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SoulMonster

1988-08-DD - Interview with Slash and Duff

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1988-08-DD - Interview with Slash and Duff

Post by Soulmonster on Fri Apr 27, 2012 1:46 am

August 1988
Backstage With Slash and Duff of GN'R
[An Interview with Mr.Slash & Duff McKagan]
by: Mark Snider

August 1988. We're backstage at the eighth annual "Monsters Of Rock" festival in Northern England's Castle Donnington Motorway. Eight years ago in 1980, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow headlines in what was the very first such fest. It has since become an institution in these parts and the inspiration for America's semi-successful Van Halen-led "Monsters" stadium tour. There are 107,000 headbangers out there right now waiting for Guns N' Roses to take the stage. This huge crowd is the most ever for a Castle Donnington "Monsters" show beating out last year's Bon Jovi-led spectacle which drew "only" 80,000. On this night, these British fans will see Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Guns N' Roses, Kiss, David Lee Roth and Helloween. Slash is calmly picking away at an acoustic instrumental version of "Welcome To The Jungle."

Mark Snider: This is your first "Monsters Of Rock" tour. How are you feeling?

Slash: Besides the fact that I drank too much for the last eight years, I'm fine! I got 40 minutes to go pump out a bunch of energy and burn out afterwards.

MS: What does it mean to you to be playing this tour?

Slash: Intense. We haven't been in Britain for awhile. It's one of our favorite crowds and it means a lot to me.

MS: What's the difference between a British crowd and an American crowd?

Slash: American crowds are really cool. British crowds tend to be more hectic, more insane. That's the big difference. I think the Brits are more starved out for it. They have to go through more hell with life in general. In America, everybody just gets into it because they want to have a good time. In England, they're desperate for it because the rest of life on the average is pretty screwed up. I was born here and I know middle class Britain is not happening, y'know?

MS: Helloween just finished. What do you know about them?

Slash: I knew they're German. That's it.

MS: What about Megadeth?

Slash: Megadeth's great. Good friends of mine. Couple of 'em anyway.

MS: Kiss?

Slash: Kiss I hate.

MS: Really?

Slash: No, I don't hate 'em. I'm just joking. Um, we had a little mixup with Kiss a long time ago. I don't really want to go into it. I tell you what. If it weren't for Kiss, I wouldn't have met Steven or started playing guitar. The initial record I listened to that Steve played for me and banged away on his electric guitar with the amp cranked up was a Kiss album ... not that that means anything to those guys but it means a lot to me.

MS: Can you put what has happened to the band in the last six months into perspective?

Slash: Into perspective? I have no perspective (laughs). I just have day-to-day occurrences. No, um, we just finished touring with Aerosmith. It was the best tour we've ever done. It was so much fun that it was like a dream come true. And we got along with them! Y'know, sometimes you have tours you don't really enjoy but you just go out and play. This was one of those tours where we felt comfortable and had a ball. We looked forward to the shows no matter what city. It was great. All the shows sold out. We sold tons of merchandise and all that other business stuff.

MS: You finally starting to make some money?

Slash: We're still on that same $100 a week per diem. Why do we need any more money than that?

MS: Beer and cigarettes, right?

Slash: We get free cigarettes, free beer and a free bottle of Jack Daniels from the promoter every single night we play. That goes without saying. So I'm fine, y'know? I'm having a good time.

MS: What were your expectations? Do you remember first starting out doing interviews? What were you hoping for with Appetite For Destruction?

Slash: I just wanted the same thing that happened when I started playing guitar. I got into this because I enjoyed playing, Same thing now. I just enjoy playing and if it's good, that's icing on the cake as far as interviews and money and all that other stuff. And all the bad stuff is a small price to pay for the chance to go out and play 45 minutes every single night, get a free bottle of Jack and four packs of cigarettes every single day, y'know what I mean?

MS: Yeah. What's it going to be like tonight onstage?

Slash: I have no idea. I can't tell you. We're just going to go out there and put songs together. We never play an exact set ever. We're probably the most degenerate band like that. I don't know. I can't even think of the word for it. We don't even belong in this industry at this point in time, let's put it that way. We're going to go up there with our set list of all our songs and we pick and choose. We have 40 minutes and we'll try to play as much as possible.

