GUNS N' ROSES' long-awaited new album, "Chinese Democracy" should be in stores by June, according to keyboardist Dizzy Reed.
"There are just a few odds and ends left to do - a couple of finishing touches, a couple of vocals — and we need to mix it," he said.
In the meantime, GN'R — long MIA, except for a handful of one-off gigs — are mounting their first North American tour since 1993.
On the eve of the band's performance in The Palace in Detroit, Michigan on Thursday, Nov. 21, frontman Axl Rose gave a 15-minute interview to local radio station 101 WRIF ("Detroit's home of rock and roll"), during which he discussed the upcoming album, the new members of the group and his former bandmates.
The following is a transcript of the interview:
Q: It was definitely a shocker to see you there on the MTV Video Music Awards. How long did it take to get that whole thing rolling?
Axl Rose: "Well, they were in negotiations about trying to figure out how long we could do something and where it would be at the show for, actually, somewhere near the beginning of that little mini-tour we did. And then we didn't have what we were doing on stage worked out until the day of the show."
Q: So that whole GUNS N' ROSES medley – is that what you had worked out or just the whole…?
Axl Rose: "Yeah, that thing. 'Cause it wasn't for sure that we were playing until the day before the show."
Q: Now, tell me about the reaction from people. They must have been blown away there, huh?
Axl Rose: "People were pretty shocked. Yeah, definitely (chuckle)."
Q: You must have been pretty fired up. How did you feel going back out there on stage, live TV and all that stuff? You must have been a nervous wreck all that day.
Axl Rose: "Well, no, I wasn't bad, but everything tends to go wrong in my world. Like, even going to soundcheck, the people wouldn't let me down the street to go to the building. And then, the day of the show, they didn't let us go down that street. I had to get out of the car, run past the police, and they're telling me I have to stop, and I'm like,' I've gotta sing.' And the best part was, as I'm running down the street, I had to run past all the people lined up to get into the building, and they're going, [puts on dumb rock fan voice] 'Hey, there goes KID ROCK.' I thought that was pretty funny."
Q: Why wouldn't the police let you [walk down the street to get into the building]? I'm kind of lost on that.
Axl Rose: "Because they're lost. Just confusion, lost, don't know what's going on, people not having people's names on the list, not knowing what passes to check, all that kind of crap. So, just usual stuff going wrong for no reason."
Q: So what you're telling me is, Axl Rose had to sneak into the MTV Video Music Awards?
Axl Rose: "Yeah, basically. I had, like, police chasing me down the street, and then our security and MTV had to clear it with them, but… It was very interesting.
Q: I guess the big question is, where have you been? Where has Axl Rose been for the last 10 years? What have you been doing? Just mellowing out, getting stuff ready to go, or…?
Axl Rose: "Nah. Basically, I just don't go looking to promote myself on every little thing until there's some kind of product, or something to put out that I think is worth it. And we've been working on this band and trying to get things right for a long time. If I go to, like, do interviews or anything like that, it just gets turned around by so many people around the world who don't have anything better to do than to try to shoot anything down, and that was just too draining to deal with everybody else. It's interesting… In L.A., there's places that I go to all the time, but since I did the MTV thing, I go to the same place, and suddenly there's paparazzi, and it's like 'Axl's out.' Well, I was here last weekend, and you guys didn't care. I used to live behind the Tower Records on Sunset, and I lived right behind Spago, and if you wanted to, you could go down and stand there and all the paparazzi would take your pictures and stuff — it's just dependent on if you wanted to. I mean, I never did that, but you drove by it every day. There's other people there that would purposely go there to get their photos taken and stuff. It's not my world."
Q: You've played a couple of gigs here and there – you played some huge ones down in South America, and you've done some small ones here in the States in Vegas, right?
Axl Rose: "Yeah. Well, this band did not come together by a bunch of guys meeting each other in a bar or down on a corner in their old neighborhood, so it's taken a long time to pull these guys together and then have them develop a chemistry with themselves. When we did our first show in Vegas, Robin and Buckethead didn't know each other at all. You've got two lead guitar players trying to kill each other with their abilities. It's like when I tried to bring Zakk [Wylde] and Slash together – that didn't go too well [laughs]."
Q: Oh, really? You tried to bring Zakk and Slash together once?
Axl Rose: "Yeah, it was fun to watch. It was like watching a giant snake with a Tyrannosaurus Rex. So it was pretty exciting – I mean, we had a good time, I don't if they did."
Q: When was this?
Axl Rose: "That was '95."
Q: Are they talking at all now, or you don't know?
Axl Rose: "I think they can be cordial to each other, that whole kind of thing, but when they're actually playing, it gets that kind of alpha male thing going, like 'Who's the real lead guitar player?'
Q: Another question I have for you… Do you think GUNS N' ROSES are still relevant after a long layoff? Obviously, you're selling tickets for the shows, people are really jonesing for GUNS N' ROSES still, and you haven't done anything in, like, at last seven or eight years.
Axl Rose: "Yeah, I think the relevancy, really… At the end of the day, it's gonna really depend on… Well, for a bit of the nostalgia thing, you have the songs… we're playing a lot of the old material. For new excitement, you have the performance of these particular players. But at the end of the day, it's also really gonna stand on the new songs when we put out a new record, and if that's considered relevant or not, and if that's considered not selling out just to be relevant. So it'll really all hinge on that, and we feel really confident about the music that we're working on, and I think that when it does manage to find its way into the light, the timing will be perfect, 'cause, like this MTV thing, and the touring right now, that's all working really well."
