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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.

Registering is free and easy.

Cheers!
SoulMonster

2018.05.31 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Alan Niven, Pt. 2

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2018.05.31 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Alan Niven, Pt. 2 Empty 2018.05.31 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Alan Niven, Pt. 2

Post by Blackstar Sat 6 Jan 2024 - 20:32



Transcript of GN'R parts:

Brando: [...] and just to make the GN'R connection, there are rumors that they will add another expansion team in Seattle so, you know, Duff McKagan will be happy because he's still pretty heartbroken over the Seattle SuperSonics leaving in the NBA. So who knows, maybe we'll see Duff at a future NHL game being the spokesman for the NHL, I would like to see more of that.

Alan Niven: Yeah, I'd be amused to see Duff on a pair of skates. I think that might be funny.

Brando: I love money when he talk sports. And he's got Melissa Reese involved in doing some sporting events. I think GN'R even has gotten a both Brain and Melissa to do some my halftime shows at the NBA so I like when, you know, GN'R is involved, other than the fact that we hear Welcome To The Jungle and Sweet Child O' Mine at every arena across the world, that's great, but when the actual band is involved I think that's pretty cool.

AN: Yeah, it is cool. And, you know, the fact that the intro to Jungle is used so universally here in America and sporting events all these years later is pretty stunning. And just from a small personal level, when I'm in a hockey arena and I hear Slash's riff start - and I have heard it before a couple of times - it's amazing because when I hear the combination of a crowd responding to their team responding to the music it still gives me goosebumps as if I were in an arena watching the band. Which is very bizarre to me that after all these years that I can sit there and literally break out in goosebumps just like back in the day.

Brando: That is that is interesting because whenever I hear it I have like GN'R Tourette's, when I call it, whenever I hear those first few chords of Welcome, like, "Ooh Guns!" like wherever I'm at I just get excited. Who knows, who knows, I've been championing for them to play the Super Bowl halftime show for quite some time because they just keep getting - other than Lady Gaga who I thought was great - they usually get very boring acts. So I'm hoping more GN'R ties with sports.

AN: There's only been one credible Super Bowl halftime performance from my point of view, not that I am known for having an opinion, but that was Prince. I thought Prince was absolutely incredible when he did the halftime show. But most of them are just painful to watch.

Brando: Yeah, I wasn't sure if you were gonna say Prince or if you're gonna say Michael Jackson, even.

AN: No, Prince.

Brando: Yeah. No, Prince was one of the last... No, his was great because when they've had you know Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty or The Who, I don't know, they don't have the stage presence I think that a GN'R or a Prince has for that kind of a show. Not that I didn't enjoy it but there needs to be a new bar set. So hopefully we'll we'll see GN'R in some incarnation play the Super Bowl at some point.

AN: Well, Slash did pop out of a-

Brando: With Fergie, right?

AN: Yeah, with Black-Eyed Peas, he popped up out of the floor. But usually those situations they're not designed to maximize the performance and presence of a band and they tend to diminish a band rather than make it bigger. And that's why I thought Prince was just wonderful, because first of all he played guitar just brilliantly that day and he was clever enough in the imaging not to be made to look smaller but made to look bigger, and you got to be really careful in those situations because most bands come off looking smaller than they are.

Brando: It is true.

[...]

Brando: [...] our previous guests which was Billy Rowe from Jetboy. I don't know if you had any experience seeing them back in the day but we spoke to Billy who in Jetboy is putting out their first studio record in 30 years, which is just like amazing to me and I can't wait. It's supposed to be out I think he said in January of next year and he's gonna come on again before, he's told me he's gonna bring a special guest with him, we don't know who yet, he's throwing me some names, some big names but I don't want to, you know, I don't want to put anything out there that may not happen. So just again, thanks to Billy Rowe and of course these subsequent articles put out by AlternativeNation.net about that interview. And he also put out there - and I don't know if you came across this with your time with Slash - but I wanted to talk to him about Todd Crew because I believe that's why Guns N' Roses started doing Knockin' On Heaven's Door. And there has been some... I mean, when you lose somebody to a drug overdose and you're really not sure of what happened there could be a lot of bad things [?] said in the press and I know Slash put it in his book that, you know, of course Todd died in his arms. And Billy and the boys from Jeyboy had said there's no way Todd shot himself up because he was more of a drinker and they blamed Slash for a while. Just very awkward, very sad no matter what way you look at it, just sad is probably the key word. But what I thought was really cool of Billy to say was, no matter what happened only Slash knows and that is just awful for him to live with. You know, the fact that he's sober now, that he has kids, no matter what happened to carry that memory with you is painful and he hopes and [?] put out it there cuz GN'R has gotten creative with some opening acts, that maybe Jetboy and GN'R will do a show together again like they used to do before they both were big names. So I don't know if you have any any thoughts on that, if you saw Jetboy or just [?] Slash now as a person?

AN: I never saw Jetboy back in the day and only knew of them by reputation and a sense of competition because there was Jetboy, Faster Pussycat, LA Gardens, and Guns N' Roses - there was a pack of bands coming through LA at the time and from my point of view of responsibility I had to get my band ahead of the pack. And I felt that very keenly December of '86, I think it was, when a local Los Angeles music publication called Music Connection put four bands on the cover that they thought might have a chance of getting somewhere in the following year and one of them was Guns N' Roses. And of course from my point of view, especially back in those days when I maybe had a little more piss and vinegar running in my veins, I looked at that and went, "What are the other three fuckers doing there?" But the pragmatic response was, "Here's a sign from the Universe, sucker, and you'd better pay attention. You see your band is special and better than the rest but other people don't yet." So that just went to informing more intently a sense of urgency and a sense of imagination of, "Okay, how do I get ahead of the pack? What's my strategy? How do I can get them lifted above what we can see is a wave of bands coming through? How do I make sure that mine are properly recognized as being better than the rest?"

Brando: Absolutely, because Billy was saying that, you know, Jetboy was looked at in the same class as Guns N' Roses at the time and, you know, it's no disrespect to the Jetboy, they just won't have the catalog, they didn't have the hits, they were a great band and I'm glad that they've gotten back together and making music. But how do you get above the pack? Especially since they got somebody from Hanoi Rocks at the time but somehow GN'R kept fighting and getting through and, you know, you certainly helped with that. But this ties into a lot of things, probably a common theme that we're going to talk about today throughout the subjects, is just while people are still alive, like, what can you do? So it was nice for Billy to kind of extend the kind of olive olive branch whether Slash is aware of what he said or if it will ever happen, they kind of have sort of that healing, you know, with the people who are still around. So this kind of moves on to the second item in Shotgun News and this was courtesy - I mean, this was news regardless but this was brought to my attention from our buddy Mitch Lafon - so on this day as we're recording this, back on May 31st 2012, Izzy, your friend, Izzy was on stage at the O2 Arena in London, England, to play the songs 14 Years, first time since 1991, You Could Be Mine, Dead Flowers, Knockin' On Heaven's Door, Nightrain, and Paradise City. So that happened, that's a six years ago today. And the thing about like where we are in the six years that since that's happened. Were you aware that Izzy was gonna join at that time in 2012? Were you talking to him? Did you know that was gonna happen or did that surprise you?

AN: It didn't. I wasn't aware he was going to do it. Our conversation is, maybe we'll use the words "random and unscheduled". The last time I actually saw him face to face he actually came all the way out to Prescott to visit me here, but that was a little bit of a surprise and I thought it was an encouraging surprise.

Brando: When was that if you don't mind me asking?

AN: Oh, it was a few years back.

Brando: Okay.

AN: But, you know, Izzy had gone to Israel only months after he left the band. If I try and remember clearly I think Gilby had had an accident with his hand and he went out there to basically, you know, fill in and save the day, you know. So the fact that Izzy would occasionally play with Axl is not completely earth-shattering, it happens every now and then. I just think it's a shame it didn't happen permanently on this go-round. That would have been nice, you know. And I'm going to shift gears on you a little bit here.

Brando: Sure.

AN: There's been a couple of people who've asked me what I think about the box set release.

Brando: Sure, that was going to be on the news segment but we can bounce around, that's no problem here.

