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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.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 6:39 am



Last edited by Soulmonster on Thu Mar 31, 2022 7:48 pm; edited 17 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 6:40 am


Well my philosophy has been that 30 yrs before playing with Guns and Roses everything was very normal… you lug your gear, you quickly set up after the band before you finishes, you play your ass off and then you quickly pack up and stick it in the truck. You gather a dozen people from the show and go to a diner, at 4 in the morning, get out 8 in the morning… So that was what was normal for me, so even when I first joined Guns, after a show, like the Hammerstein Ballroom for ex. there would be like 20 people hanging out by the back door, so I would just hang with them, shake hands, hug and talk about anything and everything.

So I realized I don’t know how to be a rock star — I have never been one before! You mean we’re not supposed to do this? I still do that stuff and to me its two pieces that complete everything… you can’t have a show without an audience there and an audience needs a band on stage… they are two parts that can’t exist without the other.


Bumblefoot became the most approachable member of the band and would frequently spend a considerable time talking to and answering questions from fans.

Not long after he joined the band would Del James mention that Bumblefoot was occasionally "too nice" with fans:

Bumblefoot is probably the most accessible member of GN'R. At times he's too nice and has to be reeled in from signing autographs in order to catch a bus or a flight. His six-string wizardry is of the highest level and the man literally knows every song ever recorded or if he doesn't only needs to hear something once. The walking Ipod entertains his brethren by playing the most obscure AM radio hits of the 70's, cheese metal, or TV theme songs. The band often tries to stump him with a request and rarely can.

Del James might also have had in mind the premature announcement from Bumblefoot about possibly joining the band.

Bumblefoot would later talk about how that came about:

(Laughs) Well, that was something that in the very beginning I learned the hard way. I had never experienced anything like that, where I had to be guarded. For me, the natural thing to do when you're in a band is to let all your fans know everything that's going on, and to include them in everything that's going on. That's something I always did; I would keep updates all the time on my forum, on my site, and just answer questions and make videos, and bring people down to the studio, and let them hear pieces of what's going on, and let them participate. There was one tour I did - I think it was in 2002. I was touring France, so I had all these French people from message boards pick the set of songs that we would play. I told them to just pick twenty-five songs out of the seventy-five, whatever it is, that they would wanna hear, and from there, whichever songs got picked the most were the ones that we played, and that was our set of music that we toured with. Doing things like that was always what was natural to me.

I remember when I first started talking to Guns N' Roses back in 2004, I had never experienced the whole thing of people just out to get information, and to break news, and almost use it to the detriment of what's trying to be accomplished. That was something I was naive about, so when I first started talking to them, some rumours started locally in New York, and that was completely my fault. When I was teaching at college, I told the head of the music department, I said "I may not be able to work the next semester because I might have to go record with Guns N' Roses", and he let it slip to the students (laughs). I remember I went away for a week to Russia to do some shows of my own, and I came back and had all these emails and phone messages, saying "Oh, I've heard that you're touring with Guns N' Roses" and all this stuff.

At that point, I was just talking with them. It was all just "I might be", so I wanted to clarify it. I went onto my website, and said "Just to make things clear here, I am not a member of Guns N' Roses. I spoke to them, and we talked about me joining, but all we did was talk. Nothing happened - we just had conversations". Even then, I felt like I was downplaying it, because I had two months of conversations and thirty pages of emails between management and band members. Once I said that though, that got used against me (laughs), I was trying to say I was not in the group. The next thing I knew, my little blurb ended up on music news websites, saying "New Guitarist Found For Guns N' Roses?". "According to local New York guitarist: "Yes, we've been talking"", and they left out the part where I said "I am not in Guns N' Roses" in big letters. It just backfired, and caused even more trouble.

I got into a big argument with management, who said "Who said you were gonna play in Guns N' Roses?.. Blah blah blah... I want you to retract this and that...", so I did. At that point, I just wasn't liking that whole environment because I've always been very anti-music business - I've always been anti-bullshit. I've been just basically about music, and doing it without playing the game, and going through all that stuff, and dealing with all that stuff. I just prefer to keep it human; I play, you listen, and we have a great time together, and cut out all the bullshit and the business shit.

At that point, I said "I don't think I'm the guy for this", and I told them "I will help you.. I will be happy to help you. I'll audition people for you discreetly, and I'll help you find the best guitarist you can, but I don't think this is for me". Then management went, and they put out some kind of press release which implied that I had lied to get publicity, and that they had nothing to do with me. It ended up causing a little battle between me and management, and that's why we didn't speak for a good year and a half (laughs). They then contacted me, and said "Do you want to work this out?". I was still all pissed off, because management really took it to extreme measures - that I won't even get into - trying to get me to say that I lied to get publicity, and I refused. I should also mention that that management is long gone - they're not around anymore (laughs). I was pretty pissed at them, but we managed to just talk it out, and come to an understanding.

In November 2008, Bumblefoot himself would joke about putting his foot in his mouth when he was about to speak to attendees of a Chinese Democracy listening party:

I should probably bring [Jen, his wife] on stage with me when I speak because she makes a very good shock collar where if I start saying the wrong things she can kind of give me a little choke and I'll shut the hell up before I say anything that causes too much damage.

Talking about being accessible and his relationship with fans:

GNR fans have been great. So many memories - some crazy stuff, but what I enjoy most is just hangin' and getting to know people. One time after a show in England I went back to some people's house and we just hung out and drank tea. It was so nice to be normal for a change...

Why wouldn’t I be? Shit, I’m just a human being. No better or worse than the next person. I like brightening someone’s day by shooting them a message if they’re written.

If someone cares enough to send me a message, the least I can do is let 'em know I got it and appreciate what they have to say. People's thoughtfulness and kindness means a lot, it's what makes it all worth doing, knowing you're making people happy. It's not always easy to respond - sometimes there isn't enough time, and I get bad hand pain from typing that makes it hard to play guitar, but I try my best to at least send a small message letting them know I care.

Can't say it enough, *we're in this together*-one is imcomplete without the other. But it's not about that. We're all people, and should get the same love and dignity we'd hope for from otheres. It takes very little effort to let someone know you appreciate them, and if I'm able to make someone happy, why not.

In 2009 he would talk about his band philosophy and perhaps inadvertently conjure the contrast to how things were done in Guns N' Roses:

And being on the computer really fucks my hands up.  Was having a hard time playing throughout the 2006 GNR tours because of it. Finally I had to force myself to stop answering emails and stuff and get some help with all that.  I'm all about having a personal connection with fans, keeping them included with things and as 'part of the loop' - going to the Chi Dem listening party, doing stuff like this interview y'all put together (thank you!)  I put videos on YouTube of my own album being made as it was being made, have had fans help pick songs, sing backing vocals, stuff like that. That's my own philosophy on how a band should be, it's just being myself to be that way, and i n my own band that's how it is. In other situations that aren't like that, I'm more considerate of what other people are comfortable with, and respect that they have the right to be how they want to be, as we all should.

And talk about fan meetings:

I always felt that a band and their fans are a team, they're connected. Would always like finishing a show and then 20 of us would hit a diner at 4am, band, friends, audience, and hang out for hours. I get something out of it just like anyone else, when we're all just being 'normal', whatever that is. [...] Fan England, going back to a fans house after a show and just hangin' out drinking tea. In Mexico, a group of people that ran for a half-hour following our van to the hotel, hangin' with them and just talking, taking photos and signing stuff. Such a cool bunch.

GN'R fans have been great. Some have made art and sent it to me, gifts, kind messages, but they don't need to do anything, just enjoy the album, enjoy the shows. My favorite part of GN'R shows was playing Don't Cry and the audience singin' along, it's all about connecting with them, ya know?

Yet, some fans could be pestering:

There are things that happen in your life, and I have had those things happen but I just refuse to change as a result- things like where people try and hurt your family or where they overstep and cross the line and you have to be guarded… and if you really cross the line, you know it changes you. You keep a safe distance and it’s understandable.

I think a lot of times, fans may not understand that… you know running frantically over to someone while they’re going to the bathroom and then not understanding why the guy won’t give them an autograph or something like that, it’s like your defenses are up… in any other scenario it would be considered not cool to be running up to a complete stranger and asking for things!

There are times when like you’re trying to get on a plane, or there was one time when we were on the plane, we’d had no sleep but every 10 minutes or so someone would wake us up and tap us on the shoulder and hand us a barf bag and a pen and ask us to sign it for someone’s cousin… of course we did it but that can be tough… Sometimes people don’t realize when the timing is right… like if my wife is on the phone talking to a Vet clinic about a case and some frantic fan is interrupting her call, tapping her on the shoulder asking, – get this autograph for me, get this autograph for me?, and I’m checking in my luggage… so leave family out of it, they didn’t sign up for this!

An example of Bumblefoot's willingness to go the extra mile and his work ethics was when the Costa Rican show in April 2010 was cancelled in the last minute and Bumblefoot decided to hold an impromptu concert for fans that had gathered at the hotel as some comnpensation:

That day a handful of fans came at the hotel, so I gathered them, we went outside and I played an almost 2-hour acoustic show for them.  We sang and played songs at a private show;  It was the least I could do for them. I went there to play and I had to make sure I could give some kind of a show to some people in Costa Rica and at least make them happy.
Vuelta en U (Costa Rica), May 2, 2010; translated from Spanish

And in Rio:

But as far as doing things for fans, I like to, I like having that connection. When I was in South America on tour I didn’t have meet and greets because I couldn’t really arrange them, it takes a lot to put those together, and it rarely coincides with the ever changing travel itinerary of the band, so I would just do little things… like go into a hotel and do autographs in front of the hotel, if you even approach the entrance a mob would congest so I’d go out there for 2 hours and sign things and take some photographs. They deserve it. There were times when shows got canceled and not for any reason of ours, like for ex. there was a show in Rio, where the show got canceled right before the doors opened and a big storm had hit the stage. A big portion of the stage had been hit and had the doors been open it would have killed the first 30 people by the stage , and the reason why the doors weren’t open is the bus carrying the crew had broken down for 2 hours on the way and it delayed everything… so there were these events in the South American tour that would lead to another event that was bad… random acts of God or I don’t know who… the fans were so upset in Rio, so there was an acoustic guitar there, so we gave them an acoustic show for two hours and they all sang along and any time we didn’t get to play, I would just give an acoustic show! Stage or no stage I’m going to do it!

In 2010, Bumblefoot would summarize his relationship with fans:

Well my philosophy has been that 30 yrs before playing with Guns N' Roses everything was very lug your gear, you quickly set up after the band before you finishes, you play your ass off and then you quickly pack up and stick it in the truck. You gather a dozen people from the show and go to a diner at 4 in the morning, get out 8 in the morning.... So that was what was normal for me, so even when I first joined Guns, after a show, like the Hammerstein Ballroom for example there would be like 20 people hanging out by the back door, so I would just hang with them, shake hands, hug and talk about anything and everything.

So I realized I don't know how to be a rock star - I have never been one before! You mean we're not supposed to do this? I still do that stuff and to me it's two pieces that complete can't have a show without an audience there and an audience needs a band on stage...they are two parts that can't exist without the other.

In many cases it could be said that once you sign on for that gig, what comes with it in terms of fans, etc is to be expected...

And the fans deserve the acknowledgement, the recognition and participation and the inclusion, even when I would do things on stage and for my solo - you stand up there like a jerk for 5 minutes, and play whatever; I would do something where the audience could sing along and make them part of it, instead of making it just a 5 minute wang fest, and I would just do a song we hadn't done in the set, have the words on the screen for people to sing along, trying to make them a part of a show. So to me, having the fans a part of the show and having a connection to the fans is just a normal part of what I do. But, I understand others who can't do it. There are things that happen in your life, and I have had those things happen but I just refuse to change as a result - things like where people try and hurt your family or where they overstep and cross the line and you have to be guarded....and if you really cross the line, you know it changes you. You keep a safe distance and it's understandable.

I think a lot of times, fans may not understand know running frantically over to someone while they're going to the bathroom and then not understanding why the guy won't give them an autograph or something like that, it's like your defenses are up... in any other scenario it would be considered not cool to be running up to a complete stranger and asking for things!

There are times when like you're trying to get on a plane, or there was one time when we were on the plane, we'd had no sleep but every 10 minutes or so someone would wake us up and tap us on the shoulder and hand us a barf bag and a pen and ask us to sign it for someone's cousin...of course we did it but that can be tough... Sometimes people don't realize when the timing is if my wife is on the phone talking to a Vet clinic about a case and someron10 frantic fan is interrupting her call, tapping her on the shoulder asking, "get this autograph for me, get this autograph for me", and I'm checking in my leave family out of it, they didn't sign up for this!

But as far as doing things for fans, I like to, I like having that connection. When I was in South America on tour I didn't have meet and greets because I couldn't really arrange them, it takes a lot to put those together, and it rarely coincides with the ever changing travel itinerary of the band, so I would just do little things, like go into a hotel and do autographs in front of the hotel, if you even approach the entrance a mob would congest so I'd go out there for 2 hours and sign things and take some photographs. They deserve it. There were times when shows got cancelled and not for any reason of ours, like for example there was a show in Rio where the show got cancelled right before the doors opened and a big storm had hit the stage. A big portion of the stage had been hit and had the doors been open it would have killed the first 30 people by the stage, and the reason why the doors weren't open is the bus carrying the crew had broken down for 2 hours on the way and it delayed everything there were these events in the South American tour that would lead to another event that was bad ....random acts of God or I don't know who...the fans were so upset in Rio, so there was an acoustic guitar there, so we gave them an acoustic show for two hours and they all sang along and any time we didn't get to play, I would just give an acoustic show! Stage or no stage I'm going to do it!

In 2012, Bumblefoot would asked if his time corresponding with fans didn't distract him from making music:

Yes (laughs)! Absolutely! Everything I do which is not making music, is distracting me from making music. As far as time yes, but not really spiritually. Because you get inspiration from living life and doing other things, that gives you something to share and gives your life a balance. If I spend 6 hours answering e-mails, that’s 6 hours I spent not making music. But to me it’s worth it because it brings us all together and you have to spend time when you can to reach out the people. It’s a symbiotic “give and take” or “give and give” or “take and take” relationship (laughs). But in a relationship you have to put time into it, to keep it healthy and happy.

He would also be asked about being email-bombed by fans:

It wasn’t the first time that happened. It happens very often when fans decide there’s something that they want to happen. They are looking for some way to make it happen and show how much they care. But they don’t really know that e-mail bombing band members is not going to get Axl Rose to do a live stream. It doesn’t work that way (laughs). That’s just a pain in the ass, that’s not a way to do it. If you aren’t happy about the ticketing situation at concerts, calling a band member who doesn’t really know what’s going on with the ticketing halfway across the world -because I’m not the local promoter or the booking agent or the band manager or anything- doesn’t work. We don’t make those deals. If I wanted to be a manager I would put down my guitar and I would manage. But I’m not a manager, I focus on making music and putting a show.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 6:42 am


As for other band members in Guns N' Roses, Frank was able to juggle other bands while playing in Guns N' Roses.

I always play with local bands [=New York City bands]. I'm, you know, I'm connected to the local scene so playing with The Compulsions, playing with A Kill Code and, you know, just always playing. I'm always playing. Never stop playing, I'm a lifer.

In 2009, Frank would also contribute to Gordon Gano & The Ryans album Under the Sun which was released in September [Paste Magazine, June 19, 2009].

On July 15, 2010, Frank record a song intended for an upcoming Sebastian Bach album:

My good buddy and drummer extraordinaire Frank Ferrer from Guns N' Roses has been here since 12 noon learning our new tune, jamming it with us, and we just recorded the tune! Fast, chugging, heavy, melodic, mean and cool this track is!

Frank is so kind and cool to spend his time with us creating new music.

We are having fun in the studio and I am so lucky to jam with these cats!

Bach would later emphasize that Frank had only drummed on a demo while his regular drummer, Bobby Jarzombek, was away playing with Rob Halford, and that Jarzombek was intended to be the drummer for the future album [Blabbermouth, July 18, 2010].

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 6:42 am


In mid-August 2008, it would be rumoured that in the USA, Chinese Democracy would be sold exclusively by Wal-Mart or Best Buy [Billboard, August 15, 2008]. Irving Azoff was said to favor this way of releasing music, having previously done it with Eagles' "Long Road Out of Eden" through Wal-Mart [Billboard, August 15, 2008].

In September it became clear Best Buy had won the negotiations [Billboard, September 26, 2008; Rolling Stone, September 26, 2008].

The album would be sold by different vendors outside of the US, and in Canada, HMV would comment on the US' Best Buy exclusivity, as seen in this quote from Humphrey Kadaner, President of HMV Canada:

At HMV we are in the consumer business, and ultimately it is our mandate to support the consumer’s right to choose where they shop for their music. We are committed to providing the broadest selection of music to meet the needs of consumers in Canada. In that regard, we have actively and passionately worked to educate music artists and the music industry that most Canadian consumers believe it should be the consumer’s choice as to where they shop for music. As such we’re thrilled that Guns N’ Roses have decided that their hot new record (Chinese Democracy), 14 years in the making, will be made available in Canada via a variety of retailers, including of course, HMV. We thank Guns N’ Roses for recognizing that the Canadian retail market is quite distinct from the United States.

Jimmy Iovine, chairman at Interscope-Geffen-A&M, would comment on Best Buy exclusivity:

With the confusion and how much media is spread out and how hard it is to market things to a mass audience right now, I think you'll see the labels needing marketing partners to drive this music, whether it's a song, an album or a new configuration. In this case, Best Buy gave this album a great deal of marketing that we couldn't have gotten any other way. Now we have the press on our side as well, which is extraordinary.

As for indie retailers who are left out over deals like this:

I don't know the answer to that. But when a guy works that hard on a record, you want to give it the best possible chance it has. We found a great partner in Best Buy, and Axl's new management felt it was a good idea. It looks like it's going to do really well. I mean, really, really well. Beyond anybody's expectations.

Discussing the decision to go with an exclusive retailer:

Fine. It's not like we had that many options -- get f---- by Interscope or wait till next year with another retailer.
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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 6:43 am


For mastering Chinese Democracy, Bob Ludwig was chosen. Ludwig was Jimmy Iovine's suggestion:

I like Jimmy, but I've never understood him in regard to us or this album. Everything's always been, "That's easy," or "We can fix that, no problem," but unfortunately rarely added up to any kind of reality for us until [he found] Bob Ludwig for mastering.

We'd love to have their and Jimmy's support after this. But to continue at this juncture feeling as we do, keeping things so behind the scenes, unfortunately feels like the same 'ol same 'ol for all of us and, at least momentarily, a bit much to digest. Jimmy did point us in the right direction for mastering, and I believe he's sincere in his appreciation of our record but still for whatever reasons gave up pretty early in those areas.

Ludwig would later talk about mastering the album and especially maintaining the dynamics of the record:

In October, when I first heard some of final mixes which were incredibly multi-layered and dense, I was surprised by two things:  The mixes were so finally honed that doing the smallest move sounded like I had done a lot and also that adding the typical amount of compression used in mastering these days took the life and musicality out of the recordings in a big way.

The trial disc I submitted to the producers had 3 versions: The one I personally liked had no compression that was used just for loudness, only compression that was needed for great sounding rock and roll.  Then, knowing how competitive everything is these days, I made two more masterings, one with more compression and another with yet more compression, but even the loudest one wasn’t remotely as loud as some recent CDs.  Hoping that at least one of these would satisfy Axl and Caram Costanzo, the co-producers of the record, I was floored when I heard they decided to go with my full dynamics version and the loudness-for-loudness-sake versions be damned.

I think the fan and press backlash against the recent heavily compressed recordings finally set the context for someone to take a stand and return to putting music and dynamics above sheer level.

The dynamics vs. volume trade-offs include the act of simply turning your playback volume clockwise a little.  True, when shopping the iTunes store your song may not blast out as loudly as other songs. When trying to impress the radio station PD it may be an issue if you don’t have the guaranteed attention this record deserves, however level on the radio broadcast is NOT an issue.  As I have been lecturing to people for years, the radio stations are all in competition with each other and they all have devices to make loud things soft and soft things loud and indeed, I heard a critic’s review of Chinese Democracy on NPR and the song examples they played screamed over my portable radio.  Even with the radio station compression you can still hear detail in the car… amazing!

I’m hoping that Chinese Democracy will mark the beginning of people returning to sane levels and musicality triumphing over distortion and grunge.  I have already seen a new awareness and appreciation for quality from some other producers, I pray it is the end of the level wars.

Bumblefoot would also comment on the dynamics of the final product:

Mastering was such a big issue and they were so meticulous about everything about it to make sure it stayed clear and the vision was realised. Mastering was a big part of making that happen. I think it was the first album of hopefully a lot more to follow that decided that quality was more important than the volume war – it would rather be not as loud and in-your-face, but something that keeps its dynamics and bandwidth. It’s such a full recording. There’s so much going on in it, so much information to be processed as you listen, that it needs to be clear and pulled back so you can really get it without it being just this giant square wave. So I’m hoping that with other albums that follow, people will start realising, ‘Hey, we can just turn up our stereo, turn up our iPod…’

One good thing about Chinese Democracy is that it wasn't mastered to try and be the loudest album of its time, at the expense of dynamics and clarity, like many albums now are. I'm hoping other bands will follow this, and start mastering to have the best sound, not to be the loudest. We need to get ourselves back to sound quality and 'dynamic range'. And if you want something louder, just turn up the volume knob.

When asked when he felt the album was ready for release, Axl would shed light on the busy period just before its release:

Working with Bumble's (guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal) fills, (drummer Frank Ferrer)'s additions and various intro bits etc., a lot happened in our final month of mixing as well as in mastering. Thank God for (mastering engineer) Bob Ludwig and his patience.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 6:43 am

SEPTEMBER 14, 2008

In July 2008 it would be reported that the upcoming video game Rock Band 2, to be released in September, would feature the song 'Shackler's Revenge' from the still unreleased Chinese Democracy [Billboard, July 14, 2008; The New York Times, July 14, 2008].

Get ready for "Shackler's Revenge." The track from the upcoming Guns N' Roses album Chinese Democracy will appear on the video game Rock Band 2, slated for release for the Xbox 360 platform in September.

The news was announced Monday morning by Harmonix president and CEO Alex Rigopulos at Microsoft’s press conference at E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. In addition to "Shackler’s Revenge," Rock Band 2 will feature songs by Bob Dylan, Metallica, Pearl Jam and the Grateful Dead among the 80-plus songs on the playlist.

Around the same time, Bumblefoot would mention the news while also talking about leaks:

Luckily, things are still moving forward [with Chinese Democracy]. I don't blame the fans they want to hear the music as soon as possible. It will eventually happen the right way like on Sept. 14, we have the first legitimate release of a song coming out. It's going to be on the soundtrack of the video game, Rock Band 2. The song is called 'Shackler's Revenge.' It's a really good, energetic song, and I'm happy to see that coming out.

