How do you see yourself: British or American?
“I still have a pretty strong British thing, so if somebody asked me I would say I’m British. But at the same time you can’t deny the fact that I was raised in America, so it’s sort of a grey area.”
What’s the strangest thing a fan has ever given you?
“Crabs! Ha ha ha ha!”
What did you do with your first big royalty cheque?
“I had it made into travellers’ cheques because I had a tax situation at the time and it had a lean on all my assets. And that went steadily but surely into my arm! Ha ha ha! You get the idea…”
What did you think the first time you heard Chinese Democracy?
“The first time I heard Chinese Democracy… I thought it was the Axl record I could tell he wanted to make from way before I left. So I thought it was the perfect Axl Rose record statement, sort of thing. If it had been released as the Axl Rose solo record everybody would have gone, ‘Wow!’ I’m sure it was debatable in his camp as well as to how he was going to continue on after the original band was all completely gone, you know? But he chose to go the way that he did. But, you know, to each his own.”
Have you ever had singer envy?
“No, that’s something that, if you’re going to be in a group situation with a frontman, you want them to be that person. That’s who they’re supposed to be. So you’re wasting your time if you start worrying about the amount of attention they’re getting. I’ve seen that kind of conflict in bands before and it’s sort of ridiculous to me ’cos that’s why they’re there. That’s their role.”
Why do guitarist get the best groupies?
“That’s a tough question. I’ve never really looked at it from any kind of perspective. But in my experience I’ve always seemed to get the most interesting and coolest ones, the ones that are the most fun. But I don’t know why that is.”
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Have you ever said the words: ‘Don’t you know who I am?’
“No, no! That’s a very arrogant thing to say so that’s not something you would ever find me doing, absolutely not.”
What was your first impression of Myles Kennedy?
“I thought he was just an extremely pleasant, unassuming individual, and a fucking from-on-high vocal talent. It’s very hard to find a frontman who is not only talented but fits right in, and is such a good guy, you know? So there was definitely a feeling of, after years and years of all kinds of chaotic stuff [with singers], I really began to think it was totally the norm. So when Myles and I first started working together I thought of him as some sort of a godsend.”
When you started Guns N’ Roses, what kind of band did you think it would be?
“I thought it would be a cool, underground, cult, hard rock band that had a certain amount of followers and steadily stayed at that level indefinitely. I certainly never saw it becoming as big as it did. When I left Guns N’ Roses I didn’t really think at all about what kind of a band it would be now. I just left it all behind me. I didn’t feel like it was the end of the band. In essence, I didn’t necessarily leave, if you know what I mean. I just didn’t carry on with it anymore. There’s a difference.”