|Edna Gundersen, USA TODAY
Guns N' Roses kicks off its three-week Las Vegas residency at Hard Rock's The Joint on Halloween
Axl Rose pledges to be on time, deliver a mind-blowing performance and give Guns N' Roses fans a wide selection of tunes from a hits-packed catalog when the band kicks off its first residency Wednesday night in Las Vegas.
After the show? All bets are off.
"It's a matter of trying to stay out of trouble and stay focused," Rose says in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY. "I don't have a lot of bad habits until after the show. After the show, pulling those reins in gets a little tough."
GNR will play 12 dates through Nov. 24 at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (details and tickets at gunsnroses.com). The run of dates is dubbed Appetite for Democracy, a reference to the span between the group's 1987 debut album Appetite for Destruction and 2008's Chinese Democracy.
After GNR's mid-'90s implosion, Rose, the sole original member and legal owner of the band's name, worked with fluctuating lineups and says he's now satisfied with the current team: guitarists DJ Ashba, Richard Fortus and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, keyboardists Dizzy Reed and Chris Pitman, bassist Tommy Stinson and drummer Frank Ferrer.
"They have my back, as friends and caring about everyone's well-being and livelihood, not just their own careers," says Rose, 50. "I feel good about their creativity. This lineup has been coming together more and more."
That's not all that's changed. In GNR's early years, Rose worked out the "angst, frustration and rebellion" of his painful upbringing on stage and off.
"I was expressing my emotions and took that as far as you can and still be alive," he says. "I could beat my mike stand into the stage but I was still in pain. Maybe fans liked it, but sometimes people forget you're a person and they're more into the entertainment value. It's taken a long time to turn that around and give a strong show without it being a kamikaze show.
"There was a much more self-destructive nature in Appetite. It was a going-for-it-at-all-cost thing that worked then. I don't know if that's the smartest thing for me now."
If the Vegas residency works out, Rose might consider a sequel, he says. During his reclusive years before the release of Chinese, "I spent a lot of time in Vegas and didn't get bothered. I wasn't gambling or partying at the time. I'd go walking at night, just watching people. I was out more than people thought."
Divorced and unattached, Rose says the Vegas stint could prove risky.
"I've been married in Vegas before," to model Erin Everly in 1990, he says. "This could be my demise."