"It's hard to stay sane when you're surrounded by madness."
In the only interview Izzy gave this year, he tells our Brazilian correspondent Thiago Sarkis right what any other colleague of him might wish to know:
Why he decided to get back in touch with Axl Rose, how he feels about a GnR-reunion, how his relations to Duff, Slash and Steven and co. are, and how he remembers the years of glory of the band.
Exclusively for Popular 1: Izzy Stradlin.
Thiago: What have you been doing the last two or three years? Sometimes its difficult to follow your trace. Tell us something about the albums "Miami" and "Fire".
Izzy: Good. I record some new stuff every year. The album "Miami" was recorded years ago in Miami, Florida, in an old studio, people like James Brown, The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac have already been recording there, a great place.
After that album Fire was recorded in a very short period of time. This one is a simpler and more basic version of what I usually do.
Thiago: Do you think the fans appreciate the new facets of your writing as a solo artist, that were not appearing in GnR's music?
Izzy: Each song I have published since I left Guns n Roses is the same type of song I used to write former times with the band. What happened in the band is that, when I had written a song, Axl added his part, then Slash added his part, and so it became Guns n Roses.
Whereas, when put one of my records on, what you hear is the same ideas, the same inspiration as in GnR, just without Axl and Slash.
It's the more basic version of composing.
Thiago: What are your plans for your future solo career?
Izzy: Currently I'm in contact with a guy from Argentina who wants that we play there, and I would really like to do that. And I've just published another record called "Concrete" that is now available on i-Tunes.
Thiago: Before you had mentioned the song writing process of Guns n Roses. With the time Slash became an icon, thanks to his attitude, his image and his style as guitarist. Nevertheless, as we followed GnR from the beginning on, we know that you were one of the main song writers of the band. How would you describe the way of working together with Slash and Axl?
Izzy: The chemistry was good. Sometimes out way write songs was slow and complicated, if I compare it to now, but the habitual thing was that the results were very good. With the guys I work with now composing is way more simple. Now I do not have to discuss with two others guys whenever I compose a theme.
Thiago: Do you think your role in the band was the one of the creative composer while Slash mainly showed up as the guitar hero?
Izzy: The other day I read somewhere the Slash was the last guitar her in history, I don't know, I don't know what to reply.
Thiago: How was your relation to Slash musical and personal?
Izzy: Musically we contributed stuff mutually, and we tried to play more powerfully than the others. (Laughter)? and at a personal level, well, we took many drugs together back in the 80s, but after a time it became repetitive (boring) and we quit. I still consider him as a friend and we stay in contact.
Thiago: In 2006 you performed again with GnR. How did you retake the contact with Axl?
Izzy: I don't know... That's two years ago... I don't remember... I think they gave me his mobile number. No, now I know it, I went to his place and soon he invited me because they were going to do a show in New York.
And I was like: 'Hey, why don't I play there? It could be good." And we did it. Soon we toured on Europe.
Thiago: By that time, you had already patched things up with him?
Izzy: See, I know him for so many years, there is a familiarity between us. We grew up in the same place, the same atmosphere and I think this part of your friendship will always be existant.
Thiago: You were always described as calm an reserved, someone who does not like to turn or to be far away from home for too long. What made you feel like returning to GnR then?
Izzy: You know, there is a very special connection between listening to Rock n Roll and the desire to experience that again. When you play such energetic songs as Nightrain, Mr. Brownstone or Welcome to the Jungle, there is instantly a connection between the band and the audience. This is something electrifying, and I just had to feel that again.
Thiago: How did you feel during that first show with New GnR?
Izzy: I arrived at Heathrow Airport, got into a van and they took me to Donington Festival. It was awful because of the jet leg, but when I arrived at the scene I felt great from one moment to the next. It's like magic.
Thiago: The present line-up of Guns n Roses has been a big topic. What is your opinion about the present band compared to the original GnR?
Izzy: At our time we were more fused. (Laughter) Those guys are great musicians. We were more spontanious.
Thiago: But you like that way they interpret the songs? Or do you prefer your style in the 80s, more wild and direct?
Izzy: During that tour I only performed four or five songs each night and didn?t see most of the shows, so I can't really tell.
Thiago: Which GnR song has a special meaning for you, and why?
Izzy: Knockin' on heaven's door was brilliant. We took that old song from Bob Dylan and turned it into that kind of hymn. That was special.
Thaigo: How was that for you to play four or five songs with GnR each night? Did you have to learn some of them again? Which one was the one that cost you most effort?
Izzy: Nighttrain... I continuously forgot that part in the middle... Don't know why, after all I wrote it!
Thiago: I've heard that you stay in contact with all the original members of Guns n Roses. How is your relation to them?
Izzy: Slash, Duff, Matt and also Steven Adler, we all call each other on the phone from time to time, and sometimes we meet in LA or somewhere. We have a very good relation, we are still good friends.
Thiago: Steven Adler has spoken openly about his wish for a GnR reunion. Tell me what do you think about that and how is your relation to Steven?
Izzy: Steven lives a very messed up life
Thiago: But if the case would occur, would you consider a reunion as possible?
Izzy: Yes, of course. I wrote a big part of that material.
Thiago: Sometimes it was said that when Matt Sorum came to the band you missed the style of Steven. What differences would you say are between them?
Izzy: Steven had a more accidently style, and Matt plays more precise.
Thiago: Did you read Slash's autobiography?
