GUNS N' ROSES singer Axl Rose has made a lengthy posting to the MyGNRForum.com web site where he answered a number of fan-submitted questions related to such topics as why he is continuing to use the GUNS name and the circumstances that led to the breakup of the classic GN'R lineup. His posting follows below in its entirety. (Note that the questions Axl is responding to were not included in his original post.)
"OK, then!! The questions aren't here but the answers, as it moves along, I think point pretty clearly to what was asked in pretty much order or close of the seven pages. If I didn't answer, it was either already answered, off topic or I mistakenly overlooked the question. My apologies for the inconvenience. It's not as light-hearted as some of the other sessions but that's the subject matter. Whew!!"
Q: We learnt in the press, that you asked the former members to sign a paper giving up the rights to the GUNS N' ROSES name and threatening not to go on stage unless they co-operated. Bullshit?
Axl: "So let's start here… the whole 'Axl wouldn't go on stage' yada yada… is complete and utter crap. Never happened, all made up, fallacy and fantasy. Not one single solitary thread of truth to it. Had that been the case, I would've have been cremated years ago legally, could've cleaned me out for the name and damages. It's called under duress with extenuating circumstances. In fact, the time that was mentioned, the attorneys were all in Europe with us dealing with Adler [original GUNS N' ROSES drummer Steven Adler] depositions.
"Couldn't talk sooner as it could have jeopardized whatever nonsense was going on.
"When GUNS renegotiated our contract with Geffen, I had the bit about the name added in as protection for myself as I had come up with the name and then originally started the band with it. It had more to do with management than the band, as our then-manager was always tryin' to convince someone they should fire me. As I had stopped speaking with him, he sensed his days were numbered and was bending any ear he could along with attempting to sell our renegotiation out for a personal payday from Geffen.
"It was added to the contract and everyone signed off on it. It wasn't hidden in fine print, etc., as you had to initial the section verifying you had acknowledged it.
"Now, at that time I didn't know or think about brand names or corporate value etc. All I knew is that I came in with the name and from day one everyone had agreed to it being mine should we break up and now it was in writing.
"I still didn't grasp any other issues until long after I'd left and formed a new partnership which was only an effort to salvage GUNS, not steal it."
"In my opinion, the reality of the shift and the public embarrassment and ridicule by others (which included a lot of not-so-on-the-level business types he was associating with at the time) for not contesting the rights to the brand name, were more than Slash [former GUNS N' ROSES guitarist] could openly face. Also, we aren't lawyers or formally business educated, so it was just a matter of all of us being naïve and doing what we thought was right at the time. Slash was, in my opinion, being on the up and up in agreeing I had the rights, and I wasn't trying to be some snake in the grass pulling a fast one. The others could've cared less.
"But when the reality of the breakup hit and the strategy to have me crawl back was put into play, Slash had to save face and get business team and public support. Painting me as the one who held a crowd hostage forcing the others to sign over the name worked out pretty well in that regard. I'm the bad guy, and Duff [McKagan, ex-GUNS bassist], the fans and most importantly himself were the victims. Oh, and they had actually made the sacrifice for the crowd, the people, the fans at the show. But again… IT NEVER HAPPENED.
"Media and others ignorantly, wrongly and falsely harped on about it at mine and the fans' expense for years, and Slash has hoped to use all that to continually sue and have some sort of legal nonsense going on behind the scenes in an effort to reverse things. He wouldn't have been able to get the support and action on the part of his various team members over the years to do so if the truth were out there especially when the statute of limitations had run out years ago."
Q: Why did you choose to keep the GUNS N' ROSES name rather than create a new name?
Axl: "Why keep the name? I'm literally the last man standing. Not bragging, not proud. It's been a fucking nightmare but I didn't leave GUNS and I didn't drive others out. With Slash, it's been nothing more than pure strategy and saving face while manipulating the public like he used to me. I earned the right to protect my efforts and to be able to take advantage of our contract I'd worked hard for where Slash's exact words were that he didn't care. I get that some like a different version or lineup the same way some like a specific team line up or a particular year of a specific car but because you and I are getting played I'm supposed to throw the baby out with the bath water?"
Q: What do you think about people that say "Chinese Democracy" should have been a solo album instead of using the name GUNS N' ROSES?
