14th February 2004 :: He replaced Izzy in G N'R and his playing owes something to Slash
Gilby Clarke's intention is clear: all he wants to do is rock. "I still feel the same as I did when I was 19 years old and got my first Les Paul," says the veteran rhythm ace.
Since leaving Guns N' Roses after 'The Spaghetti Incident' in 1994, he's just kept on rockin', too. He joined Slash's Snakepit to work on 'It's Five O' Clock Somewhere' and subsequently, he's been quietly putting out his own solo records (his latest and fourth is 'Swag'), all of which carry the true spirit of rock 'n' roll.
As a guitar player first and foremost, how does he find coming up with lyrics and singing? "I do find it easier to come up with the guitar riffs," he admits.
"And the vocals would probably be better if someone else did them, but as they're my lyrics, it seems best if I sing them. The records I'm making aren't selling millions, so my vocals don't really come in for much scrutiny - I don't have to put up with all that kinda crap! I just get up there, plug in and sing my songs."
It was this no-nonsense attitude that no doubt prompted Slash to give him the call to join Guns N' Roses. How was that? "It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I knew what I was getting into and it wasn't like I was some kid; I was 29 when I got the gig. The band was very very popular at the time, but I was concentrating more on the songs than I was about being a rock star on MTV.
"They gave me a week to learn the whole set. Slash was great. He'd just say, 'Just learn the songs and play the way you play.' I was lucky that I could be myself. I'll still wonder how I ended up in that situation. Of all the people they could have had... But hey, I'm not complaining."
Along with his beloved Les Pauls, Marshalls and Voxes are Gilby's staple sound and just perfect for his raw, bluesy rock tone. "Some of the amps I use now are the same that I had back when I was in Candy (Gilby's first band) in 1985! I have this old Fender Deluxe that featured on Candy and all through the G N' R years."
How does he feel about the band as they are now? "People don't believe me, but I really don't have a bad relationship with Axl. We get along great when we see each other once every six years! I dunno, I mean, I still think it's a shame what happened with Guns N' Roses.
The original band was a great band, I think when me and Matt came in we helped the band still be good, and I think there was a lot of really, really good music left in that band." Let's just be thankful that in Gilby's music the spirit of the original Gunners lives on... (HD)