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

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

Registering is free and easy.


1994.06.06 - Interview with Gilby by Steve Harris

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1994.06.06 - Interview with Gilby by Steve Harris Empty 1994.06.06 - Interview with Gilby by Steve Harris

Post by Blackstar Thu Jan 07, 2021 4:28 pm


Steve Harris: He wants to know about the circumstances that led to make this record.
Gilby: Okay, the most important thing about making the record was I that had all these songs already done, already finished, and it just didn’t really fit very well with what we were doing in GN’R. So I said, “Well, I’m gonna make a record of all my songs and I want to make it a record that I would enjoy listening to, too.” You know, I wanted it to be my style of music, everything. It’s like, I wanted to make the record that I would wanna go to the store to buy.
Harris: You talked about some of the material not being right for what you guys would do in GN’R. So you had originally intended, maybe, to give a couple of songs on a GN’R record?
Gilby: No, not at all. These songs were – when I write songs, I don’t really write them for anything in particular. I write a song, and for me to come up with 10 songs for an album means I wrote 15. So, like, the last four years I’ve only written 15 songs. I didn’t really have any intentions for any of them to go to GN’R. I just write the songs and then, when it’s all done, I go, “Well, maybe they’d like to hear this one,” you know? But none of them was really GN’R material. It seemed like when everything was finished that it really was a record in itself. You know, it shouldn’t be for GN’R, it should be for me.
Harris: The only 15 songs you had written at the time.
Gilby: Yeah.
Harris: And not even one of those had been intended for GN’R?
Gilby: No, not at all.
Harris: No.
Gilby: Yeah. I’d written most of them, I’d say, before I got in GN’R. Then, since I’ve been in GN’R I’ve probably written about four of them. Songs like Cure Me or Kill Me, Let’s Get Lost, Johanna’s Chopper, those are brand new songs. Those are the ones that I did write – they really weren’t for GN’R, they were for...
Harris: The four songs you wrote after you joined...
Gilby: Joined GN’R. Yes. 
Harris: But not for GN’R.
Gilby: No. Like I said, I write songs for myself. The most important thing is, when I’m writing a song, I write something that I’d enjoy to listen to. It’s like as much as I enjoy to put on a Beatles record and listen to Happiness Is a Warm Gun. I mean, I want to write a song that I would enjoy listening to, so I really write for myself. But, like I said, once I have a bunch of them then I kind of like go, “Uh, what should I do with them?” You know, “Should I start a band?” “Are they for Guns N’ Roses?” You know, I don’t know. But I don’t think any of these were really for Guns N’ Roses at all.
Harris: Are the songs from this album different from the bands you’ve been before?
Gilby: I don’t think they’re much different at all. As a matter of fact, I think that this record could have been the next Kill for Thrills record. I don’t know about Candy. Candy was when I was just a kid (laughs); I just played guitar. It’s kind of like, even with GN’R I’m really just a rhythm guitar player in the band. The band is Axl and Slash. With Candy I was just a guitar player – you know, the band was the singer and the bass player. Kill for Thrills was my band. That was all my songs I sang and played guitar. This stuff is much more closer to Kill for Thrills, I think, than anything else.
Harris: GN’R is making a new record right now, but-
Gilby: No.
Harris: It’s not in the process or writing...
Gilby: No, no. Not at all.
Harris: Not started yet.
Gilby: No. Not even close (laughs).
Harris: Is the production process you went on for this [record] a lot different from the Spaghetti Incident production process or the normal process that you’re going to a GN’R...
Gilby: Oh yeah. Much different, yeah. When GN’R goes to make a record – I mean, granted, I’ve never made a record with them with original songs, only the cover songs - what we would do is we would get to pick whatever the song was we had to do, we’d go in and rehearse, then we’d go into the studio. In that sense it’s kind of the same, because in GN’R we play live in the studio. It’s me, Matt, Slash and Duff playing together. When I made my record, it was the same thing. It was me, a drummer and a bass player playing together. So that part is [the same], but that’s pretty much a rock ‘n’ roll way of making a record. The other thing is, in GN’R Axl doesn’t come to rehearsals. He doesn’t even come to the studio when we’re recording. He comes in after we put everything else down. With my record, I mean I’m the singer, I’m there the whole time. I’m there when it’s being rehearsed, when it’s being recorded, everything. Plus, it doesn’t take as much time (laughs). To make a GN’R record could take years. To make my record took, like, three months.