Axl: "I didn't make a solo record. A solo record would be completely different than this and probably much more instrumental. I made a GUNS record with the right people who were the only people who really wanted to help me try, were qualified and capable while enduring the public abuse for years . The songs were chosen by everyone involved. I didn't want to do 'This I Love' in any way shape or form, and Robin [Finck, current GUNS guitarist] and Caram [Costanzo; co-producer] insisted gaining Tommy's [Stinson, bass] and the others' support. There's been a lot of pressure to go with using my name (all external) but that never felt right to me for this band and the parameters in regard to this music have lots more to do with the mindset of GUNS than something else. The instrumental I wrote for 'End of Days' that's more a solo effort, at least presently.
"As far as a new name… this is who I am, not whatever else someone else thinks of. I don't see myself as solely GUNS, but I do see myself as the only one from the past making the effort to take it forward, whether anyone approves or not, and giving beyond what many would or fight for to do so. The name helped the music more than you could ever know, and I'm not talking in regards to studios or budgets, I mean it as in being pushed by something and having to get the music to a place where I can find my peace regardless of what anyone says. And that wasn't fully achieved until the last round of mastering and swapping out a version of a track at the pressing plant that had gotten inadvertently changed at the last minute. Also, the name was what the industry wanted as well and the burden of keeping it was something to endure in order to make the record. After the monies invested by old Geffen (that were decisions made that have worked out for me but I'm on record as having opposed) dropping the name became suicide."
Q: How much has been spent on legal battles over the name/how much do you value the name at?
Axl: "The cost of legal battles has been astronomical but I felt the deal made with Universal was fair for where it is and most things balanced out for both sides."
Q: How do you feel when you read posts that say "this isn't really GUNS N' ROSES?" Surely it isn't their place to say?
Axl: "David Bowie likes Floyd with Barret, many with Waters and those without. And there are those who like all the different lineups. In my opinion, what makes our situation a bit more unique, at least in how it's played out, is the ugliness of what really took place. If I'd done what was said then, I'd say fuck me too. I also realize this is just one issue in something with upteen however many more so conclusions can't be formulated off this little bit alone by most which is more than understandable.
"That said, because someone leaves the shop I started in which I still legally have the rights to the name I started it with… makes up a bunch of nonsense to win public and legal support in an effort to get whatever it is they want at mine and the public's expense… I don't feel any reason whatsoever I should have to throw what I've not only worked for but fought and suffered for away because some hurt, angry, betrayed, misguided and lied to people with a lynch-mob mentality, joined by others who could care less (especially in the media), enjoying the controversy and hate, choose one over the other regardless of what's right because they want what they want. And you can still prefer then as opposed to now and no one's arguing your right to do so.
"In regard to nuGUNS, I get that sometimes it helps to be able to clarify. Personally I call this GUNS and the 'Illusions' or previous lineups 'old GUNS.'"
Q: Are you guys allowed to play any song from the GN'R catalogue? Because in the past I heard that legal matters hinders you to play some of the "Use Your Illusion" stuff.
Axl: "We can play what we want, as far as I'm aware."
Q: I would ask what the catalyst was to originally motivate you to seek ownership of the name? Looking back, do you still feel it was a good course of action to have taken?
Axl: "It wasn't so much that it was a good course or that, if looking back, I could do something differently; it's that, for better or worse, it was the only course, and had I not done this, Slash would have succeeded in destroying me publicly much more than he, others or myself have so far and I would have gone bankrupt."
Q: Where would you be now, had you not obtained the rights to the name? What would you have called the current line-up of GN'R?
Axl: "I don't know where I'd be, but there's clearly no happy ending there and with everything else that had gone on in every other area of my life the devastation isn't something I feel I would have overcome at least to any real degree publicly. Hopefully I would've been able to pick myself up enough to get a job or sing somewhere else but I doubt anything that significant."
Q: Would you ever consider sharing the name with the current band members?
Axl: "The sharing thing is interesting, but even with all this time, the complications of the red tape and trying to get something out fall on my world to sort and not theirs. They are amazingly supportive and do their best to keep me in up spirits and focused which I had less and less of in GUNS way before 'Sweet Child' caught on. If that were to change, then that may be something to look at. I hope for us to grow more together as we continue so who knows.
"If I hadn't secured the rights, I don't know where I'd be and I'd probably call what would then be the current lineup 'THOSE MOTHER FUCKERS!!'
"The name is something I take great pride in as I feel anyone who's been a part of it should, the same as other bands or teams etc. The burden when it is such is a nightmare but not as much or as hopeless as I'd imagine without it could have been."
Q: What is the difference between former members forwarding their careers through their association with you, and a band benefiting from touring/releasing under a name originally associated with a group of musicians who are no longer there?
