Longtime GUNS N' ROSES associate Del James has released the following report via the band's official web site:
"Hello and welcome to 'View From The Side Of The Stage.' I was asked to write a column for GunsNRoses.com and have mixed emotions about doing so. I have a 21-year history with GUNS N' ROSES dating back to before the record deal. During those 21 years I've been offered amazing opportunities and have directed videos, co-written songs, lived with, humped gear, was the project coordinator for the double live album, etc, etc. I've also interviewed GUNS N' ROSES for countless publications around the world including Axl Rose's first Rolling Stone cover.
"If you're reading this then you're probably a GUNS N' ROSES fan in search of some factual information. Hopefully this column will be insightful and informative without becoming a drag. I'm here to share a little honesty because of the access I have. The day this starts to suck is the day I forget how to type a sentence.
"I don't know how often I will update it and since GN'R are on tour, I have other duties that need to be tended to but every now and then I'll do my best to scribble out some lines.
"That being said, welcome to the backstage area. First things first, the drummer for the 2006 U.S. tour is Frank Ferrer. Frank filled in for Bryan 'Brain' Mantia for a good portion of the European summer tour when Brain went home to be present for the birth of his daughter, Kei. Prior to the U.S. run, Brain asked if he could sit this one out so he could be with his newborn baby. Had it come down to not being able to do it without him, Brain would have done the tour but management and the band support his decision to be with his family.
"Frank Ferrer is not a replacement drummer or some backup playing because of an injury. Like Brain, Frank is part of the GUNS N' ROSES family. He came into the fold through guitarist Richard Fortus. Frank and Richard were in HONKY TOAST together, which for those of you not living in New York was the best band to come out of that city since D-GENERATION. When GN'R were making arrangements for someone to fill in for Brain, both Richard and bassist Tommy Stinson knew what the perfect fit would be when they recommended Frank. After one rehearsal, everyone else in the band knew they were 100 percent in the right. Frank's resume includes HONKY TOAST, THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS, PERRY FARRELL, THE BEAUTIFUL, WYCLEF, and many others. Along with the ability to bend cowbells, Frank brings a positive vibe that always lights up the room.
"Guitarist Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal is also GN'R family. Prior to the European tour, auditions were held in Los Angeles but the band did not find the right guy to replace Buckethead. Truth be told, the band was hoping that Buckethead would come back and made very effort to make that happen. When it was apparent that Bucket would not be re-joining, the band had to move forward. Joe Satriani is how the GUNS camp first heard of Bumblefoot. GN'R's ProTools engineer 'French' Eric Cadieux has worked a lot with Satriani and Satch recommended Bumble to French Eric. One thing lead to another and prior to the band's four-night stint at the Hammerstein Ballroom back in May, Bumblefoot was part of the fold.
"Bumblefoot is probably the most accessible member of GN'R. At times he's too nice and has to be reeled in from signing autographs in order to catch a bus or a flight. His six-string wizardry is of the highest level and the man literally knows every song ever recorded or if he doesn't only needs to hear something once. The walking iPod entertains his brethren by playing the most obscure AM radio hits of the '70s, cheese metal, or TV theme songs. The band often tries to stump him with a request and rarely can.
"Some time last week, GN'R flew into Florida for production rehearsals at Miami Arena. The place was sweltering hot and somehow we managed to temporarily lose one out of the two band buses en route. A few songs that fans haven't heard in a while have been worked up and when the time is right, may be added to the set. Telling you now what the songs are would be rude. After Monday night's rehearsal, Axl and GUNS N' ROSES manager Merck Mercuriadis went over to catch some of the ERIC CLAPTON concert because as it turns out, Axl's friend, guitarist Derek Trucks, is playing in Clapton's band. From there, Axl met up with most of GUNS N' ROSES at a South Beach hotspot called Snatch. For the uninitiated, Snatch is a club that blends hard rock and funk with classics. Snatch also has a mechanical bull, performance artists, drag queens, and super-fine go-go dancers all getting their freak on. Now some people might frown upon a rock band staying out all night, drinking up a storm and dancing before the very first show of a tour but this is GUNS N' ROSES. Conformity will never be a part of the equation. No one in this band got into the music business to punch a time clock or worry about hangovers. It's not rocket science, it's rock n' roll, and seeing Dizzy Reed, Robin Finck, Axl, Tommy, Frank, and Bumblefoot drinking, mingling, and dancing until the sun came up was a beautiful scene of a rock band bonding. And that's what GUNS N' ROSES 2006 are — a band!
