|By Jane Stevenson
The mega-selling bad boys of late '80s, early '90s rock are back together rehearsing songs for their first album in five years.
So says Guns N' Roses drummer Matt Sorum, on the phone recently from his Hollywood Hills home, right next door, he adds with a chuckle, to '80s bad girl Madonna.
"We're definitely getting geared up to do another record," says Sorum, who brings his all-star side band, Neurotic Outsiders, to the Warehouse on Sunday.
"We're already starting to make tour plans. We've got a possible tour starting in South America in January and then we're going to stop and finish the record and probably tour next summer."
But, Sorum adds cheerfully, the status of G N' R - which has so far survived a revolving door lineup (guitarist Gilby Clarke was the most recent exit, keyboardist Dizzy Reed is back in), substance abuse problems, and notorious lead singer Axl Rose - could change tomorrow and "G N' R could break up next month."
After the last lengthy tour, the band took six months off before reconvening. But then Rose fired Clarke.
"We all got a phone call, he's out," says Sorum. "And we were kind of bummed out 'cause we really like Gilby. He's a really nice guy. Now he's suing us."
Then guitarist Slash did his solo project, Slash's Snakepit, and toured for six months.
"Axl got pissed 'cause he wanted to work. Then there was a bit of a problem between the two of them. That's been sort of ongoing for awhile and then they just weren't getting along."
But Sorum reports in the last week that Slash has been rehearsing with G N' R bassist Duff McKagan (who plays guitar in Neurotic Outsiders), Rose, Reed and "an anonymous guitar player" who may or may not be Clarke's replacement, and Sorum.
"It sounds like the band again. Everybody's in good shape and Duff's looking really good and healthy. It was good that we took the time off, because at the end of the tour Duff was one foot in the grave. I mean it was like we were all drugged out. We just all stepped back out of the whole rock and roll debauchery for a while and just sort of mellowed."
And Neurotic Outsiders, rounded out by Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones and Duran Duran's John Taylor on bass, is to be thanked for getting G N' R back on track.
"I think Neurotic Outsiders is single-handedly responsible for Guns N' Roses being reunited," says Sorum. "It seems like every time something good starts happening, I get a phone call from Axl, `We're going to start rehearsing tomorrow.' But seriously, when Axl heard that me and Duff had gone out and gotten this multi-million-dollar record deal and we're going to go out on the road, he started getting a little nervous."
In fact, Sorum says it was out of sheer boredom during his G N' R downtime that he began playing with Neurotic Outsiders at Johnny Depp's Viper Room in Hollywood every Monday night.
Then the likes of Iggy Pop and Billy Idol started showing up for guest appearances and before you know it Madonna's Maverick Records had signed them for a one-album deal and limited touring.
"Basically our band is about no egos," says Sorum. "All of us have been in bands with singers, lead singers, and they're difficult. Lead singers are just difficult. They just are. I'm sorry. If you don't hold an instrument in your hand, then you're just gonna be a pain in the ass."