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

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

Registering is free and easy.


2020.12.09 - 2020'd Podcast - Interview with David Abbruzzese

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2020.12.09 - 2020'd Podcast - Interview with David Abbruzzese Empty 2020.12.09 - 2020'd Podcast - Interview with David Abbruzzese

Post by Blackstar Sun May 26, 2024 12:34 am

Transcription of the GN'R related parts:


Benny Goodman: So let me ask you, who’s a better conversationalist, Axl Rose or Timothy Leary?

Dave Abbruzzese: Well, just from experience, I’d have to say Axl. Yeah. Axl listens and he’s a very... he’s not as selfish as maybe he appears.

Goodman: How so? Explain. Humanize this man for me, because I don’t have a clue.

Siobhan Cronin: That’s interesting.

Abbruzzese: He communicates. You know, when we speak, he doesn’t say things just to hear the answer he already wants. Actually, it’s a conversation. And if he doesn’t know something and he’s interested, he genuinely will express interest-

Goodman: Was he just so used to people being “yes people” because of how they – like the stigma around him that maybe he’s pleasantly surprised when you say “Don’t fire me because I’m laughing at you”?  

Abbruzzese: Well, yeah, I think the biggest difference was – I mean, you know, that’s after months of us speaking on the phone together. That was our first interaction face-to-face, where we were talking... I mean, I don’t know-

Goodman: Was that like craigslist where you’re like, “Hey man, let’s be in a band together” and, like, you talk to each other a few times and all of a sudden you show up to practice and now you’re like, “This is the real deal. This is the guy I’ve been talking to.”

Abbruzzese: Well, no. More like a pump and dump.

Goodman: “A pump and dump” (laughs).

Abbruzzese: (Laughs) I’m just joking.

Goodman: So let me ask you: You said four months you talked to this guy for hours. And then I went back and listened to our podcast multiple times, and I got nothing. Total elusiveness as far as what you could possibly be talking about for four hours a night, four to five days a week for months, that would encourage you, especially someone that’s listening to what you’re saying. What are you downloading on Axl Rose and he’s giving you, like, good advice or... Please tell me something.

Abbruzzese: I was just enjoying... It’s like we were sharing opinions about things, you know, based on intimate things, but all in the context of just – I mean I just felt like we were being real. And we would talk about... he told me about things that no one – you know, that I’d heard the stories, but not the real story. You know what I mean?

Goodman: Give me a real story that, like, maybe Cory, myself and Siobhan never heard of. Did he incite the riot and after James Hetfield went up in a giant conflagration, which is a song on chapter two?

Abbruzzese: Yeah, now those things were more based on the fact that he had – there was a dude that was with him, the guy who said, you know, “Axl will take the stage when Axl’s ready to take the stage.” And the dude was his guru, his magi, whatever. Right? The guy would go up and have to fly over the stadium in a helicopter to get the vibe right before he could radio down that it was okay for Axl to leave the dressing room as long as no one saw his eyes, and blah blah blah. I mean it was that deep, right?

Goodman: Right. That’s rock ‘n’ roll.

Abbruzzese: Because Axl was... Well, you know, don’t forget that a lot of us get into rock ‘n’ roll because we get out of the ability to hide from everything we don’t understand. Then all of a sudden you’re famous, and you’re a frontman for a band, and people expect you to be a brilliant artist genius, and... No, he was fucking scared. I mean, you know, to summon the strength he had to go out and do what he did, and be Axl Rose, it was just... He’s a very courageous dude. Put it that way.

Goodman: You seem to have a lot of devotion to a guy that it seems like a lot of people have a lot of bad shit to say about him. And yet you said that - here’s something you said in the last podcast: you said that he would probably deny you ever even played with the band, or this or that; that you hope you still have a relationship with him. Why is it still an ambiguous thing? Like, how did you lose touch with Axl? Like, why did it even end? It sounds like you guys had a good synergy going.

Abbruzzese: Well, what happened was, after we started working and everything, in front of everyone he said – and Duff was still in the band, Dizzy... He said, “Dave, I’m the captain of the ship.” You know, the name is his, the deal is his, all that stuff.

Goodman: You don’t say.

Abbruzzese: Yeah, he got all that stuff from the other guys. He bought – you know, he got total control of the name.

Goodman: He manhandled them.

Abbruzzese: No. It was the name that had, like what, 14,000 lawsuits against it.

Goodman: Really?

