Now that Guns N’ Roses has effectively wrapped up the most sensational reunion tour in modern musical history – and released a remastered Appetite For Destruction to boot – fans are naturally turning their attention to the possibility of new music. While some critics questioned the band’s energy at this stage (not even a rock band can beat Father Time), the overall perception of the group’s recent worldwide tour seems to be that it showcased a band with plenty more to give. Indeed, with Axl Rose and Slash together again on stage and stadiums full to the brim with classic rock fanatics, anything seems possible from here on out.
One of the weirder stories related to fans’ demands for a new album came this past summer when one GNR fan took issue with Duff McKagan getting political on Twitter. Interestingly the fan didn’t actually object to any political stance, but rather told McKagan to “get to work” on new GNR songs and cut back on the politics. McKagan responded, seemingly with a grain of salt, that he could do both – which some took as a tongue-in-cheek hint that he was doing both. But actually, the fan has a point in an indirect sort of way. Tweeting about politics certainly isn’t going to prohibit any musician from working – but side ventures in general can, and right now Axl Rose and Slash are both pretty busy elsewhere, even as they seem wholly devoted to GNR. Slash recently put out a new album with the Conspirators (Living The Dream), and Rose has essentially become a partial member of AC/DC. These side ventures may in fact keep an album from happening – and if the musicians cut back on them in any notable way, it could be a sign of things to come.
Last time Guns N’ Roses was preparing something big, it put out little teasers first. That is, before the reunion in 2016, which itself was kept under wraps very effectively, there was a subtle bubbling up of Guns N’ Roses material. One example came in the form of a literal teaser trailer at movie theaters, seemingly for nothing in particular. Another came in the form of a slot machine arcade game using licensed material from the band, and released alongside other similar games for other rock bands and artists. Neither of these examples explicitly promised a reunion or anything close to it, but they did both precede the reunion. So while there’s no guarantee of a similar process, keep your eye out for seemingly random Guns N’ Roses side material. Anything like this could be used to drive up excitement in advance of an album announcement.
By this we mean positive reception to the idea of a new album – even if there’s no announcement. For instance, Revolver recently posted a fairly wide-ranging interview with Slash, and on the last question he addressed the calls for a new album. “We’ll see what happens” was basically the guitarist’s stance, and he added that it’s early to tell what’s going to happen regarding new material. However, he also indicated that once the band is fully off the road, it will assess what’s next. That may seem vague, but really it’s positive. It indicates openness and reveals that something is going to be next. The more talk like this we see from GNR members, the likelier the album becomes. We’ll put it this way: if Slash goes much further than that, it’s going to be hard to avoid making an album.
This is the simplest and most black-and-white indicator. However, the simple equation is that as long as GNR keeps selling out shows, the old albums keep selling, and listens stay high on streaming services, new material remains a distinct possibility. At the end of the day, while we imagine the members of Guns N’ Roses are rather well set financially, it will be near impossible to say no to the business opportunity a new album represents on the back of all the recent attention.