"Axl was right in a sense…the way that Slash lies is to make himself look cool."
Slash, Marc Canter & Steven Adler
Legendary Rock Interview with Guns N’ Roses insider and author Marc Canter
By John Parks
Metal Sludge Contributor
Marc Canter had a front row seat and a backstage pass to the rise of “The World’s Most Dangerous Band” a.k.a. Guns N’ Roses. The band attended his wedding and Slash played at his son’s bar mitzvah. If you’ve read Slash or Steven’s books you’ve probably already heard about how Marc, Slash’s old BMX buddy, created a astonishing backlog of memorobilia, notes, setlists, video and audio of his old pals rise to the top. Talk to Steven or Slash and they will tell you that THEIR jaw dropped when they finally saw the scope of the photos and the “you are there” nature of Marc’s fantastic book, RECKLESS ROAD. It’s over 300 pages of pure kickass, it’s that friggin good. Marc Canter also runs the world famous, historic Canter’s Deli in L.A. and if you ever run into him be aware that he may just have better GNR stories than the guys themselves so make sure to pick up a copy of his book along with having a bite to eat. We were spellbound by Marc’s recollections of the band, his thoughts on the legacy of the guys and the magic he witnessed from the very first day. Read on……
Marc Canter 2nd from left with classic Gn’R line up.
Legendary Rock Interviews: Before we get into Guns N’ Roses I wanted to ask you a little about the world famous Deli you run in L.A, Canter’s Deli. How far back does the story on your place begin?
Marc Canter: It started in 1924 with my grandparents and his brothers in Jersey City, New Jersey and then in 1931 they moved to Los Angeles and around 1948 they separated from the brothers and moved to the Fairfax district and simply called it Canter’s and it’s been here in the same location since 1948 and it’s been a 24 hour Deli since 1953. The later part of the fifties was when it really started booming with the nightlife and back then we were the only place open so we pretty much had the market cornered and it would be movie stars from the left to the right on a nightly basis. The Beatles, Elvis and Marilyn Monroe would come in. In the 60s it became a hippie haven, around 66 or 67 it became ground zero during the night and day for the hippies. A lot of people didn’t want to serve them in their establishments but we never had any problem with that and we always served them so, word of mouth grew and it wasn’t a stretch to not only have the kids but the bands like The Turtles and The Doors. According to my dad we would never have any baked goods left in the mornings because everyone would come in high and they all wanted to eat sugar (laughs). He actually had to put in some lights to illuminate the corners of the place because they would find people smoking pot in the corners and we didn’t wanna get in any trouble for that from the cops. Frank Zappa would come in and have a table and it would draw a crowd. Frank would go home and the table would still be hopping and when Zappa would come back a day or so later it was always funny because the table would still be packed but just with totally different people. There was also a story about how Neil Young was making a dollar taxiing people back and forth from the strip to Canter’s deli (laughs). We didn’t know about it then but it was crazy, there would be so many people outside just hanging around on the strip and after the Whisky or those places closed there was really nowhere to go but Canter’s. I bumped into Jeff Beck at the deli and he told me that in the 60s after the Yardbirds would play the Whisky they would always come down because the food was good, we were open and the scene was right. I started working here in 1982 and I immediately started seeing the same thing, musicians, movie stars and all these people come in, eat, walk up to the register and pay the check and go, they dont make a fuss or make special demands like “I wanna leave out the back door” or bring bodyguards or any of that. It’s all very normal. Honestly, most of the time, the other people eating don’t even notice they were there. I think they’re kind glad, I mean every once in a while you might do a double take and say “Hey, there’s Bono or Johnny Depp” and its not a big deal. Johnny used to come in here all the time and hit on our Deli cashier and she’d be like “No, no, no no not another actor or musician, move on” (laughs). We are also known for a lot of the items on our menu that keep bringing people back, chocolate chip danishes, cheesecakes in the bakery. We make our own pickles and pastrami and corn beef. The Matzo ball soup has baseball sized matzo balls, and that will definitely sober you up after a night of clubbing. We can seat about 400 people and after a big Friday or Saturday night it’s often quite a scene here. We get offers for reality TV shows and stuff because there’s so much going on that is something you’d only see at Canter’s.
The legendary Canters deli in Los Angeles
LRI: So you had this friend who tried to play guitar at some point in the early 80s…..(laughs). I’m guessing there was no top hat in mind at that point….
Marc: No, no top hat (laughs). We were about 11 and he was not Slash, he was Saul. He tried to steal my bike or was thinking about stealing it and saw it parked outside. He saw me, he kind of recognized me from school even though we weren’t friends yet we were both in the same grade, just not in the same class. He thought about it and instead of stealing it he asked me if he could ride it and I said “Yeah” and then I realized he lived real close and we started playing on the playground and car pooling to school and stuff. Right around that time I noticed he had a real talent for drawing. When it came time for school art projects or that thing he would draw these snakes and dinosaurs and they looked like something a real Disney creator would make. He just free handed this stuff and these animals had character, they had smiles and all the details were just perfect. It was clear he was very artistic and able to pick up on things FAST. Same thing happened when we got into BMX racing, when I met him he didnt know how to ride a two wheel bike and he became like an overnight BMX star, flying off jumps and having all these moves, moves he would later incorporate into stage moves by the way. Back in 1978 people didn’t have those kinds of flashy moves and finesse on BMX like eeveryone does now but Slash was ahead of the curve as he was with everything it seemed. There was something special or just “good” about him. He always won. We lost touch for a couple years because he got kicked out of the junior high I was going to and had to go to a different one and I didn’t see him for about a year. When I finally saw him again it was around 10th grade and he had already begun playing guitar, by that point he had been playing for about a year and we met up at the new school we were attending High Svchool at and I saw him. He was just about to play his first real gig at a party and he was like “Hey Marc, I’m in a band now” and I found out we both were real into music and liked Zeppelin and Aerosmith and all the same bands. I knew without ever hearing him actually play that it was probabaly going to be pretty good based on everything else he had tried and excelled at. The first time I came to his rehearsal it was clear that his soul was already pouring out of him when it came time for his leads and stuff and his tone was already spot on and you just knew from hearing and seeing him that it was probably going to be what he did with the rest of his life right then and there.
A teenage Slash, and (My) Michelle Young 1979
LRI: Okay so we’re talking about his very first band Tidus Sloan right?
