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

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

Registering is free and easy.

Cheers!
SoulMonster

2019.02.04 - Appetite For Distortion - Alan Niven talks Mental Health and Axl Rose

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2019.02.04 - Appetite For Distortion - Alan Niven talks Mental Health and Axl Rose Empty 2019.02.04 - Appetite For Distortion - Alan Niven talks Mental Health and Axl Rose

Post by Blackstar Wed Feb 21, 2024 12:41 pm

This episode could be labeled "Appetite for Emotion," when former #gunsnroses  manager #AlanNiven joined us for the 3rd time. Alan fell into a deep depression after his firing from GN'R and shares his story, in hopes it will help someone else. An important conversation is had in Episode 102



Transcript of selected parts:

Brando: This is his third appearance. Former Guns N' Roses manager, of course I should say, in Great White, but current awesome dude and current Coyotes fan, Alan Niven. Part three. How's it going, sir?

Alan Niven: It's going well. I'm a little warmer than you. I was amused by a comment that somebody made the other day that too many managers. And I had to laugh and agree. I can definitely see that point of view. I mean there were at least two or three before myself and there's been quite a cavalcade afterwards of some very substantial people like, you know, Doc McGee and Irving Azoff and Merck from Sanctuary, and my word.

Brando: It's like you're in a special club, like the L club, like a friars club. Well, we've spoken to a couple other than yourself and Doug. We spoke to Raz Cue, who got Axl in LA Guns, so I don't know if you can count him as the first, but Vicki Hamilton says she's the first. I mean, everyone who I've spoken to is nice. Of course, Team Brazil is very quiet, but that's just, I guess, how they do things.

AN: Well, they're very busy, aren't they? I mean, there's a curly-head friend of mine who pointed out recently it takes eight of them to keep Axl happy and moving. But I would make the observation that he's just done two years of very substantial touring. So you have to tip your hat to Team Brazil for getting that done. Well done.

Brando: Oh, absolutely. I mean, it was a success. People thought it wouldn't last past the Troubadour show. So whatever is being done worked.

AN: Most of the people on the crew didn't think it would get past Coachella.

Brando: Yeah, well, that's, yeah, exactly. That's what I had meant as far as the the first show. But to go back to what you said before, we were just talking off the air. Yeah, you're home in Arizona and I'm here in the bitter cold New York. Although, we have listeners everywhere. I mean, the Midwest is in the negatives. My brother who's in Ohio is sending me.... That's the cool thing to do. I know, Alan, you're not big on social media, but the cool thing to do is to show the thermostat and how low it is. So people in the negatives I feel really bad for. But I mean, right now it's in the 20s, but it's been in the teens and here in New York and it's just awful. And I just got into natural conversation with you and I about seasonal depression. It's just awful. And one of the things that keeps me going actually is this podcast. It's helped me get through some dark times in GN'R. I found it interesting, one of our conversations we've had off air is we talk with Mitch Lafon about hockey and it's one of the cool perks that I've had doing this podcast is to kind of get friendly with some of the people that I've looked up to or just had this really cool life and still do. We were just, because I was very open and honest to you about my life and you had said you got very depressed after Guns N' Roses. And as you alluded to before, they've gone through a cycle of managers. I feel like that now with the Knicks, maybe the Guns N' Roses is like the Knicks. They have to get the right team, keep firing and hiring people.

AN: Almost sounds like Chelsea Football Club.

Brando: Well, here in America, well, you're not, well, you've been an American for a while. You've been in America for a while, but here in America, we just, I don't know. I have some friends that like soccer. It's just, it's not for me. We can agree for on hockey.

[...]

AN: And you know, with GN'R, obviously there have been moments when you have to sit and marvel at the response that the band and the album got. The one, one of the things that I'm absolutely convinced of was that we got an amazing blue collar response, which I thought was really, really cool, because again, the best of rock and roll to me has the potential to speak truth to power, and it can be the voice of the disenfranchised. I mean, I think we're getting more and more aware that this world we live in is run by very few people with most of the means and the money. And more than once you will hear me at the kitchen table muttering about the fact that most of us, without realizing it, attack slaves. And if there's a slight political bend in this, I think one of the biggest cons ever perpetuated on society is that Republicans care about the working man. Good God they don't. They'll say they do, but my God, you know, when it comes down to it, you know, they're the people behind the savings and loans scam. They're the people behind the derivative scams. They're the people behind the real estate scams. And I just wish mainstream and middle America would wake up to the fact that they're being abused. And put a stop to it.

[...]

Brando: [...] it's different for you, you having worked with Axl Rose, but for me seeing him at the time like a mythical figure, like he was He-man or Homer Simpson. He was just a character, you know to me.

AN: Well, yeah, and I mean there was a there's a deliberation there. There was a reason why we designed the Celtic cross with the skulls on it.

Brando: Why's that?

AN: Well, it was to make it seem just a little more accessible. I love the idea of you being able to identify everybody in a band, you know, John, Paul, George and Ringo, you know. It's the same concept and it draws people closer to a musical entity if you can identify with everybody. So there was that sense of, "Let's make everybody identifiable," or, "No one's more significant than the other."