AN: For me personally I think it's a little bit unfortunate. Actually, I might borrow a word from the esteemed manager of Guns N' Roses, Fernando, and used the word "clueless". Because, unfortunately, he apparently was public and describing Guns N' Roses fans as clueless recently, which is a little bit of a shame. But with the box set, first of all the pricing I thought was absolutely out of the park. To ask somebody to pay a thousand dollars for a box set especially since it's basically stuff that anybody who's a real fan of the band they'd have found most of that stuff back in the day. The word "bootleg copies", that I think came from one band member's cassette of demos - and I think Zoots has even found out which band member it was - but [there were] bootleg copies of the GN'R demos available in the cool vinyl stores in Manhattan before we even had Appetite for Destruction released. They've been around forever. So, I mean, the fact that the demos are there is, you know, okay, it's cool, whatever. But let me walk you through this from my point of view.

Brando: Sure. Because we talked about the box set, before you get into that, we've talked about the box set on this podcast and for me, you know, just because I haven't told you my opinion before you go off, I know the listeners have so I won't, you know. bore them with it again, but, you know, for the sake of me and you Alan, thousand dollars it's just way out of my price range. You know, if I was Howard Stern and I can just, you know, throw that money away, sure. I mean, there are some cool trinkets that go with it. But the demos, I mean, a lot of these songs I've heard before. You know, Shadow of Your Love, yes, I've heard that song, you know, different versions of it. I like the remastered version of it. I like it. But as far as the thousand bucks go, as far as, like, what I really want, there are two songs I never heard of, The Plague and New Work Tune. And that's it. So I'm just not gonna spend the money for it. And I know it's gonna be available in about a month, there are different price increments, so if you can't afford the thousand dollars there are lesser packages available, I believe Target as well. So okay, so I just wanted to let you know where I'm coming from, so I kind of I'm with you on that.

AN: All right. We'll start with the pricing and then we'll go to the creative.

Brando: Sure.

AN: Now, as far as the pricing goes, I don't know if all your listeners are aware but basically you can manufacture a printed CD for about 80 cents, you can press a vinyl record for a dollar, if your run is big enough, and I'm not talking about a huge run I'm talking about if you press a thousand records it's gonna cost you about a dollar a unit to press it. So there are your fundamental costs and the actual items themselves, alright, so keep that in mind. Now let's look at it from a different perspective, I - rightly or wrongly, you know, we all have our own points of view - but my point of view is that rock and roll is fundamentally a blue-collar and working-class medium, and at its best rock and roll does a couple of things, it brings people together by their own consent but it also gives at its best a voice to who I might call disenfranchised. And "disenfranchised" sounds a little scholarly, I'll take a phrase out of one of the songs: it gives a voice to urchins from under the street. To me it's fundamentally a blue-collar exercise and part of its beauty and its power is that there are those that we have come to love who speak truth to power and it's a medium way you can give the finger to the man and deservedly so. Part of the reason why I love rock and roll is it's anti-authoritarian and anti-establishments. And I cannot imagine anything more establishment than Rodeo Drive pricing on a box set that is basically old music. That tells me that whoever is in the band, or running the band, has lost the plot in terms of who is your audience. And how did you end up in Malibu? You ended up in Malibu on a wave of blue-collar response. That's how you surfed into that community. That bothers me, that really bothers me, that I look at...Who's going to spend a thousand dollars on a box set? One of your actor friends? Some of your model wife's friends? Maybe, but who else? It's certainly not going to your fundamental audience and that tells me that somebody somewhere has lost the plot. To use Fernando's word, I think it's "clueless".

Now let's talk about it creatively. Mixing is probably one of the hardest things you do from a production point of view. As a producer you make sure the song is worthwhile and worth recording, you try and record the very best performance of that song, and then you have to mix it to make sure that that song reads. And in the mixing of Appetite for Destruction I had the pleasure of watching Barbiero and Thompson mix and they mixed manually, they did not use the automations to the board, so it's like watching two people dance. And they were utterly visceral in the way that they approached the task, and that kept it visceral and it kept it physical, and that was one of the reasons why their mixes work so well. Once you finished mixing you had somebody master, prior to getting the record made into a mother and pressing, and if back in the day you were fortunate enough to be able to get on George Marino's calendar at Sterling Records, you would take your mixes - which will hopefully realized to the maximum - to George and he would do the mastering. And George, when he was alive, was the master of mastering. Go and look at his discography. It's not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of fact. You just have to look at who wanted him to work on their records and the records that he worked on. And when he was alive he was the master of mastering. So 1, we have good mixes; 2, we have a mastering that nobody else could match at the time and certainly can't today. So to "remaster something" to me is merely a bullshit way of saying, "This is how we're going to repackage and resell something," and I think it's invalid and I think the ultimate sense of invalidity is that if we're still talking about this record 30-35 years later, however long it's been - oh yeah, we're a year late on the 30th anniversary - you know-

Brando: Yeah, the timing is interesting to say the least

AN: Yeah, a year late, you know, welcome to Guns N' Roses. If that record is still in people's consciousness 30 years later and I think there's a reasonable argument to be made that Thomson and Barbiero Moreno did their jobs brilliantly and got it right, you know. So the real whole remastering aspect of it is bullshit. Now, it's all well and good to, you know, get a shotgun down and, you know, shoot the three legged fat pig outside because he can't miss.

Brando: Okay.

AN: What should have been done and as much as I think that the pricing is wrong, the content is wrong, and all he extra little bits and pieces are bullshit as far as I'm concerned. What might have been done is this: You're playing a theater in Harlem, reconvene the original actual band that actually played on the record, play it live from top to bottom and release that. And since you want to make it into something that's a little bit special, take the Marquee recordings from 1987 that never got released and were recorded on the RAK mobile and include that in the package. And that way you're honoring the past by being in the moment and maybe creating something that might have a future. And it'll have a future if you put a realistic price on it. So you've got, you know, four CDs, call it 20 bucks, call it 25 bucks, and they've done something that's of the moment, honoring the past and worthwhile. I think the box set is just ridiculous.

Brando: I can't argue with you too much because again that's why I wanted to preface it with my feelings to you, because I know I haven't expressed it with to you off-air yet, because I'm already priced out of it with everything that it comes with, other than those two songs are previously mentioned I've heard, yeah, it would be nice to hear some some session stuff but I've heard these songs already and not for that price. But you mentioned like all the little, you know, trinkets and things like that - this is gonna come with...I mean, I'll give them credit later when we get to the question portion, because we had a lot of questions for you from fans, but the second, I guess, release from this box said that has yet to be officially released was the It's So Easy video. And that obviously has been in the backburner for many a year. Do you know why it was... I mean, of course there's speculation as to why it was shelved.

AN: It was shelved because I shelved it, and I shelved it because we were clearly coming to the end of the... the terminology is "album cycle", which implies that there is a, you know, like an organic period of time on a record, but, you know - and obviously not, some records last five minutes, some records last two or three years - we'd clearly come to a point where I did not want to promote Guns N' Roses anymore. We'd gone from being completely unknown and nobody gave a shit and wouldn't place on the radio to, "My god, how overexposed are we going to be?" and, "What kind of a monster are we creating?" in that we've got to make another record after this. How do we compete with this? How do we compete with ourselves? So we'd come to the end of the cycle with Appetite and we all agreed that as a kiss-off let's do one video where the band is live and in the Cathouse and it's intense and just see if we can't capture the essence of the band as it was at the beginning of the album cycle, you know. We've done a live shoot at Giants Stadium but that was in front of a, you know, over 70,000 people and it was a stadium show, obviously. I don't know if most people are aware of this or not, but when we shot Jungle the band actually played live instead of lip-synching, you know, because they found that a little bit preposterous although they understood that, you know, when you're trying to sync sound with image that's why people lip-sync in their their videos. But the band wanted to play live and it was just up to Nigel Dick to do his best to sync up and, you know, that was how it was going to be but. Anyways, we went into the Cathouse and without question from that period of time that Cathouse show had the most incendiary live performance that we would film to date. And I can watch the live footage and go, "Yeah, fuck! There it is." I mean, most people like to talk about the Ritz show and say, "There's Guns N' Roses." The Ritz show is almost laconic compared to how intense they were at the Cathouse. And there was a lot going on and a lot of reasons why that intensity was there, but it's brilliant footage, it really is. And then Axl wanted to put in some S&M stuff that he shot with Erin, unbeknownst to me at the time. He quietly arranged this with Nigel Dick and when I went in to look at the footage and sit with Nigel and start to get a basic edit on it, there was all this, you know, hanging Erin off the door and putting a ball gag in her and beating her ass and stuff, and I'm sitting there and going, "Yeah, this is gonna play really fucking brilliantly, nice move Axl, fucking brilliant." So at that point I said, "We're not going to go with one more track and Geffen don't want to go with one more track and we're just going to shelve it and we'll put it out later," and, you know, "we can put it in a collection," or something, you know, and just got it off it got it off the table. Ironically, when Erin divorced Axl she went looking for copies of it and masters of it, to make it a part of her complaint. So for it to come out now, I mean, you know, I hope he asked Erin whether she minded at this point, but it's, you know, I'll say it bluntly, it's the great band being compromised by the one individual again. Do I think it's appropriate, no, I think that's a bit personal. I mean, if you want to make, you know, bondage tapes with your girlfriend, you know, keep them at home, Axl. I'm not sure the rest of the band want to be associated with it, you know. And it's just another marker of Axl thinking, "It's my band, I'm in control." We're talking about a Stella Aquarian here. I don't know if you've spent any time in astrology at all, I wish I had when I was younger and learnt more about it but-