Marc: Yes, Tidus Sloan which was a three piece, no singer. The first gig was at a friend’s party and is actually pictured in the RECKLESS ROAD book. They’d rehearse in the drummer’s garage and play parties on the weekends. Some instrumentals and a few originals but mostly like “Jailbreak” and some Sabbath and a little RUSH. Musically they stayed with the hard rock stuff and did that classic stuff rather than venture into punk or new wave. At that point in 82 the punk scene had died for the most part here and the new wave stuff was really taking over and the band wanted no part of that so they really stayed true to the Stones, Zeppelin sort of method. Slash realized that they weren’t going to go anywhere without a singer so they reformed as a band called ROAD CREW and they got a singer and then he realized they needed more than a singer. They needed a really good singer and a frontman as well as someone who could contribute to the writing as far as melodies and vocals. That band fell apart after Slash had heard of this band called ROSE. He wanted to get Izzy and Axl to join ROAD CREW. So at that time you could go see ROSE at Gazarris on the strip and it was only like a buck to get in. Immediately you could tell there was something about the two. Axl was just bouncing and had all this energy and Izzy was sliding around on his knees and playing with all of this energy as well, The music was a little fast, it was like double bass drum fast, almost speed metal stuff but you could see there was something more to it than that. They met after the gig and I guess ROSE was on its way to falling apart as far as their drummer and guitar player and stuff. So Slash and Steven, who was also in ROAD CREW by then decided to join with those two and form HOLLYWOOD ROSE, that’s what they were gonna call it at that point. They picked up a bass player named Steve Darrow and after a week or so Izzy quit. He just up and quit to join LONDON who at that time kind of had a big name on the Sunset Strip and had previously had guys like Nikki Sixx and others in the group. It was sort of a big opportunity for Izzy and he was sort of unhappy about working with Slash or arguing with Axl about the arrangement of a song called “Cold, Hard Cash” or something. I’m not sure but for whatever reason Izzy had a falling out and disappeared and that lineup lasted as a four piece for about a month. At that point they had “Shadow Of Your Love” and “Reckless Life” and “Anything Goes” as well as a couple songs Slash wrote that Axl had put lyrics and melodies to. Steven was still playing double bass at that time so in some ways they still sort of sounded like another speed metal-ish band, probably just a tad better than the ROSE we saw at Gazarris earlier. After a month that fell apart and AXL joined up with Tracii in L.A. Guns.
Tracii Guns & Axl Rose in a early version of LA GUNS
LRI: You oversee 150 employees at Canter’s and you once employed Slash….was he a good worker?
Marc: (laughs). Yeah, he was. The only job he really had at Canter’s was to go over the waitresses papers and it was basically a job I created for him to get him a little pocket cash. When he stopped doing it, the job was eliminated but he was always a good worker. I remember when he worked at Tower Records and he talks in the book about how he was always drinking on the job but I know he really did a good job just like he always did a good job in the band, he always took his job seriously and was never a fuck up. He was an ace at the business end of things as far as the band went and was always working, always on the phone 24/7 and busted his ass to make sure rehearsals and sessions went smoothly and cost effectively. He was really very conscienttious. When they were out on the road, he was busting his ass working and waking up at 8 oclock in the morning to talk to 100 different reporters for press and everything. He was a terminator and there was nothing he would not do in the name of Guns N’ Roses. He’s always been able to handle an extremely heavy workload and multiple jobs and somehow balance everything. I mean, I don’t know how he does it now but he does and he does it well. He’s got the kids and a wife, he’s recording and touring and interviews and guesting on other people’s sessions and he’s just the busiest person I have ever met. That’s the only reason I never see him. I’m lucky if we get together twice a year just because he’s that friggin busy!
LRI: I was gonna ask you if you were able to interview Tracii for the book as I understand he has a movie or something coming out and probably has some insight. He is such a phenomenal player.
Marc: I tried because he did play a part in it all but he never responded and a mutual friend asked him in person and he was like “Nahhh, it’s a big Marc Canter cash grab and all this stuff about me and the book not wanting to be involved”. But I KNOW Tracii, I’ve always known him. So then a while after the book came out he came up to me and congratulated me on the book and said it was so amazing because it was really what happened and accurate. He said “”You documented everything that happened and those pictures don’t tell lies”. He told me if I ever needed any help with anything in the future to let him know, I guess he was just misjudging it a little bit. He was also kind of hiding from the world a little bit at that time anyway and didn’t want to really talk about those days. But I always and still am friendly with him although at the time it was a touchy situation me even going there to shoot Axl singing in L. A. Guns. I was documenting and taking pics of everything Slash had done and Axl wanted me to come down and shoot he and Tracii in L.A. Guns. I sort of had to sneak around Slash’s back to help Axl and do that because at that point Tracii and Slash were really rivals. Tracii was absolutely his rival because he also had a band before L.A. Guns called Pyrrhus which was the high school rival to Tidus Sloan. Needless to say Slash would be pissed if he knew I was helping Tracii and Axl but Axl asked me so I did it. In the end it didn’t work out anyway, they played a couple gigs and then Axl split and L.A. Guns got another singer. Slash almost joined Poison at that point who were being managed by Vicky Hamilton. He didn’t really wanna join but he knew it was a good opportunity because they were a big drawing act and their guitarist Matt had gotten his girlfriend pregnant and wanted to go back to Pennsylvania but he and Slash were friendly. Matt liked Slash, he had seen HOLLYWOOD ROSE open a couple Poison gigs and and wanted him to take over in Poison gig. Slash really didn’t wanna do it, he didn’t like the music, he didn’t like the silly string and the image. I told him “Dude, you gotta do it, you don’t have a band, you’ll be able to record an album and it will be a stepping stone to other things” but he still really didn’t wanna go audition. He did go because I basically kept buggin him and I actually drove him out to go see them play this sold out show and convinced him to audition like “Man, look at this” though he clearly wasn’t into it and basically blew the audition. He was not into the music or the image and I guess he made some of that way too clear to the Poison guys. They knew he was clearly adept at the guitar parts and all but when it came down to it they were looking for someone who was really into the whole presentation and willing to play that game. Oddly enough, Slash walked out of the audition and saw C.C. walking in and KNEW without even hearing him play that he was the guy they were looking for, he just was so obviously perfect for POISON. What happened in the meantime was that Izzy and Axl had decided to do a reunion of HOLLYWOOD ROSE with new members but it just wasn’t working out so they had gotten ahold of Tracii whose current L.A. Guns wasn’t working out and they had gotten back together and were playing again in January of 85. They decided to merge the name of Hollywood Rose with Izzy and Axl and L.A. Guns drummer, bassist and of course Tracii and turn into Guns N’ Roses. I actually have the flyer from that first gig and it says “L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose present their new band GUNS N’ ROSES”. They played a few gigs before their bass player quit and they got Duff.
Special Edition DUFF cover of RECKLESS ROAD
LRI: That had to be a pretty pivotal point. It always seemed to me that Duff was from a totally different headspace from the others and his solo albums sort of reflect that.
