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Lawrence's The Ants unveil "Chinese Democracy"

When they're not moonlighting as Jehovah's Witnesses, Lawrence's The Ants create eccentric, homespun indie-folk records that bring to mind primitive Pavement recordings and the reckless creativity of The Mountain Goats. The now-stable quartet recently released a split CD/LP with Nashville band Ole Mossy Face titled "Chinese Democracy," a subversive tactic that could either catapult The Ants into infamy, foretell a career of financial ruin or both.

What the hell were you thinking releasing a record called "Chinese Democracy'?

Chad: "Chinese Democracy" is the working title of the Guns N' Roses album that has been in the works since like 1998. They've spent like $20 million and there's still no album, and The Offspring said they were going to name their album "Chinese Democracy" just to kind of give 'em a jab. It never happened, so just being fans of Axl Rose in general we figured that we would go ahead and show him how to make an album.

Have you heard back from him yet?

Chad: Not yet. We're waiting on the cease-and-desist letter.

Brad: I keep calling him and he won't return my calls.

What would you say to Axl if he called you?

Chad: I'd probably ask him about his gospel roots in Indiana; ask him about the big changeover; see what happened when he walked off that bus in L.A.

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The Ants are, left to right, Brad Nichols, Chad Bryan, Sean McEniry and Dave Randall.

Brad: I'd probably ask him what happened to his face, because he looks a lot different. He looks more like Michael Jackson now than Axl Rose.

Chad: He does kind of look like Michael. So I might ask him about Michael and whether or not they have a relationship and what kind of skin cleanser he's using.

Probably ProActiv, because Puff Daddy uses ProActiv and a lot of other big-name celebrities use ProActiv. Are you actually the first group, though, to release an album called "Chinese Democracy"?

Chad: Yeah, as far as we know.

You've put them in quite a tight spot, huh?

Chad: Haven't we. I mean, I know that once they finally do come out with it the people who will be at the record stores buying the album will probably be pretty upset by the fact that they went ahead and named their album "Chinese Democracy." 'Oh - you know The Ants. Shit, they already put out an album titled 'Chinese Democracy.''

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Chinese Democracy

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How would you compare your "Chinese Democracy" to what you imagine Guns N' Roses' "Chinese Democracy" will sound like? Perhaps you've heard leaked samples?

Brad: I think it's pretty much the same. I think they're right in line with each other.

Chad: I actually co-opted a couple of the lyrics that I had found online. For instance, "Mamacita" was actually written by Axl Rose. We just kind of went in and fixed it up. There's that 'Slash simulator' that you can get on ProTools, so we used it for the guitar parts ... Buckethead plays some guitar, I think, on the new one, so I put a bucket over my head when we were recording.

Brad: We all tried the bucket on, but it fit Chad best.

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