One highlight of GUNS N' ROSES' concerts during the "Not In This Lifetime" tour has been the "Chinese Democracy" track "Better", which features an intro that doesn't appear on the album version of the song. Guitarist Slash says it's only natural that the song's live rendition sounds different with him and bassist Duff McKagan performing it.
"Any of the 'Chinese Democracy' stuff, the way that that stuff evolved was really Duff and I sort of learning the songs and the integrity of the songs and playing it the way that we would play them," he recently told writer Clay Marshall. "They're such different musicians that actually recorded, so they ended up sounding the way that they ended up sounding, but the arrangements are more or less the same. We did change the intro... that was actually just some idea, something that came actually from another piece of material, and it just somehow morphed into the intro for that song because it was so cool."
During GN'R's recent European tour, the group began performing "Slither" by VELVET REVOLVER, Slash and McKagan's mid-'00s supergroup that featured late vocalist Scott Weiland (STONE TEMPLE PILOTS). "If you got a hold of an old set list from 2016," Slash explained, "you saw there was a set list and then there was an alternate set, which was just songs that we could do audibles with [and] move shit around. It was on there, and the band actually jammed it way early on just to get the groove together and all that. But it just never came up. Then, when we went into rehearsals for the European tour, Axl [Rose, vocals] came in [and went], 'Let's try 'Slither'.' It was never even something that we've talked about, but hearing Axl do it, considering he's channeling a little bit of Scott in that, and then Duff and I sort of having been with that song since its inception, the three of us doing it together was very cool. I couldn't put a verbal description of that feeling, but that was cool."
The band also recently began performing "Shadow Of Your Love", a track dating back to the mid-1980s that appears on the recently released expanded remaster of GN'R's seminal debut, "Appetite For Destruction". "The remastering, that was basically easy," Slash said. "It actually does sound really good, which I was skeptical about. But the actual box set as far as all the old material, after all these years, knowing that all this stuff exists and it's just sitting there, it was actually cathartic to get it all out. It was really cool to go in when we mastered it to sit there and actually listen. I've never gone back and listened to any of that stuff — I just know it exists — and to sit there and listen to all of it was really, really cool."
Also included on the reissue's deluxe editions are two early versions of "November Rain", the video for which recently became the oldest music video to reach 1 billion views on YouTube. "That was an epic production," Slash recalled. "That was all more Axl's vision than anything I had to do with it. My contribution was [that] I would write my own part, where the leaving the wedding and doing the church thing was concerned. The way that [director] Andy Morahan shot it, I thought, 'This is going to be the last thing I ever do,' because these helicopters were flying [right] at me. I thought, 'It'll look cool doing it, and that will be my last day.' Because it was such an elaborate production, being a very sort of stripped-down rock guy, I was like, 'Oh, God. All this stuff!' But it did come out pretty fuckin' awesome. Now, all this time later, it's more of a hats-off to Axl than anything that it's reached that threshold. I always knew that that was a cool song. I never count my eggs as far as in advance how epic or how big, because always whenever you feel that is when it goes the opposite direction. You just do it; you enjoy it in the moment; and wherever it goes, it goes. But I always knew that that was a really great song."
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