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SoulMonster
APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.

Cheers!
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1989.01.31 - Circus Magazine - Inside Axl Rose's Turbulent World

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Inside Axl Rose's Turbulent World

by Adrianne Stone
Just as the news broke that Guns N' Roses' debut album, Appetite for Destruction, had gone quintuple platinum-plus came the retreaded rumors that vocalist Axl Rose was dead. Variations on the theme followed, spreading through high schools from coast to coast. Depending upon whom one listened to, Axl was either. A) in jail for attacking a policeman, B) in Europe, undergoing detoxification for a drug addiction, C) suffering a nervous breakdown, or, D) defending himself in a paternity suit.

Fortunately, none of these tales were true. But what would inspire such talk? Why would people spend time inventing and perpetuating such myths about Guns' frontman? Chances are, it's Axl's long history of volatile behavior which lends credence to these murmurings. And, as the visual focal point and probably most easily recognizable member of his band, Axl is prime pickings for tongue-wagging.

Although GNR's manager, Alan Niven, maintains that, "If you take out any one of the five (band members], you no longer have Guns N' Roses," Axl remains the most pivotal member of the band. His dynamically physical onstage presence and his near-coloratura vocals define GNR's music, offering a diversity unique to the hard rock genre.

Yet, while it is Axl's intensity, both on and offstage, which fuels the fires of hearsay, it is Rose's sensitivity and creative brilliance which provide the soul for Guns' music.

Indeed, those closest to him vehemently maintain that for all his turbulent episodes, Axl is a warm and caring individual, loyal to a fault. Still, it is these fits of temper which often mischaracterize Axl to the rock public. He is the first to admit that his emotional fits are a serious problem. "I have the worst temper," he said in a 1988 Circus interview "It's a hair-trigger temper and I'm not proud of it. It's just something I learned to live with."

He further alluded to receiving medical treatment for his severe mood swings, saying, "I have a lot more control over it compared to when I used to break every single thing in my room. This way, I can go for about two months before I do that That's a long time." In fact, he confirmed in the October 23,1988 issue of Rolling Stone that he has been diagnosed as suffering from manic-depression and has been prescribed medication to aid in his treatment.

Unfortunately, the effects of such a medical problem can affect its victims seriously. So much so that in 1987, just prior to the release of Appetite, Axl found himself in the depths of despair instead of feeling on top of the world, as any band member would have been in expectation of their major-label debut. Later on, the problem announced itself during national tours, with Axl locking himself in his hotel room, thereby missing performances. And then there's the onstage fits, like the one he had in January, 1988 at New York's Limelight club.

"He just dropped his mike and walked offstage," says a Limelight exec. "The band all kind of looked at each other and kept on playing until Axl came back." Some people have even  gone so far as to point out the Special Forces emblem with "Victory Or Death" tattooed on his arm as proof of his reckless mindset.

Yet the same demons which affect his psyche provide the fuel for the wild side of Guns N' Roses. Complacency is not part of Axl's agenda and never has been. "I remember when I was in junior high," Rose said during an interview last year, "and they talked about finding a goal. All these people were like, 'Yeah, I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do that,' and I'd just look around and go, 'No. I ain't gonna wanna do this, I ain't gonna wanna do that.' It's all just trying to impress the teacher to get a grade. It's like doing something to get paid; if they get a good grade, they get an allowance. I was like, 'No. I wanna be in a band and I wanna do (great things)? So I got an 'F' for thinking grandiose thoughts."

That rebellious attitude, coupled with unrestrained wanderlust, is prob-ably what contributed to Axl's expulsion from his strict Lafayette, Indiana home at the age of 16. The red-tressed singer, who had found his first audience as a five-year-old member of his church choir, instead found himself enrolled in a boys' detention home. Axl's on-the-edge life in the Hollywood streets in the years that followed make a song like "Welcome to the Jungle" autobiographical for the former Bill Bailey (his original name). The element of danger that was prevalent in his hand-to-mouth existence is still very much a part of both Axl and his music. It is the potent combination of his innocent, youthful side colliding with this hardened street kid which provides much of Guns N' Roses' excitement.

"When the Gunners listed me as Bryn 'I love danger' Bridenthal on Appetite for Destruction," says his Geffen Records publicist, "I took it as a compliment. But Axl has since taught me the true meaning of the word 'danger.' [However], of the many facets of his personality, one that gets little attention is his loyalty to his friends. Like Robert John, whom Axl helped to establish a burgeoning career as a rock photographer."

This loyalty has evidenced itself in Bridenthal's case as well. Bryn brought charges of assault and battery against members of Poison last year after they took umbrage against her GNR connection and dumped refreshments over her head at a Motley Crue party. (Poison later pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of fighting in public. A civil suit for assault and battery is still pending.)

The Geffen Records executive notes, "When Axl and Slash heard what happened, they both had such a violent reaction, I just kept talking real fast, begging them not to do anything. I said, 'Please let me handle this my way. Your career and tour is much more important than Poison and I don't want you breaking anything.' Both of 'em said they weren't gonna break anything. They were gonna break Poison! I just told them, 'You never know, it might be an accident and what if you hurt yourself. It isn't worth it.' But I must say, if I had to endure the trauma of being assaulted over anyone, I'd prefer it be an inspired, creative force like Axl."

It's not that Axl necessarily goes out looking for such trouble—it just seems to cling to the GNR circus which constantly surrounds him (as it does to their former tour mates, Motley Crue). "I think his inner turmoil is derived from the external turmoil that we have around us all day" says manager Niven. "A lot of us either choose to or are more adept at shutting it out. He doesn't. He doesn't choose to shut it all out. He looks it right in the eye."

