It’s been 17 years since Guns N’ Roses released a studio album full of fresh material — the one-two punch that was 1991’s Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II — and in that long stretch, fans have learned one thing: Axl Rose refuses to rush the creative process. OK, they’ve also learned that a lot of lies can be told over 17 years and that a band can still tour successfully, even if that band looks nothing like anyone remembers.
Now that Hits Daily Double is reporting a firm November 23 release date for Chinese Democracy, the wait for some fresh GN’R — at least in the way Rose meant for it to be heard — looks like it may soon be over. It also got us to thinking about what’s transpired since Guns N’ Roses’ last studio LPs dropped. And the short answer is “a lot.”
For instance, a Jonas Brother — Nick, to be more specific — was both conceived and born since the release of Use Your Illusion II. Back in 1991, there were no iPods, no satellite radio, no CrackBerrys, and the Internet was something you could only access through a landline. Since 1991, several bands have come, gone and come again, including Ace of Base, Destiny’s Child and even Phish.
Rage Against the Machine formed, broke up and have since gotten back together for some reunion gigs; in fact, three of Rage’s members even had enough time to start a completely new band (Audioslave), release three records with that project and call it quits — with two years to spare. Even the Spice Girls came, then thankfully went, only to return last year for a reunion run. Bands we never thought would be able to overcome their differences (Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the Police, to name a few) have been revived since 1991, leaving fans wanting more.
Since 1991, the Stone Temple Pilots have had enough time to release five studio albums (including their ’92 debut), break up (with members releasing solo LPs and starting two new bands: Velvet Revolver and Army of Anyone) and then get back together for a reunion tour. In that same time, Velvet Revolver has given Scott Weiland the boot, and Army of Anyone have called it quits. Interestingly enough, even Richard Patrick, who fronted the latter, had time to release Filter‘s first album, 1995’s Short Bus, put the band on hold and then return again in 2008 with Anthems of the Damned.
Jane’s Addiction have broken up, patched things up and recorded an album since 1991, and even the Smashing Pumpkins have enjoyed an entire career between GN’R records. They released Gish in 1991 and their breakthrough Siamese Dream in 1993, then broke up in 2000, only to return in 2006 and release Zeitgeist in 2007.
The Backstreet Boys have also been way more prolific than Rose since 1991. They issued their debut in 1996, and — a couple of albums later — took a four-year hiatus in 2000. Since 2004, they’ve toured, released two records (2005’s Never Gone and last year’s Unbreakable), and now seem to be in another holding pattern. Likewise, the New Kids on the Block have released two albums since 1991 — 1994’s Face the Music and the new The Block — and spent 14 years in between pursuing non-NKOTB endeavors.
Perhaps the problem is Axl Rose himself, because two bands that have lost their frontmen have also managed to be more productive. Alice in Chains went silent after the 2002 death of Layne Staley, but reformed in 2006 with a new singer, William DuVall; they’re said to be in the midst of recording their comeback LP. Blind Melon lost Shannon Hoon — a pal of Axl’s — in 1995 to a cocaine overdose, but have carried on without him, releasing For My Friends earlier this year.
And the band that helped manage to dethrone GN’R, Nirvana, have released more material than Rose has since 1991, even though Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994. Since then, there’s been 1994’s MTV Unplugged in New York, 1996’s From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, 2002’s Nirvana compilation, 2004’s With the Lights Out box set and 2005’s compilation of the box set, Sliver. And let’s not forget that Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl is currently on hiatus from his post-Nirvana band, the Foo Fighters, who, since 1995, have released six studio albums.