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.

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.


1992.MM.DD - Heavy Mental - Interview with Gilby

Go down

1992.MM.DD - Heavy Mental - Interview with Gilby Empty 1992.MM.DD - Heavy Mental - Interview with Gilby

Post by Soulmonster Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:24 pm

Guns N' Roses is probably the greatest Rock-band today. To get an interview with them is almost impossible. But HEAVY MENTAL succeeded. Martin Carlsson met their new guitarist Gilby Clarke in London who openhearted tells his history. About the childhood in Cleveland, the move to Hollywood, his previous bands and old relationships to Guns N' Roses. Gilby Clarke tells how it happened when he got to replace Izzy Stradlin and how the song material was rehearsed and further on why Axl Rose lets the crowd wait before a concert.

Life is a game of coincidences.
  On my way to the Conrad Hotel in southwest London I stop a cab.
  Of all the thousands that traffics London's streets I'm lucky and get a cab whose driver has extraordinary knowledge about my destination.
  After a moment in the worst rush-hour traffic it shows that the driver had participated in designing the seven-year-old luxury hotel. He picks up sketches of the hotel and tells that Conrad's last name in Hilton and owns all hotels with that name.
  In this game called life, it's important to be in the right place at the right moment. The guitarist Gilby Clarke knows that. He's had to fast settle from a life on clubs in Los Angeles to gigantic arenas all over the world as a replacement for Izzy Stradlin of Guns N' Roses.

Then who is this Gilby Clarke?
  - I was born in 1962 in Cleveland, Ohio, and moved to California when I was 16 years. At this moment did music come into my life. I couldn't play guitar, but together with two friends who played bass and drums I formed a band anyway. We were really bad!
  - We went in high school and our gigs were at schools. All the other bands that played on these high schools consisted of guys that had left the school a couple of years earlier. Since we still were in high school we became somewhat of local rock-stars.
  Gilby Clarke says that he always has aimed high and did everything to achieve his dream of becoming someone in the tough rock business.
  - A lot of people say that they chose this lane because of the chicks. That wasn't the case for me. I've always been interested in music and when I lived in Cleveland I bought records with Alice Cooper and Aerosmith. I had to have a guitar, so I changed a pair of stereo loudspeakers, that my parents had given me, for a guitar.
  - From the age of 16 I've aimed to becoming a rock star and daydreamed about standing on a stage. I don't know why, but the thoughts about music was in my head and grew stronger all the time.

Directly after finishing school did Gilby take his stuff and went off to Hollywood. A short period after the entrance on the Los Angeles scene he met Izzy Stradlin who struggled as a drummer and later guitarist in Guns N' Roses.
  - In 1981 joined Gilby his first real band, Candy. He was self-taught and had now developed into a, as he puts it, a fairly competent guitarist that even handled the lead part.
  - We got signed with Polygram and released the album "Whatever Happened To Fun" (1985). The music was a mix of Bay City Rollers, Beatles and Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers. It was a weird band, because we looked like punkers but played pop! That was way before Guns N' Roses and Motley Crue became the biggest thing that happened Los Angeles in years. We went as opening act to the, at the time, mega-huge Rick Springfield and performed in big arenas.
  - Although the tour went well nothing happened with Candy. The members grew tired and Gilby started making plans of a new band. He wanted more influence and not only being banished to playing guitar. Gilby started Kill For Thrills where he had a more prominent position. He wrote all the material, played rhythm guitar and parts of the solos and sang.
  - Candy was really big in Los Angeles. When I started Kill For Thrills everyone in town knew who we were, so we had a stabile ground to stand on. We didn't have to go through a lot of shit that a lot of other new bands have to
  Kill For Thrills released the albums "Commercial Suicide" (1988-89) and "Dynamite From Nightmareland" (1989-90) before Gilby joined Guns N' Roses. Kill For Thrills was already dissolving then.

During the tour that Guns N' Roses did in Europe last autumn with Skid Row as openers, information about Izzy Stradlin's dissatisfaction started leaking out.
  Izzy was now clean from a long-time drug-abuse. He traveled with his Swedish girlfriend between the concerts so that he wouldn't be exposed to any temptations. The crack between him and the rest of the band got deeper and in the end of last year he dropped off.
  - Everyone in Los Angeles had heard the rumors that Izzy had left Guns N' Roses and that David Navarro (Jane's Addiction) had replaced him. The next rumor was that David wasn't in. When all this happened I called a guy that worked for them called Josh Richman, whom I knew very well, and said "Josh, if Guns is looking for a new guitarist couldn't you mention my name to them."
  - When Izzy finally left they were forced to find a replacement. My name popped up together with 20 other. Slash called me and asked if I could come over the next day. I rehearsed with them and they wanted me to come over the next day too. This was repeated in up to a week when they told me I was going out on tour with them!
  - I had another week to learn the group's repertory. We don't have any determined setlist when we play live, so I have to know every song. And I only had two weeks from the moment I stepped into the rehearsal place to the first gig in Boston with Soundgarden.