Marc: It was. Duff had actually auditioned for Slash and Steven’s band ROAD CREW but he didn’t really like the metal style and was looking for something a little more in line with the punk stuff he was into. He liked Slash as a guitar player but he just moved on. Somewhere along the line he met Axl and Izzy, he was living across the street from them and they crossed paths and Duff joined. Right around that time Duff had booked a tour in Seattle and Rob, the drummer and Tracii both quit because they didn’t wanna do the tour, they didn’t understand how they could do it or the living arrangements or something. They didn’t see a clear, stable plan for the tour. They both came from fairly stable homes and environments and just weren’t THAT committed to the concept so they just left but Axl and Izzy didn’t care, they were used to living on the streets or anywhere they could in order to make it. It’s possible that Axl had called Tracii and just fired him, I was friends with Slash so I wasn’t real close to what happened but I know they also had some sort of falling out with Tracii prior to the Troubadour gig and trip to Seattle anyway. Anyway, in the end… They needed a drummer and lead guitarist again so Steven and Slash naturally popped into their heads to do the tour and replace Tracii and Rob. Slash had just joined Black Sheep and was playing with them at the Country Club when the other guys came up to see him and persuaded him to quit. They were like, “we have a gig at the Troubadour and then we leave for a tour of the upper west coast are you in?” and he agreed. I had actually told him not to do it just because I thought it wouldn’t last, I mean I liked Axl and Izzy and what they were capable of but from what I saw every single band they formed fell apart for whatever reason. I just didn’t think it would last and at the time Black Sheep had a following and was a more stable band even if they were a little too metal for Slash. Of course (laughs) he didn’t listen to me and when I got to that first gig at the Troubadour with the Appetite lineup it was clear right away that something was totally different and better. They had gotten rid of Steven’s double bass drum, they either hid it or threw it out and he had no CHOICE but to go single bass. I was at the gig taking pictures and it was a revelation and all of a sudden I noticed you could actually hear Axl without the double bass and everything was slower and had a swing or groove to it with Steven being forced into that style. They had written “Move To the City”, “Don’t Cry” and “Think About You” and they were great. Then they took off for Seattle on the “Hell Tour” as its become known because every single thing that could go wrong did go wrong. The one good thing that came out of that tour was that it went so poorly that they bonded, they were like brothers and had some good gigs on top of it. When they got back they were even tighter and it was even more obvious that they were a perfect match. When they first came back from the Hell tour the first place they stopped was Canter’s Deli because a. They were hungry for food, they hadn’t eaten a real meal in like two weeks and b. they needed a photo shoot for some flyers and some gigs they had booked back here in L.A.
Classic Guns N’ Roses @ Canters Deli
LRI: That was when you shot the photo of them in the deli that ended up being the cover of your book?
Marc: Yeah John and if you look at that photo, really examine in it, you can see the look on their face that they had when they returned from Hell. They just knew they had something and that they were on the verge of something great. Right after that on July 20th they debuted “Welcome to the Jungle” at the Troubadour and it was Slash’s riff that Axl just knew exactly what to do with. They started building on gigs, each gig thee crowd would grow a little more. This first gig was like 50 people and then next one was 70 and then 90 or so and you could just see the audience building because whoever saw them would invariably tell a few people, it was a word of mouth thing. All of a sudden Sept. 20th at Troubadour they debuted “Rocket Queen” and then in October L.A. Guns had a gig booked but someone got sick and they had to cancel and someone suggested GNR do the gig in their place. They just showed up in their street clothes and didn’t really take it that seriously but what they did do was debut “Paradise City” which was really cool. They were just always having these fully formed songs new and ready at every gig, most of them with the identical solos you hear on the album. It was really something and not much later in December they debuted “Nighttrain” and meanwhile I am recording all of these shows for them and playing these songs over and over in my car thinking “This is really good”. Two weeks later “My Michelle” shows up in a set and I’m going “Ok, this band is on a roll and seem to doing it effortlessly, this is a Led Zep type band not just some little Hollywood glam band”.
LRI: Most bands around that time were really struggling to make it and do all the business of things and it sounds like they really only focused on expanding the repitoire.
Marc: Exactly, at least at that point. Nobody was trying to mold them or tell them how to do anything and they were just writing and writing. As an outsider it was hard to see anything that could derail them because they were just a team of assasins and could seemingly do no wrong. I knew that they were on the verge of getting signed or something but I never thought they’d get as big as they got. I thought they’d get to be like an underground band that might get a Gold record or something, I wasn’t forseeing platinum times ten or lear jets or anything.
LRI: Axl is a talented singer but always has this reputation of being difficult. What were your impressions of him?
Marc: Axl is very headstrong and he knows what he wants, he always has. The first time I met him, the very first time was at a rehearsal and they were talking about the arrangements for “Anything Goes” and I remember making a comment about it and him just looking over at me, not knowing me at all and basically telling me it wasn’t my business and he didn’t need my opinon or something like that. I was like “Oh, ok, that’s cool man, it was just a suggestion, you don’t have to listen to me, it’s cool”. After that we became really good friends and I never really had a problem with him. I’ve seen him be really frustrated at times with certain situations but he never really took it out on me. I’ve seen him take it out on everyone else and he could be really controlling and like, for instance, when they did their first demo one of the other members wanted to copy it and Axl was like “I don’t know about that” like he really didn’t want it getting around. He wanted to hoard it and listen to it and analyze it to make sure it was right. Axl is a perfectionist to the extreme, it had to be right or not at all. Somewhere along the line he had to start eating some of that and realize he couldn’t control everything. People would tape shows and he might forget a lyric or something and he ended up having to accept some of that on some level. Interestingly, they never argued amongst themselves or fought over how a song would be written though, the songs always just happened and it wasn’t any type of power struggle or control trip in that regard. A lot of the songs would start with some idea from Izzy like “My Michelle” or “Nighttrain” and then Sl;ash would come and punk it out or rock it up, like the spooky intro part of “Michelle” was total Izzy but without Slash we wouldn’t have gotten the harder riff that followed it. Axl would hear these unfinished songs and just know exactly how to work within them. Duff and Steven would then make the songs truly swing and really flesh them out with their ideas. You could say as some have that Axl was the most important because he was the singer but even then I don’t think Axl would agree with that. If you took any one of those guys out of the equation it would have drastically changed all of those songs. It was truly a democracy in the beginning, at that time in 1985 or 1986 they were all on the exact same page.
LRI: They are one of those signature bands that really had five captivating personalities and styles to begin with.
Marc: Oh totally. They were a rarity because it wasn’t like one or three things working for them. Some bands it’s a great guitarist or a great singer or great drummer or songs or an amazing live show but with GNR it was the whole package, the sum was greater than the individual parts. They had every element and it fit together like a puzzle. I noticed that the songwriting was so effortless and democratic and that’s what seemed to change. They had a couple songs in 1988 for the LIES album but I think that was when things started to change. It was harder to get music to come out of them and I think it was simply because they weren’t living together like they were. Before that they were all living together in this little storage space that they rehearsed in and their instruments were there and they were just naturally writing like musicians do. It was like “Hey, check out this” and the other guy would be like “Yeah, yeah, you have something but what about if we change this and add that” or say “Well, here’s a thing I’m working on we can put the two together”. After 1987 they all had houses or at least apartments of their own and that dynamic changed because they all had their own little studios in their places and were writing and completing songs on their own. Then they’d submit the song to the rest of the band who couldn’t really do as much with a fully written song as they could when they were working with bits and pieces.
