Greg Prato of Songfacts recently conducted an interview with former GUNS N' ROSES guitarist Gilby Clarke. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Songfacts: What are some memories of the recording of "The Spaghetti Incident?" album?
Gilby: "The Spaghetti Incident?", some of it was recorded while we were on the road, so they booked a studio and sometimes we'd go into the studio not even knowing what song we were recording until we were on our way. When we recorded "Since I Don't Have You", I didn't know we were recording that song until I got to the studio. We jammed that song a couple of times at soundchecks, and I was like, "Well, if we're going to do it slow like that, my contribution is acoustic guitar." I'm all the acoustics on it, because I liked what Slash was doing and I didn't want to get in his way putting an electric guitar just for the sake of putting a rhythm guitar on it. I wanted to complement it. That's why a song like that I played acoustic: because I didn't want to mess around with that melody. A lot of the stuff also was recorded when they were doing the "Illusion" records, which I had no part of. They recorded some of them before I got there. A lot of people think I erased Izzy's [Stradlin] parts. That's actually not true. Izzy didn't play on a lot of them, so I got to just put my parts on songs that were recorded. So it was a little bit of both. It was a little bit working with Mike Clink ["The Spaghetti Incident?" co-producer], just myself and him, and then some of it was the whole band in there recording together. Which, by the way, was very easy. At that point we had been playing live for a long time and we were definitely clicking. One of the things about a band is knowing your part, knowing what you do. Everybody had their gig in that band: Slash was lead, I played rhythm, Duff [McKagan] and Matt [Sorum] knew what to do. We knew how it would work with each other, so it actually was fairly easy to record with those guys. There were never click tracks — Matt was always on time. It was a lot easier than one would think.
Songfacts: And with those covers, did you have a hand in picking out any of those songs or were they selected prior to you coming aboard?
Gilby: Well, yeah. I actually did. I suggested a T. REX song. When we were first doing it, it was supposed to be like a punk rock covers record. That was what I was told. But then it just kind of became a covers record, and I did suggest T. REX. Back then I was wearing a T. REX T-shirt, like, every single day. Matt used to joke, "Okay, we got it, we got it. You've worn the shirt every day." I didn't pick the song that we did, I just suggested doing a T. REX song. I wanted to do "20th Century Boy" or "Children Of The Revolution" or something. I don't know who came up with the song that we did ["Buick Mackane"]. And I did make the comment about the NAZARETH tune ["Hair Of The Dog"], because I always thought Axl [Rose] sounded like the singer of NAZARETH. Not even knowing that the band actually played that song way before I got in the band. It was a unanimous choice to do the NAZARETH tune.
Songfacts: What do you remember about GUNS N' ROSES' recording of "Sympathy For The Devil"? I remember hearing somewhere that band members said they could sense that that was the ending for the band. Did you have a sense that that was either the ending or the beginning of the end for the band right there?
Gilby: I might say yes and no on that. I wasn't that involved with the "Sympathy For The Devil" recording — they did that while I was on the road touring for my solo record. I knew that that was the ending because nobody told me about it. Officially I was in the band at that time, and they did that song without me. That was one of the last straws for me, because nobody had said anything to me and they recorded a song by one of my favorite bands. It was pretty clear I'm a big [THE ROLLING] STONES fan, and they recorded the song without me. So I knew that was it. My official end was actually at the last show of the last tour. Axl was jokingly saying "Bye" to everybody, but he was really saying "Bye" to everybody. He even came up to me and said, "Hey, enjoy your last show." At that point I thought he was being funny, but he wasn't being funny. He knows what he's doing. He's a smart guy. So I knew it was the end at the last show.
Read the entire interview at Songfacts.