Re: SPIN - Additional Interviews (July, 1999)
SPIN - Additional Interviews from the website
Alice Cooper: "Guns N' Roses was the last great hard rock band in America. The first time I ever saw them, it was when 'Alice' was coming out of the hospital and going onstage sober for the first time. It was 1986. We were doing the Constrictor tour. This is the first time in my career that I'm gonna go onstage sober, as Alice Cooper. I'm sitting there worrying my head off. I knew that this band was going on before us. They were a local bar band at the time. They opened and they just killed the audience. So.we just went on and killed the audience too. It didn't bother me that they weren't (sober). The first thing I did when I got out of the hospital was I went to a bar and had a Diet Coke 'cause I knew I'd be around people who are drinking the rest of my life. They went out with Aerosmith after that."
"When I first heard 'Welcome to the Jungle' I was jealous of that song. Very rarely do I hear a song that I'm jealous of and I was jealous of that song. I was sitting there going, 'Jeez, why didn't I write that?"
"It was 1988. We were playing the Long Beach Arena, our big LA show. Guns 'N Roses were just breaking big. For the encore, we did 'Under My Wheels,' and Axl, Slash, and Izzy came up to play. That was the first time ever that anybody ever joined Alice Cooper onstage. They were the only guests ever in 20 years to be allowed on an Alice Cooper stage because that was my holy ground. It was the only time I ever felt comfortable with someone on my stage. My show doesn't really allow for guests, but I just said, let's go ahead and do this."
"It was backstage at the Rolling Stones show at the LA Coliseum during the Steel Wheels tour. Axl found
me and said, "You have to do me a huge favor. My mom is here. Could I please introduce you to my mom?' I came over and he says, 'Hey mom, remember that time back in 1974 when Alice Cooper was on TV and you wouldn't let me watch it? Well, guess who I'm friends with now?' And I was very charming. She was a lovely lady. I said, 'Don't worry, I'll take care of Axl on the road.' I've been sweet revenge to a lot of people. I've met so many mothers. Even better when somebody comes up and says, 'Hey, dad, this is Alice Cooper. He can beat you at golf.'"
"They had a reputation for fighting and getting in trouble and getting thrown in jail but they were never late for a show. Never late for a soundcheck. They had a lot of respect for us. Slash knew every Alice Cooper song. He was the invisible member of Alice Cooper. He's still got an invitation at all times to come up and play guitar, whenever he's in town...without asking. Sometimes I'll be playing and singing and I'll hear this extra guitar and I'll turn around and it'll be Slash."
"I was in LA, staying at the Sunset Marquis. I was watching an old movie when Axl called me. It was about two in the morning and he says, 'Hey, listen, can you do the vocal on this song 'The Garden'? I went down there and I listened to it and said, 'Yeah, I'll do it.' So we do it but when Axl sings, you can't stay with him.
I'm sitting there and I'm trying to do a duet with him and I said, 'Listen guys, this is my range. I end right here.' He was two octaves ahead of me and I'm going, 'Okay, okay. You do the real high parts and I'll stay down here.' When you're in the studio, a one-on-one with him, it's really amazing. When he's on the other mike, you're like, 'Jeez this guy can really sing.' Axl was a definite perfectionist . Almost to the point where you wanted to say, 'At some point, Axl, it's gonna be good enough.' With 'The Garden,' it was an easy bit for me to do. I did my bit maybe three times but when Axl was doing his vocals, he treated it very intricately. Rock and roll isn't supposed to be perfect. I'm afraid of it sounding too perfect. I mean, Bob Ezrin recorded Pink Floyd's The Wall three times. They probably did it like six times before they put it out. You never know if a person is not happy with it or if they're afraid of the material. The Beatles must listen back to Sgt. Pepper and go, 'Oh, man, why didn't we do this?' As an artist, you gotta know when the painting is done."
"I never asked them why they were three hours late. I used to leave an audience waiting for five minutes. It became part of the G'n'R persona. The audience actually embraced it. It built the mystique. I don't know if they did it on purpose or if it just took them that long to get up for the show. There are certain bands that just thrive on trouble. I don't know if it was a good publicity thing if there was trouble involved. I went 35 years in the business without getting arrested but maybe I'm just the better criminal. I think maybe they thrived on getting arrested. It was all part of the rock and roll for them."
Spin: Poison -- you established yourselves first.
Michaels: We're out in L.A. in March of '84. And Kim Fowley introduced me to a girl named Athena Bass -- which is Tommy Lee's sister. And she said: I want to take you to a club tonight to see this band play. They're sort of like Poison of the West Coast out here, you know. And they were playing a place called Madame Wong's East.
And I remember going down to the club. It was just me and Athena and her boyfriend at the time, right? And we just went down there, and it was a band called Hollywood Rose. And Axl was singing for the band. He was sort of what you would remember him from the "Welcome to the Jungle" video? Over-the-top glam, hair just teased out -- you know, just really pretty insane and wild.
Spin: And were you impressed with what you saw?
Michaels: I mean, (inaudible) I mean, it was like a Monday night. You know, there was like maybe eight to 15 people in the club. You know, it was this little teeny club upstairs. The way I could tell it was the same attitude that he had was the same attitude I had -- he was playing as if he was playing for a million people. You know, I mean, his attitude was, you know, I'm going-- You know, he didn't have this-- I mean, he had a great vibe. He just came onstage and he was -- "electric" I guess is the best word to say.
Spin: At a point you guys were the biggest band in L.A., on that scene.
Michaels: Right, and we had become-- At this point we had just -- you know, we had put a record out on Enigma. And, for some reason, because we had nothing, we had nothing to lose. In other words, Axl and I -- a funny story with Stan and Slash -- would stand on the street corner, right, just handing out flyers: I mean, hey -- come see Hollywood Rose; come see Poison. You know, that kinda thing. And then Slash, at one point, when we lost our original guitar player, Slash had auditioned for Poison.
