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interjúk Axllel



The Rolling Stone ,1989
Issue #558 - August 10, 1989
by Del James
One guitar has been destroyed, a mirror wall shattered, several platinum albums broken beyond repair and the telephone dropped off a twelfth-story balcony. Apparently, W. Axl Rose had to get something out of his system.
Just two weeks ago, everything in Rose's posh condo in West Hollywood, California, was in order. The mirror was intact, reflecting a space in which almost everything - including the refrigerator - is black. The platinum albums, along with dozens of plaques and awards, hung neatly on the wall.
So what happened? On the surface one would think that the twenty-seven-year-old singer for the hard-rock phenomenon Guns n' Roses has it made. After all, there's a new BMW, a new condo, a parcel of land in Wisconsin on which he plans to build his dream house and, of course, the adoration of millions. One would think that life for Rose is pure rock & roll bliss. But one would be wrong.
Rose doesn't want to discuss exactly what set him off and made him destroy his belongings. But it becomes clear as he talks that a lot of it has to do with suddenly being famous. "When I was growing up, I was never really popular," he says. "Now everybody wants to be my friend. I like my privacy, to live alone in my own little world. I live in a security building, and all my calls are screened. I don't even know my own phone number". Tucked tightly behind a couch is an Uzi semiautomatic machine gun; nearby is a 9-mm pistol. "I'm not paranoid," he says, explaining his fondness for weapons. "This is how I choose to live. This is comfortable."
He wasn't always so comfortable. The eldest of three children raised in Lafayette, Indiana, Rose hitchhiked to Los Angeles, hoping to hook up with guitarist Izzy Stradlin, a long time friend, and form a band. The two struggled on the L.A. club circuit for years. Eventually, the duo met guitarist Slash and drummer Steven Adler, Later, Duff McKagen responded to a classified ad for a bassist, and Guns n' Roses were born.
The band's early gigs were tough going. Only two people showed up for the group's first "official" L.A. performance. Over the following months, a series of frenzied, violent shows landed the Gunners on the shit list of everyone, including club owners, rival bands and the press - everyone but the fans, who grew in number with each passing gig. After playing together for about a year and building a strong following, Guns n'Roses were signed by Geffen Records in March 1986 by A&R man Tom Zutaut.
The band's debut, Appetite for Destruction,, and its quickly released follow-up record, the extended EP G n'R Lies, have put Guns n' Roses at the top of the hard-rock heap. The records have sold upward of 12 million copies combined, as well as simultaneously charting Billboard's Top Five - a feat no one else has accomplished in the last decade.
Sitting on a black Persian rug, chain-smoking Marlboros and sipping Corona beers, the singer welcomes any and all questions about the band. His onstage roar is replaced by a soft-spoken tone, but nonetheless he can be brutal in his honesty.
A few years ago you were a poor kid in a struggling rock band, and today you're in one of the most popular groups in the world. How have you adjusted to your success?
Trying to handle success is a pain in the ass. It's really strange and takes some getting used to. I've never had my place to live before, never had to deal with the amount of money we've made and not get ripped off, never understood doing your taxes and all these things. I was hating it a few months ago, trying to get organized and trying to get a place to live and to get a grip on everything. But now things are coming together. I've wanted to be here my whole life.
Did you ever in your wildest dreams think your first album AFD would do as well as it did?
Thought about it a lot.
Besides dreaming about it, did you ever believe it had a real chance to sell 9 million copies?
No, but it was like this: I thought about trying to sell more records than Boston's first album. I always thought that and never let up. Everything was directed at trying to achieve the sales without sacrificing the credibility of our music. We worked real hard to sell this many records. The album wasn't just a fluke. Maybe Appetite will be the only good album we make, but it wasn't just a fluke.
Does the business end of rock & roll ever interfere with your creative attitude?
Not for us. This is music, this is art. It's definitely a good business, but that should be second to the art, not first. I was figuring it out, and I'm like the president of a company that's worth between $125 million and a quarter billion dollars. If you add up record sales based on the low figure and a certain price for T-shirts and royalties and publishing, you come up with at least $125 million, which I get less than two percent of.
I like being successful. I was always starving. On the other side. When it came to people with money, it was always "The rich? Fuck them!" But I left one group and joined another. I escaped from one group where I was looked down on for being a poor kid that doesn't know shit, and now I'm like, a rich, successful asshole. I don't like that. I'm still just me, and with a lot of people's help, the group was able to become a huge financial success. None of us were the popular kids in school - we were all outcasts who got together and pooled our talents.
Is there any lesson you've learned that you wish you knew a few years ago?
What I'd tell any kid in high school is "Take business classes." I don't care what else you're gonna do, if you're gonna do art or anything, take business classes. You can say, "Well, I don't want to get commercial," but if you do anything to make any money, you're doing something commercial. You can be flipping hamburgers at McDonald's, but you're a commercial burger flipper.
Now the band is getting ready to work on the follow-up to 'Appetite' and the 'G n' R Lies' EP. What's your frame of mind?
As my friend Dave puts it, I'm jacking off. [laughs] We're trying to regroup. I'm ready to work. I'm creating, and finally I have an
environment in which I can work. I haven't had that for a long time, since three years ago, when we all used to live in one room, sitting around
writing songs. Until recently, I haven't had peace of mind. There were always distractions, but now it's like we can finally work on our songs.
Do you feel heavy pressure to sell as many copies with your next album as 'Appetite'?
We have two records out, both of them in the Top Ten, and everybody wants another record immediately. They all say, "Let's milk this sucker." It'd be nice to outsell that album. A lot of groups are trying to outsell it. For a debut, it was the highest-selling album in the history of rock and roll. Definitely in America, but I'm not sure that's true worldwide. I read where Bon Jovi was saying nobody's out done their biggie, Slippery When Wet. He knew it was their biggie, and he didn't know if New Jersey would be as big. Of course, you're gonna want to outdo it. What I want to do is just grow as an artist and feel proud of these new songs.
