IZZY STRADLIN - Rolling Stone Interview

March 1998

Izzy Stradlin, ex-rhythm guitarist with Guns N'Roses, has lost his appetite for self-destruction.

The musician, who moved back to his unpretentious hometown of Lafayette, Indiana two years before quitting Guns N'Roses in 1991, has had few regrets since walking away from the drug-infested Hollywood rock lifestyle of the '80s.

"I needed to get out of L.A. for my own sanity," Stradlin recalled. "I was tired of the whole scene. I didn't move there as a junkie. I became one in L.A. It came with the turf."

Stradlin, who recently released a rootsy solo album, 117 (Geffen), co-wrote many of Guns' biggest hits and earned many millions from touring, song publishing, merchandising and record sales.

"I moved back to Lafayette because I thought it would be harder to score [drugs]," he continued. "In the late '80s, you had to go to Indianapolis or Chicago. It helped being far away from that. But you've got to really want to stop. Back home, I would never have thought to use that (trash). But once I quit drugs, I couldn't help looking around and asking myself, 'Is this all there is?' I was just tired of it; I needed to get out."

In 1992, Stradlin formed the Ju-Ju Hounds, a Stonesy outfit that released one album and traversed the globe twice. Then in late '95, Stradlin traveled to L.A. where he met up with his old friend and ex-Guns bassist Duff McKagan. The two soon found themselves in a studio with a couple of musician friends. "We recorded 10 songs in eight days," Stradlin said. "It got me excited about music again. I realized how easy the whole process could be. Those sessions were fun and painless. We just had a great time."

Around the same time, Stradlin heard drummer Taz Bentley had left the Reverend Horton Heat. A huge fan of Bentley's work, the guitarist tracked him down and asked if he wanted to come to L.A. and write some songs. Ju-Ju Hounds guitarist Rick Richards and McKagan came aboard and the new album was born.

"The album is totally random," Stradlin said. "It's just about situations I've been in over the past few years, mostly in Lafayette. That's always how I approach songwriting -- no big statement, just telling it like it is. Otherwise, you take all the fun out of it."

Stradlin, who has no tour plans, says he's still on good terms with at least two of the original Guns N' Roses members. "We're still pretty good friends," he said. "The only guy that doesn't call anyone is Axl [Rose]. I don't know what his problem is."

Stradlin has also apparently lost his appetite for self-promotion. After this interview, he called his manager, permanently canceled his press schedule and flew to Hawaii. (Fred Shuster)

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