Abbruzzese: Of course. Yeah. Yeah, there were a lot of lawsuits pending when he announced that he wanted – he was basically turning it over to me. He wanted to go under deck and he trusted me to steer the ship on course. It was a strange dynamic, because there was no management, there was no one involved to take all these egos and all these successful players - like Duff, I’m sure he was like, “What the fuck,” you know what I mean? - and get a conversation, all these things. So he was relying on me a lot. And when I decided that I couldn’t do it, that it wasn’t right - you know, that it was the opposite of what I needed to be doing with music – I sent it to him in a fax, because I wanted to make sure it was said right. Then, about four hours later, I got a call from Kim Neely from Rolling Stone in New York, and she said (laughs)... she asked if I was alright. I said yeah, you know, why wouldn’t I. She said she just got off the phone with Axl. Then he called me and, literally for two hours, screamed. I, like, put the phone down on the table; my partner Sherry and I, we just sat there. Two hours before I reached over and just hit off. Every other word was “fuck”, I was a dark lord sent to keep him from bringing light to the world... I mean, really intense.

Goodman: Well, it sounds to me like he wanted you to be his confidant, and you basically - like he didn’t trust (?)

Abbruzzese: I think I was – I know he trusted me.

Goodman: And you let him down, dude. Well, not in a bad way. He put, like, way too much on your shoulders, because he said he wanted to be bigger than the biggest band was in the world.

Abbruzzese: I didn’t know he would get... I didn’t expect him to blow out like that. I expected us to converse and, you know, I could’ve still been a part of it or whatever. But I really felt like just – you know, what I was feeling about the music, and where it was going, and what it could be that would help him versus what he wanted it to be-

Goodman: What was that conversation? So what did you think would help him versus what you were doing? What would have helped him?

Abbruzzese: I thought what would have helped him was to put out a fucking unbelievable record that he is the fucking - you know, his band. Not Slash’s Snakepit – you know what I mean, actual fucking... The music that was happening when I was there with Pod Boy and all that, it could have went where it should have, which was – I mean, Axl had... In Guns N’ Roses, I didn’t feel like the emotions and what he was trying to say, it didn’t really fit that bluesy rock thing. I think he needed something that was way more where the music was enforcing-

Goodman: Well, Slash is a very unique guitar player in that there’s not a lot of people that can do the blues thing in the style that he did in Guns N’ Roses and be successful. The way that he was, because he’s a blues shred player – I mean not to say shred, but he’s a really fast technical blues player much more than a B.B. King or an Eric Clapton, in the sense that he literally murders it on the Hollywood scene. When you had everybody doing the finger tapping Eddie Van Halen shit, he was doing the pentatonic scale in a very cool way. So yeah, you can’t do that type of Guns N’ Roses, in my opinion at least, without Slash; because it’s like saying you want to do Aerosmith without Joe Perry.

Abbruzzese: Well, that was the thing. We would do these songs that were new with Pod Boy - you know, he is Nine Inch Nails in my opinion in that he’s programmed all those drums for all those years. And Robin Finck, the guitar player, he was in Cirque de Soleil when he came to us, and-

Goodman: So wait, Robin Finck from Nine Inch Nails was playing for Cirque de Soleil and Pod Boy-

Abbruzzese: Yeah, and then I brought him in – you know, he was brought into the fold of the GN’R thing.

Goodman: Through you?

Abbruzzese: No, luckily right before with me. Yeah, and it was mentioned of him, and it was like “Oh, absolutely.” And then when I met him I was like – I mean, it was the first time I’ve ever met someone in that format of presentation that was charismatic and you just... I mean, he was a star. You know, he was a fucking... Yeah, he came in, he’s like 6.5-

Goodman: He’s a great guitar player.                    

Abbruzzese: (?) no eyebrows... And when he put his guitar on, it was just like... His fashion, it was sick. It was off the charts. Very charismatic player, you know? And Pod was the same way, and Duff with that music was the same way. It was just a totally different thing.

Goodman: So was Duff offended, like you said and kind of alluded to it? But, you know, Duff is an original member and, obviously, you would think if someone’s gonna have the ship to rebuild a band, Axl would hand it off to Duff. Do you think Duff was upset by this?

Abbruzzese: Well, don’t forget, Duff had already at this point sold his interest in Guns N’ Roses.

Goodman: Yeah, but wouldn’t you think that he would still be the next in line?

Abbruzzese: Well, don’t forget though, Dizzy-

Goodman: I mean, Dizzy was the keyboard player, but he wasn’t on Lies and he wasn’t on Appetite for Destruction. He came in in the Illusions and a lot of people think that’s the Van Hagar era of Guns N’ Roses.

Abbruzzese: Did you notice how incoherent and fucked up Duff was during those successful years? But Duff’s sense – you know, he’s really had a remarkable recovery, but he was so wasted because... I mean, the band was put together – Greg Gilmore from Mother Love Bone was approached to be the first drummer, but he didn’t have the look that the label was looking for. You know, they weren’t really... they didn’t meet in high school and put it together. They were a product then. They were built by an idea and a marketing strategy, and Izzy Stradlin wrote a bunch of great songs, and yada yada. Craziness.