Eric Brosious, Audio Director at Harmonix, would comment and mention that Axl personally chose Shackler's Revenge:

Well of course we really wanted to have GN'R included in RB2 and Paul DeGooyer, our music guru and all-around good guy at MTV, worked directly with the GN'R folks to make it happen. Everyone involved decided that it'd be ultra fab to have something from the mysterious Chinese Democracy. And Axl himself took an interest and chose 'Shackler's Revenge'. Very cool.

The release of a brand new Guns N' Roses song and its hint of the imminent release of Chinese Democracy would make MTV News Blogs humorously ask if the "Apocalypse is nigh?" [MTV News Blogs, July 14, 2008].

Rock Band 2

After the release, program director James ''Double Down'' Howard from Tampa station 98 Rock, would comment

[...] probably 80 percent [of the response] went, 'If that's what we've been waiting for, what the hell?' And 20 percent was, 'Eh, it's pretty cool.' But we never got, 'Wow, that's what I've been waiting for!''

The song was brought in by Buckethead and Brain:

“Shackler’s” was a song that Bucket and I wrote a long time ago, just jamming. Axl asked if anybody had any songs or grooves, so we brought that in. It was a riff that we’d been jamming on since the Praxis days with Bill and Bootsy and Bernie. Axl loved it and put some lyrics to it, and it became “Shackler’s.” That one might have more of a swing because it came more from me.

Bumblefoot would discuss his additions:

If I remember right (barely remember anything more than 5 minutes ago, haha) it was one of the first songs we worked on. I played all the solos - the fretless solo followed by the fretted solo, the end tapping stuff and the bends over it - also the rhythms throughout the song with all the riffing in them.


I like the energy and groove, the vocals really grab ya, I don't think it's what people expect, like tasting somethin' for the first time... it takes a second to take in the info and sort it, then ya gotta taste it again, and ya start getting to know what you're tasting, trying to define it, and figure out if ya like it or not. That's how you know it's something unique, not your standard... chicken dinner.

Shackler's Revenge
From the alternative Red Hand album artwork
Credit to troccoli

Shackler's Revenge
From the alternative Grenade album artwork
Credit to troccoli

After the release of Chinese Democracy, Axl would talk about the song:

Shackler's was inspired by the insanity of senseless school shootings and also the media trying desperately to make more out of one shooter's preference for the Guns song Brownstone to no avail. That said, listening for my own enjoyment or if we were to make a video or performing it I lean more to the entertainment of a horror flick or something like Dexter, something with an interesting menacing character as opposed to real life.

And when asked who Shackler is and why he wants revenge:

He lives deep within each and every soul stirring only when the moon is right… or to the smell of KFC…. Or as Brain says “Once upon a time there was a Shackler…”

And how the weird elephant noises in the beginning was created:

That’s Bucket’s guitar. Which knowing that, it’s how I hear them and I could understand others having a different impression.

And on another note… I don’t really get the “industrial” rap it gets considering these are guitars with very minimal keys. Some of what may be mistaken for keys are Bucket’s different guitar bits and my underlying background vocals. Imo as it’s not clear to the average listener exactly what’s happening and it’s not something most are used to it tends to get lumped in to a category and by some it’s not so innocent as it’s being cute which again imo does a disservice to the song and the band kinda like how I felt when Sweet Child won a Moonman as heavy metal. I’ve never been fond of that type of labeling as it tends to try and pigeon hole the material and the band especially in the mainstream media. Though there are others who legitimately enjoy the track and see it that way for their own reasons as well so then maybe it’s not all that important. Also though Bumble is playing several parts the basis is Bucket and the main verse riff is his and his performance. Bumble’s correct in what he said publicly it’s just that there’s a lot more going on there as well.

Bumblefoot would also comment on his contributions to the song:

[...] all the leads on that one are mine. I start off the main solo with the fretless guitar, hitting different harmonics and sliding them up the neck. People think that’s a whammy bar, but it’s all sliding harmonics, like something [British fretless bassist] Tony Franklin would do. Then for the second half of the solo I switch to a fretted-neck guitar and do some runs and noodly crap. I also alternate picked notes with thimble taps way up on the string, near the guitar’s bridge, for those super-high sounds [Thal wears a metal sewing thimble on the pinkie of his picking hand, sounding notes beyond the guitar’s standard range by tapping it against the string about the fretboard]. I’m actually having Vigier build me a double-neck with one fretless and one fretted neck, so that I’ll be able to do that solo seamlessly onstage.

This was the first song I heard off GNR's 'Chinese Democracy' album in its final mixed and mastered form, summer of '08. I heard my guitar kick in on the verse, the fretless guitar solo ... hearing it that first time made me remember being in the studio a year before, recording the album -- a dozen hours a day, sitting on the edge of a swivel chair with a guitar in hand, in front of me a million dollar mixing board spanning the length of the room, an old Marshall head by my right foot, guitars all over the couch behind me, pictures of Hendrix on the walls, Thai food in a delivery bag on a table in the next room ... I drive past the studio sometimes, and it all comes back to me.
Noisecreep, July 2010

The song was already written when I joined, and Bucket had already left, so unfortunately we never got to make music 'together' Wink Hopefully we can some day Smile The final mix was Bucket's main rhythms & whammy parts in chorus, I did fretless riffs in verses, rhythms in the rest, and all the soloing throughout..... such an interesting song, love playing it live!! Smile
REDDIT AMA, December 2013

That one's my favorite. I do wish I was given a chance to know the music better and developed a relationship with the songs before laying the tracks down. I think it would have been something even better. It would have connected even better and it would have had more of my personality to it.
Ultimate Guitar, July 2014

And playing it live:

I like the Shackler's solo, playing the fretted and fretless, then the crazy tapping at the end while singing the chorus. Keeps me busy. If I don't stay busy I start making trouble.
Daily Better, July 2010

I would say Shackler’s Revenge [is my favorite to play live]. I get to do a lot of fretless switching to fretted, and there’s singing while playing lots of guitar parts, so it keeps my mind busy enough so I can stay out of trouble. So it’s definitely that one.
NY Hard Rock Music Examiner, November 2011

I like some of the heavier stuff; it’s fun to play those. They seem to go over really well like 'Shackler’s Revenge.' Sometimes it’s fun to do the heavier stuff., December 2011

On Chinese my favorite is Shackler's Revenge. It's high-energy, and I'm very involved in the song, switching from fretted to fretless, singing harmonies, I like it.
Teraz Rock Magazine, July 2012

Shackler's Revenge is the one I love most from the new shit because I keep real busy in it. It keeps me out of trouble: I am doing a lot of singing and switching between the two necks. There's tapping and a lot of technical things where I am multitasking - I like the brain challenge of it all.
Total Guitar, December 2012

Looking back at the song:

[...] this was the first song from 'Chinese Democracy' to be released, as part of the 'Rock Band 2' video game in Sept. 2008. It was the first release of recorded GNR music that I was part of. On a personal level, it felt like going from engaged to married. Songs are like children to me - it felt like a first child being born and the start of a family.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 6:46 am


In September, a release date of November 25 circulated in the press [Rolling Stone, September 26, 2008], but in October a release date of November 23 would be claimed by Billboard[Billboard, October 9, 2008].

Beyond enticing pre-Thanksgiving shoppers, the move is tied to the structure of Best Buy's sales week, which runs from Sunday to Saturday. As such, "Chinese Democracy" would not be eligible to chart on The Billboard 200 until the week of Dec. 1, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Tony Jacobs, Dr Pepper VP of marketing, would comment on the release date:

We're waiting to hear about 'Chinese Democracy' just like all the other GNR fans. But if the rumors are true, we're putting the Dr Pepper on ice.

Later in October, Best Buy would start accepting pre-orders and would also list the tracklist of the album [MTV News, October 16, 2008],

In mid-October, Blabbermouth would report the track list of the album and also say that "fans have a choice between three different CD and LP covers" [Blabbermouth, October 16, 2008; Blabbermouth, October 17, 2008].

Later in October, Bumblefoot would talk about not having heard the final master version of the album:

I haven't heard the final mastering. I was supposed to meet up with them this week and listen. I'm a bit curious, you know? But truthfully, there's some great songs. It's a beautiful record.

Then on November 17, Bumblefoot seems to have heard a lot of it:

Yeah, I heard some stuff. It was pretty damn good. It's nice hearing it all together and mastered and ready to be delivered to the people, you know.

And was thrilled about his parts being added to the songs:

Yeah man, they're sticking a lot of my fretless guitar, that I laid down in a lot of songs, it's in there, man, I heard it on... ah, I heard it on Better, I heard it in Chinese, I heard it in Shackler's, heard it in Scraped, oh, what else?

On October 22, the release date would be officially announced in a joint press release from Interscope/Geffen and Best Buy [Interscope/Geffen and Best Buy Press Release, October 22, 2008] and in a separate press release from only Interscope/Geffen [Interscope/Geffen Press Release, October 22, 2008].

Slash would comment on the release date:

I've resigned to the concept that Axl's gonna do whatever he wants to do whenever he does it, and I don't really put a clock on that. And so I'm looking forward to it coming out and that's basically about it, so hopefully this date, it seems like they're pretty serious about it. And Axl's working with Irving (Azoff, manager), who I know really well. Irving's a good guy to have on your side, so it'll probably stick, you know.
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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 6:48 am

OCTOBER 10, 2008

At a Best Buy vendor convention in September, 2008, GN'R manager Andy Gould would say that the song If The World would feature during the closing credits in the upcoming movie Body of Lies by Ridley Scott [Rolling Stone, September 26, 2008]. The song would not be included on the movie's soundtrack [Rolling Stone, September 26, 2008].

Body of Lies
October 10, 2008

Chris, who would be credited as a co-writer of the song, would comment on the movie:

I saw it last week, and it was a cool film. It was very dark. It was about a tough time in America, plus it’s hard to watch movies about Iraq. I don’t know if it was a little bit wrong but it was a very cool movie. That track was particularly good to work on – it was a track that was recorded quickly. We did it very quickly and it felt right to put it on that movie.

[...] Ridley Scott, that guy's amazing, what a hero. [...] and he went through a bunch of our songs and he picked that one. And that was great.

If The World
From the alternative Red Hand album artwork
Credit to troccoli

If The World
From the alternative Grenade album artwork
Credit to troccoli

Chris, talking about the song:

That track was particularly good to work on - it was a track that was recorded quickly. We did it very quickly and it felt right to put it on that movie.
DMG, October 2008

It's about Environmental Decay in its Futurist Context.
WickedInfo, November 2008

As with many songs I write, it all started with my old 12 string guitar sitting next to my sofa. I bought these from a pawn shop years ago for $50 and have never changed the strings since. This gave her a pretty bass-heavy sound. I just started with this riff which allows for some pretty cool vocals. Crazy as I am, I recorded this straight onto a drum machine sampler, MPC2000, and edited it in such a way that it sounded almost mechanical.

After that I wrote the drums with a dub/reggae beat, hitting the second and fourth beats really hard. After that I went to my studio and added strings, piano, bass, echo guitar, synth and sub-bass. I gave Axl the recordings and he added his part by recording the vocals in a single night. When I heard what he had done with the material, I was completely blown away. I've never heard a song like this before - that's the way it is to this day. Later we added guitar solos as a "spice on top" so to speak.

Tommy would later talk about looking forward to playing the song live:

“If the World” is another one [I look forward to playing live]. It doesn’t have a lot of bass – it’s mostly whole-notes. We’ve had to work on the arrangement to make it work with a live band, but I think that one will be a lot of fun to play live.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 6:50 am


In October, the band was allegedly looking for creative ways to promote the record, including hiring an advertisement agency in the UK:

UK's reports that Guns N' Roses is seeking an advertising agency to promote its long-awaited next album in a major break from music industry tradition.

Sources suggest that Universal Music has already contacted several London advertising hotshops to launch a marketing communications program ahead of the global release of "Chinese Democracy" on November 25.

The move is the latest in a string of new initiatives by the music industry to encourage people to continue buying music, particularly albums, rather than illegally downloading or just buying singles for 79p.

Some days later, Andy Gould and Irving Azoff in a shared statement would talk about a "monumental campaign":

The release of 'Chinese Democracy' marks a historic moment in rock'n'roll. We're launching with a monumental campaign developed by Gary Arnold and the Best Buy team that matches the groundbreaking sound of the album itself. Guns N’ Roses fans have every reason to celebrate, for this is only the beginning.

Bumblefoot would be asked if the band intended to tour to promote the album:

We haven't spoken about it yet. I can only assume that after you put out an album, you go and play all over the world. Then again, this is Guns N' Roses, where the laws of physics do not apply.

By November, advertisements for the album started to appear on TV [Blabbermouth, November 2, 2008].


Despite the release date approaching, Axl was not doing any interviews or promotion for the album. According to Los Angeles Times and a spokesperson they talked to, Axl "hasn't been available for interviews" and "it doesn't sound like any are on the horizon" [Los Angeles Times, November 20, 2008]. The LA Times would also talk to a "high-placed manager" who noted, "it starts to feel a little bit like the movie that doesn’t let reviewers in to see before it comes out. You’d think they’d want to platform it, do some sort of live broadcast, let the music talk for itself -- instead of just the innuendo" [Los Angeles Times, November 20, 2008]. In early December it would be claimed that "record label bosses" "were fuming" over Axl's absence which had cost "the band a No1 album" [The Sun, December 2, 2008].

In December, Axl would be asked why he did nothing to promote the record and that this was hurting album sales:

That's ur opinion and it very well could be true. What I have to say a lot of people have no desire to hear. With our team we were able to negotiate thru a mountain of issues to be able to release the album. Within' those negotiations I believed I had secured agreements, commitments and assurances that would have allowed a promotional strategy to be implemented that obviously I've had a fair amount of time to consider. Unfortunately those things never happened and once the record was closer to release the biz went about things in their standard business as usual mode.

He would also talk more about this when asked if more promotion and interviews were intended:

There were imo well thought out plans and strategies that unfortunately were ignored once we were pressing CD’s. There will be proper interviews and some are already scheduled for much later intentionally. God idea, bad…we’ll see. I’m happy the record’s out the rest… one nightmare at a time.

In 2011, Bumblefoot would be asked if Axl wasn't able to promote because the album had been such a heavy weight on his shoulders:

Well I know that I feel that way about my own albums (laughs)! By the time it’s done, the last thing I want to do is think about it or play it or anything. You know, when it comes to that it’s like, I’ve seen everybody blame everybody. The record label says it’s this person’s fault or the distributors will say that it was this one’s or the band will say it was this one’s… And I don’t know! I would have loved to go out there and immediately start touring and immediately start promoting. In fact I kind of did you know? A few weeks after the album came out, I went to Europe and I did a meet & greet in Paris and London and Berlin. I also did some interviews and stuff. I just did that myself, just to be supportive (laughs). I can’t answer, I can’t get into other people’s heads and I don’t want to speak for anybody else because it’s not really my place to go and do that. People have got to go out there and speak for themselves about things. But for me, I would have loved to get out there and start promoting immediately. So here it is, like it or not. We are exposing it and giving it to you. Check it out, that’s all. You don’t have to like it, just check it out. If you like it then great, but not everybody is going to like everything. That’s how anything is, whether it’s food on your plate or an album that you’re checking out or a piece of art hanging on a wall. So yeah… I mean, despite any lack of promotion, I think it still did 4 or 5 million sales around the world. But you know what? Imagine if we did promote it! (laughs) I think that there is so much controversy about the album that it’s going to be twenty years before people can look back on it and say “alright, what do we think of the music?”. Because at this point, I mean like in this conversation, we haven’t even yet talked about the music on the album (laughs)! We are talking about how much it cost and how long it took, because those are real things that are part of the baggage that come with this album. I think that it’s going to be a while before people stop feeling the weight of that baggage and look back at it thinking “hey check out that album! What a weird experimental introspective album they came out with! And look how many people contributed! No album has ever been like that!” It’s just that kind of album that people are going to talk about and have opinions about before even hearing it. It’s an interesting album with a lot of things to talk about.

In late 2011, Tommy would talk about how the album had been pulled out of Axl's hands right before Axl was done with it, and this could also explain Axl's initial refusal to promote:

The stupid thing was, it was pulled out of [Axl's] hands. He was already ready to give it up, but there were a few minor things that meant a lot to him artistically, but they pulled it out of his hands anyway. What was another couple fucking weeks waiting for the artwork? I mean really? That's what it came down to. That's just too bad.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 6:50 am


In addition to Axl's absence, Best Buy would be described to have "run a relatively restrained marketing campaign" for Chinese Democracy but according to Best Buy's senior entertainment officer, Gary Arnold, this would change now:

It all starts this weekend. We’re trying to time everything for the grand release this Sunday. There wasn’t a giant buildup, in terms of over-promising. We wanted the music to stand on its own.

After the release of the album, Rolling Stone would describe Best Buy's promotion:

Guns n’ Roses fans expecting to be met with pyro, a giant inflatable Axl Rose — or at least Chinese Democracy blaring from the sound system — were in for a surprise when the anxiously awaited album hit Best Buy stores yesterday. At all the Manhattan outlets Rock Daily visited Sunday, you’d be hard-pressed to know it was one of the most hyped release days of the century.


With what must have been a precisely negotiated deal, it’s curious how minimally Chinese Democracy was emphasized in the Best Buy stores. In none of the four locations visited Sunday was the record playing on the house music system, and only one had any sort of stand-alone display. This isn’t to say that Chinese Democracy won’t do big numbers, especially with customers descending on the retailer en masse this week for Black Friday sales, but after a decade and a half of anticipation, Best Buy’s release of Chinese Democracy began in New York with a shrug.

Axl, on the other hand, would state that Best Buy had been great:

Best Buy has been great. Going with Best Buy was a way to work out a deal with Universal and we were fortunate enough to work with Irving [Azoff, as manager] and deal more directly with Universal. I've asked for information regarding their role in working the record but that hasn't come yet so I'm not able to tell what Universal has or hasn't done, although Zach [Horowitz, Universal Music Group president/COO], or whoever's behind the international efforts, is doing great. It's more than appreciated and a welcome relief.

In many ways, yes. In many areas, they've been great. I'm not clear how much the record company has helped them yet, though.

And that Interscope had not been helping out:

I do know [that] I've been asking for a marketing plan for over five years and still haven't got anything. We've asked for a complete breakdown of promotion expenses and efforts from all parties but unfortunately I've received very little information, if anything, so far. On another note, the draft booklet leaking and, I believe, the early shipping of preorders and the inclusion of the early draft booklet for the release was through involvement with Interscope, which was a mess. That's not to say they don't work for other artists and make things happen. I feel they work very hard for whatever it is they truly want to sell, whether it's good or ...


We feel that, unfortunately, we've never been really anything all that much more other than a throw it at the wall, see if it sticks, no real ground work, something to take advantage of, last quarter, cook the books, write-off, fuck this headache, hoping to get lucky scam. And, unfortunately, for all their nice words and assurances, nothing that's happened since the week or so before the release has shown us much of anything to the contrary.

And that they never intended a huge roll-out but rather work the album through touring:

Our focus was in getting the record deal done while finishing the album, which hit many an unexpected bump or sinkhole in the road right up until the actual release. We never intended a huge public rollout, especially without resolving certain issues, and no one ever suggested us doing so, though Interscope's communications with Best Buy in these areas may not have been as clear as anyone would have preferred.

Our approach, for better or worse, has always been to work the record over the course of the following tour cycles, with attempts to forge new or better and hopefully redefined relationships with the different forms of media that may be interested along the way. In regard to our promotion, it was based around certain agreements with Universal, Interscope, our management and legal [teams] that unfortunately never happened. I won't get into specifics but am beginning to address some of those issues in my own way as opposed to "working together," and we'll see how that plays out.
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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 6:52 am

OCTOBER 22, 2008

On October 22, 2008, Guns N' Roses would release the song 'Chinese Democracy" as their first single off the album Chinese Democracy [Billboard, October 21, 2008].

Artwork of the UK vinyl single release

Rolling Stone would comment on the release:

The track marks the first time a Chinese Democracy song has been officially released to radio, as opposed to leaked. As promised, Axl Rose announces his return with a scream before the full guitar assault shows up. The song is comparable to the leaked versions that have emerged, but even on an Internet stream the sound quality is clearly superior.

The single debuted at No. 12 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock, No. 15 on Active Rock, No. 37 on Modern Rock and No. 7 on Rock in the USA [Blabbermouth, October 31, 2008], and topped the general iTunes Music Store chart in Greece, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Finland in addition to being the No. 1 rock song in the iTunes Music Stores in the U.S., Canada, France and the U.K [Blabbermouth, November 12, 2008].

Chris would comment on the single's reception:

People are always asking us when our record is coming out, like all the time, and yesterday it was kind of a shock when it actually did come out. And suddenly it was ‘hey, it’s coming out, right now!’ It’s awesome. You know, Guns N’ Roses is such a popular band, so it’s an enormous response. And when you get so many people and you get jazzed up, you couldn’t ask for anything more.

Chinese Democracy
From the alternative Red Hand album artwork
Credit to troccoli

Chinese Democracy
From the alternative Grenade album artwork
Credit to troccoli

When debuting the song at the House of Blues on January 1, 2001, Axl would talk about the meaning of the song:

The movie Kundun was on [television] about the Dalai Lama. I was getting ready to leave...and it was the end of the movie. And the Dalai Lama is about to cross over the border, to you know, be in exile for the rest of his life from his own country. And he looks back at the men who helped him, and you know he's escaped the Chinese government. And he looks back at them and he waves and they wave at him. And then they show a scene where he looks back at them again and he sees every one of them dead. Because he knew they would be killed, and they knew that in helping him they would be killed. And you know the emotion in this next song, that's all that's about. It's not like an intelligent song. It doesn't have the answer to anything. And it's not necessarily pro or con about China. It's just that right now China symbolizes one of the strongest, yet most oppressive countries and governments in the world. And we [Americans] are fortunate to live in a free country. And so in thinking about that it just kinda upset me, and we wrote this little song called 'Chinese Democracy.'
House Of Blues, January 1, 2001

Axl would also describe the song and album title in the alternative booklet for the album, which was never officially released:

Our song, "Chinese Democracy," in its irreverence, is for positive purposes and communication with all segments of society; music fans (Guns N' Roses fans in particular) and, especially, the western media, to open a dialogue in areas not necessarily focused on both current events and global social responsibilities.