And we were looking -- he wanted to be in a-- You know, although there's a million different versions of the story, no one-- And he said we like told him he had to say his name onstage, or I don't know what the fuck. It was in a book that said Slash said he couldn't handle it, because he had to say his name onstage -- or some fuckin' bullshit. But it was because he wanted to be in a five-piece band, and we wanted to be four-piece -- and it was really that simple, you know? And so, after that, Poison did a show for Muscular Dystrophy Å¸Å¸ it was to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy Å¸Å¸ it was a charity show, and Guns N' Roses opened that. And then they opened when we did the street scene. Which that was the night of the riot -- I mean, it was like totally fuckin' insane.
Spin: What about rumors of feuding and shit between the two bands?
Michaels: I can this for real. There was verbal feuding.
Spin: Can you describe it in detail?
Michaels: Yeah, I was gonna get into it. There was a verbal feud created, first and foremost, by the press. In other words, it was a-- You know, there was the cover of Hit Parader with Brett Michaels vs. Axl Rose -- which immediately says to any fan: Hey, these guys must be feuding. Well, then, the next thing was -- you know, which was really surprising to me in that whole thing -- is Axl came out with a pair of chaps that says GLAM SUCKS -- right? Obviously taking a swipe at us, right? And I'm like: Well, fuck -- this guy was more glam than any of us. (Laughs) Which was really odd to me. I'm like going: Now, this guy's the guy that was like, you know, was one of the inventors of that sorta -- I call it "gypsy glam," or whatever you want to call it.
Spin: Like an earlier example of Oasis and Blur?
Michaels: Exactly. You know, and then, all of a sudden, it was --
Spin: But did you guys take it seriously? I've heard stories of Slash getting drunk and violent.
Michaels: I mean, yeah -- it definitely got violent. I mean, it got, you know, the fuck you's. You know, everything was exchanged except for the final blow ... if you know what I'm getting at. You know how all the words come out, and all the shit -- and then, finally, Bobby and Slash and me just sorta said: What the fuck are we all --? You know, here we are -- we're struggling to make it, you're struggling to make it.
You know, and at this point our second record had come out, and this is just as their first one was coming. And our second record, for whatever reason, just came out, and we opened up, and it started out -- it came out of the box at like a million and a half or two million copies. And I just think it was one of those things that Guns N' Roses was just coming out -- and then look what happened with their career. These fuckers made one of the best records in history.
Michaels: I mean, I consider "Appetite for Destruction" to be up there with "Highway to Hell" -- which, to me, is one of the all-time-- You know, I consider "Appetite for Destruction" -- not just the songs, but the actual sound of the record. I mean, I can put that record on at any time and say: That's a great-sounding record.
CHRIS VRENNA (Nine Inch Nails)
Chris Vrenna: "Fairly brief...two years ago, April of '96, right after Matt Sorum left the band, they had already gotten Robin Finck. They wanted the option of experimenting with electronics. The dude is super well-listened.he was always a big Nails fan. I got a call from those guys about going down and jamming. We messed around.Duff was still in it. It was a bunch of.the band was reshaping itself. It was jams. It was still rock. It wasn't cheesy electronic. They would still do stuff over loop. My role was supposed to be
drumming and programming.they sent me a contract to continue to work with the band, but my own project Tweaker was going. My production stuff had taken off. I was in NIN for ten years and I wanted to do my own shit."
"They wanted to guarantee that people would do the album and commit to the tour. With the shake-up that [the] band [had], I think Axl was just looking for a little stability."
"Paul and Axl go back to Indiana. He's kind of like the guy that's always there every night. They record all their jams and study them. I remember Paul spent like a month going through thousands of hours, just compiling. He was the guy who was making sure everything got done."
"I think it's gonna be much more of an old-school rock record than people are expecting. I have a feeling it's gonna be more like Appetite. Pretty rock."
"He was really mellow. Real soft-spoken. One of the politest people. I go from Trent Reznor to Billy Corgan to Axl Rose and he was the politest person."
"Dizzy's got a monstrously cool keyboard set up. Macintoshes and pro-tools and sequencing. Drum beats and loops. They'd sample Matt's drums."
"What the fuck is relevant? The shit turns over so quick. It's probably gonna be better for them to suit it out and then reemerge when the industry isn't so confused."
"Classic fourth-quarter Christmas releases if they can work it out."
GILBY CLARKE - Keyboardist for G&R
Spin: You joined G&R back in '91, right?
Spin: What was it like hanging out with back in the day?
Clarke: Well, when we first-- Hollywood, in that day-- I mean, Guns N' Roses probably came on the scene, I'd assume, around like '85 -- There was a very small contingent of people who thought bands like The New York Dolls, and even like The Clash, and Hanoi Rocks, and things like that, were cool. So those kinda people just kinda like, you know, knew each other. So that's how I ran into Izzy. It's like, you know, we all just kinda liked the same kinda music.
Spin: Let's jump ahead.... You joined the band in late '91, a huge band. Can you talk about the transition and what you did to stay cool?
Clarke: Sure. I mean, for myself-- What's really weird is, I mean, a lot of people think about, you know, I mean, the band was hard to deal with and stuff. To tell you the truth, it was very, very easy. I mean, I walked into a successful band -- I didn't have to do anything. I didn't have to tune my guitar; you know, I didn't have to send my luggage; you know, I didn't have to book the shows and things. All I had to do was play guitar. And I got to play guitar exactly the way that I got to play guitar, so it was pretty easy.
Spin: That tour goes down in history for many reasons. But like a lot of the shows started really late. what did you observe?
Clarke: I mean, I was ready-- To tell you the truth, I didn't observe anything. I mean, you know, Axl had a separate dressing room. The band was in one dressing room, he was in a separate one. I have no idea what he was doing. We were ready to play.
Spin: And no one's knocking on the door: What's up, dude?
Clarke: Well, you know what -- I mean, as a band member-- I mean, you know, no -- you don't-- I,
personally, wouldn't have done it, you know, and stuff.
Spin: So you played the big Wembley show for Freddie Mercury, right? Can you talk about that?
