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APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
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.

Cheers!
SoulMonster

2008.12.02 - LA's Burning Blog - Interview with Johnny Kreis (Hollywood Rose)

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2008.12.02 - LA's Burning Blog - Interview with Johnny Kreis (Hollywood Rose) Empty 2008.12.02 - LA's Burning Blog - Interview with Johnny Kreis (Hollywood Rose)

Post by Blackstar Wed May 26, 2021 11:19 pm

By Ray Reid

Since the release of Chinese Democracy last week the decade and a half old argument of “is it Guns N’ Roses, isn’t it Guns N’ Roses?” once again reared its head and, not unsurprisingly, everyone had an opinion on the matter. At least, it certainly seemed that way. For the most part these commentaries have focused upon the classic, or Appetite for Destruction, line up with relatively few (often for good reason) looking further to the past. After all, it was with Appetite that the band entered onto the world stage in the late 80s and it is this line up that most endures in the public consciousness today. But however the band is remembered or imagined by its fans, it does have a history before Appetite and one of the most important chapters in that history is the band known as Hollywood Rose.

Best known today as the vehicle that united singer Axl Rose and guitarist Izzy Stradlin into a song writing and performing partnership, Hollywood Rose was also notable for its revolving door of musicians (which included almost every member of the Appetite era band) who came and went over the years. Before the line up changes, Hollywood Rose was actually a fairly stable outfit that gigged and even recorded through the early-mid 1980s. For the casual fan of the band who has been following the gestation and birth of Chinese Democracy this story might sound eerily familiar. And if it does, that’s probably because it is. Hollywood Rose was not Guns N’ Roses but alot of the later band was seeded in this early enterprise. Not only did Axl and Izzy begin working together in a major way in this group, but they also began writing some of the songs that would eventually appear on Appetite and even the Illusions albums. Chris Webber, the band’s lead guitarist, would even get some co-writing credits on Appetite whilst bass player Ole Beich would end up in the first incarnation as the band we know today as Guns N’ Roses. No, Hollywood Rose was never Guns N’ Roses. But that’s not to say that Guns N’ Roses was not once Hollywood Rose.

Taking us through the band’s early history is Hollywood Rose drummer Johnny Kreis who, in this exclusive two part interview, talks about his experiences with with his band mates, his music, and the sunset strip in the 1980s.

L.A’s Burning: Tell us about the first time you worked with Izzy Stradlin, I believe it was in a band called Shire?

JK: Shire was actually my first real rock band that was based in Hollywood Calif., very active rock scene back in the 80’s when the Sunset Strip was really raging, with clubs like Gazzarri's, The Whisky and The Troubadour, just to mention a few. Izzy played bass with Shire and I was the drummer, the lead singer was David Jagosz and the lead guitarist was Alan St Lesa. Our influences were European metal like The Scorpions, Accept. Izzy and myself have always had a great musical and personal chemistry which still exist today.

LB: You’ve said before that Axl Rose stayed in the garage where Shire was playing. How did that come about? Did he ever work in any way with Shire?

JK: That was so long ago, I think it was just for a very very short while until he found a place somewhere In the hills of Hollywood. Axl really minded his own business, though things were cool between Shire and Axl, a lot of joking and the normal hanging out that friends do! A hilarious Axl comment [made] about the singer for Shire that I laughed about was “Is he singing in English?”

LAB: What were your musical influences? How did they fit in with the other members of Hollywood Rose?

JK: My influences back then covered a lot of different angles of which included Euro metal to hard rock to blues to punk bash. groups like Accept, Motley Crue, Scorps, Van Halen, Fastway,Metallica, ZZtop, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys to name a few.

LAB: How did you get on with the other members of the band, Chris, Axl, Izzy?

JK: During the existence and inception of Hollywood Rose I got along well with all the guys, on a personal and creative level. I never got into a tiff and just wanted to drum and be somebody.

LAB: Did you record the Hollywood Rose demos [released a few years ago on CD] first or did you gig first?

