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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.


2008.12.09 - Modern Guitars Magazine - Interview with Marc Canter

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2008.12.09 - Modern Guitars Magazine - Interview with Marc Canter Empty 2008.12.09 - Modern Guitars Magazine - Interview with Marc Canter

Post by Blackstar Thu May 27, 2021 7:27 am

Marc Canter Interview

by Rick Landers.

Author Marc Canter's new book, Reckless Road: Guns N' Roses and the Making of Appetite for Destruction, digs into the history of GNR from the inside. Canter's been a friend of the group's lead guitarist, Slash, since they were kids and documented GNR's explosive rise to fame in photographs, during the '80s.

In Reckless Road, Canter, with Jason Porath, poured over a few hundred photos and interviewed friends, family and music associates of GNR to present a vivid and candid account of the famed rock band's conception and the making of their debut album, Appetite for Destruction, released in 1987. In 2008, the album went 18X Platinum with over 28 million world-wide sales.

Guns N' Roses could trigger some ferocious rock 'n' roll, but just as easily slip into softer, sweet melodies. The wrecking crew of Izzy Stradlin, Steven Adler, Axl Rose, Duff McKagan, and Slash, knew they wanted a life of rock havoc before they reached their teens. Fueled by the music of Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Kiss and Queen, the five young rockers would lock and load, assaulting the world with their top selling debut album.

Hanging out with GNR was Marc Canter and lucky for us that he did. Reckless Road: Guns N' Roses and the Making of Appetite for Destruction,captures the life and times of rock in the '80s with the group that yanked us out of the glam rock of the decade and back to the ballsy grip and acidic spit of hard driving rock.

* * *

Rick Landers: Reckless Road offers us an inside look at the birth and evolution of Guns N' Roses. How did you "discover" the group and what prompted you to pull out your camera and capture them?

Marc Canter: The book covers Guns N' Roses first fifty gigs on the Sunset Strip. I met Slash in the fifth grade and I saw something special in him, with his art work in school. He created a jungle with dinosaurs and snakes that blew me away. By the seventh grade we were racing BMX bikes and he was doing outrageous tricks for that time and he won most of them.

When he started to play guitar, it didn't take long before I could see that this was his thing. In 1982, I began to document all his gigs. I would save the poster or flyer, then record the show and shoot a roll of film. Then in 1984, Slash and I went to see a band called Rose. Slash heard that they had a great singer. Axl and Izzy were real good and put on a great show. Soon after they had a meeting and Slash and Steven Adler joined up with them. That's when they changed the name to Hollywood Rose.

Izzy quit after one week. Hollywood Rose played the clubs for about three months before they split up. I was still documenting everything and I recognized that there was great chemistry between Axl and Slash. Axl then joined LA Guns. Six months later Axl was back with Izzy and Tracii Guns, and they formed Guns N' Roses. Soon after, Duff joined the Band and they booked a small tour to Seattle. Tracii and the drummer, Rob Gardner, didn't want to go, so they asked Slash and Steven if they wanted in. The first gig they played together was at the Troubadour on June 6, 1985. It was at that gig that I knew this was a great band.There was a groove that fit.

Rick: So, you knew Slash before he was called Slash or was he already going by that name?

Marc: No, he was Saul until 1983, when the actor Seymour Cassel gave him that name. We were friends with Seymour's son, Matt. The nickname was given to him because of how quick he did everything. He was like a Slash!

Rick: Were you around when Slash grabbed his first guitar, or at least when he became serious about playing?

Marc: I lost touch with him for about two years. Mainly, because he went to a different school. When we hooked up again in 1981 he had been playing for about a year.

Rick: Hanging out with a group with the reputation of GNR must have been exciting and maybe a little dangerous…yes?

Marc: It was very exciting watching all the songs from Appetite For Destruction being put together. It seems like every few gigs there would be a new song. "Welcome To The Jungle," was the first song they wrote with that lineup.

All those songs sound the same on the record as they did the first time they played them, even the guitar solo. Slash would rip one out and it worked, so he kept it. Same with the arrangements, not much was changed. I watched five guys change music. At that time music was sort of dead. On that road there were strippers, drugs, alcohol and real good rock n' roll. It was crazy, but exciting to see the birth of something so special. They had the look, sound songwriting, vocal range, guitar tone, and the attitude.

Rick: I'd imagine there were times when the group or their fans were full of surprises, both on and off stage. What are a couple of the most outrageous or hilarious things that you experienced?

Marc: I saw Axl defend himself from a big guy on speed. The guy was swinging a drum stand at Axl's head, apparently intent on killing him. Axl ended up taking that guy down.

As far as on stage, the Street Scene, Sept. 28,1985, was a free outdoor show and Guns N' Roses was opening up for Social Distortion. The whole show was running three hours late. The punks were getting restless, when out come these guys on stage with Les Paul's and dressed like the New York Dolls. The punks were spitting and throwing food at Guns N' Roses!

After three songs the crowd was won over, because the group handled the stage like a stadium band. Before that gig they had only played for a hundred people. That night there were around three thousand people in the audience.

Rick: How has hanging out with Slash and the group changed over the years?