Although you're only in the preproduction stages of the next album, how do you feel it will compare with the others?
The next record will definitely be much more emotional. I try to write so the audience can understand what emotions I was feeling. Also, I think the
songs are worded in a way that a great number of people will be able to relate to the experiences; it's not so personalized that it's only my weird, twisted point of view. We hope to make a very long record. It'd be nice to make one that's seventy-six minutes long, A seventy-six-minute CD, with varied styles.
The most important songs at this point are the ones with piano, the ballads, because we haven't really explored that side of the band yet. They're also the most difficult songs to do - not difficult to play, but to write and pull out of ourselves. The beautiful music is what really makes me feel like anartist. The other, heavier stuff also makes me feel like an artist and can be difficult to write. But it's harder to write about serious emotions, describing them as best as possible rather than trying to write a syrupy ballad just to sell records.
Any specific titles for the next album you can talk about?
Well, there's a song called "November Rain" and another one called ""Breakdown". There's also a song tentatively titled "Without You". Last night, I wrote a whole new intro to that. It just appeared out of nowhere, like the verses - just little pieces that have come whole.
How do write complete songs from seperate bits and pieces?
They'll just show up. I keep them on file in my brain and then add them together. Like, I'll be brushing my teeth and all of a sudden a prechorus will come, and I won't know why. Then a bridge came about a year ago. Six months ago another part came. Last night a whole intro came. When I was writing it, I wasn't planning on putting it with this song, but all of a sudden it just flowed.
The 'G n' R Lies' EP surprised a lot of people because of it's emphasis on acoustic material. Aren't you afraid that some people may be turned off by the band straying from the sound that got them on top?
We're not getting away from hard rock. Our basic root is hard rock, a bit heavier than the Stones, more in a vein like Aerosmith, Draw the Line- type stuff. We love loud guitars. George Michael was telling me he really loved our melodies and wondered why we covered so much of it up with loud guitars, and I said because we love that. I told him he should put some more loud guitars in his music. He has such beautiful melodies, and it'd be nice to hear some loud guitars in there. At the same time, I have my favorite symphony pieces, orchestra pieces if you will.
I've always looked at things in a versatile sense because of Queen, ELO, Elton John, especially early Elton John and groups like that. With Queen, I have my favorite: Queen II. Whenever their newest record would come out and have all these other kinds of music on it, at first I'd only like
this song or that song. But after a period of time listening to it, it would open my mind up to so many different styles. I really appreciate them for that. That's something I've always wanted to be able to achieve. It's important to show people all forms of music, basically try to give people a broader point of view.
Speaking of versatility, you're known primarily as a singer, but you've been playing piano quite a bit lately.
I've been playing piano my whole life. I took lessons, but I only really played my lesson on the day of the lesson. All week long, I'd sit down at the piano and just make up stuff. To this day, I still can't really play other people's songs, only my own. I haven't had a piano for years. I couldn't afford one. I couldn't figure out where I was sleeping at night, let alone try to have a place for a piano. So I had to put it aside and have the dream that I'd get into it. Now I really want to bring the piano out.
So far the song that's inspired the most controversy in the band's short career has been "One in a Million." How did you come to write that song?
"One in a Million" was written while sitting in the apartment of my friend West Arkeen, who's like the sixth member of the band. I wrote it at his house, sitting around bored watching TV. I can't really play guitar too well, I only play the top two strings, and I would write a little piece at a time. I started writing about wanting to get out of L.A. , getting away for a little while. I'd been down to the downtown-L.A. Greyhound bus station. If you haven't been there, you can't say shit to me about what goes on and about my point of view. There are a large number of black men selling stolen jewelry, crack, heroin and pot, and most of the drugs are bogus. Rip-off artists selling parking spaces to parking lots that there's no charge for. Trying to misguide every kid that gets off the bus and
doesn't quite know where he's at or where to go, trying to take the person for whatever they've got. That's how I hit town. The thing with "One in a Million" is, basically, we're all one in a million, we're all here on this earth. We're one fish in a sea. Let's quit fucking with each other, fucking with me.
The lyrics have incited a lot of protest, so let's go over them line by line. Let's start with one of the verses, "Police and niggers, that's right/Get outta my way/Don't need to buy none/ Of your gold chains today."
I used words like police and niggers because you're not allowed to use the word nigger. Why can black people go up to each other and say, "Nigger," but when a white guy does it all of a sudden it's a big put-down. I don't like boundaries of any kind. I don't like being told what I can and what I can't say. I used the word nigger because it's a word to describe somebody that is basically a pain in your life, a problem. The word nigger doesn't necessarily mean black. Doesn't John Lennon have a song "Woman Is the Nigger of the World"? There's a rap group, N.W.A., Niggers with Attitude. I mean, they're proud of that word. More power to them. Guns n' Roses ain't bad. . . . N.W.A. is baad! Mr. Bob Goldthwait said the only reason we put these lyrics on the record was because it would cause controversy and we'd sell a million albums. Fuck him! Why'd he put us in his skit? We don't just do something to get the controversy, the press.
How about the next verse? Immigrants and faggots/They make no sense to me/ They come to our country/And think they'll do as they please/ Like start some mini-Iran or spread some fuckin' disease." Why that reference to immigrants?