When I was fortunate enough to visit both Hong Kong and Mainland China, I experienced different levels of fear at all times in relation to the particular area I visited. I did not experience the fear in the sense of having feared for myself, I witnessed it in others everywhere around me, and kept my demeanor calm, observant and extremely polite. What I felt was emotional heartbreak. I've never witnessed so many individuals going about their lives in such a degree of visible fear, especially the average citizen in the spectrum of social, economic or social position. The military were nearby in some form or another, from one lone sentry to marching drill teams. It was not like a movie as it was much more extreme in the sense that this was real. I did not ask or talk about any of these issues with anyone in public.

The use of the two words "Chinese" and "Democracy" was intentional, though perhaps not in the way many may think. I do not purport to know what system of government is best for the people of China. I feel that the prejudice and closed mindedness of at least many outspoken Guns N' Roses fans seems to warrant an awareness of the realities of a constantly evolving and ever growing world where China continues to play an ever increasing role.
Excerpt from alternative album cover sleeve, unknown date

Bumblefoot would discuss his additions to the song:

In the case of “Chinese Democracy,” the fretless thing was one of the millions of things I was fucking around with, and everyone dug it. But I’m only on the rhythm track in that song. The solo is a mix between Robin and Buckethead.

I added the fretless riffs behind the verses and that was really the main contribution to the song.
Ultimate Guitar, July 2014

And Josh, who was credited as one of the song's writers, would describe it:

That's a wacky feather in my cap [laugh]. After 10 years I was ready to see [the song] have eight different writers on it, but it didn't get convoluted and f---ed up. [...] I think they made the intro longer. I'd have 'em cut right into the thing. It's a simple bonehead rock song with a big riff that I'm assuming will be perfect for 'Guitar Hero' one day.

One of my favorite strange feathers in my cap that I have is that whenever I walk into a room of people and they’re talking about [whispers] Chinese Democracy, just this whole debacle of a record that took 100 years to make and cost a million dollars—I’ll walk into a room full of people and go, “What are you guys talking about?” They go, “Chinese Democracy,” and I raise my hand and go, “I wrote ‘Chinese Democracy,’” because I wrote the music to the song. I didn’t write anything else on the album. I wrote a couple other things that didn’t make it on the album. When I left, there were still another seven or eight years before the album came out. But it always makes me laugh. It’s not like I wrote Track 10 or something; I wrote “Chinese Democracy.” Some people told me I shouldn’t brag about that. Actually, I like that song. And it’s not just because I wrote it; it’s because it’s a really dumb, simple, dirty guitar riff. It’s cool. I think it’s one of the better ones on that record.
noisey, August 21, 2014

Later, Brain would discuss how both he and Frank are playing on the track:

So I think Axl was like, “Hey, Frank plays this way – let him play the chorus to ‘Better,’ because that’s supposed to be open. Let’s see what it sounds like.” So I think it’s me playing all the way up to the chorus, then it’s Frank in the chorus, and then it goes back to me. We never actually played together. It was all done after the fact. I asked the engineer how much Frank is on it, and he said, “It’s mainly you, with Frank playing a chorus here or a bridge here.” So that’s why I’m listed first on those tracks. [...] That song was brought in after Josh and was written by the band. It was Robin Finck’s song. We jammed it for a couple weeks and then went into the studio and recorded it. So that tom part was kind of written by me more than Frank, but it could be Frank playing it because he plays more bombastic. Or…oh, who knows.

Here, Brain seems to be mistaken because Josh was one of the writer's of the song.

Later, Tommy would mention the song would be one of his favorite songs to play live:

The [title] track to Chinese Democracy is one of my favorites.
LA Weekly Blog, December 21, 2011

I think 'Chinese Democracy' is pretty much fun to play, [...] that is just a barn burner, really fucking in your face., May 2014


That sounds cool. It's good to hear [Axl Rose's] voice, you know?!

Yeah, I think it's cool. I heard the single ['Chinese Democracy']. I haven't heard the album. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the single. I like the way it was mixed. Axl's voice sounded great. It wasn't a song I worked on 15 years ago. I don't remember that riff.

I just heard the single, 'Chinese Democracy', and I heard it at the gym when I was working out. So I didn't give it… It wasn't like I sat down in a quiet room and listened to it and analyzed it. And I probably wouldn't. I think Axl's… obviously he's a really talented guy and I shared a big part of my life with him, but that was a long time ago for me.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 6:53 am

NOVEMBER 11, 2008

On November 11, Chris would release the self-titled debut album with his side-band SexTapes TM.

SexTapes consisted of co-writer/founding member Kelly Wheeler on guitars, Marko Fox on bass, Ryan Brown on the drums and co-writer/producer Chris on lead vocals and guitar synth.

Chris would talk about his favorite instrument:

I like to sing best - like with LUSK, Zaum and some other bands. The voice is the most expressive instrument there is, and it's completely different from playing an instrument. I have no idea why, but it's like being in a completely different world.

Talking about SexTapes:

We weren’t trying to get a specific sound. That was the only sound we could really get. That was more the sound of a collaboration with the guitar player and myself. He had played in an earlier version of Jane’s Addiction, with Perry Farrell, so he had a rather hard rock style. He had these great riffs and I just wanted to see what I could put on top of it. It has a very LA punk vibe to it that we like. It’s just kinda balls to the wall rock.

But yeah, it's under the band name "SexTapes" and it will be sold like that on iTunes, know, whatever the [?] stores are, Best Buy and FYE and stuff. And yeah, it's exciting because it is a band and we just set it up like that and it rolled pretty fast, we recorded it fairly fast, and, you know, we just wanted to make a thing of it. And after all was said and done, we looked at it and said, "Wow, now this is a really cool first record to do," and we just put it out as that [?), and we just started playing in Los Angeles this month and see where it flies.

Talking about how the band came about:

I met Kelly [Wheeler] through Danny Carey, he had a band called Carmageddon and that was before Danny got into Tool and other bands, Kelly was just this incredibly unique guitarist from Hollywood. You know, and he used to live with Perry Farrell and they had a band called Psi Com right before Jane's Addiction. And he just had this knack of writing these really bizarre guitar riffs. Kind of like, you know, when Jimmy Page does all these really strange riffs, and it is kind of similar to that but in his own vein. And he had these riffs forever and they kind of transformed here and there and we started, just me and him, working on stuff and like probably in 94, something like that. And, uhm, then we got busy doing our own stuff. And he hit me up a couple of years ago and had new stuff, just riffs and the drums and I just said, "I got to warp my head around this. This is incredible!" So really, the challenge was trying to write, you know, vocals arrangements around these weird sometimes discordant guitar riffs. And with the two married together it was pretty strong, it was really strong.

Friends in Hollywood getting together ‘cause we were interested in making a commentary on the current state of popular music. The only way to truly comment on anything is to be productive and make something, not just put together weightless words or criticisms. That is the way of the non-productive, and the weak. There is nothing to defend there. But, a loud mouth, with a jaded and negative view of the world, is usually exalted by the Idiocracy of Dunces. I've never stayed at the Paris Hilton.

Describing the music:

A music of a unique kind, mixed within the same common language they've heard all their lives. Rock n' Roll is a simple language of 25 words or less, and we have managed to regurgitate it again in a unique sequence.

And why they debuted their album now:

Probably because I am so busy with the writing and production of the Guns thing, and even though it might not seem like something is happening, we are always working on it. We got close to the summer, the Guns album was near completion and since we’d done the drum tracks for Sex Tapes almost two years ago, we thought ‘okay, this is our chance to do it’. We got in the studio for one night and put the drums down.

I'm glad to finally get this album out there as it was just finished this summer. Between my involvement with Guns N' Roses and the band's high expectations for a solid and unique hard rock sound, we're stoked to finally have a great record that we're proud to release to our fans.

After the release of the album the band would do some shows in the Los Angeles area:

[...] we've recently started performing in LA and it's going well, better than I thought. Of course there are many possibilities, although the economic crisis is affecting all future plans at the moment.

On February 4, 2009, SexTapes played their first "real gig" at the Key Club in Los Angeles:

It was a very monumental show for us, our first real gig together, and it seemed like a dream sequence to me, where I'm watching it happen but I'm not really there,
All of us were extremely happy with how well it translated to a live audience, and how easy it was to perform. It was one of those show memories that I will always treasure.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 6:54 am


In November, the band would announce free Chinese Democracy listening parties in many of the larger cities in USA [Blabbermouth, November 12, 2008].

Entry to these "rock parties" was granted after displaying a pre-order receipt of Chinese Democracy from [Blabbermouth, November 12, 2008], although for at least one of these events, according to BBC Newsbeat, it seems entry was based on an air guitar competition:

Guns N' Roses are offering fans the chance to hear their new album Chinese Democracy before anyone else.

To hear the long-awaited album, fans have to show off their top skills in an air guitar competition.

Those wishing to enter should upload their "craziest, most inappropriate air guitar" performance to the band's YouTube channel.

The winner will hear Chinese Democracy at a private "rock party" before its release later in the month.

For the listening event that took place at Webster Hall in New York on November 17, Bumblefoot would be present and speak to the attendees [Talking Metal with Bumblefoot, November 21, 2008].

On Monday night the folks over at Best Buy brought New York City something it hasn’t heard in 13 years: a new album from Guns N’ Roses. The Studio at Webster Hall was the place to be to hear the long, long, long awaited new album Chinese Democracy. One of Guns’ new guitarist Bumblefoot came out to greet the crowd and to express his excitement as well. “It’s been way too long, are you guys ready, I know I am,” he said before giving Axl’s signature opening line, “Do you know where the fuck you are?” The crowd, although super pumped up, was a little taken back by some of the music as it differs from anything the original lineup would have produced, but seemed to really get excited when they heard the familiar tracks that had already been leaked via the web. By the time the industrial-laden album came to a close, the crowd was completely converted. When Bumblefoot came out to thank the listeners, there wasn’t even one “Where’s Slash” chant.

At the event, Bumblefoot would answer a couple of questions:

I’m just really happy for Guns fans that they are getting the new material that they waited for so patiently. I’m glad they are getting what they want, I can honestly say that I am extremely happy and honored to be a part of this band and this album.

And on comparisons between the new band and the old band:

I’m sure people will have their thoughts on the subject, and that is their right, everyone can have their own opinion. I just know that when I go out there I want to make sure I give it my all and the people are just having fun. The music has evolved. Musically, technically, there is so much growth, it’s like going from A Hard Day’s Night to Revolver [to Let It Be], the growth is really seen on those Beatles albums, every band has to evolve and mature in their sound.

In 2009, Bumblefoot would talk about the promotion for the album and mention the listening party in NYC:

My opinion on the album promotion?  I don't want to say things that can be twisted into a blame game towards anyone, it's not about that.  I just wish those 'pieces' were all in place, where we could have had a strong personal connection to the fans over the last year. I mean face-to-face.  I did what I could, happily, when the album came out - going to the listening party in NYC and hanging with everyone, doing days of interviews in Europe, it would have felt unnatural to not do all that. It should have been a celebration, nothing less. And it was good to celebrate with everyone at the listening party, thanks to those who were there.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 6:54 am



As seen in Scott Weiland's response to Matt on March 21 [above], things were not at all well in the Velvet Revolver camp and Weiland was clearly looking forward to reuniting with Stone Temple Pilots. And then on April 1 it was official: Scott Weiland was out of Velvet Revolver:

This band is all about its fans and its music and Scott Weiland isn't 100% committed to either. Among other things, his increasingly erratic onstage behavior and personal problems have forced us to move on.

This press release was sent out the same time the band entered the stage in Amsterdam for their last concert of the tour, and Weiland heard about the firing in an email after the show [Classic Rock, June 2008]. Duff would later contest this and say they had fired him in person after the show:

It was kind of cool… it was kind of cool. It was the 'step into my office, you’re fired' kind of thing. I have to say. We went through a lot…he put us through a lot of crap that last tour. So it was kind of that feeling. We were getting through the gig, we were in Amsterdam…. we were getting through our last few songs. I started to get, I can't lie…. a little giddy. 'This going to be great… this is going to be great.' So we got done, and yeah… Slash and I did the 'step into my office' thing.

A day after, Weiland responded to the Slash's statement in an email sent to MTV News:

After reading the comment by Duff, Matt, Dave and the illustrious 'Guitar Hero,' Saul Hudson, a.k.a. Slash, I find it humorous that the so-called four 'founding members' of Velvet Revolver, better known to themselves as 'the Project' before I officially named the band, would decide to move on without me after I had already claimed the group dead in the water on March 20 in Glasgow. In response to Slash's comment regarding my commitment [to the band], I have to say it is a blatant and tired excuse to cover up the truth. The truth of the matter is that the band had not gotten along on multiple levels for some time. On a musical level, there were moments of joy, inspiration, fun ... at times. But let's not forget the multiple trips to rehab every member of the band had taken (with the exception of one member — no need to mention his name).

Personally speaking, I choose to look forward to the future and performing with a group of friends I have known my entire life, people who have always had my back. This also speaks to my commitment to my music and my fellow bandmates in [Stone Temple Pilots] and to the fans who I feel would much rather watch a group of musicians who enjoy being together as opposed to a handful of discontents who at one time used to call themselves a gang.

Matt would post on his blog:

And as you all know by now it was our last show with Scott Weiland It was great to be in the UK and Europe playing for all you great fans. Thank you for your support as well as your passion. you people go crazy and we love it. Took some pictures with my girl In Amsterdam before we left for the airport today. Feeling good about the future. Going to get back to work right away on some new music and hope to have exciting news soon.

As for Scott I wish him well.
Matt Sorum's website, April 3, 2008

Slash would later say they had made the decision a while before Weiland was officially out of the band:

[Weiland] didn't know that we were already planning on extraditing him. When we started touring the second record, it just felt like we were losing Scott as far as our connection went. During the tour with Alice In Chains [in August 2007], he was just out to lunch. When he came back, he was supposed to go to rehab, so we postponed our Australian tour but he didn't really go to rehab. That was the final blow. We had a lot of commitments, like the tour in the UK, which we didn't want to go back on, so we wanted to finish those before telling him.

And Duff would say the decision had been made in January:

I think the decision was really made back in January when we were doing the US tour. Things had been coming off the rails since last August, I’d say. Easily. And that’s being polite.

Talking about Weiland quitting Velvet Revolver to rejoin Stone Temple Pilots:

Everybody’s just very relieved. This is something that’s been coming down for a while. I know everybody is tying the STP [reunion tour] thing to it, but it started way before that. We just had a lot of commitments to fulfill, so we just had to drag this thing out until the obligations were finished. Basically, we’re just excited about finding someone else and moving on.

Yeah, then it got personal. It's a drag. We're relieved as Slash said (laughs). Hey man, it was great while it lasted, sort of like a relationship. It's over. It's all good. We're moving on. I guess they're doing fine, The STP. That's his original band, and he probably feels more at home there. That's cool.

At this point everybody’s very relieved that we got past it because, now he’s not around, we can concentrate on getting somebody into the fold that we can rely on. He’s been talking about rejoining STP as well, so we told him, “Cool, go jam with STP in the summer and we'll work on the album.” We said that [before the split], because we didn't think there'd be anything going on with him after the summer anyway.

Explaining why Weiland had to go:

I'm really easy-going and I'll make allowances for whatever people need. But there is the other side of it, too and, when you're dealing with someone who is too high-maintenance to hang out with the guys in the trenches, then there are problems.

There was a point where he had certain requirements - he needed this to deal with things, then that - and you just get to a point where you think, “Whatever, I'd like to have somebody up there who's comfortable enough and secure enough with himself to be the frontman without feeling that he's being threatened by the other guys.” Really, though, I don't understand what goes on with these people!

[Being asked if Weiland was threatened by your shared history with Duff and Matt in GNR?]: There was some underlying fucking theme that was going on, but I'd be lying if I said I could put my finger exactly on it. I definitely get the feeling there was some sort of resentment going on.

[Being asked if it is true the band called Weiland "Junior Axl" behind his back]: No, I never called him that. There were a few similarities though. What became really irritating was that I had the same problem with Scott as I had when I toured with Axl. I just couldn't get the guy onstage on time. That I can't accept. I will not do it again. I will not be in a situation where a guy is making the audience wait half an hour or an hour or more. It's criminal. I don't know who someone thinks he is when tries to get away with that sort of thing.

When the album (Libertad) came out it wasn't as impactful as the first record. I think at that point people in the business end of things started dangling the carrot for STP and pulled him away from us a little bit I think. He started getting his head someplace else. Unfortunately when people dangle the carrot sometimes you bite. The vibe got weird, and I think we just felt the vibe. And it just kind of got bad at that point.

We put so much work into that band…but we had been through so much… anguish is too dramatic of a word… but B.S. on that tour. And Scott is a great guy… but he's just got this other demon that gets in the way of him being a great guy. And it got in the way of us doing good business. We were coming on late and he missed a couple of shows. We had to cancel two tours. . . He's just got so many things…. 'cause I have the same disease he has. In saying all this, I can make fun of some things, like saying we went through some B.S. and it felt good to have him step into the office. But all funning aside, he has the same disease that I have and a lot of us have and that is alcoholism and drug addiction. He is in a different stage of addiction than I am. I don't use or drink, and I've done things to help me through life, and I have a great life. There are some that are just less fortunate.

When asked what was meant by 'erratic behaviour' and 'personal problems' in the announcement that Weiland was out of the band:

Oh man, that’s a broad statement isn't it? When it comes to those things, I don't want to speak badly of him, because I don't want that negative energy going back and forth. Basically, we're done. I don't need to air any dirty laundry about him. We had a good run and there are some good songs in there. We had some magic moments but the bad outweighed the good.

Weiland would later discuss his departure and suggest the conflict between him and Matt had been a major issue:

[Being asked if the call from Stone Temple Pilots came at a time when things were already falling apart]: No, things at that time were working quite well with Velvet Revolver and I didn't want to mention it to them until there was a plan and a couple gigs that were actually booked. Slash and I were usually the ones who talked to each other first about things, then we'd go to the rest of the guys. And, unfortunately because of certain people's egos, it... I walked into a situation where there was a lot of baggage. I had a lot of baggage walking into my situation. I was in a band where at the end, it was pretty much three against one. And so I'm pretty sure that it felt that way to Axl as well. I have to say this, and I'm not just saying this now because of my situation I went through, but I heard a lot of great Guns n' Roses stories you guys in the press will never hear. Everyone has made Axl out to be this horrendously crazy person, this bad guy, and I don't know him very well at all. He and I for whatever reason got almost tricked into this little media spat for a moment because one of our band members happened to run into him and said that he said something. So, my point being that having been in a band with Velvet Revolver now for five and a half years, I'm not quite so sure that it was all Axl's fault.

It's like, why does it always have to be the lead singer. Matt Sorum in front of my face, he was the sweetest guy in the world. But there were some times, out of the blue, the guy just randomly hated me. We all carried our own baggage in that band. In a sense, that's why people were intrigued, you know, especially for the first couple of years. Because they were kind of waiting on the trainwreck to happen. They just thought it would happen a lot sooner.

[The Stone Temple Pilots reunion] happened very organically. It wasn’t people trying to angle and beg. It just happened the way it sort of happened. I got a call from Dean. I was on tour. He said, “Man, are you sitting down?” I said yeah. He said, “I was talking with our agent, and some offers came through.” We’d all been starting to talk more often. I had talked to Slash, mentioned it to him, and things were cool for a while. And this last tour, things just disintegrated really badly. I just came to the point where I decided that ... if I’m going to commit the next 10 years of my life to touring ... then I want to do it with people I want to make music with. People who I get inspired by making music with. ...I have to start weeding out stuff. It’s kind of like going through your closet going, “Eh, I don’t need this anymore. It takes up too much space.” Certain things don’t feel good, although it may put money in your bank account, but it doesn’t feel good at the end of the day. It became one of those situations. This feels good, it feels right. It’s always inspiring. It’s always that high.
Associated Press, April 9, 2008

I pulled [VR guitarist] Slash aside and said, ‘Listen, it’s really no big deal, we’ll be done touring by this time, but STP has some offers to headline some shows this summer and make a lot of money, and I agreed to do it. We’ll be done in the fall, and then I can commit to the next VR album.’ And everything was cool. Then it wasn’t. Things got weird, and nobody was talking to me while we were on the road. So March 21, I announced on stage that this would be the final Velvet Revolver tour.

[...] With STP, it’s a situation where it just feels good. And the opportunities — selling tickets like crazy, a whole new generation turned on to us, people being appreciative in the press…I mean, VR was fun for a while, but it’s just got so much baggage from guys who went through hell with Axl Rose. It’s not how I want to spend the next 10 years of my rock life, so I had to make this decision. They can say whatever they want to say. Honestly, I think they should just get GN’R back together. And I’m not being facetious.
Entertainment Weekly, May 2, 2008

I had already talked to (guitarist) Slash and said there was going to be an STP tour, and that’s the deal. And then basically (Velvet Revolver drummer) Matt Sorum just went on the Web site one night and started talking s--t about me, and I responded and I basically said from the stage that this is the last Velvet Revolver tour. Some people thought I was kidding, but I meant it.
Reuters/Billboard, November 22, 2008

When I told Slash I was gonna do some festivals with Stone Temple Pilots, he said, 'Thank you for being straight up with me'. It wasn't until later that another member of the band had some issues with it. [...] It's a shame certain people have a hard time letting go of past resentments and try to throw them onto other people. When you start bickering about little piddly financial things, it takes the fun out of it for me. We're all doing pretty good, so if you're going to fuck the relationship up over this, I don't want to be involved.
Playboy Magazine, December 2008

When Velvet Revolver first got together it was great. I got to know the guys before: Met Duff at the gym, because he loves to work out and I was obsessed with running. I was in rehab with Matt. I'd only met Slash twice—he's not the most social person. We had all been through the same experiences, and it felt like a gang. But everyone was a rock star. There were petty jealousies. Then the wives got involved with the business of the band, and that was the beginning of the downfall.
Details Magazine, April 2010

I look back on it fondly and it’s a shame that it ended the way it did. STP wasn’t meant to get in the way of another Velvet Revolver record. Slash and I were always straight with each other, and if it looked like there was going to be a reunion with Guns N’ Roses to do festivals that summer, it wouldn’t have bothered me. I always thought that would have been a good idea.
The Skinny Magazine, May 10, 2010


Yeah, there is a lot of writing going on now and obviously a lot of touring. As soon as the tour ends in April. We will probably start putting together all these different ideas and start picking and choosing as to what is going to work, and what sounds right. We will take it from there. I doubt that it will take all that long. I would love to be able to say that we can probably put out an album at the end of the year. It will be a rock and roll album and a natural progression where we we're at; when we did the last one. I couldn’t really tell you at this point what that means. It will be what it is.

Duff would emphasize the band would be around for a long time:

Velvet Revolver is something that’s going to be around for a long while yet. Because of the individuals involved, there are always going to be things going on around the band that will confuse fans once in a while but we’re here to stay. Slash and I have been doing this job for 20 years and nothing is going to get in the way of what we’re doing now.

