The FBI cannot seem to catch an ailing rich kid (and accomplished terrorist) who lives in a cave somewhere between Pakistan and Afghanistan, but they can sure as hell catch Skwerl (real name: I don’t know and I don’t care). What did Skwerl do, you ask? Well, he found himself in the possession of 9 leaked tracks that are supposedly from the perennially forth-coming Guns ‘n’ Roses release, Chinese Democracy. (You’d think Axl Rose, a whore if ever there was one, would’ve tried to get the album out in time to coincide with the Olympics. But he’s too busy blowing record label money on hookers and… well, blow, probably.). Skwerl streamed those nine tracks on his blog and Axl Rose pulled a Metallica (any wonder he used to tour with those assholes?) and decided to bring the hammer down on poor, hapless Skwerl (who was also wanted by the Spelling Police for his epic failure of a handle).
Skwerl was arrested (at fucking gunpoint!) by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and freed on $10,000 bail. Apparently, Skwerl is a black belt in cop-killing-karate or something (okay, yes, I know it’s techincially a federal case, but seriously: at gun point!) because the FBI (who could, you know, be out solving important federal crimes) was apparently not taking any chances when they booked him.
Predictably, the reaction from the GNR (is that how they abbreviate it? I have never cared less about anything) camp (and non-camp) was basically that Skwerl should get the chair. Slash, who is not even in GNR anymore (he’s moved on to the even more corporate and awful Velvet Revolver), said that Skwerl should “rot in jail.” Slash also said that Skwerl’s leakage (ahem: if you are any kind of decent punk band and wish to use the name Skwerl’s Leakage for your band, you hereby have my permission to do so, completely free of charge. I, unlike certain Guns and certain Roses, am not a whore) would cause Axl to “lose a lot of money on that record.”
Um… Slash? Can I call you Slash? How ’bout I just call you Fucko the Clown, ‘kay? Good. Listen up, Fucko the Clown – you’re making two major assumptions of the most deeply spurious variety. First, you’re assuming that every morbidly curious schmuck that stopped by the Skwerl blog would actually have purchased the album if they couldn’t get it for free. Incidentally, this is a common argument that the record industry makes to inflate the impact of downloading (all I’m gonna say on the subject is this: if you really like a band, support them, whatever that means. There are bands that deserve my money and I make damn sure they get it; conversely, there are bands that deserve no one’s money and I do my part to make sure they don’t get it) and make it seem like artists are directly suffering from the epidemic of downloading. The problem is this, though – I only ever hear major labels bitching about this when some tepid turd of a record by one of their most commercially viable acts is leaked to the 14 year-olds who are slobbering uncontrollably over it. A few years back, when a fan emailed Jeff Tweedy to say he’d downloaded A Ghost is Born (no matter how you feel about piracy, you gotta admit, it takes balls to email a musician and be like, “Yeah, I just stole your record and I was wondering…”) and he wanted to verify the track listing, did Tweedy go all Axl on him and call in the feds? Nope. In an act of increasingly uncommon graciousness, Wilco put a tab on their website where you could donate to alleviate your guilt over downloading their album. Dontate to whom, you ask? To the band? No. To Doctors Without Borders. And they raised a shitload of money, too. Wilco issued a statement that said (paraphrasing here, but not by much) that they don’t exist to make and sell CD’s; they exist to play music for people who like to hear them do so (this is one of a zillion reasons I fucking love Wilco, by the way.). Are the major labels going to shit a brick if you download Neutral Milk Hotel, Jonathan Coulton, or Okkervil River albums? No. Because they don’t know who those people are.
Your second (way off) assumption, Fucko the Clown, is this: that Axl can somehow lose money on an album he hasn’t actually released. In fact, Axl can only lose money on Chinese Democracy if he ever releases the sure-to-suck album for public consumption (because stores have to order the thing, receive it into stock, and move a lot of units without having to return it to the vendor – meaning a physical fucking product has to exist. For the record, I hope, should Axl ever release this steaming load of dogballs, he loses everything he has and is forced to work at Taco Bell for the rest of his life). So far, only the various labels dumb enough to coddle Axl have lost money on it (dude has blown hella advances on this thing). Seems only fair to me that Axl should feel a financial pinch for locking himself up in a studio to masturbate and then cry foul when one of his two remaining fans gets excited to hear the new tunes.
Which brings me to the thing I really don’t understand in all of this – if you read an article online that has ANYTHING AT ALL to do with Axl Rose or Chinese Democracy (Fark has one or two a week on their music page) and you’re brave (or drunk) enough to flip down to the comments section, you will still find rabidly devoted fans who will literally try to preempt your dislike of an album whose existence is only slightly more proveable than God’s. I’ve seen comments from people who don’t want me to hate the album before I’ve heard it! Well, I’m a busy man. I’ve hated every other GNR release (Slash was a pretty good guitarist back in the day, but now I have Tad Kubler so Slash can – and should – go fuck himself) and there is no evidence I’ve seen that would convince me that Chinese Democracy will be anything other than an overproduced, underwritten, drug-addled, jackoff of an album foisted on the public by a man whose ego long ago outgrew his talent. So, for the sake of efficiency, I’m gonna go ahead and hate Chinese Democracy with about half the level of rage I reserve for pretentious twats like Axl Rose (note: that’s still an ungodly amount of rage). The fact that Axl, a man who is impossible to take seriously as a person, let alone a musician, still has zealous defenders would be astounding if it weren’t such a clear signifier that either 1) the apocalypse is upon us or 2) we’re careening wildly and quickly toward the society envisioned in Idiocracy, which means that one day, Axl Rose will be President. He’ll arrive for his inauguration late, high, and cranky. And Chinese Democracy, the worst album no one’s ever heard, will still only be a rumor.
Skwerl is now making appeals on his blog at antiquiet.com to get people to chip in for his legal defense. You can if you wanna, just pop over there and do it. I leave it up to you. It will be interesting to see if Axl’s label has to prove in court that those songs were definitely going to be on the final release of the record or not. That fat fuck Rose has been at this album for more than a decade – he’s probably got stacks of demos lying around; probably leaks them all the time to guage the public interest. The point here is not that people won’t buy Chinese Democracy because some dude posted songs from it on his blog; people won’t buy it because it will be, without doubt, the biggest disappointment in the history of music. Chinese Democracy has given the handful of GNR fans that remain on this crazy planet the biggest case of musical blueballs ever. There’s no known cure, and it’s just as well; Axl Rose doesn’t deserve fans. What he does deserve, his fans won’t give him.
But I will:
Axl Rose is (and always was) a fuck-awful singer, a corporate whore, a bigot (‘member that song about “faggots” and how they “spread some fucking disease?”), a beyond-terrible (bordering on infantile) lyricist, and now he’s fat. Have at you, Axl!