Sunday, November 30, 2008

GN'R Wins the War

Mastering Engineer Bob Ludwig on Chinese Democracy:
In October, when I first heard some of final mixes which were incredibly multi-layered and dense, I was surprised by two things: The mixes were so finally honed that doing the smallest move sounded like I had done a lot and also that adding the typical amount of compression used in mastering these days took the life and musicality out of the recordings in a big way.

The trial disc I submitted to the producers had 3 versions: The one I personally liked had no compression that was used just for loudness, only compression that was needed for great sounding rock and roll. Then, knowing how competitive everything is these days, I made two more masterings, one with more compression and another with yet more compression, but even the loudest one wasn’t remotely as loud as some recent CDs. Hoping that at least one of these would satisfy Axl and Caram Costanzo, the co-producers of the record, I was floored when I heard they decided to go with my full dynamics version and the loudness-for-loudness-sake versions be damned.

I think the fan and press backlash against the recent heavily compressed recordings finally set the context for someone to take a stand and return to putting music and dynamics above shear level.

The dynamics vs. volume trade-offs include the act of simply turning your playback volume clockwise a little. True, when shopping the iTunes store your song may not blast out as loudly as other songs. When trying to impress the radio station PD it may be an issue if you don’t have the guaranteed attention this record deserves, however level on the radio broadcast is NOT an issue. As I have been lecturing to people for years, the radio stations are all in competition with each other and they all have devices to make loud things soft and soft things loud and indeed, I heard a critic’s review of Chinese Democracy on NPR and the song examples they played screamed over my portable radio. Even with the radio station compression you can still hear detail in the car… amazing!

I’m hoping that Chinese Democracy will mark the beginning of people returning to sane levels and musicality triumphing over distortion and grunge. I have already seen a new awareness and appreciation for quality from some other producers, I pray it is the end of the level wars.
Source: Gateway Mastering

More information on The Loudness War:

The Loudness War
Everything Louder Than Everything Else
The Death of High Fidelity
Will the Loudness War Result in Quieter CDs?
Metallica Album Latest Victim in Loudness War

Thursday, November 27, 2008

GN'R Banned in China

In an article Monday headlined "American band releases album venomously attacking China," the Global Times said unidentified Chinese Internet users had described the album as part of a plot by the West to "grasp and control the world using democracy as a pawn."

The album "turns its spear point on China," the article said.

Reports suggested that the China National Publications Import and Export Group, the state-owned monopoly responsible for importing all music, has told record shops not to bother trying to order the long-awaited album, which took the band 17 years to produce.

In addition, the album's official website,, has been blocked automatically by internet censors, while Baidu, the Chinese version of Google, is self-censoring any searches for the album. has responded with a poll asking visitors if they thought the Chinese should be allowed to access it and about 70 per cent of respondents said yes.

So far, the only way Chinese fans of the rock group have been able to listen to the album is on the band's Myspace page.

GN'R developed a major following in China in the late 1980s, when the young Mr. Rose was recording early hit songs like "Welcome to the Jungle." China was in the throes of its own rebellious era, and heavy metal was its protest music. GN'R's popularity soared in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. Learning the band's 1991 ballad "Don't Cry" was a rite of passage for a generation of Chinese guitarists.

"It was not only the music, the band's clothes also pushed the craze," says 30-year-old Chen Lei , one of Beijing's best-regarded rock guitarists, who cites GN'R as a primary influence.

GN'R nostalgia remains strong. A program on state-run China Central Television last year ranked "Qiang Hua" (literally, "Guns Flowers"), as the group is known in Chinese, at No. 8 on a list of top rock bands of all time.

Some fans in China relish how the album discomfits the establishment. "Rock 'n' roll, as a weapon, is an invisible bomb," says one.

The album reportedly cost over £9 million to make and may have helped speed the demise of Axl Rose's record company, Sanctuary, and its subsequent buyout by Universal Music Group. Its 14 tracks, which spread across 77 minutes, have been described by the New York Times as "the work of a fading rock star with far too much money and time on his hands, and no one around who could tell him: 'No'."

Axl Rose, the 46-year-old lead singer of Guns N' Roses, is the only original member of the band left. Chinese Democracy has been gestating since 1991, meaning that Rose recorded an average of 4.5 minutes of music a year.

Mr. Rose in recent years has visited Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Xian, and he worries he won't be let back in, says his assistant, Beta Lebeis. "Everything is so controlled," she says.

One casualty: GN'R promoters in China dropped plans for two shows this year, says Ms. Lebeis.

The new album's title track, already released as a single, begins with eerie, high-pitched noises that sound vaguely like chattering in Chinese. In the song's three verses, Mr. Rose sings of "missionaries," "visionaries" and "sitting in a Chinese stew."

The overall message is unclear, but his most provocative lines aren't. "Blame it on the Falun Gong. They've seen the end and you can't hold on now," Mr. Rose sings. It is a reference to the spiritual movement that Beijing has outlawed as an "illegal cult" and vowed to crush.

Some Chinese artists, loath to be branded as democracy campaigners, declined valuable offers to help illustrate the album. "I listened to their music when I was little," says Beijing visual artist Chen Zhuo . He was "very glad" when GN'R asked to buy rights to use his picture of Tiananmen Square rendered as an amusement park -- with Mao Zedong's head near a roller coaster. Then, Mr. Chen looked at lyrics of the album's title song and, after consulting with his lawyer and partner, declined the band's $18,000 offer. "We have to take political risks into account as artists in China," says the 30-year-old.

However, the Ministry of Culture said it did not know whether the album was banned or not. "This is the first time we've heard about it," said a spokesman, adding that the ban "might just be a rumour".

The Ministry of Culture forbids imports of music that violate any of 10 criteria, including music that publicizes "evil sects" or damages social morality. In reality, many songs make it into China anyway, pirated and via the Internet.

Yet, for some fans in this nation of 2.6 billion ears, the new album's title is an irritation. Democracy is a touchy subject in this country. Elections are limited to votes for selected village-level officials, and senior leaders are all chosen in secret within the Communist Party. Many Chinese wish for greater say in their government. But others -- including some rockers -- think too much democracy too quickly could lead to chaos, and they resent foreign efforts to push the issue.

Guitarist Chen Lei says the Chinese Democracy album title suggests "they don't understand China well" and are "just trying to stir up publicity."

On Chinese blog sites, a common platform for teenagers to vent their anger, few people were upset by the album's lyrics. "How can they know about China if they have never been. This explains why Americans are always clowns," said one anonymous blogger.

However, another blogger commented: "Helpless Chinese under the iron fist is a good song. Where can I buy the album? I'll get angry if I can't buy the album."

It's unclear how much exposure the new record will get. "I have to say, Chinese Democracy sounds sensitive," says a Beijing radio station's programming chief who doubts it will get much air play.