This band is the main thing in my life. It’s the thing that I need to fulfil myself mentally. It’s the perfect way for me to express myself musically and artistically. It’s not something that I look at in a commercial sense at all. That’s what will guarantee its longevity.

And be excited for the next record:

I know I’m more inspired right now than I have been in a long time.

Quickly after Scott Weiland's departure, Duff would post on his blog to say the band had laid down "12 new jams" [Blabbermouth, April 10, 2008].

Duff would state the conflict with Weiland had fueled some productive writing sessions:

We have a bunch of stuff finished. It's great. It's killer. We started getting really productive when a ton of drama started happening on the road. It was like our safe place to go to. Sometimes that's how you get some feelings out.

And in September he would say the next record was written:

Well, we have the next record written; it was done before the last tour was over. But we have so many singers who have submitted audition tapes that we have to listen to them all critically without getting burned out. There's too many singers! But we'll figure it out.


In March 2008, Slash would talk about being careful about not plagiarizing other peoples' music, and suggest Matt and Weiland thought differently:

One of the things about myself and the other members of Guns N' Roses, with the exception of maybe Izzy [Stradlin'], cos he was maybe a bit more freeform, was that we were huge sticklers for anything that sounded like anything else. Straight off the bat if you played a few chords and it really reminded you of something else we scrapped it. It's very different with Velvet Revolver. Even though myself and Duff are the same way, and Matt, Scott will rip something. We'll be like 'No, we can't do that' and he'll be like 'Oh, go on, let's do it' and we'll do it.

Then August, Velvet revolver had to settle a lawsuit claiming that they on the song Dirty Little Thing had plagiarized the song Cyber Babe from the UK Rock band Voodoo Six:

Tony Newton, the bass player and chief songwriter of UK rock band Voodoo Six, has been awarded a share of Velvet Revolver's song "Dirty Little Thing", which appeared on VR's debut album "Contraband". Following a claim brought by Newton's publishers Universal Music, Velvet Revolver has now signed over 20% of all royalties on the record since its release on the album in 2004 and as a U.S. single in 2005. The claim alleged that the melody and core guitar riff from the Velvet Revolver track was an unmistakable copy of Newton's track "Cyber Babe", which was released in 1999 on the album "Real World" by Newton's former band Dirty Deeds. The agreement between the parties covers all commercial uses of the record including live performances and video plays as well as digital and physical album and single sales worldwide.

"It was all a bit surreal, really," stated Tony Newton. "A couple of years back, a mate of mine in L.A. called me to say he'd heard what he thought was my song on the radio, and that he had been a bit shocked when he realized it was Velvet Revolver. When I checked it out myself, I genuinely couldn't believe it, because it wasn't as if it was close... it was basically the same riff. Anyway, I called my publishers to check whether they knew anything — which, of course, they didn't — and then basically left it with them. I never really expected to hear any more about it and was as surprised as anyone when I heard that Universal had settled with Velvet Revolver."


In November 2008 it was rumoured that RCA Records (a Sony BMG Label) had dropped Velvet Revolver [Blabbermouth, November 14, 2008].

Someone would post the following on in connection with these rumours, practically confirming that Velvet Revolver and RCA was not longer an item:

On the net, rumor has it that RCA has dropped Velvet Revolver. SLASH says that while it is true that VR is no longer with RCA, the truth is not as negative as the rumor. The band owed RCA money for a third album which at this time they are unable to produce (no singer). The band and RCA parted amicably. When they are recording the new album, it most likely will be for a new label., November 20, 2008

The official announcement came on November 25:

Finding the new lead singer for Velvet Revolver is a formidable task, and the remaining members knew this would be the case when they dismissed their former singer, Scott Weiland. So in June 2008, Slash, Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum and Dave Kushner approached RCA Records and asked to be released from their recording contract, as they felt they needed to have complete freedom to go through whatever process it would take to accomplish the goal… freedom from any timelines, pressures, influences or interests other than finding THE best guy. RCA Records honored the band's request.

Carl Stubner, the band's manager, says: "We're incredibly grateful to RCA and Ashley Newton for their passion and hard work and for the success they achieved with Velvet Revolver through the band's first two records. The band is thankful that RCA understood the task at hand and has allowed the band to continue on their own." Stubner added: "This band is comprised of some of the greatest rock musicians of the past three decades. They have built a brand with a solid foundation on a global level. And their sole focus has been, and continues to be, finding the singer/songwriter who will stand alongside them."


In mid-2008, the band would say no to an offer for a reality series based on Rockband:

We're coming out with something in a couple of weeks and I think it's going to surprise everybody. It's exciting. We're moving forward. We're going to keep going and play Rock N Roll and get a new guy singing so, we did it before we'll do it again. [...] We're really seriously thinking about doing something online. Yeah, we got offered a couple of different television ideas you know. Mark Burnett called us and asked us to do that Rockstar thing and we basically said 'No!' to that. We didn't feel it was right for us. No disrespect to him but it just didn't feel right for what we want to do. As many years as we've tried to keep our integrity intact we felt that wasn't the right forum for us to do it so, we got some ideas and we should have that news in a couple weeks.

As indicated in a previous quote, the band intended to find a replacement for Weiland and continue. Weiland would suggest Sebastian Bach:

Good hunting, lads — I think Sebastian Bach would be a fantastic choice.

Slash would state that they had already started looking and did work with a guy prior to the UK tour in 2008:

There’s some people, but it’s really premature to start naming names. We actually worked with a guy, I won’t mention his name, before we left to go to the U.K. and there just wasn’t enough time to break him in, so we’re gonna work with him again some more, and maybe some other guys as well.

And that they had considered bringing this new guy on for the UK tour instead of Weiland:

We had thought about working with someone else for the UK tour, but there wasn't really enough time to break someone in for that. We're entertaining a couple of different ideas. There has been a lot of interest, so we're working our way through what we like and what we don't like. I'm not going to make any rash decisions. It's nice that people are interested, though. It's 50 percent fate and 50 percent hard work and tenacity trying to find the right guy for the band. We've got the hard work and tenacity down, but, as far as fate is concerned, we'll just have to see.

Responding to Weiland's comment about Sebastian Bach taking the singer's spot:

I thought [Weiland] could be a little bit more imaginative. I’m not sure if that was meant to be a pot shot or what. Whatever, it’s not worth any real drama.

Bach would also talk about possibly joining Velvet Revolver but state he wasn't interested:

I've talked to Slash recently. I think it'd be really awkward for me to join that band. Number one, my new record, 'Angel Down', I like it more than Velvet Revolver records. That's just being totally honest. I love Guns N' Roses material, but I've got my own old songs, Skid Row, so for me, it would all depend on music. I wouldn't just join the band just to join the band. If we came up with some incredible new songs, then maybe I'd think about it, but honestly, I'm very close friends with Axl, and he sings three songs on my new record. I think Dr. Pepper owes me a case of free soda [laughs]. Axl's been so nice to me, he's helped me out my whole career. In Skid Row he helped us out, and in my solo band he brought me around the world, and then sang three songs on my new CD, which is pretty mind-blowing. I don't know It's a cut-throat business, but Axl's been so nice to me, I don't think I would feel comfortable just joining Velvet Revolver and singing his songs every night. So I don't think that's gonna happen.
98 Rock (via Blabbermouth), May 6, 2008

It’s a crazy situation, because [Axl] doesn’t show himself to too many people and he’s always been there for me. I think it’s funny that when Scott Weiland left Velvet Revolver, the last thing he said was, “I think Sebastian Bach would be a good choice for you guys.” I think that’s because he’s eluding to the fact that you can’t get away from Guns ‘N Roses. They’re like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. I’m sure he felt frustrated in trying to fill Axl’s shoes. Axl texted me right away and asked if I was joining Velvet Revolver, and I said, “No, not that I know of.” Axl has been so nice to me, I wouldn’t want to do anything to jeopardise our friendship.
With The Band, May 12, 2008

I have talked to Slash recently about collaborating on music, but not Velvet Revolver. I cannot say what the details are, but Axl Rose has helped me and this band more then anyone else in the music industry. It would be very awkward to sing in Velvet Revolver being such close friends with Axl. More importantly, I like "Angel Down" more than Velvet Revolver music.
Dagbladet (via Blabbermouth), June 2, 2008

I think that has a lot to do with the fact that Scott Weiland said Sebastian Bach would be a perfect choice for Velvet Revolver and he might have been joking, but guess what? If I was to sing for Velvet Revolver, we could at least do some Guns N' Roses songs (laughing). You can joke all you want Mr fucking no tone, zero ranged fucking singer. I would eat him for breakfast on a microphone any fucking day of the week. [...] If he wants to stand next to me and sing, good fucking luck. If he thinks that was a joke, well then the joke is on him. I do Paradise City and My Michelle every single night with Axl Rose, you know. At least we can sing the old songs. [...] You know, Weiland got tired of hearing about Axl and me probably. He got tired of hearing about it and you cannot replace Axl Rose -- you know, that fucking guy has got one craziest, most amazing voices in the history of rock, and when he does Sweet Child Of Mine and Welcome To The Jungle it is an awesome thing to see, it really is, and I have seen it a million times and it is always incredible. He is the best, really.
Mouth4Music, July 2, 2008

And how Axl would react if Bach did join the band:

I think it would be awkward. I opened for two Guns ‘N Roses tours. Axl sang on my record and I sing on Chinese Democracy. We’re very close friends. For me to join a band and then sing all of his songs would be kinda weird. But, Angel Down, is what’s in my heart and I can’t wait to get out there and tour it. That’s what I’ll be doing for the foreseeable future.
With The Band, May 12, 2008

And commenting on his problems with singers:

It figures, at this point, three times charmed, right? We're looking forward to finding a new singer, though, and we're in a much stronger position to do that than when we started. Now at least people know what we're doing, they know we're a rock 'n' roll band and that we're successful enough that you're going to have to be on your game if you're going to hook up with us. I just want to find this guy so we can write some songs.

In mid-2008, Matt and Slash would provide updates on the search:

It's coming along. People are sending stuff in. The first time we were looking for a singer it was a little tougher, 'cause people didn't really know what we were doing musically, I guess. So this time it's gotten out of control, especially with the Internet and things like that, we've got just thousands and thousands of people coming at us with, you know, auditions.

We're still going through the audition process. We don't have a definite person in mind. We did audition another singer before we did the UK leg of the tour - a British guy, I can't tell you who - but there just wasn't time to work him in. He's not going to be the singer, though - we’re still working on that. Obviously since I got back from Europe I've had a lot of e-mails, but it's a different process to when we were looking for a singer a few years back. People know who we are now, so we're auditioning high-end people as opposed to everybody and their dog.

We are looking.  You know, we are actively looking. We rehearsed for a couple of weeks, we tried out a couple of guys. We have a guy right now that we're still… let me see, what would be the correct word… massaging, as you will, or, you know, sort of checking it out, feeling it out, letting him work with us… [...] I'd rather not [say his name], just because I don't want it to get out that he might be the guy. I mean, we like him, he's an awesome… It's really weird, because Slash and Duff and myself – especially the three of us – we were kind of like, “Wow, this guy shows up to rehearsal on time, he's really nice, he's easy to get along with” (laughs). And it actually kind of scared us, because we thought, “Is this possible?” (laughs)

And in July and August, Duff and Matt were excited about a new possibly singer:

We have a guy who we’ve been working with who’s a really good singer and a great guy. I really hope he’s the one. The question is, does he have that extra thing? It’s just really hard to tell until you do a gig. There’s a lot of expectation. In truth he has to be killer to front Velvet Revolver. We’re writing amazing material and I really think the new record will be the best thing that we’ve done as a band. So do we have the right singer to do that music justice?

We got a call from a pretty big guy that wants to be our singer. I can't say who that is yet, but talks are happening about it and hopefully we'll see what happens in the next couple of months. [...] No, it's a lot cooler than that [=Sebastian Bach joining]. But I don't know if it's going to happen, so I can't say. It's cool that there are people calling us and wanting to get in the band, so that's exciting.

In early August, it would be reported that former Spacehog frontman Royston Langdon was in line to become the new frontman, but Duff and Slash would state the search was still on:

We just have to make sure it's the right guy. Karmically, we deserve the right guy. It's a tough thing, man. We make a pretty big noise.

[Langdon is] not necessarily the right guy for this particular band. [...] I think Royston's fantastic, but he's more in the Scott Weiland range, which is great for that, but what we want to do is something aggressive and very hard rock. Basically, what we originally planned to do the first time around that was sort of molded differently when Scott came into it.

As for changing the name:

No, we're going to call it Velvet Revolver. We worked really hard getting that name out there. So, with the core band staying the same, I think it's the right thing to do.

On August 12, it would be rumoured that Lenny Kravitz was becoming the band's new singer [The Sun, August 12, 2008], but the same day Kravitz would refute the rumour:

I know and love the Velvet Revolver guys but there is no truth to the story about me joining their band.
Rolling Stone, August 12. 2008

Duff would also comment on the Kravitz rumour:

[...] I guess that was reported that he was our new singer, which is surprising to me. I got sent a ton of links yesterday by our management. And they were all from The New York Post; you know, the Sun in the U.K., reporting that he's our new singer. I don't know where people get all this (stuff). [...]  I think that would be killer. That guy's a true musician. I've known that guy for 20 years. That would be great. But I'm not sure if Lenny knows about it. We didn't know about it. We'll find a guy.

Around the same time Duff would state that the guy they were working with was from England:

We have a singer we've been working with for a couple of months and he's actually a product of your fair country – but I won't say who. But we've also had a very interesting call from someone who's a big, big name, so it would be amazing if that worked out. Slash and I have been fighting adversity our whole careers, so the scenario of upheaval is nothing new.

In October Slash would provide updates on the search:

I mean, we haven't picked anybody, so until we actually pick somebody and find that guy….the first time around we auditioned so many singers - we weren't even called Velvet Revolver at the time - and then Scott became available. We sort of knew it was a pretty touch and go situation.

Anyhow, this time around we've established ourselves as a proper band and we want to try different things - with Scott it was kind of limiting - so we are concentrating on just writing really cool stuff and waiting for the right guy.

We spent at that time 10 months listening to 200 singers a week, and chased after Scott, and managed to make that work. We were off and running, but then things fell short and we’re at it again. It’s actually sort of a blessing, because we originally wanted to do something really heavy and it took a different turn, especially on the last record. This time around we’re not going to make any compromises. [...] Singers are a very interesting breed. It’s hard to be choosy when it comes to finding somebody talented enough to be a really great frontman for a rock & roll band. There’s always something that comes along with it, just like with any musician. It’s all worth it if you manage to get those magical moments.

And in November:

We're trying to find a singer for Velvet Revolver still. We've got a lot of really good ones but I don't know if we've found the guy yet but it's plodding along and I'm trying to get that together.

The only guy we ever played with, and he was great, [was] Royston Langdon from Spacehog. And he was everything a singer should be — a great singer, a great guy, and an odd character — but there was just something that was missing, and it wasn't anything that he could have done differently. A ton of singers, through our management, have turned in their vocals on two songs of ours that aren't released. Once you get up over, say, 40 singers, it's hard to listen to listen and distinguish them all. If you sit down and listen to 10 guys, you're not giving the tenth guy the same listen you are the first guy. So we've gotta figure out how to go about this. I don't think any of the guys we've heard so far are 'THE' guy, and I don't think we can go out with a guy who's just good — we have to have somebody that's amazing. Scott was an amazing singer. I don't think people would really buy it if we went out with somebody who's just, sort of, good.

Yeah, well, we’re looking for our new singer, ‘cuz Weiland went back to STP. But it’s pretty exciting because now we can think about where we want to go musically. [...] with Weiland being gone now, I’m very excited about it. I don’t want to say anything bad about Scott, but I think we wrote more for Scott on the second album.

This is a tough one to really talk about, because we wrote a bunch of great material. Things were going so amazing for us. Even maybe because of the adversity at the end with Scott, the remaining four of us really came together and we were really gelling on stage - you know, even with Scott going to the direction he was going, we really started to gel, probably better than we ever had on stage. And we got off the road, we let Scott go, and we went and wrote a bunch of material, and we thought, really, we'd get a singer right away. We just kind of thought, “It's not going to be tough.” And we've worked with Royston Langdon from Spacehog. We really had high hopes for him, and he is a great singer and a great guy. So he just didn't… it wasn't the right thing for us, alas. You know, about three weeks into it, four weeks into working with him, we really could see that there's just a couple of things that didn't fit, and no fault of his, no fault of ours. So we are back to the drawing boards and there's been a ton of singers.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 6:55 am

NOVEMBER 18, 2008

On November 18, a pre-release listening party for Chinese Democracy was held at the Roxy in Los Angeles with Tom Zutaut in attendance [Reuters, November 21, 2008], not far from the Troubadour where Zutaut had discovered Guns N' Roses 22 years before. According to Reuters, "a security guard asked [Zutaut] to leave the Roxy late in the evening, apparently at the behest of Rose’s camp" [Reuters, November 21, 2008].

Zutaut would later blame people "around Axl" for lying to him about Zutaut with "imaginary events", but that he, Zutaut, still love Axl "deeply" and will "always love him":

Yeah, sadly it is true that I was escorted out of the Roxy by a beefy security guy just prior to the last three songs of the playback. I did stand on the sidewalk and hear the last three anyway.

I believe that love and hate are a complicated thing but ultimately the same thing. I love Axl and think 'Chinese Democracy' is a genius body of music. Although I had heard most of the album in an unfinished form six-seven years ago, and more recently through some of the leaks, I really wanted to hear it played back over a loud PA in its final form as imagined by its creator, W. Axl Rose.

It is sad and disappointing to me that those around Axl would lie to him to fuel his hatred towards me with imaginary events used to drive a wedge between us. I love him deeply, will always love him and wish only the greatest success to one of the world’s last true creative musical sparks with a god-given voice. I am proud of my contributions to his career and am always there for him should he one day become enlightened to the truth of what surrounds him. It is also sad that he doesn't mention the hard work I put in on my short involvement with 'Chinese Democracy' with even a 'Thank You' considering lesser players are credited or thanked in the liner notes — even those who ridiculed him, belittled and made fun of him behind his back while I defended his genius 'til those around him poisoned him against me with distortions and lies.

I wear his hatred as a badge of honor as it would be far worse for him not to care at all.

Still, Zutaut would comment on what he had heard:

It sounded like a pretty amazingly well-produced record, definitely the work of the genius of Axl.
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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 6:56 am

NOVEMBER 23, 2008

The record Chinese u may have is nothing short of a miracle in almost each and every way that either it or I exist imo under the bizarre and ugly conditions of the last over 15yrs.


Finally, on November 23, 2008, Chinese Democracy was released.

Chinese Democracy
November 23, 2008

Being asked if he ever feared the record wouldn't come out, Axl would say that he had feared he would be forced to release it before it was ready:

Not so much that it wouldn't come out but that we could in some way legally be forced to release it either incomplete or with so many business areas unresolved that the beginning would be the end as well.

And Tommy would state that it turned out great and might not have if it had been released earlier:

It's a little bittersweet. It took so long [to record the album], which is a drag, but the sweet thing is that it's actually out now, and people can actually check it out and judge for themselves on its worth or not. But ultimately for us, [the experience] was totally worth it. It turned out great, and I think it turned out right. I don't know if it would have turned out right a year ago or four years ago. Having it produced by Axl Rose and Caram Costanzo says it all. We went to people that were put to us to help make the record, and that ultimately didn't work out. You just kind of have to wash your hands of it.

Axl would later say all the songs gained something from the long gestation:

There's not a song that didn't gain something from the time and elements that happened in recording as things progressed -- different players, new gear, new ideas, lots of things. Regardless of what nonsense was going on both behind the scenes and publicly, the album ... continued forward.

The long process meant that many musicians had been involved and Brain would later commend Axl for crediting everyone involved:

I think Axl really went back and thought about who added what where, and gave people credit for it. It’s incredible.

Being asked if the making of the album and that process had been its own reward:

Ha! Last thing anyone wants to read about are MY frustrations! It feels great!! There were rewards, of course, mainly in meeting and working with the players involved that -- no offense to anyone -- you could only wish you'd met sooner in life. But no (frustrations with) recording or with those involved but with whatever else was going on around (it). It was pretty ugly for the better part of the duration. That said, being a part of the material personally and with these people means a lot to me.

And what his creative mission or goals for the songs were:

No. 1 was just to be involved in what I felt was a good record that I could stand behind with confidence, with no shame artistically, to know that I gave the public our best efforts with no compromise and no holding back. To have the material not be as self-destructive as I have tended to be but still have power. To deal with real and personal issues that may be a bit uncomfortable to embrace ... in an effort to help anyone who might benefit. To push the envelope with guitars working together. To not be quite as dated as some predicted or expected. To have an album for Guns fans (who) may have gotten past or are dealing with destructive influences in their lives could enjoy as a positive progression. For the music not to feel worn down, so as to be somewhat giving rather than taking. To be a bit different and its own thing in some way as other Guns albums were, at least to some extent.

Discussing the choice of songs for the album and its amount of slower songs:

What I know is it's the record that was able to get through the red tape and get itself out there while helping friends, loved ones and myself along the way. The whole ballad or rocker thing has never been something I've ever cared too much about. There's some meaner sections ahead but a particular focus once there were a few of the newer guys together was to bring a bit more beauty into our efforts.

Well, we just have...We worked with different people over time, on different ideas here and there, and then you've ended up keeping some of the same songs. But maybe you don't work with the person that you did something with a long time ago. We did a lot of different things with, a lot of different guitar players so...

And why there were so many guitar tracks:

I understand it's for whatever reason a bit of a challenge for most people to feel comfortable in their minds with any band having more than two guitarists, but technically, as far as our recording goes, we're a bit more alike with the older recordings than one might think. On the older records, though, it's very distinct that there are generally two guitar parts -- each part is actually performed and recorded twice, giving a fuller sound, so in effect you have four guitars. Leads and fills are another pass, and often songs were originally written and demos were done with other guitarists as well.

On 'Chinese,' instead of having the same player double his part, we chose to add another voice and either each player's own take on the part or their take of another's, then there's leads and fills which vary from one person or a few on a track. Also on this record, though, you may have one player playing more than one part in a section; they generally tend to be two distinct parts and not overdubs or harmonizing with their own leads or fills. No way is better than another; it's just whatever works for what you're trying to do, what you personally want or for whatever reason you feel you either need, choose or like.

