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1992.01.10 - Dayton Daily News - Interview with Slash

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1992.01.10 - Dayton Daily News - Interview with Slash Empty 1992.01.10 - Dayton Daily News - Interview with Slash

Post by Blackstar on Sun Jan 20, 2019 7:29 am

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Slash says what he thinks and if you don’t like it, you can #@*!?

by Dave Larsen
STAFF


Guns N’ Roses thrives on turmoil.

The incendiary rock band triumphed over the trials of the past year with two simultaneously released, critically acclaimed albums, Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II. But in its wake was the carnage of controversy — the remnants of a riot in St. Louis, the fallout from its four-letter lyrics and the departure of guitarist Izzy Stradlin.

Stradlin, who wrote a third of the material on the Illusion albums, quit the band in November and has been replaced for the duration of GNR’s two-year “Get in the Ring” tour by Gilby Clarke, the former guitarist for Kill for Thrills. GNR had previously replaced original drummer Steven Adler with the Cult’s Matt Sorum because of Adler’s inability to deal with a persistent drug problem.

“This band has been through so many ups and downs over the years, I always used to go, ‘Well, what the... did we do to deserve all this bull...,” says Slash, Guns N’ Roses’ sheepdog-locked lead guitarist. “And then when I think about it, getting Gilby in the band when we needed him, and getting Matt in the band when we needed him, and keeping the tours together and getting that record done would have to be the most stressful situations that the band’s ever gone through, and somebody up there is looking down and giving us a break. And I think of all the breaks in the world that we could have, those are the most important.”

If singer Axl Rose is Guns N’ Roses’ angry heart, then Slash, bom Saul Hudson, is its centering soul. Contrary to the popular perception of the 26-year-old guitarist as a “Dionysian waste case,” as Rolling Stone put it, Slash comes across as sober and gracious over the phone from Memphis, Tenn., bringing his voice up at the end of statements as if he’s posing a question or seeking agreement, and stopping occasionally to ask if he’s making himself clear. Apart from using the F-word as an adjective, he’s surprisingly well-spoken.

But true to GNR’s nature, when it comes to subjects such as Stradlin’s departure, he is completely outspoken.

“I’m real... hurt, confused and disappointed with Izzy,” Slash says. “He stopped wanting to do it, you know, and he didn’t want to go through the ups and downs of what any rock band goes through, which is sort of like your own life, but we live our life out in public.

But he just didn’t want to make any effort.”

Despite Stradlin's numerous contributions on the new albums, songs such as Double Talkin' Jive and Pretty Tied Up, Slash says “his input on his own material was almost nil.” The band worked up Stradlin’s songs from the rhythm guitarist’s demo tapes, and Stradlin refused to rehearse, record overdubs, appear in the band’s videos and was virtually lifeless on stage, Slash adds.

“So then Axl and I decided that he wasn’t an equal partner, per se, unless he decided to change his ways about a few things — at least do like a couple videos a year, and work harder on the road. And Izzy said, ΌΚ, I resign.’ ”

The lead guitarist says he was happy at the time of Stradlin’s decision because his wavering had delayed the start of the second leg of GNR’s tour. “But I can’t understand why he would drop out of something as cool as what we’ve been doing,” he says. “That’s not an ego thing — that’s not like ‘We’re the biggest band in the world and why would you want to quit that?’ I was like, ‘Why would you want to quit the relationship that we have that got us to where we are? Why would you just want to flake out on it?’ ”

Slash, Rose and bassist Duff McKagan — the three remaining original members — are now at the creative forefront of the band, and despite their seemingly disparate personalities, their working relationship is not a stormy one.

“It’s only been stormy in the public’s eyes because of the media,” Slash says. “Axl and I haven’t had a fight in about a year and a half, and the couple fights that we did have were the kind of fights that any family could have over such a volatile situation as the one we’re in.”

The band’s biggest blowout came on stage in Los Angeles in 1989 when the Gunners were opening for the Rolling Stones and Rose declared that drugs were destroying the band. His comments were, for the most part, directed at Slash, who at the time was addicted to heroin and cocaine.

Everyone has their own reasons for addiction, Slash says. “Mine was just the fact that we weren’t working. I’m a complete workaholic. So I had nothing to do, I had money, and I didn’t want to be home, I didn’t want a house, I didn't want any of that.... so I just... got wasted.

“And I took it to the hilt. Like, I shouldn’t be here right now."

Rose, he says, “got on my case because I was... killing myself.”

With the realization that the singer’s heart was still in the band, along with a “really gnarly, violent experience in Phoenix,” Slash stopped his self-abuse. “I’ve been clean ever since. I’m not any angel or anything, but I’m not doing dope anymore and shooting up and that whole bit.”

Coping with “kicking” is reflected in several songs on the Illusion albums, such as Coma, written by Slash and Rose, and Bad Obsession, written by Stradlin, who’s “suffering the worst from being clean,” Slash says.

The two long-awaited albums debuted at No. 1 and No. 2 in Billboard the week of their September release — a first for any group or performer — and four months later are still firmly entrenched in the Top 10.

Because of delayed release dates,

Guns N’ Roses started the “Get in the Ring” tour months before the albums were available. They played a string of 2 1/2-hour shows that featured mostly unknown material and received rave reviews.

“I’m really proud of us for going out and doing the torn· before, without the albums out, because it made us prove ourselves as a rock band,” Slash says. “Just on entertainment and live material, without them being actually familiar with all the songs, and still having it go over anyway.

“We could have been scared... to go out there and play it,” he explains. “It would have showed, you know? We did it with a certain amount of..., regardless of all the... heavy... that went on that first leg.”

Slash’s expletive-filled commentary — marked by the ellipses — brings up the criticism the band has encountered for the profanity contained on what otherwise are two brilliant albums.

“You know, I really can’t knock the fact that the band is totally honest and true to life,” he says in defense of the lyrics. “I can’t go, 'Oh, we were wrong for saying that,’ because in everyday life that’s the way we are. That’s how I talk, that’s how Axl talks, and so on, and that’s how we feel, so that’s what we record.

“So I’m fine with it, regardless of what anybody says."

He’s also unconcerned with whether the language prohibits the songs from being played on the radio. After all, the band’s first album, Appetite for Destruction, hit No. 1 before it received any airplay, and went on to sell more than 14 million copies.

“They don’t get a chance to hear it on the radio — sorry, that’s not necessarily our fault, ” Slash says. “But they still dig the records and come to the shows, and that’s really the most important thing in my mind.”

The Illusion albums — a major creative burst containing more than 2 1/2 hours of music — “clean the slate, so to speak,” he says, explaining that many of the songs were written when the band was still playing the LA club scene. “We just wanted to do all of it so the next record we do is going to be entirely all new material.”

The past year was an exceptionally eventful one for Guns N’ Roses, and for Slash, who appeared as a guest guitarist on albums by Michael Jackson (whom he describes as “a powerhouse to work with”) and Bob Dylan (whom he calls something much less complimentary), among others. The coming year brings a solo track on the upcoming Les Paul tribute album, the possibility of the Gunners co-headlining a tour with Metallica (“But that hasn’t been etched in stone yet,” he says) and an album of punk covers and tracks omitted from Illusion. Slash simply laughs when asked if there’s any time frame for the album.

But will 1992 bring more of the turmoil that has trailed the band in the past?

“I don’t know,” Slash says. “We don’t set out to do anything in particular except to play.”
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