The title alone makes it "impossible" to imagine the album will be released in China, says Nicreve Lee , a student in northeastern China who runs a Web site called GN'R Online ( He says his first reaction listening to the title track was, "This is an anti-China song." But, he says, "I gradually began to understand what the song wants to say. Perhaps Axl Rose doesn't know China well, but at least he is on the right track."


Monday, November 24, 2008

Why Now?

What Really Led To Chinese Democracy's Impending Release?

One of the strangest narratives surrounding Sunday’s release of Chinese Democracy is that the music itself is something of a non-event, thanks to the circulation of live nu-GNR bootlegs and leaks of in-progress tracks. In fact, enough questions have been answered about how Chinese Democracy sounds that a bigger question looms: Why now? Why, out of all the dates on the calendar, would Axl Rose decide that November 2008 felt like a good time to drop an album?

Only Axl knows for sure. But part of the answer may lie in the idea that Chinese Democracy had, thanks to its many delays, transformed from an album - slash - punchline into a vehicle for Axl to resolve festering disputes and debts tied to his six-year stint as a client of the Sanctuary Group. Sanctuary, an ambitious British artist management firm, spent years - and a small fortune - trying to branch into various segments of the music business. As financial disaster loomed last year, Sanctuary sold itself to Universal Music Group - which, you may remember, is the same company that puts out Guns N’ Roses’ music.

Axl effectively fired Sanctuary as his management firm in December 2006, after months of speculation and public comments from the company’s top manager, Merck Mercuriadis, trumpeting the imminent release of Chinese Democracy. Rose, in an open letter posted on the band’s Web site, cited “an overall sense of a lack of respect by management for the band and crew and each individual's particular expertise” as part of the reasons behind Mercuriadis’ firing. (He also claimed that the album would come out March 6, 2007. The best intentions…)

But Axl couldn’t completely kick Sanctuary to the curb - during his time as a client, he struck deals with Sanctuary subsidiaries and affiliates that resulted in them overseeing his music - publishing rights and the production of Guns N’ Roses merchandise. And since at least early 2004 (when Universal’s Geffen Records made clear it wouldn’t underwrite additional production costs for Chinese Democracy) Sanctuary had functioned as Rose’s bank as well, deferring or delaying some commissions for managing him and offering other financial support. According to sources familiar with the situation, Axl’s tab reached well into the seven-figure mark.

By the time Axl announced his firing of Mercuriadis, not only had he piled up a debt to the management company, he had been dragged into a series of disputes - public and private - tied to the publishing and merch deals. In 2005, ex-bandmates Slash and Duff filed a lawsuit alleging that he had switched publishers without their approval and pocketed the royalties, and there was a separate feud brewing where they raised similar charges about his dealings with Sanctuary’s merchandise unit, Bravado.

But two crucial events changed the course of Rose’s career: Sanctuary’s buyout; and Rose finding his way to the management fold of music heavyweight Irving Azoff and longtime hard-rock mastermind Andy Gould. Universal was in a position to sweep away all of Rose’s disputes at once, and Azoff was keen to deal - as it turned out, the number to remember in the Chinese Democracy saga isn’t 17, but 360.

Word is it was Azoff who initiated the push to resolve all the issues at once, in a negotiation led on the Universal side by the corporation’s president, Zach Horowitz - though who was leveraging who depends on who you ask. After months of back and forth, a deal was worked out to resolve all of Axl’s disputes, with Chinese Democracy - and a nice “thanks for the retail exclusive” check from Best Buy - underwriting the peace agreements. Slash and Duff are receiving a little payback for their troubles from Axl’s Sanctuary deals, and Axl himself received a new advance, though the currently undisclosed figure is said to be somewhat less than it would have been if he didn’t have to give something up to settle the outstanding debts.

It’s possible that the satisfaction of clearing both his books and his legal docket all by simply stepping away from the mixing board and saying “OK, I’m done” had no bearing on Axl’s decision to finally put out Chinese Democracy. But is it likely?

(And, of course, whether Chinese Democracy finally being off Axl's back will result in Guns N’ Roses’ next album coming out before the end of this decade is a question that should at least wait until Sunday's one-day SoundScan estimates are out.)


Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Message From Slash (and Perla)

Food for thought:

Slavery was legal in the United States until 1865.
Women didn't acquire the right to vote until 1920.
Interracial marriage was illegal until 1967.

Marriage is a human right, and banning gay marriage is unconstitutional.

Take a moment today to check out any of the resources below.

Human Rights
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights

-Mack Arillo

Mythical Beatles Track Surfaces

An unreleased, experimental track by The Beatles could be made public 41 years after it was recorded at Abbey Road studios, ex-member Paul McCartney has said.

McCartney, one of two surviving members of arguably the most successful pop band in history, told BBC Radio that "Carnival of Light" was The Beatles at their most free, "going off piste."

"I said it would be great to put this on because it would show we were working with really avant-garde stuff," McCartney told Radio 4's Front Row culture show in an interview to be broadcast on Thursday.

He confirmed that he had a master tape of the track, which many Beatles fans assumed until now was a piece of musical myth, and added: "The time has come for it to get its moment."

The 14-minute track was made for an electronic music festival, the only occasion the music was played in public.

"I said all I want you to do is just wander around all the stuff, bang it, shout, play it, it doesn't need to make any sense," McCartney told the program.

"Hit a drum then wander on to the piano, hit a few notes, just wander around. So that's what we did and then put a bit of an echo on it. It's very free."


The Celebration of the Whizzer

To celebrate what you have been Jim Morrison’s 65th birthday, famed LA hangout Barney’s Beanery will dedicate a plaque on the exact spot where Morrison urinated on the bar in the late ’60s. Also, the Doors’ Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek will be on hand to sign the band’s new Live at the Matrix.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Surprise Appearance at the AMAs?

According to one well placed music industry Deep Throat, there is a very good chance you’ll see GN'R onstage at the American Music Awards this Sunday on ABC

“Axl wants to be the conquering hero,” says the source who has worked closely with some of the biggest acts in the world including Guns N’Roses. “The timing of the show on the night he brings out his masterpiece is too good for him to pass up. He knows it’s a good way to get in front of old and new fans in one swoop.”

This isn’t the first time the new Guns N’Roses have tried this kind of surprise. A bloated and out of breath Axl and his boys came out at the end of the 2002 MTV Awards to perform a melody of the band’s hits.

Maybe the appearance at the AMAs is to erase that memory.

The band is likely to be introduced by Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry.

“Wait and see,” says the source, “the release of the record is just the beginning for Axl. He plans to be bigger than ever.”

Mack Arillo has only 1 question: Who's in the band? We know for sure that guitarist Robin Finck has flown the coop - everything else is pure speculation.

