|Axl Rose offered his insights and opinions on a wide variety of topics – including the return of Slash and Duff McKagan to Guns N’ Roses, his current stint as AC/DC‘s singer and the state of the music industry – during a wide-ranging, nearly hour-long Q&A session at the China Exchange in London yesterday. You can hear the whole interview above, but we’ve selected a large selection of highlights for you below.
Guns N’ Roses’ Future Looks Bright …
“I hope to keep this going for a quite a while. … Right now, it’s all good. I mean, obviously that could just explode. I do want to put out more music with Guns N’ Roses, and I don’t know if that has to do with Slash or not. … If he wants to play on something, that would be great. I’ve been working to get kind of where things are. The Guns N’ Roses reunion didn’t happen by chance or whatever. It was always looked at as a possibility, but it never seemed right or felt right.”
… But it’s a Bad Time for New Bands
“The heads of the music industry realize that for their business, why deal with a band? All they need is a star and a producer. They don’t even care who writes what or what it sounds like. They could be a genuine fan of music, say, the music company president, owner, whatever. But when it comes to their business, it doesn’t have anything to do with that. It just has to do with what’s going to be the easiest, what’s going to make the most money, and make the company and the shareholders happy and stuff like that. I can respect that … but as an artist and a musician and working with bands, it doesn’t help me at all, and i don’t think that it helps music. It doesn’t help the bands become self-sufficient and successful, they’ve got to work a lot harder because the labels are more worried about themselves making money.”
Get in the Ring, 2016 Style
“Google and YouTube have really changed things for the artist, and the government’s just stepped out of the way. They lobby very hard to pay minimal royalties, and I don’t think that’s right.”
On Working With Angus Young
“It’s great. I can’t really explain it. I feel protective, I feel I do not want to let this guy down, more than almost anybody I’ve ever known. And I don’t know why. And he’s very responsive to me. And they said they hadn’t seen him this happy, they hadn’t seen him moving around [this much]. In between songs, he’s playing other stuff [that has inspired potential new song ideas]. So that’s kind of a neat thing between musicians.”
How Slash Responded to Playing Chinese Democracy Songs
“I’m a big fan of our previous lineup, before getting back with Slash and Duff. We did a lot of work with that. For him to take on Buckethead or Bumblefoot’s parts, and just step to it on his own, and work on it and like it and enjoy it, that helped a lot.”
GNR Company Policy: No Beating Up Kids
“When we were opening for bigger bands, and then when we first started headlining, I don’t think anybody knows how violent it was. It was really violent in the crowd. … You’d have to stop the show. I got a lot of grief for stopping the show ‘for no reason,’ [but] there was just a lot of really rowdy crowds. I remember when we first started, you would have security that was looking for that, they wanted to get in and get in a fight with somebody. We put a stop to that pretty quickly, and got rid of people working for us that wanted to beat up kids. So it was really violent, it’s not as near that now.”
It Was Tough to Leave Dave Grohl’s Throne Behind
Apparently, Rose’s team was busy rather unsuccessfully trying to make their own version of Grohl’s chair when the Foo Fighters star offered the original for use after Rose’s foot injury. “At first it’s really strange, but then people apparently liked how I was moving in it. I had to make myself get out of it in in AC/DC. They didn’t tell me to, but I made myself get out of that chair because you start feeling, as Angus said, ‘a little too comfy.’ It became a safety zone, rather than having to get out their and face the people in another way.”
He’s Taking His Increased Workload Very Seriously
Saying he’s returned to his vocal coach after two decades, Rose explained why he’s sounding so good nowadays. “I do a lot of vocal exercises. … The Brian Johnson Back in Black stuff is really demanding. Sing it wrong and you might not be signing again.”
Third Band? No Thanks!
When asked which other artists he’d like to collaborate with, the already overbooked Rose humorously and incredulously responded. “TO JOIN?,” before explaining once again that he offered to help AC/DC simply because he realized “they were going to have a lot of problems” with fans and business partners if they were forced to cancel their tour due to Brian Johnson’s hearing problems.
He Did Not Eat His Own Pets
Rose explained that some of the band’s bad boy reputation was hoisted upon them by an overeager media. “Part of that was just being young, [but] when we would go to MTV, they’d ask us to tear their set apart. England was one of the greatest places for that, because the media here would write anything to try to promote you. They said I ran over my dogs and then I ate them. They said all kinds of crazy things.”
He Loves Queen …
“Queen has always been my favorite band. Freddie is the greatest singer ever is the way I look at it. The other thing about Queen for me is they embraced so many different styles.”
… And Bon Scott’s Soft Side
“You don’t find that much in Brian’s work with AC/DC, but what I like about Bon’s old AC/DC, as aggressive as that music was, he would talk about having a broken heart or something like that. So it made it okay for guys to feel, and to let some of it out someway.”
He Brought Back “Coma” for Slash … and You
“Right now, I like performing the Chinese Democracy stuff most, but it was also really good to be doing the song ‘Coma.’ I knew it would make Slash happy, I knew it would make the fans happy, and since I was sitting in the chair, I knew I wouldn’t have to run around so much.”
Guns N’ Roses Barely Survived Getting Their First Record Deal
“We had to sit on our asses for about four months, and it almost broke up the whole band. Everybody got hooked on drugs and stuff [during] whatever the label was doing to figure out who would work with us. Everybody was terrified of us anyway because they thought we were all going to die. We were going to leave the label. We wanted to play, we wanted to get out to New York or something. We didn’t get signed to sit in an apartment.”
He Was Worried How AC/DC’s Fans Would React to Him
Rose admitted to being concerned about how he’d connect with AC/DC’s audience, even if he sang the songs correctly. “I know how hard it is. Lots of bands do not want to open for [Guns N’ Roses], they just don’t want to, they don’t want to deal with our fans. It’s kind of the same with AC/DC fans. They’re very serious about their band.”
His Advice to a Younger Axl?
“Form my own label. We didn’t think that big at the time, I didn’t have that type of business education. We should have formed our own company and figured out a distributor. It’s not just the money.”
Will He Write an Autobiography?
“I think so, possibly yes. But it’s tough because I haven’t figured out a way to word things that doesn’t just look like I’m being negative to everybody else, or calling them a liar. Slash and I hadn’t talked in 19 years, and when we did talk, I was like, ‘You know, you wrote about a lot of stuff that didn’t happen, that just … is not real.'”
He Would Like to Score Movies
Rose’s answer to a question about his current favorite music revealed a surprising career ambition. “I mainly listen to the music that’s playing during movies. It can be the theme to Pirates of the Caribbean, The Equalizer, stuff like that. I like the blend of orchestra with modern instrumentation. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do. I was more interested in that than staying in Guns N’ Roses. It would have been easier and more fun. I have a lot of respect for people that do that.”
He’s Not Down With Censorship
“Chinese Democracy wasn’t trying to tell China to have a democracy or anything like that. I don’t have an opinion on what kind of government they should have. My thing is, I went to stay there for about three months, and everywhere I went, the people are so shielded from what’s going on in the world. When you stay in hotels there, you don’t realize that the stuff you’re seeing on TV, the average person isn’t seeing. Everywhere I went, people are scared, they’re frightened for their lives to have an opinion that deviates from the government about the simplest things, things that we take for granted. I feel that that’s wrong, it’s not good for anyone. I do feel people should be free to have their opinions and develop their thoughts.” He then joked, “but.. [I’m] speaking as a dictator,” in reference to longstanding rumors about the manner in which he supposedly runs Guns N’ Roses.
Advice on Living With Cats
“If you don’t keep yourself open, to some degree, they’re not going to be around.”