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8 hours ago, RONIN said:

Going by all the interviews, rumors, and behind the scenes chatter that found its way onto this forum over the past 17 years - here's my impression of nuGnR dynamics w/ Tommy:

*Axl recruits Tommy as a replacement for Duff - he has the same punk background but with more indie cred than Duff which was a perfect hire in Axl's mind. Axl in the 90's was a slave of trends and trying to align himself with every hip band's talent that he could poach. Tommy is thrilled to get a high paying steady gig as he was apparently working as a telemarketer to make ends meet. It's a perfect fit.

*Axl and Tommy grow very close during the early years of nu-guns (97-2003). Tommy ( a domineering force like Axl), assumes the #2 position and leads the band as Axl is usually MIA. Tommy also becomes tight with Axl lackey Del James during this time. He has no issues with Freese, Pittman, Dizzy, or Finck as none of them challenged his dominance in band politics. Dizzy and Pitman were sycophants, Freese was a paycheck gunner who had no intention of sticking around long-term, and Finck's loyalties were more with NIN than GnR. Paul Huge on the other hand may have had friction with Tommy - lack of talent + serious entitlement issues would have put him on a collision course with the 2nd biggest ego in the band. 

*Enter Buckethead, Axl's new muse. Bucket was serious about the job in a way that none of the others were - he was here to stay and assume the position Slash had held with Axl. He wasn't there to collect a paycheck or play band politics. Soon enough, Axl, who recognizes how much of a talent Bucket is, starts to shape the creative decisions of the band around him in a semi-collaborative way - a courtesy likely not extended to the others. Buckethead is getting more attention and face time with the boss than the others who have to jockey for attention. This annoys Del James and Tommy who resent Bucket's talent, commitment, and dedication. Naturally, they bully and alienate him from the band. Tommy also behaves like an ass with Bucket's friend, Brain - the band's new drummer.

Bucket's immense talent and taking over lead guitar duties creates a rift with Finck. Finck was used to being the solo lead guitarist of the band. Hence you get the clusterfuck of the '02 nu guns shows where Bucket, a virtuoso, is playing second fiddle to a b-list talent like Finck.  Del James, Finck, and Tommy essentially drive Buckethead out of the band. The final straw comes with Axl missing the album release date and the disastrous 2002 tour - Bucket has had enough. Axl throws Buckethead under the bus in a press release in 2003 which effectively ends any chance of Bucket's return to GnR. To this day Buckethead does not speak of GnR/Axl publicly and dislikes being asked about his time in the band.

*After a 3 year lull where they've been working as a 2-guitar band, enter Ron Thal. Even though he doesn't enjoy the vaunted position Buckethead had with Axl, he's still perceived as a threat by Tommy, Finck, and Fortus and is given a hostile welcome. Thal's talent, like Bucket, far exceeded what they brought to the table and hence he was the odd man out. 

By 2009-2014, there's a general cooling off in Tommy's relationship with Axl. They weren't as tight as they used to be in the early days. The realization that the nu band was in a death spiral and that they had missed their moment is the vibe I get from his post-CD interviews. GnR was a paycheck gig for him from the start but he was no longer invested in the band. Needless to say, the redhead himself had stopped giving a shit by that point.

Excerpt from a Thal interview:

Does that play a part anymore, after seven years? Like Tommy would go, “pfff, you're a kid!”.

- I've always just felt like me in the band. But now I think that the other guys in the band feel like I'm actually part of the band and not the outsider-new-guy. Whether they would admit it or not, or agree or not, you know, I wasn't made. I was Morrie in “Goodfellas”. They were all made. I could have been as nice as possible and gone along with the business - but I was never gonna be made. I think now, at this point, I'm more accepted. I don't think I'll ever fully be accepted, honestly.

Really?