Marc’s wedding with Guns N’ Roses on hand.
LRI: We talked to Steven and he is famous for being really, really energetic and for being so into the whole making it as a rock star thing and the trappings that come with it. He said, “I did drugs because I wanted to do drugs” and he really seemed to personify the “ROCK AND ROLL ALL NITE PARTY EVERY DAY” thing. Do you think there was a difference between the way that Steven partied and the lifestyle or stardom he aspired to versus say his buddy Slash or especially Axl?
Marc: Steven was always a big KISS fan and he saw everything through that KISSvision, he was like a really big kid, like an eternally excited 8 year old. As you know, Paul wanted to produce them after seeing them and Steven was totally excited by that attention but no one else was. None of them wanted to touch that association with a ten foot pole but Steven was in hook, line and sinker. Steven was totally starstruck. As far as the drugs go, that was really Izzy’s doing. He and his girlfriend were the drug addicts and I never really liked him at that point because I was just totally not at all into that whole scene. Slash was always drinking but it was never a problem really. Right around the time they got signed Izzy and his girl Desi’s habits sort of influenced or wore on Steven and Slash and that became an issue. Duff was never going to have a problem with heroin simply because his girlfriend died of a heroin overdose in his arms when he was 15. Whatever Duff did, and I’m aware he did some bad things, I know he would not touch heroin. Axl was even into it for a while and they were all hiding it from me but I would see them all strung out and wanting me to bring them food and I was like “No, I’m not gonna bring you food because you’re blowing your money on heroin”. I would bring them food when they were struggling musicians wanting to spend money on flyers or guitar strings but not when they were signed musicians simply wanting to get high and get a free ride. I was sort of in the odd position of feeling like their mother or something (laughs).
LRI: They of course made the universe laugh by firing Steven for drugs and I was just wondering what your opinion was on what he brought to the band or how the band changed after he left. Did he have a certain style that was hard to replace or replicate?
Marc: He did. He had something special and also, this is important, Duff and Izzy were also drummers and they could sort of see things from that drummer’s perspective and really expand on it or in some cases even sit down and play a different part which Steven could then pick up and work from. That’s not to say Steven didn’t write his own stuff because he absolutely did but on a few occasions I did see those guys thinking from that beat perspective. Also, in an Alan Niven interview he said something that really made sense which was that Steven wasn’t really fired for the drugs but more for the fact that the Illusions stuff was so much different and he wasn’t really getting it. It was so 360 from the swing, groove stuff on Appetite and it required less rock and roll and more technical drumming which was more suited to a drummer like Matt Sorum. If you listen to a song like “Locomotive” it sort of makes sense what Niven was saying. It’s almost got this unreal, machine type feel to it. Of course some of those songs like “Don’t Cry” were older and he could have easily performed those but on many of those songs, especially Axl’s ideas, the groove just changed and the songwriting was totally a different beast.
Tom Zutaut & Marc Canter
LRI: Let me be more blunt. How fucked up was Steven that he became the whipping boy and was called out for it?
Marc: Well, he was fucked up, no doubt about it and he would even tell you that but on the same token some of the other guys were totally fucked up at the same time. The biggest difference, and again, this is important, the biggest difference is that if you are a guitarist or a bassist or whatever you can sort of get away with being a little fucked up where as with a singer or a drummer it is usually readily apparent. Steven went a little father with his addiction than they did and it was a little harder to keep timing with the songs and that’s a fact. But again, their writing was just was different than it was in 85 as well. I’m a big Led Zep fan and if you look at the five year gap between the material on the debut and the material on Physical Graffiti it is massive. That’s how bands are.
LRI: You’re back at home in L.A. and managing your place and I have to ask…what were you thinking watching this meteoric rise of your pal and his band?
Marc: I was proud of them all, just really, really proud. I was really happy to have been able to see it and be close to them all as it was happening. I knew they could do it and they did. It was amazing to see it go to that extreme level of success, that was what really blew us away.
LRI: Your book “Reckless Road” is another level of amazing as well. I have seen Steven’s and Slash’s books and to me this is far superior to all of them. I can’t imagine how you could possibly have documented all of this history about the band but somehow you have. Were you aware that you were witnessing or documenting or collecting music history?
Marc: Yes, I was but at the same time it was a bit of my own obsession as well, a bit of my personality is not crazy but obsessive and detailed about the things that I appreciate. The things that I like tend to take on a obsessive level, like some people are really into baseball cards and obsess on them and they’re not crazy just maybe a little OCD (laughs). Like, they like em but they feel compelled to go and get every one. I have that in my blood I guess. Like Slash says in his book, I was an avid Aerosmith collector and I already knew the idiosyncracies of collecting. I knew to get the posters and the flyers and bootleg the shows and all that. Cut out the newspaper and magazine clippings and save everything. I was doing the same thing throughout Slash’s career and it was really just an extension of my Aerosmith obsession as far as I was concerned. If I go to the show and don’t bring a tape recorder and grab a flyer then I will lose that show and it will be gone forever. That was my line of thinking. If I recorded it and kept that stuff what does it cost? A buck for the tape? That was a small price to document what I thought was perfection. To me, they were even better than Aerosmith, they were more like Zeppelin in that they were that strong and that intense. I mean, I loved Aerosmith, they were my favorite band and I loved the guitars, the vocals, the image but even saying that, I KNEW Led Zeppelin was a better band. I still liked Aerosmith more but I could recognize the distinction.
LRI: I enjoy the Illusion albums, hell I like the solo stuff and everything including Chinese Democracy but to met it was never the same after Izzy and Steven were gone.
Marc: It was a totally different band when Steven and Izzy were out. I mean, I understand one one hand, like any band, you are supposed to change and grow rather than just keep releasing the same album over and over. On the other hand it changed the way the band operated in this case. Guys would come in with totally complete songs and just expect the other guys to just agree to play what they had in mind on their tunes. Or they would hand completed songs to Axl and say “Here you go, write some lyrics”. That’s a big change. It never worked like that before. In the past, Axl would have some lyrics already and the guys would each individually have a riff or a lick, an idea to contribute. Things happened more organically and it was, in my opinion like I said before because they were all in such close proximity of each other.
LRI: Do you think when Izzy went back to Indiana and got sober that it really changed the band relationship?
