This is How Axl Rose Ended Up Singing on a Looney Tunes Cartoon
A few months back Axl Rose lent his voice to the forever-running animated children’s TV show Looney Tunes, singing a song called “Rock the Rock” while the show’s characters utilize the power of loud music to stop an asteroid from destroying Earth (get it? rock the rock).
In a new interview with the Appetite for Distortion podcast, two of the shows writers, Rob Janas and Kevin Fleming, explained how the collaboration with Axl came to pass and what it was like working with him in the studio. Fleming got the idea while attending one of the recent Guns N’ Roses reunion shows at which the band walked on stage while the classic Looney Tunes theme played. They had been working on an episode idea where the power of rock music would save the world from an incoming asteroid, decided it couldn’t hurt to invite Rose to appear in the episode and sing and, wouldn’t you know it, he accepted. Ultimate Classic Rock explains further, summarizing the interview thusly:
“Fleming added that Rose’s reclusive public persona made them skeptical that their plan would come to fruition. It took ‘pretty tenacious’ work by a producer to reel in the singer, largely because Guns N’ Roses’ highly successful reunion tour kept adding dates, which pushed back their planned recording dates. It got to the point where the writers considered scrapping Rose and going with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler instead.
“Meanwhile, Rose’s team were hands on throughout, asking to see in advance how the singer was going to be drawn. They came back with very specific tweaks, such as which bandanas to use and where the dog collars he wears should be placed, that they wanted incorporated into his design. These discussions continued in baby steps, with the show’s creators remaining unsure that the appearance would happen until Rose actually set foot in the studio.
“Rose’s reputation as one of the definitive bad boys of ’80s rock (‘That’s why he’s the only one who can stop an asteroid,’ Janas said, ‘Because he’s that powerful.’) also meant that Janas and Fleming didn’t know what to expect. But, he added, Axl “couldn’t have been nicer,” coming into the studio wearing a Wile E. Coyote t-shirt and introducing himself to everybody.
“They were also originally scared to give Rose direction for fear of how he would react, even giving him leeway to change a line about the days when he wore a mesh jersey and kilt onstage. ‘But he was able to laugh at himself and that was the coolest thing about it,’ Fleming added. ‘and that’s why you think, ‘No wonder this dude is so successful and so cool.”
“After Rose recorded his dialogue, it was time to record ‘Rock the Rock,’ which Janas wrote, and it was then that they noticed a change in the singer. Where previously Rose had been deferential to the staff to get the right feel for the lines, the song was his territory. Janas said that Rose could tell from the arrangement that they were looking for an AC/DC vibe, and he did one take in his high register. After playback, he said he had an idea to record additional parts in his low and mid-ranges.
“‘Everybody in the room is kind of just letting him run the show,’ Janas said. ‘and can’t believe it’s happening and is just not saying a word.’
You can listen to the Appetite for Distortion podcast episode below and watch the resulting Looney Tunes “Rock the Rock” segment as well.