Brando: Enlighten me. I'm a Virgo. Enlightenment me.

AN: Well, Axl is a Stella Aquarium. Look at his chart, look at where the placement of everything is, that is a motherfucker of a chart that he is born with and has to live with. I believe Clint Black and Garth Brooks are born on the same day-

Brando: You said in our first interview when you looked at Axl's chart, you wouldn't wish that on your worst enemy, something like that.

AN: Yeah, yeah, I wouldn't. I mean that. But that's a hell of a thing, it really is, you know. And there might be some astrologers who say that sociopathy might be inherent in a Stellar Aquarian chart. Certainly they can see where there's an excess of desire for control and it might even extend to coldness and meanness. I don't know if Axl's ever been associated with those observations but again, you know, with this video, "Ax, we were going to shoot something about the band, now it's about you and Erin and kinky sex." Yeah, no, I shelved it. And I'll tell you, obviously a lot of people have got in touch and said, "Did you see this is out?" and I took a look at it and it's been expensively transferred and it's a re-edit of the original edit that Nigel did. It's a different edit. So they've spent time and money on it. And really, I mean, you know, whatever.

Brando: I thought it was going to be taken out the S&M part, given the the climate of 2018 and I'll give her that-

AN: I mean, how fucking clueless - to borrow Fernando's word - can you be? Have you heard the name Harvey Weinstein? Have you forgotten, Axl, that you were on the cover of People Magazine and the headline on the People Magazine was, "Battered beauties"? I mean get a fucking clue! I mean, this is not going to be accepted that well. Michelle Anthony, who runs Uni, she's a feminist, for God's sake. I'm absolutely stunned that she has associated her company with the content. That blows my mind. I mean, I employed Michelle Anthony to replace Peter Paterno as the band's primary attorney back in the day. I thought it would be really good to have a brilliant and bright woman's touch involved in the whole situation. You know, and now I'm looking at this and going, "Michelle, you are a feminist, what the hell have you agreed to put this out for?" And at the end of the day, you know what the observation is? The observation is really simple: A brilliant piece of band performance is compromised by Axl's ego. End of story. So go watch it. You know, go watch that footage, it was intense, it was amazing, it was an amazing night in that club. And had somebody not being clueless in their management they'd have been smart enough to sit Axl down and say, "Listen, let's just do the band footage and get the band footage out there," because that really did capture a moment and an intensity. And you can watch that footage and go, "Yeah, let's see another band up there with that kind of vibe.

Brando: To play devil's advocate, because just to think, do you think Axl maybe just wanted the S&M thing in there and just, it happened to be Erin, it happened to be him, instead of just using two actors? You know, to go along with the lyrics of the song and just to have some sort of sex in there? Or do you think it was about him-

AN: Hold on, Brandon, hold on, Brandon.

Brando: Yep.

AN: You're telling me that you want to be the advocate, the legal advice for the devil?

Brando: I'm not saying that, I'm just trying to make-

AN: And I'm picking up on your terminology here, Brandon. You said devil's advocate?

Brando: Right. Oh yes, I guess.

AN: All right-

Brando: This is coined phrase.

AN: Yeah, I know but think about how terms a phrase that we take for granted. Did your mom not ever sit you down at the kitchen table when you were a kid and say never try to defend the devil. You can't defend the devil. Don't be a devil's advocate.

Brando: Okay. To use another angle, to get away from that phrase [laughs] not to take the phrase literally, to use another angle, perhaps maybe Axl wanted to use Erin and himself to make more of a story with the lyrics a bit so easy. Devil aside, just to use some... Again, you knew him, I don't. I'm just wondering if if it was made perhaps about that?

AN: No, it's extraneous and irrelevant.

Brando: Okay.

AN: When you have live footage as good as that life footage is, I mean, that band is on fire, it's just wonderful footage. When you've got that then you've got everything you need. And I'll tell you back in the day one of the battles that we used to fight all the time was between video production people and the record label going, "Well, we've got to have a storyline in here because just looking at the band playing their instruments is not interesting enough." Bull-fucking-shit. What it really boils down to is all you really want to do is see the band, I didn't need dancing girls when the Beatles were playing on the roof of the Savoy offices, all I wanted to do as a kid was see the Beatles play.

Brando: Sure.

AN: I mean, I had a hard enough time with... What was it? Magical Mystery Tour, too much goofing around. I just wanted to see the band play. And a battle we always had back in the day, Brandon, was trying to get more of the band in and less of the producers' bullshit. You know, get the producers' bullshit out of it. And for me, I would say that with It's So Easy and the footage filmed in the Cathouse, Guns had potentially a perfect band video. And did the rest of the band really want to make it about Axl and his girlfriend, either? I mean, you know, there's a certain imperious arrogance that that's forced on the rest of the band. Now, if the band footage had been lousy, you'd gone, "Well, do we want to make the video anyway?" And if the band footage had been okay, then maybe you'd have gone,"Eh, do we spice this up with some b-roll and maybe get some travel b-roll?" you know, [?] during a lot of dates. You'd maybe do that. But no, I'm not happy it's been re-released.

Brando: Okay, I'm gonna credit that question - I'm gonna sprinkle in some questions when they come up organically - that's from ToryForGlory on Twitter. I don't know if he or she wanted to know what was the reason initially not to publish the It's So Easy video. And if you want to protect Axl from associating himself with domestic violence and it sounds like to this day, yeah, you would like for that to have been the case, then I guess to keep along with the theme of the box set, because the big thing about the box set, other than the price, was One In A Million being left off. So they're conscious of that. I'm not using the n-word, not using the f-word, you know, when it comes to homosexuals, but I guess it's a different, I don't know, it's a weird way to look at it where one thing's okay, one thing's not. These words are not okay-

AN: The word that comes to mind - and let me credit Fernando for putting it in my consciousness - it's a little bit clueless.

Brando: Yeah, clueless or interesting. And I do want to say after the fact because I thought it was  funny because, you know, we were talking back and forth setting up this interview and you caught wind of Fernando kind of criticizing the GN'R fans, he did clarify later on and I understood at least where I thought where he was coming from at the time because there are some GN'R forums and some people, usernames, that claim to know things or assume things and have no idea, they're not with the band, they don't know these people, although they act like authority figures. You are different because you, you know, had relationships, you helped build this band. So Fernando clarified that a little bit but that can still be our Pee-Wee Herman word-of-day, clueless. That's fine by me.

AN: [laughs] And to be fair to Fernando, look, we all have to start somewhere and one of the reasons that I chose to live in America and worked hard to get here and stay here was that the nation has a sense of meritocracy, and the country that I was brought up in - I was actually born in New Zealand but I was raised in England - there is still this overlap of unseemly feudalism and we just saw it with the wedding and it's wonderful pageantry etc etc etc. On the other hand it's fucking heartbreaking to me because I see all these people going out there and waving their flags at members of a monarchy and, you know, let's get real here, monarchies start with sociopaths and psychopaths who kill their rivals and steal. I mean, that's what British history is, one king killing another one to establish their dynasty, you know, and their line. And here are all these people out there waving their flag and paying taxes for these incredibly wealthy people to live in palaces and so on and so forth. There is still a sense of feudalism in England and the aspect of their English feudalism that I find unseemly and reprehensible is that where you're born is where you belong and that is contrary to me, to meritocracy. Meritocracy to me says according to your ability, your standards, who you are, you can progress and rise. And I always thought America is that. So, and get me back on track here, what was the beginning?

