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

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

Registering is free and easy.


2023.02.06 - 2020'd Podcast - Interview with David Abbruzzese

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2023.02.06 - 2020'd Podcast - Interview with David Abbruzzese Empty 2023.02.06 - 2020'd Podcast - Interview with David Abbruzzese

Post by Blackstar Wed Aug 30, 2023 1:31 pm

The GN'R part is from 01:00 to about 15:00 minute mark.


Benny Goodman: You worked with fucking Axl Rose. William Axl Rose of a band called Guns N’ Roses who is, by the way, back together with sort of the original thing, but they’re awesome. Can you tell us about your time with William Axl Rose and give us a little insight to what he was like as a person?

Abbruzzese: Well, we spent quite a few months talking a lot on the telephone. The whole thing started with, you know, my lawyer contacted me, who was his lawyer, and she said that he had been showing my picture to his guru for years waiting for the right time to approach me about it, and so she told me that he was interested in getting together and this and that. I called the manager, Doug Goldstein and, you know, I basically talked to Doug for a few minutes and he was saying things like, “Just go in and put up with it, because, you know, he’ll probably make a record that won’t be that great and then he’ll want to reunite with the other guys, and that will be your end.” I was like, “whoa”, and I’d just come from a manager, you know, kind of breaking my heart, surprising the shit out of me with the business end of things (?). So it was really a turn off. And so I wanted to speak with Axl, but the manager said, “No, the way it works is you talk to me, I talk to Axl, Axl talks to me and then I talk to you,” and I just said that wouldn’t work. So I got Axl’s number and called him up and… (laughs). You know, his assistant answered the phone and I said, “Hi, it’s Dave Abbruzzese calling for Axl,” and she… there was a pause, long pregnant pause (laughs). And she said, “Okay” and then I waited quite some time. And then the phone picked up, and it was Axl and he’s like [in anxious deep voice], “Hello?” like “This isn’t how it’s supposed to work” (laughs), “Why are you calling me?” (laughs). And so we just started talking, and then we talked a lot for many hours, many days a week for many months.

Siobhan Cronin: What were you talking about? Like, what sort of things were in these long conversations?

Abbruzzese: Everything, you know, from… It was mostly me learning about him, I think, looking back on it. There were a lot of things that I still wouldn’t feel comfortable, like, breaking, you know, the confidentiality-

Siobhan: Sure. Sure.

Abbruzzese: … of the relationship and talking. But it was really some crazy shit. But it was all heartfelt and it was like, you know, I started to understand the truth about where he was coming from, and how dysfunctional the band was at the time, and how much stuff they went through. And, at the time, my friends would be like, “You’re talking to Axl” and I would defend him, because I really enjoyed him and I started to understand where all the craziness - both perceived and real – that was going on [came from]. You know, I mean, we spoke probably for half a year before I even brought drums to L.A. and we got together and played. And even before then, even before we played, it was imperative that he had everything on paper contractually before we even start, you know? And yeah, it was just fascinating, the whole adventure was fascinating. But it just didn’t… just where I was at the time and I think it had a lot to do with, like… you know, I still have a lot of soul poisoning from the dynamic of – the Pearl Jam experience was the first time I’d ever gotten kicked out of my friend. You know what I mean? It was the first time I’d ever, like, thought something was one thing and then abruptly it was something else. And so I really had this new unexplored cynicism that had crept into every viewpoint that I had with people in relationships and it didn’t lend itself to, you know, another dysfunctional band. Once we started playing, and just the dynamic and all this, it was just like, yeah… Instead of having the energy to look at things in a way that would inspire me to put effort into maybe trying to make things healthier or whatever, it was just like a turn off, the whole thing, you know?

Benny Goodman: What do you mean by that? Because you speak at a very philosophical, ambiguous level. Like, are you playing Mr. Brownstone with Buckethead or something and you’re like, “Dude, his breath sucks, he needs to put that mask back on”?

Abbruzzese: (Laughs)

Benny Goodman: Like, come on, give me something bro. Like, I’m a nerd, I need to know.

Abbruzzese: No, it was just the way everyone tiptoed. You know, like, when I showed up with my kit, the sound guy said, “Hey, do you have any bigger drums? Because Axl, you know, he really likes bigger drums” and like, “if he walks in here and sees that he’s not gonna like the playing,” that kind of stuff, that and… And no, actually Robin Finck was playing guitar and it was incredible. There was one experience where, like, you know, the rehearsal room, it was a big stage, really big. Everything was really big. And there was one point where Axl’s friend Paul, who was playing rhythm guitar at that point, summoned his tech over a microphone, and the guy got up and walked across the big room, and came over to Paul, and Paul was standing there and he said, “I need a pick.” And the guy literally went and reached out a foot away to the mic stand, grabbed a pick and handed it to him (laughs). I was like, “What is this?!” You know? So I thought it would be a good idea to go from the stadium set up to a small, you know, we’re writing songs set up-

Benny Goodman: So wait, did you tell Axl Rose “Fuck this stadium shit, let’s go back to this old school way of writing,” and he listened to you?