[...]

Brando: I think last time we spoke, you may have said you liked the direction that Axl was going with Civil War. And I would look at it like a category of, he's got Civil War, he's got Estranged, he's got It's So Easy, he's got One In A Million and it's not the same lyrics. I love AC/DC, but it's all the same. You go there from one mood. Here, I found the place where I can get all of it and said in such an intelligent manner that didn't speak to me before. I knew there was something about that that made me feel cool. Liking Guns N' Roses made me feel cool. And it still, I guess does. I feel silly saying that.

AN: You shouldn't feel silly. That wasn't accidental, there was a lot of thought that went into what made Guns N' Roses Guns N' Roses. And I don't think it goes without notice that it was the video for Welcome To The Jungle that started the blue touch paper to the firework fizzing really hard. And quite deliberately that video was a steal of three movies, Midnight Cowboy, you know, that's the ingenue coming to the big city and we were talking about living in, you know, how it can be tough some days to deal with city living. And here's the ingenue with the stem of [?] in his mouth his mouth to denote, "Yeah, he's come from rural [?] Lafayette," or whatever, but he's coming to the city to chase his dreams. Then you have the steal from The Man Who Fell To Earth, and in that particular movie it's when the alien is so perplexed by human behavior [that] he isolates himself in a rundown motel with all these stacks of TVs watching them all simultaneously to figure out what the hell is going on in this place. And then you have the steal from Clockwork Orange where you're forced to watch one screen and it is driving you fucking crazy with what's going on. And we intersperse that with actual news footage that we see on a daily basis. I mean, I got a phone call out of London yesterday from a company called ITN, which is a major TV producer in the United Kingdom, and they want to come over and set up cameras and talk and so on and so forth. And I found myself talking to the producer and saying, "You know, it's interesting watching news feed from the Sky Channel right now. In some ways I think I'm watching Welcome to the Jungle, actually, every day." And, you know, I think that video told people, yeah, this is a band with an attitude, but it's also a band with an intelligence, because obviously all this was built on Axl's lyric. And within that lyric was a very acerbic, insightful viewpoint. So, you know, that meant that we could make a video that actually had a social commentary that showed intelligence, that we didn't just have big booby girls running around in it, you know, for eye candy to catch people, you know, males to watch the latest rock and roll song. I think there was a clear indicator from the get-go of, yeah, we might have a fucking attitude, but we've also got a fucking point of view, mate. And I think that came across, and I think that was part of what inspired the most amazing reaction that the band got in 1988.

[...]

AN: You can talk about Bill Bailey or you can talk about W. Axl Rose, because, yes, he did what almost everybody who moves to Los Angeles, I mean, you know, the history of this is long. He reinvented himself in Los Angeles. I mean, you know, John Wayne was Marion somebody, Marilyn Monroe was Norma Jean somebody, right? [...]  There's a sense of reinvention right? And like anything else in excess, it may not have the end results that they desire. But I think we can look at ourselves as in process that we are in a way works of art and development. And I think it's fine to reinvent yourself because another way of looking at it is just saying, "I'm forming my value system, and that goes down to my personal presentation, what I agree with, what I don't agree with, how I treat other people," and you form your own value system and you stick with it. So yeah, Axl is a character who came out of a chrysalis that was once called Bill Bailey. But again, you know, especially with levels of success - and success is a word I have a little bit of a problem with.

Brando: How do you define it? I mean, there are people who are millionaires who are miserable.

[...]

AN: It's obvious from a lot of the material that was written back in the 80s that one of the things that fired up Axl's muse was conflict. And it's probably a little hard to be, you know, an angst-ridden rock and roller in your 50s. And wear that with a genuine face.

[...]
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2019.02.04 - Appetite For Distortion - Alan Niven talks Mental Health and Axl Rose Empty Re: 2019.02.04 - Appetite For Distortion - Alan Niven talks Mental Health and Axl Rose

Post by Soulmonster Thu Apr 11, 2024 8:13 am

[...]

AN: And when I took on GN'R it immediately felt like more of a strain [than Great White] and more working. And there was a good amount of stress around that entity from the get go. I'll never forget Izzy bursting into my hotel room on about the third day to the first national tour that the band did with opening for The Cult. And he bursts into my room, doesn't say hello or anything, he just pushes past me, flops into the sofa, looks at me and I go, "Oh, Izzy, what up?" And Izzy looks at me and he goes, "That fucker makes us miserable every fucking day." And I look at him and I go, "Yeah, well, you know, Axl's got issues, we know this, he's Axl, you know? But we're out on tour, let's look at what's working and what the bright side is." But the point was there was stress and anxiety around that entity from the very get-go. And it wasn't particularly light-hearted. And it was also interesting to me that, you know, Slash felt it was reasonably carefree until Donington. That had an impact on us all. And I think he said it in his book that that was the moment when for him, GN'R no longer felt in any way at any time carefree. So there was always stress there. And the day comes and you're in your office and you get the phone call and somebody says, "Oh, your band has gone to number one on billboard," and you actually find yourself quietly sitting alone in the room and pushing the chair back and going, "You know, I thought I'd feel different if something like that ever happened in my life. And I never thought or anticipated that something like that would happen in my life." That always happened for other people who were more intelligent, better looking, more talented. You know, because you second-guess yourself. "Am I good enough to be here? Am I good enough to be on the same playground as a Mick Jagger," or whomever, you always second guess and doubt yourself. And it's only in hindsight you look back and go, "You know, we were pretty damn good at what we did and we were pretty smart at what we did and we made some pretty good music." You know, you can see in hindsight now, but in the moment, you kind of wonder.

