Stinson says legendary delay was down to label execs… most of the album was 10 years old by release date
Guns n’Roses bassist Tommy Stinson says Axl Rose is not to blame for the dramas which saw the band’s Chinese Democracy album take 14 years to appear.
The record has become notorious for the re-records, squabbles, lineup changes and confusing public statements surrounding its production and final release at the end of 2008, exactly 15 years after the band’s previous album.
It’s often been assumed Rose was responsible for the difficulties, with his attempts to pursue recording perfection leading to long episodes of reworking.
But Stinson, who joined the band in 1998 and has been present for most of the album’s troubled history, says Rose was not to blame – and reveals the majority of the final work was completed a decade earlier.
The bassist tells AV Club: “My summation is that Interscope, when they took over Geffen, led Axl to believe the chairman Jimmy Iovine would be involved, would help get the record done and make it happen.
“But basically what he did was late it completely fall apart.
“At first we were in the studio a lot, working on the writing aspect of it, but it just kept going on. We had Jimmy intervening in a not-so-productive way, and other guys coming and going with nutty ideas.
“Jimmy had this great idea to bring in producer Roy Thomas Baker to make it sound better – but all he did was re-record everything three or four different times, trying to make it sound like something it didn’t need to sound like. And he spent $10million in the process.
“All the talking heads were saying, ‘Make ‘em sound better, make ‘em sound better!’ So we kept redoing this and that. But it ended up coming back down to the same songs they’d been ten years ago – except now they were a super-dense mishmash.
“Most of the songs on the record now were done ten years ago. My two cents on the whole thing is Jimmy Iovine fucked the whole thing up. That whole era pretty much sums up what happened to the record industry: those kinds of people making those kinds of decisions and not really helping the artist.”
Stinson says he joined GnR partly because he was midway through a bad experience with label bosses regarding an album his band Perfect were working on.
“I was about to get screwed by yet another label,” he says. “I felt like, ‘You know what? This is enough – it’s been five years of trying to get this going, I keep getting screwed, I just want a break.’
“So I looked at it as something to do until I figured out my next move. And it worked out pretty good, all things considered.”
Former Replacements man Stinson is set to release a new solo album this summer and remains a member of Soul Asylum.