Interview Magazine Talks to Axl Rose

Interview Magazine
May, 1992

The following interview is excerpted from a telephone conversation that took place in March 1992.

INTERVIEW: I guess the best place to start is you and Stephanie Seymour, since the pictures (that accompanied this interview) are clearly about two people who care for each other. (Axl and Steph were hugging and kissing in several of them)

AXL: Steph and I have a really good time talking with each other, and we want to try to see if we can have that, in our lives, for our lives. We don't know, but we're definitely trying to communicate as much as we can.

INTERVIEW: In life sometimes we can have a lot of different kinds of relationships with the same person. What do you think?

AXL: Sometimes your friends are your lovers, or have been at one time, or are at some time or are at different times. Maintaining the friendship and taking the responsibility of being a friend and also helping the other person be a friend to you, and expressing your feelings about your friendship...Stephanie and I do that with each other. It's a good thing.

INTERVIEW: Is it easier for you to be friends with men or women? Is it possible to have deep friendships with women?

AXL: Well, there's a camaraderie among men that starts when you're a child that is just easier, you know. Sometimes it's almost like an us-against-them type of thing. Not that that's right. At one point l realized, "Wow, everybody I'm close with are guys." I'm not close with any women, and something's wrong here. So I started working on changing that. I've had my problems in relating, you know, and I've definitely had my problems in relating to women and understanding what's going on. A lot of that's based in problems that l had with women that I didn't know l had, that started when I was a baby overhearing conversations with my mother and grandmother. That really affected me and I didn't even realize it.

INTERVIEW: Did you see the recent issue of Time magazine that went into the backlash against feminism?

AXL: No.

INTERVIEW: One of the things that has happened as America's become so conservative again is that there's been a real backlash against feminism and its ideals. But there's another subject in addition to all this that has to do with what happened to men in conjunction with feminism. Many men didn't understand their roles anymore, and there was confusion. And this also has to do with the fact that in the last few years men have felt as though it were O.K. to become pigs again.

AXL: Yes. We, Guns N ' Roses, did for a while. Or did, because it was the only way to deal with it -- it was O.K. to be obnoxious and rude like that for a while. it's not O.K. for me personally to be that way anymore. It was accepted of us.

INTERVIEW: It was expected of you. Everything l know about you and have read about you indicates that you believe you've got to look into your past, to dig into how you got where you were.

AXL: I've been doing a lot of emotional work since February of last year. l reached a point where l was basically dead and still breathIng. I didn't have enough energy to leave my bedroom and crawl to the kitchen to get something to eat. I had to find out why I was dead, and why I felt like l was dead. I had a lot of issues that I didn't really know about in my life and didn't understand how they affected me. I didn't realize that I felt certain ways toward women, toward men, toward people in general, and toward myself. The only way to get through that was to go back through it and find it and re-experience it and attempt to heal it. I'm still working on that but I'm a lot further along than I was.

INTERVIEW: It's a really slow process.

AXL: Yes, but I've done a lot of work in one year because of necessity. One, because l was miserable and suicidal and I realized I had to do this work or I would check out. Two, because we were trying to maintain our careers, deal with our lives, and record a record and put it out, and work the record. If I wasn't doing this work I wouldn't have been able to do the record. It's made things very hard over the last year, trying to do everything at once. Definitely my energies are on maximum. But to slow it down would mean having to stop doing something, and right now it's not really a smart move to do that. It's just been really hard, with a lot of misunderstanding, like, about why I'm late on stage or things like that.

INTERVIEW: Do you think that the kind of pressure you're under accelerates the way problems come out?

AXL: Yes, I think so. l think the pressure has also helped me want to rise above that pressure, and it has helped in accelerating the healing process. It's helped give me a drive. I have a definite survival drive, and the pressure gave me a drive to get on top of it. It was either sink or swim. Sometimes l would want to sink, and then while I was sinking I'd go, "Wait a minute, this isn't what I want to do," and I would calm down while I was sinking and then start rising back to the surface again.

