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1988.07.30 - Kerrang! - Ramblin' Rose (Slash)

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1988.07.30 - Kerrang! - Ramblin' Rose (Slash) Empty 1988.07.30 - Kerrang! - Ramblin' Rose (Slash)

Post by Soulmonster on Mon Nov 12, 2018 9:42 pm

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GUNS N' ROSES have just received their first big chunk of royalty dosh - $160,000 for the sales of their highly successful LP 'Appetite For Destruction'. Guitarist SLASH (pictured right) will personally receive around $16-17,000 of the total, but he ain't particularly bothered. He's just happy to have a roof over his head and a drink in his hands As the five GN'R guys prepare to play Donington, money-grubbing MICK WALL (last Kerrart! cheque - £4.83) wonders: are they about to become the most dangerously rich band in the world?

`Take me down To the paradise city
Where the grass is green
And the girls are pretty
Lord, won't you please
Take me home . . '
- 'Paradise City'

IF LOS ANGELES ain't the epitome of Paradise City, then tell me - where is?

The richest city in the wealthiest state of the most omnipotent nation on earth, it even has the best f* *kin' climate . . . LA is Tinsel Town run amok. Sodom and Gomorrah on a skateboard. Where the billboards dwarf the buildings (this month mainly advertising smut like `Rambo III' or, more prominent still, the Godawful `Crocodile Dundee II') and the girls' asses can block out every thought in your head . . .

LA is also home for Slash - "Or about as close to having a home as I'm going to get" - lead guitarist and resident Boss Man of Guns N' Roses, the band he first pieced together in 1985, once described in these very pages as The most dangerous band in the world?, and who have since gone on to sell more than two million copies (and still rising) of their debut album, `Appetite For Destruction', released last year.

Slash is in town with nothing to do because Guns N' Roses have had to pull out of the Special Guest spot on the Iron Maiden bill, just as the tour began its Californian leg, after singer W Axl Rose suddenly lost his voice and was ordered off the road for at least three weeks by his doctors.

"Man, it is a f* *kin' drag having to pull out of the Iron Maiden tour," says Slash, shaking his head. "But there's nothing we can do. We just have to sit tight for three weeks and wait for Axl's voice to heal.

"The trouble is, when I'm not playing, I'm not really doing anything, I'm kind of at a permanent loss . . . Wandering around LA, nothing to do except get wasted . . . Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't."

THE POPULARLY received image of the Guns N' Roses guitarist - the mane of long, tangled dark curls falling down his face and back, and the sleek, skinny frame; the slightly swaying presence in the cut-down Led Zeppelin T-shirt, tight-arsed black jeans and scuffed cowboy boots, pulling hard on a bottle of Jack and peeling out one dirty riff after another like he could do it blindfolded - is close enough to the truth, all right.

But there are still some things about Slash that the videos, the records and the magazine pin-ups miss out. Stuff that doesn't register on a colour transparency or in the shiny surface of a CD.

His speaking voice, for example: it's quiet, the words rolling softly, evenly out of his mouth; not quite the full enigmatic Jim Morrison whisper, nor anywhere near as monosyllabic or mumbling, thank God, but without ever finding a reason to raise itself too far above the comforting background chink and rattle of glasses being drained in a bar.

When Slash talks, which he likes to do a lot, he keeps his conversation lucid but cool, warm without fumbling, setting his cards down carefully on the table.

And no, he doesn't walk around all the time with an open bottle of Jack hanging by the neck from his fist. Only most of the time. He's working on it, though...

"The afternoon we found out we would have to quit the Maiden tour I went around grabbing every bottle of Jack I could find stashed around our dressing room and took it all with me back to the hotel.

"That was five days ago and I've been living off it ever since. But now I'm down to my last bottle-and-a-half. After that, I guess I'll be back to buying my own," Slash tells me with an expression of comic dismay, meaning it, not meaning it.

"It'll be the first time I've had to go out to a liquor store for my own booze in ages . . . Maybe I won't remember how to do it," he titters.

