Many of you readers of this column are also quite active in the comment>"/>
Many of you readers of this column are also quite active in the comment area. If you are one of those people, then no doubt you are probably keenly aware of a gentleman who posts under the screen name "AxlReznor."
AxlRexnor can at times post difficult retorts that either fly in the face of an article's stated point, or stun you with a certain stark wise-assiness. But for sure, he always posts with thought and intense intelligence. It can be intimidating.
I remember the first time I became aware of this guy. It was on a Velvet Revolver fan forum, at the very beginning of the band's formation. I had never before this gone to any forums, and was caught unawares of the ridicule and insanity that an anonymous public can pile onto a rock band. AxlReznor was there then . . . and his screen name alone intrigued me. His critical posts back then always seemed to hit the mark--whether I liked it or not.
I have since met this dude. Sometime in 2004 or 2005, I was talking with some fans after a show somewhere in England, when a tall fella came up to me and suddenly claimed that he was AxlReznor. I flinched a bit. Judging from all his posts, I wasn't sure if he was quite sane or not. Was he going to pull a knife? Was he going to start slagging me off in public? No. He was just a nice guy--who just happens to like questioning things . . . in general. Not just rock bands, but EVERYTHING.
I am in Birmingham, England, this weekend, and as it happens I am sitting right now having a coffee with one Anthony Hillman (AxlReznor), his fiancee Katy (she posts as "Katy(just me)"), and Sophia (she posts as "Sophia Shaikh"). I have my computer. I thought it would be kind of cool for him and I to try to write this column together. In a way, just "riff" back and forth. So here it goes.
AR: It seems that Duff had the same thoughts as I did when we first met each other in person. After so many years of posting on the Velvet Revolver, sometimes being less than complimentary, I was wondering how my introducing myself would go down. Would he want to kick my ass for some of the things that I'd said?
The first clue that my impressions were completely off was when I had to wait in the queue for far longer than I liked, because Duff was actually taking time to chat with everybody. "What is this?" I was thinking, "he's not supposed to take an interest! He's a rock star! He's supposed to sign whatever is put in front of him and all, but tell them to fuck off and move onto the next person in the conveyor belt!" But no, he genuinely took an interest in chatting with and finding out about his fans. And, I quickly discovered, was more than willing to put up with whatever criticisms that I had thrown his way over the years . . . even the ones where in retrospect I feel I have gone too far.
Over the years since, we have met on various other occasions whenever he was in town with his band Loaded, and have struck up a friendship that seemed completely unlikely a few short years ago. In a shocking twist, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Duff (and everybody else from Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver), because without this music I would have never met the woman who is now my future wife . . . our first contact was arguing with each other on the Velvet Revolver forum, funnily enough.
Duff: OK, now the niceties have been served here, I am going to ask a few pointed questions . . . just to maybe highlight how different our tastes are:
Top 5 movies:
The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King The Matrix The Dark Knight Gladiator Star Wars
The Dark Knight
The Godfather Citizen Kane The Wrong Ma
The Wrong Man (Hitchcock)
No Country for Old Men Scarface
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett
The Twilight Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko
Watchmen by Alan Moore (it's a comic, but it was in Time's list of the top novels of the 20th century . . . if they say it counts, so do I).
The Road, Cormac McCarthy
Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy
From Beirut to Jerusalem, Thomas Friedman
The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway
The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
Guns N' Roses
Nine Inch Nails (now we've got the obvious out of the way)
The Dresden Dolls (this will change, but I've been listening to them so much lately I have to mention them).
Duff (at the moment)--
Top things that bother you:
Crowds (I often have to duck into a coffee shop in busy shopping centres to stop myself having a panic attack)
People who only listen to rock, and believe anything else is not really music
People who only like music that isn't popular/in the charts (different extremes of the same thing)
Having to not say what I think when a customer is being an unreasonable little bitch
My favourite songs in commercials (yes, I went there)
People asking me if VR has a new singer.
People asking me when "GNR is getting back together."
People not knowing to take off their belts and shoes at airport security (shit, my DAUGHTERS know to do that!)
The thing you missed out on, the year you were born:
I missed the Jackson 5/Michael Jackson Victory Tour.
I missed the Bay of Pigs conflict.( by a year)
I forgot to mention, that Anthony is 26, and I, 20 years his senior.
I am a young older-guy.
He? A grumpy, young older-guy!