who he is. It's what he does. Duff's support for the man though understandable in one sense in regard to his circumstances, is inexcusable, and furthers my distance from the two of them. For me Matt doesn't figure into the equation and for as much as I was a friend to him he was incapable of reciprocating and life is much better without such an obvious albatross. Don't get me wrong, I'm not taking anything away from the alumni in regard to their prior performances on record or touring to support the albums. I know how I was treated and more importantly I know how they treated others during both of these things, it's not a way anyone should be forced or even asked to work. And for the record I'm referring to Slash and Matt in regards to their actions and behavior, Duff played more of a supporting role (for reasons I've never understood). For the fans to attempt to condemn me to relationships even only professional with any of these men is a prison sentence and something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. I'd say my parole is nearly over. I'm practically a free man and if you don't like it you'll have plenty of time to get used to the idea.
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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:12

AXL GOES MISSING


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

______________________________________________

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.



NEW DEPRESSIONS?


Moby would indicate that Axl had not being 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.


Later, Izzy would indicate that Axl's isolation wasn't doing him any good:

But I mean... the weirdness of his life. To me, I live pretty normal. I can go anywhere. In 2001, I don't think people really give a shit. But for Axl, I knew for the longest time, because his face was all over the television, and stuff. I don't think he could really go anywhere or do anything.

And I think because of that he kind of got himself in a little hole up there in the hills. He kind of dug in deeper and deeper and now I think he's gone so fucking deep he's just... I mean, I could be completely wrong. But I know he doesn't drive [unheard of in LA] and he doesn't... he doesn't do anything. I've never, never seen him in town. Isolation can be a bad thing, but Axl's been at it for a long time now. you know, he always stays up at night....



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].


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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:14

MAY 1997
ROBIN FINCK JOINS THE BAND


STEVE 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].

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 Finck



Robin would explain how it happened:

About 18 months into [playing at Cirque Du Soleil], I got a call from Axl Rose, who I never met at the time. He invited me to the studio as he was writing and recording songs. It was an invitation for a casual listen. Eventually, after about 8 weeks, we started playing together.  We played some of my songs and finally I left the circus and was doing records with Axl, Josh, and Tommy, and what would have been a new Guns ‘n Roses, if you will.

[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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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:16

ROBIN BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES


Robin 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. Previous to joining NIN, Robin was in the outlandish "Impotent Sea Snakes" [Allstarmag, August 4, 1999].

Talking about joining and leaving NIN:

[I joined 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.

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.




Nine Inch Nails, Robin second to the left
1994


After quitting NIN Robin spent a year in New Orleans:

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.


Before joining Cirque du Soleil as the guitarist in the orchestra and its musical director [Kerrang! December 11, 1999], and did that gig up until joining GNR.

It was exactly what I needed – a 180-degree, polar-opposite change.

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.


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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:16

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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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:16

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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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:17

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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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sat 15 Aug 2020 - 19:17

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

The thing ran its course

_____________________________________

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.

Then I went back to dealing with Axl, and I realized I just didn't need it anymore. It was just me and him. Slash had left, Izzy had left. It wasn't the same band, and I just thought: 'What's the point?"


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


And later Doug Goldstein would also stress that Duff wasn't fired:

In 1998, Duff had been working on the project for a few years and called myself and Axl to dinner. It was at this time that he informed us that he didn't want to pursue music anymore, he had just had a daughter, and wanted to concentrate on being a good father and go to college. Again, he was not terminated, he CHOSE to walk away.


Later Duff 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 that the band had become a "disaster":

I’ve got over the situation about having to leave my ownband. I had to leave that fuckin disaster. I had to leave while it was still cool.


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.


Fernando Lebeis would later discuss Duff quitting and indicate that Axl and Duff were friends at the time but that they later lost contact:

[Duff] quit because he wanted a family. His daughter was born and he wanted time for his family. That's what I've heard, I don't know anything about the legal process. They were friends, but they haven't called each other in years.



REGRETS


Basically, I think the fame got to us. It got too big and no one knew how to contain each other and keep some sort of continuum going. It was a volatile situation, which made the band exciting, but big business and volatility don't mix. There was an electricity within the band, so that even at rehearsal, it was just blazing. And like with any electrical circuit, if you chop the wire, remove any source, it's not going to run at full power. Or if you add more lamps, it's just not gonna be the same. It's a shame because I think we should have at least made a record for all the fans all over the world who supported the Use Your Illusion tour so well. I am so proud of what we accomplished, not on a business level - which obviously was also huge - but just as five guys who met on the streets of Hollywood with one idea - to make uncompromised rock and roll and make it be heard. And we did that, man. We succeeded.

