Follow-Up: Axl Hopeful For Album Release Soon - Attends Led Zep Release Party

06-16-03 antiGUY
This part news, part editorial and part review. 

As we reported last week, Guns N’ Roses bassist Tommy Stinson, in an interview with Billboard.com, eluded that the long awaited Guns N’ Roses album “Chinese Democracy” may see the light of day this year (see story).  We can now report that Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose is also confident that the album will be released soon. 

On Sunday Night, antiMUSIC co-hosted a viewing/release party for the new Led Zeppelin DVD along with HappeninHarry.com and Buzztone.com at the Cat Club in Hollywood. GNR frontman, Axl Rose was among those who showed up for the party. 

Contrary to popular opinion and press reports, Axl was down to earth and very friendly with those who approached him and freely answered questions. A lot of people commented on how good he looked as well and in person Axl did appear fit and youthful.

I was among those who had a quick question for Axl. Of course, the burning question I had was if Tommy Stinson was correct that “Chinese Democracy” would be released by the end of the year. Because I did not identify myself as a member of the press to Axl, I cannot quote him but from what he did say, he seemed hopeful that patient fans would finally have the album by the end of the year. 

He elaborated a little bit that he was co-producing the CD and eluded to the fact that he wants to make sure it is a perfect as possible before it is released. 

One thing that may bear in the equation is the recent changes with Geffen Records. Last week MCA Records was effectively folded and most of the roster was moved over to Geffen. Word on the street is Geffen will be reorganized and in effect become once again a full self-standing record company (over the past few years Geffen was ran as part of Geffen / Interscope / A&M).  What that means is there will be more muscle behind a new GNR release when the time comes.  Although Axl didn’t really touch upon this recent change, it may be a favorable factor in the release of the album. Or it could mean that Axl, like many musicians, is simply a perfectionist and couldn’t sit with the idea of releasing music he felt wasn’t perfect.


On a personal note, I have to say that I was really surprised at Axl in person. He is nothing like I would have expected, given all that I have heard and read about him. He seemed very friendly (he was friendly and talked with everyone who approached him), he seemed very content and even down to earth. Perhaps, if I would have identified myself as a member of the press it would have been different, since, to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, some press outlets have had a pretty antagonistic attitude towards him. (We won’t go into whatever reasons that may be, we here at antiMUSIC do fall into that category too). So maybe it was better that he didn’t know who he was talking to and thought I was just some guy at the show. That way I got to see how he interacts with regular people and again I was surprised and just how different he was from the public image persona. Of course, that is based on my one encounter with him but I can say that in a lot of ways, I’m glad that public perception is wrong. I’ve witness far less popular “rock stars” act like total jerks to people and while it must be a pain to a rock star to be approached by “fans” everywhere they go, it was good to see that Axl, at least in this case, approaches those situations positively and doesn’t’ blow people off like some other stars tend to do. 

With this personal experience behind me, I have to say that I will bear that experience in mind when I view developments within GNR.  Although, I’m a cynic at heart, after having met the man and been proven wrong, I will be far more open to giving him the benefit of the doubt in the future. … with that said, I hope that the album does finally get released soon. That way we can move on to other things, and let Axl stand or fall on his music and not just headlines. 

Show Review. 

The reason we were all there at the Cat Club was to celebrate the release of the new Led Zeppelin DVD. I know for a lot of Zeppelin fans, the release of the DVD and new album “How the West Was One” was a real event, not simply yet another standard release. 

The day the album and DVD were released a friend of mine, Mark Romans ( the drummer for Twelvehourmary) called to invite me to a private screening party for the DVD. Like I said, this release was an event to most Led Zeppelin fans. And if you get the chance to see the DVD on the bigscreen with 5.1 surround sound, jump at it!

During the party I mentioned to Mark that it might be fun to do a public release party for the CD and DVD and to have him put together a tribute band. Mark is an accomplished drummer and being that Zep is his favorite, he loved the idea. 

Mark’s bandmate, Bill Lanham jumped onboard almost immediately and Bill knew just the guy to play guitar; his friend Frank Simes who has played with artists ranging from Mick Jagger to Stevie Nicks and Don Henley. 

