Guns N' Roses - Chinese Democracy
NME.COM feature on Guns N' Roses - Chinese Democracy album including album review, artwork, tracks, listen now, tour dates, discography and more.
Release date: 22 November 2008
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Guns N' Roses - Chinese Democracy: Wikipedia Album Entry
Chinese Democracy is the sixth studio album by American rock band Guns N' Roses. It was released on November 23, 2008, worldwide and in the United Kingdom on November 24, 2008. It is the band's first studio album since 1993's "The Spaghetti Incident?", and their first album of original studio material since the simultaneous release of Use Your Illusion I and II in September 1991. Retail store chain Best Buy is the exclusive retailer of the album in the United States.
In a 2007 interview, Axl Rose's close friend Sebastian Bach stated that Chinese Democracy will be the first installment in a trilogy of new albums. Bach also remarked that Rose had told him the third, as yet untitled, album has been slated for 2012.
Guns N' Roses began to write and record new music in 1994. Ex-bassist Duff McKagan is quoted as saying, "[the] band was so splintered at that point that nothing got started". Slash has criticized Rose for making the band seem "like a dictatorship". Slash quit the band in 1996; drummer Matt Sorum and McKagan left soon afterwards. Slash was replaced by Nine Inch Nails touring guitarist Robin Finck, ex-Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson replaced McKagan, and Josh Freese joined as the drummer. In early 1998, the band — which comprised Rose, Finck, Stinson and Freese along with long-time Guns N' Roses associate Paul Tobias, keyboardists Dizzy Reed and Chris Pitman — began recording at Rumbo Recorders, a state-of-the-art studio in the San Fernando Valley where Guns N' Roses had partially recorded parts for their debut album, Appetite For Destruction. During this time, Geffen paid Rose $1 million to try to finish the album, with a further $1 million if he handed it in to them by March 1, 1999.
In 2000, Rose hired avant-garde metal guitarist Buckethead, and drummer Bryan "Brain" Mantia to replace the departed Freese. Later on in 2000, Finck rejoined the band as the third guitarist. On January 1, 2001, Guns N' Roses played their first concert in over seven years at the House of Blues in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was followed by their headlining performance at Rock in Rio III on January 14, 2001 in front of 190,000 people. On August 29, 2002, the band made a surprise visit to the MTV Video Music Awards, playing old songs along with a new "Madagascar" to an ecstatic New York crowd.
On December 14, 2006, Rose published an open letter to the band's fans on their website, claiming that remaining tour's shows were taking up time the band needed to finish recording Chinese Democracy. Rose also revealed that the band had parted company with their manager Merck Mercuriadis, implying that the reason the album was not released in 2006 was Mercuriadis's fault (many times throughout 2006, Rose had said the album would be released that year). In the letter, Rose announced a tentative release date of March 6, 2007 for the album, however, the album was once again delayed.
On February 22, 2007, the band's road manager, Del James, announced that all recording for the album had been completed and it was in the mixing process, James stated that there was no release date for the album but that things appeared to be moving on after a number of delays. On March 26, 2008, various media outlets reported that Dr Pepper will offer a free can of Dr Pepper to everyone in America — excluding former Guns N' Roses guitarists Buckethead and Slash—if the band releases Chinese Democracy in 2008. Later on March 26, Rose replied to Dr Pepper on Guns N' Roses' official website and spoke of his surprise at Dr Pepper's support. Rose also said he would share his Dr Pepper with Buckethead as "some of Buckethead's performances are on [Chinese Democracy]". After it was announced that the album would be released in 2008, Dr Pepper confirmed that it would uphold its pledge.
On September 14, 2008, "Shackler's Revenge" was released on the music video game Rock Band 2, making it the band's first official release of new material since 1999's "Oh My God". "Shackler's Revenge" was shortly followed by another release, "If the World", which, according to Rolling Stone, plays during the closing credits of Body of Lies. A firm release date was announced by Billboard in October, 2008, set for November 23rd. In the US, the retail release will be sold exclusively through Best Buy. The first single from the album, "[track artist=guns n' roses]Chinese Democracy", was released on October 22, 2008.
