"Have we got anything in common with Iron Maiden? I hope not" - watch peak Axl Rose slyly diss Maiden and Kiss in this cheeky 1988 interview

Axl Rose in 1988
(Image credit: YouTube)

On August 20, 1988, the Monsters Of Rock festival arrived at Castle Donington, drawing over 100,000 revved-up fans who braved torrential rains and a swampy fairground to see headliners Iron Maiden with support from KISS, David Lee Roth, Megadeth, Guns N' Roses and Helloween. At the outset, it bore all of the trappings of a historic date; Maiden were supporting Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son while KISS were now unmasked and eager to prove themselves deserving of the headlining slot (indeed, this would be the last time they would play Donington as anything but headliners). In June, GN'R released Sweet Child O’ Mine as the third single from their blistering debut, Appetite For Destruction and by August, the track entered heavy rotation on both MTV and seemingly every rock and mainstream radio station on Planet Earth.

Backstage, various outlets amassed for interviews with the bands and few drew journalists’ keen, pressing interest as GN'R and in particular, singer Axl Rose. Eminently reliable for headline-worthy quotes, Rose brought to each interview a jaw-dropping indifference towards restraint and diplomacy. These qualities were soon to draw scorn and protest later that year, when GNR released G ‘N R Lies, their double-EP that included the knuckle-dragging misogyny of Used To Love Her and racist, homophobic and xenophobic fare such as One In A Million (which was eventually removed from the album’s 2018 reissue). On this day, however, GN'R were very much the shit-hot up-and-comers whose sole mission was to marshall every riff, solo, groove and fist-pumping chorus at their disposal to blow every other band off the stage. Tragically, as the crowd surged during GN'R’s forty-minute set, two young men were fatally trampled, which an inquest later blamed on the muddy conditions and a crowd collapse of about fifty people. The band did not learn about this until after their set, later that day. 

In the clip below, filmed presumably at the beginning of the day, one reporter catches up with GN'R guitarist Izzy Stradlin and Rose, decked out in  his own band’s t-shirt and sipping a can of Coke. In the space of just over a minute, Rose proceeds to casually slag off the two biggest bands of the day’s lineup.

From off-camera, the reporter asks, “Do you regard yourselves as similar in any way to any of the other bands on the bill or do you think that you’re completely...”

Rose interjects, “Maybe only in attitude, with some of them.” He continues, “I liked KISS in their early days. You know, I think the only thing I think we have in common with KISS now is that they like to make money and they like girls, but as far as the music goes, basically the music is like second-fiddle to their other desires and our music comes first.”

“Have you got anything in common with Iron Maiden?” she asks, as the camera pulls back.

“I hope not,” replies Rose flatly, as he then takes a casual slug of his soda while looking straight at the journalist.

“Why?”

“I don’t know,” he says, briefly pausing before conceding, “They’re nice guys, but you know, it’s like, political organizations...” He seems to be drawing a parallel here between bands and political parties. “Your band’s like a political thing, um, and your music or your album’s kind of like your political stance... Well, theirs is completely different than ours and I think theirs doesn’t have anything to do with rock and roll, as far as I’m concerned. We’re a rock and roll band. What they do is what they do. I don’t know what it is and I hope to never be like that. Hope it’s not catchy.” He then smirks and drinks some more soda.

Though the clip is titled, Izzy Stradlin Interview, Izzy’s contribution to the conversation is as brief as it gets, and brings the video to its conclusion.

“Izzy, were you gonna say something?”

“No.”

Watch it below.

Hailing from San Diego, California, Joe Daly is an award-winning music journalist with over thirty years experience. Since 2010, Joe has been a regular contributor for Metal Hammer, penning cover features, news stories, album reviews and other content. Joe also writes for Classic Rock, Bass Player, Men’s Health and Outburn magazines. He has served as Music Editor for several online outlets and he has been a contributor for SPIN, the BBC and a frequent guest on several podcasts. When he’s not serenading his neighbours with black metal, Joe enjoys playing hockey, beating on his bass and fawning over his dogs.