Thursday, September 15, 2011

Guns N’ Roses: Slash talks Use Your Illusion on its 20th anniversary

In a way, it’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since Guns N’ Roses released their “Use Your Illusion” albums, but in another way, it seems like lifetimes ago.

The GNR of 1991 is a ghost of the past compared to the 2011 version, with only Axl Rose remaining from the original lineup, continuing to tour and record under the brand built by many, instead of taking a risk and doing it under his own name.

GNR caused quite a stir in ’91 with the simultaneous release of the two records, “I” and “II,” since such things were pretty much unheard of in the music industry. While Bruce Springsteen would do the same thing six months later, the business tended to follow a more traditional model: if an artist recorded enough material for two records during a single session, it would be issued as a double-album, or trimmed to a single with left-over songs shelved for future release.

These days, the industry has changed so much that the new release of material can happen at any time in any configuration – case in point, the innovative packaging offered by The Cult and their “Capsule” series.

All that aside, there’s plenty of stories to be told about the making of GNR’s “Illusion” albums as they approach their 20th anniversary this week (September 17, 1991), and Slash sat down with Music Radar recently to do just that.

"I don't know which one I prefer," begins Slash. "I haven't listened to the Use Your Illusion albums for so long, I don't even know what's on each. I know people like the blue one over the red one… Or maybe it's the other way around."

"I was just totally obsessed with the creation of the Illusion records and when I got into that studio, I was completely absorbed with everything to do with them, all the time. Because it had been so long. We'd made Appetite [For Destruction] and then toured for years and – for me, and I know for a couple of the other guys – we'd crashed and burned. So we were pulling ourselves out of the f**king quagmire and going back to work."

But it was becoming clear this new project's grandiose ambition was a sticking point. Making an album to soundtrack fighting and f**ing was no longer enough for Guns' lead singer. "We want to define ourselves," Rose told Rolling Stone. "Appetite was our cornerstone, a place to start. That was like 'Here's our land and we just put a stake in the ground. Now we're going to build something.'"

"It was definitely exploratory compared to Appetite,"
says Slash. "I mean, honestly, I'd have preferred to do a record with just 10 f**king songs that were a bit more straightforward, but it was an opportunity to finally get the band to work again."

According to his autobiography, Music Radar remind Slash, Axl was starting to communicate with the band through management. "Me and Axl were doing okay," he sighs, diplomatically. "The only catch with the Illusion records was the introduction of synthesizers. I disagreed with synthesizers – and I still do."

There’s lots more – check out the full Slash session at Music Radar here.

Guns Guns N' Roses

Guns N’ Roses – November Rain

Tokyo Dome – Tokyo, JP – February 22, 1992

See also:

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VIDEO: Slash featured on South Park
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