Clarke: That was probably, singly, probably the best experience that I ever had being in the band. Because, number one, I mean, it's like a tragic thing happened that we were there, you know, but it was a positive cause? And I thought it was very, very heart-moving. You know, I couldn't believe the response of a stadium filled with people. It almost didn't matter what band was up there, as long as you were playing a Queen song Å¸Å¸ or, you know, you were there for Freddie Mercury. It was just incredible.
Spin: Want to talk about what went down in Montreal?
Clarke: In Montreal? That thing happened so fast. I mean, you're probably gonna get the same story from absolutely everyone. We had gotten word -- you know, we were all just hanging out at the hotel -- and somebody said that there was a big accident. James had burned his arm, and their set got cut short. The audience is, you know, going a little crazy. It would be really great if we could go on early today. (Laughs)
So we all got ready, and we got there, and we did. But the problem is, is because of all the frantic stuff that happened -- from, you know, Metallica's crew, our crew, all the things of, you know, everybody trying to do the right thing -- by the time we got onstage -- which was early -- it wasn't together. You know, the sound was just like -- it wasn't just bad, it was like almost unplayable. And I just remember Axl coming up to me and just going: You know, I can't hear myself -- I can't hear anything. What do we do? (Laughs) You know, and the next thing you know, he left. And that was the end of it.
Spin: What was your last contact with Axl?
Clarke: My last conversation with him was when he called me and was trying to explain what he wanted to do. And, basically, it was: I want to change the sound of the band. You know, I want to go more into a
current direction. You know, I want to use, you know, more industrial type things. You know, he was really into bands like Jane's Addiction, Pearl Jam and Nine Inch Nails. And I just kinda laughed and said: You know, look -- I want to play guitar in a loud version of The Rolling Stones, you know?
Spin: That brings up something else.... You joined the band in '91 -- they were huge. Then Nirvana came out of nowhere, and they were huge.... Were you guys like: What the hell is this? Or: This is a great record.
Clarke: I mean, I can't speak for Axl, but I could definitely say that I know he thought they were great. Because, I mean, he was wearing their shirt every day. So when Nirvana's record came out, you know, and I heard it, I go-- I mean, to tell you the truth, it sounded like a great pop record to me. I thought the songs were hooky, it sounded good. It didn't really throw my world into any kinda change or anything.
Spin: Rumors they were asked to open some of the dates.
Clarke: That I don't know about. Those are the kind of things that you'd have to ask Slash or something. I don't know. I mean, I know Axl loved a lot of the new bands -- like he loved Pearl Jam ... he liked Nirvana -- and the only way you could really tell is, he was always playing their songs, or was wearing a T-shirt or something. I know he was very much into a lot of the current-- And he loved Soundgarden. I mean, Soundgarden opened for us forever -- you know, way before they ever had, really had a hit or anything. He was always kinda like trying a lot of the new bands.
I mean, I know Spin magazine hasn't always been the popular magazine with the band, but when I put out my solo record, they actually did a really nice piece, and I thought that was pretty cool.
Spin: It's different now, sort of....
Lemmy: "We were in London doing the Orgasmotron record. They were there playing the Marquee. This was in '86 before they had any records out. Slash and Duff and Izzy and Steve came down to the studio. Axl was the only one missing. They just sat around being like young fans, just amazed. Because we influenced them. They were very respectful."
"We were on the Ozzy Osbourne tour with Ugly Kid Joe and we got fired off that so we went to play with Guns N' Roses. We played a couple of shows with them at the Rose Bowl. They were already sort of fragmenting then. The Illusion songs weren't as good as the ones on the first record. Axl was on his own. It didn't feel like they were thinking as a band anymore. I think when Steve (Adler) got messed up it really fucked them all in the head. It always happens when an original goes. Fans don't really give a shit if the (replacement) is better. It's still not that guy."
"Slash was always a gentleman. That's rare in this business. But he's English after all."
"You don't know a time's good till it's gone. It was a good scene, the Rainbow in those days. You'd go in there and it was star time. There were four guys who were actually doing something and 200 talking about how they were gonna do something. Slash was always at the table at the back with Duff and Axl. There were all kinds of girls around them. The scene was an awful lot of fun till people up and started dying."
"They were a good band. They should get back together and join that fashion trend."
Spin: Motley Crue was pretty well established when Guns came up.
Sixx: We were already on our fourth record.
Spin: Can you describe a typical night of hanging out with them?
Sixx: Basically by the time on the road we had got to the point where we couldn't go anywhere. We had to hide because it was so overwhelming being Motley Crue that you couldn't even go into a grocery store without getting bombarded with people. And they had not reached a status like that yet, so we ended up hanging out in our world because we couldn't go into their world they were always back stage with us, we'd go to strip bars with us, they would fly with us on the jet sometimes.
And it was more about that. Back in LA of course it everyone just hangs out and would go to the Cathouse and go get tattooed and a lot of times people would just come and hang out at my house, I had a kind of party house in the Hollywood Hills where you know, everyone would taste every substance we could get our hands on. And it was just really good times. Fond memories, just hanging out real late, early in the morning, the fire burning, just talking about music man. They were good people, you know?
Spin: And they were pretty glam back then.
Sixx: They started off more glammy you know, in more of the ratty way though, kind of like a dollsy way, mmm maybe not even dollsy, just kind of ratty. I thought they had a great vibe. It takes a band a while to find it is they are. It's like you settle, and they settled into something by the time they got really into Appetite really blowing up and taking off. And I thought it was very appropriate evolution.
Spin: Can you talk a bit, because obviously we're recalling these before you got sober, is it cool to talk about some of these?
Sixx: Oh yeah.
Spin: Cause I read, it's pretty famous now, the night that you died, and I read in one of these books that Slash and Steven were there.
Sixx: So I was kicking around, getting drunk, doing drugs in Hong Kong. And the soothsayer said, "You'll die before the end of the year if you don't change your ways." Ah yeah, fuck off and whatever. So I fly home and pick up the phone and call Slash, and say, "Hey dude, I'm going to get a car, a couple bottles of Jack, and I'm coming over. And we're going out."
