Dizzy Reed – GNR’s Appetite for Democracy in Vegas

Published – blog.vegas.com | Author – Caroline Fontein

In less than a week Sin City will be home to the legendary rock band Guns N’ Roses. The group is setting up shop at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino for their first residency, “Appetite for Democracy.” Their 12-show run at The Joint starts Oct. 31 and runs through Nov. 24.

To honor the occasion, the Hard Rock is renaming their street to welcome the rockers to Vegas. On Oct. 29 Hard Rock and Clark County will declare Paradise Road to be known as Paradise City Road. The name pays homage to the group’s record-breaking hit “Paradise City.”

“Appetite for Democracy” will feature an exclusive set list that spans the group’s biggest hit songs from their debut album, “Appetite for Destruction” (1987), to their most recent platinum-selling album, “Chinese Democracy” (2008).

Today’s GNR lineup consists of frontman and founder Axl Rose, DJ Ashba (guitar), Dizzy Reed (keyboards), Tommy Stinson (bass), Richard Fortus (guitar), Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (guitar), Chris Pitman (keyboards) and Frank Ferrer (drums).

“There’s definitely going to be some cool surprises, and I don’t want to give anything away,” said Reed. “The main thing is that [fans] are going to see a kickass rock and roll show. ”

Reed joined GNR in 1990, making him the longest-running member in the band aside from Rose. He played on both the “Use Your Illusion I and II” albums and contributed to a majority of the songs, including “Dust N Bones,” “Live and Let Die,” “Novemeber Rain,” “Garden of Eden,” “Civil War” and “Yesterdays.”

VEGAS.com had a chance to talk to Reed about the group’s upcoming residency and what it means to the band to be playing in the Entertainment Capital of the World. Here’s what he had to say:

Q. What made the band decide to do this residency in Vegas at the Hard Rock?
A. “Vegas is a fun town, a great place to play. We love playing there. Great atmosphere, very festive, so it seemed like a good idea.”

What does the band have planned for the residency shows?
“We’ll do a lot of drinking, a lot of gambling, hope to play some golf during the day and yeah and play at night.”

Are fans in Vegas going to see anything different with your residency shows than they would when the band is on tour?
“There’s definitely going to be some cool surprises, and I don’t want to give anything away. The main thing is that they’re going to see a kickass rock and roll show. That’s what we deliver, and we do it every night. That’s where it’s at; that’s the bottom line.”

What about your set list? What do you have planned?
“Well, we have a shitload of songs worked up, and we have for a while. You know the thing with this band and the way it’s always been with this band is there’s never really a set set list. It’s just more of a guide. … We have a huge repertoire, and we’ll be pulling stuff from that every night?”

When you’re not performing are you going to be staying in Vegas?
“As far as I know, we’re going to be hanging in Vegas most of the time, the whole time probably. I may have to come home maybe once or twice just to check on the place, but for the most part we’ll hanging there. So, you’ll see us around out on the golf course, in the casinos, the nightclubs – that’s what Vegas is all about.”

What does it mean to you that 2012 is also the 25th anniversary of “Appetite for Destruction?”
“The whole anniversary thing is pretty amazing to me – it just makes me feel kind of old. I’ve been in this band a long time. That’s a lifetime for a lot of people, but it’s cool that it’s still going strong. It’s great to be a part of it. Like I said, this is just a kickass band, and we definitely do it all justice.”

GNR bring their larger-than-life hits songs to rock fans in Vegas.

Why do you think that album continues to be so iconic today?
“Today I think music is so much more about the production and the bells and the whistles and the tones and the sounds, who won ‘American Idol.’ It’s more about the presentation, but at the end of the day if you can sit down and play a song on your acoustic guitar or on the piano and it still sounds great, that’s what it’s all about. I think that record comes from that period of time when you had to have that.”

I know you joined the band after that album came out, but what is it like for you to play those songs for fans 25 years after ‘Appetite’ was released?
“Well, you know, we’ve been playing a lot of those songs for a long time, but when I first joined the band, I was a big fan of that record. It’s always a treat for me to add what I can to those songs. I always think it’s good to twist things around a little bit when you play things live. To me, it’s always kind of disappointing to go see a band and they play their record exactly the same as the record from beginning to end. It’s a little boring… To add anything creatively and to help deliver it to people that’s always a treat. That’s why we do this.”

Are you working on any new music now?
“We’ve been kicking some ideas around. We have some time off in Vegas. Hopefully we’ll be able to organize ourselves to get in a room and continue to refine a lot of those ideas and see what happens. I think as a whole this particular lineup has never really written together. We have in smaller groups…it could be great, it could be a disaster, you never know. We have three guitar players. You have three guitar players in a room together it’s always going to be volatile, but I shouldn’t say that because those guys are great. They actually work really great together, and they’re all so good. They’re the top of the heap, and for them to be able to work things out and present it the way we do every night live, it’s pretty amazing. I’m sure we can harness that energy and that vibe and get stuff recorded.”

There always seems to be some controversy surrounding GNR, but what do you want fans to know about the band and your music?
“I just want our fans to know we’re thinking about them. We always do because it’s for them. Everything we do is for the fans. As far as controversy and stuff, I probably said something in this interview that’s going to start something. I never know (laughs)… We’re here for the fans and we appreciate the fans, especially the ones that have been fans for such a long time and the ones that have come out and seen the new band. I know there’s always been skeptics, obviously, and the ones that actually come out, I think most of them walk away going, ‘Wow that was cool; that is a great band.’ So if you haven’t seen us yet come check it out.”

What does it mean to you that GNR is going to be part of the entertainment lineup in Vegas?
“You know when I was growing up it was such a really cool special thing. You heard about the Rat Pack performing there. Then when Elvis did his residency, that was just a huge thing. It was just like magic – you just wanted to be there. So I think , you know, not that we’re as cool as Elvis or anything, but we’re still alive, that’s a positive, and just to be a part of that, that’s pretty awesome.”

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