Are we supposed to be excited about the fact (a strange word to be associated with GnR
, I know) that Chinese Democracy
is about to surface after 15 years? Every fibre of my rock n’ roll soul is telling me to say, “Fuck it, beyond caring.” But for some bizarre reason I am actually excited about it. Maybe it is borne from the same sense of curiosity that makes people slow down to look at car crashes? I have so far resisted the opportunity to listen the leaked tracks, just like I don’t want to know what I am getting for Christmas. Axl is going to surprise us and let’s face it, when was the last time a rock star did anything surprising? I hope it is great, but if it’s not I won’t care as the release of Chinese Democracy
has nothing to do with music and is all about myth, legend and rock stars
doing weird shit.
So many people have a pop at Axl about the legitimacy of calling the band Guns N’ Roses when it is pretty much just an Axl solo project and that it is simply not Guns N’ Roses
, Izzy, Duff and Steven. But is that really fair? I am a huge fan of Slash, Duff is a star and Izzy was always my personal favourite, but it is Axl that created the mythology. Appetite For Destruction was of course just as much about Slash
’s guitar tone and Izzy’s vibe as it was Axl’s vocals, yet as the years rolled on Slash’s solo projects sold poorly and only hardcore fans showed to gigs, Izzy is what is known as ‘big in Japan’, Duff’s really cool Loaded project sadly drew little but apathy, while the train wreck of Adler’s Appetite struggled to sell out Camden Underworld (for those that don’t know the place, imagine you bedroom…. Put a bar at one end, a stage at the other and drown the floor in piss). Even when Duff and Slash teamed up for Velvet Revolver
they were still no more than a theatre sized band. I like Velvet Revolver
and thought the first album was pretty damn good, while they certainly performed wonders live. Yet Axl can show up with a bunch of guys he has just grabbed off the street and he can headline the Download Festival. I saw Velvet Revolver a couple of times and had no problem getting tickets. They shows eventually sold out, but not so fans couldn’t get in if they really wanted. Yet I had to pull serious favours from friends and contacts to get in to see Guns N’ Roses
at Hammersmith in 2006 (or was it 2007?). Why? It is because as much as every rocker in the world loves Slash
and will tell you that he is the person that they would most like to hang out with, he is not a mystery. Duff is a gnarly old punk, but you get the feeling that if you rocked up at his house with a bunch of Stooges bootlegs he would invite you in for a beer. But Axl…. Axl Rose is a mysterious rock star. He is a rock star of the old school. He is just who he is and genuinely doesn’t care what the world thinks. Slash writes a book and treads carefully around everything, and he does so because he is a great bloke and because he is a fine enough human being to care what people think of him and indeed the people he is writing about. Axl on the other hand hasn’t written a book because he doesn’t give a shit what you think.
We live in a world where we know everything about everyone, a celebrity obsessed culture where nothing is a mystery. So when a rock star comes on like a later day Howard Hughes we should celebrate him and be thankful that he is there.
No one really knows the truth about the recording of Chinese Democracy, yet thanks to the Spinal Tap
qualities of Metallica
’s Some Kind Of Monster
we know EVERYTHING about them. It destroyed any mystic and left pretty much no one with any respect for Lars (hey, we do a Kirk Hammett T-shirt, a James Hetfield T-shirt
and a Cliff Burton
T-shirts, but do you see one for Lars?). Which one do you want from your rock stars? To be the aliens from another planet full of intrigue and mystery or a bunch of fuck-ups about whom nothing is now left to the imagination?
The world needs rock stars that do weird shit. We need them to lord it over us from their Malibu mansions. I want to believe that our icons really do keep the bones of Sharon Tate in a pickling jar and that they bathe only in a secret blend of cobra milk and marmite. People are shocked and get all moralistic about Pete Dogherty being in court on drug charges. I am appalled to, but not because he is a junky, but because he is so public and crass about it. I want rock stars to be off of their tits if that what makes them produce their best work (are you listening Eric Clapton
?) not to be scrabbling around with the general public.
So forget giving Axl are hard time (not that he gives a toss). Forget telling us that it is not the ‘Real’ Guns N’ Roses
(as as much as you might love the others, Axl is who actually counts… that said, I would dearly love to at least see Slash
return). Stop telling us that the tracks you have so far heard are crap or for that matter that they are great. Because none of this matters. All that matters is that at last a rock star
has come to save us from banality. Long live Axl and long may he remain the weirdest guy this side of Michael Jackson.
Labels: Appetite for Destruction, Axl Rose, Chinese Democracy, GNR, Guns N' Roses, rock myths, Rock stars, Slash, Use Your Illusions