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2018.09.DD - Slash interview with Clay Marshall (excerpts)

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2018.09.DD - Slash interview with Clay Marshall (excerpts)

Post by Blackstar on Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:23 pm

Via Blabbermouth

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One highlight of GUNS N' ROSES' concerts during the "Not In This Lifetime" tour has been the "Chinese Democracy" track "Better", which features an intro that doesn't appear on the album version of the song. Guitarist Slash says it's only natural that the song's live rendition sounds different with him and bassist Duff McKagan performing it.

"Any of the 'Chinese Democracy' stuff, the way that that stuff evolved was really Duff and I sort of learning the songs and the integrity of the songs and playing it the way that we would play them," he recently told writer Clay Marshall. "They're such different musicians that actually recorded, so they ended up sounding the way that they ended up sounding, but the arrangements are more or less the same. We did change the intro... that was actually just some idea, something that came actually from another piece of material, and it just somehow morphed into the intro for that song because it was so cool."

During GN'R's recent European tour, the group began performing "Slither" by VELVET REVOLVER, Slash and McKagan's mid-'00s supergroup that featured late vocalist Scott Weiland (STONE TEMPLE PILOTS). "If you got a hold of an old set list from 2016," Slash explained, "you saw there was a set list and then there was an alternate set, which was just songs that we could do audibles with [and] move shit around. It was on there, and the band actually jammed it way early on just to get the groove together and all that. But it just never came up. Then, when we went into rehearsals for the European tour, Axl [Rose, vocals] came in [and went], 'Let's try 'Slither'.' It was never even something that we've talked about, but hearing Axl do it, considering he's channeling a little bit of Scott in that, and then Duff and I sort of having been with that song since its inception, the three of us doing it together was very cool. I couldn't put a verbal description of that feeling, but that was cool."

The band also recently began performing "Shadow Of Your Love", a track dating back to the mid-1980s that appears on the recently released expanded remaster of GN'R's seminal debut, "Appetite For Destruction". "The remastering, that was basically easy," Slash said. "It actually does sound really good, which I was skeptical about. But the actual box set as far as all the old material, after all these years, knowing that all this stuff exists and it's just sitting there, it was actually cathartic to get it all out. It was really cool to go in when we mastered it to sit there and actually listen. I've never gone back and listened to any of that stuff — I just know it exists — and to sit there and listen to all of it was really, really cool."

Also included on the reissue's deluxe editions are two early versions of "November Rain", the video for which recently became the oldest music video to reach 1 billion views on YouTube. "That was an epic production," Slash recalled. "That was all more Axl's vision than anything I had to do with it. My contribution was [that] I would write my own part, where the leaving the wedding and doing the church thing was concerned. The way that [director] Andy Morahan shot it, I thought, 'This is going to be the last thing I ever do,' because these helicopters were flying [right] at me. I thought, 'It'll look cool doing it, and that will be my last day.' Because it was such an elaborate production, being a very sort of stripped-down rock guy, I was like, 'Oh, God. All this stuff!' But it did come out pretty fuckin' awesome. Now, all this time later, it's more of a hats-off to Axl than anything that it's reached that threshold. I always knew that that was a cool song. I never count my eggs as far as in advance how epic or how big, because always whenever you feel that is when it goes the opposite direction. You just do it; you enjoy it in the moment; and wherever it goes, it goes. But I always knew that that was a really great song."

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Going into 2018, GUNS N' ROSES' "Not In This Lifetime" tour had already grossed nearly half a billion dollars worldwide. By the time it wraps up in South Africa in November, it will likely be the second-highest-grossing tour of all time, but guitarist Slash says that's not why he considers it a success.
"Sitting on the outside, the GUNS tour, it wasn't ever about it being whatever it ended up being, looking at it from a dollars and cents [or] a status thing or whatever other people look at it for," he recently told writer Clay Marshall. "The actual experience of doing it and having these amazing fucking crowds and this response to the band, and the band itself, just that whole thing was amazing. It was so cool and it was such, in a way, a validating thing for that lineup. That was that was about — that's why it was so much fun, and that's why we did it for so long. It wasn't because, 'Oh yeah, we're going to make a lot of money on it,' but as a player, that's what I was getting off on.

