Axl Rose’s ‘Genius Moment’ That Made ‘Use Your Illusion’
The singer relied on his experience from a previous job as the group prepared to record the usual 20 songs, with the intention of using the best 12 or 13 to form an LP.
“But when Axl came in and decided it should be a double record, it was a genius moment for him,” Sorum told Rolling Stone in an interview surrounding his upcoming memoir, Double Talkin’ Jive. “Axl came in, and I feel like he had a couple of girls with him at the time. We were all sitting there and recording. He announced to us that he wanted to put out a double record. He basically said, ‘I want to put out all the songs.’ … He came up with the idea of doing two [albums] and changing the color of each, and calling it the same, Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II.”
Rose’s reason for wanting to make two distinct albums was simple: “He had worked at Tower Records on Sunset. In those days, if you had a double record, you had to put it behind the cash register. It was over 20 bucks. He wanted the records to be in the bin where you could actually hold them, pick them up.”
The frontman believed his plan would work as long as there was “a lot of touring” to follow the releases, Sorum noted. “He was like, ‘I want to do five years on the road. These two records are going to be the legs for that tour,'" he said. "The guests that we would invite onstage – Brian May, Elton [John] – it was all these people. Axl thought by rubbing elbows with these icons, it put us in the same light as them. I understood that later on.”
The tour was deliberately excessive, but it also had the effect of burning out the band. “We were out there for two and half years,” the drummer recalled. “It was doing five or six nights a week and partying hard. We got home, and we could just never really get the musical thing going again. We went in the studio and tried to write, and everybody had too much money, everyone bought houses and went separate ways in a lot of ways. I wish we could have sat down and talked it out, but we just didn’t. And then I left.”