You've seen the Rolling Stone article, you've read it. So, what do you think, is it accurate? I mean, do you like it?
Duff - There's...
Slash - I mean, it plays on, sort of the, Guns N' Roses's notorious band, yeah.
Duff - It's kinda like, yeah, let's exploit the dirty side, all the dark sides of this band.
Do you feel that that's not...
Duff - Well, he was with us for three days. I mean, I like the guy. He was with us for three days. He saw, basically every side of us. But he kinda exploited just one side, which happens from like, after the gig till you go to sleep on the bus. That side, you know.
Slash - I mean, apparently with us, it's like, the main thing people wanna hear is how bad we are. This and that we did, and so and so did that. That's like, sort of novelty of Guns N' Roses, right. And so that's what... Rolling Stone just printed the stuff that's gonna make their magazine sell, basically.
So what's the other side they left out?
Slash - Well, just the fact that the band is five individual people. It's not just, this sort of like, little group of hooligans. It's not like that.
Duff - Give 'em a bootle, watch 'em go.
Slash - So...
Duff - I mean, there's... any individual... And then there's five individuals. There's lots of different sides, you know. Just like with anybody else.
And you can't really show all that in an article, can you?
Slash - Well, I mean, there's ways of approaching it.
The whole thing about that... "How wild can they be. Give 'em a bottle, see how they go". You can't... I don't believe, maybe I'm wrong, I think you have to have some discipline to be making the music.
Slash - There's a lot of discipline in this band. It's only happened a couple of times we've been like, wasted on stage or anything. I mean, that's very far between gigs like that. I can actually count on one hand how many times anyone of have done that.
Duff - But not even booze discipline. I mean... Just to be on tour, not saying it's the hardest thing in the world. I had a construction job that was much harder than being on tour. Yeah, you have to have discipline. You have to have responsibility. And, you know, you have to be at the gig every day, you gotta do soundcheck, you gotta make sure all your equipment's' working, gotta make sure...
Slash - Gotta keep the whole tour in check, basically.
Duff - Yeah. Like, everything in check. I mean, you know... So... And you gotta do... You know, there's interviews you're doing, and different cities and this and that. So, it's not like, just all of a sudden we're there on stage and playing the gig, and then we're outta there. There's a lot behind that, you know. Helluva lot.
You have to be working.
Duff - Yeah.
It's not just playing around and drinking all the time.
Duff - No.
Getting laid and getting loaded.
Slash - That happens after the gig. [laughs]
Slash - Basically. Or before the gig, but only...
They said that the tension in the band makes the music more explosive. Is that true? Do you think that's true?
Slash - Some ways.
Duff - Sometimes, yeah.
Slash - Sometimes you're pissed off and go out and kick ass. I mean, that happens. And what about other times?
Slash - And other times... What?
I mean, you don't have to get pissed off to kick ass?
Slash - No, it's not a major... It's not like, the band's stipulation, someone goes screwed, one of the guys in the band to make the show good, you know. It's not like that.
I'm gonna read you a couple of interesting quotes I want you to react on. "They are a musical sawed off shotgun".
Slash - That's a cool quote. I like that one.
"With great power, but erratic aim." That's...
Slash - It's pretty...
Duff - That's...
Slash - ... pretty close.
Duff - Yeah, sometimes. Yeah. Again sometimes.
"They are a brutal band for brutal times."
Slash - That one's sort of over my head. I mean, we're just... That's like, looking into what we are as a band. And I don't know... It's an outside view.
And then this whole thing about real names, which apparently has made quite a splash. From what I heard this morning from MTV, Axl being Bill Bailey. Was it supposed to be a secret?
Slash - I don't know. He said it, you know. He likes the article, so...
Duff - It really doesn't... That's not a big point, what our real names are.
Slash - The only reason I don't say my real name is I don't like being called it. Sounds like my grandmother talking.
Duff - That what somebody would do is "OK, they think they're cool 'cause they saw it in the article". My name has been Duff since I was two years old. So, that's my name, you know.
How long have you been Slash?
Slash - Since I was about 13, I think.
And what about all the... the stuff about... the drugs and the booze. Are they exaggerating? I mean, last time we talked, you said it was sorta in the past. You know, the drugs in particular. Is that an exaggeration with this article? Portraits you...