Harris: Since joining Guns N’ Roses they have not put out an album of original tunes yet, and-
Gilby: Me and Duff did (laughs).  
Harris: What’s that?
Gilby: I’m sorry. I said me and Duff did (laughs).
Harris: That’s right. So you ended up putting out your own record before committing to original GN’R songs (?).
Gilby: Yeah.
Harris: Is that only because Guns N’ Roses haven’t gotten around to making the new record yet?
Gilby: Yeah. I mean-
Harris: Because it’s been delayed?
Gilby: No. I mean, there’s no delay. One thing about GN’R is that we really don’t have a set schedule at all. It’s kind of like what would happen is, everybody one day will wake up and go, “It’s time to make a record.” I mean, it’s just that we have no rules; it just kind of like happens like that. And what happened is, Duff made his record the whole time we were on tour, doing that two-and-a-half year tour, so his came out right away. I started mine after the tour. It’s like, in GN’R we made an agreement that we weren’t going to start a record for a long time. We were gonna take a long break - put out the Spaghetti Incident, take a break – and then, when everybody’s fresh ready, we start a new album. But the thing is with GN’R, it really is Axl and Slash’s band. When they are ready to make a record is when we’ll all be ready to make a record. So, until we get the go-ahead from those two, we find something to do in the meantime, you know? I mean, as a musician, you don’t wanna sit around and just go, “Alright, are we ready?” because he has more to do than we do. So I had these pre-existing songs and it was a little easier for me.
Harris: Do you know when Axl and Slash (?)?
Gilby: No (laughs). I really don’t. Me and Slash have been writing some songs together, but that’s not really for GN’R or for anything. It’s just a matter of that as songwriters we’re writing songs and stuff. I think it’s gonna be a long time. I really do.
Harris: The members other than Slash and Axl is kind of (?).
Gilby: (Laughs) Oh yeah. I mean, that happens all the time. But as of now, no, nobody is really ready to do anything.   
Harris: (?) So you’re perfectly happy that you’re not sitting around...
Gilby: Oh yeah. Because, like I said, in GN’R it really is what Axl and Slash say, it’s what they want. I’m such a small part of what makes the whole GN’R thing go around, so it’s good for me to go out and say, “Well, I’m ready to do my record. Let me go out, I’m gonna tour for a while.” And I’ve already made the commitment that I’m going on the road for about six months. So, even if we do start a record, they’ll have got to wait six months for me to get back (laughs).      
Harris: Obviously, when you make a solo record you get the chance – you use it a lot to express your own personal taste as a musician and as an artist.
Gilby: Yeah.
Harris: In that sense, are you limited in Guns N’ Roses, given that it’s not a complete creative outlet for you?
Gilby: Oh yeah. You’re very limited in that sense. I mean, what I do in the band is I play rhythm guitar. As a guitar player, it’s not limiting at all. I get to do whatever I want. It’s like, if Axl comes in with a song and we’re working on a song, I’m allowed to do whatever I want with my guitar, so that part it is. But even writing, it’s like, if I come up with a song, we’ll do it, we’ll always give it a try and stuff. But it really isn’t my band, you know, it’s their band and I’m just a part of it. So, like, I couldn’t necessarily say, “Let’s make a video in black and white.” That’s not really my call. You know, it’s his vision. Axl and Slash put the band together, they have an idea. I love playing guitar in a band and it’s the way I play guitar, something like my record. This is the kind of music I enjoy. This is the kind of music I enjoy playing, singing and everything. In GN’R, I love playing guitar, but it really isn’t my band.
Harris: But you wouldn’t like to try and maybe expand your role more in Guns N’ Roses, you want to let those guys call the shots, and so...
Gilby: I think they’ve done pretty good so far (laughs). Really. I mean, when I joined the band, the band was already moving, going to a direction. If I can be any help of moving them left, right or whatever, maybe, that’s fine and stuff. But no, I wouldn’t want to – I like the band the way it is. I have no reason to want to change anything about it. If I brought these songs into GN’R, I don’t think it would be good for the band. I don’t think this is the kind of music GN’R is good at doing. I think GN’R is really good at making that good hard fast rock ‘n’ roll. You know, this isn’t fast rock ‘n’ roll. If I asked Axl to sing it, it wouldn’t be good, and that would be bad for the band, you know?
Harris: (?) has changed much before and after you entered the band?
Gilby: I don’t really think so. No, I don’t really think it’s changed at all. I mean, granted, I joined when it was in tour mode, you know, it was after the record. I think, sound-wise, it might have gotten a little bit heavier sounding, because the guitars are much harder than they used to be. But as the band and everything, I don’t think that I’ve really had any influence over any kind of change at all.