Long time Guns N' Roses producer Mike Clink was reported to have worked on the album during its conception. Moby and Youth turned down offers to work on the album. According to Rolling Stone, engineer Andy Wallace, who had worked on Nirvana's Nevermind, was working on the album in 2006. A source close to Guns N' Roses is quoted as saying "we're absolutely delighted with the mixes". Other producers who have worked on the album include Roy Thomas Baker, Bob Ezrin and Sean Beavan.
Collaborations with other artists
The band has worked with numerous other artists during Chinese Democracy's recording process; including guitarists Brian May and Dave Navarro. May recorded the lead guitar parts for the leaked song "Catcher In The Rye" in 1999, however, May is not credited in the finished album.
Composers Marco Beltrami and Paul Buckmaster worked on orchestral arrangements for the album in the early 2000s. In January 2007, former Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach recorded backing vocals for a song called "Sorry" at Electric Lady Studios. Harpist Patti Hood has also recorded parts for the album.
In 1999, the industrial metal song "Oh My God" was released on the End of Days soundtrack. It featured current Guns N' Roses members Axl Rose, Dizzy Reed, Robin Finck, Chris Pitman, and Tommy Stinson, along with former members Paul Tobias and Josh Freese. Dave Navarro and Gary Sunshine also recorded guitar parts for the song. "Oh My God" was unpopular upon its release and was described by Allmusic as "a less than satisfying comeback". The sound of Chinese Democracy was often reported to be industrial rock music similar to Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, a style of which Rose had long been a fan. However, in a 2001 interview with an Argentine radio station, Rose stated the album wasn't industrial, and would vary in styles:
"It is not industrial, the closest thing to that was perhaps "Oh My God", but there are some songs that won't be on the album that were this way. There will be all kinds of styles, many influences as blues, mixed in the songs."
In 2003, DJ Eddie Trunk spoke about the demo of "I.R.S.", which was leaked on his radio show:
"It reminded me of Use Your Illusion-era stuff, with some modern flairs to it. The song had a loop track in the beginning, but then, when it kicked in, it was that same dramatic Guns N' Roses hard rock."
During the launch party for Korn's 2006 tour, Rose conducted an interview with Rolling Stone and told the magazine:
"It's a very complex record, I'm trying to do something different. Some of the arrangements are kind of like Queen. Some people are going to say, 'It doesn't sound like Axl Rose, it doesn't sound like Guns N' Roses.' But you'll like at least a few songs on there."
In a Rolling Stone article in 2006, former Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach described the album as "epic" and "mind-blowing" and added:
"It’s a very cool album - it’s badass with killer screams, killer guitar riffs, but it’s got a totally modern sound. The word for it is ‘grand.’ It’s fucking epic. He’s reinvented himself yet again."
Bach has also described the album as having "the rawness and the power of Appetite for Destruction, but it also has the grandiosity of 'November Rain'." He went on to describe the song "Sorry", which he sings backing vocals on:
"There’s this one song called ‘Sorry’ that’s almost like doom metal with Axl singing really clean over this grinding, slow beat that is fucking mean, I cannot get it out of my head."
According to a March 2005 New York Times article, production costs for the album have reached $13 million, making it probably the most expensive recording "never made." Then-Guns N' Roses manager Merck Mercuriadis, however, refuted the article in a letter and claimed that the newspaper's sources had not been involved with the project for "six to nine years".
Rose issued a press release on Guns N' Roses' official website on December 14, 2006. Entitled "An open letter to the fans from Axl", Rose announced the cancellation of four concerts that were scheduled for January 2007. He stated that if the band fulfilled the concerts, "valuable time needed by the band and record company for the proper setup and release of the album Chinese Democracy would have been lost". Also in the letter, he confirmed that Guns N' Roses had parted company with Mercuriadis. Rose blamed much of the album's delay on Mercuriadis. Rose also announced a tentative release date for Chinese Democracy of March 6, 2007, and remarked that it was the first time the band had publicly named a release date for the album.