I came and I picked him up and we went out to the CatHouse and you know, doing everything that we could get our hands on, and I was asking around to get some smack and this guy had showed up after we had gone back to the Franklin Plaza Hotel.and Slash passed out, and I think his girlfriend was stumbling around, and Steven was stumbling around out somewhere in the hallway, and I think there were some other people in the hotel they were hanging out with, and the drug dealer came, and almost always you shoot yourself up, you never let anybody shoot you up. Drug addicts are very particular about that. And I don't know why, I guess I was so drunk, I said "Go ahead and fix me" and I fuckin' turned blue instantly. Steven Adler and Slash's girlfriend at the time came around the corner and there I was turning blue and they started beating on my chest, and they sent me into the shower, and they called the paramedics, and Slash was passed out through the whole thing.
Spin: I know that there was like a riff between certain members of their band and certain members of your band.
Sixx: I think some, I can't remember exactly what happened. I think what happened was, Vince's wife or girlfriend at the time was at the CatHouse and I don't know what her dress code was, but it was usually somewhere around having Band-Aids over her nipples only. And I think somebody, grabbed her tits or did something, and she like slapped him or told him to fuck off, and he like kicked her in the stomach. When Vince heard about that he went fuckin' nuclear.
So he said, "If I ever see this guy, I'm going to knock him out" and this happened, we were playing one of these awards shows, I don't know what it was, or they were playing, I think they were playing, and we were getting into the car leaving and Vince heard Guns and Roses, and he turned around and said, "I'll be right back." And nobody even thought about it, and he walked up on stage, and when Izzy walked off stage he dropped him. So then Axl went off in the press about Vince, and then Vince went off about Axl, it turned into a fucking high school shooting match.
Spin: What was your experience with Axl? What did he strike you as?
Sixx: Oh, just you know hanging out, having a few cocktails, that's about it, talking about music.
Spin: Your loyalty was obviously to Vince.
Sixx: I have no loyalty when it comes to... That isn't what it was about. I mean me and Slash and Duff and Steven, and even Izzy, have always hung out at my house. So we went on tour, got to be better friends, got to know Axl, hung out, you know, then this thing happened years later, I mean, that's not going to affect my friendship.
Spin: I remember going to The Cathouse. Like 14 years ago? No.
Rachtman: It opened in '86. The peak was like '86 to '94, maybe. I mean, most people that went there can't remember going ... so that's pretty good.
Spin: What prompted you to start The Cathouse?
Rachtman: I figured it would be really cool to open up a little club that could play this type of music -- that could play everything from, you know, Kiss, AC/DC, Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop -- everything, you know? And it would just be a cool place to hang out at. And we did it just on a whim. I mean, the second night had 59 people. And then like the guys from Guns N' Roses would start going there, and I was friends with those guys. And they started having fun -- and, you know, pretty soon they wanted to do record-release parties there.
And, as the band got bigger and bigger and bigger, they would just help the club get bigger and bigger and bigger. And it just kind of grew from there. I mean, the rest is kinda history.
Spin: What are like specific incidents that stand out?
Rachtman: Okay. How about the incident of David Bowie trying to pick up on Axl's girlfriend, and Axl chasing David Bowie down the street?
Spin: No way!
Rachtman: That happened.
Rachtman: The thing is, Cathouse was pretty much always known that it was Guns N' Roses' club -- so they could do pretty much anything they wanted. Anything that they wanted to do, they could do at the club. You know, it was that kind of thing.
Spin: Wow -- amazing. So how did Headbangers' Ball happen for you?
Rachtman: And I was sitting around with Guns N' Roses, with Axl, and I was saying, you know: Man, I should do that Headbangers' Ball thing. And Axl goes: Do you want to do it? And I'm like: Sure. He goes: Okay, I'll make some calls for you. So Axl called me up, and Axl set up the interview for me.
Rachtman: So he's like: Okay. I got you an audition -- we gotta go to New York. I'm like: Well, okay. And, I mean, I'd never flown first-class or nothing -- and, you know, I flew to New York. And Axl said: I'll go with you. And I walked into my audition with Axl.
Spin: And they're like: You have the job.
Rachtman: Yeah. But I didn't get it just because I walked in with Axl.
Spin: No. You have a personality and a charm.
Rachtman: But it sure didn't hurt.... So I walked in with him, got my audition through that -- and pretty soon, you know, I became this heavy-metal spokesperson. Even, to be honest, that wasn't where my musical background was ... you know? I mean, I knew more about Black Flag than Black Sabbath. (laughs)
I had long hair. Everybody was saying: You're the heavy-metal guy, you're the heavy-metal guy. The Cathouse got more and more famous. We'd sell T-shirts, and Guns N' Roses would wear our T-shirt -- and pretty soon our T-shirts were one of the most sought-after items. And, you know, the Japanese would come and buy every shirt we had in stock and sell in Japan.
Spin: How did you meet Guns N' Roses?
Rachtman: It was just going out on the scene, seeing these people around, and making friends with 'em. You know, I was always very much an entrepreneur -- and I guess Axl and those guys were pretty much the same. I mean, they were very, very ruthless, and very, very sure of what they wanted ... and I guess I was sort of the same. And they knew that this was the place that they always drank for free. And they knew that this was a place that, if a fight ever broke out, the security guards would jump on the side of whoever was fighting with them. I mean, it sounds stupid, but, basically, it was a little boys' clubhouse -- and we were all friends, and we had my clubhouse. And this was ours, and you were welcome in it -- but you had to play by our rules. Until it got to the point that there were like thousands of people there every single night.
Spin: How many times did they play at the Cathouse?
Rachtman: Dozens. I couldn't even begin to tell you. Tons of times. I mean, I owe -- I still believe that I owe pretty much everything that I've accomplished now to Guns N' Roses. One thing about Guns N' Roses -- one thing about Axl, in particular -- is he will always try to take care of his friends first. Whether it be a photographer, whether it be a producer, or whether it be, you know, somebody on the road -- he will try to make sure his friends are taken care of first. There would not have been a Blind Melon if there wasn't an Axl Rose.