- I don't think so. The way I came into the thing, the way I was brought into it, and the things that transpired in the beginning - and even previous relationships that I inherited - everything about it... If I'm gonna be completely honest - and maybe it's not them, maybe it's me, maybe it's how I feel about it, and maybe it's just me passing that onto them and saying this is how they feel - but in my opinion, my thought is that, I don't know if I'll ever fully be part of it. I don't think I'm a guy they're gonna call and say, “hey, you wanna hang out?”, or “hey, I'm working on my solo stuff - you wanna lay a track?”, or “hey, I'm going out to dinner - you wanna join?”, or “hey, I'm coming to town, let's get together!”. I don't think I'm ever gonna be the first guy in the band that they call. And you know what? Maybe it's because I've been such a pain in the ass in the band! Maybe if it was the other way around, I wouldn't call me either. Because I haven't been the easiest.

In what way?

- Well, when I first joined the band, they did not want me in the band. And it's not me - they just didn't want a third guitar player. ‘Cause at the time they had worked it out for two guitar players. Then suddenly the old manager at the time hits them up one day, and the tour was, like, two weeks away. He said, “your new guitar player is coming down”. And they're like, “what the hell - who the fuck is this?”, and I showed up, and they wouldn't even look at me. For that first tour, you know, I was treated like shit. Like absolute shit. They wouldn't really talk to me. If I spoke, they'd roll their eyes and walk out of the room. I was made to feel as unwelcome as possible. Until, finally, I had to get a little violent. And then they started realizing that I'm not gonna leave. They're gonna get hurt.

In what way?

- Physically.

Really?

- Yeah. Then they realized that they couldn't bully me, and that I was gonna fight at a level they weren't prepared for. And then they started loosening up how nasty they were. It was about three years before they would really start warming up and start talking to me. Even about things back then. ‘Cause I didn't know why they were so cold to me, and I realized that they would have treated anybody that way. It was a set of circumstances, a lack of communication from the management that was there at the time, that set it up so it was almost like a stranger thrown into a crowded cage.

https://htgth.com/news/shownews.php?newsid=2302

 This is so depressing. 

Bullying.

And the result being a complete and total missed opportunity with a wonderful musician.

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On 2020-02-08 at 12:16 PM, AlterL said:

Miss the hell out of that guy. Village Gorilla Head for the win!. Really wish he could have seen more of his work released while he was still with the band.

I miss him too, he is great! 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Jordan Rose said:

The thing is, Bucket apparently didn't leave because of the bullying: he was willing to rise above Del and Tommy's bullshit and put up with Finck. He left because first the tour was a clusterfuck and then the record didn't come out and the next tour was going to be another cover band gig. 

@RONIN's summary above is one of the best posts i've ever read on here and looking back it all makes so much sense how it all devolved.

But what nobody has mentioned is that ultimately it's Axl's fault. I mean for fuck's sake, the/his band had no idea what was going on to the point that up to two weeks before Hammerstein '06 they were rehearsing for two guitars whilst Axl was still trying to convince Bucket to come back and had to go with Thal as a last resort with a clause in his contract that he's out immediately if Bucket changes his mind. Some of them went YEARS in '03-'06 without seeing/hearing from him and having to beg for scraps of info from Del/TB. Axl was too much of a basket case to lead his own band. Hell, some of them got their news about the band from HERE. 

I recently re-read the Axl chats and it's amazing how much work he makes his job out to be. He literally says during those years he dealt with Guns all day every day (meaning more managerial stuff) because before he had Slash and Duff to help. I mean ffs, even IF he has 30 amazing finished songs in the vault and even IF he spent a lot of time dealing with label stuff, how does that translate into working on Guns stuff everyday?! Other bands who actually DO SHIT must have 564 hour days!

 

Life is all about how hard you make it. With Axl, he's either bone idyll, or makes life harder than it needs to be. My guess is probably a bit of both.

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17 hours ago, RONIN said:

Going by all the interviews, rumors, and behind the scenes chatter that found its way onto this forum over the past 17 years - here's my impression of nuGnR dynamics w/ Tommy:

*Axl recruits Tommy as a replacement for Duff - he has the same punk background but with more indie cred than Duff which was a perfect hire in Axl's mind. Axl in the 90's was a slave of trends and trying to align himself with every hip band's talent that he could poach. Tommy is thrilled to get a high paying steady gig as he was apparently working as a telemarketer to make ends meet. It's a perfect fit.