Q: The reason I ask you that is because I see younger people in early '20s, late teens, fired up to see GUNS N' ROSES.
Axl Rose: "Yeah, they are. And also, the new performers… The band and the show is a really exciting thing. I like the soundchecks and the rehearsals before the shows watching this thing, because watching these guys is amazing. I mean, GUNS N' ROSES, I was in that band 'cause it was my favorite band – I loved watching all the player in that band. And watching this band is just as exciting, or more, for me. Plus, having what I feel is a better personal relationship with the individuals in the band makes it more exciting for me. And people have been commenting on noticing that on watching the shows a lot."
Q: You said a couple of minutes ago, "when the new record comes out", as if you're a little skeptical about that.
Axl Rose: "Nah, I'm not skeptical about, like 'if' [the album will come out]. I'm just saying the 'when' thing is when we decide that it's completed. There's a lot of things that… we come up with new ideas that we're working on as we go, and it is a really, really slow process, because it's kind of left more to ourselves in trying to figure it our where… What I've seen in this industry is that, if a record company… I don't know. There seems to be a lot more support for getting things done with newer bands, and it's got a lot to do with contracts being, you know, they don't have to spend as much money on the band, and they're trying to get it out there, and the next thing you know, they've sold a couple of albums and then they don't care about that band anymore and they move on and that band falls apart. It doesn't seem like there's a lot of support for bands that have been around. That's my experience. So in putting this thing together, in a lot of ways, I've had to do way more jobs in it than I'm supposed to — I've had to be manager, A&R man, producer, sole lyric writer, and a lot of [other] things, where GUNS N' ROSES, to me, what I worked really hard at was making it a collaborative effort, and it was a lot of people involved. This is a collaborative effort with the players, but the players aren't exactly sure what it should be to try to win over the world GUNS N' ROSES style. So that's kind of my responsibility. It took a long time, but now it's working, and I think we'll have the right record, and when we do drop the record, the plan is to drop the record, have a bunch of extra tracks, about a year or so down the road drop another record and drop a third record. This is a three-stage thing and we'll be touring for a real long time."
Q: So the time off didn't affect you — you didn't like it too much, you don't wanna [give yourselves] more time off.
Axl Rose: "We've been collecting lots of songs, so there won't be lots of time off — we'll just keep touring."
Q: Since we last heard from GUNS N' ROSES, there's been a new President, reality TV, KID ROCK, EMINEM, LINKIN PARK — I mean, things have changed so much. Has any of this stuff influenced you at all?
Axl Rose: "Well, basically, life, yeah. [laughs] Yeah, everything that's going on you think about, and there's a lot of different influences in music, so we try to move the music forward. There's a lot of misconceptions, because I wasn't gonna get in a one-on-one war with the old guys, because I felt that all that would do was gonna promote their albums and bring attention to that, and I didn't want to help that at all. The reality was that I was basically going to do most of Slash's songs in particular, and work on those with him, but basically, anytime we got anything that would be halfway near something that was gonna be either successful because it completely kicked ass or was just strong in any way, then it was backed away from, and I believe that this has a lot to do with trying to keep the material down, for his own personal reasons, keep his own material down. There was a lot of stress… That's basically why Izzy and these guys, none of them really wanted to do the big shows."
Q: What kind of shows did they wanna do?
Axl Rose: "Well, from day one, Izzy always wanted to be about the size of THE RAMONES and do, like, 2,000 seaters, so there was always a little battle there. And then the other guys had to be on so many substances to really be able to deal with that crowd. And to his credit, Slash could play great guitar on a lot of drugs, but there was a reason he would be that whacked out to be on stage. There was a lot of stress to deal with."
Q: Tell me one of your fondest moments from the METALLICA/GUNS N' ROSES tour, because that was probably one of the biggest tours of the 1990s.
Axl Rose: "I was definitely very excited about how that went — as far as how it went for us. And we got to see a lot of people backstage, we threw some really huge parties that were a lot of fun."
Q: I was at one one time and you walked right by me and you went right into a hot tub with all these chicks. So that ain't too bad, huh?
Axl Rose: "[laughs] No, that's not too bad."
Q: I remember some of the parties. You guys had a different theme in every city, if I'm not mistaken, right?
Axl Rose: "Yeah, that was a lot of fun."
Q: I heard in Indianapolis you had, like, cars, and the one I was had go-go dancers and was, like, psychadelic, or something like that.
Axl Rose: "We had a casino with ice sculptures somewhere."
Q: So what are your plans for this year? You're doing the tour. You got a New Year's Eve date yet?
Axl Rose: "Yeah, I think we're doing San Jose — San Francisco, basically."
Q: 'Cause I heard something about the Las Vegas thing again.
Axl Rose: "Well, we are doing Mandalay Bay right before then. But basically, the larger venues in Vegas wanted to stay dark on New Year's, 'cause they want people in there gaming. So we wanted to play a larger place in Vegas, so that's why we ended up doing San Francisco."
Q: I guess it's sort of a generic question, but how's the tour going so far?
Axl Rose: "It's going great, it's going great. I mean, it got started off exceptionally weird, but I guess [true to] GN'R style, and then from that point on… We've been really happy. All the guys are happy, you can sense that the people in the band are getting excited about what they see that we could turn this thing into, because we know what the material is that we are working on. And right now you have people just kind of stunned and watching, but I'll be excited when there's newer songs out there so then you've got some of that frenzy happening."
Q: Are you doing any new stuff on the tour?
Axl Rose: "We do about 4-5 songs that we've done at the various shows, but we're still holding our big guns back."
To hear the interview in Window Media streaming audio, click here.