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SoulMonster

1991.09.DD - Rip It Up - Slash

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1991.09.DD - Rip It Up - Slash Empty 1991.09.DD - Rip It Up - Slash

Post by Soulmonster on Wed May 08, 2019 6:15 pm

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Transcript:

Three years ago Guns'n'Roses released Appetite For Destruction, the biggest selling debut LP of all time, forcing them into the spotlight as the world's leading proponents of bad ass rockdom. Then, true to the outlaw spirit of their music, they climbed further up people's noses with the release of Lies, an EP which included an affecting acoustic number called One In A Million which could be seen either as the frightened musings of an innocent at sea or the vile outpourings of a homophobic racist, depending on your point of view.

Suffice to say Guns'n'Roses — led by the temperamental W. Axel Rose — soon corned themselves a reputation every bit as mean as their music. At a time when every other major rock band on the planet was acting grown-up, saying no to everything except marriage and orange juice, Axel, Izzy, Slash, Duff and Steve were just acting up, hell bent on proving that sex'n'drugs and rock'n'roll were alive and kicking in Los Angeles.

All of which made for great copy but scant creative output. Two years after the release of Appetite rumours were afoot that a new Guns'n'Roses album was in the pipeline. But these early sightings proved wishful thinking — soon three years had gone by and still no follow-up. Was the greatest rock'n'roll band in the world one-hit wonder, a tragic victim of the classic self-destructive rock and roll lifestyle, a bunch of drugged out dilettantes whose heads had been turned by too much success too soon? As it turns out, ten million fans can rest easy. The new Guns'n'Roses album is finally getting released this month in the form of two separate albums called Use Your Illusion I and IL And in honour oftthe occasion, Rip It Up were accorded an exclusive interview with Slash, the enigmatic lead guitarist with the wild hair and the giant snake collection. He did not sound at all as I expected, being quietly spoken and unfailingly polite, more than happy to answer ail my questions and in no hurry to get off the phone.

Slash: 'What did you expect me to sound like?"

Me: I dunno, like a surly rock star.

"Oh well no," (laughs) "it's not really my style. That's funny you should say that, everybody has the weirdest impression of me."

That's because we're always reading how you're drunk at awards and drinking Jack Daniels in the backroom of nightclubs and stuff.

"Well, I have my moments, I suppose, a couple of drinks, you know, but I'm pretty quiet."

Where are you now?

"I'm in LA, but I'm in a hotel. I don't go home when we're on the road even if we're in town, I just stay in hotels. I'm a road rat so I can't stand the thought of actually settling down for a couple of weeks at my house and then going back on the road — it fucks with my whole momentum."

Have you been enjoying playing on this new tour again after such a long absence?

"Oh fuck yeah, it's wonderful, espcially for it to be so well received."

Because you haven't done many live shows in the past three years.

"No, well, I mean sparse gigs here and there. But we went through a lot of shit. Actually, New Zealand was the last place that we played and then we flew back to LA and they dropped us off at the airport and I was like, I had no idea how big a band we were and I had nowhere to live and I had money and I didn't know what to do with that because I wasn't used to it. And we went through I guess the kind of tests that life gives you, hands out all these challenges for you to deal with and either you get your ass kicked or you get through it. We went through a lot of shit adjusting to everybody's perception of what "rock stars" are supposed to be about, you know, it was rough. And having to buy a house and settle down and all that crap, and then all the hangers-on that were around and just basically bad traffic, we call it, and drug situations and all that. So we struggled along getting through all of it and now for us to have experienced all this stuff and learned from it and so on and the the band's really really tight so it's taken a while and now to be back on the road and really have it together and go out and do it — we're so against the grain and we're up headlining and selling out and doing it our way, you know, it's nice, it's a good feeling. We played for three hours and forty minutes the other night."

Is that why there's been such a long silence on the album front —you guys had to work through all this bad stuff?

"Yeah, that and we didn't like the way the band was perceived by the press or the way that they used us as the example of rock'n`roll excess of the '90s. There were people always s pointing their fingers at us and making rumours and stories. And we just got sick of all that and said 'fuck everybody' because that wasn't what we got into it for. So we just didn't care and didn't talk to anybody and if we did basically it was like 'fuck you'."

That can't have been a very at creative period for Guns'n'Roses.

"Looking back on it it was, but at the time it didn't feel like it. A lot of really heavy material came out of it but at the same time when we were going through it, it wasn't anywhere near as cool as it is now to look back on and see what we achieved by going through it."

Were you completely unprepared for that amount of fame, fortune and notoriety?

"Completely. I mean, the best way to put it is almost childish naivety. Axel might have been prepared for it — I think he was the most stable throughout because his sights are different than mine. He is more or less a frontman/star character, he enjoys what fame and fortune bring him. Not that he takes advantage of it in the sense that he's like a fucking pop star or anything, but he set his sights at achieving the fame we've gotten to whereas me being the guitar player, having a completely different kind of personality, I was just a rock'n'roll guitar player as far as I was concerned, I just wanted to make it to the next gig."

So Axel was the driving force?