"When certain former members of GUNS N' ROSES quit, like Slash and Duff McKagan, had they had their way that would have sounded the death knell for GN'R. GUNS N' ROSES was never their original vision. It has always been Axl's vision and drive to try to make the band as successful as possible without compromising the integrity of GUNS N' ROSES. Fortunately for the fans, Axl has always been able to see outside the box of conventionalism, taking intelligent and calculated risks when it comes to the evolution of GUNS N' ROSES. This same forward progress is evident on the band's forthcoming album, 'Chinese Democracy'. Some people out there have downloaded unmixed versions of songs like 'IRS', 'There Was A Time', 'Chinese Democracy', 'Madagascar', and 'Better' and while it's unfair to judge an unfinished product, it's not that big of a stretch to say that Axl's vision is once again leading him in the right direction. Recently, Bumblefoot and Frank played on a few tracks that will appear on 'Chinese Democracy'.
"Oh yeah, there was a show on Tuesday night, Oct. 24, at the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla. and judging by the reaction of the 10,000-plus people in attendance, they had a kick-ass time. There have been a few more Florida shows and an amazing gig in Puerto Rico. I've read a few reviews where the reviewer says something along the lines of 'the band came on late but the show was great.' WHOA, WAIT A MINUTE — who decides what late is? Every single press release for the tour specifies that SEBASTIAN BACH will be going on sometime AFTER 8pm, PAPA ROACH will be going on AFTER 9pm, and GUNS N' ROSES will be onstage AFTER 10pm. This is supposed to be an all-night party. When the f*ck did rock n' roll — and the last time I checked rock music was supposed to be a non-conformist, rebellious, art form — get a Flavor Flav-sized time clock wrapped around its neck like a hangman's noose? Rebellion and punctuality do not go hand in hand and for those of you too young to remember, THE ROLLING STONES and LED ZEPPELIN rarely went on before midnight in their hey day.
"Here's a little insight for you — a rock band has to do certain things in order to be prepared to hit the stage. It's a lot like a sports team warming up before hitting the field. Axl has to do his vocal warm-ups or else he will blow his voice out. Guitarist Robin Finck has to do yoga-type stretching or else he's going to pull or tear a muscle again. Some of the band members need chiropractic adjustments or massage therapy. Others need to warm up on their instruments. The list is endless and every night something unexpected always occurs. There's a lot more to it than showing up, grabbing an instrument, and walking onstage. No one is interested in wasting your time or keeping you waiting, but the band goes on when it is 100 percent ready to go on and give it all that they have for that evening and not one minute before. The show starts when the band hits the stage and ends when the final encore is over.
"If, back in the day, THIN LIZZY or HUMBLE PIE or QUEEN came on at whatever time and gave me two hours of blistering 'rawk' like GN'R does every night that would have been a magical evening. A rock concert is supposed to be a celebration where for a few hours people can escape from the pressure of everyday life. Jobs and taxes and homework and traffic are all still going to be there when the show ends so what's the hurry? I mean, GN'R ain't some play-by-the-rules-, shake-hands-and kiss-babies-for-public-approval-type band. It's GUNS N' F*CKIN' ROSES so please feel free to raise your middle finger with GN'R because Axl, Dizzy, Robin, Richard, Tommy, Chris Pitman, Bumblefoot, Frank, and Brain will always stand defiant against conformity while doing their best to thoroughly kick every audience's ass. As Axl says onstage from time to time, 'This isn't McDonald's or Burger King — it isn't 'Have it your way.'' Anyone who doesn't get that should really just stay the hell home. I've noticed that during our first week on tour, there's a lot of pissing and moaning on the Internet by people who aren't even at the shows. This vocal minority are not what I consider real GN'R fans. They are obsessive pests (go ahead and flame) in need of a real outlet other than GN'R chat rooms and posting on fan sites because the real fans are at the shows having fun. When someone overanalyzes something as petty as Robin's beard, what Axl says to the audience, the set list from one show to the next, or the tuning of Bumblefoot's fretless guitar, it's time to get a life. Disconnect from the Internet and reconnect with the real world.
"My bus call is a few minutes from now. Time to pack my bags and reconnect with the real world of life on the road with GUNS N' ROSES."