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1995.04.DD - Q Magazine - Who the hell does Slash think he is?

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1995.04.DD - Q Magazine - Who the hell does Slash think he is? Empty 1995.04.DD - Q Magazine - Who the hell does Slash think he is?

Post by Blackstar on Mon Aug 19, 2019 10:34 pm

Who the hell does Slash think he is?

By Adrian Deevoy

He is not, let's be frank, a New Man. His feminist credentials beg re-examination. He is rarely accused of not taking drugs, never having it off with groupies and behaving in a responsible fashion. Adrian Deevoy is left with no other option than to gently inquire…

SLASH, are you familiar with the term "wanker"?

"Oh, yeah, I know that one." Guns N'Roses' hairy guitarist qualifies his confident assertion by rhythmically strumming the air with his right hand.

And you must be aware that your name carries an entirely different connotation in England?

"It's like, you have to go to the bathroom, isn't it?" he enquires cautiously. "It's funny. And it's funnier, the fact that I'm English. You'd think that I'd know better. But I'm from LA. I'm pathetic. The slang in Los Angeles is pretty useless. Even in America, people say things and I'll have no i-fucking-dea what they're talking about. Some English phrases you'll sometimes hear it in LA because LA is kinda… continental."

Kinda cosmopolitan even.

"Cosmopolitan. That's the fucking word I was looking for."

And since we have embarked upon this etymological voyage of discovery, could you, Slash, define the stalwart Guns N'Roses buzz words "hanging out" and "partying"?

"Well, 'hanging out' is an easy one," he begins professorially. "Everyone uses that. That's a hippy thing. That goes way back when. As far as 'partying' goes, I don't use that word. I hate that term. It sounds so fake. And do you know what I hated for the longest time was being called 'dude'. I was like, Don't fucking call me dude. And now I use it. Like I'll say, Talk to you in a bit, dude. I say that and it drives me fucking crazy."

*

This evening, Slash is in London discussing language. Last night he was in a topless bar in Sweden "paying 90 bucks to watch some big moley-titted stripper in a nurse's uniform".

The true purpose of these enlightening whirlwind visits is to talk up his new album, It's Five O'Clock Somewhere, which he has recently released under the name of Slash's Snakepit. What on earth can have possessed him to make a solo record?

"It's not a solo record," he says in his weary West Coast drawl. "I don't know how many times I have to say this. It really was just — uh, this is England, right? — a 'bunch of lads' hanging out and playing guitars and not really thinking too much about anything."

But why come off a two-year tour with Guns N'Roses and then immediately record a solo album?

"Well, you've heard about me, haven't you?" he asks rhetorically. "If I take a break, I'll be down on the street corner peddling something or buying it. I don't handle off-time very well. That's one of the reasons I always had a reputation as being drunk or being fucked up from dope." He guides an imaginary syringe towards the crook of his left arm. "See, whenever Guns was on the road, with the exception of the odd drink, I've been more or less straight. I mean, there were parties but I wasn't doing heroin. It was during off-time that I'd run into some character and if I did it once, off I went. So this time round I went straight back to work."

Slash is accompanied on this international promo trot by Snakepit's singer, former Jellyfish guitarist Eric Dover. He is sitting beside Slash on the hotel sofa now, yawning occasionally and saying nothing at all. Ask Slash how he and Eric actually get on and he looks mildly bemused.

"Oh, we get along great," he frowns. "That's the relief. There's no fucking tension in this band. It's amazing. We're all just sideguys. We appreciate the work ethic a little bit differently than egomaniacal frontmen."

Could this possibly be construed as a dig at the singer of Slash's other band, one W. Axl Rose?

"Oh, I don't want that to sound bad," he grimaces apologetically. "I don't want to say that Axl is like that particularly. But let's say that lead singers tend to be different from the backline. They have to be to just get up and just fucking stand there with just a microphone."

Will Guns N'Roses reconvene and make another record?

"Yeah, I just don't know what the fuck that is right now."

Do you want to?

