The only person who has been in Guns N’ Roses longer than keyboard player Dizzy Reed is Axl Rose. Reed joined the band in the early ’90s, shortly before the “Use Your Illusion” albums, and stuck through the historically long waiting period for the follow-up that was “Chinese Democracy” in 2008. Although he wasn’t in the picture for the band’s club days, Guns N’ Roses is returning to these roots this week, with a series of club shows to coincide with Fashion Week. These intimate Fashion Week gigs have become a bit of a tradition for GnR, one which Reed says he finds a little baffling.
Why Fashion Week?
I don’t really know the answer to that question, but I ask myself that question sometimes. It’s a cool thing to be a part of it, but from my perspective it’s a bit of a quintessential New York experience. And rock ’n’ roll and fashion have always sort of been intertwined.
You’re also returning to the Ritz, which although it’s now called Webster Hall, is where Guns N’ Roses performed a classic show that ran on MTV for a long time.
I think that was one of the moments out here [in Los Angeles] where we all sort of realized that Guns were gonna blow up.
Walk me through a little bit of the waiting period, wondering if “Chinese Democracy” was ever going to be released.
We’ve only got 15 minutes! [Laughs] I went through the ga-mut of emotions on a daily basis, depending on what was going on in my life. From a financial standpoint, and from every-thing, it was just emotional. We had so many things tied into that record and so many things went down, and so many people came and went. We had been touring already for so long, playing those songs and I’m just really, really happy and thankful that it came out and I think it’s one of the best re-cords I’ve ever [been a part of].
You talk of people coming and going. How have you stayed in the band so long?
I think coming into the band as I did, I just had a different perspective on it. I was pretty grateful to be called up to be a part of what was such a huge thing at the time, and if I ever start drifting off into any sort of place where maybe I want to do a little more for myself I just try to remind myself that I’m pretty darn lucky.
Axl gets a bad rap for the ways he has led this band, but you’ve worked with him for so long.
He’s a great, great man. He’s done a lot for me and my family and for so many other people. And people don’t know that about him. And you know what? He’s always got some great jokes, man.
So what do you know about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Um, it’s in Cleveland.
But do you know what’s going to happen with GnR’s induction into the Hall in April? There are rumors of a reunion of the original lineup.
I haven’t gotten any details. I spoke with the people of that institution. They gave me a call and told me to mark it on the calendar, to be there. As far as the details of what’s going to happen, I haven’t received any sort of itinerary or schedule. It’s something I’m just trying not to think about until it gets closer. It’s not that I don’t appreciate it. It’s a great thing, and it’s great for all the people who supported the band over the years.
I understand that you’re still friends with everybody who has been in the band through the years, is that right?
Friendly, I’d say. I haven’t talked to a couple of the guys at all since they left. But Duff got up and jammed with us in Seattle and Vancouver last year. His band Loaded opened up for us, which was fantastic. Izzy came and did a few shows with us, and sat in, in 2010, which was cool.
Weren’t you and Izzy kind of like ships passing in the night?
No, we played together. When I actually joined the band, it was still the original five guys. With Steven, we recorded “Civil War,” and then I didn’t see him again, and then we had a new drummer. But Izzy toured with us right up to when the “Use Your Illusion” albums came out.
I just remember the video that featured a sign that said, “Where’s Izzy?”
Oh yeah. That was on my jacket.
And you’ve been immortalized, by making it onto the Guns N’ Roses pinball machine as well…
Yes I did. I’m on the pinball machine, and I can’t remember what it was that triggers it, but you can get the “Dizzy ball,” and it starts going crazy and you can score a whole bunch of points. I think it was patterned after me after too many vodkas or something.