Guns N’ Roses revved up for first tour in five years

Legendary L.A. hard rock band Guns N’ Roses has never been in a better state than it is now, accordi

Legendary L.A. hard rock band Guns N’ Roses has never been in a better state than it is now, according to the group’s second-longest tenured member, Darren “Dizzy” Reed.

Guns N’ Roses, with Sebastian Bach

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Times Union Center, 51 S. Pearl St., Albany


MORE INFO: 487-2000,

“I think the band now — this lineup is the best band we’ve ever had, the best all-around band I’ve ever been part of,” Reed said recently from Minneapolis, a stop on the band’s first U.S. tour in five years. “Every night, I’m looking forward to getting out and making music with these cats. It’s very enjoyable.”

Reed’s gushing might give longtime fans pause — if not make their eyes roll in disbelief. After all, lead vocalist and de facto leader William “Axl” Rose is the only original member still standing from the band’s late ’80s heyday — Reed joined the lineup in 1990. The classic lineup featuring Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagen and drummer Steven Adler famously dissolved over the course of the ’90s because of drug abuse and inflated egos.

Rose’s erratic behavior hasn’t helped things — his penchant for storming off stage midset, or just not showing up for performances at all, has plagued the band since the release of 1991’s “Use Your Illusion I and II.”

But so far on the North American tour — which began right before Halloween and heads to the Times Union Center the day before Thanksgiving — it’s been smooth sailing, with everyone showing up on time and no one leaving early. In fact, the only lateness that has occurred has been due to the set length at these shows, encompassing all of the group’s albums and stretching to over three hours on some nights.

‘Gonna be a late night’

“It hasn’t really been present in this particular tour as far as going on late,” Reed said. “The thing is, it’s a three-hour show, man, so it’s gonna go later than most of the concerts you’re gonna see. We don’t go on and play some of the [new] record, play a hit and then go home — we give you as much as we’ve got every single night. If that goes three hours, it’s gonna go three hours. People need to be prepared — I realize people have jobs, kids, school, things like that, so this would be the time to ask the boss to come in late, pay the baby sitter extra hours. It’s gonna be a late night, and to me that’s what rock ’n’ roll is all about.”

Currently, the band’s lineup has solidified with Rose, Reed, bassist and former Replacements member Tommy Stinson, keyboardist Chris Pitman, rhythm guitarist Richard Fortus, lead guitarists Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal and DJ Ashba and drummer Frank Ferrer.

Over the years, the band has seen musicians ranging from avant-garde guitarist Brian “Buckethead” Carroll to former Primus drummer Brian Mantia to journeyman drummer Josh Freese all pass through the lineup.

But despite these changes, the band’s core has actually been relatively stable since 1998, focusing around Rose, Reed, Stinson and Pitman. For Reed, the experience playing in the band is much better now than it was when he joined the classic lineup.

“Compared to the early ’90s, we remember a lot more of the tour, and that’s good,” Reed said. “There was obviously a certain energy level back then, being 20 years younger from my standpoint.”

Long time in the making

The current run is part of the ongoing touring behind “Chinese Democracy,” the band’s first studio recording in 15 years, since the covers album “The Spaghetti Incident?,” and the first collection of original material since the “Use Your Illusion” albums. The album, finally released in 2008, had been long-threatened by Rose — the band first began writing new material in 1994.

Reed is still stumped as to why “Chinese Democracy” took so long to record. He’s one of the few musicians to have been with the band throughout the entire recording process — the credits list 12 members and former members of the band who contribute to the album, and others such as Queen’s Brian May and Jane’s Addiction’s Dave Navarro had their contributions deleted. According to a New York Times article from March 6, 2005, the album had cost Guns’ label Geffen $13 million at the time the article ran.

“I never really have an answer as to why it took so long, I really don’t,” Reed said. “I love the final product though. To me, I think — I don’t like to use the word masterpiece, but it seems to fit the best, you know. But, from the beginning I was very involved, and as time went on . . . I would go in whenever they asked me to, to try to get whatever they needed out of me. I gave 100 percent all the time.”

The album became one of the first to be sold exclusively at a single chain, in this case Best Buy. Although it debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and has reached the platinum sales level of 1 million records sold, it was a far cry from the band’s 1987 debut “Appetite for Destruction” or the “Use Your Illusion” records, all of which have gone multiplatinum.

“If the record were to come out 10 years, 15 years ago, I don’t know — who knows?” Reed said. “Things are completely different now. It’s a lot harder to make a living as a musician. It’s not like it used to be — touring is sort of where it’s at right now. But we did it, we put out what I like to call an album, a CD, and I think it’s a great one.”

Bouncing ideas around

With the band’s lineup solidified, new material is constantly being worked on, according to Reed. There’s also no telling how much material Rose worked on during the “Chinese Democracy” sessions that hasn’t been released. But a new album would be a ways off yet.

“We’re always bouncing ideas off of each other, and we’re always recording,” Reed said. “If it came up, I have ideas to submit, and Axl has quite a bit of material that wasn’t fully realized and isn’t quite finished yet. If we wanted to put something else out we wouldn’t have to re-record everything, but with the new lineup, it would be in our best interest to try to get things done. But it hasn’t come up. We’re just concentrating on taking on this tour and kicking some ass every night with what we’ve got.”

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