CA: The books do cover you being late on stage, with your former bandmates being unsure what the delay was. Any hints?
AR: Ok this is a multiple choice answer.
Answer #1: Do we really have to go there?
Answer #2: No comment
Answer #3: In answering I would like to say that I have no intention or desire to take "shots" at either the old band or anyone from any of our lineups. That said, to answer some questions factually and honestly it may appear that way to some. Unfortunately, in my opinion, that's just the nature of the beast.
I could choose to say nothing or no comment but I feel 1.) These particular questions in this interview don't exactly deserve that response and 2.) I have a right to have my side, perspective and what I not only believe, but know to be the truth regarding several issues with old Guns and our time together out there.
The Illusions' lineups comments that I've read in media or Slash's book were, in my opinion, predominantly public gamesmanship, strategy and politics on their part. Pretending to be unaware or innocent to the public has been a common deceptive tactic often used in regard to what was happening with the band and our relationship with each other. As I've said before, I shouldn't have been on tour when we started in '91.
That had a lot to do with Alan Niven, our then manager, and Slash. In my opinion Alan wanted money and Slash wanted the touring to get the better of me given my circumstances at the time. My safety and well-being were not their concern.
After the first few months things got a little better and primarily for not wanting the crew to be injured for not having enough rest but the damage, especially with media, had been done. Those who wanted to throw stones have had ammo they've used for years whether it's real, hyped, a non-issue, reasons beyond our control, justifiable reasons such as injuries or technical difficulties or just life, doesn't seem, and hasn't seemed, to make a difference. (And all of these issues have been addressed previously elsewhere.)
Another issue has been that each time I have agreed to a tour, I've also had agreements on our show times and start times. Often in dealing with former managers and agents, these weren't reality. It's not something said or explained, it's a show day thing they do for their own reasons which we'll get into a bit similarly with your next question.
And often tours or dates are booked without my having formally given my consent or having authorized them. That's pretty much how this business works.
All of that said I'm not a "punctual" type of person, never have been. I apologize to anyone I've inconvenienced or put out in any way. And for those who've felt they've lost money with any cancellations in the past perhaps you'll find some comfort in that I'm sure I've lost tens of thousands, if not millions, more - especially in the long run. In general I usually don't really go by or live my life by a clock and outside of touring I don't really ask anyone else to. It's not out of lack of respect for anyone or intentional.
I can say I haven't been late because I was watching a sporting event or something equally as ridiculous. The reasons have all been in one way or another show-related or having to do with those involved with the show in some fashion. It's just my reality and I try and work on it. It's been getting better with our tours, especially over the last three years.
In the last three years we've done three Asian runs including Taiwan, Jakarta and a hugely successful record breaking, sold out India run, three European runs including four sold out nights at London's 02 Arena, five shows in Russia, headlined several sold-out festivals such as Reading and Leeds, Rock In Rio, two record breaking, sold out South American tours, an Australian tour (this will be our 2nd), a sold out tour in Central America, a Canadian tour, a sold out US arena tour, a sold out US club tour (that included The Ritz/Webster Hall in NY, The Electric Company in Philadelphia, The Fillmore in Detroit and The Palladium in Los Angeles), New Year's and a sold out month residency at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, Puerto Rico, the Middle East, Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit, NY Fashion week gigs w/Varvatos, The Rose Bar and the Hiro Ballroom and a few one off club and private party shows such as at L'Arc in Paris, The Zep in Tokyo and recently for Tommy Hilfiger at LA's The Soho House.
In a concerted effort to make things up to our fans, friends and associates we've gone back to various cities where things have in the past gotten... ahem... "complicated" such as Vancouver, Montreal, Atlanta (twice), Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Dublin and had extremely successful shows without incident.
