Soon, Guns N’ Roses might be releasing even more than the Chinese Democracy sequel that Axl Rose teased in June. Keyboardist Dizzy Reed tells Rolling Stone the group has “a shitload of songs” – enough to make up another record or two – that were recorded while making their 2008 album. “If the new record is not done, then it’s close to being done,” he says. “I think it’s just a matter of picking out which songs will be on it.” As for the direction of the music, Reed said that the recordings were “congruent with Chinese Democracy,” but he didn’t have an idea of when that or the remix record that Rose also mentioned would be coming out.
Currently, the group is celebrating the release of Appetite for Democracy 3D: Live at the Hard Rock Casino – Las Vegas, their first concert film in over two decades. Filmed during their first Sin City residency in 2012, the movie captured GN’R playing a career-spanning set that features aerial dancers and a flying piano for Rose to play during “November Rain.” The whole thing lasts nearly three hours: “That’s a bit of a short night,” Reed says straight-faced.
“They tried to get me to go up on the piano at soundcheck, and I said, ‘Absolutely not,'” Reed recalls. “I’m not afraid of heights; I’m afraid of Murphy’s Law. Eventually, they needed to test it and Axl couldn’t be there so I gave it a shot. It was pretty sturdy. It looked more like everything was moving down below. But whenever Axl would go up on that thing, I was just worried that something bad was going to happen.”
Other than Rose, Reed is the longest-running member of Guns N’ Roses, having joined the group just before they recorded the Use Your Illusion albums in 1990. He first met Rose when Guns N’ Roses moved into the studio next door to his band, the Wild. “We lived in a shithole,” he recalls. “There was no running water. There was a toilet that didn’t work out in the parking lot. I think we had air conditioning, but it just stunk. We slept on the floor in sleeping bags.” But despite the odd circumstances, he still remembers the GN’R guys as having “a certain aura” and wanting to join the group after seeing them play L.A.’s Troubadour. “Everyone’s expectations were if they don’t self-destruct, they’re gonna be huge,” he says. “Most bands did self-destruct.”
In a 1991 Rolling Stone cover story, Reed recalled a panicky phone call to Rose at a time when he had to vacate his squat. After telling the singer that no one would be able to get a hold of him upon leaving the apartment, Rose offered him a place in the band. “He gave me an opportunity when he didn’t have to, and he stuck to his word when he really didn’t have to,” Reed says now. “I’ll always appreciate that. I remember that and I just try to give back 100 percent.”
Reed says that GN’R’s three-hour concerts are often unpredictable as the group doesn’t work with a traditional set list, instead learning the songs they play eeach night through a clandestine line of communication. “When someone new joins the band, I tell them, ‘Don’t get comfortable,'” he says. “If you think we’re not gonna do a song, we will do it. If you think we’re not gonna play for three hours, because we just played for two and a half, we could play for three.”
Sometimes, Rose attempts to mess him up mid-solo by telling jokes in Reed’s in-ear monitor from back stage. “There’s a couple that I can’t repeat,” Reed says, laughing. “He’s definitely thrown that challenge my way a few times. That’s how he is. It’s not easy to get around that, but I do.”
Now that Guns N’ Roses are done with their most recent Las Vegas engagement, Reed is focusing his attention to his two other bands: the supergroup Dead Daisies and Hookers & Blow. While the former is recording new songs and touring with Bad Company and Kiss, the latter is celebrating its 10th anniversary with concerts in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
There’s one thing that remains constant at any concert Reed plays. “If I’m not the first person onstage, I’m definitely the first person offstage,” he says. “I just like to get a cold drink in my hand.”