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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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sun 30 Aug 2020 - 9:52

AXL OFFERS DUFF A BETTER DEAL


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


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20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS Empty Re: 20. NOVEMBER 1996-AUGUST 1997: ROBIN REPLACES SLASH BUT MATT AND DUFF QUITS

Post by Soulmonster on Sun 30 Aug 2020 - 9:53

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], and later they had their second daughter, Mae [Loaded Online, February 21, 2002].

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


From Susan and Duff's wedding
August 1999


The same month it would also be reported that he was selling his house at Lake Arrowhead [Los Angeles Times, August 19, 1999].

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.

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!


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.



Episode 1999: Live
May 1999


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.


Looking back and discussing the status of the record:

Well there was the record that was going to come out on Geffen that didn't, that was going to be Duff McKagan. After that thing with Geffen going under and then Interscope not releasing the record, it took quite awhile for me to get my wind back. That was fucked up. It was so corporate and so bullshit. It had nothing to do with music. So I just wanted to start fresh with something new. It doesn't matter; what's in a fucking name? I'd go out as Duff McKagan. But I wanted to start a band. I wanted to be with guys who felt a part of it. I know people will figure out that I'm in Loaded and those people will come to the gigs. But I hope new people will come to the gigs too.

[Being asked if people would hear the songs]: I don't know. I own the songs, they own the tapes. It's such a shame. I put so much work into that. The first single had already gone to radio, and Geffen was behind it. They had a whole marketing plan. I was going up to Geffen every day for a couple of weeks doing press, all the photos, the artwork, everything. I go up there one day and everybody's crying and kicking the walls and shit. I'm like, what the fuck's going on? Everybody lost their jobs; Geffen had been bought. So for me to get those tapes back, I would have to get a lawyer and go through all that bullshit. I don't know what I'm going to do.

I was doing my finance major, and I was playing with some guys in my spare time. I had a bunch of songs and I was laying them down in this little studio, called Jupiter Studios, in Seattle. It's run by this guy called Martin Feveyear, who's from Sussex. He kept telling me it was going to work. He helped me find my voice. He encouraged me and pushed me, and it worked without me really trying. I started working with Geoff Redding. I played guitar and he played drums, and I laid bass over the top. It was a real simple process. I had two kids, I was going to school, and I just put things around that. The next thing I knew, the record was done. That was the killer. It was an organic thing. I had fifteen or sixteen songs. We went out and played in Japan. It rocked. It was cool.



PLAYING ON IZZY'S SOLO ALBUMS


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.

Lanegan talking about Duff and Izzy contributing to Bubblegum:

Having them singing on the record is like having Keith Richards and Ron Wood singing with you. I’ve known Duff and Izzy for quite a while. I was sort of a houseboy for Duff and his wife for a long time.
Rolling Stone, September 11, 2003

It was like having Keith Richards and Johnny Thunders both singing on your song. They looked at the words [to the song Strange Religion] once and did it, and it was perfect. Then they spent a couple hours telling stories.
MTV News, June 6, 2004


Duff would later briefly mention transitioning from working with Lanegan to establishing a new lineup for Loaded:

Geoff [Redding] and I started playing. We started playing. We were going to do this thing with Mark Lanegan, who was the singer from Screaming Trees. But Geoff and I started playing a lot and Geoff kinda pushed this thing like “Hey man, let’s, you know, let’s pursue this, you know, with Mark or not because him and I were Jello --– it was just guitar, I was playing guitar and he was playing drums. You know, would I love to play bass with him? Yeah, but it just didn’t work out that way because we were writing the songs – I’d write ‘em on guitar...



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:

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.


In 1997, it was reported that Duff was taking business college courses [Music West in 3-D, 1997].

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.

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.


