Guns N' Roses engineer: Chinese Democracy sessions "technically flawless"

The album artwork. We still think it's cobblers.
The album artwork. We still think it's cobblers.

Audio engineer Mark Gray was midway through his teenage years when Axl Rose began work on Chinese Democracy. Back in December 2006, Gray, now 31, returned early from vacation for a 13 day session with Axl Rose at the Palms Studio, Las Vegas.

Gray remembers Rose arriving with "a firm handshake" and 14 songs. He is sure that Madagascar, Prostitute and the album's title track were among those that Rose worked on during his 13 days in Vegas.

Given the album's outrageous gestation period, it is perhaps surprising that Gray remembers Rose to be absolutely focused:

"He was jumping about, but he knew exactly what he wanted. From what I saw, it was first takes or at most two or three takes. Rose would say, 'I can get the part better' or 'I can tighten it up.'

"I had the butterflies in the stomach the night before each night. It was absolutely special. When you hear his voice, it was a highlight of my career. He just went in and sang. He was living with the record a long time by then, and he really knew what he wanted to do.

"It was absolutely special. It was a highlight of my career." Engineer Mark Gray

"He proved a good guy to be around. We would start about five or six in the evening, hitting tape by seven. We worked five or six hours. These were great sessions. It was a great moment in the studio for me, and it was technically flawless."

Click here to read the full interview.

Chris Vinnicombe worked with us here on the MusicRadar team from the site's initial launch way back in 2007, and also contributed to Guitarist magazine as Features Editor until 2014, as well as Total Guitar magazine, amongst others. These days he can be found at Gibson Guitars, where he is editor-in-chief.