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1987.11.DD - BAM Magazine - "Glam Band - No Thank You, Ma'am"

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1987.11.DD - BAM Magazine - "Glam Band - No Thank You, Ma'am" Empty Re: 1987.11.DD - BAM Magazine - "Glam Band - No Thank You, Ma'am"

Post by Soulmonster on Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:47 am

"When this band got to­gether everybody was basically starving," Guns N' Roses lead vocalist W. Axl Rose reminisces via telephone from New York. "We were without jobs and lived in a one-room apartment with all the equipment in there. stole a bunch of wood and we built a loft over it. It was basically out of survival, not 'We'll be cool and go steal some wood.' I thought great, 'I'll get thrown in jail for this."'
Rose ponders sitting in prison, a convicted wood thief, and the embar­rasing comments he might have en­dured from his fellow inmates: "He stole two-by-fours."
But the chain gang's loss eventually became Geffen Records' gain. And now Rose and, his fellow bandmates (guitarists Izzy Stradlin' and Slash, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steven Adler) are learning that their days of "surviving" might not be over, for the road can extract its fair share of dues from a touring rock band, too.
On the Eastern leg of a tour that will eventually link them up with fellow Angelenos Motley Crue, Rose has been fighting a see-saw battle with a tenacious case of laryngitis. The throat ailment has been compounded by faulty stage monitors that often don't allow the vocalist to hear his own voice, enticing him to screech even louder over the band's consider­ able din. "l'm not used to screaming over no monitors" Rose complains testily. And somewhere in upstate New York Duff McKagan somehow managed to plunge headlong out the open doors of the tour bus, landing squarely on his shaggy noggin.
"Slash fell against me and I fell out of the chair straight to the ground, about five feet. Concussion time. Knocked out. They thought I was dead," says Duff explaining his brush with rock and roll mortality. "Right now I've got the flu, a fucked up knee from what happened and my head hurts." Duff sums it up by adding "It's a swell period for me right now." And only six more weeks on the road to go . ..
But the complaints are only half­ hearted, as this is clearly a band that thrives on bringing it's hard-edged music face to face. Indeed a stage or tour bus seem to be the only places that one can corner the five members of the band these days; Slash, Stradlin' and Adler (who arrived with most of Metallica in tow) managed to chat at the El Coyote Mexican eatery, while Rose and McKagan checked in several days later by phone from New York. But though the conversations were separated by time and several thousand miles, they displayed a re­markable unity.
Much has been written about Guns N' Roses ascendencv to the forefront of L.A.'s "new wave" of hard rock bands (GNR openly disdains the "metal band " label) on the heels of Mutley Crue and their dread nemesis Poison. Most of it, the band com­plains, has been preoccupied with windy ruminations about clothing and lifestyles, as well as an almost pathological need to fix a label on the band. There are three dread questions that the inquisitive interviewer is warned never to ask:
1) How did the band start?
2) What are your influences?
3) Are you a glam or a metal band?
It is intimated that physical violence might follow such inquiries, though the band gets around to covering much of that "forbidden" territory anyway. But then every once in a while they're greeted with the truly profound. Izzy recalls a recent dose encounter with a possibly star-struck journalist.
"She asked me if I thought there was life on other galaxies," says the guitarist, chuckling in disbelief.
"Yeah, my kids," adds Slash.
Since we're not allowed to field the three dread questions, some attempt must be made to address their con­cerns. Here goes:
1) Though they were friends in In­diana, Rose and Stradlin' move to LA separately but soon thereafter began an off-again, on-again musical rela­tionship. McKagan, a Clash junkie from Seattle, also sought his destiny in LA. Slash and Adler had lived in LA since childhood. A variety of per­sonnel combinations eventually boiled down to two bands: LA Guns and Hollywood Rose. After a fusion of names and members, GNR were born.
2) Though Aerosmith and the Rolling  Stones  are  the  most   frequently cited antecedents of the GNR crowd, the Clash and Sex Pistols seem to carry nearly equal weight, especially (and crucially) in the band's attitude. Then season this mix with a pinch of New York Dolls swagger and fashion sensibilities.
