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

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

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Cheers!
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2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses

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2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses Empty 2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses

Post by Blackstar Mon Aug 15, 2022 12:21 am

As published in Rock Hard, May 2006.

2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses 2001_056
2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses 2001_057
2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses 2001_055

Translation from French:
-----------------------------

IZZY STRADLIN recounts THE BIRTH OF GUNS N' ROSES

Interview by Philippe Lageat - Photos: Marc Villalonga
Interview conducted on April 05, 2001 in Paris

While working on this Guns N’ Roses special feature, we came across an interview with Izzy Stradlin, the co-founder of the band along with Axl Rose, which was conducted in April 2001 during the rhythm guitarist's family vacation in Paris. Since then, this interview had been safely kept in our archives and therefore entirely unpublished. Ten years after his voluntary departure from Guns N ' Roses in 1991 (when the two parts of Use Your Illusion had just been released), Jeff Isbell - that's his real name - agreed to talk to us about the beginnings of the band, his first meeting with Axl Rose, and what he considered to be the end of the original GN'R. A Rock Hard exclusive!

Rock Hard: Tell us a bit about your childhood. Did you grow up in a musical environment?

Izzy Stradlin: Yeah, kind of. My parents had a record player that I remember vividly. So we listened to a lot of music at home, because they had a huge record collection. I remember being impressed, as a little kid, by the loudness of it. Also, my grandmother was a drummer and an organist. She played in a band, just for fun, with some friends. They must have all been quite old because, after all, she was already my grandmother! (laughs) All the same, she made me want to learn because she played all the time! Our neighbors were also music lovers... I'm talking about the end of the ‘60s (I was born on April 8, 1962) and the beginning of the ‘70s. At that time, music was everywhere in America, everyone bought 45’s. It was the heyday of the slot-in record player, that portable mouth-shaped record player in which you slipped your records, the predecessor of the MiniDisc! (laughs) The radio also played an important part in my musical education. That and TV were the only way to get entertainment in Lafayette, a small town of 30,000 people that was discovered by a Frenchman.

Anyway, when I was 5 or 6 years old, I started playing drums. I played over the songs I heard on the radio or on TV. In my early teens I gave up drums for guitar. When I was 15 or 16, I bought a Gibson Les Paul copy, Ibanez or Hondo. A friend showed me how to play "Smoke On The Water" and I quickly learned some rock classics. However, two or three years later, I went back to my first love, the drums. I even brought my kit with me to California. At the time, I thought I was a better drummer than guitarist (laughs). A week later, I was playing in a band. It's crazy when you think about it! I moved from Indiana to Los Angeles which, as everyone knows, is a much bigger city, and it only took me a week to hook up with other musicians. Just a fucking stroke of luck! Then again, that’s what I really wanted to do with my life and I made it happen. It allowed me to meet a lot of musicians, meet a lot of people... Then I gave up drums again, this time for bass, because it was much more practical to carry around than a drum kit. But I quickly realized that it would be easier to write songs with six strings than with four, so I bought a guitar. I still play drums whenever I get the chance, but over the years the guitar has become my instrument of choice.

Who were your heroes back then?

In the '70s, I lived for Aerosmith, Cheap Trick... I saw them play a show in a theater in Lafayette, which was such a tiny shithole that no band would ever put their amps in. That stuck with me for life! There were so many people without tickets that the doors to the venue blew open from the pressure and the kids were able to rush into the theater. I must say that there was almost no security at that show (he smiles). This was before the Sex Pistols, The Clash and the whole punk explosion. Back then, in the early '70s, if you lived in the area and wanted to see bands, you had to drive an hour to Indianapolis. That's where all the big concerts were. I saw, for example, AC/DC with Rose Tattoo and Golden Earring. When you're a kid, how can you not be amazed, how can you not want to do the same thing? But you're too young and it's impossible for you to leave just like that. So you take it easy, rehearsing in your garage... until the day when.

