Reclusive GUNS N' ROSES singer Axl Rose broke his silence last night (Thursday, December 11) by answering fan questions on the message boards of two of the most popular GUNS N' ROSES fan sites on the Web — MyGNR.com and Here Today… Gone To Hell!
BLABBERMOUTH.NET has collected some of the more interesting bits from the question-and-answer session and is re-posting them here for your reading enjoyment. (Note: Some of Axl's responses were slightly edited for clarity.)
Q: How come you always come on stage so late at gigs?
Axl: "I've been an after-midnight type since I was sneakin' out of my house in junior high [school]. With [the] old GUNS [lineup], we preferred [to take the stage at] 12:00 a.m. or so. When we moved to theaters etc., obviously that changes but it's never changed inside me. Doesn't matter what I do, so generally that's when I'm more myself. This isn't to mess with anyone that has an early schedule to keep, it's just personal preference. And in regard to the size [of] venues, I'm on record as preferring whatever venues allow for our schedule, but management and promoters can do a lot in their own interests behind the scenes that can rarely be avoided and their greed or whatever leads to a lot of double talk and ugly behind nonsense that generally eventually ruins things for everyone. Translated: once a tour is scheduled, however, it's like parting the seas to change. As far as being late, I've been that way my whole life. It drove Izzy [Stradlin] crazy but he would check himself and freely admit I was generally actually doing something that had to get done rather than watching basketball, etc."
On a video for the new GUNS N' ROSES song "Better":
Axl: "The 'Better' music video will be out in a week or so. Monumental promotion will start very soon!"
Q: Who do you listen to for hardcore blues? I'm a blues singer and I can tell from your work that you have at least got way into a couple of blues records.
Axl: "BESSIE SMITH, ZEP 1, ROBERT JOHNSON, TUMBLEWEED CONNECTION, JANICE [presumably referring to JANIS JOPLIN — Ed.]."
Q: Axl, do you really have two or three other albums of material?
Axl: "For now, we'll concentrate and keep our focus on this album, but I will say I've always thought of it as a double. And no offense, but no one's trying to talk in parables. The issues are a bit more complex than anyone would like."
Q: Hey, Axl, is the [unreleased GUNS N' ROSES] song "Atlas Shrugged" as epic as the book? Who is your favorite character from the book?
Axl: "Song doesn't have all that much to do with the book other than trying to do what you believe in and a line about shoulders not being wide enough."
Q: Axl, was there ever a cover B and cover C for "Chinese Democracy"?
Axl: "Yes, there are. There are two more covers/back-cover combos and the real booklet that is all artwork that will be out shortly in some form. It's been an ugly battle that hasn't made any sense to anyone and whether anyone cares about such things the booklet or artwork has always been something I've been passionate about and to release the album with unapproved and unseen final artwork with a first work-only error-filled draft when others more recent were readily available still has not been explained but is finally getting cleared up. My fave is the 'How Are You' grenade cover."
Q: Axl, how do you feel about KANYE [WEST's new album] outselling "Chinese Democracy"? Do you like KANYE's music?
Axl: "I met Kanye at the Versace awards. He was very gracious. I love 'Gold Digger' and told him so. I'm a big fan of his stage performance as he seems to go for it physically which I relate more to. Before our release, I sent him a message that any nonsense from the media had nothing to do with us and wished him the best. I'm humbled we've done as well as we have considering."
Q: Just wanted to ask if you had any fond memories from the U.K. leg of the tour from 2006, particularly the concert in Glasgow in July?
Axl: "Glasgow was great. I think that's where I got to do a lot of slides on the stage. Was like a race track or something, right?"
Q: Axl, thanks for "Chinese Democracy", which I personally think is your best work. What's your pick for album of the year? And have you heard the new METALLICA album ["Death Magnetic"]?
Axl: "Ours, of course!! Yes, [I have heard the new METALLICA]. I like it."
Q: Axl will you tour Australia next year, and when are you looking at doing so? If you could work with [former GUNS N' ROSES guitarist] Buckethead again, would you have him just in studio, or also would you welcome him in the touring lineup?
Axl: "Austrailia's great and the crowds are really alive. No plans [to tour there] yet but I'm sure there will be.
"I have no issues with Bucket. It's hard to tell what was real or not in things we were told by Merck [former GUNS N' ROSES manager Merck Mercuriadis, who was fired by Axl Rose in December 2006 — Ed.]. He's more than welcome to tour with us in some form or other provided we're both interested at the time and come to some type of reasonable terms. Personally, I have a blast with Bucket on tour and get a big kick out of the guy. A lot of feelings were hurt on this side of the fence in how things went down, and unfortunately, others used our silence and the public's not knowing for their own purposes at both Bucket's and our expense."