Harris: Yeah, he wanted to know about your personal perception of the band. Has your perception of the band changed as you’re looking at it from the inside and not from the outside?
Gilby: (Laughing) Not really. The thing about GN’R is – I mean, we’re doing an interview about my record and I’m talking about GN’R. It’s always out there. I mean, from what I knew going into it, there’s nothing changed from then to today. That’s for sure.
Harris: Originally you were a friend of Izzy’s.
Gilby: Yeah. I’m still a friend of Izzy’s.
Harris: Yeah. And I was wondering, when it came time to take his place, did you think you that you had big shoes to fill or did you have a special attitude for the new gig? Was it a special in any way?
Gilby: I think that, yeah, they were really, really big shoes to fill. I think that Izzy was a very important person in and with the band, you know. When I first came into it, to tell you the truth, I didn’t really have much to think about. It happened so fast (laughs). I mean, it was like two weeks from the day I walked in to the day I started playing with them on stage. I think that what Izzy did with the band was a very, very special time, a very special band and everything, and I was never gonna try to change that or do whatever, you know, with what I was doing. I was just like, I’m a new person, I wanna try to help the band the best I could; you know, try to add a little something to it, not change it, just do what I do. But the thing is, I always said from the beginning, I had to be myself and play guitar the way I play guitar, because if I tried to be Izzy, I couldn’t do it the way Izzy could do it. You know, he did his thing, I gotta do my thing. And I think that it was one of the cool things that when they got me they didn’t get somebody to just say, “Let me do whatever it takes.” I didn’t’ do that. I said, “Look, this is what I do. It either fits or it doesn’t fit.” And as of right now, it still fits, you know? But no - I think it was big shoes to fill, but I don’t think that I could ever do anything that would compete with it or anything like that.
Harris: (?) It should be about you.
Gilby: (Laughing). Okay. One more.
Harris: You went from being in a club band to being in the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band, or whatever you want to call it. How do you think they were able to make that transition? What was the caterpillar for them (?)?
Gilby: I think that, in a way, the band still tries to maintain that club level mentality. When we play on stage, our stage setup is very much like a club. When we play live, our amplifiers come out just the way they come out in a club. One thing that’s really easy for us to do is to keep that; and we are a club band, just on a bigger stage and everything. I think you’ve got bands to look up to, like the Rolling Stones and stuff, which are still pretty much that thing. Sure, you can see them in a stadium, but you’ve got to keep that mentality. You’ve got to remember what the band is, and that’s the most important thing.
Harris: So they maintain immediacy...
Gilby: Intimacy, yeah. Exactly. I think we do. I mean, you see GN’R - in Japan it’s a little bit different, but, like, say you’re in South America or something. If we’re playing and some guy is sitting there flipping off, Axl will go, “Stop! Stop!” You know, he’ll go, “Hey!” and we’ll talk to them. We will get right out there and talk to the people. That’s very much that club mentality. But the good thing is that’s the only thing the band really knows and it’s just luckily that’s still a thing, you know.
Harris: How do you analyze the success though? What contributed to it? How did the band go from being just a club act to a big...
Gilby: I think that’s a hard thing to say. I mean, if you said how can I take my career and make me into something like that, I don’t think you can say. There is no strategy. It’s one of those things. Timing is everything, too. You know, back in the old days, the Beatles, perfect timing. Timing is what got them there. The Stones, same thing. With GN’R it was just a really good band that came along at a great time where there wasn’t any real hard rock ‘n’ roll. The thing that kept the longevity is the fact that you do have real people playing the music and stuff. This isn’t a machine. These are real people who, you know, will do good things, will do bad things, they will make mistakes and everything. We’re very real. And the band is growing along with its audiences and stuff. It’s really hard to say what it is. We’re just lucky that the band – the band is just lucky that it’s just one of those good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll bands. It’s a hard rock band. It’s just one of those; and that music, to this day, hasn’t died yet.
Harris: A lot of audiences out there listen to Zeppelin...
Gilby: Still.
Harris: Or AC/DC, Aerosmith (?)
Gilby: Yeah. It’s timeless. You know? It’s the same three chords that we’ve all been playing for ever. But it’s the right three, you know? I don’t know what it is, but... It’s really hard. I don’t think you can really analyze it. I don’t even know when the band woke up one day and said, “Gotta be the biggest band in the world.” I don’t know when that happened, you know.