There is a rumor going around that Izzy Stradlin has packed up his belongings and moved to LA. I hope it's true. Welcome back to the jungle, Izzy!

Oh yeah, if you live in the continental US and you pre-ordered Chinese Democracy, you can expect it in your mailbox today! If you live further away, you can always listen to the free stream of the entire album here.

I'll leave you with this. Embedded below is the first cover version of "This I Love." Beautiful.

Thanks to everyone who's sent me mail over the last week. You know who you are.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Path of Most Resistance

Chuck Klosterman Reviews Chinese Democracy

by Chuck Klosterman
November 19, 2008

Reviewing Chinese Democracy is not like reviewing music. It's more like reviewing a unicorn. Should I primarily be blown away that it exists at all? Am I supposed to compare it to conventional horses? To a rhinoceros? Does its pre-existing mythology impact its actual value, or must it be examined inside a cultural vacuum, as if this creature is no more (or less) special than the remainder of the animal kingdom? I've been thinking about this record for 15 years; during that span, I've thought about this record more than I've thought about China, and maybe as much as I've thought about the principles of democracy. This is a little like when that grizzly bear finally ate Timothy Treadwell: Intellectually, he always knew it was coming. He had to. His very existence was built around that conclusion. But you still can't psychologically prepare for the bear who eats you alive, particularly if the bear wears cornrows.

Here are the simple things about Chinese Democracy: Three of the songs are astonishing. Four or five others are very good. The vocals are brilliantly recorded, and the guitar playing is (generally) more interesting than the guitar playing on the Use Your Illusion albums. Axl Rose made some curious (and absolutely unnecessary) decisions throughout the assembly of this project, but that works to his advantage as often as it detracts from the larger experience. So: Chinese Democracy is good. Under any halfway normal circumstance, I would give it an A.

But nothing about these circumstances is normal.

For one thing, Chinese Democracy is (pretty much) the last Old Media album we'll ever contemplate in this context—it's the last album that will be marketed as a collection of autonomous-but-connected songs, the last album that will be absorbed as a static manifestation of who the band supposedly is, and the last album that will matter more as a physical object than as an Internet sound file. This is the end of that. But the more meaningful reason Chinese Democracy is abnormal is because of a) the motives of its maker, and b) how those motives embargoed what the definitive product eventually became. The explanation as to why Chinese Democracy took so long to complete is not simply because Axl Rose is an insecure perfectionist; it's because Axl Rose self-identifies as a serious, unnatural artist. He can't stop himself from anticipating every possible reaction and interpretation of his work. I suspect he cares less about the degree to which people like his music, and more about how it is taken, regardless of the listener's ultimate judgment. This is why he was so paralyzed by the construction of Chinese Democracy—he can't write or record anything without obsessing over how it will be received, both by a) the people who think he's an unadulterated genius, and b) the people who think he's little more than a richer, red-haired Stephen Pearcy. All of those disparate opinions have identical value to him. So I will take Chinese Democracy as seriously as Axl Rose would hope, and that makes it significantly less simple. At this juncture in history, rocking is not enough.

The weirdest (yet more predictable) aspect of Chinese Democracy is the way 60 percent of the lyrics seem to actively comment on the process of making the album itself. The rest of the vocal material tends to suggest some kind of abstract regret over an undefined romantic relationship punctuated by betrayal, but that might just be the way all hard-rock songs seem when the singer plays a lot of piano and only uses pronouns. The craziest track, "Sorry," resembles spooky Pink Floyd and is probably directed toward former GNR drummer Steven Adler, although I suppose it might be about Slash or Stephanie Seymour or David Geffen. It could even be about Jon Pareles, for all I fucking know—Axl's enemy list is pretty Nixonian at this point. The most uplifting songs are "Street Of Dreams" (a leaked song previously titled "The Blues") and the exceptionally satisfying "Catcher In The Rye" (a softer, more sophisticated re-working of "Yesterdays" that occupies a conceptual self-awareness in the vein of Elton John or mid-period Queen). The fragile ballad "This I Love" is sad, melodramatic, and pleasurably traditional. There are many moments where it's impossible to tell who Axl is talking to, so it feels like he's talking to himself (and inevitably about himself). There's not much cogent storytelling, but it's linear and compelling. The best description of the overall literary quality of the lyrics would probably be "effectively narcissistic."

As for the music—well, that's actually much better than anticipated. It doesn't sound dated or faux-industrial, and the guitar shredding that made the final version (which I'm assuming is still predominantly Buckethead) is alien and perverse. A song like "Shackler's Revenge" is initially average, until you get to the solo—then it becomes the sonic equivalent of a Russian robot wrestling a reticulating python. Whenever people lament the dissolution of the original Guns N' Roses, the person they always focus on is Slash, and that makes sense. (His unrushed blues metal was the group's musical vortex.) But it's actually better that Slash is not on this album. What's cool about Chinese Democracy is that it truly does sound like a new enterprise, and I can't imagine that being the case if Slash were dictating the sonic feel of every riff. The GNR members Rose misses more are Izzy Stradlin (who effortlessly wrote or co-wrote many of the band's most memorable tunes) and Duff McKagan, the underappreciated bassist who made Appetite For Destruction so devastating. Because McKagan worked in numerous Seattle-based bands before joining Guns N' Roses, he became the de facto arranger for many of those pre-Appetite tracks, and his philosophy was always to take the path of least resistance. He pushed the songs in whatever direction felt most organic. But Rose is the complete opposite. He takes the path of most resistance. Sometimes it seems like Axl believes every single Guns N' Roses song needs to employ every single thing that Guns N' Roses has the capacity to do—there needs to be a soft part, a hard part, a falsetto stretch, some piano plinking, some R&B bullshit, a little Judas Priest, subhuman sound effects, a few Robert Plant yowls, dolphin squeaks, wind, overt sentimentality, and a caustic modernization of the blues. When he's able to temporarily balance those qualities (which happens on the title track and on "I.R.S.," the album's two strongest rock cuts), it's sprawling and entertaining and profoundly impressive. The soaring vocals crush everything. But sometimes Chinese Democracy suffers from the same inescapable problem that paralyzed proto-epics like "Estranged" and "November Rain": It's as if Axl is desperately trying to get some unmakeable dream song from inside his skull onto the CD, and the result is an overstuffed maelstrom that makes all the punk dolts scoff. His ambition is noble, yet wildly unrealistic. It's like if Jeff Lynne tried to make Out Of The Blue sound more like Fun House, except with jazz drumming and a girl singer from Motown.