In mid-2000, although studying, Duff would state he got no degree, just individual courses [Popular 1, July 2000]. Later he would talk about how great of an experience it had been and how he wished he had known this stuff before to prevent people ripping him off:

It’s a cool, okay – here’s the deal...right? I didn’t graduate high school, I moved to Hollywood...
I was playing. I’ve been playing since I was 13 years old. So, for me to get into a college I gotta start again... I got into Santa Monica college because I wanted to take this class –I didn’t have any, you know...they wanted my... [transcripts] So they kind of slipped me in the back door at Santa Monica, you know, I didn’t have to give them stuff. […]  I got the hookups! I did! So I took a couple classes that I just loved and I moved back to Seattle and thought, okay, I’ll just go to the University of Washington to see, you know, and they said “Well, we want your transcripts” ... we don’t give a F***, you know... I didn’t tell them anything, you know, – I just said I want to go to school and they said “we need your transcripts” and I said, well, I could go out and find you the transcripts, which weren’t complete, you know, which means I didn’t graduate and they said “Well, you’re going to have to go to a Junior College for two years and then come back and talk to us.” So I went to this private University, Seattle U. and they said “Go to this community college this quarter, get A’s, write us an admissions essay, you know... And a friend of mine, from the Presidents of the United States, is an English teacher! Dave Dederer, from Presidents ... and he… […] Yeah, he plays on the Loaded record and um, he helped me write this essay and went to this community college and I got A’s and they accepted me at Seattle U and... it’s just been awesome since, you know, it’s a great great school – they have a Law School, and a Business School, an Engineering School, Nursing School and it’s KILLER! And what brought me to this...*mumbles *, I read, you know, every night, I read constantly, but like in Guns, you know, we’ve actually had law suits and paid lawyers for everything – we could all put ourselves through Harvard Law School and saved, still saved tons of money. Or we could have, so finally I put the, and we always talked about this kind of stuff, you know, * whispers * God, how much are we payin’ our accountants, you know, financial advisors, business managers. So finally I said, you know what? I’m going to do it myself, you know? I’m going to go get this education that will help me with my own thing... am I going to go work for a corporation or something after this? You know? I doubt it. You know? But, if it were something cool? You know? If it was something cool? […]  if there was some cool – if somebody said “Hey, uh, you know, (pauses) God knows, you know,we’re thinking of expeditions to Antartica and we need, you know, we need somebody to do, you know? […] Or put together a business plan for it – tickets, funding – or something. I’d probably dig something like that. I pulled that right out a my ass. What’s that – that analogy there? […] I’m there because I want to go. And I have two midterms tomorrow. So, I’ve got all my books with me and shit, I’m like right up to here right now! Like before we go to wherever we go, I’ll study. […] And it’s like we went to Vegas yesterday and, you know, on the way over I’m just like “Can you guys quiz me on this?”

[Being asked if his professors know who he is]:  Well, yeah. […] Some don’t and then some find out and it’s kinda funny – you get treated a little differently and you know, I really like – I was in this band and it was huge, huge, huge...But there’s no, like thing, that helps you – all of a sudden you’re a public figure and it’s... you’re just a rockband, you know? And that’s what made us what we were. […] I just want to be a student, learning what everyone else is learning. I don’t go out of my way to let anybody know anything, you know? And if the professors don’t know, I prefer getting treated equally. I do get treated differently, I think, a little bit, if they know. Although the professors there are amazing, it’s anamazing school, so, maybe not... maybe it’s just something in my head.

I'm going to Seattle University, majoring in business and finance. I've still got eight quarters 'til I graduate. This quarter, because I went to Japan and we've got some shows, I'm doing my course on-line. They only let you do that for one quarter though. So I've got to figure out what I'm going to do. I might go spring quarter, and then not go summer quarter and tour North America and Europe in the summer. I really, really love school but I really, really love touring so I'll figure it out. You can always go to school, the way I figure it. I'm two years in and it's amazing. It's really killer.

You always want what you don't have. I wouldn't have been able to go to college back then anyway because our family was too big. Every kid couldn't go to college. Financially it was not possible. My dad was a fireman and my parents got divorced when I was a little kid. It was no big deal. It just wasn't an option. I've always read, even when I was really fucked up, trying to expand my knowledge. Guns N' Roses, financially, did a lot. Throughout the course of all that, it's either learn about it or get ripped off. In the course of learning about it, I actually started to like that side of things. A lot of people think that's really boring but to me it 's kind of like a crossword puzzle, I like it.

My mom always wanted me to be a lawyer, and my Uncle John graduated from SU in '48," he says. "And in the back of my head, I knew I always wanted to further my education. […] Business is a natural for me. I'm still a principal in GNR Corp., we still sell a million CDs a year. It's something that seems practical to me. […] I've been in a band, I understand working as a team. There's probably an accountant downtown somewhere who's dreaming about being a rock star. But I've already done that. I've grown up a lot in the last year, intellectually. For me, this is like a dream

Back when the band started, we all came from humble backgrounds. We got our first cheques for forty grand and it was like, whoah! We'd been living on a hundred bucks a week. None of us had seen anything close to that before. Then the next cheque came, and then the really big cheques came, and they just kept coming. We didn't know what anything was, what anything was for.

It was only later that I started tying it all together. I started wanting to know: 'Okay, the interest rates have just gone up half a percent, what does that mean for a mortgage? How does that affect my bonds?'

I'd like to write a book for musicians about that. Explain what a royality rate is, what a yield is, so that they know and don't get ripped off so much. It's not that it's not cool to know that stuff, you just don't understand it, so you cover up and pretend that you do. You can't let on. It's terrifying. You start out and you hand everything over to managers and accountants, and you hope that there's something left at the end.


In 2003, Duff would write a column for The Stranger talking about his education:

Why I Decided to Go Back to School After Being in Guns N' Roses

[...]

I went over financial statements from the previous tours and my personal income that had accrued because of them. Luckily, we'd been in fairly decent hands and I wasn't broke after all of that stupidity and financial ignorance. I realized that stupidity, while fun, has its limits. My next step was to get myself a real education.

After a few classes at Santa Monica College (beginning courses, a stock and bonds class), I realized I was ready for a full-time class schedule, resigned from my post as bass player in a dwindling version of what once was Guns N' Roses, and moved back home to Seattle with my wife and new daughter.

Now, enrolling in a school like Seattle University at age 33 with a 15-year-old incomplete high-school transcript is difficult. My good friend Dave Dederer (from the band Presidents of the United States of America), who went to Brown, showed me how to write an essay for my SU application. (The school liked the essay but insisted I first go to SCCC for a quarter, get straight A's, and then come back. So I did.) I got in.

Here I was, finally enrolled in a top university, looking at kids nearly half my age (with twice my IQ) and feeling the same ecstatic emotion I had felt after playing a sold-out Kingdome seven years prior.

Then classes started.

University is fucking tough. My study habits were so dusty that for the first year I spent at least eight hours a day doing homework that took other students a fraction of the time. By this point, we had two baby daughters, so I had to read Shakespeare while preparing baby bottles. I converted a backyard shed into a study and the kids learned that this was Daddy's quiet place.

I'm now three years into SU (with only my senior projects in finance left to complete) and I'm playing in a new band called Velvet Revolver (along with Slash, Scott Weiland, Matt Sorum, and Dave Kushner). The past couple of months have been a fast-paced ride right back into the intricacies of lawyers, business managers, and the details of another major-label deal. But this time around I can actually read and comprehend the contracts and financial statements. The leg up I have received from school has paid off immensely. I no longer have to feign interest at a corporate meeting or during a lawyer's longwinded explanation of a contract draft. All of this stuff is now within my scope of knowledge.

I'll eventually finish my BA in finance at SU and hopefully then an MBA. I suppose one addiction (knowledge) has supplanted another (drugs and alcohol), but this addiction I can definitely live with.


In 2004 Duff would talk about studying business:

I went to Seattle U. Nice Jesuit school there.  I didn't graduate high school. So to get into SU, I started going to Santa Monica Community College here. I took a securities class first.

I had a certain amount of money and I was starting to meet with financial advisors. I knew what a mortgage was at that point, but, really, PE ratios or yields on a bond or risk on the stock -- I didn't know what any of these terms meant. So I took this great securities class, with a great professor at Santa Monica. Great school. I excelled at the class, and he said, "You know, you're good at this."

And he said, "Why don't you take this business class?" So, I did. Guns was done, the rock was done. I had my house in Seattle. We had our first kid...

