Re: 2007: Chinese Whispers
Axl relocated to Vegas soon after the Christmas holidays, appearing at the Playboy Club's New Year's Party.
"Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose is putting the final vocals down on a new album that he has been working on at the Palms recording studios." (Reviewjournal.com, 01/07/07)
"Audio engineer Mark Gray, 31, dropped by the studio at the Palms to say goodbye to his co-workers before departing for a vacation. His boss asked him if he would be willing to come back early to do some just-booked sessions. [...] And, on Dec. 27, 2006, Gray found himself one of the many engineers to be connected to the legendary Guns N' Roses disc 'Chinese Democracy'.
Axl Rose arrived at the Palms Studio inside the resort and worked for 13 days in 2006 on his vocals for the finally released disc. Gray recalls a list of 14 songs (the same number as on the released version) many with working titles. Among those Rose worked on at Palms Studio he is sure are on the disc are 'Chinese Democracy,' 'Madagascar' and 'Prostitute.'" (LA Times, 11/25/08)
At this point, Axl was supposed to have done in the few remaining days of studio work that had been hanging in the air ever since Inland Invasion in late September.
"It was all vocal overdubs or vocal leads. He would move from song to song, working on different parts. He was jumping about, but he knew exactly what he wanted. The producers set everything so the workflow is catered to the artist for anyone, and that is how it went down here.
From what I saw, it was first takes or at most two or three takes. Rose would say, 'I can get the part better' or 'I can tighten it up.' [...] He just went in and sang. He was living with the record a long time by then, and he really knew what he wanted to do.
He proved a good guy to be around. We would start about 5 or 6 in the evening, hitting tape by 7. We worked five or six hours. These were great sessions." (Mark Gray, LA Times, 11/25/08)
As the album release required eight weeks of preparation with the label, this was the time when he would've had to turn the finished product in to meet the March 6th release date.
However, Axl then moved the base of operations to New York, compromising the tentative release date in favor of additional recording.
"In January, I went to Electric Lady [studios in New York City], and I sang the chorus of this song 'Sorry', and it came out really, really amazing." (Baz, Total Guitar, 08/20/07)
"[Bach] reported that he's heard 'at least four albums' worth' of finished Guns n' Roses tracks, recalling a night in January 2007 when Rose rolled out new songs from midnight to 6 a.m. at New York's Electric Lady studios." (Rolling Stone, 06/25/08)
"One of my favorite songs is this song called 'The General', which is so... it's by far the heaviest metal tune I think ive ever heard Axl do, this slow, grinding riff with these high, piercing vocals, screaming vocals. [...] [Axl] goes, 'Well, this comes out on the third record. It relates to this song, it's a trilogy, this goes with this lyrically.'" (Baz, Metal Edge, 11/06/07)
"[Bach] says Rose told him that a slow, grinding track called 'The General' is 'the sequel to [Use Your Illusion II's] 'Estranged,' that goes to the parable that Del James wrote of the trilogy' (James penned the short story that inspired the 'November Rain' video)." (Rolling Stone, 06/25/08)
"Bubbles got caught in a snowstorm on the way back from New York. He was down there with Axl Rose, watching him record his new record." (Trailer Park Boys, The Tyee, 01/22/07)
"Bumblefoot did use my Les Paul in his final recording session for the next Guns N Roses album. The sessions took place last month here in New York City. All his gear was out in California and he specific needed a Les Paul for the album." (Mark Strigl, Talking Metal, 02/10/07)
"One week ago we recorded a bunch of the songs off of our record acoustically at Electric Lady Studios in NYC. This was an absolute honor. Axl Rose was going to be recording in the A room that night, and I got to play one of Jimi Hendrix pianos." (Dropping Daylight, MySpace, 02/07/07)
Arguably, more recording on the album was done within a space of a month than in the entire past year.
Re: 2007: Chinese Whispers
Into Thin Air
Before the recording process would be complete, Axl'd lose one more person from his sphere of familiars.
