After close to a decade out of the public eye, Axl Rose is about to unveil a rebuilt Guns N' Roses.
The tentatively titled Chinese Democracy, which the hard-rock band plans to release in the summer, is described in the latest issue of Rolling Stone as "Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti remixed by Beck and Trent Reznor."
The song "Chinese Democracy" is "almost grungey," David Wild writes. That's a considerable departure for a band that made its name on a pop-heavy metal blend. But Rose recorded the new album with a substantially revamped lineup including his longtime friend and guitarist Paul Huge, ex-Vandals drummer Josh Freese, latter-day Guns N' Roses keyboardist Dizzy Reed and ex-Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson.
"It's not an Axl Rose album, even if it's what I wanted it to be," Rose is quoted as saying in the article. "Everybody is putting everything they've got into singing and building. Maybe I'm helping steer it to what it should be built like."
The story in the Feb. 3 issue, headlined "Axl Speaks," also finds the 36-year-old singer dissing his former bandmates and expressing a need to make something positive. He says two of the band's most controversial songs the race-baiting "One in a Million," from 1989's GN'R Lies, and the group's cover of convicted mass-murderer Charles Manson's "Look at Your Game Girl," from 1993's The Spaghetti Incident? will not appear on future pressings of those albums.
The magazine reports that Chinese Democracy includes songs tentatively titled "Catcher in the Rye," "I.R.S.," "The Blues" and "TWAT," an acronym for "there was a time."
Rose, who has cited the band's internal changes and his own legal problems as reasons for the new album's delay, says he also has spent considerable time educating himself about the technology that has assumed a major role in rock music. "It's like from scratch, learning how to work with something and not wanting it just to be something you did on a computer," he said.
"What we're trying to do is build Guns N' Roses back into something," Rose, the lone remaining member from the group's heyday, continues. "This wasn't Guns N' Roses, but I feel it is Guns N' Roses now."
The singer spoke to the magazine in late November, while working in a studio in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. Rose is described as wearing Abercrombie & Fitch, sporting his "intact" red hair midlength and appearing "older and more solidly built" than his scrawny rock-star look of yesteryear. His new physique is credited to his kickboxing regimen.
Rose (born William Bailey) broke a long public silence by issuing a statement in September about the song "Oh My God" (RealAudio excerpt), which appears on the soundtrack to the Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie "End of Days." He turned up again in November for a short MTV interview by telephone.
Rose said a court date with his ex-wife, Erin Everly, on the day after the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, inspired the song "Oklahoma." "I was sitting in my litigation with my ex-wife, and it was the day after the bombing," Rose is quoted as saying. "I'm sitting with my attorneys with a sort of smile on my face, more like a nervous thing it was like, 'Forgive me, people, I'm having trouble taking this seriously.' It's just ironic that we're sitting there, and this person is spewing all kinds of things, and 168 people just got killed. And this person I'm there with, she don't care. Obliterating me is their goal."
Rose reportedly also claims his own band was out to tear him down and alleges the former members were jealous of him. "When we were in airports and people are ignoring [bassist] Duff [McKagan] and asking for my autograph, that didn't go over so well," he is quoted as saying.
Calling Slash "negatively seductive," Rose recalled feeling hurt in his fallout with the guitarist, who left the band in 1996. "I mean, with Slash, I remember crying about all kinds of things in my life, but I had never felt ... hot, burning tears of anger. Basically, to me, it was because I am watching this guy and I don't understand it. Playing with everyone from Space Ghost to Michael Jackson. I don't get it. I wanted the world to love and respect him. I just watched him throw it away."
Slash's manager, Tom Maher, said Tuesday (Jan. 11) that neither he nor the guitarist had seen the story. Maher said he would not comment on specific quotes until he had read the article. Slash will release the second album from his bluesy hard-rock band, Snakepit, Ain't Life Grand, in March.
Guns N' Roses stormed onto the rock scene with the release of their 1987 album, Appetite for Destruction. The band recently released a double-disc live album, Guns N' Roses Live Era '87'93, which features such hits as the Guns N' Roses classic "Welcome to the Jungle" (RealAudio excerpt).