Marc: Not much, because I knew them before they made it. Not much has changed, except now I don't have to pay for their food when we go to dinner. Over the years they've called me for some advice.To this day when I see Slash play a gig, he always calls me the next day to see how it sounded. He knows I will tell him the truth.

Rick: Dave Weiderman (Head of Artist Relations, Guitar Center - Hollywood) told me that Guns N' Roses use to practice behind the Hollywood Guitar Center, or nearby. Did you guys hang out at GC growing up?

Marc: Yes, they used to rent a garage right behind the Guitar Center. That's where they'd practice and sleep. Lots of crazy things happened there, including lots of naked girls and some of their great early songs. I used to pay for a lot of the things they needed back then. Demos, flyers, ads, backdrops, and some food. Somehow, Slash was able to get Dave to front him with guitar strings for gigs, then pay him back when he could.

Rick: I just got another book by photographer, Robert Knight, and Slash wrote the intro to that. Have you met Knight or gotten any photography pointers from him?

Marc: I have met Robert, but I don't really take photos anymore. My son is in a band called Frontrunner, and they play the Whiskey every month. I video the gig. Their friends are always taking photos, so it's good that someone's doing that.

Rick: While writing the book, what did you find most challenging in describing Guns N' Roses and did you end up re-validating your memories with others, to make sure they matched what others remembered?

Marc: There were like 24 people interviewed for the book. My goal was to have all the band members look at the book and see what they might remember from the gigs. Jason,my co-author, wanted to interview the band to add more story to the project.

I started thinking that everyone who was around and had something to do with the band should have something interesting to say. So, I made a list of people. Ex-girlfriends, roadies, strippers, record company people, the producers and mixers that worked on the record, friends and old band members from all the bands before GNR.

Jason interviewed them and threaded their stories throughout the book, where they would best fit. The things that I added were mixed in with all the gigs and Jason pulled them out and mixed them in with all the others' interviews.

Between the gigs there are quotes about different subjects. Also, because I recorded all the gigs, the transcriptions from the shows are all in the book. I think what's great about this book is that it's enhanced. That means, when you buy the book there is a code on the first page, you go to and you use that code to see the whole book online. There, readers will be able to listen to audio clips from the gigs. You can hear clips during the time when they played the songs for the first time. There are also over 200 extra photos that didn't make it into the book, as well as video interviews from the band and people that helped make the book.

Rick: That's a great idea and adds a lot of value to buying the book. How long did it take to pull the book together and get a publisher?

Marc: I started this project in 1994 and it took me 15 months, working five hours a day. My agent wanted too much money for the book, and at the time, the band was falling apart, so nobody wanted to give me a reasonable deal. The book sat in my closet for years. Then, in 2006, I discovered Enhanced Books and saw what they were doing. Basically, they cross books with the Internet, offering buyers a lot of on-line extras. I figured that the time was ripe to pull the project together again. I then spent nine more months finishing my work on it.

Rick: Any parts that you had to ratchet back for prudence sake or does the book just lay it all out exactly as you saw it?

Marc: We ended up getting a lot more info by interviewing all those people. The only problem is I wanted to add some more info that I remembered, but we ran out of room and time.

Rick: Guys typically play guitar for two basic reasons, the love guitars and they love the women that gather around. Was the band, uh, lucky in love from the start and how have things changed?

Marc: The band wanted to make great music and have fun doing it, by playing in front of people. There were girls around them before they were playing around, because they all had a cool look.

Rick: I understand that you're not a full-time pro photographer or writer, but work in the family business. Tell us about that and is it an environment where you might meet music business types?

Marc: My family owns Canter's Deli in Los Angeles. It's been around for 77 years and it's big enough to seat 350 people. We are open 24 hours. In the '60s, we fed anyone that was up late near the Sunset Strip. Jim Morrison and the Doors, Jimi Hendrix Frank Zappa, The Yardbirds and anyone else that was around. In 1966, Neil Young would taxi people from the Sunset Strip to Canter's Deli and back for one dollar a ride! In the '70s, you would find members from Kiss, The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith. Now, you can still see all kinds of musicians, such as Bono to The Black Crows, showing up. The cover of Reckless Road was taken at a booth at Canter's.

Rick: Do you play an instrument?

Marc: I play guitar, but not that well.

Rick: Slash seems to be heavy into work and always on the move musically or into a slug of projects, endorsement deals. He doesn't seem to be a guy who stands in one spot for too long. What keeps him always pushing forward?

Marc: Slash has always worked hard for his music. He never stops. Now he has two kids to help take care of, but he still works around the clock. I don't know how he does it!

Rick: Do you have a "Guns N' Roses at 50," book planned a few years out?

Marc: Those guys are true rockers and I'm sure they will rock until they die. The music that they made is timeless and should be around forever.

Rick: How do our readers find Reckless Road? Amazon, Barnes & Noble, a website, or ?

Marc: My website,, has it for sale, and it's the only place to buy Special Edition covers, individual covers with each band member and thirty 11 X 17 posters from the book. Amazon always stocks it. Barnes & Noble and Borders have it, but only half of them stock them. Typically, they'll special order it for you if they don't have it in stock, but you'll have to ask them to do that.

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