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Re: Axl's optimism in 2002....
I had forgotten about this insight into Axl's 2009 mindset.
https://web.archive.org/web/20090309005 … &fext=.jsp
Since releasing the long-awaited Guns N' Roses album 'Chinese Democracy' this past November, Axl Rose has said very little about it, taking to message boards and e-mails for the few comments he has made. But if there's one person who could get him to break his silence it's Del James, Rose's longtime friend, road manager and the man whose short story, 'Without You,' inspired the epic clip for 'November Rain.'
James, a music journalist who has covered G N' R for years, dating back to his days at metal mag Rip, as well as in several Rolling Stone articles, spoke with Rose and is sharing the results of that one-on-one exclusively with Spinner. Yes, here he is, W. Axl Rose, letting loose on Slash, answering whether he was trying to make the best album ever and waxing philosophically on when the original G N' R lineup really died.
Del James: As reported, were you, either in your mind or otherwise, trying to create the "best album ever made"?
Axl Rose: No. That's f---ing ridiculous and more negative media nonsense. We were all just trying to do our best for the fans and ourselves.
At any point did you feel or say either you or the band had to make a "masterpiece"?
Of course not -- more unaccountable nonsense. Obviously, media, elements of the public, fans and our detractors had all kinds of things going on such as high hopes, expectations, pressure, naysayers, etc. I don't think anyone would mind discovering a diamond mine and I don't think anyone in any competitive field would get very far if they didn't have dreams, aspirations or simply hope to do well. That said, these types of comments are more from our detractors, pulled out of their ass if not thin air.
Do you feel that your alleged sense of perfectionism has delayed the release of the album?
No. Guns in any lineup wasn't going to release anything all that great any sooner. And no matter how any of us tried, that didn't happen, and often while any number of us were pushing to try and do so with whatever we had going at the time. In regard to so-called perfectionism, I feel that has a lot to do with your goals or requirements with whatever one's doing or creating. Different levels may be required for different objectives. If you're making brakes for a vehicle, what's required? It's all relative, right? You try to make the best calls you can at any given moment and go from there. Generally, when this term is used by others in regard to me or how I work, it's said in a negative way or as an excuse for their shortcomings -- and again by my detractors. Whether they are open about such or not, some people love putting others in a negative light; helps them feel better about themselves. Too many ears and too many stupid comments have proven that.
Did you break up the old Guns?
It is my belief that the commitment to end old Guns came long before the band started in the heart and soul of one man. After that, it became more visible sometime before/during [the 'Use Your Illusion' albums], when the others opted for personal reasons to change our approach, styles and methods of working together. At the time, I unwittingly chose as a means of what I felt was both my own and Guns' survival to adapt, and threw myself into whatever I could get out of that to support and promote our efforts.
The group shot of the band in front of the piece 'Dead' was not a coincidence but not something I felt could be talked about openly, and something I hoped would change. I couldn't reach Izzy [Stradlin] and couldn't manage or curtail Slash and his personal objectives to take over Guns anymore than I did at the time, and I'm lucky to have survived, got what we did out of it and some still enjoyed the results. But for all intents and purposes, the 'Appetite [for Destruction]' lineup and approach was already dead, and with the addition of Matt [Sorum], the end of the then-lineup and what Guns was really about was only a matter of time. Only heartfelt choices by the others could or would change that. Unfortunately, nothing did.
I'm generally blamed for the time it took to release 'Illusions,' but again the reality of my fault would be in not finding a way to manage Slash complete with his addictions and bring both him and Izzy together either similar to 'Appetite' or in some other progression more conducive to Guns than how 'Illusions' was accomplished. Unfortunately, that never truly happened, and both Guns and the public suffered for it. I'll take the responsibility in the sense that had I known how to achieve those goals we would have made what I feel would've been a more effective and powerful album at the time.
See? There's the catch, right? All this time, most thought I changed the direction with 'Illusions.' A lot of nonsense theories, speculation and complete nonrealities put together by others, based on Slash and others' crap and off one interview taken out of context I did with Kurt Loder where I said I hated 'Appetite.' That sentence has been used and twisted in every conceivable way since to vilify me and purports to prove my guilt and responsibility, when I wasn't speaking to the music itself but the overwhelming and at that time seemingly drowning success of our record.