Brando: You're saying a lot of relatable things. There are people who lose their job and they have to collect themselves and the family has to work through it. You know, do you persevere? Do you dig the well deeper? Yeah, I mean, there are certain family members that may cause more friction, making a situation even worse. So you're saying things that are really, yeah, they're on the GN'R level, but they're common people problems.

AN: You just used a really significant word, you said, "job." And when I got the phone call from Axl and he said he was going to breach contract and he didn't want to work with me anymore. That had an impact on me that I didn't anticipate. Because for me what I was doing was not a job, it was a way of life, and I felt a much stronger connection to the people I was working with than people in a job situation. You know, I'd worked at Virgin, Green World, and it was a different kind of relationship. And whereas when you have a job, you can clock out at 5 or 6, when you're working with a band that you care about, it's a way of life, it's 24/ 365. And it is misguidedly perhaps a temptation to use the word "family." So when your family fires you, that hits you a little harder than than perhaps you think it's going to. Well, you know, you think, "That's fucked up. We'll move on. We'll get by." It was not something I was expecting. And I will put it bluntly, you know, Axl may have been an asshole, but he was my asshole. I went out there and I fought for him as I fought for the entire band. You know, I signed a contract with five individuals collectively known as GN'R, I didn't have a working contract with one individual. And we'd been on an extraordinary journey. It's well known that no one wanted to manage the band. Zutaut came and begged me to pretend to manage the band so he could get them in the studio. And I said, "Tom, I'm not gonna do that, but I will go and talk to them and see if anything comes of it". So we went from an entity that was within weeks of being thrown off Geffen, which is what Eddie Rosenblatt wanted to do. He wanted to dispense with them because he thought they were just unmanageable and a waste of time and money. We went from that to selling out Wembley Arena. It was an amazing journey and when that goes away from you, you don't perhaps realize it, or I didn't perhaps realize it at the time, but that affected me more than I thought it would. And then there's the fact that, you know, Doug Goldstein was, in Tom Zutaut's words, he whispered in my ear one day at a dinner, "Doug Goldstein is not your friend," he had just come from a meeting with Goldstein and Axl. And that was just a little bit before I got the phone call from Axl. When you feel that you've been betrayed, and then when the band got you into the process in the first place, I mean, Jack Russel said, "We want you to manage us." And I said, "You're out of your mind. I don't know anything about management." And Jack looked at me and he said, "You'll learn." And that was an extraordinary relationship. So when that one went away too, and from 1995 until just last year, if you'd put me and Jack in the same room, you might just as well bring a pine box as well, because I'd have fucking killed him, you know? But we've actually seen each other, spent a little time together in the last few months, and I, you know, his physical condition is not, not good. And Lord knows how many NDE's he's had, near-death experiences he's had. But the person I know today is just as funny, but now he's better connected to his intelligence and more significantly, he's far more connected to his sense of spirit. And he's really grand. And he's a much better person. But even so, when that band went away, again, you know, after 13 years, that was an impact. And then when you finally get to the point where you find out that when the woman you're married to finally says something of profound honesty to you and she says, "Your problem is that you just did not understand that for me our marriage was a matter of convenient opportunities."

Brando: [laughs] That's one way of putting it.

AN: Oooh. Well now you're well, you're not just on the slippery slope, now you're over the cliff edge, emotionally and spiritually. Now you're at a point of going, what the fuck? Everything I valued, everything I put my energy into, everything I put my intelligence into, everything I put my love into, has turned out to be false and not what I thought it was. And that's the moment where the soil under your feet liquefies and you sink. In a nutshell, that's what took me over the edge and I went totally over the edge for quite a while.

[...]

AN: Not that I would know, but as a mildly curious observer, I look at Axl and if I were asked to identify what has helped him most, I would look at it and I would say, "You know, I don't really consider Team Brazil to be brilliant managers - I mean, good God, you know, the mistakes they've made, I mean the boxset, give me a break - but this is what I always think, they have been a family for him". And we were talking earlier about people forming bands to form their perfect family, I don't know if he's got a perfect family and every family has it's problems, but I think he's got one and I think that's what he needed and that's what he wanted and he's finally got one.

[...]
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2019.02.04 - Appetite For Distortion - Alan Niven talks Mental Health and Axl Rose Empty Re: 2019.02.04 - Appetite For Distortion - Alan Niven talks Mental Health and Axl Rose

Post by Soulmonster Fri Apr 12, 2024 11:09 am

Transcribed parts of this. Almost feels a bit wrong to only transcribe parts since it is on such a serious subject, so to anyone interested in hearing Brando and Niven discuss mental health, listen to it all.
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