Re: Axl Rose, Hit Parader, 1993
Hit Parader, 1993
Hit Parader: Is it impossible for you to lead any sort of normal life - to hang out at the mall, to go to a movie?
AXL ROSE: Basically life on the road is hotel rooms and planes - unless you have a lot of security with you. It depends on how hectic the city is. If it's not too bad, I can go out with just two security people and have a normal day; go shopping or just walk around. In BogotÃ¡, Columbia, it was really hectic. You needed about two vans of security people just to move around. It was a nightmare. At this very moment, there are about 500 kids standing in front of the hotel. I went to an antique store down here the other day because I collect antique crucifixes, and it was kind of fun because I ran into a bunch of school girls all dressed in their outfits. They knew who I was, and it was really kind of cute.
HP: Is there any place on Earth where you can go and not be recognized?
AXL: I don't know. It's rare. I'll go someplace like Portofino, Italy, on vacation, and the next thing I know is that I have to stop eating dinner because there are people all around. Probably the easiest place for me to get around in is L.A. The second is New York - there, they just say, 'Yo, Ax,' and that's it. But they can spot me there no matter what I'm wearing, so I don't even bother trying a disguise. They just assume that's my new look.
HP: How do you find the band's songs evolving as you've played them night after night on the road?
AXL: With most of the songs, we put everything we had into them when we recorded them. So each night, whether you're into playing it or not, you have to rise to it. It's still a challenge to get that song right each night. That's what keeps us going. We had to quit the show early the other night - and that's only the third show we've had to cut short for technical reasons or riots, or whatever - and that bothered us a great deal. We still care very deeply about every song we do.
HP: Is there one song in particular that you really look forward to playing each night; and, conversely, is there one you dread performing?
AXL: I can't say that there's any one song that I really look forward to doing; hopefully something will spark my emotion and I'll really have a good time. But it's always different every night. You never know which song is gonna get you excited. Right now we kind of feel obligated to play the hits, and while that's a little hard on us, we feel that to do a good show and give the people what they want, we have to do that. We're really not into doing that. In fact, that's why we're back on the road in America in February.
HP: Tell us about that tour.
AXL: We're calling this one the 'Skin And Bones' tour, and it gives us a chance to play the other songs - the ones that aren't necessarily the hits. It will be all stripped down to just the six members of the band and a small stage. We'll use the video screens and maybe some cool lights, but it'll be only an hour and forty five minute set, and we're really excited to have the Brian May band as our opening act. I always loved Queen, so that's very exciting for me. And we're gonna be playing arenas in cities that we haven't played yet.
HP: You've been on the road almost non-stop for the last 18 months. How do you keep going?
AXL: It really hasn't been straight time on the road. It's been three or four month jaunts, and then you have a month or two off. But during that time you're trying to get your home life together or do whatever videos or recording your doing at that time. But since we've started I've only had one real vacation - that was in Portofino. And there within hours, everyone seemed to know I was there. We ended up having room service all the time. It sounds tough, but it's actually kind of cool. I like to be real private; you don't always want everyone around you - even when they like you. But at the same time, if they're not there, you wonder what you're doing wrong.
HP: Do you ever worry about burn out? It would seem like you really don't have time for a personal life.
AXL: I really felt burnt out a lot on the last tour we did. It was very hard for me to be out there because all of the songs were a part of my past, and I wanted to get on to my future. The burn out thing hits and that's when we change the set around a little bit. The South American tour, for instance, has really gotten Slash and me very excited, especially about the people and their responses to the show. It's brought new life into it. To be honest, the American tour was really hard because with Metallica playing a full set, and the crowd being really tired by the time they got to us, and so many spectators who really weren't into the music - people who were there just because they wanted to see what everything was about - it was difficult for us. In Europe, Japan and even South America, everyone who comes to the show is really into the music. With that many people on the American tour just standing around and not giving us energy back, it was really hard for us to keep up our energy level.
HP: Don't you think that the percentage of 'spectators' in American was very small?
AXL: No. I do go off on the crowd, but there is a big difference between general admission where the people who really care are right in front of you, and the situation where you've got people in the front row who are sitting there with their arms crossed and a 'show me something' look on their faces. It's annoying. Especially when you know the people sitting way up in the sky could be having a lot more fun down front. I don't need people to sit there and 'test' me. I'm up there, I know what I'm doing. I know how much effort we're putting into it. I don't need someone sitting there saying 'impress me.' I feel like saying, 'no, you impress me.'
HP: It's been said that you have a love/hate relationship with your audience. Would you agree with that?
AXL: I think it depends on the crowd. We did a show with Skid Row in Utah, and there were people sitting there like they were bored off of their asses. Finally, we left. Why should we play the encore? But what we didn't know was that people had been killed at an AC/DC concert there, and the press and local officials had gone off on the kids so much that by the time they got to the show they were just fed up. Security just kept them from getting into the show at all - and we didn't know that. We didn't know what was up. We just wanted to get out of there. My attitude was, 'Man, I only have a few bands that really get me off at a show. What do you want? What do you have to do tonight that's better than this?' There were 17 year-old kids there who seemed bored, and I just didn't understand why. Maybe they wanted to go home and listen to something else.