*Axl and Tommy grow very close during the early years of nu-guns (97-2003). Tommy ( a domineering force like Axl), assumes the #2 position and leads the band as Axl is usually MIA. Tommy also becomes tight with Axl lackey Del James during this time. He has no issues with Freese, Pittman, Dizzy, or Finck as none of them challenged his dominance in band politics. Dizzy and Pitman were sycophants, Freese was a paycheck gunner who had no intention of sticking around long-term, and Finck's loyalties were more with NIN than GnR. Paul Huge on the other hand may have had friction with Tommy - lack of talent + serious entitlement issues would have put him on a collision course with the 2nd biggest ego in the band. 

*Enter Buckethead, Axl's new muse. Bucket was serious about the job in a way that none of the others were - he was here to stay and assume the position Slash had held with Axl. He wasn't there to collect a paycheck or play band politics. Soon enough, Axl, who recognizes how much of a talent Bucket is, starts to shape the creative decisions of the band around him in a semi-collaborative way - a courtesy likely not extended to the others. Buckethead is getting more attention and face time with the boss than the others who have to jockey for attention. This annoys Del James and Tommy who resent Bucket's talent, commitment, and dedication. Naturally, they bully and alienate him from the band. Tommy also behaves like an ass with Bucket's friend, Brain - the band's new drummer.

Bucket's immense talent and taking over lead guitar duties creates a rift with Finck. Finck was used to being the solo lead guitarist of the band. Hence you get the clusterfuck of the '02 nu guns shows where Bucket, a virtuoso, is playing second fiddle to a b-list talent like Finck.  Del James, Finck, and Tommy essentially drive Buckethead out of the band. The final straw comes with Axl missing the album release date and the disastrous 2002 tour - Bucket has had enough. Axl throws Buckethead under the bus in a press release in 2003 which effectively ends any chance of Bucket's return to GnR. To this day Buckethead does not speak of GnR/Axl publicly and dislikes being asked about his time in the band.

*After a 3 year lull where they've been working as a 2-guitar band, enter Ron Thal. Even though he doesn't enjoy the vaunted position Buckethead had with Axl, he's still perceived as a threat by Tommy, Finck, and Fortus and is given a hostile welcome. Thal's talent, like Bucket, far exceeded what they brought to the table and hence he was the odd man out. 

By 2009-2014, there's a general cooling off in Tommy's relationship with Axl. They weren't as tight as they used to be in the early days. The realization that the nu band was in a death spiral and that they had missed their moment is the vibe I get from his post-CD interviews. GnR was a paycheck gig for him from the start but he was no longer invested in the band. Needless to say, the redhead himself had stopped giving a shit by that point.

Excerpt from a Thal interview:

Does that play a part anymore, after seven years? Like Tommy would go, “pfff, you're a kid!”.

- I've always just felt like me in the band. But now I think that the other guys in the band feel like I'm actually part of the band and not the outsider-new-guy. Whether they would admit it or not, or agree or not, you know, I wasn't made. I was Morrie in “Goodfellas”. They were all made. I could have been as nice as possible and gone along with the business - but I was never gonna be made. I think now, at this point, I'm more accepted. I don't think I'll ever fully be accepted, honestly.

Really?

- I don't think so. The way I came into the thing, the way I was brought into it, and the things that transpired in the beginning - and even previous relationships that I inherited - everything about it... If I'm gonna be completely honest - and maybe it's not them, maybe it's me, maybe it's how I feel about it, and maybe it's just me passing that onto them and saying this is how they feel - but in my opinion, my thought is that, I don't know if I'll ever fully be part of it. I don't think I'm a guy they're gonna call and say, “hey, you wanna hang out?”, or “hey, I'm working on my solo stuff - you wanna lay a track?”, or “hey, I'm going out to dinner - you wanna join?”, or “hey, I'm coming to town, let's get together!”. I don't think I'm ever gonna be the first guy in the band that they call. And you know what? Maybe it's because I've been such a pain in the ass in the band! Maybe if it was the other way around, I wouldn't call me either. Because I haven't been the easiest.

