Brain talks about making Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy

Brain breaks the silence on Chinese Democracy
Brain breaks the silence on Chinese Democracy

On November 23, the world will finally hear a sound nobody ever thought possible: the new Guns N' Roses album Chinese Democracy.

The product of 15 years, millions of dollars spent, scores of band members come and gone, chicken coops and, most of all, Axl Rose's unchecked ego, Chinese Democracy has already become the stuff of folklore. What really happened during the making of the Heaven's Gate of albums will be told and retold for decades to come.

One musician who played a large role in the recording of Chinese Democracy is speaking out: drummer Bryan "Brain" Mantia, who joined Guns N' Roses in 2000 and may or may not still be a member of the touring group (drummer Frank Ferrer signed on as a replacement drummer when Brain's wife gave birth to a baby girl in 2006; management says both drummers are currently part of the outfit).

In an interview with EQTV, Brain revealed how more than $300,000 was spent over a seven-month period on redoing drum bits note for note after Josh Freese left the band. Brain claims that he now holds the record for the duration that a single drum kit had been set up in any one recording studio.

"Five years my drums were set up" - Brain

"I think it was five years that my drums were set up at the Village Recorders in Los Angeles," Brain said. "It was five years and it went through three different producers. It went through Sean Beaven, Roy Thomas Baker and then I guess Axl is the producer now. Five years my drums were set up."

30 drum tracks transcribed note for note

Brain said Freese played on 30 songs before he split the band. While Axl Rose admired Brain's feel, he was set on the patterns that Freese had played, so he had Brain replicate Freese's parts note for note.

The drums pieces for each song had to be transcribed, a thankless job that went to a Sony employee/musician who was handed two CDs (and, one would imagine, several tons of legal documents). "It was every song written out note for note. Some were seven-minute songs including Josh doing solos," Brain said.

To see a video interview with Brain, click here.

Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.