Surely, neither Axl nor his band-mates can be accused of pretentiousness. Their lyrics come from the real life-and-death instances which they themselves have faced. For example, Axl's fearlessness was tested as early as his teen years, when he left those aforementioned detention homes to hitchhike cross-country to New York City with a friend.

"I slept one night in a schoolyard in Queens with a big fence around it," he revealed in a 1986 interview 'This black guy came up to me and said, 'You know where you are? You in the jungle! You gonna die!' So we put that in a song. Then I was in the [South) Bronx, right off the freeway where the big rock walls are and the buildings are all destroyed. There were all these cops and guys pissing on the street and little kids running around with sticks. We got stranded there on our way to Connecticut, so we climbed up the fuckin' wall and the little kids came up to us with the sticks and started bashing me in the knees, going, 'I'm gonna kick your ass, muthah fuckah!'"

In writing these experiences into his songs, Axl kept the gritty realism of the daredevil life he'd chosen as part of the theme which runs through GNR's work. Though this cautious uncertainty is a constant in Axl's life, he seems to thrive on it. And he's derived more than the lyrics to "Welcome to the Jungle" from it as well. The feelings expressed in "Out to Get Me" might have been borrowed from an incident in 1986 when this reporter first met him. The scene was the Spanish-style Hollywood home he shares with his girlfriend Erin Everly and their Maltese dogs, Geneva and Torque. Rose had had a street confrontation earlier that day with a woman who claimed that he hit her, which he denied. Nonetheless, he was hiding from the the police while Erin screened phone calls, prepared to deny she knew his where-abouts in order to protect him.

Protection and loyalty are big in the GNR camp. When his bandmates and buddies aren't protecting the vocalist from himself, they're shielding him from outsiders. (Getting associates and friends to talk on the record for this story was like pulling teeth.) But if these insiders feel a closeness to Axl, it's not unearned. Those nearest to him admit that he fights his personal demons, but are generous with their praise and quick to defend him as a multi-faceted individual. When asked to describe Axl, Niven says, "Off the top of my head, I'd say he's inspired, he's committed, he's stubborn, he's perplexing and finally, he's brilliant."

Bridenthal echoes these laudatory words. "He's so vulnerable and so real and so bright-eyed," she says, "and he's got all these fabulous ideas. One of my earliest memories of Axl is watching him perform at the Whisky in a pair of leather chaps and little else. I thought at the time he had a platinum-looking ass ... (but more importantly), the kid is really talented."

The talent is not so much in the obvious onstage high-kicking displays, serpentine gyrations and vocal gymnastics, but in Axis ability to open his heart in his lyrics. "One of the most shining moments," reveals Niven, "was when he sat with an acoustic guitar on the edge of his sofa in his trashed apartment and sang 'One in a Million' [from their recently-released Ep, GNR Lies...and just floored me. It's an amazing song, but it's not very often I hear something that raw or in an early stage where you go, 'That's the whole sentiment. That's the whole execution and that's the whole song.' Usually you hear things and you say, 'Well, this has got a lot of potential and we ought to do this.'"

Indeed, a chart-topping song like "Sweet Child 0' Mine," which Aid wrote about Erin, could never have been penned without the emotional openness Rose expresses in his lyrics. If Erin is the inspiration for such touching musical vehicles, it is because their relationship is both sincere and explosive. "Our relationship is like the one Jim Morrison had with this girlfriend)," said Axl in an interview last year. "My favorite book is No One Here Gets Out Alive [the biography of the Doors' legendary singer), which I've read about seven times. They were always fighting, but they were soul-mates. That's how I feel about Erin."

His love for her is returned. In a casual conversation with Erin while on tour with the band in New Orleans last year, she, too, admitted undying devotion for Axl. The two met accidentally when she was leaving her stylist friend's place in L.A. "I met him and I thought he was strange...but I was attracted to him," Erin remembers. They've been together, off and on, for several years now and Axl says, "We have so many things in common, it's weird. No matter what happens, we're somehow always gonna be together."

The sentiment, like everything about Axl, is from the heart. Admittedly shy in private, Axl uses all the unrestrained inner rhythms which his untamed alter ego spews out so effectively onstage. This enigmatic personality combined his potent forces with his band's and set the music world on its side in 1988. And it is W. Axl Rose's diversity and ability to reconcile the shadows of his past with his visions of the future that will continue to make music history in 1989.


Last edited by Soulmonster on Sun Feb 06, 2022 8:10 am; edited 2 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster Sun Feb 06, 2022 7:10 am

A pretty decent article from early 1989. It relies on quotes from Axl from previous interviews, a couple which I believe are new to me. They also have some other interesting quotes, including from Niven and Erin.
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Post by Soulmonster Sun Feb 06, 2022 7:12 am

I wonder where this quote came from:

"I remember when I was in junior high and they talked about finding a goal. All these people were like, 'Yeah, I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do that,' and I'd just look around and go, 'No. I ain't gonna wanna do this, I ain't gonna wanna do that.' It's all just trying to impress the teacher to get a grade. It's like doing something to get paid; if they get a good grade, they get an allowance. I was like, 'No. I wanna be in a band and I wanna do (great things)? So I got an 'F' for thinking grandiose thoughts."

It is probably not from an earlier Circus interview, since it isn't mentioned as such. When googling it, I find that other people have used it in a biography of Axl. But where did it originally stem from? Probably an unknown interview from 1988.
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