When I use the word immigrants, what I'm talking about is going to a 7-11 or Village pantries - a lot of people from countries like Iran, Pakistan, China, Japan et cetera, get jobs in these convenience stores and gas stations. Then they treat you as if you don't belong here. I've been chased out of a store with Slash by a six-foot-tall Iranian with a butcher knife because he didn't like the way we were dressed. Scared me to death. All I could see in my mind was a picture of my arm on the ground, blood going everywhere. When I get scared, I get mad. I grabbed the top of one of these big orange garbage cans and went back at him with this shield, going, "Come on!" I didn't want to back down from this guy. Anyway that's why I wrote about immigrants. Maybe I should have been more specific and said, "Joe Schmoladoo at the 7-11 and faggots make no sense to me." That's ridiculous! I summed it up simply and said, "Immigrants."
How about the use of the word "faggots"?
I've had some very bad experiences with homosexuals. When I was first coming to Los Angeles, I was about eighteen or nineteen. On my first hitch-hiking ride, this guy told me I could crash at his hotel. I went to sleep and woke up while this guy was trying to rape me. I threw him down on the floor. He came at me again. I went running for the door. He came at me. I pinned him between the door and the wall. I had a straight razor, and I pulled the razor and said, "Don't ever touch me! Don't ever think about touching me! Don't touch yourself and think about me! Nothing!" Then I grabbed my stuff and split with no place to go, no sleep, in the middle of nowhere outside of St. Louis. That's why I have the attitude I have.
Are you anti-homosexual then?
I'm proheterosexual. I can't get enough of women, and I don't see the same thing that other men can see in men. I'm not into gay or bisexual experiences. But that's hypocritical of me, because I'd rather see two women together than just about anything else. That happens to be my personal, favorite thing.
How about gay-bashing? Have you ever beaten up somebody simply because of their sexual preference?
No! I never have. The most I do is, like, on the way to the Troubador in "Boystown," on Santa Monica Boulevard, I'll yell out the car window, "Why don't you guys like pussy?" 'Cause I'm confused. I don't understand it. Anti-homosexual? I'm not against themdoing what they want to do as long as it's not hurting anybody else and they're not forcing it upon me. I don't need them in my face or, pardon the pun, up my ass about it.
The "One in a Million" lyrics about "faggots" who "spread some fuckin' disease" got G n' R bounced from an AIDS benefit in New York by the Gay Men's Health Crisis, one of the groups that was involved with putting on the show. How did you feel about that?
We're in no way associated with the Gay Men's Health Crisis, except that David Geffen is on the board of directors for the concert and he's the owner of our record company. We were asked to do this, and we wanted to contribute some money to help stop a deadly disease that's killing humans of all kinds. A friend of mine who's homosexual and was largely responsible for the record companies taking notice of us was upset about it because we didn't even get a chance to clear ourselves, to make good.
AIDS is something very scary. The concert was something we wanted to do and felt it was important to do but we were denied the opportunity. We were even denied the opportunity to say anything about it. It was just publicly announced that we weren't allowed to do it because the Gay Men's Health Crisis wouldn't let us. I don't feel they have the right to deny the money and attention they would have gotten from us playing. It's pride, it's ignorant and it's childish.
Women seem to be one of the more popular subjects with Guns and Roses. Are you a romantic kind of guy?
I'm a person that has a lot of different relationships. It's really hard to maintain a one-on-one relationship if the other person is not going to allow me to be with other people. I have a real open, hedonistic, sexual attitude. Just 'cause you're not totally in love with a person doesn't mean you don't like them. You can think they're attractive, and you want to touch them, have a great time with them. Maybe at that moment you are in love. I think love and lust go hand in hand, like good and evil. One without the other is not complete, But I don't tell someone I'm in love with them if I'm not. I never have.
You'd describe yourself as promiscuous then?
I have sex as often as possible.
Don't you ever think of contracting AIDS?
Yeah, but I also live in a city that's supposed to get the big quake any day. You can get killed on the freeway in drive-by shooting, the foods irradiated, there's a million ways to go out. A lot of times, sexual situations are very spontaneous, but I try not to be overly careless.
So you practise safe sex?
Practicing safe sex . . . . I like the word practice. It means keep doing it, keep repeating the process, get it right. Practice makes perfect. I don't know if it'll get perfect. but you can get a lot better. Just keep practicing.
What about drugs? Everyone and their mother seems to have a G n' R story involving junkie debauchery . . . .
I'm not and never have been a junkie. The last interview in RIP Magazine got taken out of context about me talking openly about my drug use. That was over two years ago and was only for a few weeks when there was nothing to do. I was also very safe about it. That doesn't mean that at some point I won't get really sick of life and choose to OD. Then people will go, "He was always a junkie." That's not the case, but you can believe what you want, I don't give a fuck. No one's really gonna believe anything I say anyway as far as what I do or don't do with drugs, 'cause it's such a taboo subject. Lately I've been drinking champagne for fun, a few beers, you know. Right now drugs get in the way of my dreams and goals. I really don't want drugs around me now, I'm not necessarily against the use of drugs, they just don't fit in my life right now. Then again, I could be out on tour for six months and a blast might be what cheers me up that night.
Do you ever think these excesses might hurt other members of the group?
I don't want to see drugs tear up this band. I'm against when it goes too far. Right now, for me, a line of coke is too far. A line of coke puts my voice out of commission for a week. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I did a lot of stuff before. Maybe it's guilt and it's relocated in my throat. All I know is it's not healthy for me right now. And if somebody goes, "Oh, man, he's not a partyer anymore," hey, fuck you! Do you want a record or not?
With all the misconceptions floating around about G n' R, the biggest misconceptions seem to come from magazine interviews you've granted.