INTERVIEW: When l saw you perform at Madison Square Garden the thing l really noticed, in addition to your powerful stage presence, is a high priority to speak what you see as the truth.

AXL: Yes, but not necessarily the truth as in what's right or wrong.

INTERVIEW: What do you mean?

AXL: The truth more in terms of honestly expressing my feelings.

INTERVIEW: It seems to me that one of the tough issues is how performers with your kind of energy control crowd situations that seem to get out of control. Things just go wild in this country in this moment, with people feeling very disenfranchised.

AXL: We're dealing with feelings of anger and frustration and alienation and things like that, and the band has got as big as we have because we're reaching many people with as much power as we have and with as much power as we have in the crowds. We like a chaotic crowd that's having fun and is into the show. But we like to rise above a certain energy that's in the crowd so people go away feeling satiated, and that they had a nice time. You know, kind of like good sex. (Axl laughs) We like to leave that feeling with people and we work to achieve it.

INTERVIEW: Do you feel you have a responsibility for the crowds? l know you have spoken very openly about drugs, for example. Why?

AXL: l feel l have a responsibility to myself, a responsibility to explain where we're coming from. Because a song or the performance of a song is a lot like a work of art. Everybody can see a Robert Mapplethorpe picture on the wall and have a different reaction to it, a different feeling about it, and a different idea of what that meant when it was taken, what the artist was thinking and what the person In the photograph was thinking. I feel a responsibility for us to explain what we are thinking, whether it is right or wrong. That's a weird responsibility because the artist also has a responsibility to art, and the creation of that art. But then how people react to it is a different thing. I've done things that I thought people would be fine with and understand, and you find that some people do and some people don't. A lot of people in the crowd say, "Guns N' Roses = party!" Parties are nice, but that's not necessarily where our heads are all the time, and it's not necessarily what we're trying to convey. We may be singing about a party, but we may be singing about how that party fucked us up or something.

INTERVIEW: Tell me more about why you have spoken so much about drugs.

AXL: Because no one did. It seemed to be something people were afraid to talk about.

INTERVIEW: Do you think people talking openly about drugs and drinking can help change things?

AXL: I think that it can. But I would also like it to be known that I'm not a person to be telling the youth of America, "Don't get wasted." Because many times drugs and alcohol -- there's a technical term that they're called, emotional suppressants -- are the only things that can help a person survive and get through and be able to deal with their pain. But l think that it would be good for people to realize and understand that they are doing something to deal with their pain and they aren't really going to be allowed to escape it and outrun it forever without side effects and certain consequences, as far as emotional and mental happiness and their physical condition. And I'd like people to be aware of those things. Fine, party and get wasted, but prepare yourself to be ready to make a change and face the actual reasons why you have to go get drunk. That's what I like, rather than someone saying, "Well, you know, doing this was the wrong way." Don't know if it was. A lot of bands have cleaned up now and talk about things they did and how they were wrong. I don't know if it was necessarily wrong. It helped them survive. At the time they weren't given the proper tools to do the proper healing. I personally don't do any hard drugs anymore, because they get in the way of me getting to my base issues, and I'd rather get rid of the excess baggage than find a way to shove it deeper in the closet, at this time in my life.

INTERVIEW: When you were young, did you imagine you'd have success like this?

AXL: I did imagine success like this, and I was always told I had grandiose ideas. (Axl laughs). I remember listening to "Bennie and the Jets" - that's when l decided l wanted to play for big. I wanted to play a song l was proud of in front of big crowds.

INTERVIEW: l read somewhere that you sang in a choir in church. Is this true?

AXL: l didn't necessarily sing in a church choir. I had to sing in church as a kid with my brother and sister.

INTERVIEW: Your audience seems to include lots of different kinds of people. But there's a certain feeling in that audience. Your audience is really with you. Do you feel it when you're up there?