I talked to Happenin Harry and a rep at Buzztone (a company doing promo for the new releases) and everyone loved the idea. With Atlantic Records’ blessing it was booked. 

Like most nights on the Strip, it started out a little slow. (being held on Fathers Day didn’t help either).  Following the viewing of the DVD, live acts took the stage. Brian Bendele, a Los Angeles area singer/songwriter kicked things off with a great set of originals. Then the lead guitarist from Minneapolis based Ronnie James Devo, Mike Ruekberg, played a cool solo set. His music was great but the best part of his show was his humorous banter between songs. 

Mike was followed by Lowfive, a local favorite that features former members of Bird3, The Flys and Queens of the Stone Age. Lowfive rocked the house with a great unplugged set and as their show progressed more and more people began filling the room. 

The crowd reluctantly let Lowfive leave the stage after about 30 minutes to make way for the Zep tribute set featuring Mark Romans, Bill Lanham and Frank Simes. 

Happenin Harry joined the band on vocals to help the band kick off their set with the “Immigrant Song”. Within 30 seconds the crowd was on their feet and they wouldn’t sit down for another hour.  Once Harry blasted out a song with the band, Frank Simes took over on vocal duties for the rest of the set. 

The big question some may have; how did it sound? It was uncanny, if you would have closed your eyes; you were at a Led Zeppelin show. Frank Simes took on the double task of lead guitar and lead vocals with apparent ease. He was a virtual Page and Plant rolled into one. 

Bassist Bill Lanham did John Paul Johns proud and nailed every bassline.  Mark Romans played as if he was channeling John Bonham. The real highlight of the set came when Mark broke into the famous Bonham drum solo “Moby Dick”. Mark nailed the solo to the cheers of the audience, switching from sticks to bare hands on his classic Ludwig set, he captivated the fans who yelled out their approval.  (To do it right, Mark was playing almost the exact same drumset that Bonham used to use, complete with a fullsize gong!). 

I’ve seen a lot of concerts in my day, but I can tell that this performance was one that I will never forget. It was really amazing how the band captured the Zeppelin sound, especially when you consider that this group came together a few short weeks ago, but they played like they have been together for years. 

I’m too young to have seen the real Led Zeppelin in concert but this was honestly the next best thing. 

The party continued after the Led Zeppelin tribute left the stage. One of L.A.’s most popular industrial bands, Krull, hit the stage next and blasted out an hour long set. 

After Krull, Happenin’ Harry and the Haptones were up. The Haptones plays every Sunday with a rotating roster of artists who back up Happenin Harry on vocals. It’s one of Hollywood’s favorite all star jams. You never know who might pop in each week to sit in or who might show up to watch their friends play. 

This night was no exception, legendary guitarist Reeves Gabrels (David Bowie, Tin Machine, The Cure) went up for a jam as well as Beautiful Creatures frontman Joe LeSte’, who got up for a duet with Harry. 

Axl wasn’t the only star in the audience, actress Fairuza Balk (Almost Famous, American History X, The Craft) was also on hand as well as adult filmstars Kiki Daire and Renee Pornero, and some of their girlfriends. 

It was a fun night that will not soon be forgotten to those who attended and a worthy night of tribute to the mighty Led Zeppelin. 

Final word. 

For L.A. and Las Vegas area Guns N’ Roses fans, antiMUSIC is sponsoring two separate birthday parties for Dizzy Reed this week.  The first party will take place on Wednesday night at Happenin’ Harry’s Hollyweird at the Cat Club.  The Dizzy “F*cking” Reed band is set to play at 11:00 followed by an all-star jam (you never know who is going to show to these things). The Rembrandt’s Phil Solem will play a solo set earlier in the night and Beautiful Creatures’ Joe LeSte will lead his side band “The Vagabonds” in a set of classic rock covers ranging from Elvis to Aerosmith. 

Then on Saturday, Dizzy’s Birthday bash moves to Las Vegas for a free midnight performance from Happenin’ Harry and The Haptones at The Tailspin Bar & Grill.  Harry will be joined by special guests including Dizzy Reed as well as Jeff Duncan (Armored Saint, Odin) and Vik Foxx (Enuff Z’nuff, Vince Neil). 

You can get all the details on the Dizzy Reed Birthday bashes at Happeninharry.com 

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