That's just a lot of sensationalism. People out there don't know what's real or not. Things are always going to get changed or taken out of context, but some magazines will make up an interview just to sell issues. One's written that Slash said I run over dogs. I think it sucks when a kid has three bucks and he buys a candy bar, a soda and a magazine because he's really into Guns n' Roses, and he gets bad photos and an interview that's not true. It's not fair. Unfortunately, it probably will never change.
Some schools have banned G n' R t-shirts, and organizations like the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) have objected to what they feel is the band's glorification of a degenerate lifestyle. When you sing to a younger audience, do you think you have any responsibility as their idol?
It's just a record. . . . I don't know. You have to go through your own changes sand growth. I'm not trying to influence anybody in a negative way. Also, I'm not raising your kid. You're the parent. The PRMC? Who are they? A TV show, like AM/PM?
If you had a young son, say Axl Rose II, how would you feel if he brought home an album with lyrics about "niggers" and "faggots"?
Right now I don't want to have a child, because I can't give it enough time. But I'd want him to talk about what he listened to with me, and have him show me new things, and me show him new things. He could play me the Screaming Banshees From Hell, and I could play him Jimi Hendrix or something. We could talk about the music. We'd talk about things together. I think it's a parents job to raise their child. My father likes "Welcome to the Jungle." Ten years ago, if a song like that was caught in our house, man, it was over. But I can't hold how he once felt against him.
Let's go back to your childhood. Were you a bad student?
No. On the placement tests in school, I was always in the top three percent. I dropped out in the eleventh grade, went back as a senior, then dropped out again.
Why did you drop out?
'Cause I couldn't make school work for me. I was having to read books, sing songs, draw pictures of things that didn't stimulate or excite me. It
just didn't do anything for me. So I dropped out and started drawing and painting at home and spending a lot of my time in the library. Basically I started putting myself through Axl's school of subjects that I wanted to learn about.
You grew up in Lafayette , Indiana. What influence do you thing your small town had in shaping you?
It made me despise people with closed minds. It made me want to break out.
What about small-town values?
That's a load of shit.
Were you in trouble a lot?
Me and my friends were always in trouble. We got in trouble for fun. It finally reached a point where I realized I was gonna end up in jail, 'cause I kept fucking with the system. This guy and I got into a fight. We became friends afterwards, and he dropped charges against me, but the state kept on pressing charges. Those charges didn't work, so they tried other ones. I spent three months in jail and finally got out. But once you've pissed off a detective, it's a vengeance rap back there.
They tried everything. They busted me illegally in my own back yard for drinking. They tried to get me as a habitual criminal, which can mean a life in prison. My lawyer got the case thrown out of court. I left and came to California. They told me not to leave, but I left anyway. My lawyer took care of it. I didn't go back for a long time. Now when I go back to see my family, I avoid the police there. I try to avoid all police in general.
What happens when you go back now as a celebrity instead of an outcast?
It gets a little bit out of hand. I can't really go any where. I just go to my friends' houses, but people I don't know show up wanting autographs. People that I used to go to school with, people that used to hate my guts, want me to invest money in this and that. People say shit like "Axl thinks he's too cool to party with us." But those people never wanted to party with me before, The people who are offended by this comment are the ones who should be.
How do you explain your volatile nature?
When I get stressed, I get violent and take it out on myself. I've pulled razor blades on myself but then realized that having a scar is more detrimental than not having a stereo. I'd rather kick my stereo in than go punch somebody in the face. When I get mad or upset or emotional, sometimes I'll walk over and play my piano.
Your own music has been diluted somewhat by radio stations that play different, shorter versions of G n' R songs. How do you feel when you music is cut to suit the airwaves?
Not that any of our songs compare, but if you hear a short version of "Layla," I think you're gonna be pissed off, especially if you're planning on hearing the big piano part at the end. I hate the edit of "Sweet Child o' Mine." Radio stations said, "Well, your vocals aren't cut." My favorite part of the song is Slash's slow solo; it's the heaviest part for me. There's no reason for it to be missing except to create more space for commercials, so the radio-station owners can get more advertising dollars. When you get the chopped version of "Paradise City" or half of "Sweet Child" and "Patience" cut, you're getting screwed.
What kind of music and bands do you enjoy?
That's always the hardest question. Lately I've been listening to Derek and the Dominos, the Bar-Kays. I really like the first Patti Smith. I'm just starting to discover the Cure. I keep trying to find things to open myself up to. I enjoy Sound Garden. The singer just buries me. The guy sings so great. On the club circuit, I like Saigon Saloon a lot.
Today, my favorite record is Todd Rundgren's Something/Anything . I just got turned on to it. I've still got my favorites and things like the Pistols, ELO and Queen. The two records I always buy if there's a cassette deck around and I don't have the tapes in my bag are Never Mind the Bullocks and Queen II . I think I'd be in a bind to figure out which one I'd want if I was stranded on a desert island. I might go with the Pistols, because maybe a boat would hear me if I played it.
You are also a Rolling Stones fan. There were some rumors floating around about G n' R possibly opening for them ontheir upcoming tour. What
No formal offer has been made. I'd love to open for the Stones, but at the same time I really want to do my own record. We'll probably go back on the road sometime next year. I don't know exactly when.
Do you consider yourself the leader of the band?
That's a good question. I'm gonna do what I want to do. That may be selfish, but it's the best way for the most to come out of me. When we write a song, nobody in this band plays anything they don't really want to. When we write a song, the bass player plays his line and it ends up being what he wants to do on bass. It ends up working that way and fitting, so we end up with a set of songs that everybody likes. I couldn't say I'm the leader, like "We're gone do what I say." It doesn't work that way.
Earlier you touched on the rock-star image and people falling into the music just because it adheres to a certain attitude and look. What about Axl Rose's longhaired, tattooed, pierced-nipple image?
What about it?
Is it just an image?