For this record, I wanted a blend of different-style sounds and approaches; some at least a bit unique to the individual players and their takes on these songs. I feel the different personalities and techniques give the material its own sense of originality. Live, I prefer the more solid approach of the three guitars now, especially as the performances with the rhythm are more energetic, consistent and reliable. It was fun having Izzy on board a bit adding yet another voice to the mix and seemed to work better for the songs this way, as opposed to having him by himself.

Bumblefoot would also be asked to comment on the statement that three or more guitars is a waste of space:

If 3, 4, 5 guitars going on at once is a waste of space, then you better shut off your radio when you hear Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Queen, Boston, the Scorpions, Thin Lizzy, Skynyrd, Radiohead... the guitars, vocals, keys, rhythms, everything on Chinese Democracy compliments each other so well. There are some beautiful songs on the album.

Axl would be asked what his vision for the album was:

As far as people knowing me, this is a statement that in light of others decisions that I chose to pursue as GUNS N' ROSES and what some may feel is a different this or that may seem as if the arguments or disagreements are about the band or the style of music such as blues or influences on earlier GUNS has some relevance but, in my opinion, points more to deeper base elements I wanted to put forth for people in general. Such as a more positive intent and instead of as self-destructive, more of healing. There's all kinds of things to help you die or be more negative. I wanted to try and make as powerful a hard rock album as we could while incorporating beauty and an openness to other forms both traditional and more recent without going religious etc. I didn't attempt to make a party record or dance record, both elements consciously in 'Appetite'. I wasn't trying to purposefully appeal to the heartland or middle America in those ways (not that I was trying to avoid them or have an issue). But for example, 'Sweet Child' wasn't in any way trying to write a 'hit' mainstream song it was trying to write the best GUNS N' ROSES LYNYRD SKYNYRD-influenced song we could as tribute and recognition in the tradition of 'Tuesdays Gone With the Wind' or 'Simple Man', etc,, and at a time when nothing could have seemed more unpopular.

And what impact he wanted the album to have on its listeners:

I would just like people to feel a bit better or refreshed and that maybe some feel a perhaps much-needed release in whatever area it may affect them and maybe some are even inspired. The list goes on, and I feel that I achieved a lot of these things to some degree or other. Whether anyone likes it or not, it's an extremely special guitar record in that so many influences styles and players creating this tapestry is fairly hard to come by, the same with the various drum and rhythm approaches or styles.

Ans his favorite parts of the album:

Bucket's Blues fill at the beginning of the last verse in Prostitute and his Eventide bits in the outro, the guitars in the bridge of Better, Robin's solo in Twat for a few of them.

Axl would also state he was very happy with the album:

I'm very happy with the album, looking forward to audiophile and Blu-Ray mixes at some point if we're lucky, as that's really what it was designed for since first hearing about Blu-Ray.

And Bumblefoot would say he was happy for the fans:

I'm just real happy for the GNR fans that finally got the legitimate release in their hands.

It's unique. Industrial-flavored hard rock with epic arrangements, lots of guitar, and Axl's voice, which is one of a kind. It's timeless - everything Axl does is timeless. I don't think he'd settle for anything less, and he inspires me to demand the best of myself.
Young Guitar (Japan), October 2008; interview from August 2008

The production on 'Chinese Democracy' is fantastic; the care that went into it is undeniable. It's such a unique album, in every way. Not just the music, but the history, the years of events that made it become what it is. There's no other album that developed the way this one did; it's not just a "write it, record it, release it" story. There are so many things that make this album one of a kind.

Axl would also be asked if the measure of "success" for Chinese Democracy is purely creative, or are there external and commercial measures as well:

I think that's a great question. I would say it has more than one life or is a bit multi-tasked or faceted. The creative comes first or ... should be the deepest, then there's getting it across as you put it. And if you can have some fun it's even better. Those are elements that have been part of Guns. We had some great times touring in '06-'07, and it looked like others did as well. As long as the music and performance come first then, anything that contributes to that is great.

And how the music of Guns N' Roses had changed:

About following particular styles yes I do feel there are parameters with Guns as opposed to not being or in Guns. Chinese is imo an evolution not necessarily how each from the past would but how the music and intent could and did. Guns did not have specific lifelong criteria to follow and many of the influences on Appetite were abandoned by the others long before me.

But that music still contained that juxtaposition between the aggression/violence (the guns) and the frail/softness (the roses) which makes it a Guns N' Roses album:

I've always thought of the symbolism since thinking of the two words together. And in that I absolutely feel this is a GUNS N' ROSES record.

Bumblefoot would also talk about how the music had evolved, and compare with the Beatles:

It may take a minute for some people to accept the new sound of Guns N' Roses. I always think of The Beatles, how in a few years they went from 'She Loves You' to 'Helter Skelter,' a totally different sound, which can also be attributed to changes in technology – amps with more drive, studios with more multi-tracks and FX…but you grew with them, hearing them change from one album to the next. With Guns N' Roses, we're talking about big changes in technology, band members, and a longer chunk of time. And all the growing and changing happened without albums to take you along that journey, a step at a time. There wasn't a 'Rubber Soul,' 'Sgt. Pepper,' 'White Album' in-between. We're jumping straight from 'A Hard Days Night' to 'Abbey Road.' So yeah, this is gonna have some impact, and there will be plenty of strong feelings. Art and music should bring out strong feelings, no?

Chris and Bumblefoot would discuss the process leading up to the result:

[...] when you hear these recordings it's quite astounding. I mean sound-wise they're a hybrid of a lot of different processes that have taken years to do, but while doing it at this pace you will have not heard anything like this before. Because, you know, who's taking that long to do it, you know? And to work on it that thorough? So it's quite a sonic fuse for people to enjoy.

[...] but I'm happy because now people are getting an idea, you know, because they would just continually bash us in the press, as they love to do, because we're, you know... Guns is just such a popular band. But the the end result is, we knew what we had, very confident about it, and it's something unique, I think people once they can sink their teeth into it and get an understanding of it, it will have been worth it.

[...] there's a lot of history that came with this album that critics can use... changing band members, delayed releases, leaked demos... but really, the long turbulent path the album took is part of what makes it unique. No other album has gone through so much, and all that history, all those combined spirits in the music, make it something that no one will ever witness again. And in 20 years, when the 'waiting for Chinese Democracy' is something of the past, people will listen with less prejudice. Those are the reviews that will matter.

Whether it should be listened to in its entirety as a concept album:

It's hard for me to judge that because I'm too far inside of it to be objective like that. You know, to hear it as a whole, I wouldn't think you have to. I think you could drop the needle anywhere on the record and find something, you know, really interesting. You know, it'll take a while for people to absorb it because it's very rich. There's a lot of information to deal with. It's not a record that's monochrome, it sounds like the same, you know, the band is just playing a set, it's, you know, it fuses a lot of different elements together and that's what Axl's, you know, that's his expertise. He has this kind of collage-like ability to to bring things together that you wouldn't have thought cool.

Jimmy Iovine, chairman at Interscope-Geffen-A&M, would comment on the album:

Axl delivered a great Guns N' Roses album. Period. He did. It took him a long time for whatever reasons. I am sure there were many different reasons. Bottom line is, he did it. It's hard to say if something is worth the wait, because how the hell do any of us know? I judge it based on what it is. Does it sound better than 99% of the rock records out there? Yes. I'm just thrilled for him.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 7:00 am


A few years before the release, Dizzy would talk about the picture that would end up as the cover of the record:

At one point, that was going to be the cover of the record- I'm not sure if it's now. This one guy... he was my keyboard tech at the time... Michael... and I mean he was in China at the time and he saw that and took a picture and showed it to Axl.

Being asked if there is alternative artwork for the album:

Yes there are. There are 2 more covers/bk cover combos and the real booklet that is all artwork that will be out shortly in some form. It's been an ugly battle that hasn't made any sense to anyone and whether anyone cares about such things the booklet or artwork has always been something I've been passionate about and to release the album with unapproved and unseen final artwork with a !st work only error filled draft when others more recent were readily available still has not been explained but is finally getting cleared up. My fave is the How Are You Grenade cover.

What I look forward to is incorporating the new artwork into our merch and getting some for myself. I think u'll like a lot of it. My vote's for the How Are You grenade and the Sorry automatic rifle artwork on shirts etc.

Alternate artwork
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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 7:07 am


On November 22, it was reported that China would ban Chinese Democracy [Reuters, November 22, 2008]. Geffen Records said in a statement, "It is unlikely we will be approved to release the album in Mainland China" [Reuters, November 22, 2008]. On November 23, it was reported that was inaccessible in China and that the Chinese Internet portal blocked music-related searches for "Chinese Democracy" [AFP, November 23, 2008].

Then, on November 25, Global Times, a newspaper controlled by China's ruling Communist Party, would refer to the album as referenced by AP/Hollywood Reporter:

In an article Monday headlined “American band releases album venomously attacking China,” the Global Times said unidentified Chinese Internet users had described the album as part of a plot by some in the West to “grasp and control the world using democracy as a pawn.”

The album “turns its spear point on China,” the article said.

In December, Axl would be asked to comment on "CD album, and being banned in China":

China's a tough place. A lot of us have no idea how good we have it and think less of those less fortunate. The Chinese people have been kept in the dark thru literally the fear of incarceration or death which to most is either unimaginable or only able to be contemplated w/stories or movies and such where there it's an all encompassing environment and they're growing larger everyday.

And a year later, before travelling to tour in South Korea, he would make another comment:

This album is not an overall criticism of China, a great country, but rather a criticism of some undemocratic political behavior. Several democratization movements are underway in China. It would be great if such a movement could get attention because of our song and get results. The reaction from China was, of course, expected. China's population is said to be 1.3 billion, but we expected that not all of them would be able to hear our songs. (Laughs) I wanted to visit China during this Asian tour, but it's a shame that it didn't happen.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 7:08 am


Being asked if he would ever go through the same process again of making Chinese Democracy:

Only for the same reason I have, other than that... not in a billion years.

Tommy would also not want to do it again:

Chinese Democracy was unlike any other record I’ve made – or would ever want to make again. The whole thing was an exercise in patience. It got to be really dumb.

Looking back at the record:

On my behalf, I’m as happy as I possibly can be. Which goes like, I’m happy for a week, and then I start hearing all the things I would like to change. That’s the way I am with all my own albums too. Anything I’m involved with I’m like that. The honeymoon period lasts for about a week, then the little things start to haunt ya (laughs.) It’s always like that but I've gotten better at rolling with it and now it doesn’t drive me as crazy. You've got to treat it like a moment and that moment was captured, and then move on to the next moment.

It's a unique album unlike any other - you've got years of amazing contributions orchestrated together into this intense listen. I don't know if people were ready for it, but it seems that as time goes on the music is sinking in and people are 'getting it'. It was great to be on tour and have audiences cheer for the new songs and sing along.

My view on 'Chinese Democracy'? Well first, I think it's so different from the music that the band started with. To me, it's like comparing 'The White Album' (1968) to 'Meet the Beatles!' (1964). I always think of everything in terms of The Beatles, because I'm just a big Beatles fanatic. To me, 'Appetite For Destruction' came out, and that was everything up until 'A Hard Day's Night' (1964) - it was the thing that just blew everyone away. Shea Stadium, 1965, couldn't even hear the band; it was just the audience screaming, and pissing in their pants. As they then started getting more into the musical side of things with the 'Use Your Illusion' albums, that is equivalent to getting more into 'Revolver' (1966) and 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' (1967), where it was becoming more musical. It wasn't just attitude and rock 'n' roll - they were starting to really compose. Now The Beatles, they kept on putting albums out and you can chart the changes as the band morphed into what they became in their last few years, with 'The White Album', 'Let It Be' (1970), 'Abbey Road' (1969).

The thing about Guns N' Roses is it all happened in a cocoon, where it went in as one creature and came out as something totally different. I think that because of that, when 'Chinese Democracy' came out, people thought "That's not the caterpillar I was expecting". It was like "Right. It's a butterfly". I think it took probably a good year (laughs) for people to start forgetting about the baggage that was attached to this album, like the issue that it's not the same band members, it's not all the same band members that wrote and played on it, and that it's not the same sounding music. Guns N' Roses is a different creature now, but that's what makes it special. Where else in the history of rock music are you gonna find an album that has a decade of all these different people contributing all this cool stuff? Robin, and Paul, and Brain, and Buckethead, and me and Frank, and Tommy and Richard, and Dizzy and Pitman, and Sebastian Bach too. Nowhere are you gonna find an album that has such a history to it, and that has accumulated so many building blocks from such a long journey.

To me, 'Chinese Democracy' isn't your typical album where you write it, record it, release it, promote it, and tour. This is a totally different creature, and I think a lot of people needed a minute to realize that for it to sink in, and to stop trying to fit it into the mould of a typical album because it's not a typical album. It's so much more experimental, and it's just a totally different thing. To me, 'Chinese Democracy' is 'The White Album' for G N' R in a way. Maybe I'm wrong, but to me it seems like the album is more accepted now than it was when it first came out, and that over time, people are gonna forget about the journey that it took to come out, and they're just gonna listen to the songs and the music and just take them as they are. Either they like them or they don't.

I found as we played these shows in Asia, that people are really responding to the new songs. I didn't know how people would react, because you know that they're gonna cheer like crazy for "Welcome to the Jungle", for "Paradise City", for "Sweet Child O' Mine", for "Nightrain", but now they're cheering for "Street Of Dreams", and for "Better", and for "Prostitute" (laughs). When the song kicks in, they know what song it is and they burst out, and it's good to see. I'm glad that that's happening, and I hope that in time, when this is all just history and people are looking back on it, that people will appreciate this one of a kind fucking genuine experience that brought this album to be what it is. For me, how do I think of the album? I just think of it as this long road that finally reached its destination. It's like driving a very long drive, and finally getting there (laughs).

It's like any album – some people are gonna love it, some are gonna hate it, and some are not gonna care either way. Production-wise, you can look at it two ways. Either it's The White Album, or it's Pet Sounds – a big, personal statement. There was so much production, and it was such a fine, fragile balance of getting everything just right. To me, it's more like an orchestration. It wasn't the typical raw rock recording, and I think it took people a minute to understand that, 'cause I think a lot of them were expecting Appetite II. With the Use Your Illusion albums, things were already heading in this direction, and if you take all these years of growth and suddenly you come out of the cocoon with this thing, it's definitely a shock to people. But now that people are more familiar with it, I see them singing along to all the new songs. And that's good. I like that certain ones stand out for people. Like Catcher In The Rye, for instance. There's so much going on, and it's a beautiful song with so many nice melodies in there. And speaking of Yes, one of my favorite Yes albums is Going For The One, and the things going on at the end of Catcher In The Rye remind a lot of me of the title track on that album. It just keeps going and coming around again and building and saying more. There's improvising on it, and the guitars and vocals sort of dance around with each other. And that's fucking cool!

It's a unique historic album, I'm proud to be part of it, proud to be in the company of the great people on that album.

I went through the ga-mut of emotions on a daily basis, depending on what was going on in my life. From a financial standpoint, and from every-thing, it was just emotional. We had so many things tied into that record and so many things went down, and so many people came and went. We had been touring already for so long, playing those songs and I’m just really, really happy and thankful that it came out and I think it’s one of the best re-cords I’ve ever [been a part of].

There were so many ideas and songs that were tossed about and arranged and those initial ideas were developed over time sometimes into something very different from the original ideas but I think they picked the right songs and it worked great.  There`s a lot going on and it takes a few listens to truly appreciate what`s going on there but I think the songs are cool and I think the album still sounds great.

It's such a unique album – no matter what anyone's opinion is, everyone can agree that there's no album in the history of music that went through such a journey in its creation. I'm proud to be part of it.

Being asked if it was unfairly criticised:

I think that people definitely judged 'Chinese Democracy' without listening to it a lot of the time, and I think they based their ideas on what they thought of G N' R's current situation, or on their opinion of Axl and things like that. I think that definitely biased some people, but not all. I think with any album, people are gonna love it, people are gonna hate it, and some people will just be indifferent, and it won't mean anything either way. With the amount of expectation for the album though, I think that it definitely changed the way people viewed it, and they went into listening to it with ideas already in their heads. It's hard not to with an album that took longer than usual to be released, but then sometimes albums take time.

When Chinese Democracy was released, it still had all the baggage attached to it. "It took this long to make, and rumors say it was this expensive! And it doesn't have the original band members on it!" And it biases people's opinion of what they're listening to, when they have all that stuff on their mind. But if you give it time and look back on it, all those things are no longer relevant, and you're just looking at it for what it is – an album, a collection of music – and you'd get to review it with a fresh take. So I think as more time goes on, people are gonna start appreciating that album more.

In late 2011, Axl would be asked if the record had lived up to his expectations and what he had wanted it to be:

I think that it's done a lot of that. I think it's gonna do more. People all over the world like a lot of things about it, you know, there's certain songs we do live, you know, and they react. So yeah, I think it's working.

He would also be asked if he had been able to isolate himself from the demands and pressure of the album being released:

Absolutely not. No, it was a torrential downfall, you know, it was a... yeah.

And whether he had been able to go, "Look, I have to make... this is my album and I'm making it... I'm going to make it and it'll be done when it's done, when it's right":

At times, but no. No, I mean, you have people just screaming, "Release it," which I'd... you know, and that's good that they want it, but what does that mean? I don't really know what that means. But my favorite one, though, I think I said it before, was that somebody that was.... I saw a post, it was about Steven hadn't put out an album yet at the time or whatever, and they go, "Axl and Steven are having a race to see who can put out their album last!" [laughs] I loved that.

Late in November 2011, Tommy would talk about the record not getting fair reviews and how it was released just before it was finished:

It came out [in 2008]. And it [expletive] got thrown against the wall like an old plate of spaghetti. [laughs] [...] No record ever gets a real fair shake anyway. It's just one of those things that you live with.

The stupid thing was, it was pulled out of [Axl's] hands. He was already ready to give it up, but there were a few minor things that meant a lot to him artistically, but they pulled it out of his hands anyway. What was another couple fucking weeks waiting for the artwork? I mean really? That's what it came down to. That's just too bad.

The whole thing is a disappointment, considering how much time everyone put into it. But I still think it's a great record. I think it will go down as being a great record down the line. Compare it lyrically to past GN'R records, where his head was at and what he was trying to get out with the record, [and] I think there's some significantly deep, thought-out stuff. Down the road people will see that.

And in early December, Dizzy would talk about all he had learnt from the writing process:

There were a few different periods of writing I can sort of remember. At one point, myself and Axl were in the studio for a few months just recording ideas. Some things came from that, just throwing stuff back and forth. Everyone else brought in ideas here and there. There were a few different processes. It was quite the experience, actually. It was a good learning experience because everyone that is in the band now or came through are all really creative, good songwriters in their own right. I hear about these consortiums or symposiums in Nashville (Tenn.) where everyone sits in a room and kicks around ideas. It was sort of like that but not as structured.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 7:08 am



To tell you the truth: I already listened to it. At first I thought that I would never listen to it until it’s released, but someone handed it to me and I was in my car and I was like “Okay, let’s give it a try.” So I listened to it: It’s a really good record. It’s very different from what the original Guns N’ Roses sounded like, but it’s a great statement by Axl. Now you understand where he was heading all this time. It’s a record that the original Guns N’ Roses could never possibly make. And at the same time it just shows you how brilliant Axl is. So it was a relief for me to actually hear it.

I'm glad it's finally coming out after all this time. It's good to hear Axl's voice again. That's what's cool. But I'm not in the band and I haven't had any input into the record.

I thought it was exactly what I thought it would sound like. It was very indicative of what I thought he would do. So it was absolutely no surprise. ’Cause we had sort of like the Guns N’ Roses sound, which was just a straight-ahead rock band, and along the way Axl started to get very sort of techno, or had a lot of techno influences. And when I say that I mean like synthesizers and a lot of digital influence. And of course we sort of kept an old-school approach, and I think besides everything else musically, we sort of went off in different directions. And this record of Axl’s is definitely very digital and very Pro-Tool and very synthesized — whatever sounds are augmented by outside sources.

It was the perfect Axl record — exactly what I would have expected from the final years of us working together, and seeing where he was headed musically. It’s very heavy; sort of a dark, depressing record. He’s f- – – ing phenomenal.

It's great. It's the perfect Axl record. [...] Axl's brilliant. I look at it differently than your average fan, I look at it more from what he's about and what it represents and our relationship. I think it's a great record. It's very much the record I would have expected him to do.


Weirdly, in January 2012 Matt would deny ever having heard a song from Chinese Democracy when asked:

I think I did [work on some songs on Chinese Democracy], not sure haven’t heard the record


I've heard some tracks off the record and I liked them.


I think Axl [Rose, vocals] sounds amazing. You know, I'm glad he put out the record he wanted to put out and I think it's gonna be successful, him going out and touring. People have been talking how the record's doing. I think it's a longevity thing; it will do fine for him. And I wish him the best of luck.

It's a great record. I think Axl sings his ass off, great song writing. Axl I guess, wanted to make the record he wanted to make and that's important. Sometimes people get wrapped up in... I guess commercial, people had a lot of expectations behind that record and I know on the other side of the curtain, just being a musician and a songwriter, just want the best for the song and you can't be responsible for how other people view your music. So I look at songs and music that way so I think they did a great job.

I love Axl's voice and always have, but it's not like I'm listening to my old band. It might be the same name, but that band died. Actually, it was more like it was killed off - (laughs) - by self-strangulation without the pleasure of jerking off before dying. It's kind of sad, really.

Axl’s voice sounds killer.

I heard it. Axl’s voice sounds great. The rest of it, people have asked me, “Is it weird for you to have a Guns N’ Roses come out?” It’s not that at all. Maybe if I would have gotten kicked out of the band and then this record came out, then I probably would have felt hurt. But you’ve got to remember, I left in 1995. I left because the thing that we created in ’85 was over, and it had been over probably since 1989. We were just kind of chasing out tails trying to get that back. It wasn’t meant to be. So for this record to come out now some 21 years after we made Appetite, for it to have any sort of effect like “Oh shit,” it’s not like. It’s been Axl's thing, and it always has. That will never change. As far as the band or the songs, they’re completely unfamiliar to me. There are some good songs that I really like, and there are some songs that I don’t. That could be any record we’re talking about.

Number one, what does it matter what I think of it?" he replies. "But for the record, Axl sings great on it. There are some songs I really like and some I don't.

People have read it as, 'Oh, Duff doesn't like it,' but it's not like that at all.

I was glad to hear Axl’s voice. I’ve always been a fan of his voice. He’s one of the real ones. I’m in sort of a different position listening to that record, because I’m not listening to it for it to sound like anything I was part of, because I know it’s not that. I think Axl sang his ass off. He made the record he wanted to make and I’m happy for him. I thought he did a great job.

This is probably the 1000th time I've been asked that. I think the players are great. It's got a great drummer. Everybody is great on it. Axl sings great -- yeah, good record.