My statement was in specific response to the feelings I had listening to DJs at the L.A. hard rock station KNAC at the time complaining about having to play the entire record for the umpteenth time for fans. I simply wanted to make another record and have it be as good or better. If you don't think I would've liked to have five 'Appetites' and been living like the Stones at the time, you're high. With that, any other avenue I hoped to pursue musically would more than likely been available as well. This was something I could never get through to the others with. Personal need to dominate in Guns was very important to them. Izzy has to be in charge or he's not comfortable, same with Slash. Duff [McKagan] tries convincing himself he's equal partners with Slash. Each to their own.
Why didn't you write 'Appetite'-style songs yourself then?
Part of what destroyed Guns was the battle between those guitars that works so well for 'Appetite.' I have no concept how to duplicate that with either the old guys or anyone else. I liked it then but can't say I truly understood their nature as I feel I do now. Make no mistake: That was a war and the efforts of one man to "successfully" remove another in his path between him and I. Neither player wants to deal with each other in those ways again. Those battles have already been fought, both sides went their prospective ways. Regardless of if they were to work together or not, the true dynamics of back then aren't something Izzy has an interest in or would allow himself to actually be in to such a degree other than for appearances, if that. Also, anything I had written I felt was in similar directions then, during and after the 'Illusions' tour was more than rejected by both Slash and Duff at a time, which greatly helped destroy whatever confidence I may have had at the time.
Why so many guitars on 'Chinese Democracy'?
Seriously, past Guns records have only two. Why did you feel the need for more on this endeavor?
I understand it's for whatever reason a bit of a challenge for most people to feel comfortable in their minds with any band having more than two guitarists, but technically, as far as our recording goes, we're a bit more alike with the older recordings than one might think. On the older records, though, it's very distinct that there are generally two guitar parts -- each part is actually performed and recorded twice, giving a fuller sound, so in effect you have four guitars. Leads and fills are another pass, and often songs were originally written and demos were done with other guitarists as well.
On 'Chinese,' instead of having the same player double his part, we chose to add another voice and either each player's own take on the part or their take of another's, then there's leads and fills which vary from one person or a few on a track. Also on this record, though, you may have one player playing more than one part in a section; they generally tend to be two distinct parts and not overdubs or harmonizing with their own leads or fills. No way is better than another; it's just whatever works for what you're trying to do, what you personally want or for whatever reason you feel you either need, choose or like.
For this record, I wanted a blend of different-style sounds and approaches; some at least a bit unique to the individual players and their takes on these songs. I feel the different personalities and techniques give the material its own sense of originality. Live, I prefer the more solid approach of the three guitars now, especially as the performances with the rhythm are more energetic, consistent and reliable. It was fun having Izzy on board a bit adding yet another voice to the mix and seemed to work better for the songs this way, as opposed to having him by himself.
Would you consider a reunion with the 'Appetite' or 'Illusions' lineups?
A lot more reasons than I'll get into here now. Different reasons for each version and each individual. The Izzy bit was fun -- and also fun because we didn't have to rely on him in any way, which is how he prefers things and works better for everyone. That said, you never knew if Izzy would be there or not or if he'd remember the song or decide to leave early. It didn't cause any problems, because we were doing our show regardless and didn't have to depend on anything, but it did open everyone's eyes a bit and blow minds.
He called, asked to come out and negotiated a deal with management that it's probably best that none of us knew about or the fun would've seemed a bit more like being used or taken advantage of spoiling the moment. As it was, we had a great time.
It'd be highly doubtful for us to have more than one of the alumni up with us at any given time. I suppose Duff could play guitar on something somewhere, but there's zero possibility of me having anything to do with Slash other than by ambush, and that wouldn't be pretty. He wrote that whole bit about not having his guitar in Vegas, I'd assume, to save face. I was told by both the Hard Rock and different Guns industry people who had come out to be supportive of the new band and were a bit surprised to see him there, especially guitar in hand, but just assumed it was a surprise for the show and we were in on the arrangement.
Steven [Adler] brings assorted ambulance-chasing attorneys and the nightmare of his mother. One gig, or even a couple songs, could mean years of behind-the-scenes legal aftermath.
Wouldn't you make more money?
If the music was there, meaning new music, I can't say for sure right now -- and there have been market surveys, and various promoters have put together different projections and analysis that in areas where there could be more, it's not enough to sell your soul and live in hell the rest of your life for, that's definitely certain. But that's the catch, right, the music? If I believed in that as a reality which, no offense meant to anyone, I haven't seen anything in all these years to convince me or we'd be doing this interview under different circumstances of some sort, to say the least.