"The whole big-numbers thing, that's not the thing that turns me on about it," he continued. "What is great about it was that it happened, and it was a positive thing. For us as individuals or as a a group, it was something that I had no idea was even possible, because there was so much bad blood lingering for so long, and when we got together to do the Troubadour and Coachella, there was such a great vibe going on. That extended through the entire tour with no hitches, no matter what different obstacles came up against us like we've had in the past. Nothing derailed us, so that in itself was great, and then on top of that, the response that we got... we didn't have to get that response. All that shit is really humbling. That is really the magic of it for me, and the fact that it was successful monetarily and all those sort of accolades, it's cool and I appreciate it, but it's not the thing that makes it what is really great about it."

Notably, the band members performed very few interviews during the tour. "It wasn't conscious. There was just no need to," Slash said. "Nobody wants to do press. [Laughs] We didn't have to do any press during that time, and it was really sort of nice. Doing THE CONSPIRATORS, I know how it all works. I do the majority of the press for the band, and I go on these international press tours and domestic press tours and there's radio and there's all this stuff, and having been doing that straight since my first proper solo record through 'World On Fire' up until GUNS, when GUNS happened, it was like, all I had to do was play. It was really sort of cool. But I'm back at it [now]."

Unfortunately, the band's media blackout meant that the only official documentation of the "Not In This Lifetime" tour was visual. "The best documentation that was really done was Kat [photographer Katarina Benzova] putting stuff up on the GUNS N' ROSES site," Slash said. "As far as writing or any of that kind of shit, there was no real documentation of it. It has been [about] us going and playing every night and really just focusing for the most part on that — getting from gig to gig, country to country. Back in the '90s, we had this guy Austin and another guy that videotaped the entire 'Use Your Illusion' tour, 24/7, so no, we didn't do that. There's nothing really – there's nothing that I can think of that sort of recorded the last two years for posterity.

"There really isn't very much analyzing going on," he continued. "There's a great camaraderie that exists — we shoot the shit, we do our thing and we come up with some different ideas for this, that and the other, and it's really just sort of a day in the life... When I think of THE [ROLLING] STONES, there was a period there where they were very into documenting stuff so that people could see [what was happening], but then you reach a certain point, and they don't have anything really to prove about anything – they just do their thing. I think maybe we might have arrived at a place like that on this tour, where we're just doing it, and it's really us and those legions of fans that are there to support it. It's been an experience for us, this whole journey. I'm playing with three people I had never played with before, so there was that evolving. It's really been an experience for us, this whole journey. For me, you could never record this in a way that would really translate to fans properly. It's been a real personal journey for everybody involved."

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During a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times about his new solo album, "Living The Dream", GUNS N' ROSES guitarist Slash spoke at length with writer Clay Marshall about a number of topics. Some select "outtakes" appear below (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On whether there's a dream "guest star" situation for him equivalent to Axl Rose touring with AC/DC:

Slash: "I can't think of anything off the top of my head. The Axl-doing-AC/DC thing, I went and checked that out, and it was awesome. I was probably as skeptical as anybody because of the iconic status of the band, and he pulled it off and it was great. I'm probably a little bit more intimidated about the idea of having to fill someone's shoes — someone that I look up to or had a big influence on me. If I was going to get that phone call, I'd want to do it in a band that no one would expect me to be in."

On his new recording facility, Snakepit Studios:

Slash: "It's nice to have a spot that's yours, and you're not under the gun for lockouts or that kind of thing, where you can just go in and the only people around are yourself and your tech and your producer and engineer, whatever it is, and just be able to hang out all day without any time constrictions. That is definitely cool."