It's part of me. When I put on my clothes or do a photo session, I want to look the best I can. If you're going on a date, you want to look good for that person or for yourself. I've got enough money now to buy a suit I like and wear it the way I want. I don't wear suits every damn day now. Maybe I'm gonna shave and wear makeup and do my hair fuckin' way up.
We're definitely image conscious. I think if Izzy came wearing a clown suit to a photo session, we'd want to know how he could validate his
presence in a clown suit. [laughs] But if he could back it up and convince us there was a reason, then it would be cool. Otherwise, it wouldn't be. Steven has his own way of dressing, in the latest commercial-rock fashions. Steven enjoys the hell out of the clothes he wears, whereas Slash and I wouldn't be caught dead in either. It's just different personalities.
If we're gonna do a show, I wear a headband because my hair gets in my face. When we do a photo session, a lot of the time I'll wear a headband
because that's how I am onstage. If I feel real dominant and decadent, I'm gonna be wearing my jack-boots and stuff like that. I try to express myself through my clothes. It's another form of the art. I'm not afraid of what people think about different ways I look. I'm gonna do what I want to do.
Do you really get hassled much when you go out locally in L.A.?
I really only go to clubs where I know the people who work there, so I can have some privacy and hang out. It's hard when you go to a club with 600 people and you end up having to talk to 400 people. You have no time of your own to have fun. Maybe if I haven't gone out for a week, I'll go to the Cathouse, because I know some friends are gonna be there. I just want to be around my friends, even if we don't talk about anything. I just need it.
You have all these people asking you for an autograph, and it gets kind of embarrassing. I don't want to be a prick to people and go, "Get away from me." But I don't enjoy goin someplace and just signing autographs all the time. It comes with the fame, but sometimes it gets out of hand and people can be very rude and obnoxious about it. I've had people break into my hotel room with cameras, waking me up and taking photos. People find out where I live and show up at my building. I've never asked anyone for an autograph.
Having to deal with autographs doesn't seem like it's the worst thing in the world. At this point in your life, what's your biggest regret?
That I didn't talk to Todd Crew before he went to New York. [Crew, the bassist in the band Jetboy, was a close friend of the band's who died due
to an alcohol-related overdose.] I felt a massive need to talk to him out of concern for his well-being. But I wasn't aware enough to realize I didn't have the time I thought I did. I thought I'd have time later . . .
You seem to have an exceptionally strong bond with your friends. Do you think your values have changed any since you've become a rich rock star?
I saw a guy last night, a homeless guy on the beach. I hate panhandlers 'cause I've never done that. I just couldn't, it would have felt too weird. I walked past the man and realized I had some money in my pocket. It's not that I give everybody I see money. I don't at all. But I handed him twenty bucks and he was like "Thanks, man, I appreciate it." He can have breakfast tomorrow.
I could have just walked away, but I could tell in my heart that the guy
could really use the money. He wasn't trying to scam. He looked like he
was gonna get up tomorrow and look for a job or something to survive. I
felt good about that, and I'm wondering if he's all right now. I don't
know. The next day I was hoping he didn't go buy crack with it. *
The Rolling Stone ,1992
The Rolling Stone Interview -- Axl Rose
April 2, 1992 By Kim Neely
Only a few minutes ago, Rose, sprawled on the floor of his Las Vegas hotel villa, mentioned his lack of privacy. Now, as if to prove his point,someone knocks on the door. Rose gets up to answer it, peering out into thedarkness to find two breathless, carefully made-up fans who've somehow breached Guns n' Roses' security.
"I hope you know we went to a lot of trouble just to say hello to you," the first girl says. "I'm only here because she dragged me here," says the second. "I'm not a very big Guns n' Roses fan or anything."
Given Rose's reputation as a hothead, the predictable reaction would be irritation -- or at the very least a wry, "see what I mean" smile. But Rose greets the giggly pair like a homeowner welcoming a group of trick-or-treaters. He invites them in and, smiling, begins asking them questions: Do you live here? What are your names? How did you find out where I was? As the story unravels -- it turns out the two posed as call girls to extract his room number from a tight-lipped hotel clerk -- Rose seems genuinely charmed, as do his visitors. They stick around for nearly an hour, and Rose is the perfect host -- cracking jokes, offering them dinner, even laughing off their occasional barbs ("So, are you going on on time tomorrow, or what?"). By the time they leave, they've been made to feel as if it were the most natural thing in the world to barge in uninvited on a total stranger.
It's the evening before a sold-out show in late January, and Rose is in an extremely good mood. Catching the singer in this frame of mind at the scheduled time for an interview can seem like a blessing from above if you've ever been around him in the OTHER mood. When Rose is feeling pressured or angry, talking to him is a lot like dodging bullets. He tends to rant, barely stopping for breath, and even the most innocent of comments can set him on edge. It is a distinctly uncomfortable feeling to be in a room alone with Axl Rose and see storm clouds suddenly gather on his face because of something you've just said. It is a feeling of wanting to get out, fast.
But Rose can be a disarming -- and formidable -- conversationalist if you catch him at the right time. When he is relaxed, he seems to delight in the challenge an interview presents, and it is all but impossible to rattle him. Tell him that much of the public views him as spoiled, and he'll surprise you by agreeing. Inform him that a character in Stephen King's latest novel describes him as an asshole, and he'll ask, ever hopeful "Was it a good character or a bad character?" The thornier the issue, the more conviction Rose displays in offering his opinion.
