Guns N’ Roses’ 1987 debut album, the 18-times platinum “Appetite For Destruction,” made it, for a time, the biggest group in the world — and is still responsible for the continuing interest in the group even though just one founding member, frontman Axl Rose, remains.
But Rose and company are taking things to a smaller scale this month. After hitting arenas, stadiums and festivals in 2011, including a December date at The Palace of Auburn Hills, the current eight-piece version of GNR is playing seven club and theater shows, an experience the group, known for its late-starting and long-running concerts, has rarely had since its earliest days.
“It’s always cool to change things up like that and be a little more intimate with the crowd,” explains keyboardist Dizzy Reed, who, at 22 years, boasts the second-longest tenure of anyone currently in GNR. “Obviously, we have to scale things down a little bit. The stage won’t be quite as big. Hopefully there won’t be as much pyro — I always feel safer when there’s not.”
Reed says because he’s “not mobile” from his keyboard rig, the tighter quarters of the smaller venues also let him feel a bit tighter with his bandmates. “I like being down there with the guys a little bit better,” he says. “I can groove a little easier.”
GNR will be moving back to bigger spaces later this year, starting with a mid-May European tour of arenas and festivals — including the Gods Of Metal weekend in Milan, Italy. But Reed, 48, notes, “if they throw in some club shows here and there, I’ve got no complaints. I’m totally into it.”
Meanwhile, the world is focusing on GNR’s past thanks to the group’s upcoming Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction on April 14 in Cleveland. Given varying levels of estrangement between them, the musicians — Rose, guitarists Slash and Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagen and drummers Steven Adler and Matt Sorum — have made no commitment to play together at the ceremony, but Reed, who will also be inducted, predicts “it’s one of those things I’m sure will all come together and be really cool; I’m just going to go in with a good attitude and a clear head and a grateful heart.”
“It’s a really cool honor as far as when you look at all the other people that are there,” he adds. “The (Rolling) Stones, Aerosmith, most of the cool ’70s rockers have gotten in. ... It’s the who’s-who, and all the people that helped make rock ’n’ roll what it is, really. And it’s really cool for all the Guns N’ Roses fans who supported the band this whole time, that’s the most important thing.”
Reed says he and Rose haven’t really discussed the induction yet, however.
“I don’t know when or why or how to bring it up — it’s not an every day sort of thing, y’know?” Reed says with a laugh. “We’re going to have to at some point.”
After that dip into the past, however, GNR plans to return to its present — and possibly the future as it moves towards a follow-up to 2008’s “Chinese Democracy,” GNR’s first album in 15 years. Reed won’t hazard a guess when that’s likely to happen, but he promises it’s on the band members’ minds.
“There are some clamoring and rumors that we might be getting some material together here after we do this little (theater) run, so we’ll see what happens,” Reed says. “I just go with the flow. I’m always recording and stuff.
“If it happens it will be really fun and cool. I love creating stuff with all the guys. And there was so much material that didn’t make it onto (‘Chinese Democracy’). From what I remember, there were a lot of really cool songs; I can only hope that some of that stuff does resurface and get worked out.”
Guns N’ Roses and Sponge perform Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are $49.50-$125. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.
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