"In February 2007, the newsletter of the Kelowna Buddhist Temple in British Columbia, Canada, was one of the few publications to acknowledge the death of one of the people closest to Axl Rose. In a piece headed 'Sharon Moved Lives In A Beautiful Way' the newsletter commented: 'The memories of the love and the hearts she touched throughout her short life endure. An eloquent lady, the late Sharon Midori Tanemura Maynard - formerly of Kelowna - passed away in Sedona, Arizona, on January 18 2007'. Yoda was dead." (Classic Rock, 04/08)
"Though nobody knows precisely how he got involved, people who know him say Axl started visiting Sedona in the early nineties, sometimes travelling with Beta, his housekeeper, or Earl, his bodyguard." (Rolling Stone, 05/11/00)
"There was sort of like a medium/therapist that did past life, regressive, transgressive therapy - whatever. And she took Axl on a journey through his past lives, if you believe in that kinda stuff." (Tom Zutaut, Classic Rock, 04/08)
"I've done regression therapy all the way back, just about to the point of conception. I kind of know what was going on then. [...] It's major, and it's legit, and it all fits together in my life. Everything is stored in your mind. And part of you is aware from very early on and is storing information and reacting. Every time I realize I have a problem with something, and I can finally admit it to myself, then we go, 'Okay, now what were the earliest stages?' and we start going back through it." (Axl, Rolling Stone, 04/02/92)
"And then that led to Axl meeting Sharon Maynard, the infamous woman who looked at pictures of people and told Axl whether or not he should work with them..." (Tom Zutaut, Classic Rock, 04/08)
"A rather plain Asian woman of middle age, Maynard stands about five feet five and has a medium build and dark, curly hair. Since 1978 she has run a not-for-profit business in Sedona called Arcos Cielos Corp., which loosely translated from the Spanish means "sky arcs."
The company, with assets of $241,602 in 1998, lists itself as an "educational" enterprise. Arcos Cielos operates out of Maynard's rural home in Sedona, which she shares with her husband, Elliott, a gently gray-haired man. "Dr. Elliott and Sharon Maynard" are both thanked in the Use Your Illusion liner notes." (Rolling Stone, 05/11/00)
Axl's last known visit to Sedona occurred in mid-2001 with Tom Zutaut. Whether she participated on the tours, as she occasionally did in the early 90's, is not known.
Re: 2007: Chinese Whispers
From February onwards, the mixing was apparently done at Radio Recorders, the California studio in which Elvis recorded Heartbreak Hotel. Axl's tenure there lasted until April.
"There is no official release date, as the band is currently mixing, but after some delays and scheduling difficulties, things appear to be moving along." (Del James, GunsNRoses.com, 02/22/07)
"Drummer Jay Space revealed [A Place to Bury Strangers] have been working on five new songs with producer John O'Mahoney, who is dividing his time between [the group] and a certain Los Angeles rock band. Space said: 'He's doing the new Guns N' Roses record in the midst of doing ours, so he's going back and forth from LA to New York.'" (NME, 15/02/07)
"The good news is that all of the recording for the album has been completed. Drummer Frank Ferrer and guitarist Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal integrated themselves into the recordings seamlessly and will have their presence felt." (Del James, GunsNRoses.com, 02/22/07)
"To my knowledge I'm still on 90% of the album." (Brain, GNR Daily, 05/21/08)
"Those were definitely the most challenging [sessions] I ever had in the studio. Usually I'd go in and bang something out and it would be great. But when we were doing the "Chinese..." stuff it was songs I never heard before... We would go to studios in LA or New York and it would be Caram and his assistant Eric [Tabala]. I'd be playing to the song I never heard before that is already completely full with drums, loops, bass and a multitude of guitar tracks from all different people over time. All different keyboards, strings, vocals and backing vocals. It's like, "How am I supposed to fit something in here without stepping on something else?" (Ron, Ultimate Guitar, 07/02/14)
"We've done so many songs and not all of them will be on the album." (Ron, Maximum Threshold, 04/13/07)
"I'm trying all different things and taking all different approaches. As I'm playing and doing it, I'll have one guy saying,"Yeah, that's perfect" while the other guy is yelling at me, "No, not that" at the same. This would go on for 14 hours a day." (Ron, Ultimate Guitar, 07/02/14)
"I played a lot of rhythm parts to the stuff - To me, it felt like a lot of the rhythm tracks seemed a little mechanical and just didn't have that kinda sleazy thing that GNR always had." (Ron, Maximum Threshold, 04/13/07)
"I would do things where I would play and just start with rhythm stuff. Maybe doing something sort of riffy or something more street or choppy. I'd grab the wah pedal or something where I'd do in on the fretless or more technical or spacious melodies. I tried all different stuff. I did a hundred things per song on some takes." (Ron, Ultimate Guitar, 07/02/14)
"Also, I was pretty much given a hundred guitar solos for each song to find the thing that's gonna work best - we made sure that every possibility was there." (Ron, Maximum Threshold, 04/13/07)
"Caram would start going through them all and piecing things together. We'd be doing it in New York and Axl would be taking care of business in LA. We'd give him a call at two in the morning and play something over the phone. Then when it was time for the album to be done, they just went through it all and decided what fit best and what they thought was the best direction for the song guitar-wise with the different parts...