Slash - I... Actually... Well, the drinking thing... I mean... I guess it's a way to sorta like... pass time.
Duff - The drug thing is no big deal. Two years ago, maybe it was.
So, it's a part of the past?
Slash - As far as you know.
Duff - As far as you know.
Slash - [laughs] No, it's really not like, one of those things... The band's really stopped, you know. Like, getting heavily involved in any kind of serious chemicals, or anything like that. It's just not productive.
You said earlier... You know, you gotta go, you gotta do all these things. You gotta work. You gotta be at work. And I assume it's not really easy to work if you're involved in a lot...
Slash - No, it doesn't work. Even alcohol. There's only an extent where you can drink, if you have to play and stuff.
So it's afterwards. Does the band give vague and contradictory signals about violence and drugs? Do you think that, or do you think you have a very...
Slash - We have a very cynical attitude about everything. And that what goes on in life all the time. It's... People like to ignore it and stuff, but... So, with us, you know, we've been exposed to lot of stuff and...
Duff - A lot of the songs are like, "Here. Take a look". It's not really saying anything one way or the other. It's like, you know, "Take a look. See for yourself". We don't condone anything, or do not, not condone.
Slash - Condemn anything.
Duff - Condemn, yeah. So, I mean, in the... We don't do it in the public eye, or in songs. I mean, who are we to do that? And why would we wanna? It's just not us.
So when you're writing a song, you're not giving a message...
Slash - No. It's sort of just like, painting a picture.
Duff - Yeah.
Slash - And all the songs on the album are... It's almost like, ??? back, type of things.
Duff - Exactly.
Slash - All is something that's happened to us. Every song represents the band, you know. Our basic existence and stuff we've gone through.
When I think about rock n' roll bands... I think a lot of times they have that attitude, "We're just saying what it is". But, kids sometimes don't get it, you know what I mean. They think "I gotta do what the band does", or "I gotta do what I think the band does".
Slash - Well, some people are smarter than others.
Duff - Yeah. I mean, I've said this before, but I remember being a 14-year-old kid. And just because Sid Vicious died of a heroine overdose, I didn't go and do a huge shot of dope, or anything. You know, it's not... You're smarter than that. Even 13 years old, you're smarter than that. You know.
Slash - You should be, anyway.
Did you think rock n' roll stars were heroes, or? At that time.
Slash - There's people that were cool, people you thought were cool, people that you would go see and stuff like that, but... I mean, I didn't have pictures on my wall and stuff like that. Like most kids do.
Duff - I mean, there are a few people in rock n' roll that are quote on quote, heroes. Just because they've been through a mill. Heavily. And still are. Like Iggy Pop. He is probably... I mean, I wouldn't say heroes is the right word. I mean, that guy you gotta respect.
Slash - Yeah.
Duff - You gotta seriously respect that guy.
Slash - 'Cause he's been around for so long, and so it's like, until... You can talk about this band being this and that and the other, but... I mean, we haven't gone through even a quarter as much shit as that guy's gone through.
But I just wondered if there were types... Some kids... And I agree, I think most kids make their own decisions, and they don't have to do what you do because they love your music. They can love your music and think you're jerks, even.
Slash - Some people do. [laughs]
Duff - [laughs]
[laughs] But... Some kids just take it a little too far, you know.
Slash - Some kids are really depressed. I mean, you know, rock n' roll is an outlet. And then drugs are an outlet, drinking's an outlet, violence is an outlet. And there's so many different people and there's so many different scenarios, that you can't even really get into it. There's too many things going on.
Duff - Yeah. I mean, there's such a huge... I mean, I guess, industry in just outlets. This building, it's here because... for an outlet. [laughs] So, there's many variables in these outlets that you can't control. I'm not gonna like, defeatism. I don't wanna say it like that. But, why even try to... to control that in a song? Why even attempt it?
The year's coming to a close pretty soon. We got like, two months and a few days left.
Slash - Big deal.
[laughs] Now, come on guys, give me a break here, for the year-end special.
Slash - I've never been one of those new years people. [doing a funny sound]
[laughs] When you look back over this year... It's been a really tremendous year for you guys. Do you have a highlight?
Duff - Can't remember.