Goodman: Izzy Stradlin is, again, a proper example where a lot of people don’t acknowledge his element; because if you listen to those first records they bounce back and forth.

Abbruzzese: But that wasn’t his role. He was getting paid for his elements, but the fashion of the band was Slash. So, you know, Izzy... just like Hamilton in Aerosmith. He’s the one that wrote those riffs. Oh, not Hamilton, excuse me. I mean Brad... you’re in Boston. Brad...

Goodman: Oh, Brad Delp.

Abbruzzese: No! What? Aerosmith.

Goodman: Ah, not the band Boston. Are you talking about Whitford? Brad Whitford?

Abbruzzese: Brad Whitford, the guy who wrote the most cool riffs with Aerosmith ever.

Goodman: Aerosmith, yeah!

Abbruzzese: But, you know, the fashion of the band... He’s in the back. Just like Malcolm from AC/DC (laughs).

Goodman: Mmm.

Siobhan Cronin: So this is all to say that your idea for the direction of the band was different from what Axl wanted or... Is that where the division started?

Abbruzzese: Well, the division started when it was like, this isn’t Guns N’ Roses music. I thought it was actually something that could be even more – maybe not as successful, but more important to be created. And I thought if Axl was courageous enough to do it himself, you know, as a record for himself, just put out a solo record – I still think he could have went with his name and still played those huge shows in Rio with a real band that had music that was integral and that could pull off the exciting performance of those Guns songs, too.  

Goodman: Can you explain something to me? Because you were there again for the genesis of the Chinese Democracy thing.

Abbruzzese (talks over): No, no. I wasn’t there.

Goodman: But I read at one point that he called in Brian May from Queen, who happens to be one of my all-time favorite guitar players, had him record a bunch of songs – I even heard some of these demos, because they were leaked on the internet forever ago, you know, years before the album even came out. And then he goes, “Nah. I’m not gonna use those versions.” It’s not that Bumblefoot, for example, isn’t an unbelievable guitar player. He plays on Lost Symphony, Singularity... He’s amazing. There’s nothing wrong with him at all. In fact, he’s one of the best guitar players on the fucking planet. But why, if you have Brian May fly from fucking England and get the guy that supposedly inspired you - you see him at the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert the whole night; like, it’s clear that he was a huge Queen fan – why the fuck would you not release the five songs with Brian May? Explain that. Like, explain the Axl Rose logic.      

Abbruzzese: It would fall under the same reason why he wouldn’t put out even an EP of this powerhouse of a band under his own name. It’s because what he did with Brian May wasn’t Guns N’ Roses; and he owns the name and he has all the responsibility for all those lawsuits. I mean, quite frankly, he probably can’t afford to be... you know, whatever. That Brian May stuff just wasn’t – he couldn’t call it Guns N’ Roses, so...

Siobhan Cronin: So going back to the two-hour phone call you were talking about: what happened after that? Was that it? Just...

Abbruzzese: I heard he pushed a couple of thousand gallon salt water fish tank over.

Shiobhan Cronin: Wow.

Goodman: What?! Really?

Abbruzzese: And then that was about it. I guess Josh Freese came in right after me. Basically the thing was that I just was not to be mentioned. But I think it’s a testament to the fact that there was a real camaraderie, a trust there between us that he never publicly - because, you know, if he has a problem with somebody, he typically comes straight at him whether it’s in a song or... But yeah, the fact that he’s never – it makes me think that he understood where I was coming from and maybe... You know, I understand his reaction, because I understand him, so maybe-

Goodman (talks over): So let me ask you this: Let’s say Axl Rose sees this podcast - which he’ll never do. But let’s say he does. What would you say to him?

Abbruzzese: If we say Eddie’s name three times right now, Eddie will see this podcast.

Goodman: Eddie, Eddie, Eddie.


Goodman: Well, what would you say to him? Because it sounds like – I don’t know, I’m just being a third-party omniscient and you guys can tell me if I’m wrong. It sounds like you guys were really good friends, he was relying on you, he put too much on your shoulders, and now it’s like you’ve fallen out.

Abbruzzese: Basically, if I got word that Axl wanted to say hello or whatever – I mean, we never really were like “Hey, how are you? How’ve things been?” We were leading up to something. So I don’t know how that would go. I think if I saw him, if I were in the same room, I would feel comfortable walking over and giving an embrace, you know? And he is really a big guy. I was kind of disappointed when I first met him, because he seemed too big to beat up.


Abbruzzese: It’s an important thing in a rock ‘n’ roll band, a drummer...

Goodman: Can beat up the singer?


Abbruzzese: Yeah, and come over the kit and just throttle the guy. That’s rock ‘n’ roll.  


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