If you were forced to pick a most surprising band of the last five years, it would be hard to land on any answer other than Guns N’ Roses. While it never truly seemed as if the band was done, it did seem as if GNR’s best days were behind it a few years ago. The low-key feud between Slash and Axl Rose seemed unlikely to resolve, and one could have imagined a world in which reunion shows with half the group, a few interviews, and some greatest hits albums – perhaps augmented by a documentary – would have comprised the rest of the band’s story. As we now know though, assuming all of this would have massively underestimated Guns N’ Roses’ modern potential.
In 2016, Rose and Slash buried the hatchet, a few little bits of entertainment hinted at a revival, the whole band played Coachella, and a gigantic international tour was launched. That tour would become one of the highest grossing of the last few years, and though its conclusion in 2018 led to talk of a hiatus, there’s virtually no discussion of the band being permanently finished anymore.
This was simply the end of one tour, and a tour that wound up being longer and more lucrative than it was ever expected to be. Members of the band have other obligations at this point – most notably Rose’s work as the new frontman for AC/DC – but we should almost certainly expect more shows around the corner. The band has been non-committal in this regard, but more about specifics than about the idea in general. Frankly, given the money they’re making and their renewed popularity, GNR would be foolish not to tour anymore.
We may also be wise to expect more pop culture content not specifically related to tours or albums. This sort of content appeared to help GNR generate some attention leading up to its reunion. One example was a mysterious trailer that played on cinema screens. Another was a slot machine game that was part of an increasingly populated genre of online games, but which stood out nevertheless. It featured licensed material from the band, and reached the internet in the year or so leading up to the reunion. Thinking along these lines, it won’t be a shock to see GNR’s hiatus produce something like a mobile game using the band’s songs, or some sort of film about its history or recent activity.
To a lot of fans though, and particularly those who were pleasantly surprised by the whole reunion tour, most of this will be secondary. The idea of GNR games or movies, or even a fresh tour, may be exciting. But what a lot of us are hoping for after the last few years is a fresh album – something the band seemingly hasn’t wanted to commit to, but which his starting to seem all but inevitable.
Aside from the fact that neglecting to produce a new album would be even more financially foolish than not doing another tour, the band has sounded noticeably more open to the idea of late. Slash has indirectly preached patience, but also seems to have acknowledged the possibility. And most recently we got our clearest hint yet at forthcoming material when Duff McKagan – a long-time member of the band – said he’s heard some of it, and called it magnificent.
Unfortunately that’s the full extent of what we know at this point. However, McKagan gave us the closest thing to confirmation we’ve received yet. It sounds as if we should be getting ready, not just for new Guns N’ Roses activity, but for brand new music from the band.