But back to the original question: I also loved Ted Nugent (who often played around here), then I fell in love with the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Ramones. It didn't matter if it was heavy metal, punk or disco, it was all new and exciting, especially for a kid from Lafayette who always wanted more and was eager to learn. Skateboarding was also starting to explode. All the kids who were skateboarding would gather in one place on the west side of town. That's where I met Axl Rose. He was, like me, a big skate fan. But you have to remember that back in the 70's and 80's, it would take a while for us in Indiana to hear about some of the European artists or listen to their records. Because those artists had to be very popular in Europe before the American record industry decided to pay attention to them. And even when that happened, those bands only toured in big American cities like New York. Sometimes we had to wait more than a year to hear about them in Indiana: by the time we put an album on our turntable, it was likely that the band in question had already released a second one (laughs). But it didn't matter, the main thing was that it was fresh and new to us. The punk phenomenon was a tremendous shift: all of a sudden, we realized that we could make rock music with only three chords. The Pistols brought music within our reach, made us believe in it.

Why did you leave Indiana to go to California?

Out of pure necessity! In Indiana, Axl and I were rehearsing in my mom's garage. And I knew that there was no place there where we could play, except for one or two bars. The problem was that you had to be at least 21 years old to get into those places. We were only about 18, at most. And even in these bars, young bands could only play covers. So we really wanted to do everything we could to break in, but in Lafayette we were obviously at a dead end. So I wondered where I could go to have a chance to break through, and after two seconds of thinking about it, it became apparent to me that in terms of music everything was happening in New York and Los Angeles. In New York it's super cold. So I chose sunny L.A., thinking that regardless of how it turned out, at least I wouldn't freeze my balls off. And then there was the ocean. A year before me, Steve, a Hungarian-born guitarist friend, and his brother had moved from Indiana to L.A. And then one day, I got a letter in the mail and I found a joint inside! (laughs) I laid down on my bed, lit the joint and read my buddy's letter. Then I wrote him back, sending him a joint, too. A few days later, he calls me: "So, when are you coming to join us?” I figured that at least I knew someone there. So I packed my stuff and drove to the City of Angels in my old Chevy Impala (one of the most famous models of Chevrolet - Ed.). I only stayed with my friend for five days, because he wanted me to work in the factory. He really flipped out at my response. Then I got a job at a small record store and, like I said, within a week I had found a band. Being the country boy that I was, I was living a pipe dream! The food, the people, the cars, everything was different there! The first couple of years I found it really exciting, but after a while I went back to Indiana. It was hard to survive in those conditions without my family and friends. Axl went up to L.A. in 1981, left, and came back in 1982, this time for good. I, too, left Lafayette to give it another shot. Axl and I started working together (in A.X.L., which became Rose, then Hollywood Rose - with various musicians like Chris Weber, Tracii Guns, Johnny Kreis - and finally Guns N' Roses - Ed.) and, little by little, Guns N' Roses was born. We finally had the right line-up and things finally picked up.

Do you remember the first time you met Axl?

Yes, he was also from Lafayette. We were in elementary school together. I was sitting in class, probably daydreaming because I wasn't too motivated, when all of a sudden I heard books hitting the floor and then screams coming from the hallway. Then Axl (real name William Bailey - Ed.) bursts through the door and comes into my classroom, chased by a teacher or the principal. The sight of this guy running after a pupil really made me laugh! Axl had just thrown his books in his face and I thought it was hilarious. Later, one summer, Axl and I met at a driving course. We were in the same traffic rules class. And, as I said earlier, he was a skateboarder, just like me, which brought us even closer together. I quickly realized that this guy was so crazy that he would make a good singer. You have to be a little crazy to be a good frontman (laughs).

We started playing together around 1978/79. We were jamming in my mom's garage. One of the craziest guys around had stolen a small PA from a church and was looking for a place to hide it, because the cops were on to it. Sensing the opportunity, I agreed to do him that favor. So Axl started plugging his mic into that PA and we rehearsed. He was really shy at the time. We were making a terrible racket (laughs). That's how it all started. But I always knew (and so did he) that we were going to make it. We had the same vision, we wanted to start a band, a real band. That's what brought us together in the first place. At least it would allow us to see the country and have a good time.

How did you make a living during your first years in California?

Legally or not? (laughs) I remember getting a job at a carpentry shop in Orange County. I was making yacht cabins, mini bars, all the fancy wood equipment you'd find on those kinds of boats. It was an interesting job, you had to be very thorough. I did that for a few months. I was working five days a week and I thought it was pretty cool, because I was rehearsing every night with my band. But then one of my co-workers showed up at work one day with a bag of psychedelic mushrooms. While I was taking a break at lunch time, listening to music in my car, he offered me some. I had never tried mushrooms before, so I grabbed a handful of them and ate them in less time than it just took me to tell you about it (laughs). Back at work a few minutes later, I started laughing at every little thing and feeling really funny. Needless to say, my boss fired me a week later! After that, I went to work for a phone company, etc. The only cool job I got was as a waiter in a pizza house. I really liked it, I love the restaurant business and Italian food.