"Well, yeah," he shrugs. "Guns is where I'm from. But it's such a big band right now and it's got so much attention — that's nothing to do with music — aimed at it, that's it's hard to exist comfortably in that kind of environment. People breathing down your neck. Managers calling every time you mention even the slightest thing in the direction of making music and it's not too conducive to being creative. I'd sort of like to get over that because I don't want to make a shitty Guns N'Roses record, I want to make a really good one."

Why don't you just split up?

"What?"

Why not call it a day and become legendary?

"No." He seems perplexed. "See, Guns doesn't have to do a record tomorrow or next year. And people say, What about your fanbase? The least of my concerns is trying to put together a body of work to try and please some kid I don't even know."

*

Saul Hudson was not, contrary to popular legend, raised by wolves in the bass bins of Hades. He was brought up by his mum and dad in Stoke-On-Trent. In the late '60s, both parents were hip figures in the art world. Tony Hudson, a graphic artist, designed the sleeve for, amongst others, Joni Mitchell's Court And Spark while Ola Hudson was a clothing designer most famous for creating 
David Bowie's suits in The Man Who 
Fell To Earth. When Slash was still
 young, the family moved out to 
Hollywood. "I was given total freedom 
all the time," he recalls. "I used to not
 come home for weeks." After playing
 in innumerable local bands as a 
teenager, Slash met singer W. Axl
 Rose and their fellow Guns N'Roses. Clouded memories spare us the exact 
details of this monumental event but
 within three years the band had 
become a hell-raisin', ass-munchin', planet-straddlin' success. The rest is hysteria. In an age when the majority of musicians are more in-law than outlaw, Slash — may his nose-ring never rust — remains one of the few dependably rebellious, undeniably unreliable old-school rock stars: he squints out from beneath a vast dead dog of a hairstyle (though today the beast is tethered the better to see the bloodshot and bleary Slash eyes); he walks in an impossibly languorous, torn-kneed, pigeon-toed shuffle; he swears like a Turette's Syndrome trooper; he alternately chain-smokes Gauloises and Marlboros ("It's one of the last fucking vices I can enjoy"); he wears his shirt open to the waist in mid-winter exposing a lean, copper-coloured torso and a veritable Aladdin's Cave of chains and charms; he has a lexicon of lazy LA-isms at his disposal (e.g. "He's so full of shit his eyes are brown"); he has a black motorcycle jacket thrown over his shoulder, the lapel of which bears a Vincent Van Gogh badge (i.e. I'm a bit of a misunderstood genius myself, as it happens); he has a minder called Ronnie; he drinks more than anyone I have ever interviewed — roughly five bourbons an hour, every hour — and that includes Shane MacGowan, Oliver Reed and Keith Richards (the car sent to meet Slash from Heathrow was instructed to carry one bottle of Stolichnaya vodka and one of Jack Daniel's whiskey). Slash also gets to meet and play with his musical heroes these days, but he doesn't really like to talk about that stuff. Oh, OK then…

"I played with the original Band Of Gypsys, Buddy Miles and Billy Cox," he recalls. "Paul Rodgers on vocals. We did the Jimi Hendrix tribute. Fuck, Buddy is out there. A strange character. I stopped talking to him after a while because, you know, he's still struggling and I started getting that feeling that he wanted something from me. He was treating me like we were really tight friends and, I don't know, maybe he liked me but I didn't really fall for that. Then he would call me when he needed money. He had a car crash and needed money, weird shit like that. But fucking Billy Cox is about as cool as they get."

And Bob Dylan.

"I did a thing with Bob Dylan," he says, shaking his head ruefully. "That was terrible. They didn't use what I played. When they took it off, I said to Don Was, the producer, What the fuck was all that about? And Don said, Bob thought it sounded too much like Guns N'Roses. I'm like, Well that's what I fucking do."

Why did you perform a cover of 'Sympathy For The Devil' for a film, Interview With The Vampire, that was so obviously shite?

"Well," he laughs, "what happened was when I went to see the movie, it was a screening. A friend had asked us to do it for a favour so we went along. I was like, Tom Cruise is the star? I don't think so. But I went along. I was bored to tears. And I'm really passionate about horror movies and Dracula. Anyway, finally, finally the end of the movie came and the Stones' version of 'Sympathy' was on it and it was fine. So I said, leave it. Then Axl went, loved the movie; I don't know why. Well I do. If I don't like it he'll like it, if I don't he will. So Axl wanted to do that song. I went along with it because I thought his enthusiasm might get the Guns N'Roses wheels in motion again. We went in and did the music, then Axl came in to do the vocals… but he also brought this other guitar player in. That really pissed me off. And this was a guy that I can't stand. As far as I was concerned it just ended up as a cover of a song that didn't need to be covered."