Throughout Chinese Democracy, the most compelling question is never, "What was Axl doing here?" but "What did Axl think he was doing here?" The tune "If The World" sounds like it should be the theme to a Roger Moore-era James Bond movie, all the way down to the title. On "Scraped," there's a vocal bridge that sounds strikingly similar to a vocal bridge from the 1990 Extreme song "Get The Funk Out." On the aforementioned "Sorry," Rose suddenly sings an otherwise innocuous line ("But I don't want to do it") in some bizarre, quasi-Transylvanian accent, and I cannot begin to speculate as to why. I mean, one has to assume Axl thought about all of these individual choices a minimum of a thousand times over the past 15 years. Somewhere in Los Angles, there's gotta be 400 hours of DAT tape with nothing on it except multiple versions of the "Sorry" vocal. So why is this the one we finally hear? What finally made him decide, "You know, I've weighed all my options and all their potential consequences, and I'm going with the Mexican vampire accent. This is the vision I will embrace. But only on that one line! The rest of it will just be sung like a non-dead human."†Often, I don't even care if his choices work or if they fail. I just want to know what Rose hoped they would do.

On "Madagascar," he samples MLK (possible restitution for "One In A Million"?) and (for the second time in his career) the movie Cool Hand Luke. Considering that the only people who will care about Rose's preoccupation with Cool Hand Luke are those already obsessed with his iconography, the doomed messianic message of that film must deeply (and predictably) resonate with his very being. But how does that contribute to "Madagascar," a meteorological metaphor about all those unnamed people who wanted to stop him from making Chinese Democracy in the insane manner he saw fit? Sometimes listening to this album feels like watching the final five minutes of the Sopranos finale. There's no acceptable answer to these types of hypotheticals.

Still, I find myself impressed by how close Chinese Democracy comes to fulfilling the absurdly impossible expectation it self-generated, and I not-so-secretly wish this had actually been a triple album. I've maintained a decent living by making easy jokes about Axl Rose for the past 10 years, but what's the final truth? The final truth is this: He makes the best songs. They sound the way I want songs to sound. A few of them seem idiotic at the beginning, but I love the way they end. Axl Rose put so much time and effort into proving that he was super-talented that the rest of humanity forgot he always had been. And that will hurt him. This record may tank commercially. Some people will slaughter Chinese Democracy, and for all the reasons you expect. But he did a good thing here.

Grade: A-

AV Club

Monday, November 17, 2008

What Was the World Like the Last Time GN'R Released an Album?

Only two-thirds of the Jonas Brothers were alive on the day the Illusion LPs were released. Miley Cyrus wasn’t born yet, nor were Demi Lovato or Selena Gomez. Christina Aguilera was 10, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were 9. Chris Brown was 2 years old (but he could probably already dance), as were Paramore’s Hayley Williams and Tokio Hotel’s Tom and Bill Kaulitz. Jordin Sparks, Taylor Swift and Emma Watson were all 1.

Pearl Jam’s Ten had been in stores for nearly a month, while Nirvana’s Nevermind was still a week away from being released. Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger would hit stores the following month, while the Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream wouldn’t materialize for nearly two years. The inaugural Lollapalooza festival — featuring Jane’s Addiction, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Living Colour, Nine Inch Nails and Ice-T — had just wrapped a 26-date run in Enumclaw, Washington.

On this week’s episode of Beverly Hills, 90210, the students of West Beverly High are still atwitter over the arrival of mysterious new student Emily Valentine. In two months, Valentine will invite Brandon and the gang to an illegal “underground” dance party, where she will spike B’s drink with a drug called “U4EA” and attempt to make out with him. Brandon will be too wasted to reciprocate (and drive), so he will leave his car at the club, where it will be trashed by vandals. This was surprisingly compelling in 1991.

On September 17, 1991, there was an estimated 252 million people living in the United States and an estimated 5.3 billion people living on planet Earth. Nearly all of those people bought Use Your Illusion. As of this month, the Census Bureau estimates that the US population is now 305 million, while the world population has been estimated at around 6.7 billion people. Not many of those people still buy CDs, which does not exactly bode well for the success of Chinese Democracy.

MTV News

New Single "Better" Debuts Today

Q104.3 is streaming the song on-demand.

The best song on the album in my opinion and a great choice for the second single.

Video coming "soon."


Saturday, November 15, 2008

RIP Velvet Revolver 2003-2008

Blabbermouth.Net has received word from a reliable source that RCA Records (a Sony BMG label) has dropped Velvet Revolver, the band featuring former Guns N' Roses members Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum.

VR released two full-length albums through RCA/Sony BMG — 2004's Contraband, which has sold 1.98 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan; and its follow-up, Libertad, which has shifted 301,000 units in the U.S. since its July 2007 release.

Velvet Revolver has been looking for a new frontman since dismissing Scott Weiland back in April. Rumored candidates have included ex-Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach, former MTV VJ Steve Isaacs (The Panic Channel) and ex-Spacehog vocalist Royston Langdon, who apparently had several successful rehearsal sessions with the band.

Weiland reunited with his previous act, Stone Temple Pilots, and has spent the last few months on the road with them.

In a recent interview with, Weiland said about the split with his previous band, "Velvet Revolver fell apart because there were too many big egos in the band — and I'm including myself. It wasn't necessarily about bad egos, just big egos, and unfortunately, it just mistakenly kind of eroded."


Since VR's hunt for a new singer was essentially to fulfill the band's commitment to it's label to produce a third album, I would say that this development officially marks the end of VR's existence.


-Mack Arillo

Bring Back Adler

Former Guns N' Roses drummer Steven Adler pleaded no contest on Friday to a heroin possession charge in the hopes of avoiding jail time by entering a treatment program, officials said.

Adler, 43, who was fired from the band over drug problems in 1990, also hopes to reunite with his old bandmates, said his attorney, Barry Gerald Sands.

"When he gets sober they'll accept him into the band and then they'll do a comeback album and a world tour, that's the dream of Steven Adler," Sands told Reuters, after an upbeat Adler entered his plea in Los Angeles Superior Court.

A representative from Guns N' Roses could not immediately be reached for comment.


Friday, November 14, 2008

CD on Sale Now in Mexico

"fue en el Mix Up de parque Delta tenian un chingo de copias."

en ingles: I got it at the Mix-Up store in Park Delta - they have fuckloads of copies.

Thanks to: malabuva


Dutch retailer vanLeest is sharing 30-second samples of every track from Chinese Democracy.


Guns $ Roses: Jamaican Comedy DVD

It has always been said "money is the root of all evil." This play will show you how the power of money can cause dishonesty and disloyalty. The saga continues when sex is used as a deceptive tool to achieve one's goal.

Thanks to: Pat

Available at Roots Records

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's Probation for Skwerl

The lawyer for Kevin Cogill, the Los Angeles man charged with uploading nine unreleased Guns N' Roses tracks from the upcoming Chinese Democracy album, said Thursday his client's plea deal with prosecutors does not require any prison time.