During this conversation, Rose covered some especially rocky terrain. He talked about rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin's resignation from Guns n' Roses late last year. He addressed his tardiness to shows, his ongoing war with the media, his reputation as a misogynist, a homophobe, a bigot. Rose also talked in detail for the first time about childhood traumas that likely played a large part in shaping his volatile nature. He spoke about some highly disturbing memories involving his biological father that were dredged up in regression therapy and also leveled serious charges at his stepfather. (Rose's natural father could not be found for comment on the issues raised in this story; his relatives believe him to be dead. Rose's brother, his sister and a family friend corroborated the allegations concerning his stepfather. Rose's mother and stepfather declined comment.)
In talking about his early years, Rose grew soft-spoken and contemplative, displaying the rarely seen vulnerability that once prompted Sinead O'Connor to remark that Rose made you want to "bring him home and give him a bowl of soup." Perhaps more than anything else, it is this surprising air of fragility, coupled with the hair-trigger temper that has all but become Rose's personal trademark, that makes him such a compelling figure.
The same evening this interview took place, Rose's sister, Amy, strolling through the Mirage Hotel, stopped to look at the royal white tigers the hotel keeps on display. She remarked how fascinating it was that a creature could be at once so ferocious and so gentle.
"Just like Axl," someone said absentmindedly.
Amy laughed, realizing that she had unintentionally described her brother as well.
ROLLING STONE: What do you think people are thinking about you these days?
AXL: I know it's a love-hate thing. There are people that are big fans and people that really hate me.
ROLLING STONE: Do you get a sense that public opinion of you has changed?
AXL: A majority of what's in the press is negative. But I think that we're also gaining more fans, people of all different ages that really like what we're doing. There's a really good vibe in the crowd, a warm vibe.
ROLLING STONE: What about St. Louis? After the riot, ROLLING STONE got letters from people saying that they were fed up with your attitude and that you don't care about your fans anymore.
AXL: And that's why the riot happened? Is that what they're saying?
ROLLING STONE: No. But I think the riot was a turning point in terms of public opinion of you.
AXL: Well, I think that the way the media covered it made me look completely responsible for it. I don't think I was the last straw. I think that the people who decided to start throwing stuff were the last straw. We have a big problem with the people that were at that concert. We gave them a ninety minute show. We gave them what we were contracted to do, and we gave it good. They wanted more, and they felt that they could just have it, regardless of what happened to us or how we felt about it. When we say, "Fuck St. Louis," we're talking about the people that tore up the place. They know who they are -- we're not talking about anybody else. Whether I jumped off the stage for a camera or not, that's not a good enough reason to tear the place down. It was announced that we would come back onstage, and they were more into the riot than even the band playing.
ROLLING STONE: One thing that has people exasperated is the late show times. Why do you go on so late?
AXL: I pretty much follow my own internal clock and I perform better later at night. Nothing seems to work out for me until later at night. And it is our show. I don't want to make people sit around and wait - it drives me nuts that hour-and-a-half or two-hour time period that I'm late going onstage is living hell, because I'm wishing there was any way on earth I could get out of where l am and knowing I'm not going to be able to make it. I'm late to everything. I've always wanted to have it written in my will that when I die, the coffin shows up a half-hour late and says on the side, like in gold, "SORRY I'M LATE."
ROLLING STONE: What goes on before you take the stage? What actually makes you late?
AXL: The chiropractor we work with on the road tapes my ankles professionally. I kept twisting my ankles during shows, and it still happens now and then. I have weak ankles, always have. I used to run cross-country, and that was one of the things that got in the way of that. So I work with a chiropractor. I work with a massage therapist, because I put a lot of stress in my lower back, and with what I do onstage, there's a lot of rebuilding that has to be done. There's operatic voice exercises. And I started therapy in February (1991) and, Jesus, I'm right in the middle of stuff. I mean, if a heavy emotional issue surfaces and you've got a show in four hours, you have to figure out how to get that sorted out really quick before you get onstage so that you're not in the middle of "Jungle" and have a breakdown. The pressure of having to do the show when whatever else is going on in my life is hard to get past. We did a show in Finland where I just couldn't understand why l was doing what l was doing. I sat down while I was singing "Civil War," and l was kind of looking at my lips while l was singing and looking at the microphone and looking at the roadies, and everything just shut off. Well, that doesn't make for a very good show. We're out there to win at what we do. And if that means going on two hours late and doing a good show, I'm gonna do it. I take what I do very seriously.
ROLLING STONE: Do you think your fans take your problems seriously? Sometimes people relate to celebrities not as people but as objects or possessions -- admiring the music or art isn't enough anymore. People have to feel as if they own you.
AXL: Yeah. That's a strange beast. And they don't like it when l let them know that they don't own me. Sometimes I don't even own myself (laughs).
ROLLING STONE: Let's say a fan stopped you on the street and said: "Listen, I bought all of your records, but I'm sick of your bullshit. I come to a show and you're two hours late, and I have to work the next day. You don't give a fuck about me."
AXL: If I didn't give a fuck about them, I'd come out and do a shitty show. I'd come out and tell 'em to fuck off. I'd sit down, sing the songs off-key and just not care. But I do care, and I also care too muchabout myself to do that. It's confusing to me that people go, "Well, I have to work in the morning." If you were getting laid, you wouldn't be so worried about what time it was. I know it's complicated, but so is getting onstage. And I'm sorry. I try to make it up by coming out and doing a good show and explaining as much as l can about what was going on in my head and why we weren't there.
ROLLING STONE: Does it ever bother you, when you're onstage talking about something that's really eating at you, to think that the crowd would respond the same way no matter what you were saying.
AXL: Yeah. I approached it a bit differently when we did the first show in Dayton, Ohio. We'd been told we're the perfect house band for David Duke's America. And it's like, FUCK David Duke, I don't like being associated with that. l asked the crowd: "Is that what you get out of this,that we're racists and you're supporting it? `Cause that's not the case" I asked: "Is that all you're getting out of the record -- `Do cocaine and party'? `Cause if that's the case, I'm gonna go home. That's not why we're here!' I asked the crowd about those things. I got some real interesting responses. The way they reacted was a little bit different than normal. There was silence in different places and cheering in others. You could tell that they were thinking for a minute.