Marc: No, no, simply because Izzy just doesn’t change. I mean he got clean and everything but he was still the same old Izzy. He STILL is. Izzy is the same guy he was in 1985. In fact, a lot of people aren’t aware of this but for about two weeks in 1996 the guys got back together in the Illusions lineup and I remember telling Axl, “Don’t fuck it up. Just go in a room like the Traveling Wilburys and sit on crates, no girlfriends, no managers just your guitars and a tape recorder and grab whatever magic occurs as a result of you all being together and playing, just make music for each other and with each other not for the world and its magnifying glass. Make believe that someone is offering you 100 million dollars to write 12 songs. These are songs that will never have to be heard but they have to be complete and you won’t get paid unless you can prove that you actually hammered out these ideas, these songs.” Of course that was all for not because two weeks later that reunion fell apart but from what I understand Izzy had a tape of like 50 songs that he was gonna bring to these sessions that never happened. I don’t know if Axl heard Izzy’s stuff and thought it to be a little primitive or something but I know that Slash had a good dozen or so as well and Axl was into at least three of them and maybe four but then Slash got big headed and just took them all and said “Fine, I’m gonna go do Snake Pit with them”. I know that Axl was really upset that Slash quit and that Slash took those particular songs because those were songs that were written explicitly for Guns N’ Roses. Just because Axl didn’t want all of them didn’t mean he didn’t wanna work with some of them. I mean, at that point Slash was a little big headed after being out on the road and playing in front of hundreds of thousands of people it starts to go to your head. It was real similar to Joe Perry leaving Aerosmith and thinking he was going to go somewhere and he went nowhere. After three records Joe came back. It was sort of that kind of a thing but Axl pretty much never forgave him for leaving and he’s still very angry about that. He’s also angry about some things Slash said in the wake of leaving and about some things said regarding signing the name of the band over. It’s really a story of miscommunication more than anything because they’re both really, honestly telling the truth but unfortunately there’s two different stories and therefore two different truths. That’s partly because there’s middle men involved that people really don’t know. For instance, if you read Slash’s book, in regards to signing over the name he says that the manager told him that he and Duff had to sign the paper or Axl wouldn’t go onstage and there would be a riot. Now, if you ask Axl he’ll say “100 % false. I never said that, I never said I wouldn’t go on”. You know what? Because of Doug Goldstein, their manager being that middle man they are both telling the truth. Axl didn’t say that, Doug said that and pushed that on Duff and Slash in order to get Axl off his back, and they bought it. He just said “Come on guys, just sign it. You know Axl, if you don’t deliver this signed he won’t go on and there’s going to be a riot tonight.” Axl maintains that yes, he did want them to sign it, he wanted that control in case something bad like a death should ever happen so that control of the band would not go into the hands of wives or girlfriends but he never, ever stated he would not go onstage. Slash maintains, as does Duff, that it happened so I am sure that it did, Doug said that but Axl is upset that Slash went to the media and everyone else and spun it that he wouldn’t go on if he didn’t sign away the name or that he pressured or tricked them because he didn’t. Like I said, in a way they are both telling the truth, it just comes down to Axl being unable to forgive Slash for spinning it that way and saying that he tried to blackmail them. Axl called Slash a liar. At the same time Slash is mad because Axl was calling him a liar when in reality Slash is not lying, that’s really what he was told by Doug because if you talk to Duff he will tell you the exact same thing. The really odd thing is that Axl will talk to Duff and doesn’t call Duff a liar. My question is, if Duff and Slash are saying the exact same thing and both wrote books saying the exact same thing then what does that mean that Axl is not angry with Duff but is angry with Slash? That means there is some misdirected communication, there’s two sides to every story and if you don’t sit down and get both sides to figure out what went wrong you can never work through it. All they really need is some good therapy with a good marriage counselor and they can probably work out at least 80% of their problems. The other 20 percent may be water under the bridge or comments in the press that can’t be forgiven or worked out but 80 percent is a good start.
Special Edition Izzy Cover of RECKLESS ROAD
LRI: You’re speaking of Slash and Axl but what about Izzy? Is he the wild card in all of this because he’s been appearing on occasion with Axl onstage in the last ten years or so in certain situations?
Marc: Izzy is kind of flakey. He’s kind of paranoid and flakey. He continues to make his music and put it out on iTunes and he may show up and play an occasional gig but you can’t really depend on him because he might say he’s gonna be there and then not show up. He quit the band for probably 20 different reasons but he was also paranoid about the lawsuits pouring in over the St. Louis riots and he was so paranoid that he would lose everything he had that he just detached and was out of the band and left that attachment. He just jumped ship but it was also because of the drugs and alcohol that Slash and Duff were doing while they were sitting around waiting for Axl to go onstage. They would just sit and drink and do drugs all night and Izzy could only take so much of being around that after he was sober for a few years. That was just way too much of a temptation for him. Then there were the overtime fees for the union crews and everything, they were playing gigs and making 200 grand but they were finding out they lost all that money to paying the crews and the concession people for them standing around waiting for Axl. They were also having to pay civic ordinance fees and fines and basically paying through the nose when they should have been cleaning up as far as the money went. Izzy wanted no part of that, they were in a band and not making any money but yet there were thousands and thousands of paying customers out there every night. When you’re not going on until midnight or whatever it starts to get pretty costly. The whole deal with the “Don’t Cry” video costing a million dollars, he wanted no part of that which is why there’s that famous sign in the video saying “Where’s Izzy?”. He even called me right before they were gonna do that and asked me to find copies of all of my old videos to try and get the band to look at all of them and piece together a video out of the various live clips of them performing it. He really wanted to avoid spending a million bucks on the video. Izzy is not that self indulgent, he’s kind of solely about the music. He’s very loose and homey and natural, he wanted to be in Velvet Revolver as the lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist and just load up a van and tour. The rest of the guys wanted to take it to another level of seriousness as a band but Izzy is very casual. He does not like drama or problems or complicated issues. If the problems between Axl and Slash were handled Izzy would be right there but he does not like confrontation or drama.
LRI: What was the deal with the video that was shot for “It’s So Easy” but was never released in its original form and was only recently released? Niven told us that there was some questionable material of Axl and Erin and he had it pulled. What I had heard was that it was a live video shoot at the old Cathouse….
Marc: Oh yeah, that was a show at Cathouse for sure, they were playing a warmup gig before they did the four nights opening for the Rolling Stones. It was October 10th of 1989 and they were scheduled to play those for nights with the Stones and figured since they were doing the warm-up gig why not kill two birds with one stone and shoot a video. They played “It’s So Easy” like five times that night, they played it like every third song so that they’d have enough footage and angles to make it work. I actually videotaped it and it’s a really cool gig because it was their first time back in the clubs after blowing up. They spent a hundred grand shooting the footage of that gig but like you said it was never released at the time. It was really high quality stuff.
View the censored edit of the “It’s So Easy” Official Video: http://jetamuz.com/video/12435
LRI: In Slash’s book he talks about how there’s so much unreleased GNR footage that a feature film could be made. Will it ever be seen?
Marc: Oh yeah. In 1994 they were gonna release a documentary movie and Del James, Axl’s right hand man was working on it and I saw the trailer for it actually. What it really was comprised of was live footage, backstage stuff and interviews of the Illusions tour. It looked really cool, like a better version of a VH1 type thing. Axl’s got all those gigs and then some. They shot every single night of course for the jumbotron and some of them, probably six or seven have leaked out.
