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Miser

Cool little Chris Vrenna (NiN) interview about being in GnR

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Where exactly where you when Axl Rose first called you to ask about playing drums with Guns N' Roses, in 1997?

 

Billy (Corgan) had put me up in a hotel in New York. And I had a message on my phone and it just said, "Hello this is Axl Rose I'm looking for Chris Vrenna." And I just kept hitting repeat on the voicemail over and over and I thought, "My God, it really is him." 

 

And he called because at that time Robin Finck, the guitar player from Nine Inch Nails had quite Nine Inch Nails and was playing in Cirque du Soleil. Slash is already out of the band, but Duff (McKagan, classic-era GNR bassist) was still there though. But (GNR) all came down to see Cirque du Soleil and I don't know how they recognized Robin. And they waited after the show and tracked him down and he went and joined Guns N Roses. So, Robin was the new Slash. And the next person to leave (GNR) was Matt Sorum, the drummer, so that's when I got the call.  

 

Axl, I love that guy. His musical tastes were far more advanced than his fanbase's. He loved Nine Inch Nails. He's wearing the white SIN shirt in one of their videos that was one of our tour shirts. And he loved the Passengers (album "Original Soundtracks 1") that U2 did (with Brian Eno). I got asked to go down and ended up sitting in and the next thing you know six or eight months later, I was still there. 

 

So, Guns N' Roses during that time was you, Axl, Robin, Duff McKagan, (keyboardist) Dizzy Reed and (guitarist and Rose's childhood friend from Indiana) Paul Huge?

 

Yep.

Was the former Pearl Jam drummer Dave Abbruzzese working with GNR during your time with them?

Dave Abbruzzese was after me and then after Dave was Joey (Castillo). And then Joey was the drummer for quite a while and then Joey ended up playing for Queens of the Stone Age after that.

 

What facility did the Guns N' Roses sessions take place at?

 

It was in Santa Monica, a rehearsal room. A big famous rehearsal room but he had brought in a portable recording stuff, because it was all jamming, trying to come up with parts. There were no songs written or anything, so every single thing that was played in the room got recorded just in case somebody came up with something good. It was nuts. Axl was like a night owl so you'd go down there at like seven o'clock and you were there until sunrise, five nights a week. 

 

When "Chinese Democracy" was finally released in 2008, did you recognize any music from the period you were working with Guns N' Roses?

 

Nope. Not a thing. Because by then they'd gone through nine drummers, 14 guitar players, seven producers. Because I kept up with it after I was there. When I was there, (the electronic musician) Moby was going to produce. Axl didn't come in very often. He'd show up about once a week. So sometimes we jammed. Sometimes me and Moby just sat and drank coffee and talked about music. Moby was rad. Can you imagine a Guns N' Roses record with Robin Finck and me and Moby producing? And Axl really wanted it to have an electronic element. He kept referencing the Passengers album that U2 did and it's wonderful. It's so good. That and Nine Inch Nails. 

He thought that was where he could see the sound of Guns N Roses going, modernizing it: "We're not a bunch of '80s, strung-out-on-heroin dudes on Sunset Boulevard anymore." And I applauded Axl and that's why I stuck with it for as long as I did, and I got Axl's vision. 

 

The best time I ever had though was when Axl came down and he was just in the mood to play and he was like, "Alright we're going to run "Appetite (for Destruction," GNR's 1987 debut album), top to bottom. Ready. Go." And I was like, "Holy crap." And we played the whole album, top to bottom. One time I got to do that. And I got home in the morning and I couldn't sleep I was so excited I got to do it. He sang half of the words, half voice - he didn't want to blow himself out. He sat and played the grand piano for some of the songs. Axl's talented, man. 

 

What did those proto-"Chinese Democracy" Guns N' Roses jams sound like, that you were a part of?

 

It was a little all over the place. And Paul (Huge) made it change a little bit. By that time everything was so fractured, and everybody had an opinion of what the band should do. After Duff left, that really bummed me out. Because Duff was a good hang and he was the last thread to the first record. 