It’s funny; so many people have asked me that question and I gotta figure out why people think my opinion matters.

[And then, our call dropped.]

Sorry about that. I didn’t want you to think I hung up because of the question (laughs). Perfect timing. I think Axl did a great job on that record and other than that, the songs and the band are a completely different thing, so for me to really comment on the band, I might as well be commenting on the new Slipknot record. It’s that far removed from me. We [Guns] made our last record in ’92 or ’93 or something -- that was 16 years ago. That was a lifetime ago for me. I was still using and stuff back then. So, that’s how long ago it was for me. It’s great [Chinese Democracy]. There are songs on it that I like and there are songs on it that I don’t like, just like any other record.


[...] I listened to it on my a long drive to Phoenix, AZ... I think it's very good & very imaginative. Axl vocals sound great and there's some creative guitar playing on it also. But there was too many slow to mid- tempo songs on it for my taste and some of the solos are a lil' overdone, they don't match the song. Some of the lyrics are a lil' redundant. I expected some resolution since its taken so long.

I think it's a really good record — I honestly do. I think it's a great record. Knowing what I know about Axl and knowing what I know what direction he wanted to take the band, I think he fucking hit the nail on the head; I think he did a great job. Now, with that being said, is it the kind of music and the kind of records I would buy? No, it's not. Like I said, that's not saying it's not good, or it's bad, or whatever… It's just… there's a lot going on on the record. And look, the musicians are terrific. I thought they did a great job as far as creativity and everybody contributing to the record; I though they did a great job. But I still, to this day, I listen to the Beatles, I listen to the Stones. I mean, look, I like the Black Keys, I like the Strokes… It's not to say I don't like new music, I just… I've always liked bluesier stuff. And that is always what I loved about Guns N' Roses — it has a blues and it had a punk edge to it. What's strange is when I got drawn into Guns N' Roses, I got drawn into Guns N' Roses 'cause of Slash's guitar playing — not really because of Axl. Not to say… Axl is, in my opinion, still the greatest frontman ever, but it was the guitar playing and the sound that drew me to the band.


[After having heard one song]: It sounded pretty good -- there was something in there about blood, that's all I can remember. God bless Axl Rose. I still love him and all those guys, so God bless him -- God or Satan, whichever one is dealing with him these days. Let's just leave it at that.

[Asked if he enjoyed the record]: Not one bit. I didn’t recognise Axl’s voice on it. There’s occasional parts where he does his loud scream but I didn’t even know it was him.

I love Chinese Democracy.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 7:09 am


In connection with the release of Chinese Democracy, the management would have to answer why it had taken so long:

Great art sometimes takes time. When they asked Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel, they didn't say, 'Can you do it in the fourth quarter?' so they can make their numbers.

No, you know what, you know, I've said this a few times before so I it's true, the marriage of art and commerce is an interesting marriage. This is not always, you know, what I always say when they ask the guy to paint the Sistine Chapel they didn't say, "Can you do it in the fourth quarter?" they said, "Can you do it?" "Can you make a great piece of art?" They didn't put time on it, we put time on it because we need to have the record out because we need to make money for the big record labels, you know, and everybody, and I suppose we're part of that. But art versus commerce, give me art every time. I always say to young bands, "If you make to... if you chase money, maybe you'll get money, but if you chase art, they'll back the money truck up to your house every time". And Axl believes...I think, you took a long time to make a record but it's a great record. Is it worth waiting for? Yeah, it really is.

You know what, sometimes things... you know, as you know, everyone knows sometimes things get the better of you. But I believe at the end of the day, if you listen to it, it's a great piece of art. I stand by his.... you know, he told me when it was ready to come, it's ready to come.

And Axl would state that everything had taken more time than wanted:

There aren't too many issues of the hundreds [we ran into] that happened as quickly as anyone would have preferred, from building my studio; finding the right players; never did find a producer; still don't have real record company involvement or support; to getting it out and mixed and mastered.

All that aside, it's the right record and I couldn't ask for more in that regard. Could have been a more enjoyable journey, but it's there now. The art comes first. It dictates if not the course [then] the destination artistically.

For me, once the real accompanying artwork is there with a few videos and some touring, the package was achieved and delivered.

And to do so at this level in terms of quality, both artistic and performance-wise, both on record and live, is something that's a miracle at minimum and something that wouldn't have happened, no matter how anyone tries to convince others, with old Guns, regardless of anyone's intentions. It was just as ugly in old Guns, regardless of our success.

And later he would put blame on the industry and previous producers:

I had to deal with so many other things that don't have to do with music but have to do with the industry. There's such a loss of time. It was more about survival. There wasn't anyone to work with or trust. Someone would come in to help produce and the reality was they just wanted to mix it and get it out the door. They had a different agenda.

Furthermore, Axl would say his confidence had been severely beat after the conflict with Stephanie Seymour and from Slash's and Duff's behaviour, and that writing lyrics had taken a long time:

[Seymour, Slash and Duff] did more damage to my ability as a writer. To those three, it was all crap. It beat me down so much. At the time of the (Use Your Illusion) tours, Slash and Duff said, 'You're an idiot, you're a loser.' I didn't write for years. I felt I was hindered for a very long time. I was also trying to figure out what I wanted to say, when it's right to be venting and when you're digging a bigger hole. Lyrics on Chinese took a long time.

Tommy would also say it was due to many things but emphasize the lack of support when asked why it had taken so long:

You know what? ... I don't know. I really don't know if there was one thing. I think it was a multitude of things. That's my straight-up answer without getting into specifics, because I think if I get specific, it can be taken as sort of negative, and I don't want to go there. [...] I think the main thing is, we just didn't have a lot of help doing it. Geffen merged with Interscope; that definitely changed what was going down with the record. For whatever reason, because of the merger, it seems to me that that was the point when things slowed way, way, way down.


They kind of left [Axl] to his own device. That's kind of the bad part about that. The record could have used a lot more help than we had. Certainly a lot more support and interaction might have been good.

What really happened was the record company stood back and left Axl to his own devices. Axl had all these ideas, and he needed somebody to help interpret what he wanted. He had to basically produce himself, and that’s not what he went into this wanting to do. There are a lot of reasons the album took so long to make, but I think the record company really dropped the ball on this one.


I think everything changed when Geffen merged with Interscope. When that happened, Axl was told that [A&R executive] Jimmy Iovine would play more of a role in making the album happen. What Jimmy did instead was throw other people into the mix who weren’t very capable.

Everybody loves to hang shit on Axl, but he’s a really serious, perfectionist-type guy. What happened was, we were led to believe [label head and producer] Jimmy Iovine was going to be more involved with the album, but he lost interest. So Geffen brought in [Queen/Cars producer] Roy Thomas Baker, who just had us re-record all the songs three or four times, which mostly didn’t work and ended up costing $10 million. In the end, the [band] ended up producing it ourselves.

In late 2011, Tommy would talk about the record company's lack of promotion and how it affected Axl:

[...] I don't think Axl has gotten over that.

[...] in hindsight, a lot of what happened with Chinese Democracy, we could get around now. Mostly what happened with that record, why it took so long, was we just had no help from the record company whatsoever. [Axl] got zero fucking help from anyone outside the band to fucking do it. You know, it just got stupider and stupider as the record company kept throwing bad A&R guys [at us], or producers like Roy Thomas Baker who, you know, he made things sound better, but that wasn't' what we needed. We needed someone to help us fucking sow it up, and he came in fucking re-recorded everything five fucking times with every amp in the country. I just don't think that was something that was really important to making a record, that could have been taken care of in the mix.


Sadly, the help that was needed to try and capitalize [on] what could have been the biggest record of the fucking end of the industry as we know it, they just squandered it. Interscope didn't really get on board, and recognize that shit's changing pretty fast, and we can't really keep up with it. [They should have thought] We've got this record over here, the must anticipated record in fucking forever, and we should really be helping this guy out to get this thing together. Never happened. That shit happens every day to lots of band. But if you're Guns N' Roses, do something before everything really hits the shitter, I think you'd want to take advantage of that, especially considering the amounts of money they could have made.

Tommy would also suggest the songs had not benefitted from the process:

At first we were in there a lot. We were working on the writing aspect of it, but it just kept going on. We had [Interscope Chairman] Jimmy Iovine intervening in a not-so-productive way, and we had other guys coming and going with nutty ideas. My summation of the whole thing is that Interscope, when they took over Geffen, really led Axl to believe that Jimmy Iovine would be involved, and would help get this record done and make it happen. But basically what he did was let it completely fall apart. Then he had this great idea to bring in [producer] Roy Thomas Baker to make it sound better. All he did was re-record everything three or four different times, trying to make it sound like something it didn’t need to sound like, and spend $10 million in the process. My two cents on the whole thing is that I really think Jimmy Iovine fucked the whole thing up.

It was a bummer. Most of the songs that are on the record now were done 10 fucking years ago. But all the talking heads in the mix were saying, “Make ’em sound better! Make ’em sound better!” So we kept redoing this and that. And it ended up coming back down to the same fucking songs that they were 10 years ago, except that now they were a super-dense mishmash of a bunch of instrumentation. That whole era pretty much sums up what happened to the record industry. Those kinds of people, making those kinds of decisions and not really helping the artist.

But also that for whatever reasons, Axl needed the time it took:

I'm just glad it's out. I think whatever happened happened. Would it happen that way again? Probably not. But I think [Axl's] passion was always in the right place. He was like, 'You know what? When I feel that it's done, that is when it is going to be done.' You can look at that any way you want. And if you're the leader of the band, it fucking falls on him anyway. Good or bad, successful or not. I think whatever he had to go through to get to that point is totally cool. There's none of us that could have ever gone to him and said, 'Dude, I think you're taking too long.' That wouldn't have made sense. He had to do what he had to do to make it the right record, and only he knew in his head what that was going to be.

Later, Axl would be asked if perfectionism was partly to blame:

No. Guns in any lineup wasn't going to release anything all that great any sooner. And no matter how any of us tried, that didn't happen, and often while any number of us were pushing to try and do so with whatever we had going at the time. In regard to so-called perfectionism, I feel that has a lot to do with your goals or requirements with whatever one's doing or creating. Different levels may be required for different objectives. If you're making brakes for a vehicle, what's required? It's all relative, right? You try to make the best calls you can at any given moment and go from there. Generally, when this term is used by others in regard to me or how I work, it's said in a negative way or as an excuse for their shortcomings -- and again by my detractors. Whether they are open about such or not, some people love putting others in a negative light; helps them feel better about themselves. Too many ears and too many stupid comments have proven that.

And claim his creative energy has been used in other areas than music:

The reality is that most of my creative energy was used in any area other than music ... just navigating through the mine fields -- which so far we've managed, maybe not so pretty, but an album that many said would never be released by a guy that was either supposed to be dead or kill himself at this level's not so bad. And (the music is) not as horrific as many predicted, in our opinion, which is a bonus.

Bumblefoot would evade the question when asked:

I don't know all the reasons why it took so long, I wasn't there for much of those years. I started recording guitar parts in '06 and the album was released in '08. It's a unique album, a lot of musical information in those songs.

In November, the music blog Idolator would discuss the business events that led up to the release of Chinese Democracy:

Why, out of all the dates on the calendar, would Axl Rose decide that November 2008 felt like a good time to drop an album?

Only Axl knows for sure. But part of the answer may lie in the idea that Chinese Democracy had, thanks to its many delays, transformed from an album-slash-punchline into a vehicle for Axl to resolve festering disputes and debts tied to his six-year stint as a client of the Sanctuary Group. Sanctuary, an ambitious British artist management firm, spent years-–and a small fortune–trying to branch into various segments of the music business. As financial disaster loomed last year, Sanctuary sold itself to Universal Music Group–which, you may remember, is the same company that puts out Guns N’ Roses’ music.

Axl effectively fired Sanctuary as his management firm in December 2006, after months of speculation and public comments from the company’s top manager, Merck Mercuriadis, trumpeting the imminent release of Chinese Democracy. Rose, in an open letter posted on the band’s Web site, cited “an overall sense of a lack of respect by management for the band and crew and each individual’s particular expertise” as part of the reasons behind Mercuriadis’ firing. (He also claimed that the album would come out March 6, 2007. The best intentions…)

But Axl couldn’t completely kick Sanctuary to the curb–during his time as a client, he struck deals with Sanctuary subsidiaries and affiliates that resulted in them overseeing his music-publishing rights and the production of Guns N’ Roses merchandise. And since at least early 2004 (when Universal’s Geffen Records made clear it wouldn’t underwrite additional production costs for Chinese Democracy) Sanctuary had functioned as Rose’s bank as well, deferring or delaying some commissions for managing him and offering other financial support. According to sources familiar with the situation, Axl’s tab reached well into the seven-figure mark.

By the time Axl announced his firing of Mercuriadis, not only had he piled up a debt to the management company, he had been dragged into a series of disputes–public and private–tied to the publishing and merch deals. In 2005, ex-bandmates Slash and Duff filed a lawsuit alleging that he had switched publishers without their approval and pocketed the royalties, and there was a separate feud brewing where they raised similar charges about his dealings with Sanctuary’s merchandise unit, Bravado.

But two crucial events changed the course of Rose’s career: Sanctuary’s buyout; and Rose finding his way to the management fold of music heavyweight Irving Azoff and longtime hard-rock mastermind Andy Gould. Universal was in a position to sweep away all of Rose’s disputes at once, and Azoff was keen to deal—as it turned out, the number to remember in the Chinese Democracy saga isn’t 17, but 360.

Word is it was Azoff who initiated the push to resolve all the issues at once, in a negotiation led on the Universal side by the corporation’s president, Zach Horowitz–though who was leveraging who depends on who you ask. After months of back and forth, a deal was worked out to resolve all of Axl’s disputes, with Chinese Democracy–and a nice “thanks for the retail exclusive” check from Best Buy–underwriting the peace agreements. Slash and Duff are receiving a little payback for their troubles from Axl’s Sanctuary deals, and Axl himself received a new advance, though the currently undisclosed figure is said to be somewhat less than it would have been if he didn’t have to give something up to settle the outstanding debts.

It’s possible that the satisfaction of clearing both his books and his legal docket all by simply stepping away from the mixing board and saying “OK, I’m done” had no bearing on Axl’s decision to finally put out Chinese Democracy. But is it likely?

In 2011, Bumblefoot would also suggest there had been problems with the label that caused delays:

I don’t know why it came out then and not sooner. Everything that happened before me I can’t really comment in because I wasn’t there and I really don’t know. All I know is that I got in the band, we toured and in between legs we recorded and then the album came out. So for me, it wasn’t that long of a wait. I think what happened is that the music is done, the album is done and then trying to work things out with the label and trying to come out with a marketing plan or just figuring out the right business when you’re dealing with something so big. I think that when you’re dealing with something that has a potential to bring in a lot of money, people start thinking about their own pockets. This is not just in G’N’R, this is in general. Like if people are going to make a song for free and give it out, I think that everyone will just say “Ok well what looks best for the art?”. Whereas when it’s something where a lot of money was spent, then people will start coming up with plans for how they are going to make money. This isn’t necessarily about G’N’R , this is about anything in life. I think that it gets in the way and it causes conflict, distrust and a lot of battles when it’s me looking out for me versus you looking out for you. In my experience of dealing with record labels, it’s usually not a good experience (laughs). I can only assume that once the album was done, it was not a simple task to work out all of the business between the band, the label, management and any other hands that may be trying to get into the cookie jar. I’m sure that it’s like that for any band that’s making a lot of sales and there is a lot of money invested, spent and planned to be spent. That’s just how it is.

In November 2011, Tommy would also say Axl's inclusive way of collaborating had caused the process to take a long time:

Sadly, of course, it took forever to finish the f---ing record [‘Chinese Democracy’], but the reason why is because of what [Axl] expects out of the band. He likes to actually collaborate with the people he’s playing with. He doesn’t bring them a song and say, ‘Here’s my song. Sing it.’ It’s kind of a strange, old-school, songwriter-producer thing. I don’t think he realizes that. He’s really good at getting people to write something that inspires him.

Last edited by Soulmonster on Wed Feb 23, 2022 7:27 am; edited 10 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 7:10 am


It's been a mixed bag. Some has been great, others a blood bath. That said, most of the nonsense has been from the same or the latest batch of negative idiots, so it was to be expected and really doesn't mean much. I did see some jump ship, and that's always funny. Watching some douche waving a flag and then being the first punk in the water's always great.


Jim Erwin from The Word:

Chinese Democracy actually sounds like Russian communism; a huge Mayday parade of might and money, hardware and manpower, meticulously directed. It's pure spectacle, preposterous and temporarily awe–inspiring but ultimately about little but scale and force and lavish resources. The few hours I was allowed to listen to it passed agreeably enough, mostly with a one–eyebrow–raised "what the fuck?" look on my face. It's fascinating listening, even if only as a cautionary tale about unfettered ego, or a guide to what music will never sound like again. I can't wait to find out what becomes of it.

Chuck Klosterman at the A.V. Club:

Here are the simple things about Chinese Democracy: Three of the songs are astonishing. Four or five others are very good. The vocals are brilliantly recorded, and the guitar playing is (generally) more interesting than the guitar playing on the Use Your Illusion albums. Axl Rose made some curious (and absolutely unnecessary) decisions throughout the assembly of this project, but that works to his advantage as often as it detracts from the larger experience. So: Chinese Democracy is good. Under any halfway normal circumstance, I would give it an A.

David Fricke at Rolling Stone:

Let’s get right to it: The first Guns n’ Roses album of new, original songs since the first Bush administration is a great, audacious, unhinged and uncompromising hard-rock record. In other words, it sounds a lot like the Guns n’ Roses you know. At times, it’s the clenched-fist five that made 1987’s perfect storm, Appetite for Destruction; more often, it’s the one sprawled across the maxed-out CDs of 1991’s Use Your Illusion I and II, but here compressed into a convulsive single disc of supershred guitars, orchestral fanfares, hip-hop electronics, metallic tabernacle choirs and Axl Rose’s still-virile, rusted-siren singing.

If Rose ever had a moment’s doubt or repentance over what Chinese Democracy has cost him in time (13 years), money (14 studios are listed in the credits) and body count — including the exit of every other founding member of the band — he left no room for it in these 14 songs. “I bet you think I’m doin’ this all for my health,” Rose cracks through the saturation-bombing guitars in “I.R.S.,” one of several glancing references on the album to what he knows a lot of people think of him: that Rose, now 46, has spent the last third of his life running off the rails, in half-light. But when he snaps, “All things are possible/I am unstoppable,” in the thumper “Scraped,” that’s not loony hubris — just a good old rock & roll “fuck you,” the kind that made him and the old band hot and famous in the first place.

Something else Rose broadcasts over and over on Chinese Democracy: Restraint is for suckers. There is plenty of familiar guitar firepower — the stabbing-dagger lick that opens the first track, “Chinese Democracy,” the sand-devil fuzz in “Riad N’ the Bedouins” and the looping squeals over the grand anguish of “Street of Dreams.” But what Slash and Izzy Stradlin used to do with two guitars now takes a wall of ’em. On some tracks, Rose has up to five guys — Robin Finck, Buckethead, Paul Tobias, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal and Richard Fortus — riffing and soloing in broad, saw-toothed blurs. And that’s no drag. I still think the wild, super-stuffed “Oh My God” — the early Chinese Democracy track wasted on the 1999 End of Days soundtrack — beats everything on Guns n’ Roses’ 1993 covers album, The Spaghetti Incident?

Most of these songs also go through multiple U-turns in personality, as if Rose kept trying new approaches to a hook or a bridge and then decided,”What the hell, they’re all cool.” “Better” starts with what sounds like hip-hop voicemail — severely pinched guitar, drum machine and a near-falsetto Rose (“No one ever told me when/I was alone/They just thought I’d know better”) — before blowing up into vintage Sunset Strip wallop. “If the World” has Buckethead plucking acoustic Spanish guitar over a blaxploitation-film groove, while Rose shows that he still holds a long-breath vowel — part torture victim, part screaming jet — like no other rock singer.

And there is so much going on in “There Was a Time” — strings and Mellotron, a full-strength choir and Rose’s overdubbed sour-growl harmonies, wah-wah guitar and a false ending (more choir) — that it’s easy to believe Rose spent most of the past decade on that arrangement alone. But it is never a mess, more like a loud mass of bad memories and hard lessons. In the first lines, Rose goes back to a beginning much like his own — “Broken glass and cigarettes/ Writin’ on the wall/It was a bargain for the summer/An’ I thought I had it all” — then piles on the wreckage along with the orchestra and guitars. By the end, it’s one big melt of missing and kiss-off (“If I could go back in time . . . But I don’t want to know it now”). If this is the Guns n’ Roses that Rose kept hearing in his head all this time, it is obvious why two guitars, bass and drums were never going to be enough.

It is plain, too, that he thinks this Guns n’ Roses is a band, as much as the one that recorded “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Used to Love Her” and “Civil War.” The voluminous credits that come with Chinese Democracy certainly give detailed credit where it is due. My favorite: “Initial arrangement suggestions: Youth on ‘Madagascar.” Rose takes the big one — “Lyrics N’ Melodies by Axl Rose” — but shares full-song bylineswith other players on all but one track. Bassist Tommy Stinson plays on nearly every song, and keyboardist Dizzy Reed, the only survivor from the Illusion lineup, does the Elton John-style piano honors on “Street of Dreams.”

But Rose still sings a lot about the power of sheer, solitary will even when he throws himself into a bigger fight, like “Chinese Democracy.” In “Madagascar,” which Rose has played live for several years now, he samples both Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and dialogue from Cool Hand Luke. And at the end of the album, on the bluntly titled “Prostitute,” Rose veers from an almost conversational tenor, over a ticking-bomb shuffle, to five-guitar barrage, orchestral lightning and righteous howl: “Ask yourself/Why I would choose/To prostitute myself/To live with fortune and shame.” To him, the long march to Chinese Democracy was not about paranoia and control. It was about saying “I won’t” when everyone else insisted, “You must.” You may debate whether any rock record is worth that extreme self-indulgence. Actually, the most rock & roll thing about Chinese Democracy is he doesn’t care if you do.

Los Angeles Times:

It isn't exactly an accessible album, though many hooks and bombastic rock moments surface within its layers. Contrary to early reports, Rose didn't plunge into the "nu metal" style industrial rock that he'd embraced a decade ago with the lone track "Oh My God." Had he done so, producing an album's worth of static-laden ravers, like the album's first single and title track, he might have embraced middle age as a respectable experimental rocker. Conversely, had he fulfilled the dreams of the rabble who can't get past "Appetite for Destruction," reconnecting with Slash at the old intersection of punk and metal, he would have roared back as the king of the charts without making much artistic progress.

