Watch: GUNS N' ROSES Perform 'The General' Live For First Time
November 3, 2023
GUNS N' ROSES performed the song "The General" live for the first time Thursday night (November 2) at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The track was introduced by singer Axl Rose as a song they hadn't played before and that "it could be very interesting."
"The General" was the B-side of GUNS N' ROSES' recently released limited-edition seven-inch vinyl single titled "Perhaps", out now via Geffen Records.
Like "Perhaps", "The General" was written during the sessions for GUNS N' ROSES' "Chinese Democracy" album. It was previously talked about by ex-GN'R drummer Bryan "Brain" Mantia, who reportedly wrote some of the song's music and gave it its title, and former SKID ROW singer Sebastian Bach.
In a 2008 interview with Rolling Stone, Sebastian said that Axl told him that "The General", which was described as "a slow, grinding track," is the sequel to "Use Your Illusion II"'s "Estranged", that goes to the parable that Del James wrote of the trilogy. (James penned the short story that inspired the "November Rain" video).
Bach told Metal Edge magazine back in 2007: "One of my favorite songs is this song called 'The General', which is so... it's by far the heaviest metal tune I think I've ever heard Axl do, this slow, grinding riff with these high, piercing vocals, screaming vocals."
Like GUNS N' ROSES' 2021 singles "Hard Skool" and "Absurd", "Perhaps" was originally written and recorded during the sessions for "Chinese Democracy", and a rough demo version of the song had previously been leaked and uploaded to YouTube.
GUNS N' ROSES released a four-song EP, "Hard Skool", in February 2022. The effort, which was exclusive to the GUNS N' ROSES' official store, contained the two new songs the band released in 2021 — the title track and "Absurd" (stylized as "ABSUЯD") — as well as live versions of "Don't Cry" and "You're Crazy".
In September 2021, the guitarist and his bandmates dropped "Hard Skool", which came more than a month after their performance and subsequent official release of "Absurd", a reworking of GUNS N' ROSES previously unreleased "Silkworms".
According to Slash, several other older GUNS N' ROSES tracks have also been reworked during the pandemic. "There's a handful of those songs that we actually fixed up and did when we were in lockdown," he explained to "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk". "So those have yet to be released. So those are gonna come out. They're really good, too. So I'm excited for those. We're just gonna put out like one or two songs, and another one or two songs. And I think that's gonna be pretty much all of 'em. I'm not sure exactly how many we did in total."
When host Eddie Trunk noted that "Hard Skool" in particular was a strong cut, Slash said: "These other ones, they don't have the same kind of amount of history, 'cause I know 'Hard Skool' seriously has… [it] goes way back. But there's a couple of epic ones coming out, so I'm excited about that."
If and when it happens, the new GUNS N' ROSES studio album will be the first under the GUNS banner since "Chinese Democracy" and the first to feature Slash, Rose and bassist Duff McKagan since 1993.
Slash previously spoke about "Hard Skool", one of the first two songs he recorded with GUNS N' ROSES in more than 25 years, this past February in an interview with Rolling Stone. At the time he said: "'Hard Skool', in essence, was a completed song when I was first introduced to it. And Duff and I went in and redid the bass and the guitars. It's a simple song, so it didn't take a hell of a lot of thought and analysis. I think it was a lot of fun just because it was part and parcel of a bunch of stuff that we were working on that was all sort of new — at least to Duff and I — so we had a good time."
In October 2021, Slash told Audacy Check In host Remy Maxwell that GUNS N' ROSES had yet to begin writing new material after releasing the two reworked songs from the "Chinese Democracy"-era sessions.
"As far as new GUNS is concerned, we haven't even gotten to that point of really in earnest sitting down and writing," Slash said. "We've been doing a lot of material that's been sort of sitting around for a while. So that will be a whole focused endeavor unto itself."
As for how "Hard Skool" and "Absurd" came about, Slash said: "They both have a lot of history. What happened was Axl has all these songs that he recorded at some point along the way. And so Duff and I went in and re-did them, basically… Like, I wrote my own kind of parts to what else is going on, and [we] just sort of took the drums and re-did everything else."
Written by Rose and co-produced by Rose and Caram Costanzo, "Hard Skool", which had the working title "Jackie Chan", was originally recorded during GN'R's "Chinese Democracy" era but was eventually omitted from that album. Short clips of the song were later posted online and a full version was leaked in August 2019.
On "Hard Skool", Axl sings: "But you had to play it cool, had to do it your way/Had to be a fool, had to throw it all away/Too hard school and you thought you were here to stay/ If that were true, it wouldn't matter anyway."
"Absurd" came out on August 6, 2021, three days after GUNS N' ROSES performed the tune live for the first time during its concert at Boston's Fenway Park.
GUNS N' ROSES last performed "Silkworms", which was also reportedly written during the "Chinese Democracy" sessions, in 2001.
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