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New Josh Freese interview: talks about GNR, Buckethead, CD


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Transcribed excerpts:

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/news/general_music_news/gnr_drummer_explains_why_he_told_buckethead_he_should_refuse_to_join_the_band_talks_why_he_left_to_join_a_perfect_circle.html

Josh entered the group as a replacement for Matt Sorum and was involved in the creative process for what became 2008's "Chinese Democracy." He was succeeded by Bryan "Brain" Mantia, who joined the fold alongside Buckethead in 2000.

Freese also became the founding drummer of A Perfect Circle in 1999. He said (transcribed by UG):

"I worked there for two years. In October '97, I auditioned for Guns N' Roses, kind of halfway against my will, but I did it, and I got the job, and I worked for them for two years in the studio: '98, '99."

Freese added that he had "kind of" "gotten Buckethead the job," saying:

"Robin Finck, the guitarist for Nine Inch Nails, was playing in Guns N' Roses at the time [from 1997 to 1999, and then again from 2000 to 2008], and we were in this new configuration of Guns N' Roses.

"And towards the end of the two years that I was there, Robin ended up leaving and rejoining Nine Inch Nails, and we needed a guitar player. We auditioned a bunch of guys, and Axl was like, 'Do you know this guy Buckethead?'

"I was like, 'Yeah, I know Buckethead.' And he came down, and that's a whole long story, but I will just tell you - let's say you moved out from Iowa to LA with your buddy. Let's say you lived in LA and your buddy from Iowa was gonna move to LA and right when you moved to LA, you end up being somewhere else.

"I told Buckethead, 'Listen, man, I want to let you know that I don't think I'm going to be here too much longer, my two-year contract is up soon. I don't see these guys leaving the studio anytime too soon, as much as I like everyone down here. And I'm totally cool with Axl.'

"I was, on the weekends, moonlighting and starting A Perfect Circle with Billy [Howerdel, guitar] and Maynard James Keenan [vocals], and I was like, this seemed like a tangible thing - these guys wanted to go out. 'Let's play gigs tonight, let's go to a club and play a set.'

"Whereas there was so many other moving parts in the Guns N' Roses thing, so much second-guessing that it seemed like, 'This isn't going to leave this room anytime soon.'

"I told Buckethead, 'Listen, I don't want you to take this job. Me being your friend out here, as soon as you sign a contract, a month later, I'll go, 'See you guys.' I might not be here in a couple of months. I don't want you to think that I'm abandoning you, I'm giving you this information upfront.'

"And so of course after I left, Buckethead and Bryan being super-tight, and they're like, 'Who should we get on drums?' They already auditioned so many people in LA two-three years prior when I auditioned, they've already gone through all these drummers - who else are they going to call?

"So Bryan comes in, and they end up having him, I think Axl wanted him to feel a part of the band, a part of this project, so he had to re-record the drums.

"So it's him on the record, but he ended up doing every last open hi-hat and every last ghost note on the snare drum, where like, 'Oh my god, he's playing exactly what I just recorded,' which is totally fine, and I don't mind at all, doesn't matter to me.

"I also understand that world where they were coming from with it.

"One thing that I really took away from it, that I like - and I always think it's kind of funny when people are discussing 'Chinese Democracy' - this record that supposedly cost so much money, it took so much time: I wrote the title track, I wrote the song 'Chinese Democracy' and actually wrote the lyrics [EDIT: The transcription here is probably wrong. In the video (after 22:00 minute mark) it sounds like he says: "I wrote the song 'Chinese Democracy'.'I put the music and Axl wrote the lyrics"]

"And so, the one thing I take away from it is like, it's always funny, I walk into a room full of people and I'll go, 'What are you guys talking about?' They'll be like, 'We're talking about 'Chinese Democracy.' I go, 'I wrote 'Chinese Democracy.'

"I know some people in the room and other people are like, 'What the hell is this guy talking about?' 'Not the album, but the title track.' I normally rattle off to everyone I hang out with, but I'm not embarrassed by it.

"I think it's - actually, I like the song, it's just three chords, there's nothing special about it other than that it's just a cool groove and it's kind of dirty and rocking. It's simple, which I like."

Shortly after GN'R, you're starting up A Perfect Circle with Maynard. Take me through a brief little period of A Perfect Circle up to the latest release, which was by the way fucking incredible.

"I met Maynard in '97 - summer '97. I was playing with Devo [the band, also the name of Maynard's son] on Lollapalooza, back when it was a touring entity. Anyways, Devo was on the tour, Tool was on the tour, and I became buddies with the Tool guys.

"Everyone else on the tour said that they were kind of like grumpy and didn't really hang out. We were only on the tour for two weeks, but they were all fans. So when Devo popped up on the main stage for two weeks, they were on the side of the stage, every night.

"And the same guys that were kind of not giving the other bands the time of the day - we'd finish the show and they'd be like, 'Dude, can I get part of your yellow suit?' Adam's [Jones, guitar] got taste. They're all super-cool, and I love those guys.