Rachtman: Axl was the one that gave them a push. I don't think there would have been a Blind Melon without Axl.
Spin: Wow! The thing I get is that Axl was and is an incredibly loyal, thoughtful person to people he knew and liked and trusted. And that he was just really 100% there for them.
Rachtman: The things that people also remember is, yes -- that is what Guns N' Roses are. And, on the same token, if you're on the other side of the coin, he won't let you forget that, either. You know? But
people always want to think of Axl Rose: You fuck Axl Rose over and he'll make your life hell -- and he's done this and this and this. But what people also don't realize is that they're very loyal.
Have they done some things that I think are stupid? Yes -- we all have, you know? But do I still, to this day -- even though I don't listen to maybe one band that I worked with on Headbangers' Ball -- do I still think Guns N' Roses is the greatest rock'n'roll band in the world? Without a doubt ... without a doubt.
Spin: Thanks very much....
ROB AFFUSO (Skid Row)
Spin: Maybe we can start by talking about the first time you hooked up with the band. You know, the first time you met them.
Affuso: Oh God. I'm jogging my memory. I'm actually glad, I just walked in like two minutes ago.
Spin: Or we could just go straight to like the tour if that's easier.
Affuso: Well I'm trying to remember. Oh! This is a good story. I remember the first time I met any of the guys from Guns we were in Alpine Valley, Wisconsin, recording our first album. It was like in 1989, and Appetite had been out for a while and "Welcome to the Jungle" was just starting to climb the charts, and it was up in the top 20, top 10, and I remember I was sitting in this restaurant and in this hotel that we were staying at, and it had windows all around it and we were having lunch and I was sitting with Snake and I remember seeing Duff walk through the pool area with his cowboy boots, cut off shorts, and straw hat. "There's Duff." We were big fans of the band of course, and that was the first instant, you know obviously we went up and introduced ourselves and that was the first time we met any of the guys.
Spin: Could you talk a bit about, you were the first band to open the Use Your Illusion tour. So what are your memories of the tour?
Affuso: Well, it just seemed like these guys really loved to do the-pull out all the stops. They wanted all the decadence, they wanted to bring the decadence back to rock'n'roll.
Spin: Can you describe a party?
Affuso: Well just in particular, Axl used to have these great parties after the shows and he would flip out quite a bank roll to roll these parties and they would vary in themes weather they'd be Caribbean, they would always involve hot tubs, and beautiful women and food, and alcohol and it was always...
Spin: Could you talk about...The Jet.
Affuso: Yeah, and again, back to true decadence. It was just this huge jet. They would use even if they were going from New York to Boston. It's an hour trip. It would take them longer to get the thing off the ground.
Spin: Were there stewardesses?
Affuso: Yeah, they had their own flight crew. They were all wonderful people. They ended up being friends with everybody. So nights off the crew, the band, the flight crew, and we used to go out quite often with Gilby and Slash. We would go out to all the local bars. We loved to go out and jam.
Spin: Was Skid Row on the bill in St. Louis when that riot happened?
Affuso: Yeah, I was sitting on the side of the stage with my girlfriend, ah, ex-girlfriend watching the whole thing unfold.
Spin: Well, in terms of smashing shit and how the crowd was behaving.
Affuso: Well what happened, there started to be all this unrest, and started to be fighting and all this kind of stuff, and that's when we were taken out. So before things started getting smashed we were on the bus, on the way out. Our management got us out of there. So that part I did not see.
Spin: Did you feel it coming? Was there a sense in the air that it was out of control?
Affuso: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. As I said, I was sitting on the side of the stage and I didn't know what quite to do. And at that moment, that's when they came and got me and said, "Come on, let's get out of here. We've got to run."
Spin: When was the last time you saw them in person?
Affuso: Well Axl I have fairly regular contact with because my girlfriend at the time worked for him. So I would speak to him regularly, probably daily, or weekly, and Slash I would see occasionally. I got to see his house on New Years Eve, we walked in, he's got this higher, you know Slash is huge into snakes so had this incredible room filled with snakes which grossed me the fuck out.
Spin: Boa Constrictors?
Affuso: Yeah, huge. And Duff we used to hang out a lot. We used to do a lot of things together. We used to hang out at his house, play pool, he used to have a lot of parties there and we used to stay there quite a bit. He was way into, we were both into boats and water-skiing, we used to do that up in what the hell is that lake up in CA on top of that mountain. Very popular lake. When we were on tour we used to always look for places to do water skiing and get out on the water. The last time I saw Duff he looked amazing. He had really started to look bad at the end of the tour. I was getting really worried about him. I really had my doubts about Duff when the tour was over and maybe a year later I saw him and he was totally clean. He lost all the weight. He was kickboxing and he was in shape and it was really wonderful to see him again.
Spin: I think the best way to get into this is to talk about the music. I wanted to ask you how it's going with the second solo record.
Slash: Well the second solo record, I hate to call it a solo record.
Spin: Well, the Slash's Snakepit record?
Slash: The first one, um, the first one was written really quickly, and it was, really supposed.., it was a bunch of demos that I had been writing in the studio at my house, sort of during one of Guns's hiatus periods and um I was having a really good time jamming with Matt and Mike Inez, (?), Eric and the whole thing and then it turned out that the G&R hiatus was going to be longer than I thought so I just, real quickly, went in the studio and I think we put the whole record together in two weeks, and then once the record was finished, uh, the G&R hiatus was extended even longer, so I took the thing on the road, and that was that, I had a great time. So, at this point, I got my own band, it's insane, it's great, as far as the music's concerned.
Spin: Who, cause the last time you worked with people who were pretty close to the whole Guns camp like Mike Clink, and Gilby Clark, and Matt, who's involved with it now in terms of the band?
