7:15am PT by Erik Pedersen
Axl Rose on Election: 'I Would Lean Obama' (Video)
Axl Rose -- making a rare TV appearance on Wednesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live! -- confessed that he's not the voting type, but if he were to hit the ballot box come Election Day, he'd go with President Obama over Mitt Romney.
"Uhhh, I haven't really voted," the Guns N' Roses frontman told Jimmy Kimmel, who quipped that Rose's pattern of nonvoting is "weird" given his upcoming Appetite for Democracy concerts in Las Vegas.
"I'm in California, and it usually leans Democratic, and that's usually where I'm leaning anyway," he said. "I would lean Democrat. I would lean Obama."
Rose's appearance on the ABC late-night show comes ahead of the Halloween launch of GnR's 12-night residency at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. But as of Tuesday, none of the concerts at the 4,000-seat hall was sold out.
The underwhelming ticket sales for the Vegas run likely is why Rose opted to do his first TV interview in 20 years. Kimmel recognized the historic nature of the appearance and poked a little fun at it. "I know you don't do this a lot," he said early on, "so I'm honored to have you here. I really am. I really appreciate you -- uh, why are you doing this?" Rose replied: "I was asked to, and you wanted me to come here, and ..." Kimmel interrupted with a faux ribbing: "I did. Everyone asks you to, all the time. I asked you a million times. And we're happy you're here."
The other likely reason for Rose's out-of-the-blue TV gig is that he's clearly bent on portraying a softer image. He was smiling, relaxed – though not necessarily comfortable – even charming. Sporting a blue bandanna beneath a black fedora, with brim down low to mostly cover his eyes, he was cordial and handled himself professionally. He even showed up on time, to the host's relief.
Kimmel's questions generally were softballs -- no mention of this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ruckus or general fan backlash against Rose, for instance -- but the answers were genuine, often humorous. There were a few pokes at Rose's well-known penchant for tardiness. Kimmel got off the night's best line after Rose told him he briefly was the manager of the late Tower Video on the Sunset Strip. “As manager," he asked, "did you have to scold people for being late?”
Rose grinned. When semi-pressed later about whether he and the band would go onstage at the scheduled time during their Vegas run, he said reassuringly, "We've been doing a lot better lately."
Kimmel was well-prepared for the rare Rose visit, not knowing what to expect, but the singer wasn't in battle or standoff mode. Instead, he answered the usual questions about hitchhiking to L.A. at 19 to escape a tumultuous adolescence in Lafayette, Ind., and his favorite bands as a kid. The answer to the latter was significant: "Queen, Sweet -- stuff like that," Rose said, before name-checking The Beatles, Stones, Elvis and Elton John and "my favorite lyricist" Bernie Taupin. The glam side of Guns N' Roses can't be denied.
Ultimately, Rose, at 50, appears to be trying to transition from rock 'n roll bad boy to Mr. Nice Guy. At the end of the interview, he pointed out that a few audience members had tickets to GnR's Vegas show beneath their seats. "I also had another surprise," Rose said. "I wanted to bring you something, and then I thought I should bring the audience and the crew something, so I brought a Tommy's burger truck. ... There's gift certificates and a burger truck outside, so everybody can have something to eat. Just thought it would be something fun."
Aw, Axl, you old softie.
Check out the clip of Rose on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, where he also defends his '90s cornrows and shows off a photo of his "evil" Halloween tree.