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1995.03.DD - Musician Magazine/Quad City Times - Slash 'N' Eddie (Slash)

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1995.03.DD - Musician Magazine/Quad City Times - Slash 'N' Eddie (Slash) Empty 1995.03.DD - Musician Magazine/Quad City Times - Slash 'N' Eddie (Slash)

Post by Blackstar on Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:33 am

1995.03.DD - Musician Magazine/Quad City Times - Slash 'N' Eddie (Slash) Gnr-sl11
1995.03.DD - Musician Magazine/Quad City Times - Slash 'N' Eddie (Slash) Gnr-sl10

Transcript:
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SLASH 'N' EDDIE

Great guitarists have 2 different outlooks on what it means to be a rock ’n’ roll star

Guitarists try to keep their bands together

By Mark Rowland
MUSICIAN MAGAZINE


IT was an idea so obvious it had never been done. Bring together Edward Van Halen and Slash, guitarists and guiding musical spirits of the top two world-class rock ’n’ roll bands to emerge from Los Angeles in the past two decades. Timing was excellent: Both have new albums out (Van Halen’s “Balance” features the familiar quartet of Eddie and Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar; “It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere,” courtesy of Slash's Snakepit, is a solo debut of sorts, with a crew comprising Jellyfish’s Eric Dover, Alice in Chains bassist Mike Inez, and past and present Guns N’ Rosers Gilby Clarke and Matt Sorum). Logistics seemed feasible: Both reside in the L.A. hills, just a few ridges apart as the crow flies across Mulholland. And both players were agreeable, albeit with the wary enthusiasm of musicians who’ve liked each other from a distance.

There was really only one concern. Slash suggested, a few days before the interview was to take place: “We really don’t have anything in common.”

Well, yes and no. Different personalities for sure. Dressed casually in shirt and jeans, alert eyes sparkling behind a pair of black-framed glasses, Edward Van Halen has the look and manner of a scientist who naturally attracts electrons. His speech is quick and to the point, sometimes thoughtful, sometimes gruff, with a surprisingly quick wit and an infectious laugh that charms you into thinking you’re having a wonderful time, even as he’s telling you how much he hates interviews.

Slash, who looks like, well, Slash, is more laid-back and reflective, and his humor tends to be more droll. They complement each other nicely, which makes you wonder what they’d be like together onstage. That’s not likely to occur any time soon, though; Ed gets up at 6:30 these days, around the time Slash falls into bed.

They met at high noon in the comforting confines of Ed’s 5150 recording studio, a short drive up the pavement from the sprawling Tudor house he shares with his wife and young son. Choice of setting was no accident, for while Slash travels in ever-widening social and musical circles, Edward has long trained his own sights literally close to home. Van Halen is his band — “only as long as I live,” he explains — offering the space and secure foundation for his increasingly assured pop songcraft and ever-amazing solo flights. Van Halen has endured precisely one personnel change in 20 years, while Guns N’ Roses seems to go through six or seven each month. (Just who is in that band now, anyway?)

Yet within and without that world of controlled chaos, Slash continues to surprise as a songwriter probing the frontiers of rilf-based rock, and a bluesy stylist whose solos are at once soaring and soulful. What they share, most obviously, is a commitment to their bands, to their instruments, and to the notion of music as a field of experience and journey into the unknowable.

“It’s strange to be sitting with a guy whose band was one of the ones that really kicked in when I was first getting started, and now I’m sitting here as one of his peers," Slash observed with some awe. “I feel more like an understudy.”

“You probably saw us at Gazzarris,” Ed surmised.

“Actually it was the Starwood,” Slash replied. “I was like 14, and I’d hang out front and sell quaaludes.”

Ed chortled. “You probably sold me some.”

So began a freewheeling repartee that covered the waterfront from ’60s rock to the strangeness of lead singers. “I have to call him up tonight,” Slash enthused after it was over. “That was the most personable hang we’ve ever had. Actually,” he admitted, “It was the first time we ever had a conversation when we were sober.”

MUSICIAN: Do you worry about your new albums' reception by the public?