On his sobriety:

Slash: "I was always passionate about guitars and music, and that's really at the end of the day, along with a couple other little things, [what] really saved me. I'm really fortunate, because for a lot of people, their only inspiration came from using. I didn't have that problem, so when I came out of it, I got really into playing and getting better at what I was doing. The only thing I've noticed the difference is, I tend to play with more energy and a lot faster than I did back when I was drunk — which led to some great long notes, but..."

On the defibrillator he still has in his chest:

Slash: "I had the option to leave it in or take it out, but taking it out meant an operation where they were going to have to disconnect the electric wire from my heart. I was like, 'Eh, just leave it in.' But I'm in good health. I haven't had any issues like that since basically 2002. That was the last incident. It was just because I never explained to the doctor when they put it in — you have to know the lowest threshold for your heartbeat and what's your highest, and I didn't take into account the adrenaline from performing, so it was set at certain place. When I'd go out and get going, playing, it would kick in, so I had it adjusted and I didn't have that problem again."

On whether he still gets excited playing iconic venues in his Los Angeles hometown:

Slash: "There's still that sort of feeling like when you were a kid, and all those places you sort of looked on with that dreamy sort of [perspective]. That never really totally leaves, no matter how many times you play there. I remember with GUNS, just recently playing The Forum, it still holds that allure from when you were young and fantasized about playing those venues."

On the best advice he received from AEROSMITH's Joe Perry:

Slash: "The only piece of real, sort of direct advice he ever gave me was way back in 1988, I think it was, when he told me. I called him up from Japan at one point to tell him that Izzy [Stradlin] was in a bad way. I think he thought I was talking about Izzy like I was talking about myself, but using Izzy. He was like, 'I'll tell you right now — he needs to get help, but then if you do that, don't come back to me if you fuck up. I'm not here for that. It's not a destination, it's a journey,' which is a classic Alcoholics Anonymous line. That's always sort of stuck with me. Other than that, Joe's not really what I would consider an advice-giver. That's one of the reasons I like him so much — he's a wealth of knowledge, but he's not sort of telling you what you should do."

On his past comments that being a rock star is "an intersection of who you are and who you want to be":

Slash: "For me, I think that really having a perspective on it now, when I was a kid coming up, with the exception of the top hat, I was exactly the same [as I am now]. Being Slash the guitar player is an outlet for me that Slash the regular person on the street, day-to-day, there's an extension of that that I could never be as myself, but it's very relative. In other words, the guitar's that outlet that sitting here, I don't have."

On his feature film production company, Slash Fiction:

Slash: "I've got four different movies in different stages of development right now, so that's a whole other thing that I'm juggling all this at the same time. I love accomplishing shit, so it's great, because it's all moving and it's all sort of pointed in a direction of getting done or arriving at a positive place. They're all really great scripts and I've got two deals done and I've got two pending. They're horror/thriller. The thing with me is really good, intelligent, story-driven [and] character-driven dramas that have a scary twist to them. It's not slasher movies; it's not gore. That's fun for me because it's something outside of music that I'm still involved with music because there's a score, and if I can get to a point of doing a couple movies a year and just have a steady thing — they don't have to be huge or anything — that's exciting, so that's something I'm looking forward to."

On his goals for 2019 and beyond:

Slash: "Next year is all touring [with THE CONSPIRATORS], but going beyond that, obviously I'm not going to not mention wanting to do a GUNS record along the way. It's not a personal challenge or anything, but I would love to see a GUNS record get done and have it be, to us, really great. That would be awesome. I'm looking forward to THE CONSPIRATORS tour. I'm really happy with the record. For the most part, that's it — do this tour, let's hope for a GUNS thing, let's just keep it all going."

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On "Living The Dream", his new album with vocalist Myles Kennedy and THE CONSPIRATORS, guitarist Slash displays some funk, blues and boogie-rock influences that aren't readily apparent in his work with GUNS N' ROSES.

