|What the hell is up with GUNS N' ROSES?! At the start of '94, Guns axeman Slash told Kerrang! that the next GN'R album would be out in the Summer - now rhythm guitarist GILBY CLARKE reckons: There is no next album! What's more, Why doesn't
even know if he's in the band or not! He tells all in this shock K! exclusive! Interview by LISA JOHNSON.
WHEN GILBY Clarke joined Guns N' Roses, the most controversial rock 'n' roll band in the world were in a state of crisis. Guitarist Izzy Stradlin, a founder member and chief songwriter, had quit a couple of months into a world tour.
With Gilby, Guns gelled again. The tour finished smoothly, and was followed by the release of 'The Spaghetti Incident?', Gilby's first recording with the group.
Two years after he joined the band, Gilby is preparing to release his first solo album, `Pawn Shop Guitars'. But not everything is as cool as it seems.
Guns N' Roses are again in turmoil - and there isn't a damn thing that Gilby Clarke can do about it! The following conversation happened just last week in
Kerrang!: What have you been up to lately, Gilby?
Gilby: "I practised today. Well, first I woke up very early..."
K!: Like, eight?
G: "No. I meant like about 11! I got on my motorcycle and I went to an interview for a video director. And then I went to rehearsal, cos we're changing guitar players in my solo band. We're changing Jo (Dog, ex-Dogs D'Amour) for Ryan.
Jo's great, but Ryan is just more diverse. Ryan can play the Rock stuff and the Blues stuff, where Jo can only play the Blues stuff."
K!: Is this the Gilby Clarke Experience?
G: "I don't know what it's gonna be called!"
K!: Who is Ryan; how do you know him?
G: "Ryan Roxie was in my old band, Candy, with me. I was the guitar player. And then we had a year when we didn't know what we were doing, and that's when I started singing and Ryan became the guitar player. The black Candy year!"
K!: How was your solo show at the Viper Room?
G: "Oh, God, it was wild! It was one of those nights! There was just so much going on so fast. I thought, `Oh, this is gonna be kinda casual, this'll be fun'. And I got there and the f**king line was around the block! I didn't know it would be like that."
K!: Were there any celebrities there?
G: No, just Tommy...
G: "Tommy Lee (Motley Crüe drummer), and John (Corabi), the singer. Matt (Sorum, GN'R drummer) was there. And my friend from Depeche Mode showed up. (DM singer Dave Gahan lives in LA with his wife - an old friend of Gilby's.) There was just
too mucn going on. As soon as I was offstage, I just jumped into my corner booth."
K!: What is a typical day for Gilby Clarke?
G: "It's pretty simple. I start out with my coffee out by the pool (he laughs at himself). I really do do that every day! And then I'm always running around town. I got a lot of business and stuff. I always do that in the morning. I'm on the phone for the first couple of hours. Then I get on the motorcycle and go do whatever I have to do.
"Usually, I'm at Slash's every night. We work on new material and different things, whether it's my stuff, his stuff or whatever. He's got a studio in
his house. We're working on some stuff right now - me, him and Matt. GN'R's not gonna do anything, so we just go up to Slash's place and work.
"Slash doesn't like not working. He has to have something to do. And I'm just the same. So that's it. My wife Daniella and I have dinner together, and then I head up to Slash's. Spend the night there."
K!: You don't actually spend the night...
G: "I do sometimes. We usually work till about five or six in the morning."
K!: Your first child is due in June. How do you think things will change then?
G: "With the baby? 1 think everything's gonna change. It's gonna be strange because it's hard to say, but there's gonna be someone coming into my life who's gonna be the most important thing.
"It's gonna be weird, because me and Daniella just mess around a lot, but now there's gonna be someone who's gonna take everything from us. You know, all of our attention. Everything we do is gonna be for the baby."
K!: Will you have a nanny?
G: "We don't know yet. Since both of us are home all day, we don't know that we'll really need one. But we'll see what happens. Everyone says that we're gonna get one, but we don't want one."
K!: Will you take the baby everywhere?
G: "Yeah. When we go out on the road, I'm gonna hole up in the back of the bus and that'll be me and Daniella's room with the baby."
K!: Is Slash gonna be the godfather?
G: (laughs) "No. I wouldn't trust him with it - he wouldn't know what to do! No, he's a pretty good father. He's got a baby cougar - it's like having a kid, and he's been really good with it.