SLASH: It's not supposed to matter. But because it’s got my name on it, there’s a little pressure. When I’m in the car and just listen to it for what it is and strip the pressures away, I like it. But I’ve got so many people coming at me from so many directions that sometimes I’ll listen to it and stress out. At least in Guns I’ve got five or six guys on the line as much as I am.

VAN HALEN: I don’t really think about it. I guess I’m very selfish in that respect. If I’m happy with it. that to me is at least half of it, and if someone else likes it too, that’s like a home run. But if they don’t like it, that’s okay — I still do.

That’s actually the whole reason why I built this studio. Because, I think it was our fifth album, “Diver Down,” was half cover tunes and I hated it. Certain people in the band and around us had the philosophy of “Hey, if you redo a proven hit, you’re halfway there.”

I don’t like that “halfway there” (stuff'). I'd rather bomb with my own stuff than make it doing someone else’s. Because if you do music that you really don’t enjoy playing, you’re not satisfying yourself, and if nobody else likes it, you’re double-(screwed). You got zilch. Pleasing yourself has got to be number one.

MUSICIAN: Is that why you made a solo album, Slash?

SLASH: I just needed an outlet. With Guns we had toured for so long, and when the tour ended, I built a studio in my house and I wrote all these songs and they didn't turn out to be Guns material.

Axl (Rose) was dealing with his lawsuits, and Matt (Sorum) and I were jamming these songs up so I thought, well, a solo record. We wrote 17 songs in 17 days or so and then went in the studio and did it under budget.

It was a bunch of musicians just having a good time without the pressure of Guns N’ Roses. I think that was the real reason for pursuing it, realizing that you could break it back down to where you’re just a band again, albeit your lives have changed from being on the street and having to pawn stuff back and forth. Now you have your own amp — but the feel is the same.

VAN HALEN: I think the only reason people do solo records is because they can't express themselves fully within their unit. I mean, there’s stuff that didn’t make our record because it was too “out,” but I have the freedom within the band to not warrant a solo record. I generally look at music as a form of expression, but it’s also therapeutic. So a lot of times, depending on what mood I'm in, I’ll do something for myself that is just weird.

MUSICIAN: Edward, you've always been the sole guitarist in your band, while Slash has always played off another guitarist with Guns N' Roses. Are either of you tempted to go the other way?

VAN HALEN: No, I don’t like playing with another guitarist. I like the freedom to do whatever I want to when I want to. I like to space off and do my own thing. If I had to conform to a set thing with somebody else, I’d have to start counting, and that would (mess) with my ability to be spontaneous. How can you expect some other guy to be plugged into your head and think the same way?

SLASH: I like jamming with other people — when it's their band; I like getting up with people that are way above par to see if I can stand up on my own and pull it off. If you have a good night, it means the world to you. I had Les Paul wipe the stage with me the first time I jammed with him. I never wanted to be off a stage so badly. And Les will (mess) with you, because in his own mind, as well as the public’s mind, he is the king. He looked over at me like “Well, you’ll learn how to play one day, kid.” But I did jam with him recently, and I’ve gotten better — we managed to play four songs together without any altercations or any serious faux pas, and that was nice. It gives you a little more confidence.

But the only reason Guns had two guitars was because Izzy (Stradlin) and Axl came as a package deal. (Eddie cackles.) I had a band called Road Crew and I couldn’t find a singer. Singers are the hardest thing to find.

VAN HALEN: They are.

SLASH: And Izzy and I never had a great relationship. I played what I played on my side of the stage, he played on his. Izzy couldn’t really play guitar anyway — he’s a great songwriter. So I could do whatever I wanted, as long as we had a basic arrangement. Then when Izzy quit, Gilby (Clarke) was like a godsend, ’cause we had to put somebody in that spot. But now Gilby’s gone...

VAN HALEN: Hey, do it yourself! I think it’ll be interesting.

SLASH: Guns is a two-guitar band. But when we go into the studio I end up doing all the guitars by myself.

VAN HALEN: So you just need a guy to do it live.

SLASH: Yeah, but the whole thing about a rock ’n’ roll band, it’s supposed to be a cohesive unit?

VAN HALEN: (laughs) Not necessarily!