JK: We gigged a few times at any place that would take us in the LA, Hollywood and Valley areas.

LAB: Can you describe your most memorable gig with Hollywood Rose?

JK: One of our - well, one of my most memorable gigs with Hollywood Rose was a show at a place in the San Fernando Valley called The Country Club, one of the most largest venues when we came out for our first time, and from the first note [we] played, the audience was in awe! They were blown away by the wreckless yet raw bluesy rock riffs and drumbeats crowned by the most intense vocal style of the one and only Axl Rose.

LAB: It has been said that Axl did not like Hollywood Rose’s lead guitarist, Chris Webber, very much. Do you agree with this? What impression did you get about the band members relationships?

JK: Back then I didn’t see too much tension between Axl and Chris, but there was some. The most tension, at times, was between Axl and Izzy… really intense! Yet in the end when it came to show time, we all did our job and got along! At least for the next 45mins to an hour.

LAB: What would you say were the overall motivation for the band as a whole? Music, getting a record deal, girls, having a good time?

JK: Motivation, well it was about writing material that told a story, and that story was about who we are, where we’re going to be if we were famous, such as one of my favorite Axl lyrics [for] HR was “having my cigarette with wine” and “my million dollar business that I own”... who would’ve known that one day he would be the head of a million dollar business. Our motivation was getting a record deal!

LAB: Guns N’ Roses were obviously renowned for their partying. Was this the case with Hollywood Rose? Certainly in later years Axl recoiled from the extreme excess of the rest of his band, particularly drug use. Was this an issue with HR?

JK: Surprisingly, we were in a sense just kids with lots of energy and exploding hormones, which comes with being young adolescent rock musicians with the drive and strive to reach the top! Believe it or not, partying was not too prevalent then with HR… that I knew of, but hanging HR flyers all around Hollywood looked like it was drug induced. Though I’d like to mention that one gig HR did at the Music Machine in Santa Monica, it was a late night and we opened up for a band called Stryper. One of my roadies backstage found me a coffee machine with really, really strong coffee - in fact it would put Starbucks to shame. Having no money for drinks I told my roadie, this should do the trick! Then when we hit the stage playing [a] song [which] back then [was] called Wreckless (the original version, nothing like it in the world!) which featured medium tempo double-bass riff througout the whole song! - well, that night during that song, it sounded way! way! way! too fast!… just like a cruise Missile racing a Snaik, and I will never forget the look on Chris, Axl and Izzy’s faces, looking back at me and saying "Dude! Slow Down!" Yep! I was absolutely torched on caffeine! Back to your question, we would have a few beers or so and that would be the extent of the partying.

LAB: Were there ever any plans for HR to re-enter the studio again? Can you remember what covers you played live?

JK: Not that I know of, though I talked to some people who came to one of my current band’s concerts saying that Weber was thinking of reforming HR with different members, which I thought would be great and I wish them well if they do! And wouldn’t mind showing up and sitting for one original HR song. That would be a blast…..who knows! We’ll see!

LAB: What were the different influences of the band or its component members?

JK: It was really a mixture of everything, from punk to blues, to metal, to Metallica, a lot of everything! Anything heavy yet streety!

LAB: I’d like to ask about your view of the L.A scene at the time. Bands such as L.A Guns were an important part of the scene and there was a lot of crossover between members. Were you aware of a that at the time or is that something that was talked about later? What bands did you consider to be a part of the same scene as you?

JK: Nice Question! The lead singer of Shire, his brother, Michael Jagosz, an awesome rock singer, played in a rival band called Pyruss, I think meaning fire! But his guitarist was Tracii Guns! So back in the days when Shire would rehearse in their garage studio, Tracii, Axl, Izzy [would be there] already in the home garage studio and others would come down and we’d all hang out and chat about stuff. It was a very tight community with all living in a very close proximity in the neighborhood, with an exception of me, driving from the LAX Airport Area.

https://laburning.wordpress.com/2008/12/02/interview-johnny-kreis-of-hollywood-rose-an-early-incarnation-of-guns-n-roses-part-one/
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