LRI: I have seen the Illusions DVDs obviously but the full shows you’re speaking about would be nice, I’ve got one clip of the Alpine Valley kickoff I was at and the stuff MTV shot up here leading up to the show.
Marc: Oh cool. Yeah, I remember the Alpine gig, they had me at the Cleveland show soon after that and I shot four nights at the Forum here. The reason you can’t turn up full shows for the most part or the backstage stuff in the movie form is because Slash was in it all and Axl has really tried to bury it at all costs because he’s so pissed at Slash and doesn’t want to have anything to do with him or promoting anything involving him. So that’s why you’ll never see it. He just feels that Slash has burned him and told all of these lies which he hasn’t, in Slash’s mind it’s all true but Axl has built up all this hatred that the movie will probably never see the light of day. It’s similar to the situation with Chinese Democracy. It was finished in 2001. I mean finished. There was a possibility that Slash could have played on a few tracks if he were willing to apologize to Axl and in the press for the things that he had made public about Axl allegedly blackmailing him. Axl was cracking the door open and saying “If you apologize publicly for the things you said about me forcing you out I have three songs and I’d like you to play on them”. They were three songs that Slash had written on and Axl wanted to do something with them and include them on Chinese Democracy which would have been so cool. That was never going to happen because Slash was too “cool” to apologize publicly first of all and second of all because half the things he wanted Slash to apologize for never happened, at least not in Slash’s recollection. Axl’s burying any option to release stuff with Slash’s likeness and that extended to his participation or interest in my book.
LRI: Yeah, I had heard that your book was supposed to have come out a long time before it did, what was the story on that?
Marc: When they first saw my book the only one who was excited about it was Axl, not that the other guys hated it but more that they really didn’t care. Axl loved my book and actually cared, he looked at it a few times and he made some constructive comments and was behind me a hundred percent, he cared about it truly. What happened though was that at that point the band really fell apart, my agent wanted too much money as an advance and I didn’t care about landing an advance as much as I cared about really wanting to get it out there. I know that once you get an advance all that means is that you never see any money unless you pay back the advance in full. I just wanted to release it myself and get it out but he the advance money all those agent guys love advances because then they can guarantee they get paid. Long story short, all of this stuff led to delaying the book because publishers weren’t wanting to pay what my agent was asking unless Guns was getting ready to put out a new record or something. I finished the book in 1994 and the book came out finally in 2006 when I basically found a publisher by accident more than anything. Back to Axl, he went from being the only one in 1994 who was excited about it to the only one really opposed to it. By that time he had started his “new” Guns and wanted nothing to do with anything that promoted the Appetite lineup or the DEVIL a.k.a SLASH. Not only that but now there were FOUR devils many of the figures in my book that help tell the story became devils to Axl, Tom Zutaut, Vicky Hamilton their old manager who allegedly said something about Axl in the press, Robert John, their longtime photographer who apparently had some altercation and was now off limits with Axl regardless of the fact that they were all there and all important parties in the story who really had nothing but good things to say. None of that mattered to Axl who did not want me to release my book featuring the devils because it was basically like releasing a photo book of a wedding album ten years after a nasty divorce. He could not emotionally deal with my book coming out for two reasons, firstly because it deals with all these people from his past that he now views as enemies and secondly because he has an all new Guns N Roses to promote and would like everyone to forget the Appetite lineup. He’s afraid that something like this having success will just pour fuel on the reunion fire but the reality is this book is just history and you wouldn’t have his new band were it not for that original history. The funny thing is when he plays gigs he does do ten or so of the Appetite songs so he does see the significance of it on some level but.
LRI: Was there any part of Axl that was still into or at least impressed by RECKLESS ROAD?
Marc: I think so because like I said, Chinese Democracy has been recorded nobody had heard it but Axl was like “Man I want you to wait and put this out when our album comes out” and he drove me around in 2006 and played it for me and I finally heard it. It was totally finished with vocals and mixed and everything and I wanted to be kind to him and I was like “Ok, cool, we can time it like that that will be perfect, when is it going to come out?” and Axl was telling me that it should be ready to come out and packaged by November so I was like “Oh, ok, the holiday season and GNR finally putting this album out, perfect!”. Then of course, Novemeber comes and goes and there’s no CHINESE DEMOCRACY. I was kind of like what do I do now and calling people, I called Del James and asked well when is it going to come out and he’s telling me well probably March or May and I’m getting nervous because the wheels were already in motion as far as me releasing my book. My book was gonna be released and sure enough the book came out before CHINESE DEMOCRACY and Axl is still sort of sore about that. He told me he didn’t mind if it came out but not then, maybe at a later date and I disappointed him. We had a little falling out but it’s okay, we will patch it up at sometime, I’m sure of it.
LRI: Are you still closest with Slash?
Marc: I’ve always remained close with Slash but believe it or not until this happened between us in 2006 I had become closer with Axl than any of them. I had a great relationship with him, if I needed anything or had any trouble or needed help he would be right there for me. When something new would come out like I remember when DVD players first hit, Axl sent one right over to us, he was really cool like that. I probably saw Axl and hung out with him 5 times a year or so prior to the book release whereas I would probably only get together with Slash once a year. Slash was like an old best friend that got on drugs and got busy and was always somewhere else while Axl was always here in the area and always around. He’d come to my house and drive me over to the studio and let me listen to stuff as it was happening and we still hung out and if I needed something I could really depend on Axl maybe even more than Slash. We had become really, really good friends over the years but it all came down to the book and the timing of it’s release. Also, the fact he knew I was still obviously really good friends with Slash and now Slash was more than ever, the devil. For the longest time though, I was probably one of two people in the world who still talked to Slash AND Axl where everyone else was sort of forced to pick a side and stick to it, they understood that I was loyal to and friends with both. I had always thought that if Axl and Slash were ever going to bury the hatchet I could serve as something of a middle man but I’ve had very little contact with Axl since the book came out. I did email him and contact him to write a little thing for the book intro like Duff and the others did but he didn’t do it, he’s just still a little sore at me. He’s really just disappointed in me, I think he knows I didn’t want to betray him. I wanted all five of them to do the foreword and Izzy kind of disappointed me by not participating, I ended up getting Slash, Steven and Duff. I had finally had some contact with Izzy who I was the most distant with and hadn’t talked to in probably 17 years. He was really jazzed and really into my doing the book and said “That appetite period was one of the best times of my life” and he was just really happy about it coming out. We talked on a Sunday and he was gonna come over on a Tuesday and do some interviews for it.
LRI: Which begs the question then….”Where’s Izzy”?
