Read an Excerpt of Revolver’s Exclusive Interview with Guns N' Roses Frontman Axl Rose
This is an excerpt from the all-new June/July 2014 issue of Revolver. For the rest of this story, plus features on Avenged Sevenfold, Asking Alexandria, Trivium, Cannibal Corpse, Body Count, Killer Be Killed, Epica and a lot more, check out the June/July 2014 issue of Revolver, which is available now at the Revolver Online Store.
Guns N' Roses are currently in the midst of their second Las Vegas residency, "No Trickery! An Evening Of Destruction," at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The remaining dates are May 30 and 31 and June 4, 6, and 7. For tickets and info, click here.
By Richard Bienstock
“We were making jokes backstage that after I went out to get my award, you were gonna shove me in a tube or something, like in The Running Man,” Axl Rose says with a laugh. “Gotta go down below and fight or whatever...”
Much to Rose’s relief, upon accepting his Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award, Revolver did not send him, statue still in hand, to battle any subterranean warriors. But following laudatory speeches from comic legend Andrew “Dice” Clay and a spirited Nicolas Cage, Rose did indeed get right to work.
The singer and his Guns N’ Roses bandmates—guitarists DJ Ashba, Bumblefoot, and Richard Fortus; keyboardists Dizzy Reed and Chris Pitman; drummer Frank Ferrer; and original Gunner Duff McKagan (filling in for current bassist Tommy Stinson, who is off on a reunion jaunt with his old band, the Replacements)—took to the Golden Gods stage to close out the show in grand fashion, plowing through a nine-song, hour-plus-long set that featured plenty of Appetite for Destruction (“It’s So Easy,” “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Paradise City”) and Use Your Illusion (“You Could Be Mine,” “November Rain,” “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”) classics, with a few 21st century Guns tunes (the Chinese Democracy tracks “Better” and “This I Love”) thrown in for good measure. It was a dynamic, career-spanning performance, as befitting an artist who had just been honored for a lifetime’s worth of musical achievements.
Which is not to say that all those achievements are in the past. As Rose tells Revolver in this rare and exclusive post-Golden Gods interview, there is still much work ahead for Guns N’ Roses, both onstage and, he reveals, in the studio. So while he was happy to accept his Lifetime Achievement award, he also makes it clear that he is still far from done.
“Hopefully there’ll be at least a few more years,” Rose says, “and then we can judge everything a little better.” He laughs again. “If I’m lucky!”
REVOLVER: Congratulations on winning the Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award.
Thank you. It was actually kind of a surprise to me. And I appreciate it and stuff, but, personally, I don’t feel like I’ve done enough of anything to have a lifetime achievement award. But that’s just me. I know other people were really happy for me about it so that was a good thing. I just feel like, you know, it’s been a long, slow process beyond comprehension with Chinese Democracy, but it’s still moving forward and there’s a lot more that we hope to do.
It was a nice moment when Nicolas Cage came out to present you with the statue.
He’s a big fan. We hadn’t met before, but it’s my understanding that he reached out wanting to do it. So it came together and we met before the show and it was really cool. But I didn’t hear anything that he or Dice said about me onstage. It didn’t come through my in-ear [monitors]. And really, anything they did say that was complimentary, it’s probably better that I didn’t hear it so I wasn’t more embarrassed.
One thing Nicolas Cage did admit to was that he prepared for his role as Johnny Blaze in Ghost Rider by studying what he called your “cobra-like onstage movement.”
He told me that before the show! Because we were talking about some of his movies and I said I really liked the second Ghost Rider. And so he told me about it. He said it was kind of like I was in his movie.
So when you watched it, did you stop and say, “Wait a minute…”
[Laughs] I don’t know about that. Though I would like to have some of those abilities…
How did Dice become involved in the presentation?
I’ve known Dice for a long time. But I hadn’t seen him since we played the Gibson Amphitheatre [in L.A.], back in ’06, I think. And I don’t exactly know how everything came together with his speech, but he did ask me before the show if I had been Gmail-ing him. And I was like, “Nope. I don’t Gmail.” So somebody’s been Gmail-ing Dice, acting like they’re me.
The headline act at the Golden Gods typically plays four or five songs. Guns N’ Roses did over an hour. It was like a show within a show.
We wanted to do that. We were very happy that you guys allowed us to do that. We were glad to be asked to do it and we had fun with it.
And yet for Guns it was actually a pretty short performance—you’ve been known to play gigs that run close to three hours. Why is it important to you to give fans that type of show?
When we do that, as a band we know we gave at the office. We gave the most we could and we gave what felt right. And, generally, we like to give people more than they feel they paid for. I don’t think it’s necessarily fair for people to expect that from us, but there’s something where we feel good when we did it. Like we rose to the challenge and we delivered and we didn’t take the easy way out. We like that.
Duff told us that it’s been a great experience for him to play with Guns again.
It went really well. He worked really hard on the parts and he liked playing the newer songs from Chinese. And you know, it’s pretty funny because we’d go to talk about certain things from Illusions, and there’s things he doesn’t remember, there’s things I don’t remember. We kind of finish some of each other’s memories sometimes. And the Duff that played these shows with us isn’t really the Duff that I knew from what I’d call “Old Guns” or the Appetite lineup or the Illusions lineup.
Because with this band, with this lineup, everybody goes out and tries to do their very best, and every guy’s on. I don’t have to tell the other guys what to do or anything, they do it on their own. They push each other really, really hard. That also pushed Duff, and he liked the challenge of that. And he got along with the guys really well. He and some of the band and crew were doing their yoga together during the days we were out there, so…
Photo: Richard Steel
This is an excerpt from the all-new June/July 2014 issue of Revolver. For the rest of this story, plus features on Avenged Sevenfold, Asking Alexandria, Trivium, Canibal Corpse, Body Count, the Dilinger Escape Plan, Epica and a lot more, check out the June/July 2014 issue of Revolver, which is available now at the Revolver Online Store.