|Nearly 10 years after leaving Guns N' Roses to become a founding member of A Perfect Circle, drummer Josh Freese is still involved in the maelstrom with Axl Rose. And, as Freese tells it, that's a good thing.
During an extensive Spinner Q&A, Rose said that Freese was one of the easiest drummers to work with -- and friendliest. When Spinner spoke to Freese, he took the time to return the compliment. "Everyone always baits me to give them a crazy Axl story," he admits. "I don't really have any. I spent two years in a studio with him [and] I never saw any mood swings. He was never not cool to me. So, I am always quick to defend the guy, even though I know his reality is different than mine. Then again, everyone has a different reality."
Freese auditioned for the Axl-centric Guns in 1997, albeit a little reluctantly. "I was pretty busy at the time, so I didn't really need the job necessarily," he says. "Then I decided that I should go down there because I wanted to meet him. At the time, no one had seen him for a couple of years and there were all these rumors. He had become the Howard Hughes of rock 'n' roll and I wanted to see it. I went down and I liked him. He wasn't the monster that was painted of him."
The two spent the next two years in the studio, working up new songs including the Rose/Freese composition that became the 'Chinese Democracy' title track. "That's a wacky feather in my cap," Freese says with a laugh. "After 10 years I was ready to see [the song] have eight different writers on it, but it didn't get convoluted and f---ed up."
In fact, for all the reports of Rose's endless tweaking, Freese says the song is very close to the original. "I think they made the intro longer," he says. "I'd have 'em cut right into the thing. It's a simple bonehead rock song with a big riff that I'm assuming will be perfect for 'Guitar Hero' one day."