A kid but not a kidder, he has eyes that never go out. Beneath the fell-out-of-bed hair and the Jack Daniel's smile, something less relaxed is going on.

At 22, Slash already has the demeanor of an old hand at this game he's in. He knows enough about the rules already, it seems, to blandly dismiss the astonishing success his band have enjoyed over the last 12 months with a wave of his hand...

"Oh man, what do I want to know about all that for? Sure, I like it that we're going places, doing being allowed to play and make the kind of records we want to. Beyond that, all you can talk about is money, and that's where I get lost," he says, rolling his eyes.

"You know, we got our first big royalty cheque the other day? It wasn't huge, but it's the most money I've ever seen . . . How much? I interrupt.

"...I don't know, $160,000, something like that. I think I got about $16-17,000, I don't know. But what am I supposed to do with that money? I ask myself that sincerely, and I don't know.

"I mean, look at me - T-shirt, jeans, boots, that's me, that's all there is, that's all there's gonna be . . . I don't even like the idea of going into a f**kin' dressing room and changing into different clothes just to go out on a stage and play! Gimme a roof over my head and something to drink and I've got everything I need. What difference is this money going to make?"

'I've seen everything imaginable
Pass before these eyes
I've had everything that's tangible
Honey, you'd be surprised...'
- 'Rocket Queen'

THE AFTERNOON Slash and I got together to tape this interview, it was a typical Saturday pm in downtown LA: the sun boiling like an egg in the blue saucepan sky, and an endless stream of flat-topped cars humping their aching gears up and down Sunset Boulevard, the sidewalks empty save for me and Slash and the other bums.

The previous night, he'd dragged me against my will to a party Poison were throwing over at a dive called the London Club.

"Come on; man, let's go and start a fight!" he laughed at me. "I'll take care of you." The much-publicised animosity that exists between Guns N' Roses and the members of Poison goes back a long way. The story goes that in the days before he had conceived Guns N' Roses, Slash actually passed an audition to join Poison in the spot guitarist CC DeVille now occupies, but turned the gig down eventually because it would have required him to dye his hair blond and daub his face with the Barbie Doll make-up.

"F**k that," he hissed, when reminded. "I didn't want to look like a clown."

In the early days before either band had secured a recording contract, Poison would occasionally open the show for Guns N' Roses on small club dates.

"Some nights they'd come on first, some nights we would," Slash recalled. "It really didn't matter which one of us came on first, neither of us had a really big following yet. A lot of people would just come down to the club to see what was going on and then split.

"Anyway, every time those assholes played first, Bret Michaels would end their set by announcing that Poison were having a big party somewhere, and everybody was invited, but those who wanted to go would have to come now because the band bus was leaving in 15 minutes!

"And man, the people who frequent the sort of dives we were playing in those days didn't need to be asked twice to go to some party somewhere, and within minutes the f**kin' club would be empty!

"We'd come on and play to half a dozen no-hopers who couldn't get it up in time to leave when everybody else did . . . I tell ya, they were always into pulling sneaky, shitty little stunts like that. Full of dirty tricks. And that kind of attitude sucks, man . . . I think it's because they're insecure about their talent.

"And then some time after that, when we both started getting some attention, I couldn't believe it when that CC DeVille started wearing a top hat onstage!

"Listen, I'm not saying I was the first rock and roller ever to wear a top hat onstage. But look, man, CC's the kind of guy who probably didn't even know what a top hat looked like until he saw me wearing one...

"You know, I caught up with him one night in the Rainbow, and I just told him quietly, 'If I ever see you wearing a top hat onstage again, I'm gonna shoot you!' I tell ya, he freaked, man!" he bawled with laughter.

"And I mean, I don't own a gun ... wouldn't know how to use one if I did. And I'm really not a violent guy at all. I just felt something had to be said to that f**ker ... Sometimes, you gotta draw the line for people."