In what way?

- Well, when I first joined the band, they did not want me in the band. And it's not me - they just didn't want a third guitar player. ‘Cause at the time they had worked it out for two guitar players. Then suddenly the old manager at the time hits them up one day, and the tour was, like, two weeks away. He said, “your new guitar player is coming down”. And they're like, “what the hell - who the fuck is this?”, and I showed up, and they wouldn't even look at me. For that first tour, you know, I was treated like shit. Like absolute shit. They wouldn't really talk to me. If I spoke, they'd roll their eyes and walk out of the room. I was made to feel as unwelcome as possible. Until, finally, I had to get a little violent. And then they started realizing that I'm not gonna leave. They're gonna get hurt.

In what way?

- Physically.

Really?

- Yeah. Then they realized that they couldn't bully me, and that I was gonna fight at a level they weren't prepared for. And then they started loosening up how nasty they were. It was about three years before they would really start warming up and start talking to me. Even about things back then. ‘Cause I didn't know why they were so cold to me, and I realized that they would have treated anybody that way. It was a set of circumstances, a lack of communication from the management that was there at the time, that set it up so it was almost like a stranger thrown into a crowded cage.

https://htgth.com/news/shownews.php?newsid=2302

Pretty nail on the head (a lot of this information came from me, and I got it from other sources). The only caveat I'd make is that I do not think Tommy and Brain ever had any sort of rift. In the Appetite for Distortion podcasts with Brain and Tommy, they both seem to speak fairly highly of the other. I think Tommy had to get Brain's ass into shape a little bit for playing in Guns N' Roses, but I do not think it became a personal thing like it did with Tommy and Buckethead. 

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Much as Buckheat is clearly one of the most talented persons to grace the GnR camp, I can well imagine that for someone like Tommy it would take a lot of patience to work with someone who insists on wearing a mask all the time and having a chicken coop in the studio. There's only so long he would tolerate that kind of oddball behaviour, become sick of pandering to it and eventually snap. It may not be classic rockstar egotism but in practice it's not very different to be making such bizarre demands. So if Tommy got sick of it and became assertive I can see that could then be characterised as bullying, even though he might have just been trying to get some discipline into a group of semi functioning musicians each with their own often unreasonable demands. 

 

I don't know though, it's not like I was there, it's all speculation for most of us. 

Edited by Nice Boy
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On 10/02/2020 at 4:43 PM, themadcaplaughs said:

Pretty nail on the head (a lot of this information came from me, and I got it from other sources). The only caveat I'd make is that I do not think Tommy and Brain ever had any sort of rift. In the Appetite for Distortion podcasts with Brain and Tommy, they both seem to speak fairly highly of the other. I think Tommy had to get Brain's ass into shape a little bit for playing in Guns N' Roses, but I do not think it became a personal thing like it did with Tommy and Buckethead. 

Brains ass in shape in terms of his ability to play the songs?

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On 09/02/2020 at 11:24 PM, RONIN said:

Going by all the interviews, rumors, and behind the scenes chatter that found its way onto this forum over the past 17 years - here's my impression of nuGnR dynamics w/ Tommy:

*Axl recruits Tommy as a replacement for Duff - he has the same punk background but with more indie cred than Duff which was a perfect hire in Axl's mind. Axl in the 90's was a slave of trends and trying to align himself with every hip band's talent that he could poach. Tommy is thrilled to get a high paying steady gig as he was apparently working as a telemarketer to make ends meet. It's a perfect fit.