Slash - Well, I mean, Donnington was both. And the whole... The tours. I mean, there's a lot of shows... I mean, I can pick a gig in like, Wyoming, right. We never played Wyoming... Salt Lake City, right. You know, one particular day where a gig was great. I mean, touring is like, every good gig is a highlight.
What about low lights?
Slash - Those come and go. I don't even notice 'em. [laughs]
How about for the world? I mean, do you think about that? Like, what happened this year that was great...
Duff - For the world? We're on tour. We don't know.
Slash - It's really like, in a cardboard box. You don't see much of anything really. I mean, I suppose if there was like, a nuclear thing happening, you'd know about it.
Duff - You might hear about it, maybe, if the bus driver tell you, or something. Who's president?
Slash - Yeah, right.
What about that? Politically, are you...
Slash - We're not a political band, or a politically oriented band at all. Like, I mean, if I had to get into the candidates for the presidency right now, I could say "Yeah, it blows". 'Cause I'm aware of that. But I'm not gonna say anything about American... Use that... influence anybody or anything like that.
Will you guys go out and vote?
Slash - No.
Duff - I'm going to.
Slash - I can't vote.
Duff - He can't vote. He's not a citizen.
Well, that makes it hard.
Duff - My friend makes a dollar and a half per person he signs up to vote. So... I said "Oh, come on over." So, I made him a dollar and a half. So, I might as well vote. The place is right down the street, you know. I just, like write in... You know how you can write in... for president and all that. I'll just write Donald Duck and Darth Vader.
Slash - Ronald Reagan.
Duff - Ronald Reagan, yeah. Jimmy Carter.
Slash - Nixon.
Duff - Wayne Gretzky.
[laughs] New album...
Slash - Larry Flynt. [laughs]
Duff - Oh man, did you see that?
Slash - What?
Duff - Did you see that?
I heard about it. What happened?
Duff - It was a front... head story on the news. They discovered... The FBI discovered a plot Larry Flynt was trying to assassinate Hugh Hefner.
Slash - No way.
4th person - Bob Guiccione, Frank Sinatra and ???.
Duff - And the guy they contracted out to kill these people died.
4th person - Died of a heart attack. [laughs]
Slash - Are you serious?
Duff - Yeah.
Slash - I guess Larry is in hot water again.
Duff - He's in hot water.
Slash - God.
So Larry Flynt...
Slash - I just got my "Larry Flynt for president" t-shirt.
Duff - Larry Flynt for president, man. I'm telling you, Larry Flynt is a guy...
Slash - He's nuts. [laughs] Yeah, it's funny.
So now he's in definite big trouble. How did they found out...
Slash - Yeah.
Duff - He'll get out of it.
Slash - Somehow.
How did they found out that the guy had a heart attack?
Duff - I didn't hear the heart attack bit. But... He died before he could complete his little contract.
Slash - Must have paid him a lot of money.
Tell me a little about... From assassination to new studio album. There are gonna be more ballads?
Slash - There's just a lot of material. I can't really say... I mean, there's tons and tons of stuff. And we'll just do whatever we really like and you know. I think there's at least gonna be two songs that are slow on the album.
Do you have an idea of the direction you're going? Anything different...
Slash - The erratic one, right. I don't know. It's basically just us, we progress as a band, progressed as musicians. So, it'll just be, you know, sort of life and times kind of thing, I guess.
I think Guns N' Roses one reason, from my point of view, is that you've been so successful, is that you're so different from anybody else. And you said specifically to me, "We stick out compared to everything that's around".
Slash - At this particular point in time, yeah.
Duff - It's like, again, the thing about going to rock shows, and they're so mundane. You know, they have this setlist. And they have like, tapes they put in to help 'em sing. Or like, a guitar part. Or like, a big... you know, full scores behind 'em, or something, you know.
Slash - You go to like, opera and stuff for that.
Duff - Right.
Slash - Not a rock n' roll concert.
Duff - You go there 'cause it's an outlet for everything you can't do. So, when a band rolls around like us, who... Our set is never the same, our songs are never the same. We never play a song the same way twice, I don't think. We try, but it never works out that way.
So it's very spontaneous.
Duff - To say the least.
How do you know what you're gonna play if you don't know what you're gonna play?
Slash - 'Cause we keep a list on the stage that has all the songs we know.
Duff - We could just call 'em up, but we don't remember all the songs. The list is just there...