SLASH: Don’t say that — that’s the way Axl thinks too.

MUSICIAN: Ed, any advice for Slash regarding lead singers?

SLASH: I don’t want to think about lead singers.

VAN HALEN: Lead singers are hell. It’s true! You gotta be a pr— to be a lead singer, that’s half the deal.

MUSICIAN: Often the creative tension between the guitarist and the singer/lyricist ultimately pulls them apart.

VAN HALEN: Well, I really don’t think friction is what makes something happen. What makes it work is the differences of opinion and ideas. That’s part of collaborating with another human being. But music is not a competitive thing, and that tears up a lot of bands. That’s why Roth quit. He thought he was King Cheese — go ahead! I don’t want to deal with someone who’s in competition with me, I want to work together and make music, you know?

Everybody in this band plays a role and if you remove any one of them, it won’t work. I guess it’s a band situation at its best; we each have a role and we try to do the right thing.

MUSICIAN: Which is unusual.

VAN HALEN: Well, take Jimmy Page and Plant — they still don’t like each other! Or at least that’s what’s apparent. I read the interviews and it seems like they’re obviously doing it just for the bucks. I don’t know if it’s true or not. But you figure, guys who have been doing it that long would get over the ego bull by now.

MUSICIAN: Both of you grew up in families that were either very musical (Edward’s) or very connected to the world of pop culture (Slash’s). To what extent was that a help and to what extent a hindrance to finding your own way?

VAN HALEN: I don’t think it hindered me at all. I grew up around music and it was great. Granted, it was a different style of music. My mom hated it because my dad was always on the road. Growing up in Holland when me and Alex were seven years old, we used to go across the border to Germany to clubs where he played. That was just normal to me: eight years old, staying up to two, three in the morning, hanging in the club.

SLASH: I didn’t know that.

VAN HALEN: Oh yeah, my dad was a jazz musician. Clarinet and saxophone. But my mom wanted us to grow up and be something respectable. The only way she’d let me play guitar was if I also did piano.

SLASH: Well, that’s good — now you can play piano. I can’t. I think the benefit I got from being around the music business as a little kid was it keeps me sane now. I dealt with so many neurotic “name” people for so long and saw so many things go on, that dealing with all the things that have happened through Guns N’ Roses’ career, it’s like “eh, whatever.” I can see the bad habits I picked up too — some of them obvious. But at the same time, I’m a little more rational than some unnamed musicians who wig out really quick.

VAN HALEN: People ask now, what have you learned after 11 albums? I’ve learned that I don’t know (anything). ’Cause every time you start a new record it’s the same old anxiety. You don’t learn.

MUSICIAN: Ed, you described your music-making as “therapeutic.” But when your first record comes out and it’s a huge hit, it must be weird to discover that your personal therapy is this enormous success.

SLASH: It doesn’t seem like such an enormous success when it’s happening. I remember when Guns first started, the motivation was just getting together and going gig to gig, and partying and playing and partying and playing...you don’t realize what’s going on. Then the record company calls you up and says, “We’ve sold this and this and this,” and when you get home at the end of the tour, life around you is different. But the motivation behind it is just playing.

VAN HALEN: It’s like the Joe Walsh song: “Everybody’s so different, I haven’t changed.” It’s still the same to me when I’m in here; it’s like when I used to sit on the edge of my bed and play. I listen back to the first records sometimes and say, “I haven’t changed at all!”

SLASH: It gets the most sterile when you try to analyze what you’re doing it for. ’Cause when you’re playing, it has nothing to do with the music business. You could be sitting in a hut in Iceland somewhere.

VAN HALEN: It’s just very very lucky! To have found something in this life that I enjoy doing and that I can make a living at.

SLASH: ’Cause I don’t think you’d want either one of us loose on the streets. (laughter)


Last edited by Blackstar on Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:45 am; edited 2 times in total
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1995.03.DD - Musician Magazine/Quad City Times - Slash 'N' Eddie (Slash) Empty Re: 1995.03.DD - Musician Magazine/Quad City Times - Slash 'N' Eddie (Slash)

Post by Soulmonster on Fri Jul 20, 2018 6:31 pm

Thanks! Interesting interview.
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