*Axl and Tommy grow very close during the early years of nu-guns (97-2003). Tommy ( a domineering force like Axl), assumes the #2 position and leads the band as Axl is usually MIA. Tommy also becomes tight with Axl lackey Del James during this time. He has no issues with Freese, Pittman, Dizzy, or Finck as none of them challenged his dominance in band politics. Dizzy and Pitman were sycophants, Freese was a paycheck gunner who had no intention of sticking around long-term, and Finck's loyalties were more with NIN than GnR. Paul Huge on the other hand may have had friction with Tommy - lack of talent + serious entitlement issues would have put him on a collision course with the 2nd biggest ego in the band. 

*Enter Buckethead, Axl's new muse. Bucket was serious about the job in a way that none of the others were - he was here to stay and assume the position Slash had held with Axl. He wasn't there to collect a paycheck or play band politics. Soon enough, Axl, who recognizes how much of a talent Bucket is, starts to shape the creative decisions of the band around him in a semi-collaborative way - a courtesy likely not extended to the others. Buckethead is getting more attention and face time with the boss than the others who have to jockey for attention. This annoys Del James and Tommy who resent Bucket's talent, commitment, and dedication. Naturally, they bully and alienate him from the band. Tommy also behaves like an ass with Bucket's friend, Brain - the band's new drummer.

Bucket's immense talent and taking over lead guitar duties creates a rift with Finck. Finck was used to being the solo lead guitarist of the band. Hence you get the clusterfuck of the '02 nu guns shows where Bucket, a virtuoso, is playing second fiddle to a b-list talent like Finck.  Del James, Finck, and Tommy essentially drive Buckethead out of the band. The final straw comes with Axl missing the album release date and the disastrous 2002 tour - Bucket has had enough. Axl throws Buckethead under the bus in a press release in 2003 which effectively ends any chance of Bucket's return to GnR. To this day Buckethead does not speak of GnR/Axl publicly and dislikes being asked about his time in the band.

*After a 3 year lull where they've been working as a 2-guitar band, enter Ron Thal. Even though he doesn't enjoy the vaunted position Buckethead had with Axl, he's still perceived as a threat by Tommy, Finck, and Fortus and is given a hostile welcome. Thal's talent, like Bucket, far exceeded what they brought to the table and hence he was the odd man out. 

By 2009-2014, there's a general cooling off in Tommy's relationship with Axl. They weren't as tight as they used to be in the early days. The realization that the nu band was in a death spiral and that they had missed their moment is the vibe I get from his post-CD interviews. GnR was a paycheck gig for him from the start but he was no longer invested in the band. Needless to say, the redhead himself had stopped giving a shit by that point.

Excerpt from a Thal interview:

Does that play a part anymore, after seven years? Like Tommy would go, “pfff, you're a kid!”.

- I've always just felt like me in the band. But now I think that the other guys in the band feel like I'm actually part of the band and not the outsider-new-guy. Whether they would admit it or not, or agree or not, you know, I wasn't made. I was Morrie in “Goodfellas”. They were all made. I could have been as nice as possible and gone along with the business - but I was never gonna be made. I think now, at this point, I'm more accepted. I don't think I'll ever fully be accepted, honestly.

Really?

- I don't think so. The way I came into the thing, the way I was brought into it, and the things that transpired in the beginning - and even previous relationships that I inherited - everything about it... If I'm gonna be completely honest - and maybe it's not them, maybe it's me, maybe it's how I feel about it, and maybe it's just me passing that onto them and saying this is how they feel - but in my opinion, my thought is that, I don't know if I'll ever fully be part of it. I don't think I'm a guy they're gonna call and say, “hey, you wanna hang out?”, or “hey, I'm working on my solo stuff - you wanna lay a track?”, or “hey, I'm going out to dinner - you wanna join?”, or “hey, I'm coming to town, let's get together!”. I don't think I'm ever gonna be the first guy in the band that they call. And you know what? Maybe it's because I've been such a pain in the ass in the band! Maybe if it was the other way around, I wouldn't call me either. Because I haven't been the easiest.

In what way?

