Gilby Clarke has had, and continues to have, an amazing career. His name on its own may not seem, to the uneducated, a notable rock guitarist, however, when his back catalogue and past bands are mentioned the depth and importance of his career is noted.
First, let’s set the scene with his obvious past, Guns N’ Roses. Not many can claim membership in this iconic band. Gilby hit the stage with his Guns N’ Roses at the 2012 Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and he toured with the band for over two years from this point. He appeared on the band’s The Spaghetti Incident, Live Era ’88-’91 and Greatest Hits albums, and spent years on the massive Use Your Illusion world tour in the ’90s (one of the largest tours ever to stomp the globe). But outside of Guns N’ Roses, he has played with MC5, Heart and fronted the hugely underrated Candy, has released a number of solo albums and has also produced some of hard rocks finest including Alice Cooper, L.A. Guns and The Bronx.
Gilby returns to Australia at the end of November for his second ever solo tour of the country and so I caught up with him to discuss the up and coming tour and his illustrious career to date.
Gilby can you talk us through what people should expect from your up and coming Australian tour?
“Well first of all it a rock n roll show. This may not be a fashionable word these days but that is what it is! It’s a free spirited loud guitar rock show. I will play songs from the solo records and throughout my career. You know, no smoke and mirrors, just a rock show party!”
You have toured Australia now a number of times, how do you find Australian audiences?
“What I always think of Australia is just how much people in general appreciate their free time. They have fun! There are a lot of cultures where people live to work and I don’t find this with Australia. When the weekend comes it’s time to party and this is my job. I am here to entertain so when we play live it is important that everyone has a good time and this is what I experience in Australia.”
So will you be showcasing any new material on the tour as I know that you are currently recording?
“I decided that I won’t do the new songs and the reason is with the new age of social media, I want people to hear these songs for the first time as they are meant to be, on a record and not on a social media platform. If this was fifteen years ago I would have played some of these songs but not in this day and age. I think today a lot of magic is lost and stolen by youtube and the like. ”
Who is coming over with you to play the dates?
“I am not bringing any of my band members I am working with a local band. They will come in and support me in the shows. They have played with Bruce Kulick and a few other friends of mine and they come with a great reputation. I am looking forward to working with these guys.”
Looking back on your career, what moments stand out for you as a musician?
“I think there have been quite a few. Getting the GN’R gig was a nice boost and obviously a stand out. They play a little differently than most rock bands with a certain feel and swagger. You know everything I had done up to this point was punk rock and they taught me to sit behind the beat and relax more than attack. I played with Nancy Sinatra and this was so different and this helped me to polish up on reading and doing my research and to play so differently. There has been so many moments and even my session work has been amazing. So many things man, too much to mention really.”
Can you talk us through how you got the gig in Guns N Roses?
“Really simple, first of all, Hollywood was actually a small circle of musicians and a lot of people don’t see this. I knew the guys quite well and I was good friends with Izzy. So when Izzy left the band there was a small circle of musos that they called. So Slash called me and you know, Slash needed someone who can support him and work in with his sound but also to carry their own against him and on stadium stages. So when you put it like this it isn’t a huge field, but that was how it happened.”
Can you talk us through your career as a producer, is this something that you have always done, or have wanted to do?
“When I was hanging around LA we needed day jobs to survive. I used to a lot of the live sound around town and I developed a good reputation for this which was great. When I was with my first band I was put in the chair to do our first demo and I took it from there. In the beginning it was understanding sounds and tones and from here it became really psychology. You know people are only capable of what they are capable of, you can’t be a drill sergeant like producers used to be. I had a fresh approach. I love producing, I have three records out this year I have done one more to be released this year.”
So which do you prefer, playing and writing as a musician, or being a producer?
“I think what is nice is I have been lucky enough to blend them. Actually, in the producers chair I always start to gain a little weight as I am sitting in a chair for twelve hours a day but when I am playing live it is flat out and busy .I still love performing live and I love working with a band and getting the most out of them, so it is all what I do and nothing really has to come before the other.”
So what is the next move for your career? Are there any plans in the wings, other than recording a new album?
“I am pretty much a, it “happens as it happens,” I go with the flow. Right now I am in a creative spot and I have taken a year to get this record done. Next year I am hoping to have it out and solidify myself as an artist. If people know my name it is as GNR and I really want to be known as an artist first.”
Is there anything you would like to say to your Australian fans ahead of your tour?
“First off I want to say let’s do it! Get off the couch, put the phone down and party. Our shows are never the same and I feed off the audience. It is a commitment for people and a commitment for me so I won’t let anyone down!”
Gilby Clarke is nothing short of a seasoned rock musician. As noted here he has had an amazing career to date and he continues to push on, playing live and being creative within the hard rock realm. For all of those who missed his last solo tour of Australia, I urge you to check him out, just like the numbers of fans who caught him here on a solo tour a few months ago, you won’t be disappointed. Gilby will be completing the following dates down here…
Thursday, 30th November
Tickets: Hardline Media
Friday, 1st December
Cherry Bar, Melbourne
Tickets: Hardline Media
Saturday, 2nd December
The Basement, Canberra
Tickets: Hardline Media
Sunday, 3rd December
Frankies Pizza, Sydney