Instead, making this album has transformed Rose from a hungry contrarian to a full-blown desert prophet, howling mightily in protest against a pop industry that encourages its stars to innovate only within the realm of what sells best. At the same time, he's resisted the nostalgia that would have sent him after a purer time or sound, preferring to invest in a foggy future. Purity is the opposite of what Rose seeks on "Chinese Democracy." Convolution is everything as he spirals toward a total sound even he can't quite apprehend.

Jon Dolan at Blender:

These aren't songs, they're suites, energetic and skittering and unpredictable hard rock hydras cut with miasmic industrial grind, stadium rattling metal solos, electronic drift and hip-hop churn. Some of it's ludicrous: the symphonic basher "Madagascar" samples bits from Mississippi Burning, Cool Hand Luke, Braveheart, Casualties of War, Seven and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech. Some of it's brilliant: "I.R.S." swaggers and slugs like classic late '80s Guns N Roses. If we had a dime for every time Axl turned to one of his producers and said, "This needs just a little more guitar," we could buy everyone on the planet a lifetime supply of General Tso's chicken. But strip away the mountains of sounds and at heart you get piano ballads, a lonely man locating his pain and resentment. When Guns N Roses debuted with 1987's epochal Appetite For Destruction, Axl was an Indiana hayseed reborn as a snake-dancing messiah. His portraits of the Sunset Strip had an outsider's disdain and desire. By Use Your Illusion, he was situated above Hollywood, in the hills, like a jaundiced Hollywood producer. Twenty years later, the disdain's still there, but the only world he seems to know is his own Michael Jacksonian isolation, which is to say the world of this record and all the strife that's marked its creation. Axl's perfectly turned "you"s have a venomous adolescent contempt, his "they"s drip scattershot paranoia ("you thought they'd make me behave and submit," he spits on "Sorry"). He empathizes primarily with himself, but also with assassins and soldiers.

You can't blame a man for his feelings but it is hard to understand them. In an era when everyone else is constantly marketing their lives - twittering, blogging, hopping in front of camera phones, putting as much of themselves into the world as possible - he's been able to do what he wants, how he wants, on his own time, away from everyone, until it's perfect in his eyes. A lot of people would look at that as freedom. So how come Axl talks like he's been in jail?


Guns N' Roses codependents are rejoicing over Chinese Democracy's long-awaited release, perhaps the most-delayed album in rock history.

But think, for a second, about our fragile economy: According to a 2005 New York Times story, Axl Rose spent more than $13 million recording this thing; if left unsatisfied, his appetite for construction might keep the West Hollywood service industry afloat for another decade. Is now really the best time for this gravy train to pull into the station?

You bet.

An outrageously overblown pop-metal extravaganza, Chinese Democracy feels like a perfect epitaph for all the absurdity and nonsense of the George W. Bush era -- one final blowout before Principal Obama takes our idiocy away.

The music toggles between two primary modes: grinding industrial rock and keys-and-strings balladry. (Imagine Rammstein covering Wings, basically.) Yet to that blueprint Rose and his battalion of musicians (including no fewer than five guitarists) append every trick new money can buy: hip-hop beats, Middle Eastern–influenced riffs, space-cowboy atmospherics, and, of course, Rose's still-astounding vocals, often multitracked into a paranoid boys chorus.

Singling out highlights seems antithetical to Rose's double-widescreen vision, but with their memorable melodies, "Better," "This I Love," and "Riad N' the Bedouins" (say what?) rise above the aural onslaught.

Blast 'em at top volume as you wave good-bye to our yellow brick road.

Entertainment Weekly:

And the verdict? Mixed! Gone is the Sunset Strip guitar grime of Appetite for Destruction, replaced by an army of ProTools-packing shredders, three ”digital editors,” and a dude responsible for choral arrangements. This is unapologetically huge music, not fit for tiny iPod earbuds. At times it’s possible to hear the world-changing CD that Rose — whose banshee howl remains gloriously intact — must have had in his tightly braided skull all these years. The blistering ”Shackler’s Revenge” rides a sinister riff to headbanging heaven, while the piano-heavy ”Catcher in the Rye” showcases GN’R at their ’70s-aping stadium best. But too often quantity gets in the way of quality: No rock cliché from the last decade goes unrepresented (hip-hop loops, nü-metal skronk), and did ”Madagascar” really need a horn section and Martin Luther King Jr. samples?

But Rose is obstinate as ever in middle age, sneering at how meek music has become in his absence: ”You talk too much/You say I do/Difference is nobody cares about you,” he gloats on ”Sorry.” For good or ill, he’s the last of his kind. We can’t wait to hear what he does next — hopefully sometime before President Chelsea Clinton takes office in 2025.

Star Tribune:

"Chinese Democracy" is the rock 'n' roll answer to the Hummer.

Sonically, it's bigger and beefier than any record needs to be, and it comes fully loaded with bells and whistles. Musically, it's a high-velocity, guttural, bumpy ride. Lyrically and vocally, it's manly, ugly and fierce. And financially, it probably wasn't worth the costs of keeping it running.

In short, the Guns N' Roses opus that took 14 years to complete is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of album. You're going to love it if you don't mind that Axl Rose is the only original member or that some of the songs ("If the World," "Shackler's Revenge") try way too hard to update the band with electronic beats and whirs and staticky vocals, which actually sound more 1998 than 2008. You'll love it if you still enjoy good old-fashioned, heavy metal power ballads ("Catcher in the Rye," "This I Love," both laden with goopy piano). You'll hate it if you want your rock 'n' roll to offer subtlety or humility, or vocals and guitar solos that don't try to shriek your ears off.

For more reasons than nostalgia -- such as pure and simple songwriting -- the best tracks sound like classic GNR. There's some great "Welcome to the Jungle"-sized guitar thunder and fine howling by Axl in "Riad N' the Bedouins," one of the angriest songs lyrically ("Nomads and barbarians/ I won't bend my will to them"). The dramatic "Street of Dreams" deserves to be a "November Rain"-style crossover pop hit. The best track, "Better," offers the perfect balance of old GNR grime and new Axl polish.

Is it good enough to make Rose rock's biggest star again? No, but "Chinese Democracy" should keep him from being its biggest punch line.
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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 7:14 am


[Before the release of Chinese Democracy]: I’ll certainly listen to it. But I haven’t lost sleep waiting for it. I thought we took a long time to make an album. But you know he’s late for everything so it makes total sense. We saw him play at a festival in Germany two years ago. He’s a good frontman. He’s eccentric, but all artists are. If they don’t show that they’re quirky, they’re lying to you. They’re either pretending they’re not or they’re pretending they’re an artist.
The Houston Chronicle, November 18, 2008

I don't know if I believe it's a Guns N' Roses record, because it's just Axl. I think it's a phenomenal solo record, I'm sure, but as far as being a Guns N' Roses record, you know, I'd love to hear Guns N' Roses together because we believed in that band. You know, Axl's the type of artist who will make sure it's a great record, but it's not a Guns N' Roses record, it's an Axl Rose record. We need to be careful with the brand name.
The Pulse of Radio via Blabbermouth, November 19, 2008

You can't say it's a bad record — you just can't do it. [...] The first two tracks, right out of the gate, grabbed me, and the first time I heard the record, I was like, 'F---, it's not bad. I had so many funny things waiting to be said about it, but the record is good. [...] The production values had to be probably at the highest level of anything, and you can hear that immediately," he said. "There is not a lot of magic going on, in terms of making sh-- from nothing. These are real players, and this is the greatest karaoke band ever assembled. He pulled together some of the greatest talents from the last 16 years, so it's a lot of talent in one spot. [...] To say that it's Guns N' Roses, which is the L.A. freaks who hit the streets and made you scared and your women were being hidden, and you have this ugly son of a bitch on guitar shredding — I don't think it's fair to say that this is Guns N' Roses. When you're releasing multiple albums and you're a band, you're part of a lineage. You're saying you started here, and from here comes forth this. You can't do that with the new GN'R. This is Axl Rose's solo album. There's nothing Guns N' Roses about this. It's a great album, but it's not Guns, and it's an insult to all of us to call it that. [...] Let's be serious and set aside my personal issue with the man, and let's just pretend for a second I'm not in this business. Sixteen f---ing years to make an album is an outrage and an abuse of the system. Who the hell does anyone think they are that they'll take 16 years to make a record? The only thing Axl has going for him is that he's still friends with Sebastian Bach. That man's still a hunk. He's a savage animal if ever I saw one. [...] It doesn't matter who Axl is or what he's done to me, he's part of one of the greatest rock-and-roll bands that's ever lived, and Appetite has carved out this massive spot for itself that can never be screwed with. I can't speak ill of the man too much, because it seems like I'm, in a disingenuous way, calling into question his rock nobility. I just can't wait for North Korean Democracy, which will be coming out in 2036. Axl will still look the same then, but he'll actually be growing corn out of his scalp.
The Pulse of Radio via Blabbermouth, November 19, 2008

[It was] fucking mediocre. Quite frankly, for the amount of time and amazing waste of money and the sort of state of the industry that he put us in, because those sorts of extravagances and those sorts of outrages really represented the artist as just a child to the world, and it's left us the way we are. For 16 years, or whatever it took, I was expecting to get a blowjob, and like a Chinese woman to marry, like a mailorder bride, but it didn't work out that way.
Kerrang! Podcast (via Blabbermouth), February 10, 2009

Let's talk audio here. Just like you and the rest of the planet, since Sunday I have spent every waking moment I can listening to 'Chinese Democracy'. Recently I purchased a brand new turntable, partly because it has a USB cord on the back so you can make MP3s of your albums. Funny thing, I have not made one MP3 yet since I bought it. Fact is, any ear can hear that albums sound far richer, clearer and more natural by far than mp3's and even standard CDs. Once I started listening to my albums again, the only use I now have for MP3s is their portability. It's definitely cool to carry your whole collection around in your pocket, but as far as sound goes, analog whups digital's ass, hands down, no contest.

Which leads me to 'Chinese Democracy'. Picked up the 180-gram vinyl double album and the CD as well for the car. This is the first brand new album I have bought in over 15 years, for sure, possibly 20 years. All I can say is, we as music fans have lost a lot with the so-called (premature? one can only hope) 'demise' of the LP. As soon as I ran my fingernail down the side, splitting the cellophane and opened the gatefold sleeve, I knew I was in for a full-on rock'n'roll 'experience' getting into this LP. I pulled out disc 1 and was immediately struck by how 'heavy' this vinyl was. It's like my dad's old original copy of 'Led Zeppelin 2'. Not flimsy, lightweight vinyl like records became in the late '80s. 'Chinese Democracy' is a heavy, thick 'platter' of a record. I couldn't wait to crank it.

For your information, the Bach stereo system consists of : the 'Ion' turntable through a Pioneer VSX-52 Amplifier. I run this through an AudioControl C-101 equalizier, with Adcom poweramps. My speakers are JBL Control 10s with a Velodyne sub-woofer on a hardwood floor. Yes, I can make my whole house literally shake if I want, and yes, the lights actually dim for a second in my living room when I fire all the gear up. I dig it. In short, it kicks ass.

As soon as I dropped the needle on 'Chinese Democracy', I was captivated by the sound of this record and the thought, talent, and care put into this piece of art from all involved. The power, clarity, separation and production of this music is nothing short of incredible. As loud as I want, I can still hear the vocals, guitars and everything else perfectly clear, with the bass rumbling my guts (and below) just like it should. When Axl rips into the line 'even with an iron fist' in the first song, the blood in my veins starts to boil and the intensity does not let up until the end of side four. What I hear on this record is unbelievable pathos, 100% of Axl's heart and soul on record for all of us to hear. When he sings a song such as 'Street Of Dreams', it's like Janis Joplin at her best, with Quincy Jones' quote of 'melody is king' operating in full effect. The melodies on this record rip my heart out. To hear them sung by the beautiful/deadly instrument that is Axl Rose's voice is something that is to me, truly special, not to mention really cool to own and be able to blast 'on stun' whenever I choose. Four times today so far, but who's counting.

I cannot stop listening to this record. 'Scraped', 'Riad N' The Bedouins', 'Street Of Dreams', 'IRS', everytime I listen I have a new favorite. Brain, Bumblefoot, Robin Finck, everyone on the record played their asses off; the production is stellar; I haven't even got to the lyrics, still too blown away by the sheer sound to tackle the words.... yet! The album is, above all: Original. Heartfelt. Without compromise. How many records can you honestly describe in that way today? This is like nothing I have ever heard. And I can't wait to hear it again. Which is, to me, the definition of great rock'n'roll.
Blabbermouth, November 26, 2008

Yes. I have to say that I pretty much love it. The way I have been describing it has been 70% awesome and 30% really weird, but after a few listens... The weird becomes awesome again. I don't know if it's the songs or the fact that I just enjoy hearing that guy's voice or both, but I am a fan. It's not GnR as we know it... It feels more like an Axl solo record... Probably because as music lovers, we were able to get a feel for the old GnR dynamics and the personalities of each member in the band. I know very little about this band so it's hard to connect with each member sonically like I did before. People have been commenting on how long it took to make but I kind of don't believe he was working on all THESE songs the whole time. I'm sure there have been versions, stuff that got scrapped, breaks, line up changes, personal time... I'm speculating of course, but having worked on so many projects I know that there are a million things that go down before you even decide on the track listing., December 27, 2008

[I am] honestly not that crazy about it.
Spinner, March 12, 2009

Around the same time, Kurt Loder, who had done in-depth interviews with Axl in the past, would discuss Axl:

Well, I think Axl is a little out of control, which is the way you should be if you’re going to be a big rock star with the limos and all that. You should be out of control, and you should never know what’s going to happen next, so I thought that was great. That doesn’t happen at that level any more, because I think bands arrive at that level with all kinds of attorneys and handlers and stuff. They sort of pose as rebels, but they’re not dangerous. Nothing’s going to happen around them. Whereas with Axl, you never knew. Because I think he was on drugs or something, I don’t know. He was a very talented guy. He could be very, very nice, and he could all of a sudden be prickly. So, it was always interesting to be around him.


It’s a shame that people who claim to be revolutionary and dangerous today, they just aren’t. I’m sure there are a million bands at a lower level, but when you reach the big chart level, you’re not going to endanger anything. Whereas Axl Rose can take 16 years to make a record, still keep his record label, after 16 years of having various studios on hold around the clock, and make it work. He’s finally put the record out. Who else could do that? Nobody.


I think, even as eccentric as Axl seems, he really is who he is. It’s not really an act or anything. I think maybe he had some problems with kind of … keeping it together in public, which would be storming off the stage or jumping into the pit to wrestle cameras out of fans’ hands. But that’s just the way he is. He’s not at all pretentious. And it’s good to have him back. I think Sebastian Bach was telling me that he thought Axl should get out of the house more, because he spent years just giving dinners — he had a big long table and people would come eat. But I had heard that Sebastian told him ‘Axl, you’re Axl. Why don’t we go out occasionally?!’ And he started getting him to go to nightclubs occasionally, which was probably a good thing.
MTV Newsroom Blog, November 21, 2008

One of the people who has sought me out in recent years is a rabid Guns N' Roses fan who lives in Australia and who appears to have a normal respectable life, other than being a Guns N' Roses fan, but over the years I have found him interesting and engaging. He was extraordinarily adept at copying me on all the tracks that got leaked out on the web. I was pretty aware of Chinese Democracy a long time before it came out. There was so much stuff floating about. It wasn’t like Chinese Democracy was released and on that day I had the opportunity to decide whether or not I was going to sit through it and evaluate it. I was pretty aware of what it’s content was before it's release. Does that answer your question or does that bring up part two of the question – what did I think of it? [...] I thought it was complex and difficult to get through, but it was pretty Axl. [...] Here’s my pot shot about Chinese Democracy. Axl made two huge mistakes. One was releasing it and the other was Irving Azoff. [...]If I’d been in a responsible position to advise and counsel Axl, I would have done everything in my power to make sure that Chinese Democracy was something that people always talked about and wondered about, but never actually got to completely hear, that it would never be actually released. Recording went on for so long that there was no way in hell that the record he was putting together was going to meet expectations. The minute it was released, Mitch, it became just one more record. Before its release it was a myth. It was fascinating. People talked about it. People wanted to hear it. The third mistake was that he should have made sure to keep all his tapes and all his discs under his wing and under his lock and key, so, that there wouldn’t have been any leaks. Then he could have released the occasional track and he could have worked them 'live' for another ten years. That would have been more mysterious, more engaging, more fascinating…[...] if Axl had gone out and toured when he needed to he could have played the occasional song from it live. There would have been a process there for him… the immediacy of performance really sharpens up a musical statement and releasing the whole album was a mistake. I think the release was done purely based on financial reasons. And Irving wanted to get it out of the way because he wanted the reunion. I doubt he was motivated to see it successful. He essentially got paid for it's release, not it's subsequent performance and the deal with Best Buy was set up that way. Going with Best Buy narrowed the market reach - Wal Mart would have been a better exclusive - they have a deeper reach into secondary and tertiary markets - but best of all would have been to let everyone have it. There is a sense that the deal was designed to maximize the immediate take - to grab that and run to the next point of agenda - a re-union. I don’t think Irving ever understood the unlikelihood of that reunion ever taking place and how deep feelings run.

With Axl, I think that as far as the album taking so long, 17 years in between records, well if you don’t feel like putting it out, you don’t feel like putting it out. You can’t force anyone to do something they don’t want to do!, January 5, 2012

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 7:14 am


The press would make much of both Guns N' Roses and Kanye West (808s and Heartbreak) releasing albums at the same time, and speculate who would end up with the #1 sales spot on the US Billboard chart [MTV News, November 25, 2008]. Bookmakers would lean towards Guns N' Roses coming up on top [MTV News, November 25, 2008]. On November 26 it was revealed that Kanye West had sold more than Guns N' Roses in the first week, with 450,000 to 500,000 albums sold compared to GN'R's 300,000 [Blabbermouth, November 26, 2008].

Axl would comment on "competition" between the artists:

I met Kanye at the Versace awards. He was very gracious. I love Gold Digger and told him so. I'm a big fan of his stage performance as he seems to go for it physically which I relate more to. B4 r release I sent him a msg that any nonsense from the media had nothing to do with us and wished him the best. I'm humbled we've done as well as we have considering.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 7:14 am


On November 30, early indications suggested the album was not doing as well as expected:

Early U.S. sales reports suggest that "Chinese Democracy", which was released through an exclusive deal with the Best Buy chain, might not be the blockbuster the industry had hoped for, according to The New York Times. [...]

On December 3 it was reported that the record sold 261,000 copies in the USA in the first week after release, which secured a no. 3 spot on the Billboard charts behind Taylor Swift's "Fearless" at no. 2 (with 267,400 sold) and Kanye West's "808s & Heartbreak", which opened at no. 1 with sales of 450,000  [Blabbermouth, December 3, 2008].

Comparison would be done to AC/DC's release of Black Ice exclusively through Wal-Mart and blame Axl's absence and refusal to promote the album [see previous chapter] as the main reason:

AC/DC outsold GN'R by [more than] 500,000 not because of any particular difference between the two retailers, but as a result of the amount of exposure AC/DC had leading up to release relative to Guns — and most of the blame for that rests at the feet of Axl Rose. IGA (Interscope Geffen A&M) and Best Buy were handicapped on a number of levels, due in large part to Rose's refusal to participate in the setup — dramatically reducing the ability of the label and Best Buy to market the release.

The Detroit News would list five reasons the album "tanked": Lack of promotion, the poor economy, sabotage from Best Buy, the leaks, and GN'R not being that popular any more [The Detroit News, December 3, 2008], and Reuters and Billboard would also point to the difference in how Wal-Mark promoted AC/DC compared to Best Buy and Guns N' Roses, fewer Best Buy stores than Wal-Mart stores (950 to 4,200), to people being tired of the endless saga around the record, to the retail exclusivity hurting availability, and to Axl's lack of promotion, but would also suggest that initial sluggish sales meant little to the long-term sales of the record [Reuters/Billboard, December 6, 2008; Reuters/Billboard, December 13, 2008].

In the second week after its release, the album had dropped to no. 18 on the US Billboard charts [Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2008]. Possible explanations were the poor performance of the album's first single, Chinese Democracy, and that it "died in the November-December holiday rush of record releases" [Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2008].

Mike Boyle, editor of the rock and active rock charts for the industry trade Radio & Records, commented:

The band had become the butt of jokes everywhere, so radio initially was cautious. But they delivered the goods and, quite frankly, that band wouldn't have two songs on the chart if they weren't delivering the goods.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Axl "declined interviews with Rolling Stone and the New York Times, according to people familiar with the matter," and "also didn't complete a music video in time to promote "Chinese Democracy," which diminished Interscope's ability to advertise the album online and on television, and undercut Best Buy's ability to promote it on monitors in stores" [Wall Street Journal, December 16, 2008].

Also Azoff would suggest sales could pick up:

The race is far from over.

For Interscope, the poor sales might not have been a disaster since Best Buy had agreed beforehand to not return any of the 1.3 million discs they bought [Wall Street Journal, December 16, 2008].

In January 2009, Riverfront Times would summarize the situation and compare with Wal-Mart's sale of AC/DC's Black Ice:

But what about the year's other big exclusive deal — Guns N' Roses' release of Chinese Democracy through Best Buy? In many ways, it was something of an apples-and-oranges comparison. Wal-Mart is a much larger chain than Best Buy, and it threw itself behind its chosen album much more vigorously. BB, which significantly reduced the amount of floor space devoted to music in 2008, offered no store-within-a-store. It merely set the album on cardboard towers on the sales floor, which were dwarfed in many outlets by similar displays advertising the complete Sopranos on DVD.

But according to a marketing executive familiar with the deal, this minimalist-seeming strategy was all that was arranged up-front: "They're kinda just doing what they can do with what they've got. The only thing [Guns N' Roses] had to deliver was a video and the record." (The video will be for the second single, "Better," and should be out sometime soon.)

According to industry scuttlebutt, the negotiations for the Best Buy deal were frantic and down to the wire. "These guys didn't have finished music until a month before," says one source. "It was insane. In all honesty, Axl was working on everything — the art, everything — right to the end." Indeed, in a recent web chat on a Guns N' Roses fan site, Rose (manager Andy Gould later confirmed that it was really him) stated that there were plans for multiple covers that may emerge in the future, that he has a favorite, and it's not the one currently in stores.

There are rumors of a 2009 Guns N' Roses tour. And, hell, Axl might even deign to submit to an interview or two in the new year. But thus far, Chinese Democracy sales have been disappointing: Less than 500,000 of the 1.3 million copies Best Buy took on have departed the warehouses.

At the end of January 200, the album had dropped to position 75 on the US SoundScan chart with 530,462 units sold in total [Music Radar, January 30, 2009].