Q: Now that you said that, please tell us if Robin's [Finck, GUNS N' ROSES guitarist who is currently on the road with NINE INCH NAILS] out or not... because, otherwise, we'll be reading several "Axl wants Bucket back and Robin/Bumble/Richard out"-type of threads for the entire '09 year and these threads annoy us, the new lineup fans.
Axl: "It really is what it is. No decisions have been made by either him, I or us that I'm aware of. When we're touring or working in the studio, or there's social things like a friend's dinner or party, whatever, we would hang. But as people get older, they have their own lives. The STONES aren't going bowling every Tuesday, etc.
"Robin leads one of the most different lives I know of, starting with the trapeze in his backyard to the TV in his closet.
"Robin's work on the next is done so there's not lots for him to do here except the elusive promo and he'd rather be on stage. It's more about seeing where things are when GUNS decides it's right for a tour and if we're able to make agreements we both are comfortable and can live with at that time."
Q: As a native Colombian, I must ask: In 1992, while performing "November Rain" in Bogota (in November), it rained. Wait no....it poured. How weird was that, eh?
Axl: "Very surreal and religious feeling. So was being chased by the military in our plane down the runway gettin' outta Dodge there!!"
Q: Just wondering what stops you from playing more guitar live?
Q: Axl, I'm fixing to pack everyhting I own into my car and drive out to L.A. from Arkansas to give a career in music a shot. Any advice? Or should I just shit in my pants, dive in and swim?
Axl: "Follow your heart, don't sell out, and read every book on the bix [music business] you can find."
Q: "Catcher N' The Rye" is one of the best songs on the ["Chinese Democracy"] album. Why no Brian? [QUEEN guitarist Brian May recorded a guest appearance on the track back in 1999, but his contributions were removed from the final album version of the song.]
Axl: "There's a few reasons, and none of them all that big and definitely not in spite or to slight anyone.
"First off, obviously I knew people liked the song, but the Brian appreciation really only showed up in force publicly after we had moved on in GUNS. In fact, not many seemed to care and most comments were aimed at why Slash, in their opinions, should be here.
"Brian's solo itself is a personal fave of mine and I really couldn't understand, as he's such a rock legend, why it wasn't openly appreciated more at the time.
"In actuality, all that feel and emotion referred to now had a lot to do with Sean [Beavan, one of the producers who worked on 'Chinese Democracy'] and I and the parts I chose out of Brian's different runs, versions, practice runs, etc., to make sure we had those elements in one version. It's entirely constructed from edits based around one specific note Brian hit in a throwaway take. And though Brian seems to have warmed a bit to it, at least publicly, he was unfortunately none too pleased at the time with our handiwork. I remember looking at Brian standing to my left and him staring at the big studio speakers a bit aghast saying, 'But that's not what I played.'
"Sean Beavan and I were not in any way tring to mess with Brian, we just did what we do and then try and do our best to stand up for our decisions."
Q: Axl, are you still thinking of suing Dr Pepper's ass?
Axl: "Sure, but the actions taken so far had nothing to do with me and I was taken off guard as I had specifically told our team, 'Who fucking cares?! Right now we have a record to deal with.' My feelings are after their public response. It was cute. Maybe the guy who got it rolling originally meant well, but it turned out sour and maybe it's just me, but he seems like maybe he wants a bit too much attention so..."
Q: When [is] the [GUNS N' ROSES] online shop opening?
Axl: "I haven't been involved much in any of our merch and the reasons are it's been a mess legally for years. Unbeknownst to most of you, I was recently sued again by [former GUNS N' ROSES members] Duff [McKagan] and Slash for some murky Merckiness that I was unaware and not involved in. Fortunately that was resolved but it got ugly and took a while going into arbitration. Merck shifted our merch from some of our newer styles to incorporating more of the old with some scam that actually and surprisingly lost sales in comparison but that's old news. What I look forward to is incorporating the new artwork into our merch and getting some for myself. I think you'll like a lot of it. My vote's for the 'How Are You' grenade and the 'Sorry' automatic rifle artwork on shirts, etc."
Q: How do you feel about artists covering your songs ?
Axl: "Depends, but in general it's great."
Q: I know this is jumping the gun big time, but any tentative idea when you would like to see the next CD come out?
Axl: "No, maybe same bat time, same bat channel next year but we'll have to see."
Q: Is there anything in the past that you have now looked back on and thought, "Maybe I could have handled that differently?" Also, what are your ongoing hopes for GUNS N' ROSES in the future? I have cyclothemia and sometimes get this feeling that I can't be around people and need my own space and area. How do you find the bipolar affect you, if you don't mind me asking, that is?