So anyway, we went, but apart from a few chaste exchanges between Slash and Bret Michaels, nothing much happened. No fights, no real tittle-tattle. Slash's bottle of Jack Daniel's looked like it was doing all right, though, getting the attention of everybody's lips.

Walking up Sunset Boulevard towards my hotel the following afternoon, we're doing OK for apprentice vampires: red eyes hidden behind stark mirror-shades, only mild shakes, ready for the first drink and cigarette of the day. Two shadows looking for the right doorway to duck into...

We make the poolside bar of Le. Mondrian, where I am temporarily holed up, and get a couple of quick beers down before I take out the machine.

Out in the sun, belly-flopped or towels beside the pool, are a gaggle of teenage girls, all of whom had spotted the tall, rangey guitarist the moment he strolled into the shade of the bar and dropped his body into the nearest empty chair.

Two or three of them come over and press their baby faces up against the glass wall separating the bar from the pool.

Slash appears not to notice. He belches, lights another cigarette, fills our glasses, then signals for me to turn on the machine…

TO BEGIN with, what's the position as it stands right now with Axis voice? "OK, I'm no doctor, but what it is, he's got nodes on his vocal cords, like little bumps building up on them that touch when he tries to sing, so that his voice was starting to sound really painful, especially when he tried for the top register of his vocal range.

"I guess it's something that had been building up for some time. In the end he just completely lost his voice. Right now we're waiting to see if Axl's going to be OK to make the tour of Japan we have lined up, and I really wanna go. We've never been there before and we're, apparently, like really huge over there..."

What's the worst that can happen, though? Is there a possibility that you may not be able to play live for longer than just a few weeks?

"The bottom line is, if Axl has to have surgery, we'll have to wait a week for the swelling to go down, and then give it another week or so to heal. So it's feasible that with something like three weeks to go before we start the Japanese tour Axl could make it.

"But more than anything else I don't want anything to jeopardise us going out on the Aerosmith tour, which we're due to start in a couple of months. If rushing Axl into singing by going to Japan is going to f**k up his voice and make us blow those dates out, I'd rather forget all about going to Japan..."

You and Aerosmith on the same bill is a tantalising prospect.

"Man, it's gonna be the best! We're going out together for three months and, aside from the Monsters Of Rock tour that's currently going on, I think this will be the Summer show to see ... If I was a kid looking to go to a hot rock and roll concert this Summer, I know I'd be there."

Guns N' Roses have turned into a monster-sized band in their own right over the last 12 months. You're a famous person these days. A rock star, Slash. What about it?

"I don't feel any different, though. I get a lot more attention thrown in my direction, but it E .3 doesn't make me feel any „ different about myself.

"I mean, I get the 'phone calls - the album just sold 35,000 copies in one day, another day it sells 90,000 copies in one day, and the single's a breaker on such and such a radio station, and it's got a bullet in the charts, and so on and so forth - and if I sit and think about it, it just freaks my ass off, man!" he laughs.

"So yes, I guess we're turning into what you would call a `big' band. What's going to really solidify that vibe for me though, is to go in and do the next record and see where that one goes...

"Right now, there are Guns N' Roses records flying out of boxes all over America. But I'll start to think that's cool if the next album makes the same kind of impact."

Have you had a chance to write much new material yet?

"Oh, we've got lots of things written . . . different parts to different things already laid down on the road. We get a surprising amount done while we're actually touring.

"I'm relied on to come up with a lot of the guitar parts, the main chord changes and the so-called bitchin' riffs and shit, and then Izzy comes in with some real cool rock and roll guitar licks, and Axl gets pissed off at something and starts to write words ... Just making it up as we go along.

"It's really friendly, really easy the way we write together. We never sit around in a room some place waiting for something to happen. We don't have to. Axl will just grab me at a gig and take me into the showers and say, 'Listen to this!' And he'll stand there singing me a couple of verses to something he just made up that will completely blow me away."

So what's the new stuff like?