Slash: The only, the only people that are close to Guns that are involved with this one is Jim Mitchell who engineered um Use your Illusion and some other Spaghetti Incident um that's about it, the other guys are, are well Teddy Andreadis is playing piano on a couple of the songs and he was a side guy on G&R live stuff, when we were touring on the Use your Illusion tour, but everybody else are either friends of mine from clubs, or, uh, acquaintances of acquaintances that I hooked up with.
Spin: Obviously you are going to draw in G n' R fans and guitar buffs and the ...
Slash: I know this sounds kind of cliched, but the response has been amazing. The demo of concert attendees range from Guns fans to guitar fans to people who didn't have anything to do that night. All of the sold out response has been amazing. Which is really the whole reason for doing something, because they have to sit through an hour and a half of material that they haven't heard before. If that answers your question.
Spin: Are you opposed to talking about some of the writing and recording process, some of the inspiration for older stuff...
Slash: There's not really much to say. The average fan would like to think, I'd imagine, that it's more complicated then it really is, I pretty much shoot from the hip... the whole process is very simple. I really, really love what I do, so I do it all the time. So, I don't put that much thought into how exactly it's supposed to be put together when it comes to what kind of style it's supposed to be, who it's supposed to reach what kind of ? exactly is it supposed to have. The only thing I really care about is how good it sounds and how much it kicks ass and how much fun I have doing it while I'm recording it or while I'm playing it and how the band is onstage and does its thing. And that's really how it's been since I started.
Spin: What were the circumstances of your leaving?
Slash: There's really not much to say. I'm not a person to quit anything, but it got to the point where it was a miserable situation and I had to leave. Slamdance happened because I still play with Duff and with Matt and with Izzy from time to time I keep in touch with pretty much everybody, so there's no skeletons in the closet as far as our relationships, as far as the band is concerned. Matt and Duff and I got together. Matt had a project that he worked on and Duff worked on and I worked on and he asked us to please come out to this gala event in fucking Colorado and that was basically it.
Spin: Snake room?
Slash: I did. We had that earthquake and the house was destroyed. We had a walk-in room where four or five 10 foot pythons were. I've been raising snakes since I was a kid. It's no big deal, they're just pets. I have all these little rooms in the house that are supposed to be maids rooms, so in all those rooms are snakes and lizards.
Spin: It was a thrill to talk to you
Slash: In closing I am really fucking jazzed on doing what I'm doing. I think everyone ends up going on their own so to speak. To have that kind of attitude. For me it's just it's a little different, it's the same approach as when Guns started. It's just another band, but it happens to be a really good one. and fortunately I've been lucky enough to have that happen to me twice.
As soon as the record comes out, and what I think the record company wants is to go out for a good 2 years. And I can't wait, I'm so sick of LA. It's what I wanted to do even when Guns split up was to keep touring.
Spin: Bunch of old stuff.... There was a band named Rose. Tell how it developed. How it all developed?
Guns: Okay, let's see -- how did it all start?
Spin: There's several versions.
Guns: Axl moved out here, and was staying... I think he was staying with Izzy. And Izzy kept telling me about this guy, who was like his best friend back home, and he's really cool. I'm gonna try and make him sing, you know? And so they put Hollywood Rose together, you know -- or Rose ... I think it was called Rose. First it was called A-X-L -- that was the original name of their band, A-X-L ... and whatever that meant. But, anyway, Axl ended up using that as his name. And then they did Rose, and Hollywood Rose, and they had different people in that band.
So then we moved to this house, and Axl decided that: Well, you know, I don't know what's really going on with me, and I know that L.A. Guns is doing it's thing. So, you know, why don't we just continue writing songs together, since we live together and everything? And I was like: Yeah, of course -- you know, do whatever we want. And then we came up with the name Guns N' Roses -- you know, it just made sense. You know, it was like: Hey, you know? I'm Tracii Guns and you're Axl Rose. Let's just, you know, kinda put it together. Yeah, so we'll put out singles and we'll call it Guns N' Roses.
And so then, finally, you know, we had the set back together, with the new drummer and bass player, and we went out and started playing. And it did really good, you know? Right away --
Spin: Was this as Guns N' Roses?
Guns: You know, I think the first show we actually sold like 80 tickets, you know -- which was like really big, you know, back then. You know, to be able to pull 80 people at The Troubadour -- or like, you know, this place called Radio City in Orange County, or any of those places -- was like really good.
And then, you know, we just kept doing the thing -- you know, doing shows here and there. And then, all of a sudden, I noticed that Axl was like talking a lot in between songs. You know like we'd play, and then he'd talk to the crowd for like five minutes in between a couple of songs.
And that kind of evolved to the point where me and Izzy, you know, really provided a lot of direction, and, you know trying to like keep this thing right, and just rock'n'roll, and just fun, you know? And he was like: No, the people need to -- you know, they like it, you know? So like: Okay -- whatever, you know? But it kept getting worse and worse and worse.
And then he started hanging out with Michelle Young, And that's what that song "My Michelle"'s about, is about this girl.
The two last shows that I did, we do sound check, and Axl shows up kinda late -- and he flips out. He's like: Tracii, motherfucker. You know, Michelle -- you know, Michelle Young's name isn't on the guest list. I'm like: Oh, well, I put it on there. And I did, you know? I was just like: What's this guy's trip?
But he really, you know, fucked up the gig for me, 'cause I was like not into it. You know, I was like: Oh, this sucks. You know, this guy's all pissed off, and now he's dictating to the 150 people that are here, you know.
Spin: What was the dynamic like with Izzy, then? Sounds like he was the controller of the band.
Guns: Well, he was the silent controller, and I was the vocal one. You know, it was like he'd say: Trace -- you know, I got this idea. You know, what do you think about this? And, you know, blah blah blah. And I'd go: Well, you know, that's all right. But if we do this, it might make it a little harder, or a little cooler.
