IZZY STRADLIN: WITHOUT GUNS N' ROSES
It's a rainy Sunday afternoon in the government district of Bonn. Even a famous musician doesn't always talk as much as one wishes. Fortunately, Izzy Stradlin hasn't taken over the dubious virtue of many politicians: talking too much - back then the guy with the bandana, his former "boss" Axl Rose, used to do that. Now here's some information that the shy Izzy told us in an interview in late November.
GITARRE & BASS: DAS MUSIKER - FACHMAGZIN; FEB. 1993
translated by Anne
edited by me
G.B: A part of the "Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds" album was recorded in Copenhagen. How did that happen?
I.S: The Medley Studio is a pretty peaceful place that I know of from back then. We just needed some new air after working in Chicago all the time. All in all, we were there for six months, from February to July '92, and spent three months in the studio, including mixing.
G.B: Does the material on the EP that was released before the album come from the same session?
I.S: We had recorded at least twenty songs and half of them were released on the album, the other four on the EP.
(Then Izzy left for a little while to go to his hotel room. Meanwhile, the interview was continued with guitarist Rick Richards & bassist Jimmy Ashhurst.)
G.B: You two have written a few songs together with Izzy. I've heard rumors that the lyrics, or rather the messages, aren't that important to you. Is that right?
R.R: I would say that the lyrics are important and I don't really know why anyone wrote that. On the other hand, we don't want to change the world with our lyrics, that's right though.
J.A: Maybe that rumor was spread because the songs were written in a short span of time. But I think they reflect what was going on inside our heads at that moment, At any rate, we didn't sit there and try to write poems.
G.B: Rick, how did you share the lead and rhythm guitar parts with Izzy?
R.R: Izzy is playing most of the rhythm guitar parts and only a few solos sometimes. That's something that just worked out like that for us because we didn't play together as a band yet. Many things about that band just simply happened and we're pretty happy about it.
G.B: As far as I know, the collaboration with Ronnie Wood wasn't planned either.
J.A: At some point we had that idea, quite casually, while we were eating, because Ronnie was in town too. And then we were lucky and ran across him by chance. That was a good opportunity to ask him if he would like to come to the studio. And that was a lot of fun, it was great.
G.B: If you compare the "Ju Ju Hounds" album to the songs of Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards, you notice the mood is very striking. It seems like all three productions had a similar way of interpreting "rock 'n roll".
I.S: (In the meantime, present again) I like Woody's album very much. It's the best one he's ever made. He plays nice overtones...
G.B: (???) Don't you see the parallels between those three albums? In my opinion, these three albums have a lot of space and I think they aren't as overloaded as other productions, in terms of music and sound.
I.S: Space! Yes, that's it!
G.B: Let's return to another topic. Who plays the slide guitar on the album?
I.S: Rick Richards!
R.R: Yeah, I like Ry Cooder, Duane Allman, and all those people. Also Johnny Winter, Sonny Landreth, and Ronnie Wood are all very good slide players. I've listened to Landreth at John Hall once and he's fantastic. He has some really "nasty" sounds with his Firebird. And because of these people, I became a slide fan. I play these things in a G-tuning, but sometimes also in E or A.
G.B: What can you tell me about the equipment?
R.R: I'm playing a '58 Les Paul Junior, a Dan Armstrong for the slide stuff, and a Gibson Chet Atkins Nylon Acoustic. Furthermore, I also use Fender and Mesa/Boogie amps.
J.A: I was playing my bass during the whole session. It's a 1951 Fender Precision Reissue.
R.R: ... You mean a cheap Japanese model! [laughs]
J.A: And I also have an acoustic Guild Bass, which I'm using in two songs and I'm only playing with SWR Amps.
I.S: I've got a 1969 Les Paul Special with old soap bar pickups and a 50-watt Fender Bassman Top with a Mesa/Boogie 4x12''-cabinet. I also have a small Mesa/Boogie combo amp and a small Marshall "plastic device" that I hung in front of the Bassman as a preamp and every now and then, I turn it all on. You can hear that in "Pressure Drop".
G.B: In the CD booklet we can see you with a Gibson Byrdland. Was that only a decoration item then?
I.S: No, I've recorded a few songs with it, but we didn't put them on the record. I also have an acoustic Gibson Hummingbird.
G.B: So is it true that you have played drums back then in the beginning?
I.S: Yeeaaah! That's how I started and I played the drums for a pretty long time. But I'm not as good as our drummer Charlie...
G.B: That's nothing to worry about. Did you have studio experience before you joined the band before the Ju Ju Hounds [GNR]?
I.S: No, I've always only played live back then. I was a member of several punk and rock bands in L.A. and at the West Coast. Back in those days, I maybe sometimes recorded a four-track recording. I have recorded the pre-production of the current Ju Ju Hounds album on an 8-track machine too. I like to work like that, all in peace.
G.B: What does the future of the band look like to you? Do you have any ideas for further CD productions?
I.S: Not at the moment. We're going on tour in Europe and then next is the US. In the summer, we might be back in Europe again for some festivals. Maybe after that, we'll have some time for some recording.