"I didn't have any material possessions really except one duffle bag with clothes, I was completely content with living that way. Whereas Axel has taken whatever money he's made and buys nice things with it. I really still to this day don't buy anything except the things I need like a stereo or booze or guitars or something like that. I don't have, like, expensive furniture, there's not a whole hell of a lot going on materially with me so I didn't really give a shit about the whole stardom thing so it threw me."

Could you still be happy just making a humble living as a musician?

"There's two sides to that coin because if we weren't as successful as we are now the parts I would miss would be headlining these huge places and getting a chance to play in front of a lot of people and really get off on it. So if I was still playing at the fucking Troubedour I'd probably be working at trying to get to the next level. So being here is great, it's just you have to deal with what comes with it and I guess when you look at it realistically it's a small price to pay for being able to go out and play in front of 30,000 people. And so I'm not complaining. It was a weird adjustment when it really did come down, all of a sudden there we were. On top of that people think it's sort of glamorous and they put you on a pedestal and you're supposed to go out and perform like one of those fucking windup monkeys. And we're not like that —  everybody's real volatile and emotional and human. And nobody really gives a shit about that side of it, especially in the industry. So it's weird to be a big band and then at the same time feel so fucking vulnerable, and have people up your ass all the time."

Do you still feel that vulnerable?

"No, now I understand it and I'm smart enough to deal with it and as every day goes by you take in experiences and you just learn from your experiences and having gone through so much so quick, at this point I know what my function is and I know why I'm in this business. And all the fucking crap — which is supposed to be icing on the cake but it isn't I just deal with accordingly. I don't let it affect me."

The press always take pictures of you at glamour events like rock awards.

"Yeah, I was in New York doing the final mastering for the record about a week or so ago and I just decided when I left the studio to walk back and it was really nice, it was nightime and it was just cool walking back to the hotel without people bugging me and shit. I get to the fucking hotel, it's like we're the fucking Beatles. There's a hundred somewhat people I wasn't even expecting, so these things still pop up, it never ceases to amaze me that it just keeps going. All these people outside the hotel and then one of them turned around and the whole mob turned around and the whole place blew up and I had to run into the hotel and through all the people who were grabbing me and stuff and it blew my fucking mind."

But you are in the biggest rock hand in America, if not the world.

"You don't feel that way, it's like I don't feel like Liberace or somebody. In other words, I don't feel like a star per se. I mean, I feel great when I'm on stage and the reaction you get then. When you're not on stage its awkward."

I've read about how you arrive in clubs in LA and the managers leap to attend your every whim.

"It does hove its fringe benefits. For someone like me who does enjoy wine and women and stuff, yeah, it's sort of cool. But then at the same time I always end up with a girlfriend who has no idea who the fuck I am — the novelty of just getting laid all the time wears off really quick."

So you don't go out with 'rock chicks " as it were?

"The only time that ever happens is when you go out just to have a good time and you have a few drinks somewhere and a good looking chick comes up. Basically, if they're gonna do that then you take advantage of it and it's more like a selfish kind of thing to get involved with, it's like 'okay, fine, if you're going to put yourself in that position I'm going to ...' what's the expression, you know ... so when it comes down to it, I'd rather stick with my one woman that I love and she doesn't give a shit about the whole rock star trip so it's more down to earth, which is more what I'm into."

Has it been hard to stick to your values when people are throwing themselves and everything else at you?

"That's why Guns'n'Roses as a whole is so different — in this day and age when the industry is so fucking plastic—our values are so fucking solid that it's a total contrast to what people expect us to be like. We have an attitude because people are always trying to make you do something that you don't wanna do because it works well for record sales and we're like 'fuck, we don't care' and so it starts controversy. And the funny thing about it is, that's part of the reason we're successful, I think, because there's a spirit that we're all about which I think a lot of bands have forgotten about in the last ten years."

So the sex'n'drugs themes on Appetite which contributed so much to your naughty image were really just metaphors to express your anti-authoritarian attitude?

"Well no, there's twelve songs on the record, twelve separate experiences, all the songs are accurate and they're real but that's only twelve songs. In other words, just because you write twelve songs about debauchery because of the shit you've gone through doesn't mean your entire life is set up that way. And I don't think all the songs were necessarily about sex and drugs. Really, they're sa lot more sensitive than that and they deal on a way more emotional level than that. And on the new record it's about the same things and more and a lot of it's violent and a lot of it's really romantic and a lot of it's about drugs — we sing about how we live. You don't necessarily write songs about sitting around watching TV. You write about the things that really stick out in your life."

Is the new album going to be a shock for the fans?

"I don't know if it's going to be so much of a shock as I think it's going to confuse a lot of people because there's so many songs. I think Appetite centred more on one particular kind of a sound whereas this record has one song that might sound like Appetite, and then there's 25 other songs that are all completely different. There's acoustic, there's lots of piano, I must have played 25 guitars on it — banjo, bass all kinds of shit, there's one I guess, you'd call it New Age music with synthesisers on it that Axel did which is pretty intense. There's almost some stuff which is reminiscent of Queensryche where the music is going on-and there's people talking so it's like a movie track. Then we've got stuff which is really simple, straight ahead and harder than anything that was on Appetite."