It's not some place I want to be or have any interest in being. If I believed in it in regard to the music, not in direction so much but in how it feels and to what degree, then maybe it'd be another story. I'm in no way trying to be offensive to anyone here, and I'm allowed to have my own feelings in regard to what inspires me, not someone else. Other than a one-off or something, I don't really do songs because someone else likes them.
There is the distinct possibility that having his intentions in regard to me so deeply ingrained and his personal though guarded distaste for much of 'Appetite' other than his or Duff's playing, Slash either should not have been in Guns to begin with or should have left after 'Lies.' In a nutshell, personally I consider him a cancer and better removed, avoided -- and the less anyone heard of him or his supporters, the better.
Didn't you say you loved him in what -- '06?
No. I said "loved," as in past tense. It was a misquote by a writer I mistook as a fan.
Do you think he can play guitar?
I prefer listening to others in general, especially those who both push their talents and infuse them with a level of energy that I've seldom heard in his efforts over the years. I'm not taking anything away from the man that are his to claim for his past efforts; it's just that for whatever reason for me, whether the approach, style or basic hands-on technique is there, the passion and true dedication to the art of guitar in his chosen area other than being, in my opinion, a whore for the limelight has generally seemed absent or lacking with most efforts for a long time. To me, it's sad. I don't get it. Where does it go? Is it a choice? Sometimes it's there on covers; I think Clive [Davis, legendary record executive] fell for that.
It wasn't there with me on 'Sympathy [for the Devil]' or ['The] Spaghetti [Incident?'] and it took years for me to get there again, in my opinion, and in the ways I wanted it to be. Will I keep it? Who knows? I'd like to, but who can say?
Who's your favorite drummer you've worked with?
I've liked elements that each brought in. Josh [Freese], [Brian] "Brain" [Mantia] and Frank [Ferrer] have been the easiest to work with and get along with, as well as it being fun to hang out with any of them. I do feel that all three were the right drummers to make this album. The rehearsals with [Dave] Abruzzesse and Pod as a duo were really cool; it was a shame then that it didn't work out but seemed for the best once we found Josh. In regard to old Guns, I don't listen much and for different reasons -- more because of the drums than anything else.
With 'Appetite,' for me the parts, playing, etc., timing flaws, whatever, are perfect, and as a moment in time for me, the whole record is. That said, the sound of the drums, which at the time in our niche of the woods was a bit of a bold statement and a somewhat successful effort to change things from the current flow at the time, and so may have been necessary but for me sound the most dated of anything there sound-wise.
With 'Illusions' several years ago, something came on the radio and I realized how the energy in the drums, though solid and consistent, brought me down in a way I feel damaged the material in the long run, if not from the get-go. Maybe it's there with some, most or all of us in ways, but I specifically notice it more with the drums. And when listening in that sense of analyzing how something feels to me in regards to its involvement or inclusion in the song, whether anyone disagrees I'm somewhat capable of removing myself and events from the picture.
For me it's more about certain energies and feel, and I'm not into what we did there for a good bit in regard to the drum work. To actually have a drummer that could play at the time, though, was a bit too overwhelming. The public has no idea what went into Steven's parts and the notion of getting through songs in rehearsal if ever, with no exaggeration, was unfortunately a nightmare that neither I or Izzy could take, and eventually the others as well, though they lasted longer for other reasons.
What do you think of Steven being on the VH1 rehab show?
I wish Steven the best; unfortunately Steven's given us the spoiler for that. I hope people are able to find answers and get the help they need; other than that, I'm not the biggest fan of the show.
Who's in the band?
I think we'll go with a combo of who's around and who's on the album for now and worry about that when we get ready to tour.
Is Robin [Finck] in the band?
Last I was aware, he had some interest in touring, though I can't say what that means until then. In our opinion, he's made things a bit awkward publicly, but that's just his way.
Is Brain in the band?
Last I checked. Brain works on several things with Guns either from his home or in the studio.
So you have two drummers? Will they both tour?
Yes, and who knows?
When's the next album?
Have no idea and don't care. Hopefully, we'll be working 'Chinese' for a good bit. Of course there's the same idiots that have been around forever already demanding release dates.
How much material is there?
Not as much as Baz [Sebastian Bach] thinks he heard! Really, it doesn't matter. If things go well enough, we'd like to get another out at some point in our lifetimes.
Is anything finished?
Depends how you look at it.