3) No and no.
"The only label I think deserves to get stuck on us ss 'hard rock' because we like loud guitars. Our rhythms are blues-based, or funk-based," ex­plains Rose.
"I don't get into being called a 'heavy metal band' because a lot of metal bands couldn't play blues with feeling if they had to. They might like it, but they don't know how to play it. They go "If I do these fast riffs and these fast leads it'll be great." lt's much harder, I think, to find the right lead that fits the feeling of the sang."
"Some people might say that Guns N' Roses really has to get into the roots because they don't know what they're doing. Well, we're trying. We listen to Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Robert Johnson and a lot of other kinds of music we try to incorporate into what we do."
Alas, the white blues-boy tradition flourishes into its third decade. Yet Rose does claim a musical heritage that seems much doser to 1957 than it dues to '1987.
"My parents were holy-roller pentecostals," Rose admits, bringing to mind the parallels with Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis he ironically shares.
"I wasn't allowed to listen to the radio. But I made sure I won at a contest in school. I always kept it hidden. The things I went through in childhood definitely had an effect on where I'm at now."
"I used to listen to Elvis Prestley and Jimmy Swaggart records constantly," the singer recalls.
"Elvis was the only rock and roll we were allowed to listen to. My dad had every Swaggart record he could get his hands on. We went to chuch five times a week."
Axl adds, almost boastfully, "I think I did more singing in church than Elvis ever did. I even taught Bible school once. Now I am just sitting here reading my D-cup magazine".
Ah, the Killer would be proud.
"You know what the difference is between us and other bands?" asks Slash, seemingly as fond of the rhe­torical device as the double Jack Daniels he sips all evening.
"We do shoot straight from the hip; we're very realistic. We're not putting up some big facade to sell some rec­ords. "
The guitarist mocks what he sees as the all-too-typical approach to rock stardom in the '80s. "lt's like, we'll get all the clothes together and then show me where to put my fingers on the guitar neck and we'll be happening."
"And they're selling this shit! That 's what makes me sick, that's why l'm bitter. It just amazes me that you can get away with learning a couple of chords, a few notes here and there, getting your wardrobe together and seiling two million records."
Steven Adler, who's obviously spent too much time with Metallica watching Saturday Night Live re-runs, comments, "lt's highly Satanic."
"lt's hideous; that's the word that sums it up," corrects Slash, his curly locks swirling as he downs more JO. "I'm not saying we're the best fucking band. l'm just saying that if we're go­ing to go out and do it, at least we'll do it from the heart."
The Los Angeles scene, such as it is, is clearly a source of great conster­nation for Slash and the other mem­bers of the band. Though they formed in LA, achieved notoriety in LA, and were signed in the City of Angles, they don't hesitate to bite the hand that's fed them (if somewhat meagerly) from time to time.
"This is LA. This is poseur central," intones Slash. And if he could get Jack Webb's monotone down it might make for a good Dragnet parody.
"Los Angeles is the melting pot for every 'wanna-be' geek there is. When they say 'I'm moving on to greener pastures,' where do they go? Los Angeles."
The fact that most of the band's members migrated here in the early '80s doesn't seem to moderate Slash's criticisms. Fur the moment, anyway, they are stuck with the place. That fact hit home on the band's recent European tour.
"Because we're from LA," says Izzy Stradlin', "we go to all the se other countries and they ask 'What is the scene in   LA?'  And we can't even guess. There's 12 million people here and half of them seem to be mu­sicians."
But that apparent  surplus of "tal­ent" only offered frustration. Says Slash: " Before Guns N' Roses  happened all of us could not find another musician to do nothin' with. To put a band together for us - outside of the five of us that are already together - would be like trying to find five bucks on the street in Harlem. You know what I mean?"
"It would be highly Satanic," offers Adler.
For his part , Rose has formulated a plan to combat the jaded LA complacency.