And, I mean, honestly, you know, I thought Slash was much better for that band than I was. You know, I thought that like: Wow -- you know, this guy's really got a creepy image, you know. But different than a, you know, white guy with black leather on. You know, it was like a creepy dude, you know? He's like really cool-looking, played really cool -- one style, all the time -- and, you know, just like a real like Joe Perry type guy, you know? And that was -- pretty much, it had to be Axl's decision.
Spin: I don't think any of them are speaking now.
Guns: Well, I'll tell you what I know, as far as what's going on. I know that Slash has said he'd do it now -- okay. Axl will never say he'll do it, but that doesn't really mean anything. And then off in this corner is Duff and Matt, talking about doing something, as far as Guns N' Roses is concerned. And someone called Izzy, and Izzy said he'd play New Year's Eve for like, you know a couple million bucks. And that's the state of Guns N' Roses. And then Axl has actually put the name Guns N' Roses in his name, saying that he owns the name. So that's all I know.
Spin: Did Axl get involved in the actual construction of the music part that much?
Guns: No. You know, but I do remember him-- He did write, pretty much, from what I remember, almost all of "November Rain." I remember, when we were doing that EP for L.A. Guns, like '83? He was playing "November Rain" -- and it was called "November Rain" ... you know, on piano. Way back then. It was the only thing he knew how to play, but it was his -- you know what I mean? He'd go: Someday this song is gonna be really cool. And I'd go: It's cool now, you know? But it's not done, you know, he used to say.
And like anytime we'd be at a hotel or anywhere there'd be a piano, he'd just kinda play that music, you know? And I'd go: When are you gonna finish that already, you know? And he'd go: I don't know what to do with it. (Laughter) You know, but no -- you know, he's good. You know, Axl's definitely talented.
Spin: When's the last time you saw Axl?
Guns: I've seen Axl once -- I saw him in a liquor store -- and that was about seven or eight years ago. He was like: Hey, man -- what's up? We gotta talk, you know? I go: All right. And then Doug Goldstein called my house once, and I called back, but I never got an answer back -- so I don't know what that was all about.
I'll tell you the one thing about Axl that was always really cool, man -- he was really loyal, till he's not loyal anymore. If that makes any sense. He'll kill for you, until he decides not to. And then, once he decides not to, then that's it.
Spin: And then he may kill you.
Guns: Mmm, exactly. You know, but ... I don't know. He's not really someone ... if you're not on the payroll you should be scared of, heh ... you know. I think he basically means well -- I think he really does, you know?. You know, he wants everybody to like him for him.
Reid: ... Well, as I recall, the whole.you know, it was like, it's a weird thing. Because, on the one hand --
Spin: Can we start with what the situation was?... You'd been touring with The Stones.
Reid: Yeah, we'd been touring with The Stones on the "Steel Wheels" tour.
Spin: And you get to L.A....
Reid: And we get to L.A., and we went on ... I believe it was K-Rock. And we were doing an interview, and on that show Guns N' Roses was gonna be on that show. And they had put an ET, and they had a song called "One in a Million." And, you know, there is a phrase: Cops and niggers, get outta my way.... And, you know, we had a (inaudible) who thought that was-- I mean, it totally is right to say it -- you can do whatever you, you know. But, of course, you know, when you do stuff with freedom of speech, the people have the right to respond. (inaudible)
Spin: Do you remember hearing it for the first time? Remember the emotions? Were you angry?
Reid: Well, I just thought -- you know, thought it was like -- I just thought it was whack, you know. I mean, I thought the song was okay. It just felt like -- I don't know, it just was weird. I mean, in a lot of ways... you know, it's kinda like the objectification, you know. You know, cops being quote-unquote "black (inaudible)" or "niggers," being equated with cops. Which is like -- you know, it's objectification, you know. An obstacle to just -- you know, I'm somehow standing in the way of this guy.
Spin: Can you describe that?
Reid: Well, I remember reading somewhere that Axl was-- You know, what had happened was, we were on the show ... we were on K-Rock. We were also on "The Arsenio Hall Show" (inaudible) And so eventually what happened was, we went onstage and we played the first show, and it was like three shows altogether. And we played the first show, and we did -- You know, I mean, I said: I'm just gonna play. We're not gonna make any kinda statement at all, you know. And you just played the show, and that was that.
And then what happened was, they went onstage, and I think Axl went into a whole thing, you know. I think there was a lot of stuff going on with the band and stuff at that time, too -- 'cause he was really upset with people in his band, as well.
Spin: Was it the first show where Axl said: There are too many people in this band dancing with Mr. Brownstone?
Reid: Oh, yeah -- yeah: There are too many people in this band dancing with Mr. Brownstone. And he was like: And I'm fucking sick of it.... He was real pissed, I remember that. And then, you know, the second day, you know, we made our statement -- (inaudible) And then, the third day, it was like -- you know, it was like: Look -- He was really kinda like -- you know, he was sorta like not apologizing, but he was saying: You know, it's like not a big deal, you know. (inaudible) So it was like kinda one of these, you know, statement, statement, statement -- over three days ... kinda bananas.
But, yeah. The two people I really had wanted to meet is Slash and Axl. And I always wonder what it was like for Slash (inaudible) black.
Spin: Slash's mother is black.
Spin: So would you say there was this effort to just keep the peace and get the shows done?
Reid: Yeah, I think there was that. I think that ... there was kind of an effort on our road manager's part, or on our manager's part, to kinda keep everything kind of cool, you know. You know, it was just weird that second day -- that second day was a little tense backstage.
Spin: Did you guys play harder, or fiercer? Feel you had something to prove?
Reid: It was definitely that. It was definitely a scream-and-shout thing. Definitely, the first night was-- The first night was cool. The first night was cool, but it was a little weird because it was like all this: (inaudible)
Like backstage it felt (inaudible) 'cause all the stuff (inaudible) And then it was weird. And then the second day we went out -- we kinda went out with a mission -- you know what I mean?
Spin: But the second night you felt like you had something to prove?
