It's no mystery that Guns N' Roses have had a revolving cast of musicians since its inception, but especially during the Chinese Democracy era. Former GN'R drummer Bryan "Brain" Mantia, who played on the majority of the 2008 album, has explained, to the best of his ability, why the record took so long to make.
After the Use Your Illusion albums came out, the only other music Axl Rose released with Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum in the '90s was the 1993 covers album The Spaghetti Incident? and a rendition of The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil," which came out in 1994. Within a few years, Rose was the only remaining original member of the band, which is when he started experimenting with a bunch of other musicians including Paul "Huge" Tobias, Josh Freese, Robin Finck and Buckethead.
Brain was also brought into the picture a bit later, as he re-recorded all of the drum parts that Freese had originally done. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, the drummer shared some of his stories working with Rose and co., and described the reason he believes Chinese Democracy ended up taking so long to put out.
"Well, I think because it started with the original band. That was a good two or three years of chaos. And then Slash, Duff and Matt Sorum left. They got Josh. That took a couple more years. They went through some producers," the drummer recalled.
"When I got in, it was just a lot of trial and error regarding what we were going to make, what style of music. It was a new band. Also, Axl takes his time anyway. And now because it’s this whole new thing, it will be twice as long. Then it became almost like a folklore. It was like, 'Now it’s gone this far, it might as well just be $12 million, $13 million. Ten years. Let’s go for the record.' I don’t know."
Brain admitted that he enjoyed the "chaos" that came with being in Guns N' Roses, and he liked that he was able to be in such a big band while still being able to live a moderately normal life and do normal things.
"And then you get a call like, 'Hey, Axl needs you.' I was like, 'This is the closest I’m going to get to the Zeppelin thing. Who gives a fuck? Make it go forever. This is the coolest thing, that it took 10 years.'”
Another chaotic aspect of being in Guns N' Roses was touring with Guns N' Roses, something that Brain also admired, even if they took the stage hours later than they were supposed to — or didn't at all.
"But in the end, if we started at 1:00, the show would finish at 4:00. And Axl would give everything into that show. I’ve never seen that fuckin’ dude wimp out ever. If it starts at 1:00AM, that show is going to finish at 4:30. And even if you’re asleep, he’s still screaming," he remembered.
Ultimately, Brain left Guns sometime in 2006 because his daughter was born, and the chaos and excitement wasn't right for him at that time anymore. He didn't have any "weirdness" with anyone in the band over his decision, and he didn't leave because of anyone's behavior.
"Mainly for me, it was that I wanted to do something else with my life."