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November Pain

Call 'em Guns N' Poseurs if you like, but Axl Rose can still incite riots with the best of them

All of that seems like pretty unlikely preparation for a Gunner. Fortus doesn't disagree. He concedes that he never bought any G N' R albums the first time around, nor did he care to see the band perform. "The kind of metal I associated them with at the time, well, I was vehemently opposed to it," he says. But the chance to play with Finck and Buckethead, not to mention the nice paycheck, has apparently helped ease the pain.

"I had decided to pretty much stay out [in California] and do my own stuff because there usually isn't any money in touring. At the same time I didn't like the idea of painting myself into a corner and never going out. But I'll tell you, the money on this one was too good to turn down," says Fortus, who adds that Chinese Democracy will be a lot better than people think when and if it drops. In fact, he says there are already enough songs in the can for three albums.

But since he signed on, he claims that his mercenary motives have been replaced by something akin to pure pleasure. "I mean just think of it, to have Robin and Buckethead up there, I don't think you could put a better group together," he says. "We all split up the lead breaks pretty well." And early reviews of the tour -- which often cite the trio's guitar work on their phalanx of Les Pauls as pretty intense -- seem to bear this out.

Axl Rose tries to prove he's not as much of an '80s relic as Axel Foley.
Axl Rose tries to prove he's not as much of an '80s relic as Axel Foley.

Fortus describes playing to massive outdoor stadium crowds overseas this year, and he says that watching Rose hurtle past him on stage (while occasionally stopping to study the pair of TelePrompTers scrolling G N' R lyrics) is something akin to an out-of-body experience. "I mean, it just kind of hit me, how weird the scene was," he says. "There's 80,000 people out there, and I'm up there playing this old Guns N' Roses song, and Axl is really on it. I'm not sure if that stuff was ahead of its time, or even behind, but that music had something behind it. It's the real deal."

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