Marc: (laughs) Well, here’s the deal John. We were doing video interviews because we wanted to use the footage for an interactive online element of the book we had planned, which I guess Izzy where he misunderstood me. We had kept shooting all these other people we interviewed for the book on a few different backgrounds when it was time to do Izzy’s, my video guy was like, “This is getting a little same-ish looking, let’s ask Izzy if we can shoot the video at his house rather than have him come here and do them here on the same background as the others”. So I called him and asked him if we could shoot the video at his place instead and he was like “Huh, what? Video??” and I knew right then I had lost him, he was wigging out on me. So I was like, realizing I was losing him and said “Ok, we don’t have to do the video, let’s just do the interview and he just like “Ahh, I gotta go”. So he hangs up and sends me a text and says “email me some pics or something for a comment” and he gives me his email address and he wanted me to send him a few photos for which he would give comments but other than that he was gone. He never replied to the emails. I also think I blew it because I had honestly told him that Desi was coming to be interviewed and Desi was his heroin girl and he probably was freaking that Desi would let the cat out of the bag about whatever history they had together, even though I really wansn’t looking for that from anyone. I was really just looking to talk about the music but she had to be there because she was important to the story, I needed her voice for the story because she was always a part of it all. She used to strip down to almost nothing and dance to “Jumpin Jack Flash” and all those songs at their gigs. We weren’t gonna dig about the selling drugs or using drugs or any of that, we were just gonna ask her about the rock and roll but at the same time Izzy knew she was still strung out and didn’t trust her and got paranoid. He was like “I don’t want to have the shit in my past talked about from her, I don’t want anyone to read about how deep involved it was or read about me being a druggie”. Then when the video thing happened it was just out of the question with Izzy. The oddest thing was, I bumped into him at the Heaven and Hell tour and he was all normal and talking to me like “Hey, Marc, how did that all work out with the book?” and I was like (laughs) “Well, how did it work out? You never got back to me and wouldn’t be involved when I needed your help”. I was disappointed because I did a lot for Izzy over the years and he KNOWS I did and all I needed, all I needed, was for him to simply answer a few questions or give me a little something for the book. To me, I was blown away by him saying that about the drugs because he knows how I feel about the drugs and number two he was SO important to the rock and roll end of things. I have the questions I was going to ask him for the book and it was all about how IMPORTANT he was. He was so important to the look that made them famous, he really set the style because he knew that the Hanoi Rocks look was the way to go. He was just a little bit more savvy and smart than the other guys when it came to image and all that. He really knew what looked cool image wise and always set that tone and they all kind of followed. If you look at the old pictures, pay close attention to Izzy in the beginning and then watch how the others all change as the months go on. It’s pretty clear. I was also trying to ask him about his songwriting process and what goes through his brain and how he writes songs and these were all the questions I pre-emailed him, NONE of them had anything to do with drugs. There was no way he was going to accidentally be trapped into a comment or something he simply could have emailed the answers back but he never did. When he never got back to me I said okay I will use some of the stuff you gave me on the phone when we first talked and you were really into the book, when you said it was the best times of your life and he emailed me back and said “No, don’t quote me”. I was really disappointed that he left me hanging when I really needed him. I can’t really explain or fully understand where it all went south exactly or pinpoint it with Izzy. Axl is a totally different story, he’s emotionally hurt that I disappointed him by including the devils. I mean, if I needed a body part I’m sure Axl would help me because he loves me as a person he’s just really pissed at how it all went down with the timing of the book. It’s only a matter of time before he gets over it and things in our relationship are back to where they were because he knows that I love him as well.
LRI: I can’t imagine the undertaking not only of assembling the photos, many of which have never been seen by the public but also the interviews!!! We interviewed Steven and Alan Niven and have an upcoming one with Vicky Hamilton but when we tried to reach out to Adriana Smith, a.k.a. Rocket Queen she requested a 150 dollar deposit to her paypal account. I mean, I really would love to but I still haven’t generated enough ad revenue to pay anyone nor has anyone ever ASKED to be paid (laughs).
Marc: (laughs). Yeah, Adriana, god bless her, has tried to milk it for all it’s worth. She tried to ask us to pay her as well and I was just like “Look, if this book ever makes a profit I will will, I promise” but it still hasn’t. I’m in the HOLE and that’s okay because I love the book and other people love it and I’m proud of it. Somewhere, sometime even if it’s after I’m dead, my kids will benefit from this book. It wasn’t originally planned that way. It was going to be my stories about the time and the photos and then I started talking to Slash and Steven and Duff and it was like “Ok, maybe using some of their words would be good” and then it was like obvious that all these peripheral people around the band like Tom Zutaut or Mike Clink or Vicky Hamilton would have something to offer as well and it just kind of grew. My ocd kicked in and thought “Well if you”re going to include them you should probably include the strippers and girlfriends and ex band members of the other bands like Hollywood Rose or Tidus Sloan or all these bands. We ended up with about ten times more than we needed and everything was reshuffled.
LRI: I know the original version of the book is genius. Now there are other versions as well right?
Marc: There are Special Edition copies with the individual band members on the cover and now there is a really, really cool version of the book put out by Classic Rock Magazine. It’s basically the book in a magazine format but it’s incredibly well done and I am so happy with the job they did. It can be found on newsstands and online and what they did is nothing short of amazing. They managed to get almost all of the content of the book into that format and it makes sense, there’s no typos, you would almost not even be able to tell there’s any photos missing and it’s really affordable. If someone were to only come across the Classic Rock version they would never know the difference. I’m very proud of it. Jack Lue,who is the other photographer who contributed to the book, he and I also have really cool prints of these photos that are available framed and ready to hang. I have an ebay store if you search MarcCanter you will find it. 98 percent of my work is GNR but I shot lots of other artists over the years like Motley, Maiden, Van Halen and others. It’s cool cause they’re all pre-matted and framed gallery-style and built to last, fully archivable framing. Unless your house burns down this is something you will always have and treasure and it will look great. I put them together and I sign them and put little details about the show that it was shot at and things like that. I sell them very affordably, my margin is slim and most of them could be had at around 200 or 250 versus if you were to buy them at a gallery it would cost like 600 bucks at least. I wanted to keep them within the reach of something a fan might be able to afford rather than something you’d pay through traditional art forums.
Members of Guns N’ Roses being inducted into the Rn’R Hall of Fame.
LRI: I would imagine the Hall of Fame buzz would help push RECKLESS ROAD book a little bit, of course it would help if the five guys could ever get in a room together.
Marc: Yeah, just get under the same ROOF. I really thought that Duff could be a middle man to a meeting of the minds.
LRI: Slash ended up going to the Hall Of Fame but originally he put out a blurb in the press saying how the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame didn’t really mean that much to him before issuing a clarification a few days later saying he understands it’s a great honor. What’s your take on where his head was at on that?
Marc: He lies.
LRI: Huh ??!!!(laughs).