Axl: "Of course, but in the world of sports and litigation....
"I've not been diagnosed as being bipolar though many misconstrue statements I made earlier as alluding to such and unfortunately there's been an abundance of misguided or unqualified speculation of various events but I definitely can relate to needing my own space.
"In my world, all bipolar means (and not to offend or make light of those suffering from a genuine condition or involved with those who are) is that someone can try to take cheap uneducated shots or try to claim I'm bipolar thus justifying why they should get paid a financial settlement for whatever nonsense they're up to. Fortunately that hasn't proved successful."
Q: What is your honest opinion on why the old lineup disintegrated? What is your honest opinion on why it took so long for "Chinese Democracy" to come out? I think that's what most people want to know but dare not ask.
Axl: "Two great but complicated questions, and I agree that people would like to know at least my take on things. Not avoiding them here, but they deserve more than I can give, as we've been at this a little while. But I'm attempting to speak out on several issues, these being a major focus over the coming weeks and months. What I can say now is you've been told a lot of things in order for others to promote themselves that factually they cannot back up in regard to either. They are complicated legally, financially and have devoured a good portion of my life.
"The record 'Chinese Democracy' you may have is nothing short of a miracle in almost each and every way that either it or I exist, in my opinion, under the bizarre and ugly conditions of the last over 15 years."
Q: I am curious as to your relationship with Mickey Rourke. He's one of my favourite actors, and I saw an interview with him recently where he said you were kind enough to give him songs for "The Wrestler". My question is: how long do you and Mickey go back, and do you have any interesting stories from "back in the day?" You guys strike me as being pretty similar in a lot of ways (I mean, as far as personalities and what you've been through in your lives) and it's cool for me to see two of my pop culture "heroes," for lack of better description, being friends, and also making similarly timed "comebacks." (Or whatever you want to call it.)
Axl: "Mickey and I haven't really hung much but have a lot of mutual friends over the years. He's always been massively supportive. I've always been a big fan of his as well. It's probably better for both of us we didn't hang directly back in the day!!"
Q: Hey, Axl, is Mickey going to pay you back for letting them use "Sweet Child O' Mine" in "The Wrestler" by starring in a new GUNS video?
Axl: "Actually, Mickey agreed to play The Shackler if we were to make a vid for [the song 'Shackler's Revenge']."
Q: Axl, have you been in contact with [original GUNS N' ROSES drummer] Steven Adler at all? Not as far as playing with him or anything, just to, like, lend him support? [Adler appeared this year on the reality television show "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" during an attempt to get off drugs. He was subsequently arrested in Los Angeles on July 18, after someone called police to report he was causing a disturbance.]
Axl: "I do wish Steven the best and in my heart hope that he finds some peace and security. As far as direct contact, no. It, unfortunately, gets too messy too quick. In Steven's mind, I'm the one who holds the keys and power over his happiness, so I'm the bad guy pretty quickly."
Q: Axl, why did you change [the title of the "Chinese Democracy" track] "The Blues" to "Street Of Dreams"?
Axl: "'The Blues' was my first working title and I was never comfortable with it in the sense that I felt that should be used with a bluesier-based song. And here in Hollywood, with the Walk Of Fame, etc., I had always seen that imagery in my head when I think of it. I also like the idea of the song having, in effect, two titles."
Q: Axl, I would like to know why you avoid the press so much. I think it's definitely hurting album sales, I mean, you haven't even done one interview. I know for sure you'd be able to get a few magazine covers. So why don't you? Why be such a hermit/recluse?
Axl: "That's your opinion and it very well could be true. What I have to say a lot of people have no desire to hear. With our team, we were able to negotiate through a mountain of issues to be able to release the album. Within those negotiations, I believed I had secured agreements, commitments and assurances that would have allowed a promotional strategy to be implemented that obviously I've had a fair amount of time to consider. Unfortunately, those things never happened, and once the record was closer to release, the biz went about things in their standard business-as-usual mode."
Q: Thanks for playing "Rocket Queen" in Melbourne. The red bike was awesome.
Axl: "I think it's in the 'Better' vid. Not sure if we cut it."
Q: I have one question for you, Axl. What is stopping the fans from seeing you Slash, Duff and Izzy back on stage together?
Axl: "You've been lied to and misled for such a long time that sorting through all that here is virtually impossible. A lot will come out over time, but the truth has been out there for a long time as well but that doesn't give you what you want, so this dance just goes on and on."
Final message for fans:
"Thanks everyone and thanks for all the support and the positive comments both tonight and over the years. I hope to do this again soon, maybe sooner than you'd think! And you didn't scare me off — I'm just burnt and would rather not mispeak on issues that may mean a lot to some. Thanks again."