"Then what happened was, literally four or five months later, I go audition for Guns N' Roses, I get the job with Guns N' Roses, and I'm now in this recording studio five nights a week with Guns N' Roses.

"There's guitar techs, there's drum techs, there's engineers, Pro Tools, all those extra people and employees working on it. So the guy running the Pro Tools rig was this guy Billy [Howerdel]. I didn't know him, and he knew the Pro Tools inside and out.

"This was 23 years ago back, not everybody knew it, so Billy shat the shit wired, and he said to me one day, 'Hey, you know my roommate.' I go, 'Yeah? Who's your roommate?'

"He goes, 'You know, Maynard from Tool. He lives out in Arizona, he rents a room from me and we're buddies. And I've got a house in North Hollywood, so he's in LA, we share a house together in North Hollywood, but he's only here part-time.'

"And I'm like, 'Oh, that's cool. Well, tell him hi.'

"A couple of weeks later in the studio, I'm with this guy Billy every night, and we're kind of becoming friends. We're in the studio one night, I'm walking through the kitchenette area at the studio, Billy's on the phone, 'Hey Josh, here.' 'Who is this?' 'Maynard.'

"I go, 'Hey, what's happening, man?' He goes, 'That guy you're hanging out with right now, Billy, he's way too modest and cool. He writes awesome fucking songs, and I want to start a band with him, and you should be the drummer.'

"I was like, 'OK, well, I'd like to hear it.' And so Billy played me some stuff; it was cool, it was different, and he was really passionate about it. He was kind of going through one of those things where he was tired of the Tool guys taking too long - I can't judge any of that stuff.

"So anyway, 'I want to make a record with Billy, you got to be the guy.' And so we all started hanging out, and it was kind of this thing I did on the weekends; working Guns N' Roses through the week, and then Saturday or Sunday we'd go rehearse.

"And there's some demos... And then we're going to play a gig, a couple of club things here and there. And also in the beginning - because I was still tied down to the Guns N' Roses situation, I had a contract with them, they did a few gigs with Tim Alexander from Primus.

------------

EDIT: UG's transcription of the part about CD the song is wrong. In the video (after 22:00 min. mark) Josh says he wrote the music and Axl wrote the lyrics.

Edited by Blackstar
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That last point is definitely not for sure. It's not your idea of what a Guns N Roses record is, for me it is the exact thing I consider GNR to be at least in attitude.  Also, it's murky waters w

Well, I posted the UG transcript before I watched the video. I just watched the part where he talks about CD (it's after 22:00 minute mark) and UG misheard it and transcribed it wrong.  Josh

I assume those five guys would be Axl, Slash, Izzy, Steven and Duff? Then I suppose UYI wasn't a GN'R record, either, since Matt had replaced Steven by then.  And although Chinese Democracy wasn'

20 minutes ago, DTJ80 said:

I would have thought the lyrics were Axls?! That quite something if accurate - that he would let the opening track on his big statement album have lyrics not by himself?!?

Makes you wonder what the extent of Axl's contributions were to the rest of the co-written songs on the album.

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IIRC Weiland once made a remark about Axl not writing his own parts... cant remember if he specified lyrics or melody though. 

If its true that Freese wrote those lyrics, then he did a great job capturing Axls 'voice.'

I wonder if Axl had already come up with the concept/theme/title "Chinese Democracy" prior to the song being written?

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49 minutes ago, DTJ80 said:

I would have thought the lyrics were Axls?! That quite something if accurate - that he would let the opening track on his big statement album have lyrics not by himself?!?

Yes, this is a new (and an odd) one. Maybe Axl changed or added some lyrics.

23 minutes ago, soon said:

If its true that Freese wrote those lyrics, then he did a great job capturing Axls 'voice.'

I wonder if Axl had already come up with the concept/theme/title "Chinese Democracy" prior to the song being written?

I always wondered how Axl's fascination with China started, because the story he told at the HoB about the Kundun movie happened after the album was titled (and of course after the song was written). So maybe Josh Freese was at least partly responsible for that?

Quote

IIRC Weiland once made a remark about Axl not writing his own parts... cant remember if he specified lyrics or melody though. 

Yes, but I don't think Weiland knew anything about CD. It was most likely shit talk about Axl that he had been hearing from Slash, Duff and Matt. Duff especially would occasionally make public comments at that time kind of belittling Axl's contributions.

Edited by Blackstar
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8 minutes ago, soon said:

IIRC Weiland once made a remark about Axl not writing his own parts... cant remember if he specified lyrics or melody though. 

If its true that Freese wrote those lyrics, then he did a great job capturing Axls 'voice.'

I wonder if Axl had already come up with the concept/theme/title "Chinese Democracy" prior to the song being written?

Seems to be a case of write-a-word-take-a-third.

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12 minutes ago, Towelie said:

Makes you wonder what the extent of Axl's contributions were to the rest of the co-written songs on the album.

Also doesn’t align to the suggestion he was a dictator etc if he was willing to do what Josh has suggested. Maybe he contributed to lyrics but Axl did too?

