Chinese Democracy Drummer Feared Axl Rose ‘May Snap On Me’ & Says Buckethead Recorded in a Chicken Coop

Axl photo by Ralph_PH via Wikipedia, Buckethead by Jhayne via Wikipedia, Brain via Discogs
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Chinese Democracy by Guns N’ Roses will go down in infamy for many reasons. In addition to taking a whopping 11 years to make, Axl and the gang blew through 14 million dollars, 15 studios, 17 musicians and 16 production staff in the process.

One of those 17 musicians was Bryan “Brain” Mantia, a nasty drummer who played for many notable artists, but for our purposes, you might know him best via his drumming for Primus and Godflesh. Brain apparently got the huge Guns N’ Roses gig through colleague, friend & legendary weirdo guitar virtuoso Buckethead (who himself was a member of Guns N’ Roses from 2000 to 2004). In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Brain had a ton of fascinating comments about what it was really like being in the belly of the beast for one of the most infamous albums of all time. Here’s some of the most interesting parts of the interview, summarized:

Brain shares his thoughts on Axl Rose:

“It was definitely intimidating. I knew, ‘Uh-oh, this guy may snap on me.’ But my main goal was to play with Miles Davis or Prince. Instead, it went to Primus, Tom Waits, and Guns N’ Roses . So I didn’t really think about him.”

That said, Brain does go on to say some positive things about Axl:

“I was like, ‘I’ll go in there and talk about Wu-Tang.’ I think he liked it. He thought it was cool. Axl has always been into different music. And because I went in naively, it kind of worked… I truly think [Axl] wants things to be at the highest level, and he puts that on himself… that’s the part that I admire.”

Brain shares why Axl Rose would infamously skip out on Guns N’ Roses concerts:

“If he didn’t feel like playing, for whatever reason, he just wouldn’t show up. He knew it would likely invite a consequence like a riot or a canceled tour, but he didn’t seem to care back then.That’s on the biggest level. And I’m not saying it’s right, but that’s kind of like the stories I’d hear about Bernie Worrell and George Clinton getting into their shit. He’s willing to throw it away. In the end, I don’t know. I saw Bernie towards the end when I heard he was sick. I went to one of his last shows. In the end, I don’t know if it’s worth it.” Brain continued:

“But now Guns N’ Roses  show up on time… They play for four hours and it’s the most amazing show. So go figure. But I kind of dug it. I have the stories. I have the experiences. I can play the fuckin’ drums — that’s boring.”

Brain addresses the long-standing rumor that guitarist Buckethead recorded Chinese Democracy in a chicken coop:

“Yeah. He felt best playing in a chicken coop, and they built it for him. That’s the beauty of this band. You better watch what you ask for since it’ll show up.” Brain went on to add: “Bucket just struggled with the politics behind it. Bucket was a true musician in that he just wanted to play. He’d be like, ‘Why does it have to be so hard? Why can’t the album just come out?’ I was basking in it: ‘That’s part of the gig, dude.’ He wasn’t feeling it. We had a little bit of a falling-out. He was like, ‘It seems like they’re just getting off on this.’ I was like, ‘It’s not that I’m getting off on it. I’m just trying to let it be what it is. I’m not going to be able to change it, obviously. So I might as well get what I can get out of it.”

If you’re hungry for more, check out the full conversation with Brain here.

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