"We're looking at straight probation as a result of taking this deal," attorney David Kaloyanides said in a telephone interview. Probation, which includes minimal restrictions, is usually a year, he said.

Federal authorities acknowledged the deal Monday, but provided no details.

With the assistance of the Recording Industry Association of America, the 27-year-old Cogill was arrested last summer and charged with a felony carrying a maximum 5-year term. The authorities, which said he confessed, subsequently reduced the criminal copyright charge to a misdemeanor, exposing Cogill to a maximum year of confinement.

Cogill is accused of uploading the songs to his music site, antiquiet. Kaloyanides would not say whether, under the deal, Cogill would divulge where he got the tracks.

"We have agreed in a very limited fashion to provide information," he said. "We're still working with the government."

A plea date has been set for December 8.

Cogill remains free.

The federal judge overseeing the case, however, is not bound by the agreement.


Too Tasty

Guns N' Roses' new single, "Chinese Democracy", has topped the general iTunes Music Store chart in Greece, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Finland.

In addition to being the #1 song and #1 rock song in the above countries, it's the #1 rock song in the iTunes Music Stores in the US, Canada, France and the UK.


Jack White has announced that he is to record with Radiohead singer Thom Yorke.

The White Stripes musician revealed that he already has a few songs ready for when the two hit the studio together.

However, White first needs clearance to play again after suffering a neck injury while touring with The Raconteurs.

"We've known each other for a while now, but the doctors said I couldn't perform for two months. I've been writing a lot instead," he said.

Digital Spy

You can read about Koji Kondo, the composer responsible for Wii Music and the Super Mario Bros. Theme, here.

New Music: Listen to "Lovely Allen" by HOLY FUCK

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Whispers and Signs

Skwerl Update: Blogger Kevin Cogill will spend one year in prison for copyright infringement.

Robin Finck Update: According to a NIN Fansite
Robin Finck is not leaving Nine Inch Nails at the end of the tour to rejoin G n' R. This should clear up any rumours that the Finckster will indeed be "pulling a Freese" any time soon.
Leak Update: "Sorry" was / is being hosted on YouTube today.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rolling Stone Snags the Exclusive

Rolling Stone and writer David Fricke have been awarded the exclusive rights to review the pre-release of Chinese Democracy.

Other mainstream media outlets have received advance listening copies of the disc but are gagged until November 15.

Here's an excerpt. You can read the full review here.
And at the end of the album, on the bluntly titled "Prostitute," Rose veers from an almost conversational tenor, over a ticking-bomb shuffle, to five-guitar barrage, orchestral lightning and righteous howl: "Ask yourself/Why I would choose/To prostitute myself/To live with fortune and shame." To him, the long march to Chinese Democracy was not about paranoia and control. It was about saying "I won't" when everyone else insisted, "You must." You may debate whether any rock record is worth that extreme self-indulgence. Actually, the most rock & roll thing about Chinese Democracy is he doesn't care if you do.
Rolling Stone

Kevin 'Skwerl' Cogill Pleads Guilty

The Los Angeles man arrested on accusations that he uploaded nine pre-released Guns N' Roses songs from the upcoming Chinese Democracy album has agreed to plead guilty to one federal count of copyright infringement as part of a deal, authorities said Monday.

"Yes. There is a plea deal," Los Angeles federal prosecutor Craig Missakian said in a telephone interview.

Kevin Cogill, who the FBI said confessed to uploading the nine songs last summer to his music site, antiquiet, is scheduled to enter a plea December 8. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Still, authorities reduced the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor last month — a move that exposes him to a maximum one-year prison term, down from the previous five years. Because of an acceptance of responsibility and the defendant's lack of a criminal record, the 27-year-old Cogill is likely to receive substantially less time, if any.

"His sentence is up to a judge," Missakian said.

Cogill's attorney, David Kaloyanides, was not immediately available for comment. It was not known whether the 27-year-old Cogill, as part of the deal, must acknowledge where he obtained the nine tracks he is accused of uploading on June 18.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Izzy Stradlin Interview, Part II

Izzy: "At some point in the mid-'80s, I heard a song of mine on the radio and for the first time, I felt that something really important had happened. Still, from time to time I listen to songs that I composed and recorded in the '80s on the radio, and I to say myself "Wow, incredible, there I am, but I was still just a teenager who just wanted to play the guitar."

What do you think about the fact that Live ... Like a Suicide and especially Appetite For Destruction became so popular?

Izzy: "I didn't have any idea that the band would become so big. Our lifestyle was very self-destructive, but at the same time we were very motivated by music. Nevertheless, I never imagined that we would ever become so famous."

What do you remember about the record GN'R Lies?

Izzy: "Good times. Those were very crazy times. I have memories of recording sessions, filming videos, touring, more recording sessions, more videos... It's a cycle that was repeated for seven or eight years."

People think that being a Rock Star is easy, but of course it isn't.

Izzy: "It is hard to stay sane when you are surrounded by madness."

What do you think is the reason that Guns N' Roses ended up separating? Do you think that the drugs played a great role in the breakup of the band?

Izzy: "I don't know if the drugs were the reason. When I left the band, I was completely clean for two and a half years, from 1989 on. And when I was myself again, I really didn't know what happened, because I wasn't there any longer."

But, the drug consumption in the band caused you to make the decision to leave?

Izzy: "Yes. As I told you, I was clean for two and a half years already. I was seeing how my friends were dying, and after some time of that I decided that I'd had enough. I didn't want to continue being a part of that. Now we're all clean, and that's great."

Most of the fans blame Axl Rose for the breakup of Guns N' Roses. Is he as problematic as he seems?

Izzy: "Axl is a very complicated guy, but very talented."

Yes, but everything seems to point to the fact that he was in charge when the band separated.

Izzy: "As I said, I wasn't there anymore, so I don't know."

Yes, but in your last years with the band, I suppose that you saw it coming?

Izzy: "At that time, my opinion was that the band should've taken a year off. But there was no where to go. When the flame is burning, it's very difficult to say: "OK, now we'll take a break." That never works."

After spending so many years sober, do you think it's possible for you to return to playing with your old friends?

Izzy: "Yes. Duff, in fact, appears on three songs on my new album. I spoke with Slash the other day and I was on the brink of performing a show with him, but it didn't work. Everyone is very active, healthy, and have lots of work to do."

Do you believe in Chinese Democracy? And I'm not talking about if there is democracy in China.

Izzy: (Laughter) "I believe that somewhere there's a disc with the title Chinese Democracy. (Laughter) I have listened to some tracks off the record and I enjoyed them."

With the album delayed for so many years, have you ever considered the possibility of re-recording Chinese Democracy with the original GN'R lineup?

