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And yet, he's still sweating Andre 3000.

When Chinese Democracy finally hit shelves on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, we were optimistically hoping that the momentousness of the occasion would propel millions (perhaps even billions!) of people to their local Best Buy to purchase the album, saving the record industry along the way. However, as we now know, the album failed to make a cultural dent and, ever since, people have been blaming each other trying to figure out why. Pundits from every corner on earth offered their opinions, but the one person whose word mattered most — that being W. Axl Rose, of course — wasn't saying a word (save for a few rambling posts on message boards). That is, until now! Billboard managed to get ahold of Dexter Axl's e-mail address and fired a few questions his way, and he responded to a variety of issues at great length.

On the band's fractured relationship with Interscope Records:
"We feel that, unfortunately, we've never been really anything all that much more [to them] other than a throw it at the wall, see if it sticks, no real ground work, something to take advantage of, last quarter, cook the books, write-off, fuck this headache, hoping to get lucky scam. And, unfortunately, for all their nice words and assurances, nothing that's happened since the week or so before the release has shown us much of anything to the contrary. So at least in regard to the U.S., for the most part I don't look at it like we have a record company -- I look at it for the most part like we have friendly but otherwise cutthroat loan sharks."

On how his unfinished demos first leaked to the internet:
"Actually, our first leaks were from using a sound system in a strip club in the early hours when it was basically empty. I went there to play the tracks for someone I was interested in working with. I'd gone there with a guy who worked band security, who was allegedly somehow related to the owners, feeling it was a bit more of a protected environment than it turned out to be."

On whether they're going to make any more incredible music videos:
"We're finalizing a video for "Better" and writing a couple others now. Over time different ideas have been tossed around, written up or submitted but that was then. Nothing we had come up with -- or at least the approaches so far -- felt right. We have been discouraged from making a video all along by Interscope, up until Best Buy requested one after the release, and in a manner by Interscope then of, "So where's the video?," taking everyone more than off guard."

On a possible reunion with some of his original GNR band members:
"I could see doing a song or so on the side with Izzy [Stradlin] or having him out [on tour] again. I'm not so comfortable with doing anything having more than one of the alumni. Maybe something with Duff [McKagan], but that's it, and not something I'd have to really get down into, as I'd get left with sorting it out and then blamed on top of it. So, no, not me.

On Slash:
"Give me a fucking break. What's clear is that one of the two of us will die before a reunion and however sad, ugly or unfortunate anyone views it, it is how it is. Those decisions were made a long time ago and reiterated year after year by one man.

There are acts that, once committed between individuals, they are what they are. To add insult to injury almost day after day, lapsing into year after year, for more than a decade, is a nightmare. Anyone putting his own personal entertainment above everything else is sickening."

The Billboard Q&A: Axl Rose [Billboard]

Photo: Patrick McMullan