None of us noticed at the time, but there's a very good chance that "Riad N' the Bedouins", a track from Guns N' Roses' attempted comeback album Chinese Democracy, samples unlicensed chunks of a couple of tracks by the German electronic shoegaze auteur Ulrich Schnauss. Yes, Ulrich Schnauss. Whoa.
As Reuters reports, two indie labels-- Independiente and the American arm of Domino-- are suing GNR and their label, Interscope-Geffen A&M, for $1 million in damages (via Spin). The lawsuit claims that pieces of the Schnauss tracks "Wherever You Are" and "A Strangely Isolated Place" both turn up on "Riad N' the Bedouins".
If you listen to all three songs, it's a pretty tough claim to dispute. Before its guitar riff roars in, "Riad N' the Bedouins" has a drawn-out ambient intro that uses wobbly, faraway synth sounds that seem to come directly from both songs.
To hear it for yourself, check here to listen to "Riad" and here and here for the two Schnauss originals.
According to Reuters, the suit names Axl Rose along with a few current and former GNR members: kabuki freakshow virtuoso guitarist Brian "Buckethead" Carroll, former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson, and Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck.
If it turns out that Guns N' Roses really did unlawfully sample Ulrich Schnauss, it raises a whole bunch of questions: Did Axl really think nobody would notice if he just straight-up swiped pieces of Schauss songs? Did he not trust himself to write his own ambient synthgaze intro? After spending tons of money and way too many years recording Chinese Democracy, couldn't he have bothered to clear his samples? And does Axl just sit around his mansion jamming Ulrich Schnauss all day? Because it would be pretty cool if he did.