Izzy: No. (Laughter)

Thanks for your time, Izzy. This is the first interview you've given this year, so it's a great honor for us.

Izzy: "Thanks for calling me."

It wasn't easy to get in touch with you again, so, thank you very much for taking the time. In closing, we always ask the musicians we interview what their five favorite albums are. So, can you please choose five albums that have had the greatest impact in your life?

Izzy: "Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, Toys in the Attic by Aerosmith, Never Mind the Bollocks by The Sex Pistols, Road to Ruin by The Ramones and Exile on Main St by The Rolling Stones."


Friday, November 7, 2008

Exclusive Interview with Izzy Stradlin

“It is difficult to maintain your mental health when you are surrounded by madness”

In the only interview that he’s granted this year, Izzy Stradlin tells our correspondent in Brazil, Thiago Sarkis, just what any follower of this man wishes to know: Why he decided to tour again with Axl Rose, how he feels about the possibility of a GN'R reunion, how his present relations are with Slash, Duff, Steven and company, and how he remembers the glory years of the band.

Exclusively for Popular 1 - Izzy Stradlin.

What have you been doing the last two or three years? If time is difficult to track, can you talk about the discs Miami and Fire?

Izzy: “Sure. Every year I record material. The album Miami - I recorded it years ago in Miami, Florida, in an old studio where they had worked with people like James Brown, The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, a fantastic place. After that album, I recorded Fire in a very short period of time. One is simply a more basic version than what I usually do."

Do you think that fans can appreciate facets of you as a solo musician that couldn't be seen in Guns N' Roses?

Izzy: "Each song that I've recorded since I left Guns N' Roses, is the same type of song that I did when I was in GN'R. What happened then was that I composed a song, and then Slash added his part and Axl added his part, and that became Guns N' Roses. Whereas, what you hear when you put on one of my CDs, is the same ideas and the same inspiration that I had in Guns N' Roses but without Slash or Axl. It is the more basic version."

What are you working on now?

Izzy: “Right now I am in contact with people in Argentina that want us to tour there, and I would really like very much to do it. Recently I have recorded another disc called Concrete and that you can acquire through iTunes."

Before you spoke of the process of composition in Guns N' Roses. Since then, Slash became an icon, thanks to his attitude, his image and his style as a guitarist. Nevertheless, we who followed GN'R from the beginning, know that you were one of the main composers of the band. How would you describe the way you worked with Axl and Slash in those years?

Izzy: “There was a chemistry there that worked well. Sometimes, our way of work was slow and difficult, if I compare it to what I do now, but the main thing was that the results were very good. Now, everything is easier for me. It’s much simpler to write for my band. Now I don’t have to discuss it with two other people whenever I write something."

Do you think that your role in GN'R was the one of creative composer, whereas Slash existed mainly as guitar-hero?

Izzy: “The other day I read somewhere that Slash is the last guitar-hero of history. (Laughter) I don’t know. I don’t know how to respond to that."

How was your relationship with Slash, as much at a musical level as at a personal level?

Izzy: “Musically, we contributed things mutually, and we tried to put in more effort than the others. (Laughter) And at personal level, we took many drugs together in the ‘80s, and after a time got we clean and left it. I still consider him a friend and we stay in contact."

You returned to tour with GN'R in 2006. How did you get back in contact with Axl?

Izzy: “I don’t know. It’s been two years since we did that tour of Europe … it’s hard to think … I believe that they gave the number me of his management … No, now I remember: I went to his house, then he called me because they were going to do shows in New York and I said to him: “Hey, why don't I play with you? It could be great." And we did it. And then we toured Europe."

At that time you had already solved your problems with him?

Izzy: “See, I’ve known him for so many years, that there is a familiarity between us. We grew up in the same place, the same atmosphere, and I believe that part of our friendship always will be there."

I’ve always read that you are a calm and reserved type, who doesn’t like to tour or to spend too much time far from home. What made you want to get back together with GN'R?

Izzy: “You know, there exists a very special connection with rock' n' roll audiences, and I had the desire to experience that again. When we play songs like "Nightrain," "Mr. Brownstone" or "Welcome to the Jungle," an instantaneous connection between the band and the listeners takes place, it’s something electrical, and I had the desire to experience that again."

How did you feel at your first show with the new Guns N' Roses?

Izzy: “I arrived at Heathrow airport, I rode in a van and they took me to the Donnington Festival. I had fatal jet lag, but I went to the scene and I felt better instantly. It’s magic."

Much has been said about the present formation of Guns N' Roses. What’s your opinion of the present band compared to the original Guns N’ Roses?

Izzy: “They are more together than we were. (Laughter) Those guys are great musicians. We let ourselves go more."

But do you like the way they interpret the songs or do you prefer your ‘80s style, more direct and wild?

Izzy: “During that tour I only played four or five songs a night and didn’t see a lot of the show. So, I really wouldn’t know.”

Which GN'R song is most special to you, and why?

Izzy: "Knockin' on Heaven's Door” was brilliant. The fact that we took to an old Bob Dylan song and turned and it into this enormous hymn was really special."

How did it feel to play four or five GN’R songs every night? Did you have to learn some of them again?

Izzy: “Yes I had forgotten them almost completely. I had to learn to play them again.”

Which song was the hardest?

Izzy: "Nightrain.” I kept forgetting the part in the middle, I don’t know why, after all I wrote it!"

I have heard that you are in contact with all the original members of Guns N' Roses. How is your relationship with them?

Izzy: "Slash, Duff, Matt and even Steven Adler, we all call each other from time to time, and sometimes we see each other in Los Angeles or where ever. We all have very good relationships. We are all still friends."

Steven Adler has spoken frequently lately of his desire for a reunion of the original GN'R. Tell me what you think of that and how your relationship with Steven is at the present.

Izzy: “Steven lives a very confused life."

But if it were to occur, you would consider the possibility of a reunion?

Izzy: “Yes, of course. I wrote a great deal of that material."

You said once, when Matt Sorum entered the band, that you missed the style of Steven Adler. What differences did you see between the two of them?

Izzy: “Steven had a more accidental style and Matt is more precise."

Have you read Slash’s autobiography?

Izzy: “No, I have not read it. I listened to something about it on the radio the other day and it seemed to me to be gracious."

Slash comments in the book about the last shows that you did before you left the band, when you asked Axl to show up on time.

Izzy: “Axl continued arriving at each concert behind schedule. In 1991, the regular thing was that Axl delayed each concert, like minimum, two hours."

Why did you reject the invitation to reunite with Velvet Revolver?

Izzy: "I wanted it to be a quartet: Slash, Duff, Matt and I, but they really desired a singer, and as we know, singers can be quite problematic sometimes. So I simply decided to follow my own path."

Is it true that you suggested that you Duff would take care of the vocal tasks in the band?

Izzy: “Yes. That would have been better."

