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SoulMonster

1988.09.DD - Guitar For The Practising Musician (Slash)

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1988.09.DD - Guitar For The Practising Musician (Slash)

Post by Soulmonster on Tue May 08, 2018 9:01 am

SLASH
You had a leg up on many of us because of your music situation at home.

My parents were in the business so I was weaned on music when I was a kid. My dad used to do all the album covers for Geffen Records. I've known David Geffen all my life, which is a real nice connection. I picked out what I liked and didn’t like real early. I listened to Who albums, I listened to Cat Stevens. I was into Sabbath albums. I got into a few albums which made me start playing guitar: Rocks, by Aerosmith, Cheap Trick Live at Budokan, any Ted Nugent album at the time, and Zeppelin. Then I started listening to UFO, Strangers in the Night.

How quickly were you good enough to enjoy playing?

I picked it up pretty quickly. I started a band as soon as I started playing. I was so single-minded that I played 12 hours a day. I can’t say that I was so talented; I can say I was so into it I had no choice but to learn what I was doing. When I first started playing I was naive and ignorant about it. I didn't know what lead guitar was. I didn’t know if I wanted to play bass. I just wanted to play. I thought if I’m going to play I need lessons. I went into this music place without an instrument and said I want to learn how to play. The teacher asked me did I want to play bass or guitar or what? I said, ‘What’s the difference?' He said the bass has four strings, the guitar has six. I said I’ll take the guitar because it’s got more strings. But I couldn’t take lessons because I didn’t have a guitar. I started playing this guitar that had one string on it, doing UFO and Aerosmith songs on one string by ear. I finally got an acoustic guitar and went back to the music school and started learning how to play. They started teaching me "Mary Had a Little Lamb." It wasn't Aerosmith, so I quit and started learning from records. I’m completely taught by ear. If there was something that I liked, that I thought was cool, I’d learn it. I'd learn Jeff Beck like you wouldn’t know. I'd learn any lick that I thought was really good from Wired, Truth and Blow by Blow. Then he got into There and Back and it was too jazzy for me. Jeff Beck is the most amazing guitar player out of anybody that I can think of. He is the only guy that blows me away. So I would sit down and learn licks that hit me. With Aerosmith and Ted Nugent songs it was basically any song that I liked. I wouldn't learn whole albums, just whatever hit me in the heart. I didn't learn because I wanted to be a rock star or to be able to play it live. It was nothing like that. I learned it because I liked it and because if I wanted to play that way or be as good as that then obviously I had to learn it.

Did you have friends who helped?

I’ve never had a relationship with another guitar player. I’ve known Tracy from L.A. Guns for a long time and that was a rival thing that I’ve had with him since junior high. I've never played with another guitarist except for Izzy. I had bands from junior high all the way to now, but they weren't cover bands. I wrote songs, and that's the way it's always been. I had a real hard time coming up in bands. In junior high I had a guitar and a killer Fender Twin, which I sold because I was an idiot. I had a drummer and bass player. I could never find a singer. Axl was the only singer in L.A. I’ve ever met who could sing and I didn’t meet him until way later on. I'd go in with these guys and I was very serious about it. I was going to go the whole nine yards. I didn’t know if I was going to be a big rock star and play at the Colosseum; I just wanted to go out and do it. I'd stick with the drummer and he’d have fits and eventually we’d split up. I was real ignorant. I didn’t have any goals, but I had a subconscious drive that I couldn’t stop. If somebody couldn’t hack it I would move on.

How did you hook up with Izzy?

When we first met we didn’t click musically at all. Izzy and Axl had a band together. I wanted to get Axl and I didn't want to work with another guitar player because I’d never done it before. Working with other guitar players, I couldn't be in control of what was happening on the guitar. I wanted to get Axl away from Izzy, which was impossible. At the time when I met Axl we started a band and Izzy was in it, but he split to join a band called London, which I had just quit. That was cool, so me and Axl had a band going. That broke up. Eventually Axl joined L.A. Guns. Then Izzy joined L.A. Guns because everybody just wanted to be in a band and be working. That didn’t work out and I got this call that said, do you want to come back and play with us? At first I didn't want to do it because me and Axl had been through some bad times together. I did it and worked with Izzy because that's what was happening. It was the only band I could find that I could relate to. If you listen to the record, me and Izzy don’t play anything alike. Our sound is completely different. He doesn’t play lead hardly at all, but his rhythm style is cool. I was a lot heavier than he was. But we worked it out and it wasn’t even a conscious thing. We just played together and eventually got better and better and now we sort of jell more.

How did you sound five years ago?

I can’t look back that long, and I don’t have any tapes of it. I’ve got tapes of before this band. The stuff I was doing then was heavier. When Metallica came out, I was really into them because that was sort of like the stuff that I was writing. In a sense that’s still the style I play. When I play really hard stuff I play a lot like Metallica. That's why I like them. It's the heavy part of it, it’s not their chords. It’s the feel of it. Listen to "Paradise City,” the actual riff is heavy as far as heavy goes, but at the same time I have a major blues thing happening. The stuff I play is bluesy but I play the bluesy stuff heavily or at least that’s the way I approach everything. Because of Izzy and Axl and Duff and Steve, everything comes out sounding like Guns N’ Roses, which is different.