How do you look at it?
Not something we've focused on.
You're not saying much.
You got that? What I can say is if you don't like this, then you probably won't like that. Same people, lots more approaches, bit meaner in places and darker in some. Robin does a really great Stevie Ray Vaughan-type solo on one track.
Slash has said that the sessions they did with Izzy before Velvet Revolver were the best Guns album ever. What do you think of that?
In what way?
Old Guns promotion.
What happened between you and [photographer] Robert John?
Hmmm ... I don't know anyone who knows. Anyone whose opinions I trust seems to thinks he lost his mind, lives in a fantasy world and knows everything.
What's that about, if you don't mind me asking?
Have no idea. This is a guy that I got in the business, got him gigs, paid and treated well, promoted, etc. Helped him get a house, helped him keep his house, bought his photos, and when Merck [Mercuriadis, former G N' R manager], for whatever reasons took forever to pay him, Robert sues me ... but I didn't know anything about it. Next thing, I'm the Antichrist because I didn't like some photos. F--- if I know.
I called Robert out of the blue back when, because I felt I knew something was wrong. Finally, he says he was gonna kill himself. I put up about 60-something-K on the mortgage, got a couple payments, but that wasn't where the trouble started. It was that the bank was foreclosing on that money, so he was pissed at our accountant, who kept on him trying to sort out what we should do and Robert avoiding him -- who was the others' accountant as well. I only learned of any of this near the end. He and Robert knew each other for years. He's one of the guys who allegedly saw Slash with his guitar in Vegas. And it seems genuine because he didn't know anything was going on. He's like, "Why was Slash there with his guitar?" And the Hard Rock people -- what did they have to lie about? They deal with all the bands ... friends, enemies, whatever, so it's just business. As far as I know, we're all good with that.
Re: Axl's optimism in 2002....
That Spinner interview with Del James was definitely staged for Axl to vent about certain people and things. Axl didn't do himself any favors with that interview.
Axl had done a third (apart from Spinner and Billboard) interview after CD was released, an email interview with veteran music writer Gary Graff (he's been interviewing/writing about GN'R since the 80s), which, oddly enough, slipped under everyone's radar (!) although apparently it's been out there all this time. I found it by chance a few months ago:
https://www.theoaklandpress.com/2009/03 … -the-fans/
G’n’R: Axl Rose talks to Gary Graff about his new album, rumors and the fans
By Gary Graff
PUBLISHED: March 2, 2009
Axl Rose has never been a talker.
Since Guns N’ Roses emerged during the mid-’80s, the band’s enigmatic and iconoclastic frontman — now its unquestioned leader and sole remaining original member — has kept his own counsel and has kept quiet and out of the public eye. And, he acknowledges, it’s cost him.
“I didn’t talk forever,” the 47-year-old Indiana native, born William Rose Jr., notes. “If I talk I need to ‘shut the f– up.’ If I don’t talk, it’s much worse.”
But these days there’s much to talk about with Guns N’ Roses — as if there weren’t before.
In November, Rose and his latest group of musical cohorts released “Chinese Democracy,” an album that’s been in the making since the early ’90s and has been the subject of considerable speculation and reportage of massive costs (reportedly more than $13 million), release dates and in-fighting that saw band members drop away one by one — including guitarist Slash, bassist Duff McKagen and drummer Matt Sorum, who went on to form Velvet Revolver.
Nevertheless, interest in GN’R remained high. Chalk some of that up to multiplatinum albums such as 1987’s “Appetite For Destruction” and the two volumes of “Use Your Illusion” that came out in 1991. Rose took incarnations of GN’R — including longtime keyboardist Dizzy Reed and former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson — on the road at periodic intervals, previewing the new songs and enduring a few Internet leaks of the material.
At this point, three months after its release, there were hopes that “Chinese Democracy” would be a much bigger deal than its proven to be. The album — a sweeping exposition of epic, richly produced rock, which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart — has sold less than 600,000 copies in the U.S. though 2.6 million copies worldwide. The domestic number is a disappointment, and it has set fingers pointing. Rose feels his record company, Interscope, did not put enough muscle behind it. Some feel Best Buy, where it’s been sold exclusively, did not put forth enough of an effort — and certainly nothing close to what Wal-Mart did for AC/DC’s “Black Ice.” And let’s not talk about Dr. Pepper’s botched promotion to distribute free soft drinks to celebrate the release.
