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1992.08.09 - Interview with Slash in Los Angeles Times

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1992.08.09 - Interview with Slash in Los Angeles Times

Post by Soulmonster on Wed May 07, 2014 7:13 pm

POP MUSIC : Views From Inside Rock's Dream Team : SLASH / GUNS N' ROSES
August 09, 1992|ROBERT HILBURN

NEW YORK — Slash, as Guns N' Roses' lead guitarist Saul Hudson calls himself, is the closest thing to Keith Richards that American rock has produced since Aerosmith's Joe Perry in the '70s--and, at 27, Slash may already have outdistanced Perry's accomplishments.

The colorful musician has a feel for the same sensual, seductive, blues-edged notes that Richards introduced with the Rolling Stones.

But the similarities with Richards don't end with the music. On stage and off, Slash has seemed to echo for years every sex, drugs and rock 'n' wrinkle of Richards' renegade image. But the image is outdated, Slash maintains. The guitarist says he has toned down many of the destructive elements in his old lifestyle. He's even planning to get married this fall.

In an interview at his hotel here hours before a Giants Stadium concert, Slash spoke about changes in his personal life and in rock's most controversial band.

Question: Do you feel any "battle of the bands" competition on the tour with Metallica?

Answer: No, and I mean that. I just want the fans to think that it was a great day--like going to the circus or the zoo, where you remember loving the day and not just one thing about it. It's not like we are out there to kick Metallica's ass or vice versa.

Q: But don't you feel any pressure to be at your best--knowing the audience is going to be comparing the two bands?

A: There is pressure, but the way I deal with it is just having our band be as good as we can be every single night. I don't even go to the gig until right before we go on. I haven't seen Metallica since we started touring because I don't want to be intimidated or influenced even subconsciously.

Q: What about Guns N' Roses' decision last year to put out two albums simultaneously? Do you still think it was a good idea?

A: Yes. We went through so much emotional turmoil after the success of (1987's album) "Appetite for Destruction" and the albums reflect that. I'm talking about all of a sudden going from a garage band to becoming some sort of half-assed celebrities.

The albums are so close to us that every single song has its own meaning and memories attached to it--the problems with drugs and adjusting to all the other drastic changes in our lives. That's why we put out two albums. We had so much material and we wanted to use it all.

Q: What about the next album? When do you think it will be out?

A: I don't know. We still feel there is a lot we want to do with the "Illusion" material. We have been touring for a year and a half to this point, but we have all these Metallica shows left, then a Brazilian tour and maybe a little club thing in the U.S. next year where we go out and play all our thrash stuff. I'm not even thinking about the next record until we finish all that. When the time does come to begin work on it, we'll take however long is necessary. We've never been the kind of band that rushes in and forces things--like one of those album-a-year type bands.

Q: Was the Queen benefit in London for Freddie Mercury and AIDS awareness as emotional an experience for the band as it appeared on television?

A: Absolutely. It was an honor just being asked to do it . . . sort of like being put on the map by people we had admired for years. But the experience was even much deeper than that.

Being the type of band that we are, the last thing we wanted to know about a few years ago was AIDS. Like most people, we thought it was only a problem for needle pushers and homosexuals, which meant we didn't have to worry about it. I was still as promiscuous as hell.

But then it started getting closer to home and everybody had to start being aware of the dangers . . . homosexuals, heterosexuals; people were even starting to get it from their dentists or whatever. That slowed my trip down a lot, but it didn't really hit home until Freddie died of AIDS because he was this huge icon in our minds.

To walk out on that stage in front of 75,000 or 80,000 people was a very emotional experience. It was like all of us in rock 'n' roll, the artists and the audience, were saying we did care and we are responsible for each other. It was a great sense of community that day and it touched something in me.

Q: Like Keith Richards, you've toned your personal act down over the years. Was your lifestyle ever as wild as your reputation?

A: I still drink, but the whole thing used to be like this big adventure. I used to get wasted on stage. There were nights when I'd have to start "Sweet Child o' Mine" four or five times because I was so loaded I couldn't play it. But I got burned out on the whole drug thing and the groupie scene.

Q: Were you surprised when you decided you wanted to get married?

A: I had spent so much time chasing around and after a while it was like going to strip clubs. You start looking at women like pieces of furniture, something you admire for their lines. And you realize you either keep going on like that forever or you commit to someone you love--and that's what happened to me. I realized the other stuff is a sort of waste of time anyway.

I met my fiancee three years ago and I've never been happier. The funny thing is a friend was going out with her roommate, and my fiancee said she didn't even want to meet me. We finally met by chance and she found out that I wasn't this beast that she had heard about.

Q: How about life in the band? How big a blow was it to you last year when guitarist Izzy Stradlin decided to leave the group?

A: I love the guy dearly, so I don't want to belittle his character by saying anything about him. But he just got sick and tired of dealing with everything. I think more than anything he didn't want to do the amount of work that Guns N' Roses has to do to keep it together.

I totally sold my soul to this thing, but Izzy wasn't that way. He didn't want to do videos or spend all those hours in the studio, and slowly but surely he started to drop out.

Q: Were you angry about that?

A: Not at all. In fact, I was really happy because I could never understand what was going on with him. Like even on stage, he would just sort of stand there--and that was the only time I'd see him on the road because he traveled separately. When he finally left, it was like a relief because there had been no communication at all.

Q: Did you begin to worry about the future of the band? After all, Izzy was the second personnel change in a year.

A: It made us all closer. I had always been close to (bassist) Duff (McKagen), but the changes made me and Axl (Rose) a lot closer than we had been. We had always been friends, but there is really a bond there now. What used to happen is we'd misunderstand each other. We'd have fights because of something I was supposed to have said about him in the press or something he was supposed to have said about me. All these problems have pushed us closer together, so that we communicate better and avoid the misunderstandings.

The last fight we had was four years ago and that stemmed from the fact I cut myself off by being completely loaded. At this point, I really have it together, so he can lean on me and I can lean on him. He has opened up more. He's not like a firecracker anymore, who just explodes. As far as image, it's hard to get that across to people when you have 5,000 publications trying to tell you what they want about Axl and the band.

One thing I've learned to do is avoid reading our press anymore because that's where you get a lot of the hype and sense of hysteria. We don't live that way or feel that way on a daily basis, but when you pick up the magazines, it makes you think you're some big deal and screws up your focus.

Q: What helps you keep grounded? Friends?

A: Friends and the music itself. There are some times when you feel most in touch with yourself on stage, where it's just you and 50,000 fans or whatever and no one in between . . . no magazine, no MTV . . . and when you make a connection with the audience . . . when you are playing the best you can and they are responding. That's what helps remind you what's important . . . why you started playing music in the first place.
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