We expect rock stars to be volatile, hurl a lamp or two out of the window or storm out during an interview. But Guns N’ Roses lead guitarists Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal and DJ Ashba turns those clichés right on its head. They are genuinely funny and come across as a couple of excited school kids who can’t get enough of lying on the sun-kissed beaches of Abu Dhabi.
Ask them why their infamous lead singer Axl Rose is missing from our interview and DJ Ashba says: “He is upstairs and he’s watching you right now. He is Charlie from Charlie’s Angels who speaks from an intercom. I have a hidden camera in my hat,” said Ashba rolling his heavily-lined eyes in an interview prior to their concert on Thursday in the capital.
Bumblefoot pitches right in with, “this is not my beard, there’s more to it.” He strokes the braided beard for greater effect. The only time they straightened up was when the topic of their 2008 album Chinese Democracy cropped up. Called the “Titanic of rock albums”, their 2008 album took 17 years, more than $13 million and an army of musicians to bring it to life. Just like the ill-fated ship, the album met with a tragic fate and got a lukewarm reaction from rock ‘n roll fans. But Bumblefoot defends their herculean efforts.
“Over time people will like the album. Now they don’t hear the album, they just think this was the most expensive album in the history of mankind and it took 8,000 years to build,” said Bumblefoot, adding that the songs sound much better during a live concert.
“That album has quite a reputation. In the history of humanity there is no album that has taken the road that album has taken … It marks a chapter of growth. It is a pretty long chapter in the life of Guns N’ Roses which is been here for a quarter of a century now. It’s a unique album as time passes and people stop thinking about the baggage that it came with that album then they get to have a less biased opinion about it,” said Bumblefoot. The earnest plea is interrupted by DJ Ashba with: “I haven’t heard it … is it any good?”.
But the ones who were at the receiving end of many jokes (such as “The Chinese will get democracy before Guns N’ Roses release Chinese Democracy”) have learnt a thing or two from the episode. Perhaps, the next album output will be swifter.
“But you know life gets in the way of plans. We could actually make an album in two weeks but we need to clear our lives from everything … lock ourselves in a room. That I don’t guarantee. We have some strongest people in the band who have been through ups and downs personally, not just musically,” said Bumblefoot. He has a point. One of the world’s greatest American rock bands has seen many musicians come and go through its revolving door. Axl Rose is the sole original band member that remains. The faces may have changed, but their plan to give their fans a good time remains unaltered.
“It’s going to be reckless rock n’ roll. It’s unpredictable and it is going to take you to a place and time that has lots of passion, intensity and the things you want from this kind of music we give it to you that night,” said Bumblefoot of their gig. Of course, DJ Ashba had to throw in a joke.
“Think a**-kicking rock n’ roll, rockets and bombs. Unpredictable things are going to happen. And people will end up pregnant. I am joking, I am kidding.”