About two weeks ago, That Metal Show host Eddie Trunk got word from Axl Rose's new manager Peter Katsis that the Guns N' Roses frontman might be interested in appearing on the program. "It was all pretty loose," Trunk tells Rolling Stone. "They said, 'Well, we have a pretty good chance we can get Axl to you if Eddie's there and the crew is ready to go.' [VH1 Classic] was willing to roll the dice and give it a shot."
Trunk and the crew – including co-hosts Don Jameson and Jim Florentine – flew down to Miami, where G N' R would be performing, on October 29th. They arrived at American Airlines Arena at 3 p.m. and set up a set in the Miami Heat's dressing room. Axl arrived at around 8 p.m. and didn't take the stage until midnight, wrapping up the show at 3 a.m. "This whole time, there was a lot of conflicting information about whether or not the interview was going to happen," says Trunk. "So we interviewed the rest of the band, opening act Buckcherry and members of the crew so we'd definitely come back with a show, even if the Axl interview didn't work out."
At 5:45 a.m., Axl walked onto the set with new Guns N' Roses guitarist DJ Ashba. Trunk interviewed him for an hour and a half. "In a perfect world, with an interview of that magnitude, we'd like to be a little more fresh and not coming off 24 hours with no sleep," says Trunk. "But Axl was great. He was alert and awake. That's Axl time. He was in great spirits and friendly and much how I remember him from when I interviewed him on my radio show five years ago."
They covered a lot of ground during that 90 minutes. "He's still a staunch believer in Chinese Democracy," says Trunk. "He believes that the record is finding new fans and he feels that the material from that is going down better and better in the live show." Axl was less committal when asked about new music. "When I asked him about a new record he just said, 'I'd love to at some point, we'll see.'"
In this exclusive clip, Axl explains why he usually takes the stage so late. "I think we’re doing better," he says. "A lot of this goes way, way back to '91 when we were super late going onstage. That really has more to do with that I shouldn’t be on tour. I went on tour for three reasons, our manager had booked a tour without authorization and then I’m going to be sued for it. He also told me that if Slash does heroin, it’s my fault. And Slash is pressuring me. I should not have agreed to that tour."
Guns N' Roses are on this year's ballot for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If they get inducted, the ceremony is next April in Cleveland. "His attitude about that was, 'We'll see how it plays out if we're inducted. If that happens, we'll see what lineup of the band they like and what members they want and don't want,'" says Trunk. "He also said that he didn't know much about it. He did say that inducting Elton John back in 1994 was a big thrill for him. He took the whole thing as an honor and said, 'We'll see how it plays out.'"
Trunk also gets the sense that lots of Axl's anger towards his former bandmates has dissipated. "There's only one person from the original band where there's residual issues – and that's Slash," says Trunk. "It almost seems to be that that has maybe died down just a little bit. I'm not trying to put words in anyone's mouth or speculate, but there was a clip on YouTube a couple of weeks ago of Axl telling a good story about the time that he was with Slash on the road. It was the first time I saw him talking about Slash where it wasn't just venom."
Now that he has interviewed Axl, Trunk has has sights on future conquests. "Personally, I'd love to interview Eddie Van Halen," he says. "Especially with all of the confusion about what's happening with Van Halen. The world would love to see Ozzy, and Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley on the show too. Some of these holdouts have to realize that this is where there audience wants to see them. They will be interviewed by guys that love their music. If they continue to hold out, they are only shortchanging their fans."