Abbruzzese: No, no. Not in so many words. You know, he actually was there for every rehearsal – which I was told later that was never the case before. But, I mean, the first time we met in person he told some jokes and I thought they were pretty funny, but more my laughter came from the fact that I was in this situation listening to Axl tell jokes. And at some point, you know, from the shadows, Axl said, “Dave…” – he had two questions. He said one of them was “Why are you here?” to which I answered - because one thing he told me is that he wanted Guns N’ Roses to be bigger than they were before. Without Slash, you know? So I just said that seems quite a challenge, and so that’s attractive to me. You know, “I’m here because if that’s what you want, that appeals to me because we’re going to really have to work to do that.” And then the other question was, “Why are you laughing at all my jokes?” (laughs) To which I replied, “Because I don’t want to get fired.”


Abbruzzese: And the room… I had never felt this before – a hint of it with Eddie - but the room was like a vacuum, like you couldn’t light a cigarette. The air left that room so quick when I said that. And then out of the shadows you heard, [in deep voice] “Oh, you got me.” (laughs)


Abbruzzese: But no, it was… I mean, musically, it was Robin Finck who was just an incredible presence and an incredible talented guitar player.

Benny Goodman: For people that don’t know, Robin’s played with Nine Inch Nails and I think he’s still playing with, right?

Abbruzzese: Yeah.

Benny Goodman: But tons of different bands as, like, the guy.

Abbruzzese: Yeah, he was doing Cirque du Soleil at the time, he had no eyebrows… Fucking…

Benny Goodman: He’s crazy looking.

Abbruzzese: Fantastic. He’s also a really great guy, a sweetheart. And there was also Pod Boy who was there on drums, and Duff, and Izzy, and…

Benny Goodman: So wait, Izzy Stradlin… Wait a minute. Hold the fucking phone.

Abbruzzese: Oh, not Izzy. Not Izzy. Dizzy. Dizzy.

Benny Goodman: Oh, Dizzy! The keyboard player. Not the fucking… the guy who started the band.

Abbruzzese: (Laughs) No, no, Izzy wasn’t there. Yeah, Dizzy. And it was interesting, too, because Axl was having this – for some reason he wanted to play some guitar. So he was having a guitar rig built and the guy who was building it was Billy. And Billy gave me a cassette and he’s like, “These are some songs that I’m working on trying to put a band together” and that became A Perfect Circle. But this guitar rig was the most unbelievable thing I’d ever seen in my life (laughs). It was just like refrigerator-sized racks of digital gear and a pedal board, and, like, I think it was a Paul Reed Smith. And it was just like, you know, Axl would pick it up and… [mimics strumming guitar], then step on things and… yeah. Oof, I’m glad someone talked him out that (laughs).

Benny Goodman: So what do you think about the fact that now he’s back with Slash? And they’re bigger than they’ve ever been.

Abbruzzese: Are they?

Benny Goodman: Not really.


Benny Goodman: But kinda. I mean, they’re still playing baseball stadiums and, I mean, all the girls still know the words to Paradise City.

Abbruzzese: So is Pearl Jam. But have they made a relevant record-

Benny Goodman: Why are they still relevant?

Abbruzzese: Ticket sales, I guess? Nostalgia? I mean, I’m less than impressed with their stage presence.

Benny Goodman: Guns N’ Roses or Pearl Jam? Or both?

Abbruzzese: Both. But at least Pearl Jam goes out of the way to create a setting. You know? I mean, the Guns stage is a little… yeah, it just seems like… yeah, I don’t know. I feel like they might want to work with lighting a little bit more.

Siobhan: I’m ashamed to say I haven’t seen either live, so apparently I have some homework to do.

Abbruzzese: No, not really, you missed it.


Cory: “You missed it. Don’t bother”.

Abbruzzese: (?)

Benny Goodman: You know, I got to see Slash play Coma for 15 minutes and just stand in the same place. I mean, it’s fucking amazing to me and Cory who have listened to the songs a million times. Because here’s the thing about Guns N’ Roses and I’ll defend them on this. So I saw them – like, I’ve seen them a few times now. And I saw them at Fenway Park and the first 8 or 9 songs were, like, Welcome to the Jungle and, like, you know, a bunch of shit off Appetite. And it was kind of like… you could tell they weren’t feeling it. But once they clicked in, Cory and I looked at each other and we’re like, “Whoa, is this good?” It was, like, on a song… I don’t know, it was, like, some weird song that started, like they did a cover or something, an I was like, “Whoa! This is the one?” Like, maybe it was off Chinese Democracy or whatever, but they just hit it. And then they stood in the same place for most of the night other just walking to their cue points. But it sounded like - if you gave me a fucking soundboard recording, it was, like, wildly good. So there is the live side of it as far as, like, their ability to play. But then there’s KISS where when I saw Gene Simmons the first time - I was at the era of Psycho Circus where it was the original four, but I put on my 3D glasses and then KISS was able to lick my face. That was a big deal.

Abbruzzese: (Laughs).

Siobhan: How did we get to that?!

Benny Goodman: The no stage presence from Guns N’ Roses to seeing Psycho Circus tour from fucking KISS. And it was with Ace, it was with Peter when he could actually play and sing Beth.

Abbruzzese: Huh. Yeah, I don’t know what to tell you.


Abbruzzese: Well, after seeing Gene Simmons Family Values, a couple episodes of that, it’s just yes, you know, the idea of watching him doing the Fake Blood bass solo and… yeah. It’s just… yeah, yeah, wow.

Siobhan: Over it.

Abbruzzese: Yeah, I got past it.

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