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’ To get sober is really [tough] but to do it like that, in a situation where everybody’s still using…” Nevertheless, he persisted for almost a year.Recording wasn't so bad - remarkably, basic tracks for both albums took less than two weeks, he says.In reality, however, the period was a desperately dark time for Guns N’ Roses. The only way he knew how to handle it was to “make sure I was out of my skull for pretty much all of it.Not least Izzy, who found himself in the grip of heroin addiction. But I was addicted to everything,” he says nonchalantly. I didn't even know I was in trouble until someone pointed it out to me…” That someone happened to be Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler, whose own exploits in the field of ‘advanced chemistry’ were, at that point, better known even than Izzy’s. We all did…” Doing drugs was “just normal, something we’d all been into since we were kids.“We’d stopped hanging out together – me, Duff, Slash, all of us. The drugs and drinking and stuff was a big part of the isolation. The drugs and all that just got worse…” Through it all, however, he kept up a dialogue with Steven Tyler. Mainly, he would tell me really fucking scary drug stories - shit like locking himself in a bathroom and filling in all the tile cracks with toothpaste. I thought, I gotta get the fuck out of here…” But if Tyler had been influential in getting Izzy to at least think about getting straight, it was one, now infamous incident, that really forced the issue: when he was arrested on a domestic US flight from LA to Phoenix for urinating in the aisle of the First Class section. Wow…” Suddenly the band’s enforced lay-off had an unforeseen positive side.With the time and the motive to clean up his act properly, Izzy went into rehab and began receiving professional counselling.Just hang on,” Izzy says now with a slow, still incredulous shake of the head. Izzy had been on the road with the band for over a year between the release of and the end of the Aerosmith tour.
But suddenly I’m in this new thing and I don’t have somebody [like that].” On the plus side, unlike Slash, who would eventually have to find a new frontman for his songs, singing was not a problem for Izzy. Axl was never usually there for rehearsals, so I’d be the guy singing a fucked-up version of or whatever. By that point, I said I’d rather sit around and play acoustic guitar in my bedroom than try that.” Nevertheless, Izzy did return briefly to the Gunners, in 1993. Nobody was laughing anymore…” He says his last face-to-face contact with Axl was six years ago. Bastard, he lives up in the hills, he’s got a big house, I’ll go and see what he’s doing’, you know? And man, that’s the last time I’ve talked to the guy! I could hear him [turning the pages] going, ‘Well, ah, you said in 1982. “The call that really sent me off my rocker was [from] one of the attorneys. I’d like to hear it, actually.” How does he feel though knowing it’s being sold as a GN’R album? He talks really slow when he gets an idea like that. It’s funny, cos like me, Duff and Slash - we could go in and make a Guns N’ Roses record in a week. [But] vocals and leads [instrumentation] could take God knows how long…” After the Ju Ju Hounds world tour in 1993.
He recently celebrated his 39th birthday and yet he looks younger, leaner, than he ever did back in the ba-ba-bad old days. “I thought, well, here’s a guy who’s completely crazy, he’d be a fucking great singer. (the only Gunner to actually receive a high school diploma) he was ready, he decided, for the big one: Los Angeles.
Which throws the memory of our last meeting into even sharper relief. We had to coax him a bit [and] it didn’t go so well in the early days. His reasoning: “The weather was better and that’s where everything was.” Hitching down to Hollywood, he first became the drummer in punk band Naughty Women, then The Atoms.
I thought, we’re gonna have to really pull this shit together to keep up. And with us, even then, it was like the music was taking a back seat to all the other shit…” By the start of 1989. "I was staying with this coke dealer, I’d been up for five fucking days, and I was out in his garage, for what reason I’ll never know. Because it happened in ‘federal airspace’, the US authorities were rather less amused.
Izzy and the band were off the road at last but now a new reality began to dawn. ’ “Then another half-a-year went by and I found myself driving down the 101 freeway in LA and I’m seeing snow, cos I’ve been up for like days, doing coke. And I pulled open this drawer of nuts and screws, and sure enough, man, they were turning into maggots! Taking into consideration a prior arrest for marijuana possession, Izzy was put on probation for a year and – irony of ironies – subjected to random urine tests. “Suddenly, I can’t use drugs anymore or I’m going to jail.This was rock without the condom on and soon almost everybody was infected.