Former Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Tell All

Culture Writer
The Arbiter Online
Boise State University

In 1985, L.A. Guns guitarist Tracii Guns formed a band with his former singer, Hollywood Rose frontman Axl Rose. They would put the two band names together, and Guns N’ Roses was born. So Tracii put the guns in Guns N’ Roses, but his road to stardom would be with a revamped L.A. Guns. In 1988, L.A. Guns’ self-titled, major-label debut album went gold; this came hot on the heels of Guns N’ Roses’ 1987 release, “Appetite for Destruction.”

After 18 years, 16 albums, and a half a dozen different lead singers, Tracii Guns left L.A. Guns in 2003 to start the band Brides of Destruction with bass player Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue. With a new compact disc, “Runaway Brides,” just released, and the single “White Trash” hitting the airwaves, the Brides of Destruction will be tearing up the stage at the Blues Bouquet, 1010 W. Main St., this Tuesday, Nov. 8. So if you like your rock n’ roll old school, down and dirty, get off your ass, and get yourself downtown to check out this show. The following is a Q&A with Nikki Sixx.

Q: The new Brides of Destruction CD is great, I think it has a more old school rock n’ roll feel than the first CD. What are your thoughts on this?

A: I think it is what we do best; Aerosmith and Iron Maiden is what I listen to; yeah it’s what we do best.

Q: The pictures from the new video “White Trash” look really interesting. How long until we see a finished product?

A: In the next week or so. After filming, we added some stock footage to try and build some real Americana trailer park chic.

Q: The press release says Nikki Sixx left the Brides of Destruction to reform Motley Crue. I have heard of other tensions within the band that may have caused this.

A: Absolutely not; there was no tension. The only thing we disagreed with was the first single from the new Motley Crue CD, “If I Die Tomorrow,” being written by the band Simple Plan. Nikki is our brother, and we did not want to see him go out like that.

Q: Sixx has three song-writing credits on the new CD. How much was he involved in making this CD?

A: These songs were from the end of the writing session for the first CD. He was not involved in the actual making of this CD.

Q: Is Sixx really completely sober now?

A: Yes, he is completely dedicated; he is going on five years now. Nikki is one of the most driven people I know, when he is dedicated to something.

Q: Four songs on the new CD contain writing credits to Ginger. Is this Ginger from the band Wildhearts?

A: Yes, he was in the band for about a month, and we used the songs he wrote with us. He is incredible, and we hope the best for him.

Q: How did you and Sixx come to the decision that you wanted to put a band together?

A: I called him; I told him, “You are my first choice for bass players.” We wrote songs and corresponded through e-mail. After an L.A. Guns tour we went into the studio with London as our singer. Nikki is like a big brother to me.

Q: What is your craziest memory of being on the road with the Brides of Destruction?

A: Being on a ferry at five in the morning, after being passed out on the floor, and lighting a cabin door on fire. We were pulling off some scary pranks, and Nikki Sixx was “the” prankster.

I remember Scott was going through a divorce, and we were in London in a four-star hotel. He threw everything in his room out the hotel window, literally into Scotland Yard. The police came and the hotel manager got him off by explaining girl trouble to the police. That is going to be my excuse next time I get in trouble.

Q: What happened with the Guns N’ Roses Revisited World Tour 2005 of Singapore/Thailand you were supposed to do last summer with former Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler?

A: It was originally booked as a tour with ex-Guns guitarist Gilby Clarke. I agreed to do it because they called and offered me a basket of money, but it ended up being cancelled.

Q: Did Axl Rose’s lawyers have anything to say about this matter?

A: I heard they did, because of the use of the Guns N’ Roses logo.

Q: I have heard about another tour being billed as the original L.A. Guns. You will be doing in January of next year with Paul Black singing.

A: Don’t know the status of that right now. I am not sure if the rest of the band — Mick Cripps, Kelley Nichols, Nikki Alexander — wants to do it.

Q: In a sense, will there be two L.A. Guns, with singer Phil Lewis’ band still touring and recording with the name?

A: It will only be for seven shows. I think the fans will know the difference.

Q: Was Axl Rose the original lead singer of L.A. Guns?

A: No, Mike Jargos was; after he went to jail, Axl joined. Mike was a friend of mine from high school; it was Mike who sang on the L.A. Guns’ first EP. Axl went home to Indiana for a while. It was when he came back that we formed the first Guns N’ Roses.

Q: Have you talked to Axl Rose lately?

A: No, I communicate anything I want to say to Axl through Del James*. I write to Del if I need to contact him.

Q: So Axl really has completely shut himself off from the world?

A: He’s a f****** nut.

Q: Have you ever thought of rejoining Guns N’ Roses?

A: Absolutely; when Nikki had to do the Crue thing, I called Del and told him I [had] a year-and-a-half off, but they were not done with the record yet; the timing was not right.

Q: What is the craziest thing you ever saw Axl do?

A: Our friend Michelle was getting ecstasy long before it became a popular drug. Axl is bipolar and he was doing it; it made him mean. The guy I was living with for the past two years was now crazy.

Q: The first time I saw L.A. Guns was on their first tour at the Channel Cafe in Boston around 1988.

A: So many people have asked me about that gig. It was 120 degrees in the club, and snowing outside, it may be the best show L.A. Guns ever played; I have a videotape of it.

It was here that our cell phones disconnected for the second time. I was on my last question, and decided to call it a day. I called back to thank Guns for his time; his road manager told me he would relay the message.

Del James is a musician and a writer; he has been close friends with Axl Rose since 1985. His short story “Without You” inspired the Guns N’ Roses songs “November Rain” and “Estranged,” and the video trilogy for them that included “Don’t Cry.”