Brando: Well, leaving off because, you know, you have your opinion on It's So Easy and that has yet to be a controversy yet. Where everything in this 2018 social justice era is a controversy.

AN: Oh no, I remember where we were going.

Brando: Yeah, with One In A Million, right?

AN: No, yeah. No, I started off by saying - and forgive me for losing track, you, know doddering old fool.

Brando: [laughs] No, it's okay.

AN: I started out by saying, you know, I have a certain amount of empathy for Fernando.

Brando: Oh yes, right.

AN: And I said we all have to start somewhere and that's why I wanted to make my point about believing in meritocracy. That if you have talent and you have drive that you can rise up. But I've got to say from what I can see I think Fernando's out of his depths. The way that the tour is rolled out, his recent comments, I think the poor guy is probably somewhere where, you know, it's more than you should ask of him. You know, his mom was Stephanie Seymour's maid. One thing I would say is obviously Beta and her family have created a domestic sanctuary for Axl that has worked for him and they've done a brilliant job in that. Are they the right people to be running a tour of this size? I think that's open for discussion and debate. You know, perhaps, you know, perhaps I'm being unfair because if I recognize Fernando's out of his depths I shouldn't criticize him and maybe I should just say, "Sorry, Fernando, didn't mean it."

Brando: Well, as you said before, he had to start somewhere.

AN: Dude, I started out driving a van at Virgin-

Brando: Right.

AN: -for Richard Branson. I mean, you know, we all start out at the bottom one way or another and I respect those who start at the bottom because they learn as they go and they have a better understanding of the whole process or idiom or arena that they're in and, you know, well done for rising up. I mean, David Geffen started in the mailroom, his mother sewed corsets together on Long Island, if I'm remembering correctly.

Brando: Oh, okay.

AN: You know, David Geffen came up the hard way through the mailroom. Well done, David, now you're on a yacht in Tahiti. It's incredible.

Brando: But you're posing all these questions which, you know, not just you or I have asked but just fans all about is just asking kind of just the rhyme or reason behind certain decisions, and I think when Fernando... he did go on after that initial comment he tweeted, he went on mygnrforum.com and answered some fan questions and I think a lot of fans asked, like, we wouldn't speculate to this degree if there was more communication between the fans and the band. I think that's just created maybe why Fernando had to act a certain way, maybe he wants to talk more but has been told not. Again that's me speculating, I have absolutely no idea.

AN: No, you've got a perfect idea, Brandon. You probably wouldn't be bothering to talk to me if Axl or Slash were available for interviews and talking themselves. I'm a, you know, I'm a pale stand-in-

Brando: [laughs] I wouldn't go that far but I know what you mean.

AN: Yeah, you know, I'm a pale stand-in because you can't get who you really want, who you should really get. And, you know, I have to say, go back and look and see if you can find interviews with me or even photographs of me back in the day, you know, I was the very definition of low profile. I let my bands do their own talking and their music speak for itself, you know. But as I've gotten a little older I tried to be a little bit more graceful in responding to people like yourself and to the fans and, you know, if somebody wants to know my memory or my opinion, well, I'm kind of flattered that you still fucking care. It's kind of ridiculous, there should be, you know, there should have been other bands come through in the interim that take your interest. You know, it's a little sad to be sitting there and going, "My god, we were basically the last major rock and roll band," you know.

Brando: Yeah, I guess it would be nice to have, like, you saying like a new band that I would be obsessed with, yeah, I guess that could be the case. We often speculate and that's what I like how GN'R sometimes takes new bands on the road. I believe we're gonna have our second interview since, you know, this is your second, we're gonna have on for the second time Tyler Bryant from Tyler Bryant And The Shakedown. You know, but they I know sometimes it's like what stuck with you from your childhood and GN'R is that for me, and I'm lucky enough, we're all lucky enough, I mean we as the fans, that they're still relevant and playing shows. I know it's been-

AN: Well, okay, I'll tell you what should be relevant about Guns N' Roses and it's, you know, an occasional dinner or something, or having a beer with somebody I might look at them and go, "Alright sucker, you tell me, what does Guns N' Roses actually stand for?" Sadly I don't always get the response I want. But the response I'm looking for is, "This was an entity that stood for the worth of every soul," and I'll use the line out of the song again, even the souls of "urchins under the street." And they weren't afraid to talk truth to power and they were anti-establishment and anti-authoritarian. And I think those are all thoroughly worthwhile aspects of a creative entity. That to me is fundamentally what GN'R stood for in a moment in the early days when we hadn't sold a record and, you know, Duff's looking at me and saying, "Niv, do you think we can actually do this?" when, you know, I'm telling them what to expect on their first trip to England, you know. It's utterly worthwhile to represent that, and that to me is the best of Guns N' Roses. That it's the worth of every soul and fuck the man.

Brando: [laughs] Yeah, no absolutely and that's what initially got me into them and also the deepness [?], you know, "Fuck the man," "damn the man," "save the Empire," to use another quote but, you know, [?] in my age group was the November Rain and the Estranged where there was that, "Damn the man," but also that deep thought, that really a certain energy that they put out that other bands didn't. There was a nice mix of anger and emotion that I identified with and I still identify with, that I even got off with Chinese Democracy that was on there. That's what I like in my music, that's what I like in my movies, in my friends. I like a mix of, "anything can happen but there's more to you." There's a deeper meaning to who you are and how you operate and that's what Guns N' Roses is to me and why I've been doing 65 episodes of a podcast about them. But to use another quote that you have used before - and actually had to correct somebody on Twitter - when you called Izzy Stradlin "the heart of the soul" right, of GN'R?
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2018.05.31 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Alan Niven, Pt. 2 Empty Re: 2018.05.31 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Alan Niven, Pt. 2

Post by Blackstar Sun 7 Jan 2024 - 5:30

AN: Yes, not "heart and soul" but "heart of the soul."

Brando: Right. So-

AN: That was the correct statement that I made and I feel that very profoundly. I feel that, you know - and it was interesting to me that in the Wall Street Journal piece-

Brando: You see, you picked up on it, that's where I'm segwaying into. So yeah, this is the last part of Shotgun News where Izzy, a case of, I mean, if you haven't been on the internet the past few days I know this podcast, we try to be in real-time and do it as much as possible-

AN: Neil Shah of the Wall Street Journal-

Brando: Right.

AN: -and I mean, you know, reading a Wall Street Journal piece is a little bit like trying to chew glass, you know, first of all it's way too short, secondly, it it's far too formal and, you know, the, "Mr. Rose," you know, the "Mr. This," the "Mr. That." The formalism of it is a little odd. But I was very intrigued that Neal picked up on a quote from Duff's book - which I haven't read - but there's a very interesting quote from Duff out of his book about Izzy that, you know, I think I would I tell anybody who's listening, check out the Wall Street Journal piece, it's worth it just to read that quote.

Brando: I'm gonna bring that up right now because the quotes are of course that's like the one I didn't write down, so while I'm looking up that quote, let's get to another thing that Izzy mentioned in the article and that is of course not being a part of the reunion. So he told the Wall Street Journal, "My non-participation was simply not being able to reach a happy middle ground through the negotiation process, that's life, sometimes things don't work out." What are your thoughts on that? Do you have any? Because I know you of course you broke on this show that he was involved in a sound check, do you know what the negotiation process was? Do you know, is there anything you can tell us?

AN: Let's get something straight and clear first, I didn't break that news. The fact that Izzy went out to - wherever it was - it was Nashville or somewhere like that, yeah I knew of it in the moment but it was also all over a GN'R chat room where somebody who was there and hanging out with the band was talking about it and they put it up in the chat room and no one seemed to care then but, you know, apparently Axl got upset when I mentioned it. But, you know, yeah, he did turn up and do a sound check and he did leave after the soundcheck and obviously something upset him. What, I'm not a party to the negotiations, I'm not in the room, I'm not even really a fly-on-the-wall, but you can draw your intelligent conclusions, you know. Obviously something was wrong with the negotiations. And I think when you have a situation where one member of the band is taking 50% of the income it doesn't take a fucking rocket scientist to figure out why the negotiations didn't work out as regards the fiscality of it.

