It doesn’t matter how long we have to wait between Guns N’ Roses records, the demand just doesn’t go away. The wait between 1993’s “The Spaghetti Incident?” and 2008’s ‘Chinese Democracy’ is the stuff of legend. Following that, the wait between 2008 and whatever indeterminate point in the future we’ll get the next release of new studio material is no big deal for a fanbase that’s had to build up a certain amount of resilience and stamina over the years.
Given the extremely protracted (not to mention, at $14 million, expensive) recording process fans could have been forgiven for expecting ‘Chinese Democracy’ to be awkward and messy, never mind the fact that there hadn’t been a new studio album since 1991’s Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II. In the face of all that, however, it received generally positive reviews. More importantly, the fans ate it up. The album topped a host of charts across the world and went platinum across multiple territories. Sure, that probably included a few purchases based on pure curiosity, but it showed that even after a looooong 17 year wait and a troubled recording and production process, Guns N’ Roses were still more than capable of capturing the imagination of the music-buying public, never mind the die-hard fans.
As of the time of writing, we’ve only waited a paltry 11 years, and the signs are looking good that we won’t have to wait too much longer.
Of course, the road to this point has been anything but simple. It’s been known for a long time that there were unused tracks from Chinese Democracy, including Atlas Shrugged, Oklahoma, Thyme, The General, Elvis Presley and the Monster of Soul (also known as The Soul Monster and Leave Me Alone), Ides of March, Silkworms, Down By The Ocean, Zodiac, Quick Song and We Were Lying.
Many fans were expecting to see that material at some point. In 2014, a mere six years after Chinese Democracy was released, Axl Rose said that there would be a ‘second part’ of the album as well as a remix album. There was even a little taster when the song ‘Going Down’ was leaked online in 2013.
Meanwhile, guitarist DJ Ashba had been discussing a potential follow-up. In 2012 he said that he had written and demoed around 12 songs, playing some (but not all) of them for Rose. Richard Fortus added that the band was heading to the studio with the aim of putting something together by the end of the year. In October that year Rose said that there wouldn’t be as long a wait as there had been for Chinese Democracy. Seven years later there’s still plenty of room for that to be proven true, but presumably he meant we’d be hearing something a little more quickly than current progress is suggesting.
Of course, everything changed in 2016. In 2015 DJ Ashba had left the band, citing the need to focus on his other band, Sixx:A.M. and spend more time with family. Ron Thal wasn’t far behind (or may have left before, in 2014) and Tommy Stinson went soon after. The stage was set.
In a move that sent fans (and the entire rock world) into meltdown, the band announced that Slash and Duff McKagan were rejoining Guns N’ Roses.
They went on the massive Not in This Lifetime… Tour, a reunion tour cheekily named for an Axl Rose comment in 2012 when he said such a reunion would happen “not in this lifetime”.
The band are in the process of wrapping the epic series of shows up, taking in Los Angeles, Charlotte, Louisville, Jacksonville, Austin, Wichita, Manchester (USA), Lincoln (also USA), Tijuana (Mexico), Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.
Fans have gone berserk for the tour. As of December last year, it had grossed upwards of $562 million, making it the second highest-grossing tour on record. Clearly there’s money to be made off the back of the band’s success – an opportunity that hasn’t been missed by the band’s promoters and other businesses. Fans of the band are spoilt for choice when it comes to getting their hands on merchandise and products with the band’s branding on it, while established businesses attract fans of the band, meaning everyone’s a winner. For example, a Guns n Roses slot can be found among the games at winkslots, at the other end of the spectrum, you don’t have to look very hard to find an official Guns n Roses washbag at an established online retailer.
Appetite for everything Guns N’ Roses is as huge as ever and, naturally, attention is back on a follow-up to Chinese Democracy.
Earlier this year guitarist Slash was quoted as saying that the band had enough songs to release a new album if they wanted. Of course, if you factored in the material that had reportedly been floating around for years, that was certainly true. He later backtracked a little, however, saying that while there was material that Rose had been working on for a while which could add up to an album, “The whole thing of Guns N’ Roses getting in the studio and getting this record done – with myself and with Duff [McKagan, bass] and all that – it’s really just getting started. So it’s really hard to say.”
What he obviously didn’t do, however, is shoot down the idea that the band – and perhaps more importantly, the classic line-up – recording a new album.
Slash whet fans appetites even further in September, saying that “I think at the end of the day, everybody wants to have a full album released. I don’t think that’s really changed all that much.”
He did, however, muse on the way that the music industry has changed, noting that the old model of single releases promoting an album is no longer the dominant mode. He compared the music industry to the Wild West.
He said, however, that while there are a million different ways to put out music now, he thinks that the band will ultimately release a full album. He said that working on new material was the band’s primary focus now that the tour is wrapping up and that they have been working on it whenever they’ve been in town.
Obviously, getting excited about a new Guns N’ Roses album is a risky business until you’re actually listening to it. Still, all these comments seem to suggest the band is actively working on a new record, and it seems there’s some real momentum behind it. Fenders crossed!