HP: Speaking of listening to something else. What do you listen to when you have the time?
AXL: Well, Jane's Addiction was my band, and they broke up. I really don't get the chance to see that many bands live because it's just too hectic. But I'm really into U2, and I was really into their stadium shows. I went to every one of their shows that I could. And I was just listening to the Mr. Bungle album, and even though we have kind of a love/hate relationship with Faith No More, I really like that album. I've also been listening to a lot of bizarre things: Roger Waters, Jimmy Scott, Lyle Lovett, Nine Inch Nails, Alice in Chains - my taste covers a broad range.
HP: How do you view all the bands that have obviously 'borrowed' a page from Guns N' Roses in terms of their musical and stylistic approach?
AXL: It doesn't bother me at all except when I feel bands aren't pushing themselves creatively. I don't enjoy being imitated; I'd rather inspire than be imitated. If we can inspire some people to take it to the next step, that's great, but a few years ago there were bands that were playing material that was just 'wanna be' GN'R things. We never tried to be like AC/DC or the Rolling Stones, but we were certainly massively inspired by them.
HP: As you look back on the Use Your Illusion albums with a little perspective, are you still glad that you released so much material at one time?
AXL: Slash and I were just discussing that this morning, and there's no way we regret it. We're very proud of what we've done. We had planned on doing that even before we had done our first album. We didn't know that it would include quite as many songs, but we knew we had to bury Appetite in some way. There was no way to out-do that album, and if we didn't out-do Appetite in one way or another it was going to take away from our success and the amount of power we had gained to do what we wanted. We got all the material we needed to out of our system, and commercially it's been a major success. The only draw back we've had is due to Tipper Gore, and her work to have stickers placed on albums. That really hindered us, I believe.
HP: It's hard to believe that Mrs. Vice President has actually had an impact on Guns N' Roses.
AXL: Her efforts really hurt our sales in the States. The whole stickering thing took its effect because major record chains like K-Mart and Walmart, which are 50 percent of a band's sales, won't even carry our albums. You've got to realize that certain income families don't let their kids shop just anywhere. When I was growing up, we were a K-Mart family, so I speak from experience. You could look wherever you wanted, but you bought things at K-Mart because it's a little cheaper. I think the fact that Tipper Gore is closer to power is something that we'll have to deal with. I think the Gores toned down their act in order to get the vote, but I haven't forgotten what she's done. She did achieve her goal - first albums had to be stickered, then stores wouldn't carry stickered albums.
HP: What lies ahead for you and the band?
AXL: Slash as been working on a lot of things, working on a lot of riffs with the band. I've just been working on where my head's at on things so I can approach the next record in a way that lets me go to farther extremes. If I'm going to express anger, I want to take that farther, and if I'm expressing happiness and joy I want to take that farther too. We really haven't really sat down to collaborate on songs yet. I wrote and recorded a new love song that I want on the next record called This I Love, that's the heaviest thing that I've ever done. Other than that, we're not even sure how we're gonna approach writing for this next album. Last time Slash would write his songs, I would write mine and Izzy would write his, and then we'd put '˜em all together. Well, this time there's no Izzy, and Slash isn't writing just his songs - it's gonna be more of a collaboration thing. We don't know if we're gonna be writing with Gilby or somebody else. We know we want to play with Gilby, but we're not sure about the writing.
HP: Do you look at Guns N' Roses as a continually evolving entity, or are you satisfied with the personnel that's now in the band?
AXL: It's definitely an evolving thing because everyone has different direction that they want to go in, and I wanted to get the band big enough that they'd have those opportunities. We had a lot of new people in the band, but what works at the end is what gets me and Slash off. We're not sure where we want to come from with the other band members as far as the writing goes, and, who knows, if someone isn't into a song, maybe they don't want to be there. We're rally into letting Matt go more off on his own in terms of drumming for GN'R. On Use Your Illusion, he was pretty much playing just what we wanted to hear on a particular song - which we already had together before he joined the band. On the record, he's one of the most amazing drummers I've ever heard, but he's better than that.
HP: Did Matt earn such high respect more for the work he's done on stage or on album?
AXL: More from just jamming. When he goes off on his own creative sense it's pretty amazing. I want to facilitate that getting out. I want Matt to just explode on the next record.
HP: We know there are some other projects in the works for the band at the moment, including a variety of videos. What can you tell us about those?
AXL: First, we have to 'making of' videos coming out - and in typical GN'R fashion we'll be putting out Number Two first. It's called Making F**king Videos - Part II November Rain. Then we're putting out another documentary about the making of Don't Cry. We still have yet to write what will be the third part of that story, which will be Estranged, which will show what happened, and why. Then, we've had a documentary crew out with us the whole time we've been out on the road, and they've been filming everything. We're just having our director go through all the footage and we're putting a movie together that will be a combination of reality and fiction tied in with the three videos, November Rain, Don't Cry and Estranged. That story will tie in with the reality of Guns N' Roses, yet there'll be a fictional story going on as well as between me and my girlfriend Stephanie. We're working on it, but we can't guarantee exactly what it'll be until we get it done.