Brando: Well, then, cuz I'm not a rocket scientist, so what do you think it was? Do you think it was, like, what his role was gonna be? Maybe he's involved in what the box set was gonna be? Again, I know you're not Izzy and I'm not asking you necessarily to speak for him or anything, just give your opinion on what that could be.

AN: Look, it's no secret that from my personal - and probably intentionally personal - point of view, that I have stated in public before that if you sat me down and said, you know, "Who was," and this is why I wanted the Duff quote because this is basically what Duff says in his book-

Brando: Can you paraphrase?

AN: Yeah, "Who's the major factor in the band," "Who's the primary factor in the band." I put it more bluntly and said it said it was Izzy's fucking band. I mean, he was the one who moved to the city from Lafayette first, he was the one who got the foothold in Los Angeles, he was the one I always relied upon for a response when I needed input from the band. If Duff was too drunk, if Slash was too high, if Axl was on the radar screen, I always could count on Izzy. And not only could I always count on Izzy but I could always count on Izzy creatively because he is a wonderful rock-and-roll writer and to me the best of Guns N' Roses comes from the marrow of Izzy's bones. You know, play Dust N' Bones, you know, there it is. You know, and to be fair, you know, maybe Izzy and I were fated to have a certain empathy together, we're born almost exactly ten years apart, you know, I'm April 7th, he's April 8th. You know, and we used to hang out together, you know, when we were touring, you know, when others were asleep or nodded out or crashed out, Izzy would be the one who'd want to go and play tourist with me. "Hey Niv, let's go and look at this," "Hey Niv, take me here," "Hey Niv, let's get an airboat and go chase alligators on the bayou," "Sure Iz, let's go."

Brando: I can get credit to set up, because when we get into so many different questions of course, getting into the Izzy part, so we can for the sake of putting this monstrosity together, this podcast, we'll end the Shotgun News part and we'll get into the specific question part of this and there's Izzy related questions and it's all relates to it, if that's cool with you?

AN: Hold on here, Brandon, you know, I'm just an old fool on the hill with some sort of degree of memory and my own perspective which is not necessarily going to be everybody else's perspective, but the one thing I would says, Brandon, I'm not an archivist, you know, you know, GN'R was a part of my life, it doesn't define my life, it doesn't consume my life and I don't spend an awful lot of time, you know, writing down in notebooks, "Oh, we did this t-shirt here," and, "We did this there," and so on and so forth. I mean, you know, basically you're dropping a bucket down the well and hoping there's a little bit of water in it, you know, that I can remember.

Brando: [laughs] Oh no, I know what you mean, and that's why in our first interview we spoke about Alan, the man, you know, where you were growing up and everything. You know, I wanted to get your whole story and I know some of the questions that I get are people just asking for specific dates and questions like, "When was this made?" So it's ridiculous but it's just me trying to add production value into this podcast, that's all-

AN: I'm just giving you a heads up that, you know, somebody wants to know, you know, which way the wheel spun on the third day of the 15th week of this particular-

Brando: Oh sure, sure. And by the way, I found the Duff quote-

AN: I'm the wrong person to ask, you know, I  can't remember all that shit.

Brando: Then you say, "I can't remember that shit," and we move on. But before we move on, the GN'R - excuse me - the Duff quote from his book, it was, "Izzy was probably the most significant force-"

AN: Thank you.

Brando: "in that group." So that was the quote so-

AN: That's the quote.

Brando: Yes, so with that, let's - and I have no soundbite as we shift to questions - it's still gonna flow in our conversation, but again, I don't know, I'm a radio guy, I like to have production, so this is just another, "What am? A stupid soundbites fan" Was it worth me setting it up? Probably not but again its production value because we got so many questions of whether or not you can answer them. Well, it sucks to the people who asked them, I'm just enjoying having a conversation with you. I guess to bounce off what we were talking about, and I just want to credit the people, just let them know that I am reading your questions, this is from Sorab Brownstone, don't think that's his last name but I still like it, "You think Izzy was willing to go on a full tour with Guns?" And, you know, I don't want to say a dollar amount because that's probably unprofessional to ask, but as far as his involvement like what was he offered? Because there was a conversation and you may not have had this conversation with Izzy at all so you can just say, "Fuck it ,I don't know."

AN: Fuck it, I don't know.

Brando: See, that's perfect for me.

[laughs]

Brando: I'll just ask this one, actually, you know what, [?] this is credited to Jay Jay Kingsley - I believe this was on Facebook - so you don't know what happened in Nashville that caused Izzy to leave after the soundcheck?

AN: Fuck it, I don't know, I wasn't there. You know, obviously, people ask me, you know, "What do you think?" and I'm just speculating. If a guy travels all the way out there, does a soundcheck, and then leaves and doesn't do the gig, I think it's fairly safe to assume that he wasn't in a good state of mind, that something upset him, you know. Who knows? Maybe Axl wasn't there to shake his hand and say, "Hello, lovely to see you, my brother. My God, look how far we've come. I wish you were on the whole tour with us. Let's at least go out tonight and see how it goes, maybe we can factor you in more," and, you know, "We can work this out because you're my brother and you were the one who provided me with the base to move from Lafayette to Los Angeles"? Maybe if there'd been a little more brotherly love there he might have stayed and played. I don't fucking know. [?]

Brando: Yeah, that's what we're all doing and I know you were told from a, you know, reliable source that's how you know just the fact that he was there. Lets us go down the the list of questions so I'm not bouncing around too much... And not all them are too crazy so don't worry. This is from Alex Mendoza:  Because in the Izzy article he talks about, you know, he's constantly writing, do you know, is he preparing a new album or tour? Anything? Or was he just still chilling out riding his motorcycle?

AN: Well, he rides a mountain bike, he's become very health conscious over the years. And surfing and mountain biking I think are, you know, two of his greatest pleasures. He loves to travel. I don't think he particularly cares to be "Izzy Stradlin of Guns N' Roses" all the time. Who knows, you know, when he's going to put a record out, because he never tells anybody, he doesn't promote it, he just records it and puts it up on digital media. You know, somebody made what to me was an amusing observation, that Izzy had put out, what, nine times as many records as GN'R in the same period of time. And most people don't even know that he's putting music up into the ether and that you can download and you can play. And there's some terrific songs. You know, obviously, you know, he can live off the residual income of his publishing and the royalties he's supposed to be getting and he finds happiness in this way, and he finds contentment not being a part of some fucking big huge machine type Universal Group Worldwide and all of the pressures there because fundamentally he's a rock and roll musician at heart, as opposed to somebody with profound ambitions but the ego.

Brando: Because he was establishing himself after he left GN'R of course with the JuJu Hounds, which you managed as well, so this is coming from Xavier Aranda on Twitter: "Are there any professional live video recordings of Izzy in the JuJu Hounds?"

AN: I don't think we did do any live filming, it's hard for me to remember. We shot videos. We basically - if I remember correctly, and I could be wrong because it's a long time ago - but I seem to remember that we shot video for two maybe three songs in one go to get it all done, with Vance Burberry. But in terms of filming a live show, I don't recall doing that.

Brando: Okay.

AN: I know we recorded a couple here and there and I would tell you that if you're into the JuJu Hounds there is a five song EP that we put out a little bit after the release of the album that is just smoking and shows you what a terrific band they were.

Brando: See, that's something else, like, if he wanted to continue, you know, doing something with the JuJu Hounds or solo, I feel like he has established his - and it's no disrespect to... I love Gilby Clarke, but Gilby Clarke he still puts himself out there, Gilby Clarke, formerly of Guns N' Roses - Izzy can still be... he's a name, he's still named whether he wants to do something with JuJu Hounds again or do solo. You know, maybe we can ask and you set this up, so thank you, I mean, I thanked you off the air but I'll thank you again, cuz a future guest of ours is gonna be a Jimmy Ashurst. So maybe we can ask him these questions, as well.

AN: Jimmy's got...you know, he was there every day, you know, so save that question for Jimmy.

Brando: Sure.