"A long time ago," Slash recently told writer Clay Marshall, "there was that Lenny Kravitz song called 'Always On The Run'. The reason I wrote that with Lenny was that was a riff that had no home elsewhere. He heard it and was, like, 'Oh.' Everybody else was hating on it, and he was like, 'Oh, that's really cool.' He was an outlet. [In THE CONSPIRATORS], I've just been doing stuff that I haven't really done as of yet, so it's just starting to come out now. I listen to a lot of old-school rock 'n' roll guitar and blues guitar anyway, so as much as a loud, blistering sort of rock guitarist that I am, I have a lot of guitar players that I listen to that are more in the mode of boogie guitar and blues guitar, like Albert King and Freddie King. The three Kings. Those are guys that really had a profound influence on me, so it comes out when it can."

He adds that whenever he records a new album, he tries to avoid repeating anything he's done before. "You have your style," he explains. I know that ever since I first got a Fender Princeton [guitar] and a Distortion Plus [pedal], I've been working on what it is that I like to do. That was when I was 14 or 15. A lot of stuff will tend to sound like you doing what it is that you do. If you catch something that you [play that] melodically is something similar, if your ear catches it, it's something that you're not going to continue pursuing because you've already written it before, or worse, somebody else has. For the most part, the ideas, when they get out there, are pretty original, but if there's an energy or an attitude or an attack that's similar to something else that I've already done, it's just because it's the nature of what it is that you do. I try not to have anything that sounds familiar as a melody and then go, 'Oh, let's do it anyway.' I try to catch myself when I'm doing guitar solos that I'm not using licks I already have. Sometimes you listen back to something you just recorded — especially right now, because I've been listening to those last four [solo] records – and I tend to see certain patterns that I fall into. I never really noticed it until you have to listen to it."

Despite being arguably the most recognizable guitarist in rock, Slash doesn't typically rate highly in guitar magazine readers' polls, but the oversight doesn't bother him. "In this world of guitar — and I've been doing this for a long time — there's this obsession with technical prowess and technique and this, that and the other," he says. "[It's] sort of like X Games — it's excelled to the point where you can watch guitar players literally blow your mind and make your jaw drop over all these things that they can do. It totally reminds me of when I used to race BMX — I look at BMX then and I look at what they're doing now, and I'm like, 'Fuck.' It's great, and I don't knock it, but you're always compared, everybody's compared to all these guitar players, and who's best, who's better, who's the fucking greatest this, and blah blah blah. Some of it's on an emotional level, but most of it is technical and speed. The most important thing if I'm put in that place, because I'm really not trying to compete with anybody, so the most important thing for me is [that] somebody can recognize your voice. For me, any guitar player that's worth anything has something to say, and it's something that you can recognize — with one note or 1600 notes, you know who the person is. You know they have a musical personality that comes out, just like when you're seeing an actor and they convey a certain presence that you know is unique to them. I would be happy if people knew me as a guitar player by how I come across as an individual."

While Slash says he doesn't feel any sort of responsibility to continue flying the flag for guitar-driven hard rock, he admits it's unlikely to see him doing anything else. "If I turned around tomorrow and decided that I wanted to play harp, then I would play harp. And I do like harp, actually," he laughs. "If all my fuckin' passion and energy was to switch from guitar to another instrument tomorrow, I would do that, but I love guitar. It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with how it fits into contemporary music right now. It might be top of the heap one month or one year or two years or whatever it is at some point in the future, or it might stay where it is. I don't know, but it doesn't really affect so much how I do things. But one of the things I do recognize about it that's sort of cool is that for all us people who do have sort of a passion for [rock] — especially young kids coming up that are really into it — is the glamour is gone. If you're aspiring to be a rock star, it's not about jets and cars and money and houses. If you want to do it, you have to do it because you love it. You're not going to get anything back from it at this particular point in time. I sort of love that about it — that it's really down to you against them. If you have that passion and you're willing to risk everything to do it but you have something to say, then go for it."

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