We've been fortunate to be able to play everything from the smallest clubs to giant stadiums and huge outdoor audiences for a total of 185 shows in 48 countries, in 147 cities with approximately over 500 hours of stage time with an average full show time around three plus hours, performed for over 2,000,000 fans with our current lineup of DJ Ashba, Ron Bumblefoot Thal and Richard Fortus on guitars, Tommy Stinson on bass, Frank Ferrer on Drums and Dizzy Reed and Chris Pitman on keyboards, worked with over 200 bands and artists from Motorhead to Black Label Society, shared bills with Elton John, Aerosmith, Rhianna, Queens Of The Stone Age and Metallica with minimal promotion, minimal to zero label support, minimal nonsense and often with serious management challenges.
And in our defense addressing the nonsense, the relatively small majority of which percentage wise being in general what we feel are at least somewhat reasonable or justifiable such as technical difficulties, crowd control issues, health or injuries, managerial/agent nonsense or simply beyond our control and often as the case may be more hype than reality which again (and definitely not taken for granted) with all things considered, eventually has seemed to work out fairly well.
CA: Do you get informed if there are venues or cities with strict curfews?
AR: More multiple choice!
Answer #1: We still goin' there?
Answer #2: No comment
Answer #3: Sometimes
Answer#4: This is another one that's a bit of a long answer and kind of a continuation of the last question (and I'm not aware of this being an issue currently) but, in my opinion, the question opens up a lot of issues. I feel it's an important subject I don't want to be vague or appear too cavalier.
It depends, generally no. If I get told in advance rather than the show day it's extremely rare, and always has been. I agree to shows under various agreed upon conditions. Those conditions often change as if they never existed or are changed by others without notice or warning prior to show day or show time. There's not a lot you can do on show day about that and being forced into what you feel is an uncomfortable situation. A situation you hadn't agreed to nor would have approved in advance, sucks. It makes something that was supposed to be fun into something else.
Unfortunately it happens a lot (though it has been getting a bit better) and there is generally a lot of finger pointing. Getting to the bottom of things takes longer than it's worth and you still have a show to do. It could be anyone's fault. None of that really matters publicly as it'll ultimately end up at my door whether we had a successful show or not. It's what happens and you try to avoid it (the lack of communication, show day surprises) as much as possible. When you're not getting the facts it could be because of one of any number of reasons or any number of people from all sides. Often it's simple misunderstandings and unintentional human error.
With curfews and transportation etc law enforcement in the various countries and cities at the venues usually have their orders dictated by city councils and city ordinances. Public transportation has their schedules and the times they stop service and they all have their budgets and various regulations.
Getting new information on show day usually means getting it close to, if not right before, going on stage. The reason can vary: no one knowing about the curfew or public transportation issue in advance, new rules, new laws, new schedules, people not knowing I wasn't informed or negligence. In some cases people don't want to inform me for fear if I'd known about the restrictions I may not have agreed (when booking the tour, not on show day) to do the show... and someone somewhere felt it was in our, or whoever's, best interest for us to do that particular show.
I don't have any issues with a venue wanting things to be done in a way they know, that makes sense and works for them, it's their venue. I get that workers, traffic and transportation, law enforcement for a large audience and overtime for a large venue are real issues. There are real safety concerns, expenses and public transportation for a significant number of fans is important to take into consideration. That said, I ask about transportation etc. but 1.) I don't personally know the various cities public transportation timetables (though we have been better at getting some of that info in advance) and 2.) It still doesn't mean I'll get real info until show day and 3.) Unfortunately often when we are in that type of situation and there's suddenly a previously unknown curfew or a public transportation issue we're already short on time which is extremely frustrating.
If I find out on show day, or even right before a show, and I feel we need to play longer to appease the audience, we begin negotiating with the promoters, building managers, law enforcement etc. with my involvement through either my stage assistants, tour manager or manager. This negotiation continues during the course of the show often all the way through to the last couple songs. Before a show there's a lot of stress and tension for everyone involved. Venues and officials may not know what to expect so there is a bit of hardball and wanting to see how things go. Usually as long as the crowd is happy and things are going well, people aren't too out of control or bored off their ass and we're doing our job, it's worked out fairly well for all sides.
Alright, I love Axl as much as the next GNR fan, but how in the fuck can anybody take this guy seriously?