Until the entrance in Guns N' Roses was Gilby an unknown name to the large hard rock audience. But in Los Angeles was he since long an established name that even Axl and Co knew of.
  - I've known Matt since the beginning of the eighties when I was in Candy. I had met Axl, Duff and Slash a couple of times, but I didn't really know them. They knew whom I was, so when I came down to the rehearsal place it was easy to start communicate. They were foremost looking for someone that fitted in musically and it was Slash's task to find a rhythm guitarist that suited him. Musically it worked and me as a person fitted in, which was purely luck.
  - They could have taken a more established guitarist then me. Even though I had been in different signed groups I was totally unknown to the public. Guns N' Roses have an incredible apprehension of who they are and what they want to do. They wanted someone they could trust and could associate with on the side of the stage. Their court photographer Robert John laid in a good word for me, which most certainly helped. Gilby became friends with Izzy in the beginning of the eighties. And there were never any hard feelings when it was clear that Gilby was going to replace his old friend.
  - When they tried guitarists Izzy called and asked who was gonna replace him. When they answered it was going to be me he said that he was happy. We respect each other very much and I'm not gonna take anything from him. Izzy made sure this group got on the map and what he's done is totally incredible. I'm after Izzy.
  - Rolling Stones reached a certain level and then Ron Wood came and they continued with him. The same thing is valid for me. I'm not gonna prove that I'm a better guitarist then Izzy. I could never have done as much for this band, as Izzy has brought about, if I had been in his place from the beginning. I'm after Izzy. End of story.

During a concert on Wembley recently Axl introduced Gilby with the words "a guy who always gives all he's got, apart from a certain other." The audience gasped and Axl said "yeah, fuck him!"
  Even Slash has had negative things to say about Izzy who till now has kept a low profile. Gilby consider that he knows too little to be able to state himself and wants to stand outside.
  Izzy's departure is told to be due to an aversion of touring. Short after his departure had gone public it was told that the band should quit performing his songs. Something that Gilby says never was talked about.
  - Izzy wrote songs like "You Could Be Mine," "Pretty Tied Up" and "Patience" and those are still in the live-repertory. As I said Guns wouldn't have been anything without Izzy, and in spite of the things that has happened between them there's no reason to exclude his material.
  - We don't do songs that he sang "14 Years" for example… by the way, we've actually done "Dust N' Bones" where I help Axl with the vocals. When we rehearsed they said that I was gonna sing it. I was shocked and didn't want to stand on a stage before their old fans and sing Izzy's song. Luckily they were joking…
  Slash recently said that Matt now had grew in, in his role as a member and that he now could improvise. Something Slash thought it would take Gilby one further year to do.
  - No, that's not correct. My task was to play Izzy's parts and play exactly like him. No one helped me in the beginning. Slash told me to pick out Izzy's parts and play them. So I listened to the albums, came down to the rehearsal place and played. "That's not Izzy's riff," meant Slash, and I said "but that's what I heard." "It's my riff" he continued whereupon I said "oh!" So I had to learn to play exactly like Izzy did.
  - But now when we've been on the road for seven months and I'm enough comfortable with the situation to dare trying to do my own interprets of his parts. The most important things are still there, because I think I had played about the same way as Izzy even if I had written a part from the beginning.
  - Honestly speaking I hate to play solos. To play rhythm guitar is an art form itself and Keith Richards is the absolute master. I love to play rhythm guitar. When you're playing with one of the world's best soloists a solo from me would seem very unnecessary.

