Members of the press have long grumbled about how they're the last to find out any news about Guns N' Roses. For example, when the band made a surprise appearance at this year's MTV Video Music Awards, even insiders didn't hear about it until show time. And when the group's new tour was finally announced, the band was practically already on the road. But journalists aren't the only ones left in the dark by Axl Rose, GN'R's secretive frontman.
Pennsylvania modern metal band CKY, who are opening the Guns U.S. tour starting Thursday night (November 7) in Vancouver, didn't know they were on the bill until three days ago. At the time, the band was heading from Michigan to California to finish up a tour with Leisure.
"All of a sudden, Axl picked us. We had to cancel two sold-out shows in California and turn right full rudder all the way to Vancouver," said CKY drummer Jess Margera by cell phone as the band's tour bus approached the Canadian border. "We were at least 2,000 miles out of the way when we got the call. We've been driving for three days, but this is an awesome tour so it's worth driving all that way."
CKY landed the tour after their management found out GN'R still hadn't chosen a tour opener. So they overnighted a package to the band's management company and were handpicked by Axl from about 10 groups.
"I'm psyched because that's probably the biggest tour of this year," Margera said. "And we've all been fans of Guns N' Roses for a long time. I got Appetite for Destruction when I was 10 years old, so I've been listening to that for a while. And I'm a big fan of [guitarist] Buckethead and Brain is a really awesome drummer. I can't wait to hang out with him."
Opening a tour for any stadium band is challenging for a new act, but warming the crowd for Guns N' Roses can be a recipe for disaster. Many members of the audience will likely be fans of old-school metal, not nü-metal or alternative rock, and may not have the patience to be polite to a band they've likely never heard.
"I'm not worried," Margera said. "I'm sure a lot of people will be psyched to see Guns N' Roses, but we'll be raging hard enough that they can't just write us off. Our live shows are pretty gnarly and it's hard not to watch."
Even if CKY aren't treated like rock royalty, they've gotten used to playing to tough crowds (see "'Jackass' Band CKY Hang Guitarist, Denounce Hives, Strokes"). Last year, the band was booked on a tour with Godsmack, Deftones and a then-unknown Puddle of Mudd, and CKY had to bail partway through because they were so poorly received.
"We were on the tour just for the Deftones because they invited us and they're really nice guys," Margera said. "But the Godsmack crowd is pretty much just the radio crowd and they're not feeling anything but that nü-metal type deal. And [Godsmack frontman] Sully [Erna] was a di--. He was all about himself and we weren't down with dealing with that."
The last straw for CKY came when Erna wouldn't let the band jam onstage with the Deftones during their set, but that wasn't their only bone of contention.
"One time we were walking around backstage and someone put a CKY sticker on the Godsmack laminate over the picture of Sully's face," Margera recalled. "And he just told everyone that can't be happening. 'My face can't be covered on that laminate,' he said, and he made whoever had a sticker on their laminate take it off."
Godsmack weren't the only group on the tour that CKY had beef with. While Puddle of Mudd weren't specifically rude, Margera said he thinks Wes Scantlin and his bandmates stole some of CKY's designer clothing.
"We're endorsed by Adio Shoes, so we have all this gear, and we just saw them suddenly wearing all these Adio shoes, jackets and hats, and it had to come from us," Margera said. "It just pissed us off. We're walking around with Adio gear because that's our sponsor, and then they're rocking Adio stuff too, so it just looked ridiculous."