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He says "towards the end of the two years that I was there, Robin ended up leaving and rejoining Nine Inch Nails, and we needed a guitar player. We auditioned a bunch of guys, and Axl was like, 'Do you know this guy Buckethead"......but Robin and Buckethead were in the band at the same time.

Is he just remembering things wrong? 

Edited by allwaystired
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I think Axl was credited as the sole writer for the lyrics. Maybe Freese just came up with the idea of the opening "it dont really matter" and then Axl worked around it. 

Also, the song is indeed fun. But there's a bit more than three chords lol. And Buckethead's work there made it a lot more complex. 

Edited by Voodoochild
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2 minutes ago, Blackstar said:

Yes, this is a new (and an odd) one. Maybe Axl changed or added some lyrics.

I always wondered how Axl's fascination with China started, because the story he told at the HoB about the Kundun movie happened after the album was titled (and of course after the song was written). So maybe Josh Freese was at least partly responsible for that?

Yes, but I don't think Weiland knew anything about CD. It was most likely shit talk about Axl that he had been hearing from Slash, Duff and Matt at the time. Duff especially would occasionally make public comments at the time kind of belittling Axl's contributions.

Ha ha - I just posted that too. You’d have to think Axl was involved in the lyrics at some point?

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1 minute ago, allwaystired said:

He says "towards the end of the two years that I was there, Robin ended up leaving and rejoining Nine Inch Nails, and we needed a guitar player. We auditioned a bunch of guys, and Axl was like, 'Do you know this guy Buckethead"......but Robin and Buckethead were in the band at the same time.

Is he just remembering things wrong? 

No, Buckethead joined after Finck had left. Then Finck returned and Axl kept them both.

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Just now, Voodoochild said:

I think Axl was credited as the sole writer for the lyrics. Maybe Freese just came up with the idea of the opening "it dont really matter" and then Axl worked surrounding it. 

Also, the song is indeed fun. But there's a bit more than three chords lol. And Buckethead's work there made it a lot more complex. 

Although I really like the CD version, the Village Session one which is stripped back and bass heavy is much better.

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9 minutes ago, DTJ80 said:

Although I really like the CD version, the Village Session one which is stripped back and bass heavy is much better.

I liked it more for a day or two lol. I still prefer the album version. I like both Bumble and Frank's contributions. I do miss the mix with louder bass and Paul Tobias/Robin layers in the verses.

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I have read previously that Josh came up with the riff on some $80 guitar, so I always assumed that's where his credit came from. There are a lot of songwriters for the title track, but I'd still say Axl probably came up with the majority of lyrics.

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1 hour ago, DTJ80 said:

I would have thought the lyrics were Axls?! That quite something if accurate - that he would let the opening track on his big statement album have lyrics not by himself?!?

Yeah that is crazy. But it also kinda makes me double down on the record being a collaborative record rather than a 'solo' album like a lot of people here love to say. 

I'm sure Axl rewrote parts at the very least otherwise not sure why he gets writing credits😄

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3 minutes ago, Tom2112 said:

Yeah that is crazy. But it also kinda makes me double down on the record being a collaborative record rather than a 'solo' album like a lot of people here love to say. 

I'm sure Axl rewrote parts at the very least otherwise not sure why he gets writing credits😄

Yep - it doesn’t align to the suggestion he was a dictator etc. Josh is very complimentary actually - particularly regarding the re-recording of the drums.

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Well, I posted the UG transcript before I watched the video.

I just watched the part where he talks about CD (it's after 22:00 minute mark) and UG misheard it and transcribed it wrong. 

Josh doesn't say he wrote the lyrics. He says "I put the music and Axl wrote the lyrics."

 

 

Edited by Blackstar
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1 minute ago, Blackstar said:

Well, I posted the UG transcript before I watched the video.

I just watched the part where he talks about CD (it's after 22:00 minute mark) and UG misheard it and transcribed it wrong.

Josh doesn't say he wrote the lyrics. He says "I wrote the music and Axl wrote the lyrics."

 

 

#fakenews

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13 minutes ago, Blackstar said:

Well, I posted the UG transcript before I watched the video.

I just watched the part where he talks about CD (it's after 22:00 minute mark) and UG misheard it and transcribed it wrong. 

Josh doesn't say he wrote the lyrics. He says "I put the music and Axl wrote the lyrics."

 

 

Mystery solved 😂

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1 hour ago, ToonGuns said:

Do we know how Axl had heard of Bucket?

Yeah, everything he mentions has been stated in previous interviews he’s done!

Edit: Guns related obviously 😂

Edited by Dean
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30 minutes ago, Blackstar said:

This goes to show that we shouldn't completely trust the transcriptions.

UG or another site had also mis-transcribed what David Dominguez had said about TIL.

Yeah, a lot of times even a misplaced comma can make something sound completely different, not to even get into the fact that the tone in which things are said are rarely transcribed.

I'm just glad that after naming his lifetime achievement Chinese Democracy, he did in fact write the lyrics.

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