On February 3, 2009, Chinese Democracy was officially certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments in excess of one million copies in the US [Blabbermouth, February 9, 2009]. At this stage, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the album had shifted 537,000 units [Blabbermouth, February 9, 2009]. The discrepancy is probably due to RIAA looking at units sold to retailers while Nielsen SoundScan looking at CDs sold from retailers.

On February 3, the band was certified platinum in the USA [Blabbermouth, April 22, 2009] and by April 2009, the album had sold almost 3 million copies world-wide [Press Release, April 10, 2009]. By April 22, sold 574,000 copies in the USA [Blabbermouth, April 22, 2009].

With the album having gone platinum, Bumblefoot would be asked if the GN'R camp was happy with the sales:

It's hard to say. I think it's pretty much a given, with pretty much any musician, no matter how much it sells, you're going to want to sell more. Those are the driving forces that keep musicians going. The constant striving to do more, do better, to up it even more. That's just something which is inherent in every musician's nature. So I never really asked them. I never said, "Hey Axl, are you happy with this shit?" (Laughs) We don't talk about that stuff. We talk about stupid movies, crack jokes and stuff like that.

But I could only assume that most people feel like I do. I would love to do more videos, and just shove it down the world's throat even more. I would love to get out there and play for every person that has ears and do whatever we can. Because you know, when you put out an album, it's like having a baby. You want to raise that baby for the most life that it can have. You want to do what you can for it. So it's that kind of thing. What can I do to give this baby a better life? That's pretty much how it is. So no matter how well it's doing you always want more for it. It's the paternal instinct.

By October 2009, the album had sold just shy of 600,000 copies in the US [MTV News, October 21, 2009]. In March 2011, the album had sold 614,000 copies in the US and Best Buy was offering it as part of a special deal for just $1.99 [Hennemusic, March 26, 2011]. It was speculated that Best Buy was sitting on about 2 million unsold copies at the time [Hennemusic, March 26, 2011].

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 7:17 am


Axl had previously indicated touring would be a main strategy to promote the record:

Our focus was in getting the record deal done while finishing the album, which hit many an unexpected bump or sinkhole in the road right up until the actual release. We never intended a huge public rollout, especially without resolving certain issues, and no one ever suggested us doing so, though Interscope's communications with Best Buy in these areas may not have been as clear as anyone would have preferred.

Our approach, for better or worse, has always been to work the record over the course of the following tour cycles, with attempts to forge new or better and hopefully redefined relationships with the different forms of media that may be interested along the way.

And early indications from band members would suggest touring was planned, but not immediately after the album was released:

The guys, Vigier Guitars out in France that make all my fretless stuff, they're making me a nice double-neck that I can use when we go on tours, so this way it'll we real easy to just switch back and forth between necks and all for those songs.

The next tour will be. I don't know if I should talk about it. I don't think we're going to be doing dates this year, either. I think we're supposed to be starting back up in January. I actually have commitments till then.

Then in December, Axl would say they were talking about it:

No plans. We're talking.

Not sure [when we'll tour], looking at options

And when asked when a new tour would be announced:

When we decide on one! Seriously I don’t know I’m focused more on other areas but we are talking seriously. We have a great relationship with our Euro and other areas promoter as well as the promoters in Austraila and Japan and Irving has lots of ideas we just started tossing around.

Later in December, The Telegraph would claim that Richard said they were supposed to start touring in March 2009 and would likely tour for two years [The Telegraph, December 26, 2008]. Telegraph would also quote Richard joking about doing a "Love" tour only visiting places where shows had been cancelled or cut short previously:

There has been talk of us doing a Love tour, a tour of all the cities where there have been riots, and doing free shows. That might happen.

A few days later, Richard would deny having said this:

OK, it seems that I am being misquoted once again. I never said that GN'R would be playing St. Louis, nor did I say that we will be doing free shows or that we are starting a two-year tour in March! Selective hearing. Never said it.

In February 2009, Axl would reiterate that nothing was planned but that a tour was being discussed:

No plans, but there's talk. Management and our promoters are really excited with the offers coming in both here and worldwide.

In February, 2009, there would be rumours that Guns N' Roses would tour in Italy and Spain in the summer [Ultimate Guitar, February 16, 2009; Blabbermouth, February 23; Blabbermouth, February 26].

In March, the rumours insisted that the band would embark on a world tour in the summer [Rolling Stone, March 4, 2009], and that they would tour with Van Halen [Hits Daily Double/Blabbermouth, March 6, 2009].

Early in 2009, being asked if they plan to tour:

Yes. And that’s all I can tell you! [Laughs.] Word has it we’ll start rehearsing in February for dates in April. I have a feeling it’s going to happen, but I’m not holding my breath. It seems that every time that ball starts rolling, it rolls a bit like a square wheel at first.


I think we'll go with a combo of who's around and who's on the album for now and worry about that when we get ready to tour.
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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 7:22 am

NOVEMBER 17, 2008

While the album's first single, Chinese Democracy, received a lukewarm welcome, Better performed better with Jeff Pollack, one of the nation's leading radio consultants, commenting:

It looks like 'Better,' the second single, is getting some traction and seems to be liked by radio. It's still very early on in the project. The record has had some good reviews, and I think it's a deep album and there are a lot of potential songs for radio to embrace.

From the alternative Red Hand album artwork
Credit to troccoli

From the alternative Grenade album artwork
Credit to troccoli

Talking about the song:

In "Better" I actually did these background bluesy riffs in the second verse right before the second chorus. I did some fretless stuff about the big bridge before the last choruses.
Ultimate Guitar, July 2014

I was adding to ideas that were already there. The entire record was written when I joined the band, except for, I wrote the chorus to 'Better' [plays another part he wrote, the breakdown]. Robin wrote the main riff. [Plays the verse riff]. Which is really interesting harmonically. [Plays more]
Intimate guitar workshop with Richard, November 2014


Footage of Axl riding a red bike at one of the band's shows in Melbourne, Australia in 2007, was intended to be included in the music video:

I think it's in the Better vid. Not sure if we cut it.

And when asked when the music video would be released:

Soon is the word as in a week or so.

On December 29, Fernando would answer questions on mygnrforum and comment on the music video for Better:

Tell Lars to OK the vid and it's done. That's all that is pending. [...] Lars Ulrich. We are pending his release form to be signed.

Afterwards, Fernando contacted Blabbermouth to say that his posting (which has since been edited/removed) on "was a fun comment and not an attack on Lars" [Blabbermouth, December 29, 2008]. In addition, the band would post the following on their own site:

Lars isn't holding anything up with our video. Our message board comments were meant casually, in fun and amongst friends.

Unfortunately someone with Roadrunner and or Blabbermouth may have taken things a bit out of context and made them into a bit more than they are in reality. Our apologies to anyone who may have been confused. We hope to have our video out shortly.

Ulrich would comment on the video and its release:

I have heard about this, yes. There was a couple of clips of me in the video and they asked if I would sign off on it. When it got to me, I signed off on the one clip and that was something that happened… I don't know where it [the rumor about Lars holding up the video] came from. Somebody else asked me about it the other day. I'd love to be in a Guns N' Roses video. It's my favorite song on the record — I think it's a great song. I can't for the video to come out. There's a shot of me and Axl embracing backstage at some concert, and I signed off on that, and hopefully it'll make it in the final cut.

Does this mean Ulrich signed off on one of the clips and refused to sign off the other?

In February 2009, the music video was being "finalized" and Axl would claim that Interscrope had discouraged a video:

We're finalizing a video for "Better" [...]- We have been discouraged from making a video all along by Interscope, up until Best Buy requested one after the release, and in a manner by Interscope then of, "So where's the video?," taking everyone more than off guard.

With the music video still not out by July 2010, Bumblefoot would be asked where it was:

I don’t know the exact reasons why things went the way they did. I would have liked to see promotion, something for the world to get to know the music, and to know the people who made the music. Right now it’s just a lot of Twitter and Facebook, tours and YouTube…

In May 2012, Bumblefoot would again comment on the video which was said to have been directed by Dale Resteghini:

Yeah, people have been bringing up this 'Better' video for a few years, I don't know what the plan is.  The one I saw was pre- Dale, and that wasn't a storyline type of video.

Then by September 2012, a video had been leaked and a fan would talk with Bumblefoot about it:

Now everyone will see that it wasn't good enough for release... lol [...] It's not a video, it's a bunch of live shots of people who aren't even in the band, what's the f'n point? [...] Not my problem. I make my own videos for my own music. Tell GNR management
Communication with fan, September 13, 2012; posted on mygnrforum

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 7:23 am


With Axl not doing any promotion around the release of Chinese Democracy, the press would (again) suggest a reunion with former band mates were in planning, now under the orchestration of Irving Azoff [Popbitch, December 1, 2008; The Sun, December 2, 2008].

The rumours in the press would result in Azoff making a public statement:

There are no plans of a reunion, nor have there been any discussions of a reunion, with former Guns N' Roses band members. In the future, we hope that if media have any questions concerning GN'R, they'd at least check their facts before running inaccurate stories for their own benefit.


In February 2009, Axl would comment on reuniting with former band members, and although he would express some interest for limited shows with Duff and Izzy, he was adamant he would never work with Slash again:

I could see doing a song or so on the side with Izzy [Stradlin] or having him out [on tour] again. I'm not so comfortable with doing anything having more than one of the alumni. Maybe something with Duff [McKagan], but that's it, and not something I'd have to really get down into, as I'd get left with sorting it out and then blamed on top of it. So, no, not me.

In regards to Slash, I read a desperate fan's message about, what if one of us were to die and looking back I had the possibility of a reunion now, blah blah blah. And my thoughts are, "Yeah, and while you're at the show your baby accidentally kicks a candle and burns your house down, killing himself and the rest of your family."

Give me a fucking break. What's clear is that one of the two of us will die before a reunion and however sad, ugly or unfortunate anyone views it, it is how it is. Those decisions were made a long time ago and reiterated year after year by one man.

There are acts that, once committed between individuals, they are what they are. To add insult to injury almost day after day, lapsing into year after year, for more than a decade, is a nightmare. Anyone putting his own personal entertainment above everything else is sickening.


In a later interview he would be asked why he won't reunite and go in more detail:

A lot more reasons than I'll get into here now. Different reasons for each version and each individual. The Izzy bit was fun -- and also fun because we didn't have to rely on him in any way, which is how he prefers things and works better for everyone. That said, you never knew if Izzy would be there or not or if he'd remember the song or decide to leave early. It didn't cause any problems, because we were doing our show regardless and didn't have to depend on anything, but it did open everyone's eyes a bit and blow minds.

He called, asked to come out and negotiated a deal with management that it's probably best that none of us knew about or the fun would've seemed a bit more like being used or taken advantage of spoiling the moment. As it was, we had a great time.

It'd be highly doubtful for us to have more than one of the alumni up with us at any given time. I suppose Duff could play guitar on something somewhere, but there's zero possibility of me having anything to do with Slash other than by ambush, and that wouldn't be pretty. He wrote that whole bit about not having his guitar in Vegas, I'd assume, to save face. I was told by both the Hard Rock and different Guns industry people who had come out to be supportive of the new band and were a bit surprised to see him there, especially guitar in hand, but just assumed it was a surprise for the show and we were in on the arrangement.

Steven [Adler] brings assorted ambulance-chasing attorneys and the nightmare of his mother. One gig, or even a couple songs, could mean years of behind-the-scenes legal aftermath.

Steven would later comment on this:

I do not know why he would say that. My mother-thing is over and I do not know why he is still going on with that. Now that I’m back in control and have power of attorney, I don’t know why he would say ambulance chaser. I don’t get it.

And Duff:

I don't really have any thoughts about that. You know, maybe one day there will be a time. I'd love to play with Axl again at some point. You know, we have a lot of shared experience, and amazing shared experience. But it's not gonna influence me, what I'm doing today. His interview he did the other day is not gonna influence what I do today or tomorrow or next week, as far as I know.

I didn't read the article [=Axl saying he could play with Duiff]. You know, just like anything at this point in my life, if something makes sense, and it's fun, and it's for the right reasons, I would consider anything.

When asked if it wouldn't make financial sense, Axl would suggest market analyses had been performed but that he wouldn't "sell [his] soul and live in hell" for this:

If the music was there, meaning new music, I can't say for sure right now -- and there have been market surveys, and various promoters have put together different projections and analysis that in areas where there could be more, it's not enough to sell your soul and live in hell the rest of your life for, that's definitely certain. But that's the catch, right, the music? If I believed in that as a reality which, no offense meant to anyone, I haven't seen anything in all these years to convince me or we'd be doing this interview under different circumstances of some sort, to say the least.

It's not some place I want to be or have any interest in being. If I believed in it in regard to the music, not in direction so much but in how it feels and to what degree, then maybe it'd be another story. I'm in no way trying to be offensive to anyone here, and I'm allowed to have my own feelings in regard to what inspires me, not someone else. Other than a one-off or something, I don't really do songs because someone else likes them.

And follow up with a scathing attack on Slash:

There is the distinct possibility that having his intentions in regard to me so deeply ingrained and his personal though guarded distaste for much of 'Appetite' other than his or Duff's playing, Slash either should not have been in Guns to begin with or should have left after 'Lies.' In a nutshell, personally I consider him a cancer and better removed, avoided -- and the less anyone heard of him or his supporters, the better.

And suggest Slash guitar playing was not as good any more:

I prefer listening to others in general, especially those who both push their talents and infuse them with a level of energy that I've seldom heard in his efforts over the years. I'm not taking anything away from the man that are his to claim for his past efforts; it's just that for whatever reason for me, whether the approach, style or basic hands-on technique is there, the passion and true dedication to the art of guitar in his chosen area other than being, in my opinion, a whore for the limelight has generally seemed absent or lacking with most efforts for a long time. To me, it's sad. I don't get it. Where does it go? Is it a choice? Sometimes it's there on covers; I think Clive [Davis, legendary record executive] fell for that.

In early 2009, Steven would claim Slash hadn't done anything wrong and that Axl just liked to blame people:

[Axl] likes to blame people, like everything's Slash's fault, that's why we're not going to do a reunion. What did Slash do? He didn't do anything.


The spiteful comments from Axl would result in an immediate response from Perla Hudson:

BTW have any of you seen that angry shit that Axl had to say about Slash? I just wish he was man enough to talk shit to Slash's face! ...LOSER!

But ironically, Perla herself would answer Chinese Democracy when asked what she was listening and not speak too kindly of Slash's work in Velvet Revolver:

Well, Guns N' Roses, of course. Chinese Democracy (laughs). [...] [Velvet Revolver is not] my husband's best work (laughs).
Rockerazzi, November 24, 2008

A few days later, Slash would comment on Axl's harsh words:

But you know, it’s one of those things with him. It doesn’t really affect me at all. At this point, it’s starting to become a little bit — he’s just sort of like — whatever. [...] It’s been a long time. The fact that he has anything to say at all — it’s like, whatever dude. It doesn’t really matter.

At the end of 2009, Axl would again be asked about a reunion and take a less abrasive stance:

Reuniting with the original members is not an easy thing. All the former members are devoted to their own music, and I wholeheartedly support their endeavors. I'd say that the important thing is to support the current members so that we continue making music for Guns N' Roses. The only thing right now is Guns and Roses.

Slash would again comment on Axl's words in early 2010:

Someone sent me those blogs he wrote. It doesn't hurt me now. It would have done when we worked together. But now I'm obviously just this thorn in his side because I am continuing to do my thing musically and he isn't.

And in April, 2010, suggesting Axl might have deliberately used the word 'cancer' to hurt him since his mother had recently passed away due to cancer:

For one, I've never said anything derogatory about anyone's performance on 'Appetite.' So right from the start it's just off. [...] The cancer thing, I'll go with him on that, that fits into his description of things. I wouldn't use the word 'cancer' but I haven't gone anywhere and I don't seem to be going anywhere so that's justified. Actually, I lost my mom to cancer so that was a little bit of hard rhetoric at that particular time, but it's typical Axl stuff... I know how he comes off and how he really is, so I give him credit where hopefully it's due.

You know, [chuckling] that’s sorta funny. The fact that he would go and say that – I started thinking about it: I’m around a lot so to him I probably am a cancer. And now the record’s doing really well, I’m even more cancerous! And apparently we’re gonna be touring Europe at the same time, which will put even more emphasis on the cancer thing!

In February, when asked why Axl hates him, Slash would say he didn't know:

Er, I don't... I'm sitting here squirming now because this is hard to answer. I don't have an answer, that's my answer. You'd have to ask him.

While doing press in 2010 to promote his solo album, Slash would frequently be asked about Axl:

I try not to sit there and say derogative things about his personality, because that is what makes him so great. It's just hard for me to deal with. And for some other people to deal with, too [smirking].

You have to attempt to understand him as a human being and where he’s coming from. I see things very black and white. That’s just me. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s right. And he sees things in a very colourful kind of way, and I can’t really knock it, ’cause that’s just him. So I try not to sit there and say derogatory things about his personality, because it’s his personality that makes him so f---ing great, and just difficult to deal with.

Something with Axl was very insecure and it just kept the band from sort of functioning properly. Although he was wanting to do things, I never to this day really understand exactly what he was getting at, and because it took so long to ever get anything done, I always attribute it to some sort of fear factor.
The Rock Radio, March 12, 2010; but quote of older origin

We (Slash and Rose) obviously haven’t actually sat together and talked so there’s definitely some bad blood there but at the same time it’s been, you know, 15 years and I don’t like to perpetuate the negative stuff because I don’t really have the kind of harsh feelings for him that the media exaggerates.

I’m more standoffish because I know how vehemently he hates me. So that sort of makes me doubt it. But if we ran into each other and all that animosity were to pass for a second, then I’m sure we could have an interesting conversation.

Being asked if he thinks he bears the brunt of the GN'R legacy:

I know that in some way, shape or form I am responsible for partly carrying that torch, as with any of the other guys. But I'm the one that's most active, and so I do -- as far as [fans are] concerned -- represent.

Slash would also say Axl had forced his hand so he had to leave the band:

Axl’s the way he is and I sort of appreciate that, only because that’s why he’s so phenomenal. But at the same time it makes it very difficult to co-exist with him in a professional situation. So obviously I got to a point where he really forced my hand and I had to leave.

But you know, that said, 15 years later, I can’t really sort of sit here and just be bitter about it. So I sort of accept him for who he is and I moved on a long time ago.

In 2013, Slash would again be confronted with Axl having referred to him as cancer:

It doesn’t really affect me at all. It’s been a long time. The fact that he has anything to say at all, it’s like, ‘Whatever, dude.’ It doesn’t really matter.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 7:25 am

DECEMBER 12-14, 2008

In December, Axl would suddenly return to the public domain after having been absent since well-before the release of Chinese Democracy, through chatting directly with fans at some of the largest Guns N' Roses fan forums.

During the chats, Axl would take the handle "Dexter", and also explain his choice:

The show and my cat named after the show, she's a methodical killer.

The first chat took place on on December 12, and Axl's very first post was a reply to a member of that forum who had criticized Fernando Lebeis. This would quickly be followed be a heated exchange between Axl and a few of the fans resulting in Axl stating:

Your misconceptions and fantasies along with your misguided sense of entitlement don't dictate my actions.

When someone pointed out the absurdity of Axl getting in an argument with angry fans at a fan forum, Axl responded:

Nah. Friendly banter by those with opposing views.

After this heated exchange, Axl would spend numerous hours over the following days answering different questions, touching upon the future, unreleased music, his former band mates, lawsuits, etc.

Axl would also be asked why he had come to speak directly to the fans and whether it was for promoting Chinese Democracy:

[...] I'm not sure how much this is promoting the album as it's in our own backyard so to speak but it is talking with fans about some of the realities of Guns or myself which whether I've wanted to or not didn't feel right until now. So I'd say it's about us!!
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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 04, 2021 7:27 am

DECEMBER 17, 2008

On December 17, 2008, the movie The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke was released in the US. During the movie Sweet Child O' Mine is played during a scene where the Rourke's character is entering the wrestling ring.

Rourke would explain how he called Axl to get the rights to use the song for free:

When I was boxing I used to come out to ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine,’ so when I was behind [the wrestling] ropes [on set], I needed some extra so I said, ‘Put on ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine,’ and take off that shit you’re playing’. So I called up Axl [Rose] about the movie and he gave us the song for free.
The Playlist, November 16, 2008

Rourke received A Golden Globe award for his role and during his acceptance speech he would thank Axl:

Later in the evening, it was Rourke who was called to the podium after winning Best Performance by an Actor in a Drama for The Wrestler. In what was the most rock & roll moment of the night, Rourke thanked Guns n’ Roses’ Axl Rose for allowing the low-budget film to use “Sweet Child O’ Mine” for almost nothing.
Rolling Stone, January 12, 2009

Axl had previously mentioned Rourke when discussing his own desire to start a movie career:

I'd like to find a really good bit piece. If I can find a part like Mickey Rourke had in 'Body Heat,' I'm gonna jump on it. I'd like to find a small part that has some credibility to it.

[Discussing what movie role he would like]: Mickey Rourke in Body Heat. That's the killer role. I actually have someone looking for that type of role for me. I don't know if it will ever come about. It's not like something that I'm pressing. It's not like something I work at every day. Just, if something comes about like that, I'd be very interested.

Rourke was a fan of the band and had previously attended shows at The Plumm and Hammerstein Ballroom (May 2006).

In late 2008, Axl was asked about his relationship with Rourke:

Mickey and I haven't really hung much but have a lot of mutual friends over the years. He's always been massively supportive. I've always been a big fan of his as well. It's probably better for both of us we didn't hang directly back in the day!!

Interestingly, the movie's music score, by Clint Mansell, included Slash:

At midpoint in "The Wrestler," Marisa Tomei's Cassidy sums up the general feeling the film's characters have toward pop music. Enjoying an afternoon beer at a dive bar with some metal on the jukebox, she dismisses everything released from 1991 to the present with a swipe at Nirvana's Kurt Cobain: "And then that Cobain ... had to come and ruin it all."

One can only wonder how she'd rate the delicate atmospheric score from Clint Mansell. In a film loaded with '80s metal -- Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" and Quiet Riot's "Bang Your Head" are prominently featured -- Mansell is the one who has to bring everyone back to the film's stark reality.

But one thing is probably certain. Tomei's Cassidy and Mickey Rourke's fading wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson couldn't fault Mansell's choice of a guitarist: former Guns N' Roses slinger Slash.

"We just thought it would be interesting, given that the character's favorite music is rock -- metal -- music," Mansell tells Pop & Hiss. "We wanted that sensibility and wanted to bridge the gap between score and source. Slash is one of the world's great guitar players, and he was up for trying something different than what he's known for, but he could also bring his sensibility to what I was trying to do."
Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2008

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