And with that, Slash starts getting ready for his audience. Meanwhile, bassist Duff McKagan makes his way through the crowded backstage scene.

MS: You're getting ready to go on right now. How do you feel?

Duff McKagan: I'm still drunk from last night, to tell you the truth. I went to some club here in Nottingham but, other than that, I feel good. It's amazing to look out at that crowd. It's insane.

MS: Is this the first time you played in front of this many people?

DM: Oh yeah. We just played Giant Stadium and that was about 55,000 but this is what? Upwards of 100,000? It's kind of like unfathomable. And driving in here today and seeing all the people trying to get in, y'know?

MS: What's the biggest difference between crowds here and at home?

DM: There's a bunch of differences. A festival like this, they're like a New York crowd in a way. They're just crazy. They're going to be here until three in the morning, these guys. They're insane. This is their life. They hitchhike all the way here.

MS: Do you approach a gig like this any differently from playing a club or maybe a mid-size hall?

DM: At this point we've been touring now for about 14 months. I'm pretty much relaxed around this so, I don't know.

MS: You don't prepare any differently?

DM: No. Everybody puts 100% into every gig. That's what we're here for.

MS: Were you aware of "Monsters Of Rock" before you played here?

DM: Yeah, sure.

MS: So what did it mean to you when you heard you were on the bill?

DM: It meant we'd have to fly over here and fly back. No, I don't know. It's great. You're making history if you play Donnington.

So Duff, Slash, Izzy, Axl and Steven go out and prove they're among the best in the biz as they always seem to do. Afterwards, a tired, sweaty Duff relaxes in his dressing room.

DM: We took the Concord out here. It was great. We ate dinner and we were here. We get to the airport and they send us to this Concord lounge, which has got a bar, free bar. I was in heaven. Food. Then you get escorted to the plane. We almost didn't make it. We actually got into a fight in the airport with some guy. So all these cops came. The pilot said, "one foul word out of any of you guys and you're out of here!" Fair enough. So we get into the plane, they take your drink orders, you have a menu to pick your dinner from. It's not just like, "here, you're having pressed ham." It's like, "here, what do you want? You want veal? Lobster?" Comfortable leather seats. Lots of leg room. Constant service. It costs a lot of money, I guess. We were here in no time, with no jet lag or anything. It's like ... you're here! Y'know?

MS: Who paid for the flight?

DM: We did.

MS: It ultimately comes out of your pocket. Tell me about the speed.

DM: You can see how fast you're going if you look at this meter they have right there. You can tell how many miles you have left to go, how cold it is outside. We were at 60,000 feet and it was -60 celsius degrees outside.

MS: What'd you think of your performance just now?

DM: Well, eh, I think our performance is kind of secondary to what's happening in the crowd. They have casualties here. Were you out there at all? I think I saw a casualty happen. It was really weird. It was really strange. We had to stop the show. The P.A. system is kind of screwed up and you don't get time to have a good sound check so we couldn't really hear ourselves but we pulled it off. I think we did a good show. But I'm still stunned at the size of the audience and what was happening up front. It was real scary. We all went like, "woah!"

MS: What was actually happening up there? I couldn't see.

DM: It was kids piled on kids horizontal on the ground. They were unconscious. And more people kept on falling on them. I saw them! It took about 20 minutes to get everybody out. We stopped the show and they finally pulled the last couple of people out and I think they were dead. It was really weird. I saw no life in those bodies at all.

MS: You played a new song, "Patience." Why?

DM: That's on the EP. The crowd needed to settle down and that's a song that says, "ok, everybody relax and listen."

MS: You guys are very spontaneous.

DM: Yeah. Totally. We never have a set list. Never ever.

MS: So what happens onstage? Axl turns and asks you guys what you want to play?

DM: One of us will go, "let's do this!" OK!

MS: No set list! Fascinating! You're the only band I know of that does that.

DM: We have a list of all our songs so we can go, "ok, let's do this one now!" With Guns N' Roses in general, everything is very spontaneous. And it's always very confusing! It's just day-to-day, y'know?

MS: It's all over now. What are you going to do for the rest of the afternoon besides smoke cigarettes?

DM: Drink. Drink heavily.
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