Harris: He was interested by your use of the word “intimacy” there. He thinks you sort of carry that all around your record...
Gilby: Oh yeah.
Harris: And you’ve come up with some three-minute tracks that are very nice.
Gilby: Thank you.
Harris: He compares that, though – at least he says that provides a stark contrast to some of the mini epics that Guns like to make of these videos. Is that something that rubs you in the wrong way, kind of (?)?
Gilby: I don’t really like those kind of videos. But you gotta understand, once again, that is something that Axl likes. You know, if he was sitting here talking to you, he’d go, “I love long videos.” I personally don’t like them. I’ve never written anything ten-minutes long in my life (laughs). I don’t know if I know how. What I’ve always said about my songs is I like to write stories. I love writing stories. I do not have the patience to sit down and write a book or even write a ten-minute song. So I try to cram it all into three minutes, and just try to make it interesting – and intimate, in that sense. I’m just doing three minutes. I’ve only made – I’ve been working on my first video for the record and stuff. When we do those things, Axl really, really enjoys making those videos. He loves them. It really is his thing, you know? The rest of us have such a little part in it (laughs). For Estranged, I think I showed up for five minutes for that video (laughs). That’s about it. I mean, the video is, like, ten minutes long and I was over there for five minutes to film it. So, yeah, that is something he enjoys. I really don’t like that kind of thing. I mean, who knows, maybe - he’s made a lot of videos, they made a lot of records to get to this point. Who knows, maybe in ten years from now I’m gonna go, “I’m gonna make ten-minute videos.”
Harris: (Laughs).
Gilby: At this point, I don’t want to.
Harris: Everybody but Axl sort of puts up with them.     
Gilby: I don’t even know if it’s putting up with it. It’s just a matter of that everybody has their little things about the band they get to do. When we’re on stage, Slash gets to play a 15-minute guitar solo. I mean, I’m sure if Axl had his choice there wouldn’t be a 15-minute solo. But, you know, you gotta give and take a little. It’s one of those things where Slash gets to have the band do certain things and stuff, and Axl gets to do certain things, “I want to make a ten-minute [video].” That’s one of his things and stuff, you know? Same with me. It’s like, they let me doodle on stage for about ten minutes playing Wild Horses. I’m sure if he... he would say, “Hey, don’t play Wild Horses, play this.” It’s whatever I want. Everybody gets their thing that they get to do.   
Harris: You were talking about the timelessness of the music of GN’R, hard rock, but will the kids have their patience worn thin by these ten-minute videos (?)?
Gilby: I don’t know (laughs). I really don’t know. I’m not one of the kids that buys GN’R records, so I couldn’t answer that (laughs). But I don’t know. Maybe.   
Harris: About your perception of Guns N’ Roses not having changed: It’s always been sort of a stormy, tempestuous band with a lot of problems on the inside. Now that you are on the inside, have you figured out what holds the band together? It seems like they’re always ready to implode any second because of clashes or...
Gilby: You know what, you guys? We are talking too much about GN’R (laughs).
Harris: All right.
Gilby: That’s...
Harris: Okay (?).
Gilby: Okay, we’re talking too much about GN’R. I mean, you know, I did all this last year. Okay? And it’s like, I kind of came here to do stuff about my record. If I were gonna talk about GN’R, then... Let’s not do it anymore. For Guns N’ Roses you should call Geffen, don’t call Virgin, you know.   
Harris: Mmm-mmm. Okay. Good enough. (?)
Gilby: Oh, you do. Okay. You guys are gonna wait (laughs).
Harris: The title of the record, it has to do with the concept of the record?
Gilby: Well, there’s no real concept with the record. But what it is, I wanted to make sure – when I made the record, like I said earlier, the most important thing was getting the songs down, getting them the best they could be from my style of music. I am a guitar player making a record; you know, I know what I am and I want to keep it in that thing. I used to love the old records back in, like, the ‘70s; like Ron Wood used to make solo albums and Mick Ronson from Bowie’s band used to make them, and I thought those were great, great records. I wanted to make sure that it was kept within a guitar player making a record, you know. And it was a cool title, because back in the old days, when we all broke around Hollywood and shit, we used to go pawn our guitars for money and we used to always talk about, like – one of the songs on the record is called Pawn Shop Guitars and it’s like my best friend is a pawn shop guitar. I thought that just that was a clever title.
Harris: This record, how did it come about? Just friends (?)?    
Gilby: Just my buddies (laughs).
