Tomorrow, the Motocultor Festival begins. Before enjoying a festival, it is always good to plug yourself in a « festival mood » : you refresh your knowledge on many band’s music, you remember the great experiences you’ve had and the usual unexpected guests you’ve bumped into.

During this year’s Hellfest, we met a very charming lady with whom we shared a very interesting moment. She had the opportunity, after GunsN’ Roses’ show and without really understanding what was happening to her, to spend the whole evening in the tour-bus of a certain Axl Rose.

The story she told us was interesting for two reasons. Firstly, it is the story of a fan who, without being an insider, transformed herself from the average “festival girl” to one of those persons we all envy : the type of person who watches the show on the side of the stage, who’s got backstage passes – which we couldn’t have this year, even though we had our press accreditations – and who can talk to the artists themselves. Secondly, as she spent a whole evening with the famous Axl Rose, she met someone totally different from the temperamental and totally out of control person the medias always describe. She recalls a nearly vulnerable Axl Rose, who spoke of his regrets, his lost friendships, and above all Slash.

More than a year ago, we interviewed Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal, who stood up for Axl Rose in front of all the different critics that could be levelled against him. If it appears quite understandable that Ron Thal doesn’t want to badmouth his boss, it’s another story with all the other people – among them our charming lady – who met the famous singer and stood up for him. After all, even Slash himself declared that you can’t judge Axl Rose without knowing him. As well as telling us about her journey backstage, her apprehension about not knowing what will come next, the temptation to run away as fast as you can, our charming lady gives us a picture of one human being, Axl Rose, as opposed to the guy we are told of in the medias or by disillusioned fans.

Here’s her story :

« After Black Label Society’s show, while getting me a beer, an american guy (whose name is Andreï) stops me :
A: Hello, do you work here?
L: No…
A: Do you have a VIP pass?
L: No… (?!)
A: Do you want one?
L: … Are you serious? Yes of course!
A: Do you like Guns N’ Roses?
L: Are you kidding!
A: Ok, so meet me 15 min before the show at the VIP space, and I’ll bring you on stage.
L: (taken aback, asking myself if I really had understood everything and if my English was still correct) Ok, no problem, thank you so much!

Here I am, with a red VIP Press bracelet and a Cheshire Cat smile. 20 minutes before the end of Machine Head’s show, I go to the VIP area. I now enter the hidden part of the festival, decorated magnificently. I realise that this VIP area is just a nice place to chill out, without any access to the stages or the artists’ dressing rooms. I must confess that I’m a bit disappointed, even if I see some musicians who have played today. Thereupon, Andreï pops up, catches my arm and says :

Him : It’s you I saw this afternoon, isn’t it ?
Me : Yeah, it’s me !
Him : All right, follow me.

We now go behind the press area and take a stairway before getting to the side of the stage. He tells me to stay quiet, to switch off my cell and not to take photographs. Apart from Loïc (the sound engineer) and Benjamin Barbaud (Hellfest’s big boss), there are only women with me : an english one (who had arrived like me), two spanish girls who had been “recruited” during Sebastian Bach’s show and two other ladies accompanying Benjamin Barbaud.

The show begins. Andreï takes us beyond the “Do not cross” banner, so that we can see better. We have therefore the same view as Axl Rose, in front of a seemingly endlessly audience. During the show, DJ Ashba give us twice some Jägermeister shooters between the songs. Andrei comes back to give us the picks of Guns N’ Roses’ three guitarists and suggests to wait him here for an ‘after party’. We’re just close to Axl’s dressing room in which he changes himself after each song (he’s so concentrated that he looks angry).

After the show, Andreï takes us backstage : three french and two german women, the two spanish girls, and me. While we’re asking ourselves why we’re here, one of the French girls says disdainfully : “All right girls, don’t get nervous : the guys are on holiday tomorrow and they need girls from 2 to 7 a.m, that’s all !” She tells us she knows what this kind of “after party” is all about, having had an “affair” with Rammstein’s singer, Till Lindemann. Two of the French girls leave, afraid of getting soon knocked up. The two spanish women turn to me with a ‘What are we going to do now ?” look in their eyes. After having said to ourselves that this was a unique opportunity that couldn’t be missed, we decide to stay together, to see what happens and to leave if anything goes wrong : yes, we couldn’t leave like that without regretting it.

Andrei takes us next to a subdued lighted room with its huge “all you can eat” buffet (there is more than 15 pizzas, among other things !). He tells us to help ourselves while a cool DJ Ashba arrives, dragging on his electronic cigarette (yes, he has decided to quit smoking). Axl Roses comes a bit later, barefoot, with his dressing gown, a bottle of Champagne in his hand saying a loud “Champagne !”.