How did they respond to that idea?

Izzy: “I believe that Duff liked the idea, but Slash said no."

Don’t you think that Scott Weiland was the worst decision for musicians like them, who had so many problems with Axl in the past?

Izzy: “That’s a very legitimate question, but I don’t have an answer."

It was impossible for something like that to work.

Izzy: "I don’t know."

As I commented to you before, your public image is the one of a calm and reserved man. Is it hard for you to have to always respond to questions on GN'R from fans and the press?

Izzy: “You are the first journalist with whom I have spoken this year, so it is not something that I do quite often (Laughter).”

Oh thanks (Laughter).

Izzy: “In the last years I’ve limited myself to releasing one disc every year with iTunes, and I don’t give any interviews."

But, how you feel being an ex-member of the greatest band in the history of the rock?

Izzy: "It’s insane when I’m going to a store to buy cords for my guitar, and the young employee tries to sell me a Les Paul Guitar with Slash’s name on it. (Laughter) The guy asks me: ' Have you seen the new Slash Les Paul guitar?' I respond to that no, and he says to me: 'Oh, we just got five today!’ (Laughter)”

That must be strange for you, but at the same time, I imagine that you feel good knowing that you were part of the same band.

Izzy: ”I feel good.”

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Axl Rose: Humanitarian

The Epoch Times
Long Awaited Return of Guns N' Roses
Single "Chinese Democracy" takes humanitarian theme
By Chris Holehouse

All the controversy and chatterings of the reorganized mega-band Guns N' Roses aside, one thing is for certain — Mr. Rose still flaunts his rock and roll craft with a humanitarian undertone, keeping his consciousness neatly aligned with justice and human rights.

Millions of fans remember the epic, soul stirring 1993 Guns N' Roses piece "Civil War," where Rose and his platinum selling G N’R troupe painted a rallying anti-war protest that left even the most apathetic moved. Beginning with the famous line, "What we've got here is a failure to communicate," sampled from the film Cool Hand Luke, the song provoked strong introspection and an array of intense emotions. By the time Rose's gripping tone and the words "Peace can last forever" chimed, one would be hard pressed not to be totally immersed and laden with a full body chill.

It's been a long time since '93 and the GN’R sounds of old, and Guns N' Roses have taken on a few new reforms. The band released its first single and title track, “Chinese Democracy,” from the heavily delayed and strongly anticipated album of the same name, which slates to be made available exclusively through Best Buy retailers on November 24.

The song "Chinese Democracy," was inspired by the Martin Scorsese film, Kundun which documents the life and teachings of the exiled Tibetan leader the Dali Llama. Rose first played the song live in at a Las Vegas show in 2001 stating "…right now China symbolizes one of the strongest, yet most oppressive countries and governments in the world."

Past the Tibet situation, Rose brings to light yet another atrocity in China with his mention of the persecution of the spiritual practice Falun Gong with the lyrics "Blame it on the Falun Gong, they've seen the end and you [the Chinese Communist Party] can't hold on now."

The persecution of Falun Gong has been a reality in China for nearly ten years, starting in July of 1999, and the media outlets and news sources in both the East and the West, have been for the most part, tight lipped. Axl Rose has taken steps in a meaningful and honorable direction with the inclusion of real and breathing humanitarian content that takes aim at reaching the world's people through his tried and true medium of hard rock music.

Bumblefoot: "It Just Felt Like a Big Party"

Interview #2 with Guns N' Roses guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal
Written by Steve Angell
Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal is a member of Guns N' Roses and will be featured on their new album Chinese Democracy, to be released on November 23. Along with rocking with one of the greatest rock bands of all time, he's also released his own music with his latest CD, Abnormal, soon available at a store near you. Ron has also lent his guitar skills to TV shows, video games, and many charitable causes.

You can learn more about this truly great guitarist at his website, and can also order his CDs at Best Buy or

Q: The last time we talked with you, you were planning to start work on your solo album, Abnormal. For fans that haven't heard it yet, what can they expect from the album?

BBF: Happy to say, I finished the album and released it digitally in July, hitting retail stores this month. I'm happy with how it came out, diggin' the tone of everything - better guitar sound, vocal sound, everything. Made some videos of recording the album, they're at

Q: We hear that you're working on a line of hot sauces; do you already have a name for it, and should Joe Perry of Aerosmith be concerned that you might be competing with his hot sauce line?

BBF: Yeah, got the names and recipes ready to go, just gotta get it done. I'm lookin' to make some stuff that's gonna cause some serious pain. There's a bunch of guys with sauce out there, Joe Perry, Michael Anthony, Dizzy Reed; some real good stuff.

Q: You've had an opportunity to tour around the world both with Guns N' Roses, as well as with your own band; is there one venue or concert that jumps out to you as a particularly great performance, where all the stars seemed to be aligned?

BBF: One of my favorites will always be Madison Square Garden. Growing up in New York City and seeing my first concert there, it's a personal thing, ya know? We played there in November 2006; it just felt like a big party on that stage. Definitely a great time.

Q: What is your favorite classic and your favorite new GN'R song to play live?

BBF: "Down On the Farm," "Nice Boys," "Don't Cry." There are a lot of new songs I'm looking forward to playing. Of the ones we've done so far, I'd say "There Was A Time," "Better," and "Chinese Democracy."

Q: You've had the opportunity to perform with many great musicians throughout your career, but are there any you've yet to perform with that you'd like to?

BBF: Would love to jam with Les Paul one of these days.

Q: Of all the songs that you've written, which one holds the most meaning to you, and why?

BBF: "Shadow," off the Normal CD. Little things about it; the line "I can feel my face changing..." Weeks after getting off the meds, I didn't think anything was happening, and then people I knew started asking me "what's wrong?" Nothing felt like it was wrong, but people could see something happening. Some songs just hit the nail on the head; they say it just right, that song was one of them.

Q: When performing a guitar solo at a concert, do you usually have an idea of what you're going to play beforehand, or is it more of a spur of the moment type of thing?

BBF: They start as a spontaneous thing, and often develop into something structured. Long solos and jams are pretty spontaneous throughout.

Q: Have you played Guitar Hero or Rock Band, and if so, do you have a favorite between the two?

BBF: I suck equally at both.

Q: We hear that you recorded the theme music for VH1 Classic's new TV show That Metal Show, and that you're also going to be a guest on an upcoming episode. What day is your show scheduled to air, and do you have any other upcoming appearances on TV or radio?

BBF: Yeah, did the theme to That Metal Show, just did the music for the New York Islanders hockey team, been doing a bunch of radio shows; having a good time with that. Pretty sure That Metal Show will be premiering on November 15.

Q: We end all interviews with word association, so I say "wombat" and you say...