"The cougar's cool; we hang out with him a lot. Now he's getting big, he's like eight months old, and he's the same size as me now - he's 150 pounds! He's fun. If you're sitting there playing pinball, he'll stalk you and pounce on you. It's
fun. He's got a really good personality."
K!: How much has your life changed since being in Guns N' Roses?
G: "As a person, I don't think I've changed at all. I don't think I've mellowed or gotten wilder. I think I'm pretty much the same.
"The only thing that's different is that financial things are more taken care of. But then, again they're not... You know, I have a house and I got more cars and motorcycles, but now I gotta work to pay for 'em! People always say, `Well, you
have more money'... I say, `Maybe I have a couple more zeros, but my debts also have a couple more zeros'!"
K!: How's the next GN'R album progressing?
G: "There is no `next GN'R album'!"
G: "I don't know about ever. For now. We started working on one, and it got canned."
K!: How come?
G: "Well, it's an Axl thing. He just wasn't into what we were doing, so he's kind of rethinking what he wants to do. He just kind of threw a wrench into
everything that me, Slash and Matt had worked to. And then Duff came in.
"Duff and Axl have an idea what the album should be, and the rest of us have another idea. So right now, we're not gonna do anything. And anyway, from July to the end of the year, I'm not gonna be available, because I'm gonna be working on my record.
"If the band decide to make a record during that time, then there's a good chance I'm not going to be doing it."
K!: What about the rumour that you were fired by Axl last week?
G: "Nothing's happening right now. We're not gonna do anything. We were gonna do a lot of shows, but we're not gonna do 'em now. Nobody's really getting along right now. Everybody just called everything off, and we'll work on it when
everybody feels like doing it again."
K!: My next question was going to be, how much have you been contributing to the writing?
G: "For a while there, I contributed a lot. But now, I don't know how much I'm going to contribute. Like I said, Axl pretty much threw a wrench into everything. He didn't like what we were all doing.
"It's Axl's band, and he runs it the way he wants. And whatever he wants to do is gonna happen. So we can work on songs all year long and come up with 20 songs, but when it comes down to it, if Axl writes 10 songs, he'll go, 'I want my 10 songs on the record'. And that's what's gonna happen.
"So as much as we work on 'em, it doesn't mean anything, because they may never get anywhere. Slash and I are working on some stuff right now together. It's stuff that we put together for the next GN'R record, stuff that isn't gonna make it now. So we're putting something together. We don't know if this is gonna be a Slash solo album or what it's gonna be."
K!: The single 'Since I Don't Have You' is out next week...
G: "It's a terrible song."
K!: Don't hold back! How do you really feel about it?
G: "I don't like it. When we did the Punk album (`The Spaghetti Incident?'), we'd record stuff on days off. We did 'Since I Don't Have You' in Boston in one day! I didn't think it was gonna be on the record.
"I dug cutting the T-Rex song - that was cool. But I thought we were making a Punk Rock cover album. And then it turned into being not a Punk Rock cover
album! But, it's not my choice. When people ask me about the song, I just say, 'Look, I don't like it'."
K!: Maybe the kids'll love it.
G: "I don't know if they like that kind of stuff. They want Guns N' Roses and they want them to play songs like 'New Rose' and shit like that. And for the
most part, that's what the band likes to play, too."
K!: `The Spaghetti Incident?'was your first recording with GN'R. How was that for you?
G:` "It was strange, because it wasn't like we went in to make an album, we did it as different things. They had seven songs already recorded, then I went in and re-did all Izzy's (former GN'R rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin) guitars or put on guitars where he didn't play on 'em.
"While we were on the road, we'd go and record a couple more songs here and there. We actually did a couple of Hanoi Rocks songs that never made it, and a bunch of Iggy Pop songs that never made it, though one did make it. We recorded a bunch of stuff over a year, every now and then. It was cool.
"It's really strange, because the band is like two separate things. There's the guys, everybody except for Axl, and then there's the band with Axl.
When we're on the road, we're always together. We hang out together, just like a band. But that's not including Axl. And then there's the band with Axl. He just kinda comes in and does what he does, puts the vocals on and all that kind of stuff. So when we're in the studio, it's cool. But, you know, I'd been playing with the band for two years before we recorded stuff."
K!: Was recording 'The Spaghetti Incident?' like a party, a casual studio atmosphere?
