Axl Rose looked jolly last night, in his first live broadcast TV interview in more than 20 years. And not just because the eponymous host of Jimmy Kimmel Live! compared the Guns N’ Roses frontman to Santa Claus. After the “Sweet Child O’ Die” art gallery brouhaha, the onstage falls and robbery during GNR’s European tour, and his legal battle with Guitar Hero for virtually associating him with former G’R guitarist Slash, he needed a humanizing moment, and he got it on Kimmel’s ABC show.
Then again, of course Rose was good in spirits. He didn’t really have to tackle too many tough questions. Although Slash came up briefly in Rose’s chat last year on VH1’s That Metal Show, the Los Angeles Times reported in December that his publicist requested he not be asked about his former bandmate, and that held true last night. Nor did Rose discuss that time, back in April, when he rejected his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction and then apologized for his no-show. We didn’t get much by way of details for GNR’s post-Chinese Democracy plans, either, though the interview did promote the hard rockers’ dozen-night stand beginning October 31 in Las Vegas.
What wasn’t off limits, then? Politics. Rose acknowledged that “I don’t really vote,” explaining that other voters in California usually tend to share his views. But he did say, “I would lean Democrat, I would lean Obama.” As Kimmel observed, “This would make a great ‘Rock the Vote’ commercial, right here.”
Elsewhere, in pure Kris Kringle form, Rose told an amusing anecdote about the “Halloween tree” he puts up in house each year — he keeps presents under it to give children, infuriating their parents by making the kids wish they had a Halloween tree. And he said he doesn’t reject those ’90s cornrows. You may or may not be surprised to know that Elton John was one of his Rose’s favorite artists, or that Rose once worked as a manager at a now-defunct Tower Video location, or that he has an Oscar Wilde quote about punctuality hanging in his house. Rose also enthused about meeting Neil Young before GNR’s weird, acoustic Bridge School Benefit set.
Kimmel ribbed Rose quite a bit about his timeliness. Rose was even sick that night, recovering from strep throat, but he made it to the set without delay. Besides, he might not always be there when you call. He might not even always be on time. But last night, he didn’t just put tickets for GNR’s Vegas shows under select seats in the audience. He also brought along a burger truck and gave everybody gift certificates. Must be Santa, Santa Rose. Or Oprah.