Keyboardist sticks to his Guns N' Roses
- Sarah Rodman, Boston Herald
It seems fitting that the one person who has stuck with Axl Rose through all the drama surrounding Guns N' Roses in the past decade is named Dizzy.
A little loss of equilibrium would be a natural reaction to the radical ups and downs that the one-time L.A. metal gods, who play the FleetCenter tomorrow, have been through since their last two albums of original material were released in 1991.
But keyboardist Dizzy Reed believes fans and critics of the band will be pleased when ``Chinese Democracy'' finally arrives in record stores next year.
That remains to be seen and heard. This is, after all, an album that has been in the works for seven long years . . . an album over which control became such a thorny issue that guitarists Slash, Izzy Stradlin and Gilby Clarke, drummer Matt Sorum and bassist Duff McKagan all preferred to leave the multiplatinum group rather than wrestle with the temperamental Rose.
The amiable Reed has never wavered in his loyalty to Rose - who rescued the keyboardist from homelessness with an offer to join the band in 1990 - and believes people will see why when the album is finally released.
``I definitely believe in it a thousand percent and I have no plan B,'' he said with a laugh from an Albany tour stop.
Musically, Reed said, the album will combine the contributions and influences of the new members with the unmistakable guitar ferocity and epic pop contortions of the much-loved material from the ``Appetite for Destruction'' and ``Use Your Illusion'' albums.
``There's something new around every corner, like an amusement park,'' he said, referring to the disparate new sounds. ``When you add the guitars and you add Axl, that's what makes it work, and that's what makes it Guns N' Roses. There's a little something for everybody, and I think people will dig it.''
Reed stresses that ``Chinese Democracy'' is very much a band project, with all new members contributing and collaborating, and not just The Axl Rose Show, even though the singer is acknowledged as a benevolent dictator with ultimate veto powers.
For the record, Guns N' Roses - which has sold 80 million records - is now a very large democratic group, an octet sporting solid industry pedigrees.cw2
In addition to Reed and Rose, band members are drummer Brian Mantia, late of Primus; former Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck; bassist Tommy Stinson, a founding member of beloved garage punk band the Replacements; keyboardist Chris Pitman, who has recorded with Tool and Blinker the Star; bizarro avant guitarist Buckethead, he of the KFC chapeau and ``Halloween'' mask; and guitarist Richard Fortus, who has played with everyone from the Psychedelic Furs to 'N Sync. (Upon hearing that last bit of news, Reed is gleeful. ``I'm going start giving him (expletive) tonight, because I didn't know that.'')
That being said, do these eight people really add up to something that should be called Guns N' Roses?
``To me, having been there through the entire thing, it wasn't like Axl said, `OK, everyone, you're gone and here's a new band and we're Guns N' Roses,' '' Reed said. ``Everyone else from the old band chose to quit, and they quit one at a time, and they were replaced by someone else, so to me it still is Guns N' Roses.''
And to some fans as well. Reed reports that the crowds, although only half-capacity in some cities, have been ``going nuts - it's been really cool.'' (They went a little too nuts in Vancouver, B.C., causing $100,000 damage when the opening show of the tour was canceled at the last minute.)
The crowds are not only eating up such classics as ``Welcome to the Jungle'' and ``Sweet Child O' Mine,'' said Reed, they're also grooving to the four new ``Chinese'' tunes in the show.
``Some people actually know the words to some of the songs, which is kind of strange,'' said the 39-year-old Cleveland-bred rocker. ``The magic of the Internet seems to have something to do with that.''
As far as magic happening between band members, Reed said, it hasn't been easy accommodating eight creative musicians.
``It's been kind of a struggle at times, but everyone's professional and everyone knows what's at stake here, how big this could be, so everyone's come in ready to work, and most of the people have been able to put their egos aside when they need to,'' he said.
Playing live has helped them gel as a band, and for his part Reed is having a ball. ``I live to get up onstage and perform, and so to be able to do it in front of lots and lots of crazy people who are digging it, that's what it's all about.''
He will be relieved when the record finally comes out, however, admitting with a laugh that there were times when he felt like saying to Rose, ``Dude, it's ready!''
``To be honest, I thought we were close a few times,'' he said. ``And then something happened, someone quit or the bottom has fallen out in some way. Occasionally there's been a one-step-forward, two-steps-back kind of thing going on.
``But,'' he adds decisively, ``it's very close to being ready.''
Guns N' Roses plays the FleetCenter tomorrow. Tickets are $35-$65. Call 617-931-2000.