When did you feel that you were on the right track music-wise?

In 1985. We had been struggling for five years. But I knew in 1985 that the band had it all: the lineup was Axl on vocals, Slash and I on guitars, Stevie on drums and Duff on bass. As soon as we played our first two shows with that lineup, I knew we had enough potential to tour. That's when "the real thing" was born, the real Guns N' Roses. There was this strange chemistry between us. I can't say we were the best of friends though, there was always tension in the air. But we got along well enough to play shows and play like our lives depended on it. We had this survival instinct; after all, none of us had any money or an apartment. We were really a "street band", so there was a sense of urgency and a desperate energy coming from us: we knew all too well that we couldn't afford to make a mistake. We had to make it work, we had no choice. After five years, we were just beginning to see a little light at the end of the tunnel.

I'll say it again, the chemistry of that lineup was pure magic. We didn't realize it at the time, and it's only in retrospect that it's obvious to me. When Steven Adler got kicked out of the band, I really felt that the chemistry had been seriously altered. And I hated to see that happen. I personally didn't want to see Steven go. It was as if we were missing an arm or a leg... No, what bound us together, the glue, was that primal chemistry. It's strange, it's always between the drummers and the singers that it sticks the most (laughs). And, of course, it's about a fucking chick! First the drummer bangs her, then it's the singer's turn, then again the drummer's turn,and so on. And then the singer gets mad and the shit hits the fan.

Did you consider Steven's ousting in early 1990 (and his replacement by Matt Sorum) as the beginning of the end?

Yes, I really thought that. It was certainly the end of the original spirit... and the original band. Besides, I think Steven was the perfect drummer for the band. He wasn't a super technical guy who could play with any band, but he was exactly what we needed. Uh, some nights anyway... (laughs)

Didn't the success come too quickly?

In a way, yes, because our lives were turned upside down in a few months. But you have to remember that we had worked long and hard for that, and I can tell you that some months, when I was struggling to make ends meet to pay a pittance of rent, I didn't think that success was "coming too fast". But when it happened to us, it was like a tidal wave. And it totally destroyed me.

Okay, I was already in bad shape before that, because I was doing drugs and drinking a lot. Even in Indiana, I had gotten into glue sniffing and speed early on... I was smoking pot at lunchtime. Anyway, I was already struggling with this by the time I was 15 years old, long before I was in Guns N' Roses. So you can just imagine how excessive it got ten years later, when I became successful: cocaine, heroin, you name it, I had to do it. All this combined with fame and money turned out to be a particularly nasty mix. At one point, we opened for Aerosmith (in 1988 - Ed.). Steven Tyler and Joe Perry were my childhood heroes and I was really honored to be around these great musicians. I had already met Tyler in 1984/85 in L.A. when I was a young and inexperienced guitar player. I started to do what he did, to really get high. Hey, I thought it was "normal", I thought all artists lived like that. And the fact that I was living in Los Angeles at the time, even more so in Hollywood, didn't help to get myself together and out of that whole trip. So what could be more normal than waking up in the morning and doing a some coke? Again, it seemed "normal" to us.

Three or four years later, we're on tour with Aerosmith who, in the meantime, have gotten sober and totally clean. To the point that their management warned us: "If you guys mess with that, we'll fire you without mercy!" But everything is going well. Aerosmith is our favorite band and we respect them too much to fuck up. On those dates, Tyler told me some horrible stories from his junkie days: not being able to sleep for five days in a row, locking himself in a hotel bathroom, hallucinating, seeing worms coming out of the carpet in his room. I remember saying to him, "I hope that never happens to me." And then two years later, it was me seeing worms coming out of the carpet! That's when I remembered Tyler's words, and it really helped me get clean. By the time Steven got fired, I had learned to live without it.

Oddly enough, Steven got kicked out of the band because he was accused of being "on drugs all the time". That's pretty strange coming from a band of notorious junkies, isn't it?