Reid: Yeah, the second night was just, you know, everybody was just fired up. We were all just kinda-- And the thing that's so funny is that -- I think this is true of all three bands. I mean, of the three nights, the second night was, no question about it, to me, the best for all three bands. It was like -- 'Cause I actually checked the Guns N' Roses show, and they were great. They played really, really well.
Spin: No ... just for you. I just typed them out.... So your band was established when Guns N' Roses came on the scene. First time you heard of them?... At the beginning they were glam-influenced.
Ulrich: Well, the first time I heard them was, we were in L.A., making the "Garage Days Revisited" EP in August of '87. And I just remember everybody was talking about this fucking band, Guns N' Roses, and that they were like the next big thing or whatever. So I had a flight from New York over to England, and so I'm sitting there going through a bunch of cassettes that I'd finagled up at the record company. And one of 'em was Guns. I'd never heard anything with that kinda attitude. It was not just what was said, it was the way Axl said it. And it was like so fuckin' real, and so fuckin' potent. Do you know what I mean?
Spin: The first time you encountered them personally.
Ulrich: It was probably October '87, and we went down to -- (laughs) -- incredible. We went down to a Motley Crue video shoot 'cause we'd heard Slash was gonna be down there.
So we went down there, and there was Slash and his fuckin' top hat, and his fuckin' smelly leather jacket -- and it was just like-- But the minute that I met him, it was sorta like: This guy's totally real, and I -- as soon as I met him, I felt like I'd known him like all my life.
Ulrich: But over the course of making that "And Justice for All" record, we became like real good friends, supertight -- and just like saw them a lot and hung out, and got up to a lot of no good ... a lot of no good.
Spin: Detail on the no good?
Ulrich: You know, women, drugs. I mean, you know, you can pretty much imagine. I mean, we weren't doing a lot of charity works for the homeless together.
Spin: Specific mishap out with G&R then?
Ulrich: I mean, it was just fuckin' insane. It was just every night fuckin' You know, we didn't sit around and discuss a lot of politics or fuckin', you know? And I just felt like we were right on the same fuckin' page, and it was sorta like partners-in-crime type of thing.
And, you know, Slash and Duff and Adler just was like around every day, and then Axl was more sort of elusive. Axl was always off, just sort of doing his own thing a lot of times, and stuff like that. But when he was social and into it, and stuff like that, it was like a lot of fun.
Spin: Fast-forward to '91. Your bands are both massive ... decide to tour together.
Ulrich: Like you sit there at 5 in the morning, and it's sort of like: Okay -- well, you know, hey, we should really work together one day. And it was sort of like -- you know, it got to the point where it was just like we talked about it so much that it was just like: Fuck, we gotta actually see if we could make this happen. And, you know, how cool it would be for the kids to get a chance to see two bands together, and stuff like that. It just seemed like a really cool idea, heh, at the time. (Laughs)
Spin: You talked about what happened in Canada. James had an accident, and there was a riot afterwards....
Ulrich: You know, Axl Rose is one of the most real people I've ever met. Okay, probably like one of the truest and more real people that I've ever met. When Axl is in the right mood and the right frame of mind, I mean, there's nobody that touches him as an artist and as a performer. But he's also the kind of person that it's sort of like if the monitors aren't 110%, then he can't deal with it. And then he just, instead of trying to find a way to deal with it, he chooses to walk off. And I'm sort of in a situation where I can sort of relate to both sides, because I think that there's a kind of purity in what he does.
It just so happens that that night, when James blew up onstage, and Guns N' Roses needed to come out and save the day, you know, Axl had one of his nights where he just wasn't really feeling it, and couldn't really pull it off. And that was the night where it really needed to happen -- do you know what I mean?
Spin: You must have been pissed at them at the time.
Ulrich: I don't know. I gotta be honest with you. I've always had a weakness for Axl. I think he's really fuckin' intriguing. And, you know, people that know me well know that, oh, I've always found him incredibly fascinating. And I've found that he is one of the last few real rock stars on this planet.
And, okay: The summer of '92, Metallica and Guns N' Roses. Okay: What was there? Okay, there was that night in Montreal -- but there was also, you know, 40 other shows that went off, you know, more or less without any major incidents. Where a lot of kids got a chance to see two fuckin' bands play together in a setting that really hadn't been seen very much at that time, or since.
Spin: So you haven't seen him since '93?
Ulrich: I haven't seen Axl since '93, I don't think -- no. I don't think anybody has. Has anybody seen Axl since '93?
Spin: Two or three spottings, but they're like Elvis spottings.
Ulrich: I just fuckin' -- I miss the competition. (Laughs) I just wish: Fuckin' make a record.
Spin: Heard any rumors you'd like to share?
Ulrich: What, about anything the last couple of years?
Spin: Yeah, about the new record.
Ulrich: Not anything you haven't heard.
Spin: That it's a techno record....
Ulrich: Well, I think -- I mean, one thing, when I think about people talking about like, Oh, Axl's going techno, and all this. I mean, I remember fuckin' in 19... probably the spring of '91, or something like, he was sitting there and telling me about this fuckin' guy -- this band called Nine Inch Nails.
But he was always talking about him, and what a great artist he was, and how much that whole thing really inspired him, and stuff like that. So it's sort of like if you're sitting there going: You know, Axl's going techno -- I mean, it doesn't surprise me. And he was fucking -- he was the first guy I ever heard talk about Nine Inch Nails, of anybody.
Spin: So you think he's gonna pull it off.
Ulrich: I think I'm totally the minority, in that I think he's gonna pull it off. A lot of people think he's just really selfish and stuck-up, but he's also really smart. It's not gonna be a Guns N' Roses record, in what the rest of the world understands as a Guns N' Roses record.
Spin: Yeah. And, also, no Slash, no Duff, no Izzy.
Ulrich: Right. And that's what a lot of people are just gonna like gripe about. But, at the same time, I think, if Axl made a record under a different name, and just put it out -- People would probably go: This is the fuckin' most amazing record for 1999 and 2000. But because it's not-- I mean, it's the same shit we've run into -- do you know what I mean? You know, he'll always have that cross on his shoulder.