Marc: No, seriously Slash lies. (laughs). Axl was right about that in a sense but the way that Slash lies is that he lies to make himself look cool for the most part. He’ll lie on occasion to twist out of something because every now and then he gets caught in a corner. He of course, does care about those awards and acknowledgements and that’s why he admitted later that it was a great honor to be included and everything. That first quote also may have come as a result of him being, like I said, cornered by the press. He was , at that time, under the assumption, like many were, that Axl and his current band would be invited and of course Slash wanted no part of that. Later, he found out that wasn’t the case and that it was only going to be the people who ended up getting asked for inclusion and it didn’t include Axl’s current band. Once he realized that it wasn’t going to be he and Steven and Duff in one corner and Axl and Ashba and Bumblefoot in another he was okay with it all. When he realized that wasn’t happening he was like “Yeah, it’s an honor and blah, blah, blah”.
LRI: We are all still stupidly hoping that there will be a reunion someday but Axl’s letter sort of clarified that situation sadly. I realize you’ve had a falling out with him for the short term but what’s your take on Axl based on what you’ve seen in 2012?
Marc: The one thing about Axl that I have noticed, is that he really IS starting to come to terms with things emotionally and is coming off very kind and honest and approachable, it’s remarkable and a good sign. In recent interviews whether it was on That Metal Show or even some little clips on youtube of him goofing around and talking with fans and that’s really good to see. There’s been times where we wouldn’t see or hear from him publicly or he’d perpetually be in a bad mood or whatever but we have this year and it seems like he’s in a good place and not operating under some dark cloud so that’s fantastic. It’s not just been one or two random clips of him recently but 10 or 12 of him and he’s always in that same happy, joking and smiling demeanor. Good for him. I mean, honestly I don’t think Axl trusts Izzy or Steven to have their shit together or be on time but I think he knows that Slash and Duff are a solid commodity. I know Steven is too because I’ve seen his band and I know what he’s capable of. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just like everyone else, I’d love to see the five of them together some day. I’d love to see a perfect scenario of a massive tour of Axl’s new band doing their full set to blow the doors off the beginning of the show. Do a really nice hour plus set. Take a break and include a combination where they do a stripped down set every night with Steven, Duff, Slash and Izzy and then finish with an Illusions set including Gilby and Matt and that material to close things out with a bang.
Slash & Marc at signing for Reckless Road
LRI: Hell, they could even do a few Duff solo, Slash solo, Izzy and Steven solo spots…
Marc: Right, if they really wanted to they could just like the Eagles did. Joe Walsh did a few, Henley did, Timothy did, Glen did and then they also did the Eagles stuff. I understand Axl not wanting to disrespect or walk away from the time, money and effort he’s invested in the new band or give up on continuing to have that be his avenue for new recordings but this could be a way to incorporate both. I mean noone wants to see Axl unhappy or fail just to springboard a reunion. There’s better ways to go about it and this would allow his NEW band to be able to tour STADIUMS in the U.S. like they were during the Illusions era. I think Axl knows that, he knows that as good as the new band is doing he could be doing ten times that if he incorporated the reunion. I think that’s a new realization too, I know that in the past he thought that his new band could just come out and stomp the reunion demand and just crush the pressure for the classic five.
LRI: But he’s financially well off right? He has no real urgent need to give a shit or pay any bills right?
Marc: I’m not so sure about that. I mean it costs a lot of money to have the life he has and the entourage he has. There has to be more money coming in than going out and he’s aware that a reunion tour would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars that WOULD UNDOUBTABLY make him well off and secure. I guess he’s just not willing to do it because he would have to believe in the devil but I’d like him to put that aside so that he can make all that money and have all that freedom and also make all of the fans so happy. I mean back when we were so close a few years ago we would talk for hours about that John. We would go back and forth and I would tell him “Axl nothing will ever touch the old band, the new band will be viewed as very good and an excellent thing unto itself but it will never touch the old band, they will both be different and great in different ways.” I mean I told him I totally understand what he’s doing because there IS no old band but it just was never going to be better than the old band and he insisted that it was going to be better than the old band and that Robin Finck was his Randy Rhoads and compared it to Ozzy finding Randy. I told him “No Robin is NOT Randy and he will be viewed as good but never better than Slash on ANY level, musically, personality wise, that was just lightning in a bottle” and we just went on and on and you get the idea (laughs). I mean the CHINESE DEMOCRACY lineup can be great but it will be a different kind of great just like ILLUSIONS was a different kind of great. You can get together with different chefs and come up with a great new soup but it will always be DIFFERENT. I just kept telling him that what happened was magic that can never be recreated, even if he got back together with Slash they will never write another APPETITE. I mean, I’m sure if they got together and wrote a song it could be good but you can’t expect it to ever happen the way it did in 86 again. I mean, is anything the Stones do now or what they did in the 80s or 90s as good as what they did in the 60s or 70s? No, but there can still be some good, great moments.
LRI: I know this means a great deal to you. What specifically do you want from them as a fan and follower of the band, aside from your personal friendships?
Marc: I just want them to talk. I want them to talk because I think that if they were just able to talk they would see that their problems are not so hard to solve or understand. Their biggest problems are actually simple so that’s what makes it so hard to believe. Duff is a stand up guy, and Axl trusts him, if there is any hope it is in Duff bridging the gap.
LRI: Do you think Axl sees any importance to what Van Halen is doing in securing their legacy with David and Eddie?
Marc: No. That doesn’t matter to Axl at all, all he thinks is “Why would I put my neck on the line and associate with these devils again?”. That’s it. Add to that the fact that he has this army of people who are in his inner circle who personally are, of course, invested in the new lineup and basically are agreeing with him and even the segment of fans who you’ve seen siding with him. They’re pouring gasoline in the fire and reaffirming what Axl believes to be fact even though the vast majority would love to see a reunion. The fact that others like Van Halen are doing it is meaningless to him, it would come down to Axl realizing that Slash and Steven are not as evil as he thinks.
LRI: Is Slash 100% down as far as your regular conversations with him?
Marc: Slash would do it in a heartbeat. He would do it because it was a lot of fun, the music and chemistry was great and the fact that he knows without a shadow of a doubt that it would make the fans ecstatic and be extremely successful. He knows that better than anyone. He also doesn’t hate Axl the way that Axl hates him. If he did, such a concept would be so much more complicated than it is. It’s really only a one sided beef. There’s issues of course, there are personal issues with them but they are fairly simple and mostly based on misunderstanding and separate versions of different truths.
LRI: Would someone like a Susan Mckagen or a Perla Hudson be an issue, I know Perla is very visible in Slash’s career and Susan in Duff’s?
Marc: I know they are now but they couldn’t be in such a Reunion scenario. They would never be an issue. Wives and girlfriends are forbidden from the inner circle of GNR. I know this to be a fact. I even told Perla, “Just know that if Slash were ever to work with Axl again, you would not only not be in the same room but you’d be blocks away.” Nothing personal against them, they are wonderful, that’s just the way it’s always been.
Special edition SLASH cover of RECKLESS ROAD
We’d like to thank Marc for this epic chat and also ask you to see our past talks with Alan Niven and Steven Adler.
To purchase the book or any of Marc’s custom framed photos go to:
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Jack Lue contributed many photographs included in this interview and many of them are also available, contact/message Jack at his page here: