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2004.01.22 - Las Vegas Mercury - Guns Nut (Gilby)

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2004.01.22 - Las Vegas Mercury - Guns Nut (Gilby) Empty 2004.01.22 - Las Vegas Mercury - Guns Nut (Gilby)

Post by Blackstar on Tue Aug 25, 2020 5:44 am

Guns nut

Gilby Clarke has played in a bunch of other bands, too

By Newt Briggs

Gilby Clarke has done a lot of stuff in his life. In 1985 he played guitar on Candy's Whatever Happened to the Fun--the most underrated power-pop album since Pezband's Laughing in the Dark. After that, he fronted Kills for Thrills--a hair-metal foursome whose only release, 1990's Directions from Nightmareland, came too late to cash in on the previous decade's slobbering pop-metal mania. Then there were the collaborations: Slash's Snakepit with fellow castoffs from the Guns 'N Roses crew and Col. Parker with Stray Cats drummer Slim Jim Phantom. And all the while, Clarke was releasing solo albums and producing records for everyone from sleazoid glamsters L.A. Guns to Rolling Stone-endorsed rock 'n' roll upstarts The Bronx.

Yet when most people hear the name Gilby Clarke, they scratch their heads and wonder, "Wasn't that the dude who took Izzy's spot in Guns 'N Roses?"

"It doesn't really bother me," says Clarke, who backed Guns on the Use Your Illusion World Tour and played guitar on the all-covers release The Spaghetti Incident. "I had a fucking awesome time with GNR. Even though it was a short tenure, a lot of cool shit was going on back then. We were on tour for like 2 1/2 years. Unfortunately, there was a lot of bullshit that came along with being in the band. That I could definitely have done without."

Although Clarke is more democratic about it these days, the primary source of Guns' internal turmoil was frontman Axl Rose, who methodically dismissed the entire band in the wake of the lukewarm critical reception of The Spaghetti Incident. In fact, for a while Clarke had no idea if he was even still in the band--a confusion remedied when Rose abruptly replaced him with guitarist Paul Huge. "It was a reasonably amicable split," recalls Clarke. "We just had different ideas about what we wanted to do with the music."

Clarke's departure from Guns 'N Roses, however, did not help him shake off the hair-metal stigma. Despite his avowed preference for blues-inflected rock (his 1995 solo debut featured covers of the Rolling Stones' "Dead Flowers" and the Clash's "Jail Guitar Doors"), he's spent the past decade fleeing the shadow of Aqua Net nation.

"I have to admit, I never thought I'd get pigeonholed into the metal scene," says Clarke. "Like this thing we're doing in Vegas--this Rock Star Monday thing. The people that played before were like Don Dokken and Jami Lane, and I don't own a record by any of those guys. I mean, no offense, I'm sure they make some quality music. It's just not my thing, you know?"

Of course, when it comes to getting paid, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, and last year Clarke toured with Heart to keep the cash flowing. "Before I signed on, I asked them, `Which Heart? The '70s Heart or the '80s Heart?' And they go, `We don't really play a lot of '80s stuff.' So I was like, `Okay. I'll do it.'"

He won't do the tour again this year, but he did lay down some tracks for Heart's forthcoming album--a project he remains duly skeptical about. "I don't know," admits Clarke. "Let's just leave that one alone. I played my stuff on it, but I don't know."

Fortunately, Clarke is more certain about his informal side project Blues Mafia. Essentially a collection of hair-metal has-beens, Blues Mafia gives Clarke the opportunity to play up his rock 'n' roll dreams.

"Blues Mafia is basically like a low-budget Rat Pack of rock 'n' roll," Clarke says. "It's part comedy and it's part music. We start with a couple of blues standards--you know, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Robert Johnson--but at the end of the night, we play the Ramones. It's really just a couple of guys that have played in some pretty big bands and who are letting their hair down, having a couple of cocktails and just fucking around."

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