AN: And the only thing I would say is what somebody does and what somebody doesn't do has an eloquent[?] and the fact that he doesn't go out there and tour with the band tells you something about Izzy's comfort zones of what he feels like doing. Yeah, he's a musician, he likes to write, he likes to play with people every now and then. Does he want to go through the mechanism of recording or of touring, apparently not. Because he doesn't.

Brando: Yeah, that's a very fair point, just to do it on your own cuz he likes playing guitar or writing and it doesn't necessarily have to be on a stage and have to go through the whole thing with touring and merchandise and  that's a lot, that's a lot. so I can understand that. Then I guess this relates to... and this is another question from Tori For Glory on Twitter, he or she asked a lot of good questions. This was, "Why did the JuJu Hounds not tour with any bigger band at the time? I'm wondering if this has to do with Izzy not wanting to be part of a big band," and, "Why did the gig tour with Keith Richards and the Winos not come about?" Like, was he interested in becoming very successful with the Hounds at all?

AN: Well, there's a big mouthful there, I mean first of all, how do we define success? Occasionally I would offer the perspective that success can be seen as a figment of an envious mind. People think you're living the life whereas in point of fact you're unhappy but they think you're successful and they probably do it purely on fiscal terms. Money doesn't necessarily guarantee happiness. Now, he did do one show with Keith and the Expensive Winos up in San Francisco and I don't remember exactly why it was we didn't do the whole tour, but we did do the one show with him up in San Francisco. So my memory there, I'm afraid I can't be enlightening. What I do remember is that Jon Bon Jovi was very, very keen to have Izzy open for him and Izzy basically looked at me and said, "Never. I'd rather play clubs." He didn't want to go through the machine and I don't think he wanted to be a part of that kind of a tour.

Brando: It still seems like he's sticking - for a lack of a really bad pun - he's still sticking to his guns. He just likes doing what he does. And I respect that, completely. People just might think like, "Okay, this is a well-known person who writes hit songs, why isn't he going out? What's wrong?" That can just be what he wants to do. And it kind of reminds me a little bit of what Kurt Cobain was and he just was sucked into the machine and didn't want it just because you can do it doesn't mean you have to do what it's expected... Was that a bad comparison?

AN: I'm not necessarily going to buy that and I'll tell you why.

Brando: Okay.

AN: If you sign a contract with a major record label - and Geffen was certainly one of the primary and most successful labels ever - if you sign a contract with an entity like that then you're looking to work with the people who work in that entity and you're working with people who are excellent at their jobs which is getting you press, getting you promotion, and boosting your profile, and trying to sell as many records as possible. So if you sign with a label like that it's a bit disingenuous to say, "Man, I didn't really want it." I think what it comes down to, Brandon, is, you know, we live through certain archetypical events and processes and I think the archetypical process here is "be careful what you wish for," because once you become somebody of that kind of profile, once you have the problems that come with it, and it's, you know... if you've got money in the bank it solves all the problems you had when you were poor, however it gives you a different set of problems and they can produce just as much anxiety and stress on you as the problems you had before. And I think it's a case that with Kurt Cobain that once he became Kurt Cobain he started to go, "I'm not sure this is really what I thought it would be," and, "I'm not sure that I'm happy with it," and, "I'm not sure that it makes me happy." And in that respect maybe Kurt and Izzy share an experience. Because, you know, with Izzy, he never expected Guns to be as big as it was and he wasn't very happy when it became that. You know, look at what he did with JuJu Hounds. It was, "Let's go theaters and clubs," "let's dial it back," "let's concentrate more on the music," "I don't want to spend three years making an album."

Brando: Yeah, no absolutely, no I appreciate your insight on that. Let's get to some some lighter questions, not so intense. This was... I don't know, I've never heard this rumor before. It's a silly rumor, this is from Steve Bennett from Facebook: "Is it true that Axl wears sneakers in the pool and this started a fight on tour between him and Dizzy?"

AN: Well first of all, I'm going to point out that I wasn't the pool boy there at the time.

Brando: [laughs] okay.

AN: So I have no fucking idea, now do I?

Brando: That's a fair response. I guess sometimes I just like to ask silly questions that are put out to me. And I appreciate the silly questions. I want everyone, you know, who's listening, whether it's serious, you know, nothing like inappropriate, sometimes people ask inappropriate questions as far as, you know, what the mindset was during addiction or, you know, if they... Sometimes like it does cross the line so I don't enjoy asking those. But those fun, light questions, please send them and that's what makes GN'R fans so great. This was from, I believe on Twitter, from GoonerGunner: "There was a discussion on Facebook earlier about a Guns N' Roses movie. If this happened, who would Alan like to play his younger self?"

AN: Oh good god, I've never given that a moment's thought.

Brando: I don't know why, but Russell Crowe just popped in my head.

AN: That's really interesting. Tell me why that popped into your head?

Brando: He has that force about him where-

AN: All right, now I'm gonna blow you away.

Brando: Okay.

AN: Because this is something that my beautiful wife has pointed out to me.

Brando: Okay.

AN: He was he was born in the same nation I was born, in he's a New Zealander. He was born in Wellington, I was born in Auckland. We share a birthday.

Brando: Look at that.

AN: We're exactly 12 years apart.

Brando: Could happen. See, I knew he was from that region obviously didn't know how close to home he was. I'm not gonna pretend I did my research before that, it just literally popped in my head.

AN:; Wow, wow.

Brando: But there's this, well, he plays characters that are very forceful and also very soft and then I get that from my conversations with you where you can be very forceful and stern but there's a very genuine, you know, lovingness about you and that's what I've gotten from his portrayals, so if that ever comes to life, incredible.

AN: What a very kind thing to say, that was very kind of you, Brandon.

Brando: You're welcome and he's a handsome man, Alan, he's a handsome man, you know.

AN: Yeah, most people think I'm just a fucking asshole, you know.

Brando: [laughs]

AN: And let me just make a quick comment here.

Brando: Sure.

AN: Even one of my very dear and closest friends has made the comment to me, "Oh, you know, you're a little bit of..." What was the manager of Zeppelin's name? Peter Grant. He said, "Oh, you had a bit of a Peter Grant reputation," and I go, "That's fucking bullshit, you know, on so many levels. First of all, better-looking, didn't weigh as much, didn't have the cocaine habit, can write songs, can produce records, and can obviously handle more than one band." You know, but I understand that, you know, it's an easy accusation to make against anybody who's managing a rock and roll band, who stands up hard for their band, and won't put up with shit. And occasionally you have to do that, it's like flicking a switch, it really is, Brandon, it's like flicking a switch. You try and explain something to somebody and if they don't get it and if you're in a pressured situation and time is not on your side, you flip the switch and you go into hard mode and you dress the person down and you tell them why they're going to do it the way they're going to do it, and then you flip the switch back and you become yourself again and off you go. When you're managing any band, but God knows, when you're managing a band that's going through the stratospheric process that GN'R went through, at times you have to have a straight and steely spine and you have to stand your ground, look after your band, or get somebody to react quickly and do the right thing. So if that makes me Peter fucking Grant then I'm Peter fucking Grant.

Brando: I couldn't do what you do or what you did. I have that Seinfeld thing about me, like the George Costanza, like everybody has to like me kind of thing. Unless your malicious to me then I, you know, go, "Fuck yourself!" So to someone in your position at the time - and I'm sure in a lot of managers positions, now, regardless of the artists that they manage - it's just they're afraid that, you know, if you go too hard you're gone. You know, you're fired and then that's it. Your, whether your meal ticket or your reputation or anything, it's just gone. You go as the artist goes. It says a lot about you to kind of have that balance to know when to to be forceful and to know when to - I don't know - whether it be a father figure or brother figure or however your approach was.

AN: Well exactly, you have to do that. For me it was never a job, it was an occupation, it was not defined by office hours, I wasn't 9 to 5. What I was involved in was a way of life, it was 24/7 365, and if you're gonna do the job properly you have to approach it from that point of view. It's a way of life, it's not a job and I've met countless people who treat management of bands as a job. And within that there's a sense of the expendability as regards their client because if, you know, you're going to clock out at 6 o'clock at night, or 7 o'clock at night, that means you're not as connected to your artist as you should be. If you're going to be seriously connected to your artist it has to be permanent.