AXL: I think that a large portion of the audience is very proud to be fans of Guns N' Roses because they've found their own personal meanings in their lives with our music, and the music has gotten them through things, or they're able to put it on and work out to it, or something. A lot of people out there are dealing with the struggle of life, and they know that we have all kinds of strange obstacles, no matter how on top of it we may seem. To be able to come out on stage and rise above it -- that, l think, helps give people faith and hope that they can get through their next day, or whatever it is. I think that a lot of people in our audiences feel that they're being denied something. They're being denied access to themselves, they're being denied avenues for their own personal power or their own personal power is being stepped on, and they're not being allowed to be themselves and they unite with our fight to achieve those things. I like feeling a sense of unity with the crowd even though everybody might be thinking something different. And there are times when everybody comes together, like in singing "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." That's one reason we do the song: it's for people.

INTERVIEW: Why did you choose rock n' roll?

AXL: The love of music.

INTERVIEW: Why do you have a love of music?

AXL: It wasn't necessarily the words in the songs but the melody and the feelings expressed in songs that somehow became a friend of mine when l was a child. The feeling that came out of the words, or the music, became my friend, my understanding friend, and then I knew that l could feel that way. I was denied feeling any way other than how my stepfather told me l should feel continually, about anything and everything. But in music, I could listen and realize you could feel other ways or new ways; it was O.K., because here were manifestations of those other feelings. Whether my dad liked them or not, they existed. l call my step-dad my dad. I call my real father "Father." Anyway, music became my ally. A lot of times it was music in my head, because l wasn't really allowed to listen to the radio.

INTERVIEW: You weren't?

AXL: No. l was allowed to listen to the radio on Sunday afternoons sometimes. My dad would put it on, because l think that's when he and Mom had their special time together, and we had to take our naps; they would put on the radio so we wouldn't overhear anything. But rock n' roll was a bad and evil thing. l remember once I was singing a Barry Manilow song, "Mandy," In the back seat of the car. It came on the radio, and I kind of sang with it, and I got smacked In the mouth because that song was "evil."

INTERVIEW: Don't get embarrassed, but when you were on stage l noticed how gorgeous your legs are.

AXL: Ahhh! (Axl laughs)

INTERVIEW: I'm serious. What about the issue of a man showing his legs the way you do?

AXL: This is an issue? Is this a big issue?

INTERVIEW: Well, it --

AXL: Is this, like, a big issue I haven't been fully informed of?

INTERVIEW: Well, for a guy that's --

AXL: Oh, O.K. l can say my opinion.

INTERVIEW: Go.

AXL: Meaning, like, "Wow, this isn't necessarily the most macho, male, rock n' roll thing to do."

INTERVIEW: You got it.

AXL: Yes, l know. Exactly. That's kinda why I did it. It began when I wanted to wear something different and l wore a pair of red, white, and blue shorts when l was In Rio that l had found in a store. l liked them. I could move around better, because what l do is pretty athletic. I try to make my own unorthodox moves.

INTERVIEW: Do you work out a lot?

AXL: l work out a little bit. Actually, when l get off the phone I'm gonna work out. l work out now and then on a StairMaster, with my chiropractor-trainer. We do a workout on the StairMaster that enables me to breathe and move better on stage. And what I'm doing on stage turns out to be something that helps build me up rather than tear me down by being so exhausting. At first when l was playing it would just wear me out.

INTERVIEW: Do you think that having a relationship with a band has to do with the same things as having a relationship with a person?

AXL: Yes, l think so. Especially with Slash and it's definitely a marriage.

INTERVIEW: But a band is like a multiple marriage, right?

AXL: Yeah, it's kinda like a marriage and a half. Or a marriage and a household.

INTERVIEW: 1 know everyone asks you this, but l want to ask for myself: What about the famous lyrics that caused all those problems? I think one of the lines was "Niggers and faggots, out of my way."

AXL: No, that's not what was said. That's what's being said was said.

INTERVIEW: O.K. Can you talk to me about this?

AXL: People have taken two parts that they wre offended by and combined them into one sentence and said that's what I said. l find that amazing. What l said, and the first thing said, is, "Police and niggers, that's right, get outa my way." That's what I said.

INTERVIEW: You said what?

AXL: l said, "Police and niggers, that's right, get outa my way." I'd had four or five black guys trying to rob me who were all junkies. And a couple of other guys trying to sell me gold chains. l had just gotten off the bus and people were grabbing my backpack. It was a very scary, heavy situation for me. l just got off the bus, into boom "You're in Hell, son."

INTERVIEW: just one thing --

AXL: And, a black man --

INTERVIEW: Can you just straighten something out for me a sec?

AXL: Walt, wait, one second. A black man is the one who got me out of that situation, and l call him an angel. l always have. The police were shoving me out of the way.

INTERVIEW: Is this line a lyric, though, or is it something you said on the stage?

AXL: No, that's a lyric. It's a lyric in a song called "One In a Million." It was originally written as comedy. It was written watching Sam Kinison during one of his first specials. I was sitting around with friends, drunk, with no money. One of my friends had just gotten robbed for seventy-eight cents on Christmas by two black men.

INTERVIEW: And the other lyric, where you use the word "faggot"...I'm asking you this --

AXL: That's O.K. --

INTERVIEW: -- because l want you to talk to me about this thing where people say, "Axl Rose is homophobic."

AXL: Well, a lot of people have used the word "faggot," and they're not getting told they're homophobic. But, homophobia? O.K. I'll repeat myself -- this is something that l just said in Rolling Stone. I don't know, maybe l have a problem with homophobia. Maybe l was two years old and got fucked in the ass by my dad and it's caused a problem ever since, but other than that, l don't know if I have any homophobia. How was that?

INTERVIEW: Well...

AXL: That's a fact. That's something that happened and that's some of the damage I've been working on.

INTERVIEW: Jesus!

AXL: O.K. So anyway, homophobia? The song is very generic. it's very vague, it's very simple, it was meant to be that way, it was written that way. It was like, O.K., I'm writing this song as l want to -- l want this song to be like "Midnight Cowboy." That guy was very naive and involved in everything. The cowboy. My friend who got robbed, he was like Dustin Hoffman's character. l wanted the song to be written from that point of view. l wrote it to deal with my anger and my fear and my vulnerability in that situation, that l still felt uncomfortable with, that happened to me. That was the "police and niggers" line. But now we move on to another line that says, "immigrants and faggots, they make no sense to me/ they come to our country and spread some fucking disease." O.K., l wrote that, being a songwriter, and being an abstract songwriter and using my artistic license. The "immigrants" line, the part that says they come to our country -- wait, I just said my own verse wrong. I said what someone else said it was, that I'm really upset about. Sorry. It says, "Immigrants and faggots, they make no sense to me/ they come to our country and think they'll do as they please / like start some mini-Iran, or spread some fucking disease / and they talk so many goddamned ways / it's all Greek to me." O.K.? I can understand not understanding what the hell I meant in that, because I jumbled two thought patterns together.

INTERVIEW: Among other things, that was interpreted as though you're saying stuff about AIDS.

AXL: It goes back and forth, it twists... Well, I am saying stuff about AIDS. The line about "faggots" was written after I heard a story from a sheriff about a man they had just arrested after just releasing from jail, and he had AIDS, and he was back out on Santa Monica Boulevard hooking. We were like, "Oh, my God." And this just happened to get stuck in the song, since we had a radical line like "police and niggers" -- we might as well go all the way now, we'll write something else just as obnoxious, because we were just writing off-color humor at the time. We were dealing with a situation that was really heavy, ugly, and scary, and so we were making light of it. l was being encouraged to write as l was writing.

INTERVIEW: Are you saying to me that you wrote what was going on in your mind?

AXL: And what was going on in the room I was in. And what was going on with a lot of people that I knew. There was a lot of confusion about a lot of issues, a lot of confusion about racism. We were being told this is "We Are the World." It wasn't fucking "We Are the World." It was "We Are the World" for a chosen few who did a nice little song or something, but dawn in the streets, it was war. That was being just glossed right over. People have said that I've devastated the consciousness of "We Are the World" and rah-rah-rah -- It's like, "No, your 'We Are the World' consciousness was a nice try, but all it did was gloss over the shit that's going on.'" And somehow, by some freak act of God, l exposed it all. You know? And people had to deal with the issues.

INTERVIEW: So you're saying to me that you exposed what was around you and yourself?

AXL: Yes.

INTERVIEW: Would you say that these acts of self-exposure are because of your own needs to know why you feel that way about all these things?

AXL: Yeah, about certain things. But there wasn't really any racism in my family or any thing. l didn't experience racism until l came to L.A. Then we move on to the gay issue. I hitchhiked a lot and I got hassled an awful lot. I was very naive, and very tired, and a guy picked me up and said l could crash at his hotel, and l woke up with the man trying to rape me. l almost killed this man, l was so frightened. l had a straight-edge razor and was freakin' out: Don't ever touch me again! Then the guy ran out the door. l was so scared and l felt so violated. l didn't know that l felt even more violated than l was in the situation because of what had gone on in my childhood and what l had pretty much buried-and didn't even remember.

INTERVIEW: When did you find that out? Was it with your father or your stepfather?

AXL: it was my real father.

INTERVIEW: When did you find it out?

AXL: l suspected it about two years ago, because all of a sudden the thought crossed my mind. When it crossed my mind l had to stop the car and I just broke down crying. Such an outpouring had never come out of me.

INTERVIEW: Now that you understand, if you hear that a man is gay how does it make you feel?

AXL: People can do whatever they want to, but I'm more pro-hetro. I'm not knocking it -- I have friends that are gay. It's just that it's not my cup of tea, l guess. That's all. People can do what they want. l can sit and watch the Madonna movie and enjoy it very much and feel I'm learning something, and then I have other friends that can't handle it at all.

INTERVIEW: I should tell you, because we're talking to each other about all this so honestly and I'd feel dishonest, I'm gay.

AXL: Mmmm.

INTERVIEW: Uh...

AXL: I don't make any judgment, you know. Sometimes we can be stupid, like somebody rooting for their team and just going, "Oh, our team's the best." That song sounds like l am, because when we went in the studio it came out very forceful. l played it on guitar and it was done very slow and in a different tone of voice and done very humorously. Well, that didn't work out when we recorded it because I had Duff play it on guitar -- because he could play it better and in better time -- and Izzy put this other guitar thing to it, and it evolved into something of its own. We didn't plan that song to be as forceful as it was. We walked into the studio, and boom, it just happened.

INTERVIEW: I think that self-exposure is a very important thing; it's how you find out who you are. Although the context is completely different, a lot of this conversation is reminding me of Robert Mapplethorpe and all the issues of self- censorship that came up with his work. People can like it, they can hate it, and, unfortunately, it can even fuel more awful prejudice, but the way we learn about human consciousness is when people show their truth like he did.

AXL: That's the issue that I dealt with on "One In a Million" all the time. it's very strange because l know -- I didn't realize it then -- but, I know there's people in, say, Louisiana, where giving them that song is like giving them a gun and telling them, "It's O.K., go shoot those you're prejudiced against." It's a rough one. I mean, Freddie Mercury and Elton John are, like, two of the biggest Influences in my whole life. And probably always will be. If someone asked me if I could have anything in the world, what would l want? If l could own anything, like owning a piece of art, l think it would be Elton John's publishing, on his first seven albums. I don't want the money. Being able to own those songs Is like owning a painting of someone you admire.

INTERVIEW: Axl, you live in L.A., right?

AXL: Yes. Wait, can l talk about another line In the song?

INTERVIEW: Sure.

AXL: The other line, the "immigrants" line. I've only performed the song "One In a Million" twice. l don't perform it, because l think it's too dangerous and l don't trust people with the song. I don't trust the audience with the song. I don't want to do "One in a Million" on stage and know that there's a lot of people out there in the crowd who are prejudiced and it's gonna help fuel their fire. It's enough to handle the fact that it's on a record and people use it for their own anthems for their own prejudiced-ness. I question myself every day. Should l pull it? Should I leave it? Do l leave it for the sake of artistic integrity? Do I pull it, do I censor myself? But wait, I'm against censorship. It's a really hard issue to constantly deal with. The only way to deal with it is to communicate about it. l don't like the damage that that song does, l don't like the prejudiced-ness, l don't like the way the song fuels people's prejudiced-ness, and that's a problem for me. l made an apology on the cover of the record. Looking at it now, it's not the best apology, but it was the best apology l could make back then. l knew people were going to be offended, and it says my apology is to those who take offense. Or to who may be offended, whatever it says. I was trying to explain the reasons why I was expressing myself in this way and apologizing if it did offend people. The apology is on the cover of every record. it's not a sticker; it's part of the cover. It's stuck in there with all kinds of other things on the cover -- it's done like a National Enquirer thing. l wrote it myself and put it on there, it was my Idea, and it's like it's been refused to be acknowledged. "One in a Million" has been used continually against Guns N' Roses and against myself, no matter what l had to say about it.

INTERVIEW: Why, do you think?

AXL: In order to deal with "One in a Million" properly, you had to accept the fact that certain things really exist. But for whatever reasons -- I don't know, whatever negative forces there are -- it was just decided to take one point of view and continually shove that dawn people's throats. It helped make money. It helped make a lot of people money. Because people could just get in there and needle and fuel up peopIe's anger and make money: "Wait, we've got nothing to write about. Let's write about 'One in a Million,' let's talk about that now. Go!" We've got some attention because we've got controversy and we've got an ugly scandal, rah-rah-rah. But l think that "One In a Million" has done some good, too. People have thought about what racism means In their own life by being pissed off at Axl Rose, and made decisions and even acted on those decisions, and many were positive. There's a lot of negative ones too, but some were positive. It forced people to speak when they heard it.

INTERVIEW: It also --

AXL: They had to take a side on how they felt about these issues. That's a strange amount of power for a song to have.

INTERVIEW: It also empowers people to say, "That's not good enough. We don't want to hear lyrics like that."

AXL: It gives them theIr choice.

INTERVIEW: Would you say that the reaction to the lyrics helped you change?

AXL: Yes, to be able to rise above it, and deal with it, and not be crushed by certain negativity.

INTERVIEW: And be open about it.

AXL: Yes, it definitely helped me to be able to change. I went out and got all kinds of video tapes and read books on racism. Books by Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X. Reading them and studying, then after that l put on the tape and l realized, "Wow, I'm still proud of this song." That's strange. What does that mean? But l couldn't communicate as well as do now about it, so my frustration was just turned to anger. Then my anger would be used against me and my frustration would be used against me: "Look, he's throwing a tantrum."

INTERVIEW: You've got a big tour this summer, right?

AXL: Yes, a nIce, big, fun tour. What l didn't get back to was the line In "One in a Million" that wrote about immigrants. I wasn't really living anywhere and I'd been hassled a few times in convenience stores and gas stations, and told by the way l looked that I couldn't even go Into stores. At one store I'd been chased out with a butcher knife just because the guy went crazy. It was just my frustration with dealing with all that in L.A. I wasn't condemning people from other countries. People like to say that that's what my thoughts were. No. Just because the lines were real, simple, and angry, they're reading a lot more Into it than was really there. The last verse has always been Ignored.

