An Interview with Gilby Clarke


With influences ranging from the obvious — KISS, Alice Cooper and Led Zeppelin — and going back further to David Bowie and T-Rex.  Gilby Clarke believes in the simplistic definition of a rock band – loud guitar and screaming vocals.  His biggest influence can easily be called the Rolling Stones, and he jokes that it’s about time they let him play with them.  After all, he knows all the songs.  It may seem far-fetched, but hey, he did unexpectedly score a gig strumming alongside Slash in Guns n’ Roses.

That gig gave Clarke the opportunity to play rhythm guitar with the band on the road and contribute to their epic releases Use Your Illusion 1 and 2 (and later their Live Era release).  He says that his time with GNR has given him the opportunity to do what he’s doing now, because it is with the support of GNR fans that he is able to be a success as a solo artist.

While he admits that there is a double-edged sword that comes into play, having once been a part of such a big act, but that over all, the good has outweighed the bad.  Clarke explained that it is difficult getting other guitar gigs now, since there aren’t many bands that want a new member who once played with Guns ‘n Roses because it becomes distracting to their fans and takes away from the main act.  Luckily, with four solo albums under his belt, he has found a way to be the one choosing band members.

While it may seem like a complicated puzzle using a variety of musicians on his albums, to give each song a fresh sound, Clarke says that he pretty much knows how everyone sounds, so piecing everything together is much simpler that it seems.  He calls it the luxury of being a solo artist, getting to work with different people and letting each song sound different.

While his music has evolved over the years, and guest musicians have changed, a consistency can be found in his vocals and the sound of his guitar playing, which streams from a Gibson Les Paul paired with a Marshall. Ironically, Clarke thinks that all four of his albums sound the same, but he feels that when this release came together it offers less of a blues twist.  He says it is definitely more rock, and jokes as he uses the words “Thin Lizzy” to describe the release.  He is very proud of his latest effort and hopes that it will catch on enough to allow for a real tour of the United States.

Right now, his touring band will likely include Brian Tichy, Tracii Guns or Ryan Roxie, and Stephan Adika or Johnny “Blackout” Griparic, some familiar names, which can be found on the album as well as in other bands, like Billy Idol, Slash’s Snake Pit, and Alice Cooper.   But, unfortunately, Gilby Clarke is well aware of how difficult hitting the road can be when your album isn’t getting airplay and your videos aren’t on MTV, so he typically does short weekend runs where he can anticipate fans and be sure to have fun playing live.