Is 'Use Your Illusion' a more mature record?

"Yeah, definitely."

Won't that word alarm some of your followers?

"It all depends on how you wanna look at it. You can stick with being a certain way and try to push an image like Motley Crue, or you can keep evolving. The fans that listen to you can either accept that or get pissed off because you're not doing Welcome To The Jungle' again. Obviously you want to go and do something else, it's like we've done that record already."

What does 'Use Your illusion' mean?

"It's the title of the painting on the cover but 'Use Your Illusion' means that the band is so high profile in a sort of vanity sense, the way people perceive us and what we're doing, what we're talking about or what our whole trip is about, 'Use Your Illusion' is like 'go ahead'."

Aren't you putting out a punk rock tribute EP too?

"Not for a while no reason saturating the market with Guns material at one time. We're touring for next year - we've already been out three months — we have another year and a half. When the record's been out and old news they'll put out the punk EP."

Has it been hard to cope with the weight of expectation for the new album?

"Yeah, because you don't feel like it should be that big a fucking deal. All things considered, its just a rock'n'roll band and its just a fucking record, and it means a lot to you personally because you made it but at the same time it's hard to accept the fact that it means a lot to ten million people. We tried to just completely ignore what was going on around us and just got involved with making the record regardless of whether anybody likes it or not."

Do you have a bodyguard?

"I don't hang out in LA really, I'll go to the Rainbow or whatever but I'm not what you call an LA character. I don't like being noticed - I appreciate it but at the same me I like to be left alone. I get very fucking nervous and uptight when there's people staring at me so I don't really like being out. So I spend all my fucking time sitting in the hotel room and then at night I'll go out and accept the fact that I'm in a club and try and have my privacy - yeah, I'll have a security guard with me because I have to, much as I hate to admit it. I've gotten myself in some really awkward situations and I really do like to be left alone. I don't mind signing autographs but the majority of people who come up to you just demand it like you're a puppet or something. Its like you go to a record store and you've got to sign 600 records just to buy a fuckin' Stones record and it takes three hours. That's kind of weird. It sounds like I'm complaining but like I said earlier, it's a small price to pay for doing what it is that I want to do."

So you're actually shy?

"Well yeah, I'm sort of introverted. On a social level I pretty much just like to be around close friends and have everything pretty much down to earth. When the band was younger and we weren't like big shit used to go out and get fucking drunk out of my mind and break stuff but that only lasts for so long and then after a while you get sick of all the attention."

Will Guns'n'Roses ever do a 'just say no' song like Alice Cooper's?

"You mean 'Hey Stupid'? I played on it. Well, our songs aren't like that. That's a blatant message. Ours are like 'look at it, here's the reality of it, do what you fucking want, make up your own mind'. I hate message bands."

Now did you feel about the Riverport Amphitheatre riot?

"That just made us aware of how heavy or how powerful it can get, how totally out of hand five guys on a stage can be with how ever many thousands of people attend the concert. So it sort of opened our eyes to something we really weren't aware of."

Do you still have lots of snakes?

"Yeah, 25. They're all in my house. have a snake room and I have like a wall tank, it used to be a closet which I converted into a case and then there's aquariums everywhere. And then I've got ten cats and a big lizard that walks around the house and two dogs. I live in a little house, it's really overcrowded."

Why did Steven Adler have to go?

"That's a sensitive subject. It's because as everybody grew up a little bit and tried to get out of the heroin thing and that whole trip he just never went along, he never grew up with the band. When I gave up a really serious habit he just kept going, the whole sex, drugs and rock'n'roll concept was pretty much all he could fathom and we couldn't work he wasted a lot of money in the studio with us. We've all gone through our trips and we've all had our fucking problems but we've dealt with it, if not for our personal lives for the band itself. We always took care of him and it stopped the band working for a fucking year. When I came back after cleaning out— and I had a really fucking bad habit with all kinds of shit and lzzzy came back and we were ready to go, and having to go through this whole thing with Steve going to the hospital, we were wasting tons of money. The guy is sitting on the stool in the studio with his nose touching the fucking floor, with the whole band just staring at him. We'd wake him up and he'd go 'I'm lust tired'. Finally it came to the point where I called him up and said 'Steve, it's over'."

Do you look back to the days when you were a struggling musician and think how simple and romantic things were then?

"Yeah, sometimes I remember when this or that happened and we were lust jamming on the streets and
since we basically still live in LA it's like every time you cruise around the streets you get a hundred memories of Hollywood and things that went on here or across the street from where you're staying. But it's in passing. But it's sort of romantic, yeah. I have a soft spot in my heart for everything that we've gone through."

DONNA YUZWALK


Last edited by Soulmonster on Thu May 09, 2019 6:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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1991.09.DD - Rip It Up - Slash Empty Re: 1991.09.DD - Rip It Up - Slash

Post by Soulmonster on Thu May 09, 2019 6:18 pm

Funny that a music magazine in September 1991 didn't know how to spell Axl.
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