How does your Ep stand up?

It was live, it was punk rock, it was great. I enjoyed it because it was fast and straight in your face.

It doesn’t sound like Appetite for Destruction.

We didn't have the time to get it together. That’s why it’s important to me. Live, "Like a Suicide” is indicative of what this band was all about when we first got together. We didn't sit around in rehearsal studios saying we have to be like this or that. We wanted to go out and play live. We would write songs real fast because we had already booked the gigs. We were an angry bunch of kids. That Ep means a lot to me, because we wrote songs, got them together in an evening, and then went out and played them. The album has songs that we sat down and worked on and actually wrote and worked it out. "Suicide” was from the early days, the beginning. "Welcome to the Jungle” is the first song that me and Axl wrote together. We still write the same way. We write a song in a day, in three hours of rehearsal, but it's not as desperate as it was. Doing an album is completely different when you have a record company behind you. You have an actual corporation happening. You can go into the studio and lay the stuff down and the song unfolds in the studio. Of the songs on the record, "Think About You" Izzy wrote before Guns N’ Roses was even a nightmare. “Paradise City” we wrote before we were thinking about going in the studio. There's a lot of songs on there that are pretty old. “Brownstone” was after we were signed. We wrote everything on the record and didn't change anything for the album.

You’ve got a raw spirit on wax, which is rare for a first time trip to the studio.

Because we did basic tracks in two weeks and then I went back in. Izzy did the basic tracks, that’s it. Otherwise what’s coming out of the left speaker is what we did in two weeks. Everything he did was in mono. I went back and did all the stereo stuff. Izzy is on the left, I'm on the right and I'm in stereo with the echo and slide stuff. I'm more distorted than Izzy.

Are you enough of a perfectionist that your offhand solos are not particularly offhand?

I went in and did basic tracks and played along with the drums and bass and Izzy. I would screw around but keep the actual song going. Then I would go back later and redo the whole rhythm and all the leads in front of the monitors in the control room. I had the monitors cranked up really loud and would just play along. I can’t play with headphones. Most of the stuff on there is pretty improvised. “Brownstone" was the first lead that came to me. There's a long lead on the end of “Paradise City,” which was basically improvised. "Sweet Child" was basically off the cuff.

Did you know what you wanted when you went in for each track?

I had a great Marshall half stack and it was just me and the guitar and the amp. I had nothing else except for the Dean Markley voice box and Cry Baby wah pedal. I've always liked wah pedals. I don't use any effects that I don’t have control of. A wah pedal is a statement. A flanger is a sound that is produced electronically and that's completely inhuman and not happening. You can play around the sound it gives you and that’s cool, but I just don’t have fun with it.

Do you practice for better technique or more control?

I should practice and concentrate more on technique but I don’t. I just keep playing licks the way I hear things in my head. My right hand technique sucks. Live, I play a lot faster than I do in the studio, just because of the energy level..

Who do you listen for live?

Totally drums and bass. I don't listen to Axl or Izzy. I know what Axl's doing and he’s got a handle on it, so I don't have to worry about that. I don't really need Izzy to play off of. I have him come out of my wedge in front a little bit. Mainly I have tons of bass and drums coming out the side.

How do you avoid stepping on Izzy?

Because we know each other so well and I know what he’s doing. The main thing is, what we wrote and what we played live before the album was done is the way we play live. Even if I change a lead around I still know what's going on because that’s the way we play together. When we play live I improvise a hell of a lot because I can’t hold true to sitting around and trying to duplicate stuff. I have no reason to. I don’t have to do the stuff that's on the record if I don’t want to. When I improvise a lot of the stuff I do is by myself. Before a song I’ll make up something to lead into the intro. As far as the stuff I play within the song, I improvise on the basis of the song.

Do you know the solos on the record?

I know the way it sounds to me, that’s the reason it’s on the record in the first place.

How important are guitars and amps to your sound?

I went through 20 Marshalls before I got the right one to do the album with. As far as live goes, any good 100 watt Marshall will do. As far as guitars, it’s a Gibson Les Paul. There is nothing else. I have two ’59s, which are God to me. I have Seymour Duncan Alnico II pickups, which are great. I don’t have any effects. I play straight through the amp.

Did you pick your Paul up because of Joe Perry?

No, I picked up a Mockingbird when I was starting to play because I saw a picture of Joe Perry with a Mockingbird. I thought it was bitchin' looking. I saved up all this money and bought one. It was great and the only thing I played for a long time. Then I was progressing as a guitar player toward being more of an individual and picked up all kinds of different guitars along the way. When Guns was happening I was playing a B.C. Rich Warlock. I sold that and got an endorsement from Jackson. I had a
Firebird from them which was black with my tattoo on the corner of it. When I got in the studio I learned that when you’re using headphones you can really hear what your guitar sounds like. I went through all these guitars which didn't

[the last page of the interview is missing].
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