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Dizzy Reed (Guns N'Roses): It takes time to make a record

Dizzy Reed (Guns N'Roses): It takes time to make a record
TRUPE : Dizzy Reed, Guns N'Roses

 Darren Arthur Reed, known to the rock scene as Dizzy Reed, joined Guns N'Roses back in 1990. He recorded with the American hard rock group four albums: "Use Your Illusion I" (1991), "Use Your Illusion II" (1991), "The Spaghetti Incident?" (1993) and "Chinese Democracy"(2008). This year on the 16th of February, Dizzy has released his first solo album, "Rock 'N' Roll Ain't Easy", a record which features guest musicians such as Richard Fortus, Frank Ferrer, Tommy Stinson and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, Thin Lizzy's Ricky Warwick, Mike Dupke and Mike Duda of W.A.S.P., and Psychedelic Furs saxophonist Mars Williams. We wanted to find more about this album and about Dizzy Reed as a musician and individual, and we invited him for a nice talk, which you can read in the lines below.



Metalfan: Hi Dizzy and welcome to Metalfan.ro! On February 16th, you've released your first solo album titled "Rock 'N' Roll Ain't Easy". This is a question that I think you've been hearing a lot these days: why did it take you so long to put out a solo album?
Dizzy Reed: It takes time to make a record. Sometimes it takes a long time. Or a really long time. I've never known any different.
 
Metalfan: I know that your grandmother was the one who taught you first to play the organ. It would be great if you could share with us that story...
Dizzy Reed: My brother and I would go upstairs to her apartment and ask if we could „play” the organ and then we would make as much racket as we could. Flipping buttons, beating on the keys. We were driving her crazy. One day I went up there by myself and she asked if I wanted to learn how to play a song. She was just trying to save her sanity.
 
Metalfan: How was your grandmother as a person? When you think of her, which are the things that come to your mind?
Dizzy Reed: She was pretty awesome as most grandmothers are. She was very happy I stuck with it and very proud when I'd had some success. She did not know of any of the debauchery that went along with being in a rock-and-roll band.
 
Metalfan: How was your childhood and your years as a teenager? It was always the organ, or did you want to play some other instruments as well, like harmonica, guitar, or even drums?
Dizzy Reed: It was keyboard instruments in general. I acquired a Hohner Pianet while in the seventh grade. Started a band, started doing gigs, I picked up other instruments like the guitar, bass and drums along the way just to know how really, and communicate creatively. But not the harmonica. That wasn't my thing.
 
Metalfan: Speaking of guitar, I know that you're not a stranger to that instrument. How good do your friends who play guitar say you are? Are you more focused on technical aspects or more on the groove, like Ace Frehley, for example? [Ed. note: smiles]
Dizzy Reed: I know a lot of great guitar players, been very fortunate to perform and work with a lot of them. They would describe my guitar playing in this manner: I show them the part or the idea, I hand the guitar back to them, they play a cooler, better more kick ass version of the part and I never play it again.
 
Metalfan: Do you remember which were the first records that you listened to? Please, tell us more...
Dizzy Reed: Probably "Soul Limbo" by Booker T and the MGs. My dad had it in his collection of 45s. He had a lot of great records.
 
Metalfan: Would you like to tell us a few stories or examples regarding the moment when you've learned that rock'n'roll ain't easy? [Ed. note: smiles]
Dizzy Reed: The first time I tried to figure out a solo by Billy Powell or John Lord or an Elton John song. Or tried to sing a Zeppelin song. Without the internet or apps and tools they have today, just figuring out the lyrics was hard enough using a record player. And then rehearsing it over and over, loading up all the gear to go to a shitty bar and play for a few drunk people, get stiffed by the club owner, siphon gas from someone else's tank to get home and then doing it all again the next night. And that was all before I finished high school.

Metalfan: As this is your first album, I think it would be great if you could tell us a few words about each song that is part of "Rock 'N' Roll Ain't Easy". Anyone has his own understanding when it comes to anything, but only the one who wrote the song can offer the best description of it...

Dizzy Reed: "This Don't Look Like Vegas": Ricky and Del brought that song into the fold. It's about their twisted misadventures, I just helped round it out.
 
"Mother Theresa" was actually two different ideas I had. Del suggested I, no, insisted I put them together. They were in different keys at different tempos. After several nights of frustration and hell, I made it work. It turned out very cool, so, you were right Del.
 
"Cheers 2 R Oblivion": sometimes you gotta’ move on before it's too late.
 
"Fragile Water" is a revamped version of a song called "The Air" from a movie soundtrack I worked on. It's like Romeo and Juliet meets Thelma and Louise meets Psycho meets Casanova.
 
"I Celebrate": it's hard to fathom these days, but sometimes the truth prevails. I guess the more torturous bullshit one endures, the better it feels to be vindicated. Hallelujah.
 
"Mystery In Exile" is kind of a message of advice to everyone about "rescuing the baby bird". If you ever find yourself in this situation, you must ask yourself these two questions:
1.    Why are you rescuing the baby bird, are you doing it to feel better about yourself?
2.    Has the baby bird been rescued before?
If you answered yes to either of these questions, don't rescue the baby bird. Move along.
 
"Dirty Bomb": Musically, I wanted to do a tribute to T Rex, homage, whatever. Lyrically, the subject was about selling nuclear weapons on the black market. Del said we should make it about an evil chick, relationships, that sort of thing. Not sure how we came up with the compromise we did. but it really sounds cool.
 
"Understanding" started out as a song about credit card debt, personified. Del said we should make it about an evil chick, relationships, that sort of thing. I agreed. The way it turned out, I didn't need to change any of the words.
 