Brando: Yeah, because they're a living breathing person.

AN: Yeah.

Brando: Because that's gonna be 24/7 whether or not they're playing a concert or whatever. They still have needs like every person has needs.

AN: Oh, needs and demands.

Brando: Right, yeah.

AN: And on top of that, you are the one who is protecting your artists and sometimes you have to protect them from themselves, It's So Easy video for example. But the other thing is, you know, I was dealing with a guy called David Geffen and it's fair to say that people were terrified of David. I have to say that he always kept his promises to me and he never lied to me, but he could be in your face. I mean, I remember walking into his building one day and he's coming down the stairs to the front door and as we passed each other he pushes me up against the wall and literally gets his face about three inches away from mine and with a certain amount of vehemence says, "When am I going to get my fucking record?" You know, because he wanted to sell Geffen. he also wanted to put out Use Your Illusions before he sold Geffen because we estimated that within the first two weeks of the release that we were looking at about a hundred million dollars in retail activity around the world. So you think he's motivated to get his record? And he's in my face and he has no problem undermining other people, but what was the only thing I could say back to him? "When it's fucking ready, David, you'll get your fucking record!" And he just stands there and looks at me and then turns around and walks away. That was good enough for him. I mean, you had to stand your ground.

Brando: Sure, yeah, in that that instance, yeah, you have to. I think you find out, from both ends, from your perspective and in Geffen's perspective, like, who you're really working with. Is this person gonna stand up to me? Are they gonna back down? You really find out what you're made of when you're confronted like that.

AN: In that particular instance, you know, I walked out as a building and went, you know, "If David thinks I'm not going to deliver in time I don't think he'll have any problem with sticking a knife in between my shoulder blades." And as I was driving home I went, "You know what? I think this is where David's head's at." We got Appetite for Destruction out of the band when Eddie Rosenblatt wanted to drop them before they even did any recording, and I think David looked at me and said, "Hey, well, he delivered for me before then I'll trust him to deliver again."

Brando: Yeah, hopefully. And I always look at also, like, where's this person coming from? Did this person have an experience like that before where, you know, they thought they were gonna have something delivered and they were let down, stabbed in the back? And unfortunately that's taken out on you or, you know, someone else. So I always try to have that perspective as opposed to just thinking someone is just a dick. But that's-

AN: Nah, David wanted the money.

Brando: I can understand-

AN: Let's get fucking real here, David wanted the money.

Brando: I got you, I follow. When you're dealing with that dollar amount, sure.

AN: Yeah. Did he get married? Did he raise a family? Did he have kids? No. But he built a huge bank account that now supports his yacht in Tahiti.

Brando: His yacht is his kids, I guess.

AN: Yeah.

Brando: This is another fun question, we'll see where this one goes. This is from Decal on Twitter: "What was Alan's impression of the GN'R song It Tastes Good Don't It? and does he know if there is a studio version that exists?" And also - it's a the two-parter- "if there are any GN'R tours that were in the works but they never materialized during his tenure? Thanks."

AN: Oh well, we were supposed to... We got half a tour done with Iron Maiden. We were supposed to open for AC/DC but that invitation was retracted after the riot in Phoenix. David Lee Roth at that time was saying that he'd take the band out and after the Phoenix invitation that disappeared, you know, and famously left us with just one option and that was going out with rehab Aerosmith. And, you know, the irony of ironies is, if you were to ask me over a bourbon, quietly, I'd say the magic moment for me with Guns N' Roses was that Aerosmith tour. That's when they were most consistently fabulous on stage.

Brando: Because it was a sober tour? Like, how come?

AN: No, it's just where everybody's heads where at. They were opening for Aerosmith, they had an incredible reaction from the fanbase because the record was exploding, which gave them incredible confidence in their performances. And quite frankly I felt sorry for Aerosmith having to follow them every night on that tour. But that to me is the high-water mark of the original and actual Guns N' Roses, the Aerosmith tour. They were consistently wonderful.

Brando: Very cool. So what about the the first part of this question, It Tastes Good Don't It? Did you like that song? Is there a studio-

AN: No, no opinion, can't even remember it.

Brando: [laughs] Okay, fair enough. Another question, this relates to your beloved box set-

AN: Hah!

Brando: "Do you think it was a pity" - this is from, excuse me, our friend Remco from the Netherlands, he's actually gonna be doing a livestream for us on our Facebook and Twitter at the GN'R show in Berlin in a few days, he's gonna be our Netherlands, European, correspondent - but he wants to know, "If you think it's a pity that the demo of Cornshucker was not added to the AFD box set?" I guess a tongue-in-cheek kind of question.

AN: I'm a little weird in these respects, but you can actually go back and you can see where, you know, I actually applied my weirdness professionally. I always thought it was fun if there were things that were difficult to get, that you had to work to get, that weren't released everywhere, that weren't put into the machine for a mass reaction, that there were little things that you dropped and see... I used to do this an awful lot with Great White, you know, I'd put an EP out in Japan that wasn't released anywhere else. I'd put an EP out in the United Kingdom that wasn't released anywhere else. Just little nuggets that you could just draw up and throw around and just for the fun of it rather than for the single mindset of, "We have to maximize the profit on every single thing that we do." That for me for me personally was part of keeping it real. So the fact that Cornshucker is not being pushed by Universal Worldwide, I actually like, "Go fucking find it."

Brando: [laughs] Yeah I like that, too. I liked how there are these random songs that I have on my iTunes or I can only find on YouTube and did the "YouTube to mp3 downloads", that I can't find anywhere else that no one knows about. I don't know, that makes me feel like more of a GN'R fan and-

AN: Yeah, exactly.

Brando: Yeah.

AN: You got it. You just said it. What took me five minutes to say. Well done.

Brando: Thanks, Alan. And also the first part, because you mentioned the Aerosmith tour, Remco also asked about this and a different tour, this was 1987 with Faster Pussycat. "Do you have any recollection of that tour?" I can only imagine the craziness that was Faster and GN'R are touring together.

AN: Well, I do remember that one of the poor unfortunate members of Faster Pussycat got gaffer taped and dumped in the snow outside the band hotel, which I thought was a bit mean. But, you know, apparently Duff and Slash thought they had reason to do it. The other point I'd make is, you know, even my wife does this and looks at me and goes, "Oh," you know, "you lived such a hedonistic life," no, I didn't live such a hedonistic life, most of the time I was a fireman putting out fires, you know, and I had to be on the ball 365 24 hours a day, you know. For me to go spinning off in hedonism at any point, I had to choose that moment really carefully, and who I was with because I was representing an entity. I had to maintain respect of other people as well as the band and, you know, shenanigans was not on my work list load for the day. You had to stay on the ball.

Brando: I can't.... I just don't know how.... That's why I love - and I hope you don't mind me sharing this part of, you know, our email conversations - but we talked about hockey and some of the perks that that would sometimes help you with the sanity of GN'R, I don't know, it was like something you got from Wayne Gretzky or I forgot what it was specifically, but it was just like, you know, the little perks that you get they kept you sane during these times. So yeah, just you being the fireman that's something else I couldn't handle.

AN: Your fundamental and the reason why you're there, is just like the ticket buyer. You want to see a great fucking show because that's what everybody, on the crew and in the management, is working for, is for that band to be fabulous on stage. And if you got that, that was your number one - I wouldn't even call it a perk - but that was a number one essential. But there were these little aside things that, you know, people were interested in the band so the fact that I was able to get, you know, for my eldest kid sticks, jerseys, these parks photographs, all signed by the Great One and all I had to do was, you know, trade my my Canadian gold Appetite for Destruction with Gretz... I mean, first of all I was kind of amused and honored that Gretz wanted the gold record.

Brando: That's so cool.

AN: You know, that is cool. And of course my kid was over the fucking moon that, you know, he's getting a captain's jersey from Gretz signed to him. And of course, you know, the whole thing is with memorabilia. the value of anything signed is always diminished if it's personalized to a particular individual.

Brando: That's true.

AN: Let me tell you, absolutely everything was to Corey and that was a far more meaningful. It wasn't like, you know, "We're putting something aside that we can sell later," no, this goes into a display case and it goes up on the wall.

Brandi: And it gets passed on to his kids. And it's no one else's, it, you know, doesn't need a certificate of authenticity, it wasn't bought it in, you know, a card shop. So yeah, absolutely.

