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1991.09.12 - The Guardian - The heavy petals (Slash)

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1991.09.12 - The Guardian - The heavy petals (Slash) Empty 1991.09.12 - The Guardian - The heavy petals (Slash)

Post by Blackstar on Tue Jan 15, 2019 1:11 am

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Drug and alcohol stories are legion. But have Guns Ν' Roses turned over a new leaf? Adam Sweeting reports

The heavy petals

A COUPLE of rock ’η’ roll babes in hot pants and spillover cleavage stalk the lobby of the Conrad Hotel hopefully, but otherwise there’s little sign that we are only a lift-ride away from the world's greatest rock phenomenon. Given Guns N’ Roses’ reputation, you’d expect the building to be a smoking ruin littered with corpses.

After waiting only 45 minutes, I meet Slash, Guns’ lead guitarist and the man who habitually flummoxes the press by speaking rationally to them. Under his bomb-burst of Heavy Metal hair, Slash is wearing a gold ear-stud and enough stubble to qualify as a moustache. He’s dressed in black and looks perilously thin, but he is firm of handshake and clear of eye as he nurses shots of his favourite tipple, Jack Daniel’s with coke. Coca-Cola, that is.

Slash, born Saul Hudson in Stoke-on-Trent but transplanted to Los Angeles as a child, explains that the band have grown allergic to what they see as fantasy and misrepresentation in the press. Singer Axl Rose berated the media from the stage of Wembley Stadium, and one of the band's new songs, from the Use Your Illusion Parts I and II albums, singles out the group’s least-favourite journalists by name.

Then there’s an unauthorised biography by erstwhile Doors hagiographer Danny Sugerman, called Appetite For Destruction: The Days Of Guns N’Roses. “I’m gonna kill that guy,’’ fumes Slash.

What seems a little depressing is that having established themselves as the antithesis of bland, blow-dried corporate product with 1987’s Appetite For Destruction, Guns now have all the trappings of megastar self-delusion and loss of proportion. Fact and fiction have become interchangeable.

Lurid drug and alcohol stories are legion. Axl, who has taken lithium to combat a manic-depressive disorder, has been in fights with car-park attendants and once broke a bottle over a neighbour in Los Angeles. Guitarist Izzy Stradlin took a well-publicised leak in the kitchen sink of an airliner. Two fans were crushed to death during their set at Castle Donington in 1988. From this tour, the band face a bill of $200,000 following a riot at a concert in St Louis in July. And so on...

But Slash claims they try to keep their feet on the ground, and stay in close touch with their fans. "I still feel like really really close to the crowd. I feel that’s the only reason why we’re here.”

Perhaps the band are trying to turn over a new leaf. Apparently they even wrote to Brent Council before the Wembley show, promising not to swear or jump offstage. Well, they didn’t jump offstage.

“We’re older and we’re more experienced,” says the guitarist, in his soft and slow drawl. “This is sort of a G Ν’ R cliché now — we’re not saints, and things still happen, but we try and keep them confined to the band, cos everything goes public now. People expect me to be drunk or people expect me to throw something out the window or expect Axl to break something and walk off the stage. That’s not what we’re all about. After a while, you keep everything to yourself. If you do smash the TV set, just quietly get rid of it y'know?” Slash chuckles.

The mystery is how Guns N’ Roses got this big. It’s been three years since they released an album, and even that was just an extended EP of old recordings and some acoustic stuff. Yet even before the new records are released (they contain enough material for four albums, though contractually they only count as one), here they are in football stadiums.

“Even before we were working on the new record, even though we hadn’t done anything, we seemed to be getting bigger and bigger,” says Slash. “I couldn’t understand why. A lot of it had to do with press. Every time we walked out the door, something would happen. Now that we’re on the road, at least you feel it’s justified because you’re out playing. The fact that there’s so many people that are into the band just makes you happy.”

As Slash tells it, he tries to shut out all the lurid stuff and focus on the music, and, specifically, his own guitar-playing. Frustrated at G N' R’s long periods of inactivity, he went out and played a bunch of sessions, for his old school-pal Lenny Kravitz, for Iggy Pop, for Michael Jackson, even for Bob Dylan. The latter was not a joyous experience.

“I did Dylan, and he flicked me over," he seethes. “I hate that guy. That was the most miserable session, too. I did a really good job on it, and he kept my playing on there even when the advance copies went out to the record company. Then at the last moment he took it off because he said it sounded too much like Guns Ν’ Roses. Why did he call me, y’know?”

Slash says: “I’m trying to get to the point where I can get known as a good guitar player as opposed to the drunken drug guy. I met Brian May [Queen’s guitarist] after Wembley and he gave me a lot of compliments. He was really sweet.”

Here’s hoping the albums are more convincing than the Wembley show.
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