Izzy: No, I haven't read it. But I listened to something on the radio the other day, and it seemed quite cool to me.
Thiago: Slash says in the last book that the shows before you left the band were the first shows where Axl was concerned about being punctual.
Izzy: Axl continued to arriving at each concert behind the schedule. In 91 the habitual thing was that Axl delayed each show for like, minimum, two hours.
Thiago: What's the reason you rejected the invitation to join Velvet Revolver?
Izzy: I wanted a quartet: Slash, Duff, Matt and I, but they really wanted a singer so much, and, as we know, the singing one is the quite problematic one sometimes. So I decided to simply go on with pursuing my solo interests.
Thiago: It is certain that you suggested that Duff and you would do the vocals in the band?
Izzy: Yes. That would have been the best solution.
Thiago: How did they respond on that idea?
Izzy: I think Duff liked the idea, but Slash didn't.
Thiago: Do you think Scott Weiland was no good choice for them after they had had so many problems with Axl in the past?
Izzy: That is a very legitimate question, but I don't have an answer for it.
Thiago: It was impossible that it would work.
Izzy: I agree.
Thiago: As commented before your public image is the one of a calm and reserved man. Is it hard for you to respond all the questions on GnR from fans and press?
Izzy: You are the first journalist with whom I have spoken this year, so it is not something that happens very often. (Laughter)
Thiago: Oh thanks.
Izzy: In the last years I limited myself to release one album a year with i-Tunes, and I don't give any interviews.
Thiago: But how does it feel to be an ex-member of such an influential band of rock history?
Izzy: It is delirious when I am going to a store to buy cords for my guitar, and the young employee tries to sell me one Les Paul to whom Slash has yielded his name. (Laughter) the guy asks me: "You have seen the new Les Paul from Slash?" I respond no, and he says to me: "Oh, there just have arrived five today!"
Thiago: (Laughter) That must be strange for you, but at the same time, I imagine that it feels good to know you were part of the same band.
Izzy: Good, at some time in the middle of 80's, when I listened to a song of mine on the radio for the first time, that was then when I felt that something important had happened. Still, from time to time I listen to songs that I composed and recorded on the 80s on the radio, and I to say myself "Wow, incredible, I am there, but I still was a teenager and just wanted to play guitar."
Thiago: What you think about the fact that "Live... Like to Suicide" and especially "Appetite For Destruction" became that popular?
Izzy: I did not have any idea that the band would become so great. Our style of life was veryself-destructive, but at the same time we were very motivated by music. Nevertheless, I never imagined that we would ever become so famous.
Thaigo: How do you remember the edition of the record "Lies"?
Izzy: Good... Those were very crazy times. I have memories of recording sessions, runnings of videos, tours, more sessions of recording, more videos... It is a circle that was repeated during seven or eight years.
Thiago: People think that being a rockstar is easy, but of course it is not it.
Izzy: It is hard to stay sane when you are surrounded by madness.
Thiago: What do you think is the reason that Guns N' Roses ended up separating? You think that the drugs had a great part of the fault in the break up of the band?
Izzy: I don't know if the drugs were the reason... When I left the band, I was clean for two years and a half, concretely from 1989 on. And when I was myself again, I really do not know what happened, because I was not there anylonger.
Thiago: But, the drug consumption in the band caused that you made the decision to leave?
Izzy: Yes. As I told you, I was clean two years and a half already, I was seeing how my friendly were killed, and some time came that I decided that already it had had enough. I did not want to continue being a part of that. Now are all clean, and that is important.
Thaigo: Most of the fans blame Axl of the break up of Guns N' Roses. He is as problematic as he seems?
Izzy: Axl is a very complicated type, but very talented.
Thiago: Yes, but everything seems to indicate that he was the person in charge of which the band separated.
Izzy: As I said, I was not there anymore, so I can't know.
Thiago: Yes, but in your last years with the band, I suppose that you saw something coming that......
Izzy: Then, my opinion was that the band must have taken a year off. But there was nothing to do. When that flame is ignited, it's very difficult to say: "OK, now we will take a rest..." That never works.
Thiago: After you have spent so many years sober, you think that it is possible for you to return to playing with your old companions?
Izzy: Yes. Duff, in fact, appears in three songs of my new album. I spoke with Slash the other day and I was on the brink of performing a show with him, but it did not work. All are very active, healthy have lots of work to do.
Thiago: You believe in Chinese democracy? And I do not talk about if there is democracy in China.
Izzy: (Laughter) I believe that somewhere is a disc with the title "Chinese Democracy". (Laughter) I have listened to some tracks of the record and I liked it.
Thiago: After a delay of the release of "Chinese Democracy" for so many years, the possibility that the record is published already with the original line up of Guns N' Reunited Roses has not crossed your mind?
Izzy: No. (Laughter)
Thiago: Thanks for your time, Izzy. This is your first interview for this year, so it is a great honor for us.
Izzy: Thanks to you for contacting me.
Thiago: It was not easy to contact you again, so, thank you very much to take the time. In order to finish, we always ask the musicians who has been interviewed which his five favourite albums are. So choose five albums that have had great impact in your life, please.
Izzy: "Dark Side Of The Moon" by Pink Floyd, "Toys In The Attic" by Aerosmith, "Never Mind The Bollocks" by Sex Pistols, "Road To Ruin" by Ramons and "Exile On Main Street" by The Rolling Stones.
Sources: Poplar1 (interview), Beenafix (translation)
Originally posted: December 2008