Axl: "On the what's the difference… I think I get what you're asking… I feel it depends on how and in what ways either the former members are using the association and what the true circumstances regarding why they moved on from both the band and the name that would or could affect the decision to continue on with the name by in this case this lineup and or myself."
Q: Did you use the GN'R name to sell more records??
Axl: "As for selling more records, it'd be nice to be in a position to possibly do so at some point but that's never been my base reasoning. I would think it fits into not feeling I shouldn't be forced to throw away possible opportunities in a hostile attempted takeover. I believe I should fight for GUNS in a patriotic sense or sense of loyalty or honor. Not just my vision or direction for GUNS as those things can evolve and you can make forward moving positive compromises by what others bring to the table but I mean more as in what principles I feel were important to GUNS in regard to an overall commitment to the music."
Q: Obviously the name GUNS N' ROSES means a lot to you historically. Do you think it would have been easier (less criticism from being the only "original" remaining member) or harder (the name obviously carries a lot of weight) to have pursued the "Chinese Democracy" project under a different name.
Axl: "It helped us get here but most of that was with Universal and the positives of that wore off years ago until recently and after the initial run it'll be about the music and us. Then it's about touring and there's not a question the name's helped at most everywhere but not so much the states. With that it comes down to the strength or quality of the performance. Having the name kicks your ass every night as it's not some side project or something you can fuck off in. You don't deliver, you get your ass handed to you. So it makes us work much harder than I feel we would outside of it and it hasn't been too ugly yet."
Q: Did you already have a new lineup or a lineup change in mind at that time?
Axl: "I didn't see lineup changes, etc., back then — I saw it more as a crash and burn, goin' down with the ship. On one hand, I knew the band was over before we started touring 'Illusions' but you have hope… but I saw it more like the Titanic sinking than moving on or surviving. And in reality, I went the distance with each and every one in GUNS to where they felt for whatever reasons they either couldn't or wouldn't give what GUNS required. And I'm not talking change of styles or sounds etc. A lot of people bought that crap and me having gone in other directions seems to many to have verified that. Then you have the mind twisting equally as true horseshit in Slash's book, but I have the rehearsal tapes. There's nothing but Slash-based blues rock and he stopped it to both go solo and try to completely take over GUNS. I read all this 'if Axl would've put words and melodies on it could've…' That was denied and I didn't walk 'till several months after having 3-to-4-hour phone conversations nearly every day with Slash trying to reach a compromise. I was specifically told no lyrics, no melodies, no changes to anything and to sing what I was told or fuck off."
Q: What (except for legal reasons) would make you change the name of the band you're playing in?
Axl: "As to what would possibly make me change the name, [it] would be some form of evolving that I don't feel we've reached yet and not in any way consciously trying to at this time. It's really hard to say. I'd have to feel it was right for me and those involved and whatever we're doing at that time."
Q: With regard to ownership of the name, how will this affect GUNS' induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? The new band can't exactly go and accept the award. Would they have to requalify in 25 years' time for "Chinese"?
Axl: "Never thought about that, with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The whole 'mature enough' bit was cute. Not to offend anyone, but personally I don't have an interest and other than inducting Elton don't quite get what it is exactly and who decides what. It seems to mean more to some than others and more so amongst fans. It's nice to get recognition and have some form of acceptance, but in regards to joining others, the price is too high and just not worth it. It's a ways away and seems a bit presumptuous to be contemplating being inducted now."
Q: Do you think you have to follow some kind of music style cause of your musical past, or you feel free to experiment some kind of innovative stuff or melting few styles wich goes "against" the musical heritage of GN'R?!?!
Axl: "About following particular styles, yes I do feel there are parameters with GUNS as opposed to not being or in GUNS. 'Chinese Democracy' is, in my opinion, an evolution not necessarily how each from the past would but how the music and intent could and did. GUNS did not have specific lifelong criteria to follow and many of the influences on 'Appetite' were abandoned by the others long before me. In fact, Slash hated a good portion of those on 'Appetite' and wasn't all that into the involvement or association but knew it worked at the time and realized it was the cusp of a wave that was growing. It's a trip for me to witness as so many of the people he performs with etc he hated then, them, their bands and their music where the others or I were the fans.
"I like touring with these guys a lot more than the old band. The beginning was fun but it started going bad our first gig opening for THE CULT in Halifax between Slash and I. That's when the 'OK I put up with all Axl's and Izzy's crap, now I'm gonna be the man' trip started with him runnin' right out front on the ego ramp for the whole show. It was pretty funny."