- Well, when I first joined the band, they did not want me in the band. And it's not me - they just didn't want a third guitar player. ‘Cause at the time they had worked it out for two guitar players. Then suddenly the old manager at the time hits them up one day, and the tour was, like, two weeks away. He said, “your new guitar player is coming down”. And they're like, “what the hell - who the fuck is this?”, and I showed up, and they wouldn't even look at me. For that first tour, you know, I was treated like shit. Like absolute shit. They wouldn't really talk to me. If I spoke, they'd roll their eyes and walk out of the room. I was made to feel as unwelcome as possible. Until, finally, I had to get a little violent. And then they started realizing that I'm not gonna leave. They're gonna get hurt.

In what way?

- Physically.

Really?

- Yeah. Then they realized that they couldn't bully me, and that I was gonna fight at a level they weren't prepared for. And then they started loosening up how nasty they were. It was about three years before they would really start warming up and start talking to me. Even about things back then. ‘Cause I didn't know why they were so cold to me, and I realized that they would have treated anybody that way. It was a set of circumstances, a lack of communication from the management that was there at the time, that set it up so it was almost like a stranger thrown into a crowded cage.

https://htgth.com/news/shownews.php?newsid=2302

Being 'new' to the GnR saga I was'nt aware of this...what a load of wankers, I wonder how the situation impacted on axl, but then it is what he wanted when he had Duff and Slash sigh over the band to him.  Little did he know.  So was GnR almost defunct by 2014?

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15 minutes ago, DurhamGirl said:

Being 'new' to the GnR saga I was'nt aware of this...what a load of wankers, I wonder how the situation impacted on axl, but then it is what he wanted when he had Duff and Slash sigh over the band to him.  Little did he know.  So was GnR almost defunct by 2014?

I don't think it impacted Axl at all. From what I gather, BBF rarely saw or talked to Axl. If I recall correctly, BBF was forced to tour even though he had been in a serious car crash and was in terrible pain. Axl supposedly didn't even know he'd been in an accident. There was a video of Axl leaning onto him at a show and BBF grimacing painfully.

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1 hour ago, Lio said:

I don't think it impacted Axl at all. From what I gather, BBF rarely saw or talked to Axl. If I recall correctly, BBF was forced to tour even though he had been in a serious car crash and was in terrible pain. Axl supposedly didn't even know he'd been in an accident. There was a video of Axl leaning onto him at a show and BBF grimacing painfully.

Yeah, what a great guy and bandleader that Axl is. 

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1 minute ago, El Guapo said:

Yeah, what a great guy and bandleader that Axl is. 

He didn't seem very connected to the band to say the least. At the very least management could have told him though.

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9 hours ago, ToonGuns said:

Brains ass in shape in terms of his ability to play the songs?

Yeah, in one of the Appetite for Distortion podcasts, Brain mentioned that when he first auditioned for Guns N' Roses, he didn't really prepare, and thought he could just wing it with the more improvisational, "go with the flow," type playing he brought to Primus and Tom Waits (which isn't a knock on his playing; just a different style in those contexts). He said the initial rehearsal with Tommy was awful, and Tommy made some crack like "I thought you were a great drummer." After that, Brain requested a second rehearsal where he modified his drum kit to sound more "classic rock" and really worked to nail the songs as they were recorded, and landed the gig. 

Even after that, it was apparently Tommy who really worked with Brain to understand the mentality of "I'm here to play these parts as the fans want to hear them" instead of "I'm a drummer who was brought into the band to bring my unique sensibilities" (at least when it came to older material), which Brain said caused him to really dive into Steven Adler's playing style since it felt foreign to him (he said the Matt parts were more of his natural playing style). Both Brain and Tommy, in separate AfD interview, however, said they loved working with each other. 

