Gilby Clarke is a badass rock 'n' roller.
In 1991, he got hired to play rhythm guitar in Guns N' Roses during the group's Use Your Illusion tour. He was with GNR for three years, back when Axl and crew were the greatest band on Earth. Then Gilby played with Slash's Snakepit, the MC5, Heart, Nancy Sinatra, and Rockstar Supernova, while also producing for The Bronx and LA Guns.
Now he writes his own tunes and plays shows from Sao Paulo to Stockholm. Soon, he'll load his guitar onto the MSC Poesia, cruise down to Key West with Godsmack, and hit the high seas with thousands of rabid screaming rock fans aboard the Shiprocked 2012 cruise.
We here at Crossfade spoke to Gilby. And here's what he had to say about his first guitar, the motion of the ocean, and drinking with the fans.
Crossfade: What was your first guitar?
Gilby Clarke: I think my very first guitar was like a Frampton guitar with a black and white look. But my first "real" guitar was a DC Rich Mocking Bird Supreme like Rick Derringer.
Where'd you get it?
I got it from a music store when I was like 15 years old working at Hogan's House of Music out there in Redondo, California, changing guitar strings for money.
Where'd you learn how to play?
When I was really young, I took lessons. They taught you like folk chords and stuff. I got sick of that real quick. I wanted to play like Jimmy Page. I picked it up myself from friends teaching me some licks here and there, and practice. It took a long time, and I also learned from playing lots live.
What kind of music were you into?
When I first started, it was like Kiss, Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, then I got into NY Dolls and The Clash and then The Stones. I zigzagged all over the map. I was really into songs, to be able to write a song, not just a riff with yelling, to want it to have a big chorus like the Beatles. I worked a lot on writing becaue of that.
Favorite memory of the early L.A. punk scene?
I was there, and there was a small group of people that overlapped from metal to punk. We would have to wear a baseball hat to cover our long hair. Like, I would go see London and Quiet Riot on the strip, and then The Germs at The Whiskey. Joan Jett used to do lots of gigs. I saw Black Flag thousands of times. But yeah, The Germs were huge back then.
You kind of look like a pirate, you gonna take over the ship?
That would be nice. I've done cruises before, never more than a couple days. Let's see if I go cabin crazy. I fuckin' love Godsmack, though. I saw them in Sturgis. They always kill it.
You're a biker?
I'm a big bike guy. I ride to Sturgis every year with a big group of buddies. We take off a couple weeks, watch a bunch of concerts, and ride around.
What's awesome about a rock cruise?
You got the right people. They want to party. Life is brutal, music is the outlet. Roll up and have some fun.
What's the best thing about fucking on a cruise ship?
You can let the ocean do the motion, lay back, and enjoy the ride.
What do you think about being on a ship with all the other bands like Godsmack, FIve Finger Death Punch, Filter, Fuel, Black Stone Cherry, Lit, Geoff Tate, In This Moment, and Dead Sara?
I personally think it's great. When you do these fests on land, sometimes you're not hanging out 'cause everyone's got their own bus or whatever. But in general, most bands stick together, and here you can't help but hang out. It's fun to hang out with musicians. You sit back, have a beer, and talk shop.
How do you like hanging with fans?
It's awesome, I love it. Except when they get too liquored up and start repeating themselves. Like, "I'm really fucked up, man. Really, really fucked up."
What kind of set are you gonna do, how long do you play?
My set is a mixture of a lot of things ... Rock 'n' roll, records I made, some Slash's Snake Pit, some Guns N' Roses, some Stones, Bowie, just loud guitars and screaming over it.
Favorite bar in the world?
I used to love the fuckin' Mason Jar in Phoenix, Arizona. The owner is funnier than shit, and he makes a mean cocktail.
You play all over the world, in a metal-scene fight between Sao Paulo and Stockholm, who would win?
I'm gonna say Stockholm, dude. There's some dark metal motherfuckers in Stockholm. Sao Paulo would smoke Rio, though.
You recently did a DJ set with Billy Idol in Bakersfield?
Yeah, that was crazy. Really nuts. They wanted to try something different. A buddy taught me how, so I did it. I only had one fuck-up.
You're friends with Tommy Lee, right?
Yeah, he and I are great friends.
If you had the opportunity to drive the cruise ship with your cock, would you do it?
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Absolutely. I believe if another human being can do it, I can do it.
ShipRocked 2012 with Gilby Clarke, Godsmack, Five Finger Death Punch, P.O.D., Sevendust, Filter, Fuel, Black Stone Cherry, Lit, In This Moment, and Queensrÿche's Geoff Tate. Tuesday, November 27, to Saturday, December 1. The MSC Poesia boarding at Port Everglades, 1850 Eller Dr., Fort Lauderdale. Visit getshiprocked.com.