"I want to move to New York, so that I have to come to LA, and experi­ence the city. Because LA's really easy for me now. l'd like to have so me­ place where I don' t know anybody, where l'm having to watch over my shoulders 24 hours a day. In LA I tend to be a little bit too confident. There I'd be watching a little closer and so experience a lot more."
Obviously not ones to back away from a little controversy, the band's bad-boy imagery extends from the controversial cover of its first Geffen release, Appetite For Destruction, to the gritty lyrical content of its songs. None of it, the band insists, is a deliberate attempt at sensationalism, though one would be hard-pressed to find a recent album release that could so completely enrage the PMRC.
The cover, a decade-old painting by artist Robert Williams, depicts a freshly ravaged young woman, panties around her ankles, with her ap­parent assailant, a robot, standing over her, about to be torn apart itself by some fiendishly bio-mechanical creation. And in what sleaze-pit did Axl Rose find this evil work of art? Why, a card shop on Melrose Boulevard, of course.
"I submitted it as a joke," he recalls.
"But I thought it kind of described us. Here's this girl that's just been ravaged by this robot; mechanized so­ciety. And then here comes the hand over the fence to kill the monster, steal the girl away and make her our girlfriend."
Some of the band's critics have been more than a little skeptical.
"They think it promotes rape. But that's not looking at the picture right."
But some people won't have the chance to look at the picture at all be­ cause Geffen has issued a different album cover to be sold in chain stores that object to Rose's Melrose Boulevard find.
"I've noticed that there's so many things you're allowed to get away with," observes Rose , "except on records."
W. Axl Rose, meet Jello Biafra ...
Given the group's scabrous reputa­tion, how precarious is the band's be­havior offstage? "I'il put it this way," says Izzy , " there's no chemical de­pendencies in Guns N' Roses."
But Slash, never one to pass up an argument, disagrees.
"I do have a chemical dependency. Just one. I drink. But it's all-Amer­ican. When I get thrown out of a bar I say 'How un-American!'"
But Rose admits that the band's heavy "partying" has occasionally gotten out of hand. "It happens lots of times and we kind of kick each others ass. 'Put the bottle down or l' m gonna put it over your head!' It's come down to that."
"It came down to that with heroin about a year ago. Izzy and Slash were way into it and everybody else was dabbling. It came down to this shit has to go or we might as well just s top right here."
Duff downplays the self-destruc­tive image and the effect it might have on the band's followers.
"I was 15 years old too. If you' re dumb enough to think that we're set ting examples for you, well..."
"I never let Fear and the Germs set examples for me. It was fun. You look at it with humor and stuff. But you don' t fuckin' die like Darby Crash did. You don't go do heroin and 'ludes and whatever he did to die."
Typically, Slash has a suggestion for his critics.
"If they want to pick on somebody, they should pick on Julio Iglesias. That guy's fucked more girls and fucked up more relationships and generally caused more chaos to the public than we have. Girls are com­mitting suicide over a stupid sang. You think they get on TV? No, they just died."
But Julio isn't the only musician to invoke the wrath of Guns N' Roses. Mention LA glamsters Poison and the sneers and side-long glances from the GNR camp multiply rapidly. Though he tries, Slash can hardly be diplo­matic about the subject.
"Well, I won't slag them, though I'd like to, " he says, following with a terse summation of the "competition."
"The epitome of Los Angeles is Poison, and what's wrong with Los Angeles. Okay? Enough said."
The feud between the two bands has run the gamut from simple snip­ing in the press, to a GNR lawsuit alleging slander, to Poison uncere moniously baptizing a Geffen execu­tive with a bucket of champagne after a recent gig. Of the latest escalation of hostilities, Duff McKagan will only say:
"They' ll know it when they feel the wrath of Guns N' Roses , that's all I've got to say. They fucked up. And you don' t fuck with this band.'"
But Slash, it seems, wants to have the final word on any discussion of his band.
"This is my statement for the night," he announces. "Everything that goes on, everything we talk about, even though it might be important, is about as significant as this": And here the guitarist loudly blows his nose into a napkin.
"lt's all wind through the tunnel.''
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