After he left I even had a talk with Axl one time like, "You know, you're changing the sound of the band and it's really just you and we're all new dudes and we all come from cool places. But have you ever thought of just saying, f--- Guns N Roses. That name is dead. The band is over. We are now called 'blank.'"

 

And he goes, "Yeah you're not the first person who's told me I should probably do that. But Guns N' Roses is an international brand name, and to start over when I can just use the brand name that everybody knows, I can't sacrifice the branding that's already been established."

 

And I got his argument for not changing the name. But I also firmly believed in what I was saying. If Axl Rose came out and said, "Look, man. Everybody's quit the band. If I call this Guns N' Roses you guys are going to laugh at me," which a lot of people did. Because it's not what we know as Guns N Roses, so call it something new. You're Axl Rose, it will be big and people will know that new logo and that new name and that new whatever. 

 

What's something about Axl Rose as a day-to-day guy most people don't know?

 

Just really a soft-spoken guy, very knowledgeable about music and art and film and just would like to sit around and talk about film and art, the way I talk about TV. Same kind of talk. But very soft spoken. He's actually not that crazy. I think maybe he outgrew it too, like we're all young and nuts at one time and then you eventually get older. Now Guns N' Roses goes on on-time, every time. People change. 

Edited by Miser

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21 minutes ago, Miser said:

Axl, I love that guy. His musical tastes were far more advanced than his fanbase's. He loved Nine Inch Nails. He's wearing the white SIN shirt in one of their videos that was one of our tour shirts. And he loved the Passengers (album "Original Soundtracks 1") that U2 did (with Brian Eno). I got asked to go down and ended up sitting in and the next thing you know six or eight months later, I was still there.

You gotta love rock musicians these days. "Advanced taste" means you like NIN and U2. :lol:

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5 minutes ago, magisme said:

You gotta love rock musicians these days. "Advanced taste" means you like NIN and U2. :lol:

Well for a white trash hick rockstar recluse type whose heyday was from 88 to 92, NiN and all that kinda hit was advanced.

 

Chris Vrenna is no joke; he was NiN's drummer for 20 years, played the Woodstock 94 with NIN, plus he did drums and programming on two of Manson's records. When Axl called him in 97, he was a cutting edge, A-list session musician. Not a nobody like Paul Tobias or washed up drunk like Tommy or even an anonymous sesssion guy like Pitman. Vrenna was a hot and in demand drummer back then. 

Edited by Miser

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1 hour ago, magisme said:

You gotta love rock musicians these days. "Advanced taste" means you like NIN and U2. :lol:

On the contrary, it means you have a fucking shit taste :lol:.

 

I don`t know if Axl really liked Nine Inch Shit and U2 or he convinced himself he did really like them :lol:.

 

Both bands are as overrated and crap as each other :lol:.

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6 minutes ago, Ragnar said:

On the contrary, it means you have a fucking shit taste :lol:.

 

I don`t know if Axl really liked Nine Inch Shit and U2 or he convinced himself he did really like them :lol:.

 

Both bands are as overrated and crap as each other :lol:.

 

Listen to head like a hole and hurt 

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7 hours ago, Miser said:

Well for a white trash hick rockstar recluse type whose heyday was from 88 to 92, NiN and all that kinda hit was advanced.

 

Chris Vrenna is no joke; he was NiN's drummer for 20 years, played the Woodstock 94 with NIN, plus he did drums and programming on two of Manson's records. When Axl called him in 97, he was a cutting edge, A-list session musician. Not a nobody like Paul Tobias or washed up drunk like Tommy or even an anonymous sesssion guy like Pitman. Vrenna was a hot and in demand drummer back then. 

I will say Axl had a great eye for great drummers up until Frank lol

 

Vrenna, Freese and Brain are some of the best. 

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Axl’s dream was to be in a big band like Queen or Zepp. He’s a rock singer that’s what he worked for. He probably didn’t want to be Michael Bolton. I mean The David Lee Roth Band was great but it’s not Van Halen. Axl is the Eddie Van Halen of GNR. 

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