HP: Do you ever worry that the persona of Axl Rose will get bigger than Guns N' Roses?
AXL: The bottom line is that nothing can come between Slash and I, and as long as we have that bond we have Guns N' Roses. However big I get can only help the band because it attracts more attention to Guns N' Roses. I'm not worried about being pulled in other directions. I need Guns N' Roses in my life.
HP: There has been talk, however, about Slash doing a solo project. Can you ever see yourself doing an album away from Guns N' Roses?
AXL: I want to do some stuff on my own, but not as a means of trying to prove my own sense of identity. You know the song My World on Use Your Illusion II? I want to do a whole project like that by myself and with whoever else might want to be on it. But right now it's just me and a computer engineer. It's just raw expression - just putting ideas together. We just go in, say 'what do we want to do' and get to work. We completed My World in three hours. It's something that I need to get out of my system, but it's not something I want to base my career and future on.
HP: You mention the idea of working with other musicians. If you had your choice, who would you really like to work with on a project?
AXL: Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails is one, and Dave Navarro from Jane's Addiction is another guy I want to work with. I've talked to Trent about working with me on an industrial synth project, at least on one song, and I definitely want to work with Dave on something. I've always been curious what he would sound like working with Slash on something.
HP: Wasn't Dave rumored to be joining Guns N' Roses after Izzy left?
AXL: Yeah, there was a lot of talk about that, and we were very open to it. But it just wasn't the right time in Dave's life for it to happen. He was kind of needing the time to just see where he was at, and he's been very successful at that. But the idea of working with him excites me to no end because I still put on Jane's Addiction and it always seems brand new, no matter how many times I hear it. I'd like to try to achieve a fusion of what they were trying and what GN'R is doing. I think that blend, if taken seriously and patiently, could be amazing. It could be a fuller thing than anyone's done before. Dave and Slash together could be incredible - two guys very 'out there' on their own, working together. It's like the first time I met Slash, I said, 'The world's gotta see this guy.' That's why when he plays with other people or does solo things it totally gets me off and makes me happy. It secures his place in rock history as a guitarist. I feel the same way about Dave. Obviously, I have a much closer bond with Slash, being involved with him for so many years, but I think the world kind of missed Dave. I'd really like to help fix that.
HP: You've been called a spokesman for a generation. Is that a heavy burden for you to bear?
AXL: I think my material has a place, but I don't place myself that high up on the totem pole. I was reading an interview with Roger Waters recently, and he was saying that he considers himself one of the five best English writers of all time. He figures that may be John Lennon up there, and maybe Freddie Mercury, but he doesn't know who else. I look at his writing that way too. I don't put myself in that category at all. I'd like to grow to a point where I could. I look to people like Bono, and to me he's just so far ahead of most people spiritually, and in the way his spirituality comes across in his lyrics. That's amazing to me, and it encourages me to strive to reach places where other people have already been. I admire their sense of themselves and where their hearts and minds really are. That's where I want to go with my lyrics, and I hope our audience will come along with us.
HP: It's been said that as someone gets older and wiser, it's tougher to relate to a 17-year old audience. Do you find yourself beginning to have that problem?
AXL: It's back and forth. It depends on the song that we're doing. I can easily be 17 whenever I want. But I'm operating in worlds now where I have to be 45. I can go back and forth. We try to make albums that go from one extreme to another. My girlfriend recently asked me if I could still write a song as nasty and gritty as the things on Appetite, and I told her that it would probably depend on the song and if I was moved to write that way. But I'm not gonna write that way just to sell records. I'm not gonna write any more bar room sex songs just to sell a few more albums. If something inspires me to do it, I will. I won't regress. I'll do it if I can take it to a new place, a new level.
HP: We'll ask you one last thing. When you wake up in the morning, are you happy being Axl Rose?
AXL: Am I happy? Hmmmm. Yeah, but I won't really know how happy I am until the end of this tour in May. That's when I'll know if I achieved all of my goals. I've achieved a lot of them, but I'm not in a place where I can sit back on my laurels and say 'Hey, I did it.' If I can kick back in June and feel a sense of accomplishment, then I'll be happy.
HP: What's the first thing you're gonna do when you have some free time?
AXL: I don't remember what free time is. I just bought a skate board, and I was thinking of getting back into that. I can do that then because if I break my arm, I won't have to miss any tour dates because I won't be on tour anymore! I bought a new house, so I guess I'll try to set that up and get some stability in my life. I'll be happy doing some domestic things. Stephanie and I have worked very hard to try and have a personal life, but it's not easy. We've tried to stay in touch as much as possible, but our lives are such fast-moving things. Five months for us, are like five years for most people.