"It looks like it's going to be really good, but it looks like it's also going to be even more angry and bitter and twisted than the stuff on the first album, which everybody nearly had a heart attack over at the record company when they found out it had the word `f* *k' on it about 25 times!"

Do you have any titles worked out yet?

"Nothing really hectic. There's a song called 'Perfect Crime', then there's a song called 'You Could Be Mine'. That's really about it for actual titles. I don't concentrate that much on the lyrics anyway, until we come to lay the slit down on the tape."

And when will that be?

"Late October, I think is the plan right now. I can't wait.

"THE PLAN is to have the album out late Spring, early Summer next year, and then we'll maybe hook up with one of the big outdoor Summer tours that will be happening around America at that time-maybe the Monsters Of Rock thing, I don't know.

"Then after that we'll go out on our first headline world tour and we'll come home never wanting to open for anybody ever again!" he laughs.

What do you think it will be like headlining your own American tour? Somehow I just can't see you vying with lasers and pyro.

"Neither can I. We won't have any of that shit. All it means is that we'll all have acres of space to run around and go nuts in! If anything, we're gonna play down the whole idea of putting on some kind of dumb show with a Million stage props, and go out and just f**kin' kick some ass!

"Too many bands hide behind all that stagey shit, anyway. The bigger the band, the bigger the explosions at the beginning and end of their set. Well not us . . . None of that shit for us. We ain't faking it, we play take it or leave it rock and roll and if the kids want some of that they'll come  along. Try and f**kin' stop them..."

Your image makes a lot of people very nervous when they are in your presence ...


Are you aware of the effect you might have on certain people when you walk in a room?

"Yeah, a lot of people think if I walk in a place, or Axl walks in place, we're gonna smash the joint up. But you've been out with me, you know I'm not that bad a guy. I do have a tendency to get drunk and boisterous sometimes.

"The only time, though, I ever really get out of hand is when I'm forced to deal with too many assholes at once. And there are so many assholes out there in he world waiting around to be shocked - it's like being eaten by a wolf, like the more scared you are, the more chance there is he'll smell your fear and attack.

"And so yes, we f* *k with people sometimes. I'm not one of those guys who sits at home, drinking tea and watching TV, all calmly, and then goes out and puts that leather jacket on just to go on stag..."

When you were growing up as a teenager, which guitarists influenced your attitude to rock and roll the most?

"Off the top of my head . . . Pete Townshend of the Who I dug a lot, he was great when he was in a bad mood. I liked Pete Townshend until he got sober, though he's still got the most nihilistic attitude in some ways.

"Keith Richards was always the coolest, he was great. His attitude in the Stones is what helped form the concept for a band like Guns N' Roses. I was always attracted to the more decadent side of rock, the people that really threw their souls down on the table.

"But the one guy that I've listened to consistently through all the years I've been listening to and playing rock and roll, is Jimmy Page. Can't get on a stage and play a note these days, but he's still the greatest! I didn't see that show they did at the Atlantic Records anniversary party, but I heard it was horrible ...

"I heard that Jason (Bonham) was great, though . . . If I ever start another band I'm gonna try and get him . . . He's got to be younger than me, even..."

You're both about the same age, and you'd probably make a hell of a team. Can you foresee a time already, though, when you won't be playing in Guns N' Roses?

"Not really. I don't look at things in those terms, much. I'm not the kind of guy that has a secret Plan B ready to swing into operation if anything should ever go wrong with this band. We love each other too much as friends for me to worry my ass off about whether we might split up one day.

"WHAT WORRIES me more is the fear of something happening to one of us, some awful accident or something, because I couldn't continue with this band minus one of these guys. No way.

"None of us are what you might call superior musicians, but it's the basic chemistry that we have that only exists when the five of us climb up on a stage together and let rip, that makes this band tick. You surround Axl and me with three top-notch, note-perfect musicians all blowing their chops off behind us and it'll sound like a bunch of shit! Whatever it is we've got, it only happens best when it's the five of us, and that's the way it'll always be."