(Laughs) Yes, it certainly is! That's why I didn't like that he got fired. At the time, I was totally straight, and as the days went by, my interest in Guns N' Roses started to wane. I had been arrested (in August 1989 for peeing on a plane – Ed.) and was on parole for a year, so they could call me at any time to give me a urine test to see if I was clean. If I wasn't, I would go to jail. For a year, I was really careful, which was very difficult because the others were getting high all the time. So when Steven got fired for "drug abuse", I couldn't believe it. But even though I was shocked, I said to myself that it wasn't the end of the world. The most important thing was my own health, that I would stay sober. If I hadn't, it's not a stretch to say that we wouldn't be here today discussing this. I would have died a long time ago. At least when I stopped using, I was able to finish the songs I started writing again. That wasn't the case the years before, because I couldn't finish a job. When I left Guns N' Roses, Slash and Duff were still partying hard. Looking back and seeing what they were doing to themselves, I wonder how they were able to keep it together.
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2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses Empty Re: 2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses

Post by Blackstar Mon Aug 15, 2022 11:15 pm

@ludurigan have you seen this newly unearthed interview?
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2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses Empty Re: 2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses

Post by ludurigan Mon Aug 22, 2022 12:20 am

fantastic @Blackstar! Thanks for pointing me out to this... I guess i have seen this one a long time ago on the old beenafix.com forum, but some parts of that I didn't remember

this part is very interesting:

"It's strange, it's always between the drummers and the singers that it sticks the most (laughs). And, of course, it's about a fucking chick! First the drummer bangs her, then it's the singer's turn, then again the drummer's turn,and so on. And then the singer gets mad and the shit hits the fan."

Izzy is pretty much saying that Steven was fired because he "banged" Axl's girl, right?

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2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses Empty Re: 2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses

Post by Blackstar Mon Aug 22, 2022 12:40 am

ludurigan wrote:fantastic @Blackstar! Thanks for pointing me out to this... I guess i have seen this one a long time ago on the old beenafix.com forum, but some parts of that I didn't remember

this part is very interesting:

"It's strange, it's always between the drummers and the singers that it sticks the most (laughs). And, of course, it's about a fucking chick! First the drummer bangs her, then it's the singer's turn, then again the drummer's turn,and so on. And then the singer gets mad and the shit hits the fan."

Izzy is pretty much saying that Steven was fired because he "banged" Axl's girl, right?

Maybe you saw it somewhere else, because it was first published in this magazine in 2006 (although it's from 2001) and the Beenafix forum was defunct then. I have looked there as well as on chopaway.com and other old Izzy sites/forums (through wayback machine) and haven't seen it anywhere online before.

Yes, Izzy is kind of saying that, although I don't think he means it was the main reason. I think he mostly alludes, tongue-in-cheek, to the conflicts between Axl and Steven in general since the beginning, e.g. with Adriana Smith etc.

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2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses Empty Re: 2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses

Post by ludurigan Mon Aug 22, 2022 12:51 am

Blackstar wrote:
Maybe you saw it somewhere else, because it was first published in this magazine in 2006 (although it's from 2001) and the Beenafix forum was defunct then.

Really? Has it been that long? Wow... Times does fly by... Must have been on chopaway.com then! Those guys were really good on Izzy stuff, we were a great group of Izzy lovers, I remember sending paypal to one of those guys so they could buy Izzy stuff for me when Izzy was releasing albums all the time, then there was the Dutch guy (can't remember his name) that did some pretty cool Izzy-influenced albums of original songs, wow, good times!
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2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses Empty Re: 2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses

Post by ludurigan Mon Aug 22, 2022 12:56 am

Blackstar wrote:
I have looked there as well as on chopaway.com and other old Izzy sites/forums (through wayback machine) and haven't seen it anywhere online before.

This is so interesting. You guys go so deep to find stuff. I love it! Is it possible to see *everything* that was posted on those forums back then or you can only access partial content through wayback machine?
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2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses Empty Re: 2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses

Post by Blackstar Mon Aug 22, 2022 1:16 am

ludurigan wrote:
Blackstar wrote:
I have looked there as well as on chopaway.com and other old Izzy sites/forums (through wayback machine) and haven't seen it anywhere online before.
This is so interesting. You guys go so deep to find stuff. I love it! Is it possible to see *everything* that was posted on those forums back then or you can only access partial content through wayback machine?
I think most of chopaway is accessible:

https://web.archive.org/web/20120120010710/http://www.chopaway.com/viewforum.php?id=19

(We have taken all those articles - the ones we didn't have already - from there).

