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It took him 15 years, but Axl Rose did it. Whether you loved it or hated it (general consensus leans toward the latter), Guns N' Roses released Chinese Democracy, the band's long-awaited follow-up to The Spaghetti Incident, in 2008.
And though the record didn't exactly tank (614,000 units sold as of April 2011), it didn't perform as expected.
Bassist Tommy Stinson, Guns N' Roses' third-longest-tenured member, as well as a founding member of The Replacements and current member of Soul Asylum, sums the record up as "disappointing."
"What mostly happened with that record — why it took so long — was we just had no help from the record company whatsoever," Stinson says. "Making a record of that magnitude, with all the expectations, [without label support] is difficult.
"[Rose] was left to his own devices to make that thing happen. He got zero fucking help from anyone outside the band to fucking do it. And, you know, it just got stupider and stupider as the record company kept throwing either bad A&R guys or producers like Roy Thomas Baker, who, you know, made things sound better. But that wasn't what we needed. We needed someone to help us fucking sew it up, and he came in, fucking re-recorded everything five fucking times with every amp in the country."
Meanwhile, with Rose and a rotating cast of characters toiling away on the album, the music industry changed — dramatically.
"[Interscope had a chance to] capitalize on what could have been the biggest record of the fucking end of the industry as we know it, and they just squandered it," Stinson says. "[They've got] the most anticipated record in fucking forever, and they didn't help get it together. Never happened. That shit happens every day, to lots of band, but if you're Guns N' Roses, [you should] do something before everything really hits the shitter."
Stinson is well aware of the album's critical standing but feels the record will someday get its due.
"I still think it's a great record. I think it will go down as being a great record down the line. Compare it lyrically to past Guns N' Roses records, as far as where [Rose's] head was at and what he was trying to get out with the record. I think there's some significantly deep, thought-out stuff [on the album]. Down the road, people will see that."
And though it might seem crazy to imagine a Guns N' Roses album without another decade-plus wait, Stinson seems to think the possibility is great that another album could see release sooner rather than later.
"You know, I just see us making a record much quicker, in hindsight. Because a lot of what happened with Chinese Democracy in hindsight, we could get around now . . . You know, it's been a good gig for me. It's been fun and, you know, it's served me well in a lot of ways.
"Axl and I get a long pretty good, and we all get along pretty well. Now is kind of the time to stick it out if we're going to make another record. The lineup is working, and the camaraderie is good, it's a good fit."