I do wish I was given a chance to know the music better and developed a relationship with the songs before laying the tracks down. I think it would have been something even better. It would have connected even better and it would have had more of my personality to it." (Ron, Ultimate Guitar, 07/02/14)
Andy Wallace had most likely been let go in November at the latest. While details of his departure may never be fully disclosed, he has commented past situations which may have been similar.
"Anytime you're working with an intense artist [...] you're going to have frustrating moments. [...] It's difficult for me when I have a mix that I know is sounding good and the artist and the producer, or whoever is appropriate, starts getting too involved in little things that really don't make a big difference; they're not making a better mix out of it, they're just changing things.
[...] The Pro Tools thing is a mixed blessing. The younger guys who have never had to cut tape or edit by bouncing on analog have a different perspective and are more easily caught up in over-editing. Not so much to the detriment of the material, although that can certainly happen, but just taking up too much time. Editing stuff to a degree that doesn't matter. You're never going to hear it.
[...] If it gets almost endless '” you know, where they just can't let go and need to keep changing things '” then I feel like I'm just doing damage control, trying to keep the thing from eroding. Sometimes that'll happen. [...] Then I really can't just pop back into it and repair it all. I mean, I can repair it all by recalling settings and such, but as far as the mind thing, I'm out of it.
I've also had a kind of a thing where it's sort of like breaking up with a girlfriend or something like that '” where, after getting into a thing for a couple of mixes, you realize that you're not the right guy for the job and that you're not giving them what they want. I may not agree with what they want, but it's their record. [...] That's happened a few times. It's usually mutually felt by all of us that we're not nailing it." (Andy Wallace, Mix Online, 10/01/05)
Re: 2007: Chinese Whispers
March of the White Elephants
In early February, GNR announced they'd appear at the South African My Coke Fest in May. Previously, a tour had marked to begin some ten days before the album would drop.
"The touring [...] would start [...] on this basis in Dubai [Desert Rock Festival on March 9th-10th] just before the album's release [on March 20th]." (Merck, 12/15/06)
"According to my informants, another European tour is 'in the making' for February, starting on the 24th in Moscow, Russia. Please keep in mind that this is nowhere near confirmed and plans can still change." (NewGNR.com, 12/26/06)
Tour dates were soon to trickle, as the Japanese promoter Creativeman confirmed shows in between April 14th and 22nd. Ten days from the tour start would put the album release now on April 24th, just after the Japanese tour.
"The rock n' roll machine known as Guns N' Roses have announced that they will be hitting the road starting in April. The first leg of the Chinese Democracy World Tour 2007 will see GN'R performing in Japan, Thailand, South Africa, South America, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand. [...] GN'R are scheduled to headline the My Coke Festival taking place in Johannesburg on April 27th and Cape Town on May 1st." (5FM, 02/11/07)
Rumors of shows in Brazil and Mexico had been going on for a while in the local presses, but none had yet been announced. However, as the Japanese shows preceded My Coke Fest, it's possible that a Thailand date was planned in between April 22nd and 27th.