An older one, Methanol, is partially accessible:

https://web.archive.org/web/20030819183436/http://personal.inet.fi/koti/markus.strand/articles.htm

(Actually I confused that one with Beenafix, which was newer, so you were right - but Beenafix was a forum for members only, so it can't be accessed).

Also the izzyontour site:

https://web.archive.org/web/20130914104500/http://izzyontour.com/OnTour.htm
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2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses Empty Re: 2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses

Post by ludurigan Mon Aug 22, 2022 1:17 am

Blackstar wrote:
ludurigan wrote:

Blackstar wrote:
I have looked there as well as on chopaway.com and other old Izzy sites/forums (through wayback machine) and haven't seen it anywhere online before.

This is so interesting. You guys go so deep to find stuff. I love it! Is it possible to see *everything* that was posted on those forums back then or you can only access partial content through wayback machine?

I think most of chopaway is accessible:

https://web.archive.org/web/20120120010710/http://www.chopaway.com/viewforum.php?id=19

(We have taken all those articles - the ones we didn't have already - from there).

An older one, Methanol, is partially accessible:

https://web.archive.org/web/20030819183436/http://personal.inet.fi/koti/markus.strand/articles.htm

(Actually I confused that one with Beenafix, which was newer, so you were right - but Beenafix was a forum for members only, so it can't be accessed).

Also the izzyontour site:

https://web.archive.org/web/20130914104500/http://izzyontour.com/OnTour.htm

Amazing!!
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2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses Empty Re: 2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses

Post by Blackstar Mon Aug 22, 2022 7:59 pm

ludurigan wrote:
Blackstar wrote:
ludurigan wrote:
Blackstar wrote:
I have looked there as well as on chopaway.com and other old Izzy sites/forums (through wayback machine) and haven't seen it anywhere online before.
This is so interesting. You guys go so deep to find stuff. I love it! Is it possible to see *everything* that was posted on those forums back then or you can only access partial content through wayback machine?
I think most of chopaway is accessible:

https://web.archive.org/web/20120120010710/http://www.chopaway.com/viewforum.php?id=19

(We have taken all those articles - the ones we didn't have already - from there).

An older one, Methanol, is partially accessible:

https://web.archive.org/web/20030819183436/http://personal.inet.fi/koti/markus.strand/articles.htm

(Actually I confused that one with Beenafix, which was newer, so you were right - but Beenafix was a forum for members only, so it can't be accessed).

Also the izzyontour site:

https://web.archive.org/web/20130914104500/http://izzyontour.com/OnTour.htm
Amazing!!
This interview can't be found on any of the defunct Izzy sites, though. I actually bought the magazine issue from eBay.

Izzy has told a couple of the stories that are in it in other interviews as well (e.g. the first time he met Axl at school), so maybe that's why it reminds you of something.
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2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses Empty Re: 2001.04.05 - Rock Hard Magazine (France) - Izzy Stradlin Recounts The Birth Of Guns N' Roses

Post by ludurigan Mon Aug 22, 2022 8:05 pm

Blackstar wrote:
ludurigan wrote:

Blackstar wrote:

ludurigan wrote:

Blackstar wrote:
I have looked there as well as on chopaway.com and other old Izzy sites/forums (through wayback machine) and haven't seen it anywhere online before.

This is so interesting. You guys go so deep to find stuff. I love it! Is it possible to see *everything* that was posted on those forums back then or you can only access partial content through wayback machine?

I think most of chopaway is accessible:

https://web.archive.org/web/20120120010710/http://www.chopaway.com/viewforum.php?id=19

(We have taken all those articles - the ones we didn't have already - from there).

An older one, Methanol, is partially accessible:

https://web.archive.org/web/20030819183436/http://personal.inet.fi/koti/markus.strand/articles.htm

(Actually I confused that one with Beenafix, which was newer, so you were right - but Beenafix was a forum for members only, so it can't be accessed).

Also the izzyontour site:

https://web.archive.org/web/20130914104500/http://izzyontour.com/OnTour.htm

Amazing!!

This interview can't be found on any of the defunct Izzy sites, though. I actually bought the magazine issue from eBay.

Izzy has told a couple of the stories that are in it in other interviews as well (e.g. the first time he met Axl at school), so maybe that's why it reminds you of something.

Yeah I guess that must be it!
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