G: "That's exactly what it started as. When we go in the studio, it's not like we go in and make a record - like 'Alright, we're goin' to work'. That's not
it. It's more like, `Hey, we're goin' to the studio. Hey, cool!'. We hang out and we record a little, then we go and we play a little pinball. It's really
fun. When the band, for the most part, is together, we have a really good time. It's really not like work at all."
K!: Were you freaked out when you bust your arm and Izzy filled in for you on a bunch of European dates last year?
G: "A little bit. But I was so drugged up I didn't really notice it!
"Yeah, it was really strange, but when it first came up I was literally still in a hospital bed. I'd just gotten my wrist reset. And that's when they brought it up. 'Well, we can't cancel the tour. Who are we gonna get to play guitar?'. And I'm like, 'Wait a minute...'. And so they came up with the Izzy idea.
"In the back of my head I was going, 'Well, I don't think that's a very good idea', because what if Axl goes, `Hey, this is kinda cool, let's just get
Izzy back'. But it didn't happen that way.
"It was nice - as soon as I got home, Izzy called me and we talked for a while. He just did it to see the guys, cos he hadn't seen 'em in a while. And then it was funny because I had Izzy on one line going, `When are you coming back? I gotta get out of here!', and Slash was on the other line going, `When are you coming back. We gotta get him out of here!.' It was the funniest thing.
"They did five shows without me, and I didn't get to go because I was in surgery. And then I got in for the last Milton Keynes show. We jammed. It was nice, because I hadn't seen Izzy in a long time."
K!: I suppose it was kind of like getting together with an old lover. Both parties had just moved on.
G: "That's exactly what had happened with the band. What's kinda cool is they just kinda realised, `Oh, Gilby really is a part of the band and Izzy's not a part of the band any more'. It worked out the best for everybody, cos Izzy didn't want back in any more than they wanted him back in. But it was fun, it was kinda cool, and I think it was really special for anybody who got to see any of those shows."
K!: The rumours that you were out of the band were flying around at the time.
G: "That kind of stuff, you can never stop it. I've heard so many reports that I got fired - and, you know, I've been in the band for two-and-a-half years, and I've been fired a few times. All kinds of people have been fired!
K!: For real?!
G: "For real. I've seen more than just me being fired. I've seen other people quit, I've seen other people fired, you know, whatever. It's not that big a deal."
K!: And it's still the same band.
G: "Exactly. Realistically, in the whole GN'R world, you don't know what's going to happen. I don't know what's going to happen. From the day I got the job, I didn't know if I'd be there for a week, a year, whatever.
"I think the same can be said about most people around the band. Axl and Slash call most of the shots. The rest of us just kinda go with the flow. You just never know, cos it's not our call. You're relying on Axl, and he changes his mind quite a bit.
"I have been fired a few times, and it was for nothing that I did. That was another reason for me making my album - you don't know what's going to happen in GN'R. I don't know if I'm going to be around for the next album. I don't know who's going to be around!"
K!: Tell me about your solo LP. Are you calling it the Gilby Clarke Experience?
G: "It's not the Gilby Clarke Experience. I'm just going to do it like a solo thing, kinda like how Peter Frampton did it."
K!: Who is in your band?
G: "In England, the only person people have heard of is Jo, who was in Dogs D'Amour. Jo made most of the record with me, but now, he's got a new band
in town with David Roach of Junkyard - they're called Las Barrachos.
"Now I've got Ryan Roxie on guitar he was in Electric Angels and Candy; and Mark Dansice is the drummer, he was in Little Caesar and the iverdogs; and Will Efford is the bass player and he hasn't been in anything. He's just my friend. And everybody has black hair!"
K!: Is it big black hair?
G: "No, not big black hair. Just little choppy black hair! I've known Ryan and Mark for 10, 11 years. When I was putting the band together, I decided I'd do it with my friends, some who haven't really been on the road, like Will. I'm going to go out and have a lot of fun. If I gotta go out and do all that work again, I'm going to go with my friends."
K!: When do you start touring?
G: "We're going to Japan. And then we'll tour the States in July."
K!: Are you happy?
G: "I'm very happy. Everything has kind of worked out for the better. You know, we kind of live for the minute. And this minute is kinda nice."
K!: Where are you off to now?
G: "I'm going to Slash's. We're going to hang out on
Melrose and go to Leathers & Treasures!"