After having lived in Los Angeles for about a decade there have been many occasions when Gilby could have experienced the phenomena that became the world's biggest rock band.
  - Since I knew Izzy and he had a new band I had to check it out. This was before Guns when they were called Hollywood Rose. When I first saw them and heard Axl singing I said "that's one damned talented singer." It was so obvious that he had something special.
  - I had been out on tour for a while and when I got back in LA I was shocked over Izzy's band. Suddenly they were the biggest in Los Angeles. I saw a show with them and even though the sound was so bad that you couldn't discern much, I understood something was going on.
  - The first that struck me when the album ("Appetite For Destruction," 1987) came out was Slash. He was the best guitarist I've heard in a l-o-n-g time.
  - The thing that impressed me is Guns' attitude. In Los Angeles every new band have to participate in a "game" where you have to make all kinds of compromises to get the record companies' interest, to reach success and to keep its' contract. But these guys didn't let anyone get in their way and did everything the way they wanted to. Suddenly Guns became the greatest band in the world. I also refused to take part in the "game" with my earlier bands and that's why our albums died.
  Scandals have for a long time been synonymous with Guns N' Roses and that has helped building up the myth around Guns N' Roses.
  - Of course I've read everything that's been written about Guns in the papers and since I didn't know them very well I didn't really know what to think. I thought I was gonna get into a lot of trouble, which hasn't happened. Now when I'm in the band I understand why all these stories come up. The papers that don't get any interviews make up their own.
  - It happened to me once. A paper in my old hometown Cleveland wrote an article about "the guy from Cleveland that succeeded." They did examining journalism and interviewed my teachers, my father and my sister. Then they spelled my name wrong! When I read the article it wasn't at all what I had said. But at the same time it was my words, because they had taken three words from one sentence and made an own sentence with three words from another sentence.
  - Now from the inside I've gotten a lot of respect for these guys. I understand why rumors arise. But of course there's some truth behind too! [laughs]
  One of the latest discussions around the band and mainly Axl is the time they please to enter the stage. The audience may be needed to wait hours after the set time while the members relax backstage.
  - It's something you should ask Axl about. It's hard for me to answer, since I don't share his opinions in all questions.
  - Axl has made that clear to everyone, that he doesn't get on stage before he feels ready. I've experienced when people have forced him to go on stage and I've seen when he's refused.
  - It's worth waiting one or two hours, because then Axl gives the absolutely best possible show. At the same time I understand that people can get irritated, but that's something I can't affect.

Gilby sounds straightforward and isn't afraid of saying what he thinks about anything. As when he confess that Guns N' Roses today is a big enterprise and that he really disliked the ticket-price to the band's shows in Eastern Europe. It wasn't so strange that no T-shirts were sold, since the ticket-price was up towards the wages for a month.
  Gilby is also questioned to the presence of two choirgirls and another keyboardist to complete Dizzy.
  - They were hired at the same time as I came in the picture. As far as I know the choirgirls and the horn section is there because they're on the albums. Sometimes you see a concert and wonder "where did that sound come from?" And there's some guy who puts on a tape recorder. We play everything live so they have to be there.
  - Besides the new stage is gigantic, so Duff, Slash and I have to run around all the time to cover all the spaces. Then it's hard to sing all the parts, so the girls unload us.
  During this leg Guns played in arenas with a capacity between 50,000 and 100,000. In a sold-out Wembley were 72,000 happy fans crowding.
  Not as enthusiastic is Gilby who has hard to understand what's happening.
  - When I'm on stage and look at those who sit in the back, I wonder if they even know what we're doing. It's impossible for them to see anything. Then I feel bad. If I go and see one of my favorite bands I want to stand close to the stage. At the same time I know that some are more interested of the happening itself and doesn't care that much about who is playing.
  - The best would be if we played in halls so that everyone could get a chance to s-e-e us. But for a band of Guns' status it would mean a tour on ten years only for "Use Your Illusion."

What happens next? The gigantic tour in the USA with Metallica and Faith No More containing 25 shows is finished.
  Neither Gilby Clarke nor any of the other members is however inactive. The bass player Duff McKagan releases a solo album this winter on the Geffen label. A project that has taken a long time to complete and that also includes Gilby on one corner.
  - Together with Duff I've written the song "10 Years." We'll probably change that title to avoid comparisons with "14 Years."
  - As a musician I always have to write material. It's way to early for me to contribute with songs for Guns. They don't give me any of their compositions, so why should I do that?
  But Duff was enough impressed to utilize Gilby's talent. And this winter it is said that Gilby and the drummer Matt Sorum will join Duff McKagan on his solo tour.
  The question is whether there's anything else to wish.
  - Well, my dream at the moment is to record an album with Guns N' Roses. Who will remember Kill For Thrills? Guns, on the other hand, will be in all history books and it would be nice to be in on one corner, Gilby dreams.
Band Lawyer

Admin & Founder
Posts : 15851
Plectra : 76892
Reputation : 831
Join date : 2010-07-06

Back to top Go down

Back to top

- Similar topics

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum