#016 Izzy Stradlin 1993 (Formerly w/Guns N’ Roses) | The Tapes Archive podcast

(upbeat music) – Welcome back to The
Tapes Archive Podcast, where we release interviews that have never been heard before. In this episode, we have
the rarely-heard-from and the coolest OG from Guns
N’ Roses, Izzy Stradlin. At the time of this interview in 1993, Stradlin was 31 years old and out on tour with his band, the Ju Ju Hounds. In the interview, Izzy talks
about growing up in Indiana, the making of his debut record, and if he’s still friends
with his ex-bandmates from Guns N’ Roses. In other Guns N’ Roses-related history, Marc, our fearless interviewer,
had a negative brush with Axl Rose one year before
this interview with Izzy. Marc had given Guns N’ Roses
only two-and-a-half stars for the performances when
they played the Hoosier Dome during their Monsters of Rock tour, co-headlined with Metallica. Rose in turn blasted off
an angry fax to Marc, to let him know how he felt. If you’d like to read
Axl’s love letter to Marc and Marc’s review of the
show, head over to our website or Facebook page to read it. As a bonus, I’ve added a
letter from one of GNR’s fans that wanted to kick Marc’s
ass over the review. To make it even more Indiana-ish,
the fan sent the letter to Marc via his jail
cell in Hamilton County. As always, we have music
critic Marc Allan at the helm conducting the interview. If you’d like to support the show, please Like, Follow, and
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please head over to our website at thetapesarchive.com. We’ll jump into the interview after a quick word from our sponsors. The Tapes Archive is proud to be sponsored by the true-crime documentary,
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it’s time to open the vault. Marc? Here’s Izzy IS: Hello. MA: Izzy?
IS: Yeah. MA: Hi, It’s Marc.
IS: Hi. Marc Allan at the Indianapolis Star, how ya doin’? IS: Good.
MA: Good. IS: What do I owe you for
that review you guys gave? MA: Well, we’ll talk about that. IS: Okay. MA: No, that’s a genuine
love-that-record review, you know? IS: Cheers, man. My dad, he faxed me that over when we were in Japan. Yeah, he says, “You guys
got a great write up here in the Indy Star.” I was like, “Yeah? Let’s see it,” and everybody was stoked,in the band. Appreciate it. MA: Oh, no, we were- I was just absolutely knocked out, ’cause I have no idea
what to expect, you know? I didn’t know if you
were going to come back with a record that sounded
like Guns N’ Roses. IS: Right. MA: Or if you had some other ideas, and boy, I put that on and I was just, you know, blown away, so. Anyway, you got a couple
of fairly sentimental songs on there about Indiana, and I guess what you have been quoted as saying in the past, I didn’t think you had a whole lot of feeling for this state. IS: Yeah, my wife was ribbing
me this morning about that, because you gotta understand, from 1980 to 1987 I was in California, and Guns N’ Roses, we
did some reviews back– some interviews, like the first ones we’d done in ’86 or
’85– drunker than shit, and the subject of Indiana came up, and somehow, you know, we
were sputtering crap about it. But I moved back to Indiana in 1988, ’89. I came back after we, Guns N’ Roses, had been out on tour and made some money, and I bought a house back then. I’ve based out of there
since and I don’t know, it’s just a case of my family, I’ve got family and I’ve
got old friends back there, and kinda got to know the
place again, I suppose. But I dig it back there. I was just out there last week, and we flew out here to get this, we’re starting up our tour now. MA: Is it going to be strange for you to come home and play a club? IS: It’s gonna be killer. Looking so forward to it. We just got back off a tour. We been out for three months, Europe and Japan, Australia, and the first gig we did
before the tour started, we did a quick club gig up in Chicago, and it was sort of a launch, you know? We wanted to launch the
tour out of the States and then come back and do it right, and the response we got
up there was really great, and the people made us feel really good. In Indianapolis, well,
last time when we played, we did a … MA: You did Deer Creek I think, yeah and then, I can’t
remember what the order was, I think it was Farm Aid
first and then Deer Creek with Guns N’ Roses. IS: Yeah, Deer Creek, right, yeah. In most of the gigs,
you know, like I wasn’t, while I was playing in Guns N’ Roses, so when Axl would start
to go off on a tirade, I’d kind of stand there
and go, “Oh, come on. Let’s go, next song, next song.” Kind of embarrassing but, you know? MA: That’s how it felt
in the audience too. IS: There’s no shuttin’ him up. MA: Yeah. IS: Once he gets going, that’s it. MA: No kidding. Well, one of the things that I like so well about the record is that it’s such a raw
rock and roll album. How close to live is this? IS: When we recorded
it, we did it like this. We would rehearse the song, sometimes it was just
me, Jimmy, and Charlie, sometimes it was me, Jimmy, and Rick. And we’d rehearse it and get
it to where it sounded decent, and go in and play it through
like three or four times, and then move on to the next song. So in the course of a day, you know, we would get through quite a few songs, and then we’d go back
and pick the stuff out that seemed to be a good take of it. So it was mostly live, and we’d go back and throw
on some overdub stuff and vocals, and guitar solos, and maracas and stuff like that. MA: So mostly live-
IS: Yeah. MA: Which is exactly the way it sounds. IS: Yeah.
MA: Which is cool. IS: Yeah, well after
working on Illusions records for like two years, you know, and recording, I don’t know, God, there was so many songs, I can’t remember all of ’em, I just really had the urge to just go in and do it how we did
Appetite for Destruction, which was you go in
and just track it live, do three or four takes
and move right along. You know, no messin’ around. MA: The record got, I guess you would say, fairly positive reviews, but everyone notes how much
it sounds like the Stones. IS: Yeah. MA: Does it sound like the Stones to you? IS: Well, not Bucket of Trouble. MA: No. IS: Not Pressure Drop. There’s two guitars, I mean there’s the obvious two-guitar thing that’s happening. It definitely has Stones
influence and Stones vibe, and it’s got a lot of
other things to in it that maybe they’re not as obvious, but to me, you know, it sounds like the kind of music I like to play and hear. MA: Mm-hmm. IS: And I love the Stones and reggae. I like any music really, I listen to all kinds of stuff, even classical or just anything. I just love music. MA: In retrospect, would you
make the same record again? IS: Yeah, I think the next one we do, we’ll do it the same style, you know, the same groove. And that’s the main thing, is keep the grooves in the songs. We try to lean towards, you know, make sure each song had a good groove that you could follow. MA: If you had been
unknown before this record, do you think critics would
have cut you some slack? IS: I don’t know, you know? It’s hard to say. It’s hard to say because
I never have understood what motivates someone
to write a bad review or what motivates someone to really want to put some people down, like bands. Like I read a review of
Keith Richards’s show when he played LA. It was just sort of, I don’t know, kind of sarcastic and they say he did a pointless
rendition of this and that. I think, fuck, I mean I saw
those guys playing live, and I thought they were just great. I’m sorry, you were asking again? MA: Well, I guess I wondered
if you had been unknown, would they have looked at
the record differently? I mean, you know, I just
wonder if people are thinking about you and thinking
about Guns N’ Roses, and comparing those two, and would your reviews
have been different, maybe more favorable or something else? IS: Yeah, it’s hard to say. MA: Yeah. IS: It’s hard to say. I don’t know. MA: Okay, well let me ask
about some of the songs. Shuffle it All makes it
sound like you’re kind of exhausted by the whole
rock and roll lifestyle. Is that an accurate reading of the song as you wrote it at the time? IS: That song was a song that Jimmy and I put the music together for first. He had this bass riff, and we put that song together
without any lyrics first, and started putting the lyrics together. I had a lot of lyrics for that song, like more than any on the album. It took a longest for
me to write that one. Yeah, it ended up being a lot of, I guess, just flashing back on constantly living out of a suitcase
and constantly traveling, but at the same time, enjoying it. But yeah, at that time I think it was, the baggage was gettin’
a little heavy, maybe. MA: Yeah, so I would figure
that you feel differently about the lifestyle now, being in … IS: I’ve always loved touring. I got a bad rap from the
Gunners about, you know, not wanting to tour and
do videos and all that. I’ve always loved traveling and I’ve always loved
playing different places. I’m not really sure what
that song is exactly about, but it’s basically about
always putting those bags, shuffling the stuff out of your bags, because I’ve lived from
suitcase to suitcase for the last, since ’86. MA: It really gives, you
know, kind of this impression of just being tired of what
you’d been going through. So I kinda figured that
that may have been something that you were writing
either while you were still with Guns N’
Roses, or just after it. IS: Yeah, it was just after. MA: Yeah. Well, what are your recollections
of the train tracks, other than what you
sing about in the song? I have a very similar, the
same thing happened to me. IS: Oh really? MA: Yeah, that’s exactly what
I would do when I was a kid. IS: Yeah, well it’s where
I grew up in Lafayette, we lived by the train tracks. That’s where we used to
hang out all the time, was down there. We’d ride dirt bikes and just hang out and build tree forts and
all that kind of stuff, and it was just like my favorite place to be or to hang out, and when I came back there in ’88, that was the first place I went back to when I got back there. I was just kind of hanging out, going, “Man, this place. I used to love hanging out here. This was my favorite place.” And that got the idea going
for the song back then. It’s just kind of a, what was it called, biography tune or something, you know? MA: Mm-hmm. IS: A little bit about, because that’s where I used to hang out and we moved out to the west coast, and boom, you know, this band popped, and got a bunch of bad habits and kicked all that shit, you know? But I still like hanging out down there. MA: Did your family, did that song make them feel a little squirrely, talking about getting
stoned by the train tracks? IS: No, I mean I haven’t
gotten no flack yet from my pop or my mom, so I guess- Well, there’s no lyrics
on the liners, so… MA: Yeah, that’s true. IS: My dad, he kind of- I think they liked the record. MA: What caused you to write
the song Come On Now Inside? IS: I wrote that back in Lafayette, right before I came back out to LA to hook up with Jimmy, the bass player. It was after I left Guns N’ Roses, and it was one of the
first winters that I’d ever really spent that much
time back in Indiana, and I was there for just about a month, and man, it’s like, you
know, just was pretty- The weather was really bad, and I was sittin’ around
and one day the sun came up and I start feeling really good, you know, and I just forgot how much, how good it felt to
have a little sunshine. I was settin’ up my 8-track and pullin’ out guitars and stuff, and I just tracked that song and just put it all together right there. It’s just one of those songs. MA: Tell me about Morning Tea, which I’m told is the title
of the uncredited song? IS: Yeah. MA: That’s really a cool thing, and completely unexpected
in many aspects, you know? You don’t know that it’s
coming, for one thing. IS: Well, how it started
was I’ve always wanted to do like just a percussion thing. I’ve always been into drums. I played drums before I played
guitar or bass or anything. We did this thing in Chicago
and we had everybody, the road crew and the band and everybody, all playing different drums. I got a couple of these Indian drums that I bought down in Oklahoma, like ceremonial drums. The song started out, we did it in Chicago and then we mixed the album in Copenhagen. Jimmy met this guy, his name’s Agafa and he’s Rastafarian, and he teaches African tribal drums. That’s what he does for a living. We met this guy and we hung out with him, and he was a super cool guy. He’s never been to America, which really blew my mind, talking to a guy, he’s from Africa, living in Copenhagen and
he’s never been to America, so he has no idea what it’s like here. So he showed me like basic
pattern of this one drum beat, there were three parts to it. He showed me the basic beat, and I could play the basic beat. The other stuff was really complicated. It was really hard for me to learn how to play any of that other stuff. So we did a live track, it was me and him. I played (mimics drum
beat) on this talking drum, and then he played the answer drum, which came back with (mimics drum beat), something like that. Then we added like two more tracks to it, and at the end it was finished up, we had this track of guitar feedback, and we kind of stuck
that in there with it. It was a trip, though. I mean, that drumming
stuff is really powerful. Some of these guys, they
really know what they’re doing. It’s incredible, it’s like trance. MA: Yeah, is that the kind of thing that you might try more of in the future? IS: Yeah, I mean, it’s something- I still got these tapes. I’ve got all these, it’s
West African ritual drums, and it’s got for ceremonials, like when a child is born or when they’re having a celebration. They have war songs and stuff like that. I’ve always listened to
these tapes over the years. I turned Steven Tyler on to a tape when we were on tour
with them back in ’87, with Guns N’ Roses, and they used some of that stuff on the beginning of, what was it called, Some Kind of Voodoo off of Pump. MA: Oh, okay. IS: Or something. Yeah, sure I’d love to do
some more stuff with it, maybe on the next album do just a song, have it part of the record
or something like that, or an intro maybe. MA: Agafa, do you have any
idea how to spell that? IS: Yeah, it’s A-G-A-F-A. MA: Okay. IS: He’s got a really long name, it was like Agafa Etsu Amarti, probably long. MA: We’ll give up on that part of it. IS: Yeah, we just called him Agafa. MA: Yeah, good plan. How do you feel as a front man? Are you comfortable in the spotlight? IS: Yeah, it’s fine. I always sang at GNR rehearsal, most of the rehearsals. It was usually just the band, Axl wasn’t usually at all the rehearsals, so I’d always been guide vocs for Welcome to the
Jungle and Paradise City and all that stuff, and it was always
something I’d been doing, but it was a pretty easy
step to go into that. I mean, the first week, it was one of those things where you go and I’d say to myself, I’d say, “Well, I can sing enough
to pull this off.” The only question would
have been whether or not my voice would take it, you know, whether it would hold up to it. After three months of being
on the road, it’s no problem. Gotta do some warm ups. You need to do like 20 or 30 minutes of warm up every night and
that’s about it really. MA: Yeah. IS: Hi, it’s me, Denise. MA: Hi. DENISE: I want to give you
a little wrap up signal. MA: Okay.
IS: Yeah. MA: Okay. All right, just a couple of things then. Are you still friendly with
those guys, Guns N’ Roses? IS: Yeah, Duff tried
calling me here last night, like four in the morning,
but I was sleeping and I got the message this morning. And I saw Slash in New
York last year in January, and I’ve talked to Matt. I haven’t talked to Axl for the last year, since December of ’91, but
I’m sure he’s been busy. But I’ve left the doors open if they want to call
or anything like that. There’s no animosity on my part. MA: One thing I gotta ask is, what the hell is wrong with that guy? IS: Who? MA: Axl. IS: I don’t know man. You’ll have to ask him. MA: He’s just, I don’t know, combative.
Forget about the conduct, you know, and all of the weird things. I mean, that guy’s just out of control. IS: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, you gotta wonder. MA: Yeah, I just thought
maybe you had some clue since you’ve known him for so many years. IS: I really don’t. MA: How’d you feel when you saw that “Where’s Izzy?” Sign in the video? Did that make you mad? IS: What was that, Don’t Cry video? MA: Yeah. IS: I thought, well shit,
I’m here in Indiana man! What do you mean where am I? MA: Since you gotta go,
I wanted to ask you, can we do something in
person and more in depth, when you’re home next? IS: Yeah, sure. MA: I’d like to just, you know, either come up and talk
to you at the house, or if you don’t want to do that, just kind of driving around Lafayette and talking about places you used to hang when you were a kid
and that kind of stuff? IS: Yeah man, that could be cool. MA: Yeah. IS: We’re going to be back
there a few weeks here on tour. MA: Right. IS: So maybe we could
set something up then. I’m sure there will be a lot of people down there from Lafayette, and it will be probably a scene, but we could probably hook up something, maybe in the daytime? MA: That’d be great, that’d be great. How can we work this? IS: I guess you need to get a hold of Aaron, the management, or tell Geffen. MA: Okay. IS: And try to set it up in advance. MA: Oh, that’d be really cool. IS: Yeah. MA: That’d be great, because there’s a lot of
things I want to ask you, and I knew we only had 20 minutes, so I’m just… IS: Yeah, okay.
MA: Covering the bases. IS: Yeah, sure we could
do something again. MA: That’d be great. IS: Yeah. MA: All right then, thanks. I’m really looking forward to the show. I think this is gonna be really cool. Do you have a lot of
stuff that’s unreleased that you’re gonna be playing? IS: Yeah, we got a few songs
that we haven’t recorded yet. MA: Okay. All right, well I’ll let you go, and I’ll try to set something up and I hope we can get it together. I can’t wait to see you. IS: Cool, man. Thanks, Marc. MA: All right, thanks Izzy, take care. IS: Bye bye.
MA: Bye bye.

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