Despite Rose's announcement, the album was once again delayed. On February 22, 2007, the band's road manager, Del James, issued a press release definitively stating that all recording for the album had been completed. James elaborated, "There is no official release date, as the band is currently mixing, but after some delays and scheduling difficulties, things appear to be moving along."
In a 2007 interview, Sebastian Bach claimed Rose had planned to have the album released by Christmas 2007: "I know Axl was very serious about putting something out before Christmas. He was talking to me about it. He was talking about finishing liner notes." Bach also said that Chinese Democracy's delay might be because of business problems: "I think there's a lot of business shit that goes on with him. It's just not as easy. It's a little more complicated than people think." Little was said about the record after this, and 2007 saw no official release of the new material.
In January 2008, rumors arose that Chinese Democracy had been handed over to Geffen Records, but had been delayed because the label and Rose could not agree on the marketing of the album. Eddie Trunk also claimed Geffen might have the album: "I hear the new G&R CD is actually done, but the delay in release is not the bands issues but the label. There is so much money tied up in this record that in todays business it will be virtually impossible to be profitable, meaning the label might want to sell it off but can not find a buyer since nobody buys CDs anymore. Problem might not be Axl this time around and might keep this CD in limbo for more years to come. Hopefully it gets resolved." However, in a February 2008 interview with Classic Rock Magazine, Rose's personal manager, Beta Lebeis, debunked Trunk's suggestion and was quoted as saying, "We're currently in negotiations with the record label".
Controversy and lawsuits
In 2004, Geffen Records released Greatest Hits. Rose, along with Slash and McKagan, attempted to block the album's release. They filed a lawsuit against Geffen, claiming the album was unauthorized and would damage the band's reputation. Rose also claimed it would distract the band from completing Chinese Democracy. A week before the scheduled release, a judge denied their request for an injunction and the album was released. Greatest Hits was #1 in the UK for two weeks and reached #3 on the Billboard 200.
On April 1, 2003, The Offspring announced that they would be naming their upcoming album Chinese Democrazy (You Snooze, You Lose). The Offspring's lead singer Dexter Holland elaborated, "You snooze, you lose. Axl ripped off my braids, I ripped off his album title." However, it turned out to be an April Fools' joke and the Offspring album was eventually released under the title Splinter instead.
Cencorship in the People's Republic of China
The album is banned in the People's Republic of China, reportedly due to supposed criticism in its title track about the Government of the People's Republic of China and a reference to the Falun Gong. The Communist government said through a state controlled newspaper that it "turns its spear point on China".
Axl Rose – lead vocals (all tracks), backing vocals (track 7), keyboards (tracks 1, 6, 13), guitar (tracks 6 and 12), Producer
Robin Finck – lead guitar (all tracks), backing vocals, keyboards (tracks 3, 5)
Bumblefoot – lead guitar (all tracks)
Richard Fortus – rhythm guitar (tracks 1, 3, 4, 6, 14), backing vocals
Tommy Stinson – bass guitar (all tracks except 5), backing vocals
Dizzy Reed – keyboards, piano, percussion, backing vocals
Frank Ferrer – drums, percussion (tracks 1, 3, 5, 6, 11)
Bryan Mantia – drums, percussion (all tracks except 1)
Chris Pitman – synthesizer, programming; bass (tracks 5, 6, 12)
Former members who are featured
Buckethead – lead guitar (all tracks except 7, 13)
Paul Tobias – rhythm guitar (all tracks except 2, 8, 13)
Sebastian Bach – backing vocals (track 10)
Bob Ludwig – Final CD Mastering @ Gateway Mastering Studios, Inc. in Portland, ME
Patti Hood – harp (track 13)
Marco Beltrami – orchestral arrangement
Paul Buckmaster – orchestral arrangement
Pete Scaturro – keyboards (track 10)
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