From South Africa, the band would've likely embarked on a tour in Brazil and the rest of South America for the duration of May. June would see them move up north for the Mexican shows before leaving for the Oceanian leg. Mexican newspaper El Universal went on to say the band was planning to play a total of 70 shows, with United States following up after Oceania.
The only problem was that in case the band was eyeing on an April 24th release, the album should've been turned over to the record company around the time when Del James announced recording had been completed and mixing was underway - again.
Re: 2007: Chinese Whispers
As the album work went on, the previously announced tour itinerary began to change.
"We talked alone with the people who is in the business to bring the band to Brasil - Porto Alegre and other cities. Well, those people says they have 85% of getting Guns N' Roses to play in Porto Alegre in April or May. [...] Since the negotiation is almost done, only Axl Rose could make it not happening." (ClicRBS, 01/29/07)
"Due to all the recent rumors regarding GN'R's visit to Brazil, the Brazilian promoter Mondo Entretinemento has issued a statement saying that there are no confirmed Brazilian dates at this moment. The dates will not happen in May 2007 like it's been rumored. As soon as the dates are finalized, more information will be announced by the promoter." (Mondo Entretinemento, 03/27/07)
The Oceanic tour seemed to be in a healthier state.
"Axl Rose is returning to Australia for the first time in 14 years with his new incarnation of Guns N' Roses. Promoter Paul Dainty has scored the coup for Australia. The GNR Chinese Democracy tour will play Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth in June." (Undercover News, 04/03/07)
In case the album release would've now been targeted for June, canceling the already-announced dates in Japan and South Africa would'nt have made much difference, as the album would've been had to turn in during April. However, shows get canceled for health issues all the time. Keith Richards fell from a coconut tree the year before, resulting in a spree of 'Stones cancellations, closing with two shows in Germany which GNR was tapped to open.
"We had our last rehearsal a few days ago and shipped the gear to Japan. [...] I accidentally fell down a flight of stairs. I put my hand down to break my fall and heard a loud 'pop.' The next morning my hand looked like a balloon. I went to see my doctor and while the good news is that it's not broken, the bad is news is it's severely sprained and I may have done some ligament damage." (Tommy, GunsNRoses.com, 04/11/07)
The Japanese dates, which would be rescheduled, were just announced to have been sold out. A few days after the news broke out, three June concerts in Mexico were confirmed by a local television network. The dates were set prior to the tour in Australia and recently added shows in New Zealand, matching with the originally planned tour itinerary.
"'Only the Japanese dates have been changed,' [Australian promoter Paul Dainty] tells Undercover News. 'They have 70 dates this year and they are airing on the side of caution.'" (Undercover News, 04/12/07)
"Dainty also reports there will be no issues with Tommy Stinson by the time the tour is due in Australia. 'I've had a medical certificate from the doctor. He will be fine,' Paul tells Undercover News. 'There was a concern at one stage but he will definitely be okay by the time the Australian tour rolls around.'" (Undercover News, 04/26/07)
On the same day, the Japanese shows were announced to have been moved up to mid-July.
Re: 2007: Chinese Whispers
While the tour eventually commenced in Mexico in June without a hitch, the now-existing gap in the touring schedule in July fueled speculation over a possible appearance at Live Earth on 07/07/07.