INTERVIEW: What is it?

AXL: It has a line that says, "Radicals and racists, don't point your finger at me." Then it says, "I'm a small-town white boy." People have taken that like that's waving a flag that I'm pro-white or something. To say "small-town white boy" at the time that l put that In that song was something you didn't say. You didn't say that when you were trying to play the rock clubs, you'd just gotten to Hollywood, and people are going, "You look like you just got off the boat. Are you some fucking hick from Indiana, or what?" Or whatever. I was saying, "Look, yeah, I'm this naive, confused, small-town white boy, and l have a lot of problems, so racists, don't point your finger at me and go off and say I'm one of you, or whatever. And radicals, don't you be going off on me and saying I'm on your side or against your side or whatever."

INTERVIEW: How do you write songs? At a typewriter?

AXL: No. I write them on paper. I'll think of a line and If I really like it, I write it down.

INTERVIEW: So your songs build.

AR : At times l enjoy writing, and other times just hate it because it's definitely having to go back and experience some pain and express how you really feel. Sometimes the writing ends up being cathartic in the long run, but, like, writing "Coma" on "Use Your Illusion I" was so heavy I'd start to write and I'd just pass out. I tried to write that song for a year, and couldn't. l went to write it at the studio and passed out. l woke up two hours later and sat down and wrote the whole end of the song, like, just off the top of my head. It was like, don't even know what's coming out, man, but it's coming. l think one of the best things that I've ever written was maybe the end segment of the song "Coma." It just poured out. I thanked Slash for that, because I used to curse him, going, "Man, that son of a bitch has written this thing and I've got to write to it and don't know what to write." It was so hard; it made me feel like, "l don't know how to write, I should just quit." (Axl laughs) But I finally did write it, and l ended up feeling a lot better about a lot of situations that l expressed In that song.

INTERVIEW: Often when I write l get overwhelmed and fall asleep, and afterward, when l wake up, l can just do it.

AXL: It's a defense mechanism sometimes.

INTERVIEW: Sure it is.

AXL: Your body shuts itself off.

INTERVIEW: Have you written other things? Have you written stories? Can you imagine writing a movie?

AXL: I can imagine writing a movie. That would be somewhere down the road.

INTERVIEW: And an autobiography?

AXL: I've been working with a friend on putting information together and stuff. More truth and reality is going to come out if l talk with him than if l talk with someone who doesn't know what's up. I've always believed that the truth about what's going on in Guns N' Roses' lives is just as exciting and just as dangerous and just as heavy and just as real as people thought the hype scene to be.

INTERVIEW: Don't you mean "more" exciting, "more" vital? You don't mean "just as," do you?

AXL: Well, l do feel "more." But I also mean things were just as heavy and dangerous and as confused in reality as they were in the hype. But the hype was also damaging to us. I'm no longer working with Izzy, and people have written about how that went down. (Axl laughs) They weren't around. They didn't see it. They didn't know. They didn't know how painful that experience was. They had no clue. But yet, I was just a dick. (Axl laughs) I just went off on Izzy. You know, he tried to talk to me nicely and l went off. That's not how it went down. It was funny: when Bruce Weber was taking the photos of Stephanie and l for this article, that's when l got the call that Izzy was leaving the band.

INTERVIEW: During the session?

AXL: Bruce was taking photos and I was standing there crying. l was blown away. At those times when we're against the wall kissing and my tongue was out and stuff, it's like, there were also tears going dawn my face but with the lighting or whatever it doesn't show. But it was there. Stephanie was helping to comfort me. We didn't go, "Well, let's hug and kiss for the photos." She was comforting me -- my friend of fifteen years was leaving.

INTERVIEW: Listen, you've given us a lot of time. l am really pleased to have spoken to you.

AXL: Well, this was very nice.

INTERVIEW: Thank you.