"Crestfallen": I'd recorded an idea down at Rumbo, working on the CD sessions. Very haunting but heavy. Around that same time, I'd read a story, LA Times I think, about a young man who'd been set up by the cops. Three strikes sent away for the rest of his life. Victim of a massive corruption ring. The ring was uncovered, he got set free, but his entire family had turned their backs on him. So, he was totally starting over. I felt compelled to somehow tell that story. But then Del and I changed it.
 
"Forgotten Cases": I was on tour with my band Hookers & Blow, 2005 or 6 or 7. We decided to hit the McDonald’s 24-hour drive through after a show in Cincinnati. Turns out, they were NOT serving cheeseburgers or hamburgers, which I found to be absolutely outrageous. It's MCDONALDS. I called information and had them connect me with the White House, so I could let them know there was a crisis. I got through to one of the several operators they have on staff there, stated my case. Once she stopped laughing, she reminded me that it was President's Day weekend, so he wasn't in, but she would let him know. She also reminded me that the call was being monitored, tracked and so forth just in case I decided to call back. When I got home from that trip, I told daughters about the whole story and they asked me: "what would you say if you actually got through to the president?". They also told me the McDonald’s has never had cheeseburgers or hamburgers on their late-night menu. "Forgotten Cases" is about that. What I would say if I got through to the prez, not McDonald’s.
 
"Reparations": What if?
 
"Rock 'n Roll Ain't Easy": it’s really not. We just make it look easy. I was a little down on my luck when we first started recording this record. I decided to write about it. I took a negative and turned it in to a positive.

 

Metalfan: On this album you've got a few guest musicians joining, like Richard Fortus, Frank Ferrer, Tommy Stinson and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, Thin Lizzy's Ricky Warwick, Mike Dupke and Mike Duda of W.A.S.P., Psychedelic Furs' saxophonist Mars Williams. Please tell us more about these collaborations... What do you think each of them brought  to your music?
Dizzy Reed: I can't say enough about all the great players on this record, they all brought so much, and I can never thank them enough. Sometimes, if you do your best to be cool to people you meet and the people around you and not be a dick, it'll pay off some day.
 
Metalfan: In a digital world, videos are a big part of the way people communicate and share content. Are there any plans to put out a few videos for songs from "Rock 'N' Roll Ain't Easy"?

Dizzy Reed: Yes. Open for ideas too. As long as it's not over budget which at this point would be .01 cent or higher.
 
Metalfan: In the early 90s, you joined Guns N'Roses as a full-time member. It would be great if you could share with your fans and with our readers more details about that story. How did it all happen?
Dizzy Reed: The first time I saw Guns N'Roses at the Troubadour in '85 I remember saying to myself „I want to be in that band”. Sometimes, if you do your best to be cool to people you meet and the people around you and not be a dick, it'll pay off some day.

Metalfan: "Use Your Illusion" I & II are often regarded as some of the greatest albums of that time. It was the first time when Guns N'Roses tried to do something different, but still being Guns N'Roses. How was the time in the studio, the general mood and the recording process?
Dizzy Reed: It was epic. The first day I showed up at rehearsal, I went to grab something to drink from the fridge. I couldn't believe my eyes. I'd never seen that much beer, vodka, Jack. It was incredible. I did help myself.
 
Metalfan: At that moment, Guns N'Roses was regarded as a modern-day Rolling Stones in terms of big bands, for the first time. Speaking of the Stones, musicians like Nicky Hopkins, Ian McLagan, Ian Stewart and Billy Preston have influenced you as a musician and as a person, if I'm right. When you think of the Rolling Stones, which are the albums that have stood the test of time for you? Please tell us more about their music and about the way they've influenced you...
Dizzy Reed: When people ask me who some of my favourite keyboard players, influences are, I always include the phrase „and all the guys that played keys for the Stones”. But, wait, who says they were regarded as the modern-day Stones? The Stones were still together then and are still playing today. That's a little premature or invalid. Like using the term "future hall of famer" when talking about an athlete or „instant classic” when describing a game of event. It's impossible and doesn't make any real sense.
 
Metalfan: Back in 2010, the song "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John was chosen by the Rolling Stones magazine in their top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. I have to say that "Tiny Dancer" is not the single one among the best songs of Elton John, but also a great example of how the piano could be used wisely in a pop-rock song in terms of emotion. What do you think about Elton John's work in general, but also about his 1971 album, "Madman Across the Water"?
Dizzy Reed: I've never really liked "Tiny Dancer". It reminds me of awkward adolescent happenings in my life. But Elton's great.

 
Richard Fortus (guitar), Dizzy Reed (keyboards, piano), Duff McKagan (bass), Axl Rose (vocals),
Slash (guitar), Melissa Reese (synthesizers, keyboards), Frank Ferrer (drums) - Guns N'Roses 2018

Metalfan: "Not in This Lifetime... Tour" has been a huge success so far with over 150 shows all around the world; with guest musicians such as Sebastian Bach, Angus Young, Angry Anderson or even Steven Adler joining you on stage. Besides the tour, are there any plans which you can disclose with us regarding the new music? An LP, or even an EP? Please tell us more...
Dizzy Reed: You will know before I do.
 
Metalfan: Thank you, Dizzy for your time and for your answers! In the end would you like to add something or to send a few words to our readers?
Dizzy Reed: Thank you to all of the kick ass fans that have supported Guns N'Roses and all the other things I've been involved in throughout the years. Without you, there would be none of it! See you all soon.
Autor: H.
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