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Axl Rose on Privacy, Public Opinion and His War With the Media

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But there's a certain charisma to that. It was just one more thing to get off on about Guns n' Roses. There were five distinct personalities on the stage.
That's okay. But when the guy's getting up at six thirty in the morning and riding bicycles and motorcycles and buying toy airplanes, and he's donating all this energy to something else, and it's taking 100 percent of our energy to do what we're doing on the stage, we were getting ripped off. I'm hoping Izzy's new album rocks. But at the same time, it'll be like "Why couldn't he do that with us?" He wouldn't do anything.

So you're angry with him because he didn't want to be what you wanted him to be?
No. That's not it. I'm angry with him because he left in a very shitty way, and he tries to act like everything's cool. He put his trust in people that I consider my enemies. People like [former G n' R manager] Alan Niven, who I think is his manager now. I don't need Alan Niven knowing jack shit about Guns n' Roses. Everybody has a lot of good and bad, and with Alan, I just got sick of his fucking combo platter. It's like "If you're involved with these people, we can't talk to you."

Let's move on. The media contract that was put into effect before Guns n' Roses started the tour outraged a lot of journalists who felt that you were trying to control what was printed about the band. And I think that's a legitimate gripe on the part of the press.
Yeah. But I don't think they understood what we were trying to do. We were trying to cut down on our exposure. There is such a thing as overexposure. We were also trying to weed out the assholes from the people who were gonna be cool. You know, if you were willing to put your ass on the line and sign the damn thing, then we pretty much figured you weren't gonna try and screw us. There were people who agreed to sign it and then we told them they didn't have to.

Can you understand why even a reporter who wasn't out to get you would refuse to sign something like that?
I don't know. I guess only if they thought that we wanted everything to look peachy keen.

That's the way it came across, because the contract gave you the right of final approval over everything that was written by anyone who signed it.
I'm not that way. I want the real story. I never wanted "Steven Adler's on vacation." I wanted "Steven Adler's in a fucking rehab." [Adler, G n' R's former drummer, was fired from the group for excessive drug use.] I wanted the reality. Maybe I'd like it a bit optimistic, but I've always been more into the reality of the situations, because that's what I wanted to read about the band. I can see where it would look like we just wanted everything to be right about us. But it was also trying to find a way to work with certain metal magazines. There are a lot of kids who collect those, and we'd rather they have real stories than bullshit stories. I haven't done an interview with Hit Paraderor Circusin three or four years.

You've said you can't trust them to print what you actually say.
Yeah. And it's not that what they print is so bad. It's just that when someone puts corny little words in that you didn't say... like Slash saying something about "Well, we're gonna just shake it up and see what happens." Slash would never say that, and it made him feel really dorky. Looking back at it and reading it, it may not be that bad. But we know that we would've come off a lot better if it had been what we really said. I think I've got a pretty good track record of not lying.

When you were in New York recently, you took offense at a review Jon Pareles wrote in the New York Times and invited him to come onstage to talk about it. [Pareles, reviewing a December G n' R show at Madison Square Garden, described the audience as "oddly restrained." Pareles was invited to come to the following night's show and "tell the crowd why they weren't having a good time."]
I was actually just going to sit down and talk. I wasn't going to make him look like an ass.

Still, he would've been walking into a minefield. No matter what he said, they'd boo him and cheer you.
He didn't have the balls to stand behind what he wrote, and he got exposed.

A lot of people would say that in inviting him to talk about that on your turf, you were the one who didn't have the balls. Why didn't you call him and talk about it personally on neutral territory?
I'm not gonna make the New York Times any more money. It was an obnoxious piece. It was shit journalism. He could've written: "I didn't like the show, personally. I think they suck." Okay, fine. Cool. You can think we suck, and I can think you're an asshole. But don't just try to make it look like nobody enjoyed it.

Couldn't he have been just calling it like he saw it?
Then that's a person with some severe fucking personal problems, and he has no business being there writing about our show. It's a different crowd at a G n' R show now than it used to be. He didn't understand it. Most people that have been into G n' R for years don't understand it, but they can feel it. Having a nice time is weird for people that don't have nice times in their lives. When you don't really know what a nice time is, a nice time is for pussies.