Slash - Sometimes, like in the heat of the moment, like, OK, you just do the kick ass song and then you go into the next one, and you can't really just think of the next song you wanna do. It's just... doesn't happen. So, we keep the list there for reference.
Duff - Here's the songs we know.
Do you ever like, started different songs? You start one and you start one.
Slash - We've done it.
Duff - Yeah.
Slash - I mean, everything that can possibly go wrong on a rock concert, we've been involved with.
And that's the way it should be?
Slash - For us.
Duff - I mean, just me as a spectator. I mean, yeah, that's the way it should be.
Have you ever gone to a rock show where the artist has... You go two nights in a row, he said the same things between the songs.
Duff - I've heard of it.
Slash - I've seen it. I won't name names. I know somebody in particular.
Duff - A lot of people do that. And you gotta figure the guys in the band must be bored out of their mind.
Slash - It's like going through the motions. It's like, "What the hell are you doing it for?".
Duff - Yeah.
Slash - Turns into a job.
Duff - It's like, just a moneymaking project. That's everything we're against.
Slash - The whole thing about being an entertainer and so on and so forth is because, I think... Compared to your regular office job, working in a factory, or whatever. I mean, it's one of the greatest careers you could have if you're good at it. And you can be successful, make money and make a living.
Duff - We've been successful not being good at it.
Slash - [laughs] You just have to take advantage of what you're capable of getting away with. And the fun that could be had by doing it. Not make a job out of it.
'Cause you are good at it, aren't you?
Slash - We're all right, you know. I wouldn't say we're bad. I've seen worse bands.
Duff - We have been awful.
Slash - Yeah, we have been.
Duff - We have been...
Slash - We can be really good, and we can be really shitty.
Duff - We can. We can be very average too, at times.
Slash - And we're bummed out when we do a shitty gig. I mean, it means a lot to us to go out and... I mean, a good show is like the biggest....
Duff - Uplifting.
Slash - Uplifting thing in the world.
Duff - Yeah. I mean, we don't ever like... knowing we go out there and go "OK, let's play a shitty gig", you know. It's like, we don't wanna do that at all. We feel like shit after doing a bad gig, you know. You're disappointed with yourself, you're disappointed that you didn't give that kid what... You really wanted to give him a great show.
Slash - Yeah, you have to give the kids, you know, or the people that comes to gigs, you gotta give them their moneys' worth. And you gotta be your best and be conscientious about the whole thing as a whole, and that's real important with us. When we do a crappy gig, we do like, get bummed out and go through...
Duff - In Texas, yeah.
What happened in Texas?
Slash - It was so bad, it wasn't...
Duff - It was just... This kid, I don't know if you saw this, it says like... 'Cause we played at like seven. This kid went home and said 10.15 Saturday night. 10.15 PM. He sent us a broken tape of ours. He broke it in half and sent this letter "I just got back from your gig and you guys sucked. I'll never buy a tape or come and see you guys again". OK...
Slash - If he'd known exactly what had gone on... I mean, see that's the things. There's no excuses, you know. If he'd known really what happened, maybe he'd understand.
Duff - Right. It was just the worst circumstances for a band, any band, that day, we went through. And the hurricane was like, 60 miles south. So, we played Texas stadium, where they have the... not a roof, but it's like, open. So the rain started... just pouring rain. And it came up on the stage and we're falling on our ass. The sound just... was terrible.
Slash - The sound was horrible.
Duff - It was horrible.
Slash - The vibe was bad. I mean, we were playing with somebody we didn't really like. And afterwards people were coming and saying "Great concert, man". And I was like, "Come on".
Duff - Give me a break.
Slash - It was like, the only thing about that was like, a bummer 'cause it was the last gig of the tour. And the whole tour had been great. We just played two gigs in Costa Mesa that were killer, flew to Dallas and everybody was like...
Duff - Just like, put a needle in a balloon.
Slash - And the thing is... The main thing about that gig, it was, the ax were so diverse that it just didn't yell. The crowd was confused, the bands were confused.
Duff - And we had to walk like, miles to the stage.
Slash - 15 miles to the stage.
Duff - It was miles, you know.
So, like you said, that kid, that's the only time...
Slash - I wish you hadn't told me that. That's a drag.
Duff - It was a real... I was at the office when the package came. It was like, "OK".