Harris: It was your buddies that you carefully handpicked...
Gilby: No, uh-uh. You know, if I’m going to go make a record and, like, I’m gonna get to do this kind of stuff and interviews again after I’ve been doing this for two-and-a-half years straight, I want to have a good time doing this. I mean, I want to do this because I enjoy my record and I’m gonna talk about my record. When I went to make the record, if I want to make a record, I’m gonna have all my friends on it (laughs), because I can’t make it myself, you know? And rather than hire people I wanted people that understood what I was doing. I got all the guys in the band; you know, I kind of thought that by having the guys included that’d be a cool thing and then, you know, maybe people wouldn’t talk about things like “Gilby is leaving the band” or this and that. I wanted to include everybody and make it fun, you know? I didn’t have Axl sing on the record, I had him play piano and then he asked to sing. I had Duff play drums on a track. And Slash is, like, my best friend, so whenever he’s doing something I’m there, and whenever I’m doing something he comes and hangs out. Same with Matt. And then, like, Rob Affuso is somebody that I see all the time; you know, we go out all the time together. Frank Black is an old friend of mine - from the Pixies. He’s a buddy, man, and we used to always talk about... You know, when he made his record I should go and play on it and when I made mine – I go, “You’re gonna play on mine.” And all the other people, the people that are going to do the live shows, Marc Danzeisen, Ryan, Jo from Dogs [D’Amour] and all these people, these are really my close friends. If you came to my house on a weekend we’re having a barbecue, you’ll see these people at my house, you know. So it was fun, too. I mean, I wanted to make sure it was fun. 
Harris: Did you have to play, like, the benign dictator or anything or you were going to let these guys go off and do their own stuff?
Gilby: (Laughs).
Harris: Like, did you actually play (?)
Gilby: Oh yeah. Definitely, yeah. It was amazing because, even what you see on the record, the other side of the record, the engineers, those are really close friends of mine, too. A thing that was funny was, when I had all the songs on the album and I did this myself, I set out who was going to play what songs, and they all laughed at me, Waddy, the producer, and Rod O'Brien, the engineer; they’re going, “You’ll never pull this off” and I’m going, “You watch.” And at the end of the project, Rod said to me, “You know, I can’t believe we pulled that off. You had all of them.” Everybody showed up. Axl showed up - Axl won’t even show up for a GN’R record, let alone show up for my record, you know? (laughs). And it was really amazing. It was a lot of fun. But no, I’m not a real dictator kind of guy. I mean, I will let Slash – he’ll go, “Well, let me do this on the record” and it’s like, “I don’t know, Slash” and he’ll hold off. “Now let’s do this.” You know? I wasn’t a dictator, but it was fun being the leader, kind of being in that position.
Harris: You set the guidelines.
Gilby: Oh, definitely. Definitely. It was my record and everybody knew that going into it. But also there’s a respect thing between them and me, so they all knew that they were playing on my record, you know? But it was really nice, because we did get in some discussions about the way things were going. Like, they go, “Aren’t you mad that Matt won’t play that drum part?” and I go, “You know, what’s really cool is, I think it’s great that somebody like Matt cares enough about my record to try and do the best that he can do.” And that was cool.
Harris: The tour is slated-
Gilby: Yeah, yeah. We’re going to go-
Harris: Six months, right? 
Gilby: Yeah. We’re going to go to – we’re going to start in America towards the end of August, then we’ll go to Europe and then, hopefully, we’re going to get back here to Japan and go do Australia. Then, you know, if things are going really, really well, I may extend it a little bit more.
Harris:  Are you headlining or...
Gilby: I go back and forth. Like, in the States and stuff we’ll headline. In Europe, I think I’m going to go out – this isn’t set, but I think I’m going to go out with the Black Crowes. Then here I’ll headline, like kind of the way Duff did it, and stuff like that. I’ll go back and forth. You know, I’m really cool. I mean, one of the nice things about this record was being able to do things that GN’R can’t do. I can play a club - I mean, sometimes you have to, you don’t have a choice, but it’s really nice to be close to people again and getting that feedback. When you’re up on the big stadium stage, you don’t really – if they pay that much for a ticket, they already like you (laughs); they’re not experimenting going, “Hey, maybe I’ll go check them out.” With this you’re right in their face. You can see the reaction: is a song good, is it bad, am I having a good night or a bad night; they’re having a good night or a bad night. It’s a cool thing and it’s kind of like freedom, you know, to get to do some things we wouldn’t normally do.

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