Still others blamed Rose for not being willing to do interviews — though he did trade comments with fans on the Internet — and didn’t have the band ready to tour to support the album’s release.
He’s talking now — sort of. What follows are excerpts from a lengthy e-mail interview solicited prior to the release of “Chinese Democracy” and updated afterward. Whether “Chinese Democracy” is ultimately deemed a success or failure, its long gestation guarantees it a place in rock lore forever, and Rose’s insights only add to that status.
How does it feel finally having “Chinese Democracy” out? Was the gap between albums frustrating for you or was the process of making of the album its own kind of reward?
Rose: “Ha! Last thing anyone wants to read about are MY frustrations! It feels great!! There were rewards, of course, mainly in meeting and working with the players involved that — no offense to anyone — you could only wish you’d met sooner in life. But no (frustrations with) recording or with those involved but with whatever else was going on around (it). It was pretty ugly for the better part of the duration. That said, being a part of the material personally and with these people means a lot to me.
How much of the past 13 years of making the album was focused on creative concerns vs. distribution/release/commercial concerns?
Rose: This is the closest to the real issues of the record I’ve seen from anyone over this entire time. The reality is that most of my creative energy was used in any area other than music … just navigating through the mine fields — which so far we’ve managed, maybe not so pretty, but an album that many said would never be released by a guy that was either supposed to be dead or kill himself at this level’s not so bad. And (the music is) not as horrific as many predicted, in our opinion, which is a bonus.
What was the overall creative mission or goal that you felt in making these songs?
Rose: No. 1 was just to be involved in what I felt was a good record that I could stand behind with confidence, with no shame artistically, to know that I gave the public our best efforts with no compromise and no holding back. To have the material not be as self-destructive as I have tended to be but still have power. To deal with real and personal issues that may be a bit uncomfortable to embrace … in an effort to help anyone who might benefit. To push the envelope with guitars working together. To not be quite as dated as some predicted or expected. To have an album for Guns fans (who) may have gotten past or are dealing with destructive influences in their lives could enjoy as a positive progression. For the music not to feel worn down, so as to be somewhat giving rather than taking. To be a bit different and its own thing in some way as other Guns albums were, at least to some extent.
What’s the overall impact you want the album to have on its listeners?
Rose: I would just like people to feel a bit better or refreshed and that maybe some feel a perhaps much-needed release in whatever area it may affect them and maybe some are even inspired. The list goes on, and I feel that I achieved a lot of these things to some degree or other. Whether anyone likes it or not, it’s an extremely special guitar record in that so many influences styles and players creating this tapestry is fairly hard to come by, the same with the various drum and rhythm approaches or styles.
What kind of impact did time make on the album we’re hearing now? Are there specific songs or parts of songs you can point to that benefited from the years spent on the album?
Rose: There’s not a song that didn’t gain something from the time and elements that happened in recording as things progressed — different players, new gear, new ideas, lots of things. Regardless of what nonsense was going on both behind the scenes and publicly, the album … continued forward.
What were your thoughts and emotions as you changed personnel throughout the course of the making of “Chinese Democracy” — especially as Slash, Duff and Matt stopped being part of GN’R? Could that older lineup of the band have stayed together and, if so, under what conditions?
Rose: The question seems to incorrectly and perhaps unintentionally imply … that I was changing or attempting to change the musical approach of old Guns. Part of that, I feel, may have come from Slash painting a rather distorted picture publicly, both back then and since, of what our studio was like during his trial period. Contrary to his accounts, there weren’t tons of computers, keyboards and endless, useless gear around that anyone was paying insane prices for. What in my opinion are Slash’s aversion and fears have been greatly amplified and exaggerated and often in complete juxtaposition to and a subversion of reality to support his case publicly at both ours and the fans’ expense.
I know that I wasn’t opposed to anyone from then … and tried anything I could, or that anyone else could think of, to allow that to happen at the time. … The end of each relationship was devastating and terrifying, (but) … no, there wasn’t any way I’m aware of, then or in hindsight, to have kept the old lineup together, at least (by) myself or anyone involved in our camp at the time. In regard to those who came and went in Guns since, and were a part of “Chinese,” some left amicably, some in other ways that had different effects on everyone involved. I think with the album’s release we made it through a good number of those, and what were hard feelings in some areas are water under the bridge now.
When did you actually know, or feel, the album was finished, and what told you that it was?
