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November 21st, 2002
We're catching our groove again now (Richard Fortus interview)
Albany NY Times Union Thursday, November 21, 2002
By GREG HAYMES, Staff writer
First published: Thursday, November 21, 2002

When Guns N' Roses rumbles into the Pepsi Arena on Wednesday, almost all of the faces will be new -- except, of course, for the guitarist Buckethead, whose face will be obscured by his trademark KFC bucket headpiece.

One of those new mugs belongs to former Love Spit Love and Psychedelic Furs guitarslinger Richard Fortus, who spoke last week from a tour stop in Minneapolis:

Q: How's the tour going?

A: It's going all right, despite the occasional riot.

Q: What was going on in your head when the first date of the tour was canceled, resulting in a riot in Vancouver earlier this month?

A: Shock and dismay -- I mean, I didn't even know what the hell was going on. Tommy (Stinson, formerly of the Replacements) and Dizzy (Reed, the only band member other than Rose who's been with the band for more than five years) were doing an interview backstage with Kurt Loder from MTV, and they heard the announcement that the show was canceled coming over the PA system in the arena. No one could believe it. And it was Robin's (Finck, formerly of Nine Inch Nails) birthday, too. It was such a drag.

Apparently Axl had no idea, either, because he was on his way there. His plane was delayed, and we knew that he wasn't going to make it to the soundcheck, but there was never any question that he'd be there in time for the gig. Apparently, the venue just pulled the plug. It was pretty disappointing. And even worse, when you turn on the TV and see people getting their teeth knocked out, it's not something that you want to be a party to. So now the lawsuits will fly.

Q: When did you join Guns N' Roses?

A: I'm the newest guy. I joined a few months back. We did the tour of Europe, and when we got back, I recorded my parts for the album.

Q: Was it an easy decision to join?

A: Yeah. Tommy's one of my best friends, and he has been for a while. We've done loads of recording sessions together. And with all of the other people that are involved with Guns N' Roses, it's a pretty unbelievable band.

Q: Were you a Guns N' Roses fan?

A: No, I didn't grow up a Guns N' Roses fan, really. I was sort of like a punk-rock kid, and they were one of those bands that was kind of marginal. You know: They had long hair. Certainly, "Welcome to the Jungle" is a pretty undeniable song, and I loved "It's So Easy," too, because that's right up my alley, fitting right in with bands like the New York Dolls, MC5 and the Stooges. But Guns N' Roses were so L.A., and I was a NYC kid. So it wasn't until much later that I really got into the band.

Q: When did you get the call to join up?

A: Actually, I first got a call like three years ago, but before that audition happened, Axl saw Buckethead play, and he decided to go with him instead. Fortunately, I got another call the next time they were looking for someone.

Q: With three guitarists in the band, doesn't the sound get a little crowded?

A: Well, Bucket comes out and does his bucket-ness, and we just make room for each other. When I go back and listen to "Appetite for Destruction" and the other early stuff, there are definitely three guitar parts there. There's Slash's rhythm parts and Izzy's rhythm parts, and then there's Slash's wanking over the top in between vocals. That's what we're trying to do live. And I think that's why Axl wanted to go with three guitars, because that was always missing from the live sound.

Q: How many songs from the upcoming album, "Chinese Democracy," is the band playing in concert?

A: It depends on the night, but we're playing up to four new songs. And once the album comes out, we'll start playing a lot more.

Q: So when is the album going to be released?

A: I've heard that it's coming out in March -- but then again I've heard a lot of things, so you never know.

Q: Has touring with Guns N' Roses been everything you thought it would be?

A: Well, with the exception of the riots, yeah, the tour is a blast. This music is just so much fun to play live, and with this band, wow -- it's just unbelievable. By the time we get to Albany, the band is going to be pretty unstoppable. We're catching our groove again now, and once we get five or six shows under your belts, we'll be firing on all cylinders. It's a pretty good band live.

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