Where do you think that nice feeling is coming from, being that most of the songs can't really be described as "nice" songs?
Because that's the truth underneath all of it. It's the underlying message. We'll do a certain song because we want to express that anger, get that feeling out. "We did it, okay, now I can deal with the person that I just called an asshole." You know, that's healthy. But that's not how the world works. The world doesn't want you to do that.

Does it bother you that so many people think you're misogynous, homophobic and racist?
It can bother me. But the racist thing is just bullshit. I used a word that was taboo. And I used that word because it was taboo. I was pissed off about some black people that were trying to rob me. I wanted to insult those particular black people. I didn't want to support racism. When I used the word faggots, I wasn't coming down on gays. I was coming down on an element of gays. I had just heard a story about a man who was released out of the L.A. county jail with AIDS and he was hooking. I've had my share of dealings with aggressive gays, and I was bothered by it. The. Bible says, "Thou shalt not judge," and I guess I made a judgment call, and it was an insult. The racist thing, that's just stupid. I can understand how people would think that, but that's not how I meant it. I believe that there's always gonna be some form of racism – as much as we'd like there to be peace – because people are different. Black culture is different. I work with a black man every day [Earl Gabbidon, Rose's bodyguard], and he's one of my best friends. There are things he's into that are definitely a "black thing." But I can like them. There are things that are that way. I think there always will be.

People are afraid of things that are foreign to them.
It's that way with everything, you know? It's that way with people who are of the same race or same gender. Maybe now and then they'll reach a point where something happens, and they bond, and they're really close. But they're always going to have their differences. The most important thing about "One in a Million" is that it got people to think about racism. A lot of people thought I was talking about entire races or sectors of people. I wasn't. And there was an apology on the record. The apology is not even written that well, but it's on the cover of every record. And no one has acknowledged it yet. No one.

What about the songs that are perceived as misogynous? A lot of people see songs like "Back Off Bitch" and "Locomotive" as a reflection of your current views on women.
Yeah, and that's wrong. I can understand that, 'cause the records just came out. But "Back Off Bitch" is a ten-year-old song. I've been doing a lot of work and found out I've had a lot of hatred for women. Basically, I've been rejected by my mother since I was a baby. She's picked my stepfather over me ever since he was around and watched me get beaten by him. She stood back most of the time. Unless it got too bad, and then she'd come and hold you afterward. She wasn't there for me. My grandmother had a problem with men. I've gone back and done the work and found out I overheard my grandma going off on men when I was four. And I've had problems with my own masculinity because of that. I was pissed off at my grandmother for her problem with men and how it made me feel about being a man. So I wrote about my feelings in the songs.

That anger has to have put a damper on your relationships.
I've been hell on the women in my life, and the women in my life have been hell on me. And it really breaks me down to tears a lot of times when I think about how terribly we've treated each other. Erin [Everly, Rose's former wife] and I treated each other like shit. Sometimes we treated each other great, because the children in us were best friends. But then there were other times when we just fucked each other's lives completely up. And so you write about that in your frustration. The anger and the emotions and stuff scare people, and it's good that people recognize these things as dangerous. I don't think our music promotes that you should feel this way, and if people are getting that, that's not right. We're saying you're allowed to feel certain ways. Now, if you want to hold on to something that you know is bad, that's your problem. I don't want to. I've already left most of the lyrics behind. I'd already grown past a lot of the things by the time I started working on my therapy in February. It takes a lot of work to slowly dig that out. And I've been doing this while I'm on the road. Some of this stuff is coming out at four in the afternoon, when you don't expect it.

Show time!
[Laughs] Yeah! Show time, the show must go on. But... I love women. I remember the last time in Rolling Stone, saying that I liked seeing two women together, and there were letters from lesbian organizations saying, "How disgusting." I can be as disgusting as the next person, but it wasn't meant to be disgusting. I think women are beautiful. I don't like to see people used. If I'm looking at a men's magazine and I just look at the surface, I might be able to enjoy it. But if I know that this person is really messed up and that person's messed up and they're being used by the person who set up the photo session, then it'll turn my stomach.

Do you want to talk about your childhood in a little more detail?
Sure.

What's your earliest memory?
My earliest conscious memory was of a feeling that I'd been here before and that I had a toy gun in my hand. I knew it was a toy gun, and I didn't know how I knew. That was my first memory. But I've done regression therapy all the way back, just about to the point of conception. I kind of know what was going on then.

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