Edited by themadcaplaughs
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4 hours ago, themadcaplaughs said:

Yeah, in one of the Appetite for Distortion podcasts, Brain mentioned that when he first auditioned for Guns N' Roses, he didn't really prepare, and thought he could just wing it with the more improvisational, "go with the flow," type playing he brought to Primus and Tom Waits (which isn't a knock on his playing; just a different style in those contexts). He said the initial rehearsal with Tommy was awful, and Tommy made some crack like "I thought you were a great drummer." After that, Brain requested a second rehearsal where he modified his drum kit to sound more "classic rock" and really worked to nail the songs as they were recorded, and landed the gig. 

Even after that, it was apparently Tommy who really worked with Brain to understand the mentality of "I'm here to play these parts as the fans want to hear them" instead of "I'm a drummer who was brought into the band to bring my unique sensibilities" (at least when it came to older material), which Brain said caused him to really dive into Steven Adler's playing style since it felt foreign to him (he said the Matt parts were more of his natural playing style). Both Brain and Tommy, in separate AfD interview, however, said they loved working with each other. 

I don't have a problem with Tommy calling him out for that rehearsal, although I'm sure Brain knew it was bad.  Sometimes a person needs to be the "bad guy" to get things in the direction they need to go.  It's really no different than a coach getting the best out of his players.   But you also have to know when to be supportive, which Tommy seemed to be in helping Brain get the parts right.

Edited by lame ass security
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On 09/02/2020 at 11:24 PM, RONIN said:

Going by all the interviews, rumors, and behind the scenes chatter that found its way onto this forum over the past 17 years - here's my impression of nuGnR dynamics w/ Tommy:

*Axl recruits Tommy as a replacement for Duff - he has the same punk background but with more indie cred than Duff which was a perfect hire in Axl's mind. Axl in the 90's was a slave of trends and trying to align himself with every hip band's talent that he could poach. Tommy is thrilled to get a high paying steady gig as he was apparently working as a telemarketer to make ends meet. It's a perfect fit.

*Axl and Tommy grow very close during the early years of nu-guns (97-2003). Tommy ( a domineering force like Axl), assumes the #2 position and leads the band as Axl is usually MIA. Tommy also becomes tight with Axl lackey Del James during this time. He has no issues with Freese, Pittman, Dizzy, or Finck as none of them challenged his dominance in band politics. Dizzy and Pitman were sycophants, Freese was a paycheck gunner who had no intention of sticking around long-term, and Finck's loyalties were more with NIN than GnR. Paul Huge on the other hand may have had friction with Tommy - lack of talent + serious entitlement issues would have put him on a collision course with the 2nd biggest ego in the band. 

*Enter Buckethead, Axl's new muse. Bucket was serious about the job in a way that none of the others were - he was here to stay and assume the position Slash had held with Axl. He wasn't there to collect a paycheck or play band politics. Soon enough, Axl, who recognizes how much of a talent Bucket is, starts to shape the creative decisions of the band around him in a semi-collaborative way - a courtesy likely not extended to the others. Buckethead is getting more attention and face time with the boss than the others who have to jockey for attention. This annoys Del James and Tommy who resent Bucket's talent, commitment, and dedication. Naturally, they bully and alienate him from the band. Tommy also behaves like an ass with Bucket's friend, Brain - the band's new drummer.

Bucket's immense talent and taking over lead guitar duties creates a rift with Finck. Finck was used to being the solo lead guitarist of the band. Hence you get the clusterfuck of the '02 nu guns shows where Bucket, a virtuoso, is playing second fiddle to a b-list talent like Finck.  Del James, Finck, and Tommy essentially drive Buckethead out of the band. The final straw comes with Axl missing the album release date and the disastrous 2002 tour - Bucket has had enough. Axl throws Buckethead under the bus in a press release in 2003 which effectively ends any chance of Bucket's return to GnR. To this day Buckethead does not speak of GnR/Axl publicly and dislikes being asked about his time in the band.

*After a 3 year lull where they've been working as a 2-guitar band, enter Ron Thal. Even though he doesn't enjoy the vaunted position Buckethead had with Axl, he's still perceived as a threat by Tommy, Finck, and Fortus and is given a hostile welcome. Thal's talent, like Bucket, far exceeded what they brought to the table and hence he was the odd man out. 

