In a new appearance on “The Radical With Nick Terzo” podcast, GUNS N’ ROSES guitarist Richard Fortus spoke about how difficult it has been adjusting to the different musicians that have come through the band since he joined GN’R back in late 2001 or early 2002,
“I love Robin [Finck, guitar]. I loved his playing. I loved working with him. And, obviously, Tommy [Stinson, bass] is like my brother. We were all very tight. And then there was Bucket [a.k.a. Buckethead, real name Brian Carroll], who was just sort of out on his own. But it was very musical, and it was exciting to be a part of. He’s a phenomenal talent. Man, he’s pretty out there. And he definitely can be difficult to work with. I enjoyed working with him, ’cause he’s very musical.
“It was a difficult dynamic to make three guitars work,” Fortus said. “[Buckethead] did an excellent job, because he understood the dynamics of it and how the puzzle pieces have to fit together, and Bucket really understood that. Everything sort of has to have its place.
“When [Buckethead] left and Ron Thal [a.k.a. Bumblefoot] came in, it was a different dynamic, because I think Ron had been used to sort of doing his own thing, with his own band, so he didn’t really get how that worked, or how to make it work. So it was difficult at that time.”
Asked if it’s fair to say that Axl Rose was the “ultimate musical director” or the “band leader” during the initial period after Richard joined GUNS N’ ROSES, Fortus said: “A lot of it was Tommy, and he had sort of been somehow put in that role. And then Axl was always the final arbiter.”
According to Fortus, it was a smooth musical transition when guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan officially returned to GUNS N’ ROSES in 2015.
“I wasn’t uncomfortable in any way,” he said. “You’re cautious at first — you don’t wanna step on anybody’s toes; everyone’s sort of feeling each other out. Duff and I had worked together before and were friends. And it fell together really quickly and very naturally. I think we have so much musical background in common, as far as where we came from and the bands that we sort of grew up listening to and the progression of our musical interests — with the whole background in older music and then punk rock and our love for THE [ROLLING] STONES. As far as with Slash and I, it really came together very naturally and in a really easy way.
Richard went on to call Duff one of his “favorite” people. “[He’s] really just a great dude,” he said. “Just so much fun to hang out with and talk to. Very smart.
“This is sort of a dream scenario for me in that I’m playing with guys that all take it as seriously as I do and are as committed and dedicated,” he added. “And that’s really rare and awesome to be a part of.”
Fortus admitted that the chemistry between Slash, McKagan and current GUNS N’ ROSES drummer Frank Ferrer wasn’t as immediate.
“I think that was the toughest fit, when those guys came back,” Richard said. “For Duff — well, for both of them — sort of adapting to Frank and trying to get him to adapt to them. It wasn’t as natural. But it has ended up working out well.”
Fortus got his big break when his band PALE DIVINE opened for THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS. This led to Fortus forming the band LOVE SPIT LOVE with PSYCHEDELIC FURS frontman Richard Butler and Ferrer. In 2000, Fortus and Ferrer became touring members of the reformed PSYCHEDELIC FURS before Fortus hooked up with GUNS N’ ROSES. Ferrer himself joined GN’R in 2006.
GUNS N’ ROSES is now reportedly working on a new studio album — the first under the GUNS banner since 2008’s “Chinese Democracy” and the first to feature Slash, Rose and McKagan since 1993.