I got my accounting minor and I was only one semester from getting my Bachelor’s Degree in Finance… so I’ll get that at one point or another. But it really helps out, you know. The reason I started, [I’d] gotten-- I landed in the hospital in ’94, and it was pretty touch and go there, and as a result, I stopped everything. So I kinda got outta this stupor, this haze, and you know, I had a lot of time on my hands. You know? I wasn’t going to cop drugs or spending all my time in a bar, or whatever -- or both, you know? So, I… I started doin’ martial arts and I started going through my filing cabinets and I started looking at all the financial statements for Guns and stuff… and trying to read this stuff. And it was really impossible to read. So I went to Santa Monica Community College… and took like, just an overall business class. And in that, they had… they taught you how to read financial statements and balance sheets and stuff. And, ahh… so I went back to these huge financial statements and thought: “You know what? These things don’t make sense!” [Laughs] So then I took another class, and the professor in that class said, “You’re really good at this, you should pursue this.” I never graduated High School, so… [...] So, I moved back up to Seattle, and I got into a pretty fancy, high-falutin’ school. And it was tough. It was really, really tough. It was a Jesuit School, like Pepperdine, you know? [...] I hadn’t really… well, it was just the best business school in the Northwest. And… I got in and it took off from there and I really learned a lot. So, when we have business meetings at the record label… or anywhere -- people are aware of that. And I’m really surprised… sometimes -- a lot of times -- I’ll know more than the person we’re talking to. Maybe it’s because I’m fresh outta school, or because they never learned it. [...] you know I had cut my hair short…and, at this school, it was so hard -- this school -- that everybody was really on the edge of their seats and the kids were really respectful, of, you know… me and my privacy… [...] I got invited to some parties, you know? And it was funny when we had to go do some things off-campus, I’d go and pick up some of the kids from the dorms that didn’t have a car… I’d pick ‘em up: “I’ll give you a ride…” But, really, the school was so tough, and it was business, accounting, you know? You’re doing this very heavy, tedious kind-of work. You just don’t have time-- no one had time to go: “Hey, dude! Sign my record!” You know? But I did find out one thing: There’s a lot of 18-19-20 year-old kids who were really, really bummed ‘cause they didn’t have a rock band. You know, a rock band for their generation.



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].

In 2000 he would guest on The Presidents new album 'Freaked Out and Small' [Sonic Net, June 29, 2000] and would also play with them on The Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn [Launch, September 19, 2000]. Together with The President's Dave Dederer, Duff would form the guitar-duo band The Gentlemen [North By Northwest, August 26, 2000].

Talking about what he had been doing for the last five years:

[...] I think the overwhelming thing since 5 years ago, is I’ve got two kids and I go to Seattle University, you know, I’m a business major. […] so anyhow, I have two little girls and I’m married to a beautiful woman, Susan, and um… […] [They are] 4 and 1 and a half.


He would also play on the album by the band Mad for the Racket (featuring Wayne Kramer of MC5 and Brian James of the Damned) [Billboard, September 29, 2001].


2001: 'LOADED' AND THE ALBUM 'DARK DAYS'


In July 2001 Izzy would say that Duff was about to release a new album:

He called me on the phone yesterday and told me that he had just recorded a new album and hat he was going to edit it. I don’t know when, but he’s doing to get it out. He had an album years ago, but he didn’t release it, there has been a huge change in the Los Angeles industry and almost all of the companies have been bought out by a big one, so he had problems and it didn’t come out. But now he’s going to release a new one.
Popular 1 (Spain), July 2001; translated from Spanish


Izzy likely refers to a new Loaded album, 'Dark Days', that would be released in Japan in July and that the band was looking for a US label to have it released in USA [CDNow, August 11, 2001].



Loaded's Dark Days
July 2001



The lineup for Loaded would now consist of drummer Geoff Reading (New American Shame, Green Apple Quickstep), guitarist Mike Squires (Harvey Danger and Nevada Bachelors), and bassist Jeff Rouse (Alien Crime Syndicate and Shoveljerk) [KNAC.COM, November 15, 2001]. In 2002 Squired and Rouse left and Stuart Dahlquist and Dave Kushner joined the band [L.A. Weekly, June 21, 2002].

On November 19, 2001, Loaded were joined on stage by Slash at the House of Blues in Hollywood, playing 'It's So Easy'



Duff and Slash
November 19, 2001


And on January 28, 2002 Duff was joined on stage by Matt, Steve Jones and Billy Duffy [Los Angeles Times, January 31, 2002; CDNow/Allstar (Miss Truth column), February 1, 2002].

Loaded would cancel their planned UK tour "for financial reasons" [Metal Hammer, July 17, 2002] while media would speculate that Duff was more interested in the "reunion" band that was brewing.

With Duff being part of the emerging new band Velvet Revolver in 2002, Loaded would be taking a break [Loaded Online, October 7, 2002].


2002: VELVET REVOLVER


This band will be discussed in a separate chapter.
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