Going into 2018, GUNS N' ROSES' "Not In This Lifetime" tour had already grossed nearly half a billion dollars worldwide. By the time it wraps up in South Africa in November, it will likely be the second-highest-grossing tour of all time, but guitarist Slash says that's not why he considers it a success.
"Sitting on the outside, the GUNS tour, it wasn't ever about it being whatever it ended up being, looking at it from a dollars and cents [or] a status thing or whatever other people look at it for," he recently told writer Clay Marshall. "The actual experience of doing it and having these amazing fucking crowds and this response to the band, and the band itself, just that whole thing was amazing. It was so cool and it was such, in a way, a validating thing for that lineup. That was that was about — that's why it was so much fun, and that's why we did it for so long. It wasn't because, 'Oh yeah, we're going to make a lot of money on it,' but as a player, that's what I was getting off on.
"The whole big-numbers thing, that's not the thing that turns me on about it," he continued. "What is great about it was that it happened, and it was a positive thing. For us as individuals or as a a group, it was something that I had no idea was even possible, because there was so much bad blood lingering for so long, and when we got together to do the Troubadour and Coachella, there was such a great vibe going on. That extended through the entire tour with no hitches, no matter what different obstacles came up against us like we've had in the past. Nothing derailed us, so that in itself was great, and then on top of that, the response that we got... we didn't have to get that response. All that shit is really humbling. That is really the magic of it for me, and the fact that it was successful monetarily and all those sort of accolades, it's cool and I appreciate it, but it's not the thing that makes it what is really great about it."
Notably, the band members performed very few interviews during the tour. "It wasn't conscious. There was just no need to," Slash said. "Nobody wants to do press. [Laughs] We didn't have to do any press during that time, and it was really sort of nice. Doing THE CONSPIRATORS, I know how it all works. I do the majority of the press for the band, and I go on these international press tours and domestic press tours and there's radio and there's all this stuff, and having been doing that straight since my first proper solo record through 'World On Fire' up until GUNS, when GUNS happened, it was like, all I had to do was play. It was really sort of cool. But I'm back at it [now]."
Unfortunately, the band's media blackout meant that the only official documentation of the "Not In This Lifetime" tour was visual. "The best documentation that was really done was Kat [photographer Katarina Benzova] putting stuff up on the GUNS N' ROSES site," Slash said. "As far as writing or any of that kind of shit, there was no real documentation of it. It has been [about] us going and playing every night and really just focusing for the most part on that — getting from gig to gig, country to country. Back in the '90s, we had this guy Austin and another guy that videotaped the entire 'Use Your Illusion' tour, 24/7, so no, we didn't do that. There's nothing really – there's nothing that I can think of that sort of recorded the last two years for posterity.
"There really isn't very much analyzing going on," he continued. "There's a great camaraderie that exists — we shoot the shit, we do our thing and we come up with some different ideas for this, that and the other, and it's really just sort of a day in the life... When I think of THE [ROLLING] STONES, there was a period there where they were very into documenting stuff so that people could see [what was happening], but then you reach a certain point, and they don't have anything really to prove about anything – they just do their thing. I think maybe we might have arrived at a place like that on this tour, where we're just doing it, and it's really us and those legions of fans that are there to support it. It's been an experience for us, this whole journey. I'm playing with three people I had never played with before, so there was that evolving. It's really been an experience for us, this whole journey. For me, you could never record this in a way that would really translate to fans properly. It's been a real personal journey for everybody involved."
The apparently final leg of GN'R's "Not In This Lifetime" tour will kick off in Mexico on November 3 and wrap up in South Africa on November 29.
Photo credit: Katarina Benzova