By 2009-2014, there's a general cooling off in Tommy's relationship with Axl. They weren't as tight as they used to be in the early days. The realization that the nu band was in a death spiral and that they had missed their moment is the vibe I get from his post-CD interviews. GnR was a paycheck gig for him from the start but he was no longer invested in the band. Needless to say, the redhead himself had stopped giving a shit by that point.

Excerpt from a Thal interview:

Does that play a part anymore, after seven years? Like Tommy would go, “pfff, you're a kid!”.

- I've always just felt like me in the band. But now I think that the other guys in the band feel like I'm actually part of the band and not the outsider-new-guy. Whether they would admit it or not, or agree or not, you know, I wasn't made. I was Morrie in “Goodfellas”. They were all made. I could have been as nice as possible and gone along with the business - but I was never gonna be made. I think now, at this point, I'm more accepted. I don't think I'll ever fully be accepted, honestly.

Really?

- I don't think so. The way I came into the thing, the way I was brought into it, and the things that transpired in the beginning - and even previous relationships that I inherited - everything about it... If I'm gonna be completely honest - and maybe it's not them, maybe it's me, maybe it's how I feel about it, and maybe it's just me passing that onto them and saying this is how they feel - but in my opinion, my thought is that, I don't know if I'll ever fully be part of it. I don't think I'm a guy they're gonna call and say, “hey, you wanna hang out?”, or “hey, I'm working on my solo stuff - you wanna lay a track?”, or “hey, I'm going out to dinner - you wanna join?”, or “hey, I'm coming to town, let's get together!”. I don't think I'm ever gonna be the first guy in the band that they call. And you know what? Maybe it's because I've been such a pain in the ass in the band! Maybe if it was the other way around, I wouldn't call me either. Because I haven't been the easiest.

In what way?

- Well, when I first joined the band, they did not want me in the band. And it's not me - they just didn't want a third guitar player. ‘Cause at the time they had worked it out for two guitar players. Then suddenly the old manager at the time hits them up one day, and the tour was, like, two weeks away. He said, “your new guitar player is coming down”. And they're like, “what the hell - who the fuck is this?”, and I showed up, and they wouldn't even look at me. For that first tour, you know, I was treated like shit. Like absolute shit. They wouldn't really talk to me. If I spoke, they'd roll their eyes and walk out of the room. I was made to feel as unwelcome as possible. Until, finally, I had to get a little violent. And then they started realizing that I'm not gonna leave. They're gonna get hurt.

In what way?

- Physically.

Really?

- Yeah. Then they realized that they couldn't bully me, and that I was gonna fight at a level they weren't prepared for. And then they started loosening up how nasty they were. It was about three years before they would really start warming up and start talking to me. Even about things back then. ‘Cause I didn't know why they were so cold to me, and I realized that they would have treated anybody that way. It was a set of circumstances, a lack of communication from the management that was there at the time, that set it up so it was almost like a stranger thrown into a crowded cage.

https://htgth.com/news/shownews.php?newsid=2302

We'll probably never know how well your theory fits the facts. 

What is clear to me though is that turn of the millennium guns was a massive case of wasted potential. 

Listen to their studio recordings of SCOM and WTTJ - that was a band that could play. 

The final Chinese Democracy album was a lot of things, but it definitely was NOT a band recording (it was more the result of many thousands of hours slaving over a hot digital audio workstation. I still like it, though). 

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Tommy Stinson came from The Replacements and had Paul Westerberg as a model for behavior and success.

There’s no doubt why someone who would be no-frills, so to speak, would look at a completely eccentric guy like Buckethead (whom could become his character at any moment and disrupt all order) and sneer. 

It’s very old school values versus one person’s bizarre process of creativity.

I’m sure he looked at Bucket and saw someone who was Uber talented but forced his uncompromising way of working on the band. 
 

Bucket really is an individual unto himself and you can see how someone who was so “band oriented” wouldn’t appreciate that.

 

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