Axl Rose Told Moby His Bizarre Vision For New Guns N’ Roses Album

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In a new AL interview, former Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson drummer Chris Vrenna discussed what Axl Rose told him, Robin Finck, and Moby when they were working on the earliest days of the new album at the time that would eventually become Chinese Democracy. He wanted the album to sound like an experimental electronic album U2 made under another name.

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, 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.