ROLLING STONE: A lot of people think: "Axl is incredibly rich and famous and pampered. He shouldn't have anything to complain about, but he's throwing a tantrum every time you see him. He's a spoiled brat!'
AXL: That's true.
ROLLING STONE: You think so?
AXL: Sometimes, yeah. Yeah, I'm real spoiled. I've spoiled myself. I'll get better at dealing with that, though. I mean, it's still new. Then again, there area lot of things I complain about that everybody else complains about but won't do it publicly.
AXL: Like having somebody thrown out who is causing a commotion and basically obstructing the show. Most performers would go to a security person in their organization, and it would just be done very quietly. I'll confront the person, stop the song: "Guess what: You wasted your money, you get to leave." If a person is trying to egg me on, like "Come on out here, motherfucker, I'm gonna kick your ass," its like "No, you're not going to kick my ass, you're going to go home. We're doing a show, there's 20,00
Axl Part I
RIP September 1992
The phone rang. It was Blake, W. Axl Rose's personal assistant, asking if I'd be up for doing an interview with the elusive and controversial GN'R vocalist. Even though I was deep into other projects, I was neither busy nor foolish enough to pass this gig up. Then Blake made an unusual request: Instead of chatting face to face, Axl wanted to do the interview over the phone. Unusual, but not a problem. A date and a time were set.
What follows is our marathon talk. Instead of a formal interview, it's more like you, the reader, are being invited to listen in on a private conversation. I know Axl as well as anyone can know him. I proudly consider him a friend, but I'm not afraid to tell him what I feel or when I think he's being a jerk. No, I won't give you his number, but if you want to play along, sit by your phone for awhile tapping your foot (yes, he called late; love him or hate him, the man is consistent), imagine a ring and pick up the receiver....
RIP: This is kind of awkward, doing an interview on the phone.
AXL: You know one reason why I want to do it this way? Sometimes you and I say a lot heavier things on the phone than we do in person. So I thought this would be cool, especially because I'm trying to be private right now. I can do this in my own space and just talk.
RIP: I've got five 100-minute tapes, so we can go till we burn.
AXL: Alright.
RIP: Even as well as I know you, I still pick up magazines to see what is said about Guns N' Roses and in particular, you. The last interview of any substance were Kim Neely's pieces in Rolling Stone , but you're still in every single magazine. I'll be reading something that has absolutely nothing to do with GN'R, and you'll be compared to Adolf Hitler or some other evil just to add fire to the writer's article.
AXL: I think there's a great fear of the unknown, and my new thing is, "I am the unknown."
RIP: Sounds like something Stephen King would say. Why are you the unknown, and have you purposely made yourself that way?
AXL: Partially, yeah, trying not to be overexposed. Negativity sells, and the media knows that. "Axl Rose is rock 'n' roll's bad guy." There were a lot of people who felt that the Rolling Stones shouldn't exist, who talked crap about them. Now we're huge, and it seems the people who are most vocal are the ones who don't like us. They'll pick up any rock to throw at us. When I read that Guns N' Roses could be David Duke's house band, that's wrong, and it hurts me. I'm not for David Duke. I don't know anything about the guy except that he was in the Klan, and that's f?!ked. There's a lot of people who have chosen to use that song ["One in a million"]. However that song makes them feel, they think that must be what the song means. If they hate blacks, and they hear my lines and hate blacks even more, I'm sorry, but that's not how I meant it. Our songs affect people, and that scares a lot of people. I think that song, more than any other song in a long time, brought certain issues to the surface and brought up discussion as to how f!?ked things really are. But when I read somewhere that I said something last night before we performed "One in a million," it pisses me off. We don't perform "One in a million." Another reason I've been laying low is that I've been trying to take the time to survive our success and assume responsibility for where we're at. I didn't have enough energy to stay in contact with the media. Instead of dealing with the media, I was trying to grow in my own space. I've needed to do that for the last couple of years. It took me years to rise above the success of Appetite and the people who liked it. I was like, "Why are they liking it?" These are the same people who hated me?" There are a lot of people who are afraid of what they think I could be. They see the power in the music and the words, they see the reactions of people to our music, and the natural reaction is to lay everything on the people performing the music. I'm not necessarily responsible for the reaction. I write, and the band plays, from the heart. In our songs we show instances that are really f!?ked, but we've risen above those situations, and people get a real sense of surviving obstacles from us. I was watching this thing today about de-metalizing kids. All a parent knows is they see their kid listening to Ozzy Osbourne. The kid is doing acid and painting upside-down crosses on his wall, and they don't know what happened to him or her, so it's Ozzy's fault.
RIP: So you're to blame for the next generation of f!?k-ups?
AXL: According to parents or whoever. There's a lot of people who don't understand or know how to handle their children's rebellion.
RIP: Yeah. Taking responsibility for your own actions and, if you have a kid, responsibility for their actions, is really heavy.
AXL: Especially responsibility that a part of us never really wanted, but now have.
RIP: Why does the world have this misconception about you, especially about you being a drug addict?
AXL: Didn't Presidential candidate Bill Clinton catch a lot of shit for admitting that he tried pot once? that's bullshit. How many cool people do you know who survived and lived during the '60s? GN'R got to the top of a mountain by using every pile of shit that ever happened to us. We were living that way, living our songs, and it started killing us. It was either die or change. Certain people who see that we're gotten control over ourselves, control over our physical shapes and our lives, write that we're sedate and predictable. They say we don't live on the edge anymore. Actually, I'm living on the edge and learning how to ride it instead of being dragged down by it.
