Gilby Clarke has been around the block a few times in the rock world. Best know as the replacement for Izzy Stradlin for the mega group Guns and Roses during the ‘Use your Illusion’ tour, Clarke rocketed up the ladder from unknown to rock superstar virtually overnight.
But to those in the know, he was a mainstream on the LA rock scene for sometime. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Clarke moved to LA during the early days of the rise of the metal scene. He achieved success with Candy, scoring regional hits such as “American Kix” and “The Kids in The City”.
Clarke soon left Candy for the heavier sounding Kill For Thrills in 1987. It was in 1991 when he got the break that made him a house hold name. He joined GNR and stayed with the band through its break up in 1994, when everyone but Axl left the citing Axl. After GNR, Clarke played with Slash’s band Slash’s Snakepit, as well as began to record his own material for his solo career.
Last year Gilby joined his ex-GNR mates as they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. A sort of homecoming for Clarke that was made special by being asked to play live with the band on stage.
We caught up with Gilby as he was getting ready to rock out the Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek, Florida with his solo band. It’ll be a free show at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving is right.
Tell us a little about your band.
This is my solo band. As you know I’ve made 5 records under my own name and I continuously tour. When GNR split up back in the mid 90’s I was looking for something to keep me busy until I found a new band. I started making my own records with the songs I had been writing. Then one record led to another, another and so on. I classify my music as rock n roll. It’s got blues, hard rock, melodic rock, etc…
What can the fans expect?
A great rock n roll show. The band is tight and we know how to party. We’re loud and like to have fun. We don’t stare at our shoes. (Laughs)
How have the live shows gone thus far?
It’s been pretty good. So far this year, I’ve been to Europe twice, South America, Canada and several shows in the US.
How is it different with your band as opposed to GNR or Slash’s Snakepit?
Well it’s hard to compare my band with Slash and Axl. But I think we have the same spirit that was key to making both bands successful. We believe in the music we play and write. We enjoy playing live and it shows in our performance.
A lot of original music? Do you write a lot?
Yes, I try. I have a studio and I’m always working on new music. I always start with a guitar riff. when I have something I like, then I start to write lyrics. I’ve written quite a few of my songs on piano, but lately it’s all guitar. I really enjoy being creative in the studio. I try to make each song their own.
I know the whole G n R thing has been an ongoing soap opera, but must have been very cool at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Show.
I was there and it was surreal in a way. No Axl, but still a great time. The drama doesn’t concern me. I feel very disconnected to the current GNR. I have my own feeling about the RRHOF, but i had a blast playing with the guys again. Duff asked me to play with them at the RRHOF show and I said I would be honored to perform with them. To me it was more of a celebration of the music. Despite all the drama, GNR was a great band.
What was going through your head standing there onstage? Did it all start to sink in?
I was trying to remember the songs (laughs). We only ran them a few times the night before. also my rental amp blew up right as I turned it on. You can hear my playing a couple chords trying to get a sound out of my back up amp.
What is next for you? Any new releases on the horizon?
Yes, I’m working on a new record, trying to get it out by spring. also, I just produced a new band called “Hotel Diablo” their record just came out a couple weeks ago. Very proud of that.
With Alex Grossi of Quiet Riot?
Anything you want to say to your fans who are coming out to see you?
I know it’s only rock n roll, but I like it !