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Interview with Guns N’ Roses’ Dizzy Reed as band tours U.S.

December 6th, 2011 Posted in Arts and Life

By Ben Hansen
Special to Hard News Café

Guns N’ Roses have been icons of the hard rock scene for decades, renown just as much for their live performances as they are for their epic music. The band is touring to promote their most recent album, Chinese Democracy, which has achieved platinum status in both the United States and Europe.

Longtime Guns N’ Roses staple Dizzy Reed sat down with the Hard News Café’s Ben Hansen to discuss the past and present of the storied band.

Ben Hansen: How have the first few months of the huge U.S. tour treated you guys?

Dizzy Reed: So far, so good. It’s been really cool, and the crowd has been awesome. No major mishaps or anything. I remember most of it, so that’s good.

BH: I know that U.S. fans have eagerly anticipated this tour for quite a while. Has it been interesting playing here in support of a new album that was released three years ago?

Reed: Yeah, it’s a little overdue, but it feels good. People are digging it. The set list is a bit of a cross section from the whole Guns N’ Roses library.

BH: GnR has tour stories that have become objects of legend throughout the last 20 years. Can you share one of your favorite tour experiences with us?

Reed: I think it would be my first show ever with Guns N’ Roses. One day I was playing at the Whiskey A Go Go, and the next thing I know I was playing in front of one hundred thousand people in Rio De Janeiro! That was a bit of a jump, and it’s been quite the experience since that day. It’s been great.

BH: You have worked with some phenomenal guitarists, from Slash and Izzy Stradlin through Buckethead and Bumblefoot. What are some of the greatest moments you’ve had playing in collaboration with these guys?

Reed: I’d have to say that the three guys that we have with us now are, by far, three of the best guitar players in the world. DJ (Ashba), Richard Fortus, and Bumble…it’s such a pleasure and such a treat to be able to go out and hear those guys play together, night after night. It’s really pretty awesome.

BH: You play the keyboards, piano, guitar, bass, saxophone, mellotron, and calliope. Is there anything that you can’t play?

Reed: Well, I don’t play the saxophone, and you don’t want to hear me play the guitar!

Over the years, you learn. I’ve always been fully self-taught as far as rock ’n roll goes. I’ve had to pick up whatever was necessary to do my job and to write songs. I picked up guitar for that purpose. When you’re in a guitar-led band and you have an idea in your head and you want to show it to a guitar player, it just doesn’t translate the same on piano. You’ve got to pick up a guitar, show them, and kind of go from there. I’ve played with some great guitar players, and they’ve always been able to turn it into something special.

BH: Has GnR recorded any new material since Chinese Democracy was officially released?

Reed: Not from us. There was a lot recorded during the process from the same period that hasn’t been released. Everybody is always sort of writing on their own and recording stuff. As a matter of fact, I’ve recorded twelve songs over the last couple of years that hopefully will be put out next year on my own.

BH: Are we going to get a chance to hear your song Silkworms on this tour or in the near future?

Reed: That hasn’t come up, but it is a good one. It would be cool. Maybe … you never know.

BH: One of the all-time fan favorite GnR songs is Civil War, which, coincidentally, is the first track that you cut with the band in the studio.  What was it like in that recording session?

Reed: I felt a little bit of pressure. When everyone is in through the control room, you see Axl, Duff, Slash, and Mike Clink looking out at you… it was a little rough, but it turned out great.

It was pretty awesome, about a month later I was driving down Sunset Boulevard and it came on the radio. It was the first time that I was able to hear myself in any context on the radio. The whole thing was pretty special.

BH: Duff and Izzy have made guest appearances in recent years. Do you think that there is a possibility of the band collaborating with them in the studio again?

Reed: I’m not sure about that. You never know when those guys are going to pop up on the road. It’s kind of like, “Hey, Izzy’s here…cool! Give him a guitar!”

As far as collaborating, I really don’t know. It’s kind of out of my whole realm of decision-making.

BH: It’s still awesome that you guys have welcomed them onstage and had them be a part of things live.

Reed: It’s been a treat for fans. It’s very cool. For me to see Tommy (Stinson) on the same stage, that’s a treat for me, too.

BH: Do you have any upcoming acting roles?

Reed: (Laughs) No, I’ve put my acting career on hold for a while, if not on ice. Nothing as far as acting, but you never know—I could get back into it for a diverse change of pace.

BH: You were inducted into the Zeta Psi frat at Cornell. I can’t imagine how cool that would be to go to a frat party with a member of Guns N’ Roses.

Reed: That’s right, I am a member of the Zeta Psi class. I’m in an Ivy League fraternity and never went to college. That’s quite an accomplishment!

BH: Fans have stuck by you guys through riots, personnel changes, a long hiatus…basically anything short of Armageddon itself. Do you have anything that you’d like to say to your fans in Utah?

Reed: Thank you!  I’m still here for you as well. So is Axl, and so is the rest of the band. Come out to the show, have a good time, keep your head straight, and prepare for a long night of kick-ass rock and roll!

Guns N’ Roses will be coming in concert to the Maverik Center with Black Label Society on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 9 p.m. Tickets are available at the box office and through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com.


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