Here we are clinking glasses with Axl Rose and DJ Ashba. A little bit intimidated, we spend nearly two hours talking with DJ Ashba before Axl Roses suggests that we finish the evening in his tour-bus. Seeing us hesitating, he begins to tell us that sex, drugs and alcohol aren’t his thing anymore : he is now chaste, pure and goes to mass (how believable this is !). He says in a teasing way that he doesn’t want to kidnap us and have problems with the French police. We therefore accept and so we are six girls finishing the evening in Axl’s tour-bus with him and Andreï. We talk about tonight’s show and when Axl hears that “Live And Let Die” is my cell’s ringtone, he says to me : “Hey, that was Slash’s idea to make ring tones out of our songs. I wasn’t for it at the beginning, but I must admit he was right”. During the whole evening, Axl doesn’t stop telling us stories about Slash, about their childhood like when him and Slash had a new song and both jumped on his grandmother’s bed so happy, before being given a roasting. He goes on saying that it’s been very difficult to find an other guitarist after Slash, who was unique, and goes on praising DJ Ashba as a very nice human being. Clearly, Slash is still very much present in Axl’s life, even though he’s supposed not to be a part of it anymore…

He tells us his meeting with Tom Cruise, a great fan of the band : both him and Tom Cruise couldn’t meet for a long time because of their respective heavy workloads until one day, in Australia. Tom Cruise was so happy that, it has been said, he was jumping on every sofa he could find !

But Axl Rose seems nostalgic and regrets a lot of things : he tells us that he’s lost almost all his childhood friends because of his success and that their relationships changed when they started getting interested in him because of his relations.

He also deeply regrets the image that the press has made of him, making its profits of a megalomaniac, temperamental and erratic Axl, before making excuses to him, without doing it publicly. If Axl insists on the fact that he always tries to be direct and serious with the press, he’s unlike Zakk Wylde who can tease more without having a bad reputation in the press.

Likewise, says Axl, Slash is considered as an angel by many journalists but can be much less nice in private.

We are listening to Muse on the radio, “By The Sword” on Slash’s solo album is now on air. While Andreï stands up to switch to another station, Axl stops him and says “No, leave it. I love this song”.

It’s six a.m : it’s time to go home. After one – even two- big cuddles to Axl, we come out of the bus, still not realising what has just happened to us. Here we are, three girls in the middle of the festival area, completely deserted. After having walked a bit and enjoyed these last moments, we go back to the camping site to finish our night…”

Edit august 17, 2012 : On Twitter, Andrei Gillott refutes this story saying it’s « Complete Fabrication. Just someone hungry for some attention. » Let’s add that before putting this account online, we saw Andrei Gillott’s business card, the VIP pass given to our witness, guitar picks from all the band members that had been given to her too, not to mention the picture at the beginning of our article showing our witness and Axl Rose. Besides, we got in touch with two other girls who were at this party through Facebook to see if their side of the story was matching, and that was the case. For all of these reasons, we consider this account credible.

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  • The media has always misrepresented Axl Rose. When Guns n Roses came to Austin, TX Axl stopped in at the salon my mom owned the day of the concert and he was the kindest man. I was so star struck I had trouble even talking but my dad who was there to have lunch with my mom talked to him for quite a while. I will never forget as Axl was getting ready to leave my dad said « have a great concert son » and Axl had the biggest smile and said « I will, thank you ». Sadly my 71 year old father who was 100% disabled was beaten to death, murdered one year ago by a man nearly half his age and over twice his size. I will forever love Axl Rose for the way he treated my dad while at the salon. I haven’t slept more than two hours a night since it happened and all I do is YouTube Guns n Roses and watch and listen to their music. I love any music Axl puts out but I especially love the earlier years bc after Axl left the salon I gave my dad one of their CD’s and he LOVED it!! I had to go out and buy another, small price to pay to make my dad so happy. My parents owned Thoroughbred Race horses at that time and my dad planned to name the next newborn Axl Rose and he was convinced that would be the one to win the Triple Crown. From the moment my dad introduced himself to Axl it was if Axl could sense the physical pain my dad was in no matter how hard my dad tried to hide it, he treated my dad with so much respect and was so kind to him. The media totally misrepresented Axl and its not fair!! I wrote a song about my dad and his murder but have never given it to anyone, the only person I would ever let see it would be Axl, I have zero talent but I didn’t know and still don’t know how to cope with the pain of losing my dad, especially how violent and brutal his murder was. I only wrote the song because I tried to find a way to put my feelings on paper, I didn’t and still don’t know what else to do. I hope some day Axl reads this and knows how much of a difference he made in my life and my dads, just seeing my dad so happy while talking to him.

    • Wow! Sorry to hear about your Dad. Life is mostly unfair. Well, I hope for you to get the chance to meet him sometime during this tour. maybe you could try to send him a tweet. Maybe he gets to read it.

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