BBF: Drink Dr.Pepper.
Wicked Info

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Video Coming "Soon"

Are you the UK's biggest Guns N' Roses fan? To celebrate the release of Chinese Democracy we're offering one of you the chance to win the UK's BIGGEST GnR PARTY in your town! You and 100 of your friends will be the first to hear the album in it's entirety. The winner will also be the official first owner of the album in the UK, with a platinum disc to prove it!

We want to see you're craziest, most innapropriate air guitar! Get creative, set it to Chinese Democracy if you want, the craziest one wins!


Slash Makes Promises in Oslo

Slash will lure music hungry fans to Kristiansand next summer.

The former Guns N' Roses guitarist will play his only European solo concert of 2009 at next year's edition of the Quart festival, set to take place June 30 - July 4 in Kristiansand, Norway.

Slash won't reveal who he'll be playing with before everything is ready, but he promises a big surprise.

After the Quart festival went bankrupt last summer, it was acquired for just over $400,000 by an investor group with former GN'R manager Tom Zutaut in the lead.

Slash will headline the event on the festival's opening day. He will be joined by a number of as-yet-undisclosed guests and promises to perform a mixture of old and new material.

This year's Quart festival, which was scheduled to take place July 2-5 in Kristiansand, was cancelled due to poor ticket sales. Only 2,053 tickets had been sold through Billettservice (the biggest ticketing company Norway) as of early June, forcing the organizers to file for bankruptcy.

The guitarist is also working on a solo album, on which he plans to have several high-profile vocalists take turns singing.



Izzy Stradlin: The Epitome of Cool

Bring Back Izzy for Guns N' Roses Tour
Tim Brouk, Lafayette Journal & Courier

Of all the four letter words Axl Rose has used in his life, there is one that can easily boost his uncertain rock star status: Izzy.

With Chinese Democracy set to hit Best Buy stores November 23, how pop culture will be affected by what was once one of the most anticipated rock 'n' roll records in history is a mystery.

Of course, a full-scale Guns N' Roses reunion would dispel any question that Rose could not reclaim his thrown atop rock 'n' roll. But bridges are burned and those bridge ashes have been buried and then blown up with dynamite between Rose and most former Guns members -- whether the original or the Use Your Illusion era.

However, fellow Lafayette native Izzy Stradlin (Jeff Isbell when he lived in Lafayette) has always seemed to handle Rose the best. Their relationship is dissected at length in the 2008 biographies W.A.R. -- The Unauthorized Biography of William Axl Rose by Mick Wall and Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N' Roses by Stephen Davis.

I interviewed both authors and they found Izzy to be the epitome of cool.

Izzy was always my favorite since I first saw GNR on videos, TV shows and in the pages of Circus and Rip magazines when I was in middle school. Izzy always hung in the back with his cigarette dangling from his lips, effortlessly strumming his guitar. His look was inspired by New York Doll Johnny Thunders, who influenced Izzy and a jillion other guitar players' styles in the 1980s. Izzy dressed differently and acted the most together of all the Guns, despite his battles with drugs and the occasional arrest (darn those long lines for an airplane bathroom).

Izzy has rejoined Axl for live shows since he left the band in 1991, right before the Rose circus reached its height. He filled in for Gilby Clarke in 1993 and then played numerous shows in 2006 with the 21st century Guns who barely resembled anything that crawled out of the Sunset Strip in 1986.

Living in Lafayette for the past eight-plus years, I sometimes forget that GNR's most rabid fans are not just in Lafayette. Guns' is somehow still a global phenomenon. If the band wasn't still thought of, Chinese Democracy would have been scrapped 10 years ago.

Even if Chinese Democracy is run through the mud by critics, a tour with Izzy in tow would be enough to satisfy fans. While not having Slash start those familiar chords to "Welcome to the Jungle" is tragic, having Izzy lead his classic "Mr. Brownstone" would be just as amazing to many fans.

Just like he did more than 20 years ago, Rose needs Izzy to get him to the rock god status again. He needs him now, perhaps, more than ever.
Lafayette Journal & Courier

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

O Boy! Obama!

9:50 PM ET: Mack Arillo Calls the USA for Barack Obama.

Barack Obama is projected to win Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

To say that the last 8 years have been an unbearably long and incomprehensible journey would be an understatement.

The Bush Administration was a bad dream where I kept waking up only to find that I was still in the nightmare.

Our national nightmare is over.

I'm proud to be an American.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Prickly Statement by Rose

A prickly statement by Rose and Guns N' Roses
Ann Powers, Los Angeles Times

No pop star has built a fortress as maze-filled and ironclad as one W. Axl Rose. Not Michael Jackson, whose retreat was forced by scandal as much as by artistic crisis and who seems ever more weakened by his reputation's slide. Not Zack de la Rocha, who (like Rose) went down countless collaborative roads before revamping the Rage Against the Machine template with his new project, One Day As a Lion. Not Garth Brooks, who also turned hermit but craved the crowds too much to stay inside.

Rose, the most ambitious hard rocker of the late 20th century — shout-outs to your Trents and your Bonos, but Axl is the most vividly driven — essentially quarantined the Guns N' Roses brand for 15 years, unable, perhaps, to reconcile the sounds in his head with what is humanly possible. "Chinese Democracy," the title track from the album finally coming out November 23, hits like an offering pushed through a crack in a locked gate, hinting that those sounds, never completely apprehended, have now coalesced into something Rose can face.

The sound is murky, ugly and evocative of a dark cityscape; you could call it —"Blade Runner Rock," because like that 1982 film, it's a very dirty vision of the future. On one level, it's a protest song about Chinese state oppression. More important, it's a spit back at the audience that's been waiting for what has to be a masterpiece, if Rose is to survive artistically.

The song builds like bile. It doesn't behave the way radio-friendly singles usually do. The chorus is just an extension of the verses, rising a little in pitch and compression. There isn't really a proper hook; the sweet release that Slash's solos always brought to the mix never comes. But the refrain sticks after several listens.

"It would take a lot more ..." is the key phrase, the one that Rose sings in still-powerful midrange. More hate, more time. These are the points when the song sounds the most like Nine Inch Nails — a shot of aggression that somehow contains its own alienated retreat.

"Chinese Democracy" also recalls "I'm Afraid of Americans," David Bowie's 1997 foray with NIN. Both songs have a suffocated quality, as if their makers are pushing through smoke to express these thoughts. It's the sound of florid, romantic rockers aiming for something cold and modern.

But Rose can never really be cold. He's a Heat Miser — whatever he touches starts to melt in his clutch. That's why these paranoid rockers never quite satisfy the way his grandiose ballads can. As real as Rose's anger may be, in song it starts to feel overly put on, in need of a sweeping chorus or Slash-like ringing solo to relieve the tension of the pose.

San Jose Mercury News