"Guns N' Roses are rumoured to perform at the Live Earth event which takes place at various locations around the world on July 7th. The event will be hosted by Al Gore. According to Hamburg Magazin and Radio Hamburg Guns N' Roses are rumoured to perform at the German location of Live Earth which takes place at the AOL arena in Hamburg." (GNR Daily, 05/08/07)
"According to the Brazilian website Babado, Guns N' Roses are in negotiations with the organizers of Live Earth Brazil. GN'R was recently rumoured to perform at Live Earth Germany but was not listed when the artist lineup for Hamburg was revealed. Here's a rough translation of the text: 'Lenny Kravitz and Good Charlotte confirm presence in the show Live Earth Brazil. [...] According to information of the column of Patricia Kogut in the periodical the Globe, Jay-Z, Nelly, Carlos Santana and Axl Rose are in negotiation phase.'" (GNR Daily, 06/10/07)
"I was asked to perform individually with Lenny Kravitz [...] at Rio Live Earth. [...] Guns N' Roses or I were not asked to play anywhere else such as Japan or Australia (as we are already in the regions on tour) and in which we have formally offered to perform but the offer of our involvement was declined. [...] Lenny unfortunately became injured and temporarily canceled his involvement from the event. According to the promoters, by the time they had reconfirmed Lenny's performance, there wasn't enough time to arrange flights for myself to Brazil and then to Japan for our upcoming shows." (Axl, GunsNRoses.com, 07/06/07)
For the record, the fate of the entire Live Earth Brazil concert was hanging by a thread in between July 5th and 6th, as the show was first announced to have been canceled by court injuction for security reasons and then admitted to proceed again. Therefore, they likely had other things in mind than sorting out Axl's flights.
On 07/21/07, the 20th anniversary of the AFD release, GNR played the final show of their Japanese tour, which was also the final show of the entire year.
Re: 2007: Chinese Whispers
In late July, Baz finalized a new record deal for his new solo album.
"I got this record deal and came out to finish my record a couple of months ago. And I just texted Axl at LAX just walking around baggage claim and I go 'Hey, when are you going to sing on my record.' [...] Then one word comes on my phone, When." (Baz, Ultimate Guitar, 10/26/07)
"Baz asked me to sing on his new record, "Angel Down," and I agreed and came down to his studio where he played me the tracks. [...] Baz really wanted me on "Bitchslap," and I got to try my own ideas on it. We're not saying much about the second track, as it may be taken a bit further." (Axl, GunsNRoses.com, 08/21/07)
By that, Axl referring to the possibility of Steven Tyler contributing additional vocals to the Aerosmith cover, Back in the Saddle.
"Axl called Steve Tyler while we were recording [Back in the Saddle]. He just goes (does Axl impression) 'We gotta call Steven' and he just dialed the number in his cell phone and handed me the phone. I had been screaming all day and my voice was really high and Steven said 'Sebastian, at least you haven't lost your high end!'" (Baz, Komodo Rock, 07/23/08)
"It took him about two hours to do "Back in the Saddle" and "(Love Is) a Bitchslap," and then he's like, 'Right on, OK, it's like 2, 3 in the morning.' I said, 'Dude, you gotta take one whack at this song 'Stuck Inside,'' and he kinda got a little sniffy. I go, 'Would ya just do the one f---ing shot?' He very carefully wrote the words he was gonna sing and came in with this f---ing vocal at the end when he goes to this high part of this high harmony above the ending chorus. It's astonishing." (Baz, Reuters, 11/09/07)
"When Baz played the third track, "Stuck Inside," he suggested a kind of call-and-answer part. They allowed me the freedom to write my own words and melodies, and although it's only a couple of lines, it really felt great." (Axl, GunsNRoses.com, 08/21/07)
Angel Down was released on 11/20/07. It contained the first officially released songs with Axl's vocals since Oh My God in late 1999.
Re: 2007: Chinese Whispers
As for the other album...
"I know Axl was very serious about putting something out before Christmas. He was talking to me about it. He was talking about finishing liner notes. I don't know what happened." (Baz, Rock My Monkey, 12/02/07)
One possibility were the new release plan negotiations.
"[Best Buy's senior entertainment officer, Gary] Arnold says he began negotiating for the exclusive rights to sell Chinese Democracy more than a year ago." (LA Times, 11/20/08)
"About 60 people lost their jobs at Interscope and Geffen Records on Thursday when both labels merged into one. According to sources, a budget of $18 million was spent in making and promoting the Will.I.Am, Nicole Scherzinger (Pussycat Doll) and Eve albums - all were bombs and two aren't even out yet." (Kings of A&R, 12/17/06)
"'The album was completed before Christmas,' [Beta] says, 'but everyone knows that. We're in negotiations now with the record company...'" (Classic Rock, 02/08)
A new GNR studio album had been in the works ever since Slash began recording his Snakepit demos fourteen years prior. The project had since then outlasted its originally intended record company twice.