RIP: I see what you're saying, but that doesn't answer my question about you.
AXL: Okay, first off, I'm on very specific, high-tuned vitamins. My body needs these vitamins. I'm also involved in extensive emotional work to reach certain heights with myself that doing hard drugs would interfere with. I'm doing several detoxing programs to release trapped toxins that are there because of trauma. Doing a lot of coke would get in the way of my work. Doing dope would definitely get in the way of what I'm trying to accomplish. Some pot doesn't really get in the way too much. It gets in the way of the work for, like, the next day, but sometimes it's a grounding thing. If I'm flipping out in the middle of Idaho, then a little bit of pot helps me be sedate. Also, coming off stage, going from such high energy into a very sedate world, is heavy - I don't care how many strippers you have. It's like going off a cliff in a car, and that's when I can use some smoke.
RIP: You don't even smoke that much anymore.
AXL: I know. About a year ago, while we were recording the records, I smoked a lot of pot. I was in a lot of pain, and that was the only way I could keep myself together enough to work. It was the the only thing that could take my mind off my problems, so I could stay focused and record. It helped keep me together. Now it would interfere with things.
RIP: Remember when you actually moved into The Record Plant and set up camp?
AXL: There was no heat in that room. It was a cold, lonely place, but it was the only place I could stay to keep myself in the work. It was cool-looking, but it was dark, cold and weird! It got to the point that certain people could tell just by the way I was talking, the tone of my voice, that I wasn't right. A friend brought by some Christmas presents. Another flew out unannounced and stayed with me Christmas Day, because they were very worried that I wasn't going to make it through. I couldn't leave the studio, but I couldn't go back to my condo because of my neighbor. That was a nightmare. It was also wild, because these people didn't know anything about the Christmas before, when I was driving to your house, trying to find someone with dope on the way because I wanted to OD. I could always relate to the Hanoi Rocks song "Dead by Christmas." It's been two Christmases since then, though, and this past one was probably the nicest I've had in 29 years.
RIP: Did Robert [John, Guns' photographer] ever take any photos of you there?
AXL: No.
RIP: That's a drag.
AXL: Yeah, it's a shame.
RIP: That would've been a great photo. That, and the time you threw your piano out the sliding-glass windows of your house.
AXL: Those were two major things that didn't get on film that should've. John Lennon wasn't nearly as selfconscious as I am. He could keep a camera rolling at all times.
RIP: I remember being backstage at San Diego, and you were late. People were seriously tense. Half of the concern in the job itself, but the other half is concern for you. It's not a case of, "Oh my god, my check's going out the window," it's, "Is Axl alright?"
AXL: I've never been in a position before where I've been responsible for the income and livelihood of at least 60 people., like our road crew and such. That's hard for me to deal with. If we didn't have an album out right now, I wouldn't be on tour, I wouldn't have chosen to take on that particular responsibility at this time. But I didn't really have a choice, especially if I want to keep my career going. I would've liked to be more together emotionally and mentally before this tour. Part of the job of being in Guns N' Roses is coming onstage and being superhuman. We've supposed to rise above the energy in the crowd, rise above whatever bad may have happened that day, rise above whatever is in your head, while at the same time trying to rise above the damage in your own life. When I say GN'R are striving to rise above, I mean we're doing our best to survive, not like, "Hey look at us, we're better than you." I don't mean rising by being power-hungry and vicious to people. We're just trying to rise above and be healthy and secure with ourselves, and trying to spread some of that around. That's what I'm working on.
RIP: Everyone seems to be harping on your tardiness to gigs.
AXL: I addressed the crowd in Phoenix and explained, "Maybe I was just too f!?kin' bummed out to get my ass up here any quicker." They loved that. Maybe I couldn't move any faster than I was because it was a bitch. I don't mean to inconvenience the crowd by beeing late. Maybe by reading this interview they can understand a little of what I go through regularly. Sometime it's really hard getting onstage, because I feel like I just can't rise above and win. I don't want to get onstage unless I know I can win and give the people their money's worth. I'm fighting for my own mental health, survival and peace. I'm doing a lot of self-help work and, fortunately, I can afford the people I work with. People say that I'm just spoiled. Yeah, I am. but the work I'm doing is so I can do my job. I've learned that when certain traumas happen to you, your brain releases chemicals that get trapped in the muscles where the trauma occured. They stay there for your whole life. Then, when you're 50 years old, you've got bad legs or a bent back. When you're old, it's too hard to carry the weight of the world that you've kept trapped inside your body. I've been working on releasing this stuff, but as soon as we release one thing and that damage is gone, some new muscle hurts. That's not a new injury, it's very old injury that, in order to survive, I've buried. When I get a massage, it's not a relaxing thing; it's like a football player getting worked on. I've had work done on me - muscle therapy, kinesiology, acupuncture - almost every day that we've been on the road.
RIP: It always seems like a crapshoot as to which Axl is going to show up at the gig. Why is that?

AXL: Part of it is because GN'R is like a living organism. It's not an act. Even if I'm doing the same jump during the same part of a particular song, it's not an act. That's the best way for me to express myself at that point. I get there, and I let it out. Certain ways I move, like during "Brownstone," is the way to get the best out of myself. It's like, how can I give the most at that without giving up my life? We don't go onstage like Guns N' Roses used to, or like a punk band - and I'm not knocking punk bands - thinking that if we don't make it to tomorrow, that's okay. Now there's a lot of things depending on tomorrow and GN'R. It's like, how can we give the most and turn around tomorrow and give that much again? It



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jó az oldal!!!!!!!!

(Váczi Bianka, 2008.06.18 13:12)

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