(Just then, two of the teenage cuties who've been making eyes at Slash all the while we've been talking, pluck up the courage to enter the bar where we are seated and approach him for an autograph. Slash gets up, signs the bits of paper, stands there and smiles for their cameras, then sends them on their way with a big bear hug.

"We think you're just the greatest!" one of them cries, blowing him a kiss as they make their way back to the pool. "Hey baby, I like you too," he drawls back at her.)

You like all that?

"Oh, yeah! It's hard for me to go out and pick up chicks though, because I hate the fact that I'm getting laid because I'm in some band. Which is why every girlfriend I've ever picked has always been someone that didn't know who the f**k I am ...

"On the road of course, I have a tendency to bend the rules a little bit. There have been times when I've got back to the hotel, drunk out of my mind, and I've picked up the first chick I can lay my hands on.

"By this time it's usually six in the morning and the only girls left hanging around all look like something out of 'The Evil Dead', so you just know you're gonna hate yourself in the morning. But the trick is to just take 'em up to your room and keep drinking until they start to look good . . . "

On a serious note, do you ever worry about . .

"Getting AIDS? I knew that would be the next question. Yeah, that's a f**ked thing all right ... As I grew up, it's like my whole philosophy of life leant one particular way, and now I've got this little voice inside my head all the time, saying, 'Slash, you better watch out, you're playing roulette here with your life'.

"Going out and getting laid all the time is a dangerous f* *kin' game these days. But, you know, I really can't get into the idea of wearing a rubber again. The last time I used one it broke away!

"So what can I do? The whole situation is f**ked up. It's like, if the drinking doesn't get me, AIDS will. I shouldn't say this, but I have this underlying fear all the time. Anything goes wrong with me, anything at all, and I think, 'Shit, this is it!' But I guess if you talk to any young guy of my age these days he'll probably tell you the same thing. Welcome to the '80s, you know . . .

"Actually, the scariest thing of all about AIDS for me - and this is something no-one ever talks about in magazines - is that as soon as, say, Dave Roth, or Gene Simmons, or me, or Bobby Dall, or whoever, the minute one of us goes down with it, it's gonna be like a line of toy soldiers all being knocked over one by one.

"It hasn't happened to a rock star yet, but it will eventually, and then we'll all be in the shit, because we all play the same towns, go to the same places, and probably f* *k a lot of the same chicks.

"If you think about it, it's got to be like that. And when it happens it's going to take out a whole legion of rock and roll stars . . . It'll be recorded in the history books - 1989 or 1990, the year all the rock stars died!" he laughs.

Well if you manage to live long enough, how do you think you'll feel appearing on the bill at Donington in England this year?

"Oh, man, that should be the coolest! Originally, the idea was for us to come back to Britain and tour with Metallica in September or October. But it seems kind of redundant to keep on touring off the back of this one album. So when the chance to play at Donington came up we just grabbed at it! 'M TOLD they're expecting a really big crowd this year, too, so that should be awesome. I tell ya, this is such an important gig for us. I've always loved playing in Britain, f**kin' loved it!

"Also, have you heard how we're doing it? We're scheduled to play a gig with Aerosmith, then jump on Concorde and fly straight to the show at Donington. Then after we've finished playing, we're straight back on a 'plane and back out on the road in the States again with Aerosmith! F**kin' bang, bang, bang!"

You're taking Concorde? This is what having a double-platinum album does for you, is it?

"Something like that. Actually, it's all down to Alan, our manager. He's a really good manager, but the cool thing about him is he has a tendency every so often to break down and get indulgent . . . We'll get drunk and want to go on to somewhere else, and he'll turn around and say, `F**k it, let's take a limo!'.

"And we dig that kind of attitude, we need that. Just throw all the money into it, buy the tickets, and just go. We don't need the money. We just wanna make sure we play our part in making Donington this year a real motherf* *ker of a gig.

"There's the pinnacle of what this is all about for me right there..."
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