Izzy Stradlin on Chinese Democracy, Guns N' Roses past

Stradlin's not sending a message to Axl
Stradlin's not sending a message to Axl

Former Guns N' Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin hasn't heard all of Chinese Democracy, but he admits that the tracks he has listened to are quite good.

In a recent interview with Popular 1, Stradlin talks about Axl Rose, his whirlwind life in Guns N' Roses, substance abuse and why he ultimately had to get clean and leave the world-famous band.

"Our lifestyle was very self-destructive," he says. "I was seeing how my friends were dying, and after some time of that I decided that I'd had enough. I didn't want to continue being a part of that. Now we're all clean, and that's great."

What do you think about the fact that Appetite For Destruction became so popular?

"I didn't have any idea that the band would become so big. Our lifestyle was very self-destructive, but at the same time we were very motivated by music. Nevertheless, I never imagined that we would ever become so famous.

"At some point in the mid-'80s, I heard a song of mine on the radio and for the first time, I felt that something really important had happened. Still, from time to time, I listen to songs that I composed and recorded in the '80s on the radio, and I to say myself, 'Wow, incredible, there I am.'"

What do you remember about the GN'R Lies album?

"It is hard to stay sane when you are surrounded by madness" - Izzy Stradlin

"Good times. Those were very crazy times. I have memories of recording sessions, filming videos, touring, more recording sessions, more videos…It's a cycle that was repeated for seven or eight years."

People think that being a rock star is easy, but of course it isn't.

"It is hard to stay sane when you are surrounded by madness."

GN'R breakup

What do you think is the reason that the original Guns N' Roses separated? Do you think that the drugs played a great role in the breakup of the band?

"I don't know if the drugs were the reason. When I left the band, I was completely clean for two and a half years, from 1989 on. And when I was myself again, I really didn't know what happened, because I wasn't there any longer."

Most of the fans blame Axl Rose for the breakup of Guns N' Roses. Is he as problematic as he seems?

"Axl is a very complicated guy, but very talented."

Yes, but everything seems to point to the fact that he was in charge when the band separated.

"I wasn't there anymore, so I don't know."

After spending so many years sober, do you think it's possible for you to return to playing with your old friends?

"Yes. Duff, in fact, appears on three songs on my new album. I spoke with Slash the other day and I was on the brink of performing a show with him, but it didn't work. Everyone is very active, healthy and has lots of work to do."

Chinese Democracy

Do you believe in Chinese Democracy? And I'm not talking about if there is democracy in China.

[laughs] "I believe that somewhere there's a disc with the title Chinese Democracy. I have listened to some tracks off the record and I enjoyed them."

Thanks to Mack Arillo.

Read MusicRadar's review of Chinese Democracy.

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.