Rose: Working with Bumble’s (guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal) fills, (drummer Frank Ferrer)’s additions and various intro bits etc., a lot happened in our final month of mixing as well as in mastering. Thank God for (mastering engineer) Bob Ludwig and his patience.
A line like “Why would I choose to prostitute myself to live with fortune and fame?” (from the song “Prostitute”) sounds like a pretty direct and explanatory statement about your attitude. True?
Rose: In this business, someone is always telling you why to compromise on every issue imaginable. Generally … it’s just personal interests as opposed to what’s best for the music or anyone involved, and least of all the fans, regardless of their preferences. It’s about money in the short term. However you can be used to make whatever anyone can for whatever reason is important to them for the quick buck that’s what you deal with 24/7.
Ultimately, did you have a mostly good time making the album? And how close does it come to the initial vision you had for it?
Rose: No, not really, but I like the people (involved) and what we were able to accomplish. It was much better than previous lineups, and if not for the ugliness around us and the circumstances I’m sure it would’ve been much more fun. I’m very happy with the album, looking forward to audiophile and Blu-Ray mixes at some point if we’re lucky, as that’s really what it was designed for since first hearing about Blu-Ray.
What is your sense of how the world at large views GN’R at this point?
Rose: I think there’s a lot of things to clear up and I wouldn’t presume all that much. … I’m not so sure the world at large cares one way or the other. It’s a big place with a lot of people into different things, but some would like a good show from us, so if we can get there, we’ll do our best to bring it.
How do you feel about selling the album exclusively at one place?
Rose: Fine. It’s not like we had that many options — get f—- by Interscope or wait till next year with another retailer.
Are you happy with the way Best Buy has handled things?
Rose: In many ways, yes. In many areas, they’ve been great. I’m not clear how much the record company has helped them yet, though.
“Chinese Democracy” is very much an album. Are you at all concerned that in an iTunes era, people aren’t interested in entire albums anymore?
Rose: “Chinese” doesn’t have a pretty road in front of it, but it was never going to. It is an album. That’s how it was crafted and meant to be. I tried to deliver something I felt was good … and let others find out if there’s anything there for them. There’s a lot there, so there might be something. I was always the one who liked the albums (that) bands made that weren’t necessarily their most publicly acclaimed (or) their bigger commercial hits — meaning that I enjoyed other approaches than what a band’s mainstream fans felt defined them. “Appetite” was influenced by a number of (those); it took a good while to catch on. It’s … possible to make something that works better as an album and not so much as singles.
Is the measure of “success” for “Chinese Democracy” purely creative, or are there external and commercial measures as well?
Rose: I think that’s a great question. I would say it has more than one life or is a bit multi-tasked or faceted. The creative comes first or … should be the deepest, then there’s getting it across as you put it. And if you can have some fun it’s even better. Those are elements that have been part of Guns. We had some great times touring in ’06-’07, and it looked like others did as well. As long as the music and performance come first then, anything that contributes to that is great.
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Re: Axl's optimism in 2002....
Thanks for posting these interviews and I had not seen or read the Gary Graff one. Insightful look into Axl's mindset at the time. The Del James one is indeed a stage managed chance for Axl to vent his spleen specifically.
One thing that stands out that I wholeheartedly agree with is the exclusion of Izzy in the Illusions sets. Notwithstanding all the other crap that was added, the keyboards and a different sounding drummer, the Illusions really missed that key guitar dynamic and interplay between Izzy and Slash. That had been a key ingredient for Appetite and Lies and it's interesting to see Axl characterise this as a power play of sorts by Slash. Those albums are the lesser for the lack of that musical relationship - a real shame but it's clear the band were completely fractured during the recording of the Illusions - essentially Matt, Slash and Duff being the core that were holding it together then the others coming in and doing their thing.
This band has always had an extremely delicate dynamic apart from the very early days. It goes some way to explaining why they have such a slim discography I suppose .
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Re: Axl's optimism in 2002....
How can this few dozen songs be all he has to show for the last 25 years?
Remember his quote that he was ready to be a hermit forever. He credits the Team Brazil family with bringing him back to the music world. I think when you combine the implosion of original GN'R with his own mental issues and desire to be a hermit, it makes a lot of sense that he hasn't been able to put together much material.
Re: Axl's optimism in 2002....
Those interviews show Axl is the last real rock star. Articulate, independent and doesn't give too much of a fuck.
While not a rock artist, I think Harry Styles "rebellious" move to pose on the cover of Vogue in a womans dress says all about the current artistic climate.