AN: Yeah, yes. So, I mean, you know, believe you me, there are very few musicians who impress or intimidate me, but standing in front of the Great One and shaking his hand you become a fanboy, "Oh my fucking god, it's the Great One! Fuck, you're brilliant!" you know.

Brando: Yeah.

AN: And it's really humanizing because it makes you a fanboy again.

Bando: Yeah, it's good that was those never lost on you.

AN: It's like Don Henley introducing me to Carl Perkins. You know, it's like, "Oh, here comes fucking Henley, we'll have some words," and he's got this big guy standing and as they're coming through the backstage area towards me I feel my body shrinking because my consciousness is going, "Oh my god! Do you realize who that is? That's Carl fucking Perkins, blue fucking suede shoes!" I used to sing that song with my mom in the car when I was six years old, you know, and you become a fanboy again. And it's good that you can become a fanboy again every now and then.

Brando: You have to be. Because that's all we are at the end of the day, you know, I'm obviously a fan-

AN: Let's get something straight here. I am a fan of Guns N' Roses at their best. And that said - and I think it's understood that, you know, the way I look at it is Axl and I have a perfectly authentic relationship. I don't blow smoke up his ass, you know, and I will say things that I know he doesn't want to hear. I don't give a shit. To me he's just Axl. But that collective in the moment on a stage when they were on, were better than the Rolling Stones to me and I'm a huge Rolling Stones fan.

Brando: Yeah, I believe Ozzy said pretty much the same thing, that if they didn't break up they would have been the next Rolling Stones, so that's-

AN: Well, that was my little wish and desire that they had become their generation's Rolling Stones.

Brando: Well, to me they are.

AN: Yeah, in a way but, you know, look at the fucking catalog that the Rolling Stones.

Brando: Yeah, that's true.

AN: Unbelievable! You know, when you got a keyboard player on stage and he has two files in front of him with 250 songs in. And Jagger might call an audible[?] out of any one of those songs. I mean, holy crap! Just overwhelming, overwhelming. I look at the Rolling Stones and I go, "Yeah, but you know [?] Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, and Sticky Fingers I'd have been delighted with that." Those three albums are just the apex and just sublime.

Brando: Well, this recent [?] last few more minutes of our conversation lead into the the last couple questions that we got for you, then I'll let you go and get prepared for, well, not game three, that's not gonna be for another day or so. But this is from a big memorabilia collector in the GN'R universe, actually he was contacted by GN'R to get something for your beloved box set, this is from Tim Troccoli and he said, like, he was nice about it and this could be one of those like "I don't fucking remember," he's like he said, "You can ask him this on or off the air, it doesn't matter," he just wants to know for his mindset, "Just trying to get to the bottom of something. Was Live Like A Suicide a huge hit in the UK or not? And is that why they got on the cover of Kerrang with the June 11th 1987 issue and why they scheduled those June 87 Marquee shows?"

AN: Well, you got a bear in mind... "huge hit" [laughs] We only printed 25,000 units of Live Like A Suicide and obviously I wanted to make sure that a certain, you know, some of them, could export into the United Kingdom. So numerically it wasn't a huge hit, but it did the job it was designed to do, which was connecting to influential members of the press over there, for example Kerrang. And also you have to bear in mind that, you know, I've been working with another band for a few years and had done independent releases because no one was interested in signing the band and then, you know, with Live Like A Suicide, having done indie releases on Motley Crue, Berlin, Great White - I knew the value of getting out there and setting a little bit of a foundation that a major label could build on. So no, it wasn't a huge hit but I had my relationships with various people in the press. You know, the Malcolm Domes, Sylvie Simmons, etc etc through having done, you know, Too Fast For Love as an and independent, having done Out Of The Night, Shot In The Dark with Great White as an independent. So they were receptive, they were going, "Well, Niv seems to be going in a reasonable direction, so what's this one he's got? Yeah, we'll take a look at it," you know. It's easier for me to get through the doors than maybe some others because a track record had been formed. But the main function of Live Like A Suicide was to start to generate the responses out of the UK press because my whole strategy for breaking the band was aimed through the United Kingdom.

Brando: No, that makes sense, it adds up, and it obviously worked. Kudos to you. Alright. And I guess the last question for you, because I know we've spoken about it a lot and, Alan, I mean, this has just been amazing and this might be this could be one of those like "I don't fucking know" responses, but I guess your opinion on it and I'll paraphrase this question from Steve [?], what do you think it'll take to get all five onstage again? And of course talking about the Appetite five. And I know that you talked about him before. about Izzy, maybe he needed Axl to take him out to dinner ,or something like that, that's just your speculation opinion, there's no... that that didn't happen as far as what you're saying. But what do you think it'll take? And do you think that it will ever happen?

AN: I am so tempted to say I don't fucking know. But what I would say is it would take grace and brotherhood, and for those who are to make that decision to have a sense of brotherhood and a memory of how it all got put together. And if that memory can be revived, if contemporary egos can be put aside, and if there can be a little brotherhood in it, then I think it might be possible.

Brando: I'd like to think so. And I also have clarified, I've enjoyed, like, all the members, I mean, I didn't get the see, you know, of course the Cathouse show or the Ritz show because I'm a little younger, you know, this reunion, you know, I guess, the reunion of the three, is the first time I've ever seen Axl and Slash on stage. I never thought that would happen so I'm happy with what we have now. But as far as someone who has never seen the original five on stage at once, it's just, I can only imagine what my smile would do, because when I was-

AN: It's really simple what is out there now is living off what was created by the original five. And it would be really sad if that were not acknowledged by the original five, even if it's just a one-off pay-per-view.

Brando: Right, yeah. A one-off... and that's what I started [?] everything with while people are still alive, I think that's really important because the fact that there they are all still alive, you know, Slash died, Adler died, and all at some point brought back to life, kickstart my heart, but the fact that they all are still here I think it's just huge a fact and, you know, because we've been losing so many people in in the rock world recently and it would just be a shame for, you know, what could have been. So that's what I feel.

AN: Yeah. I think it's really simple, you know, Brandon, if the five of them can recreate in their consciousness the perception of "we are a band," which they were at one time, instead of certain egos deciding that they're more important than the other or wanting to be controlling. If they could just remember, when they had nothing and everybody was against them, and remember what it took to be together and to be supportive of each other, to be brothers, if they could do that I think they could do it.

Brando: Well, from your - what's the phrase - I'll use a different phrase now without the devil, I'll use a one that's more palatable, what is it, from your lips to God's ears, that's another phrase?

AN: Yep.

Brando: Okay-

AN: That one I'm fine with.

Brando: [laughs] Ok.

AN: Because ultimately I am of the light and I like people being of the light.

Brando: Right on. Well, you are of the light, you certainly have enlightened me in our conversations on and off the air. I mean it's really just a pleasure to get to know you and I've, you know, even before our conversation today I thanked Mitch Lafon again for, you know, connecting you and I. And I appreciate it all, just like the nice things, you know, you said to me off the air, so it just means a lot.

AN: Brandon, you're very welcome. I'm very flattered that you want to hear an old fart go on. And, you know, to those who love the band, yes, it's a band worth loving and although there's, you know, obviously history says something else, you know, in my own heart I have very, very warm memories and when people ask me what it was like to live through I'll tell them, "It was fucking stressful," "it was a fucking nightmare," if I thought everything was going well that probably meant there was a phone call I'd yet to return, but ultimately as a life experience it was a fucking amazing privilege and very informative to me about what life is and what life isn't. It answered an awful lot of questions for me to go through that experience and it's an incredibly rare experience. How many people get to go through that? You can you almost do it on your feet and your hands.

Brando: If that, you know, absolutely. And I told you-

AN: -amazing experience.

Brando: And I told you before our conversation today on a very lower level I feel like that just being in radio, you know, it's stressful when things are going right it's not going to go right, but it's been quite an experience and not many people get to do what I do. Even this podcast, which I guess do out of love, which is not my day job. But since you are more than just GN'R I want to leave you by asking is there any bands you want to promote or talk about?

[...]
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2018.05.31 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Alan Niven, Pt. 2 Empty Re: 2018.05.31 - Appetite For Distortion - Interview with Alan Niven, Pt. 2

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