Is this whole squabble-fest with Axl Rose beginning to become a bit of a pantomime?

"I've done everything in my power," he sighs, "to avoid the obvious lead guitar player/lead singer, Mick Jagger/Keith Richards, Steve Tyler/Joe Perry thing. That's why I'm getting away from Guns for a while and cooling down. People would love for me to start going off on Axl. But I have no reason to. He and I are still very close. It's a lot like a marriage."

Has your own marriage (he tied the matrimonial sheep shank with former model, now aspiring actress, Renee Suran two and half years ago) changed your attitudes?

"You obviously learn from previous mistakes," he improvises philosophically. "Unless you're a complete fucking idiot. But having gotten married has changed me. But within reason. I did so much sleeping around for so long that it just got boring. I still think women are exquisite but getting involved and sleeping with them just takes so much fucking effort. And it was all I did. When I met Renee, it was someone that I actually fell for. It took four years of balancing the random sex and this one girl and we had some major incidents in our relationship which had to do with my lifestyle and what she expected from me. Once she found out how bad I was, she was like, I don't want to be with you. And we broke up for a while and I was sleeping with a bunch of other girls but finally, I dropped the others for her. And we've been together ever since. She hasn't tried to change me too much. There are certain limitations to what I can get away with."

Does she trust you?

"Yeah, she does now but it took a long time."

Do you trust yourself?

"I've been faithful since we got married and, you know what, it hasn't been too hard. Sometimes I'll look up a girl's skirt. I'm like a divining rod. But I wouldn't go any further than that."

Do you find that other women treat you differently now you are married?

"Now you can see how fucking evil women are," he confides knowingly. "They want to fuck you just because you are married. Just to fuck the chick up. They want to see if they can conquer you. But I'm not stupid."

Tossing a French fag into the air, catching it in his mouth and lighting it in one well-practised Zippo manoeuvre, he warms to his theme.

"In LA there are these professional groupies who just live to provide a sexual service for musicians. They're so fascinated with the freedom of rock'n'roll. Good rock'n'roll bands are usually pretty anti-establishment and they have a different social view from what society is supposed to adhere to. And some chicks get turned on by that. The struggling artist syndrome. Like, I'm sure there are a lot of girls who would have taken Kurt Cobain and made him lunch and sucked his dick just to keep him from killing himself."

Talk of suicide momentarily sidetracks Slash on to an old girlfriend, Savannah, "a puppet, a pawn in the porno business who blew her own head off," but soon he is back to the matter in hand.

"Before I was married, I just wanted to get laid. I'd see a pretty girl and think, She's cute, I'd love to go down on her. So if she's got some money on her and I can crash at her apartment and she's got a full refrigerator and she likes me and hasn't, as far as I'm concerned, said anything about commitment, then I was there. You sort of put yourself into a certain category by what it is you do for a living. Rock stars are notorious for fucking models, foreign girls and strippers. And that's all I could think of doing. With the exception of four girlfriends and Renee, that's all I've ever fucked. Like, attorneys fuck anything. I mean, could you see me with a librarian?! Actually, that's probably a huge turn on. That whole image of the glasses coming off and the hair coming down and all the lingerie underneath that unsuspecting outfit that she's wearing… oh, man, I just love women."

So when you were sleeping with all those groupies and porn stars, what did you catch?

"You know what?" he says crossing his heftily be-bangled arms and reclining proudly on the sofa. "Knock on fucking wood, I've only ever caught two things. And one thing I caught was from fucking Steven Adler."

You fucked Steven Adler, your Guns N'Roses colleague?

"No!" he recoils in mock horror. "But I let him borrow a fucking pair of leather pants and he fucking gave me crabs. I didn't even know what crabs were. I'm over at Duff's (McKagan, bassist) house sitting in his bathroom on the toilet, scratching furiously and I'm picking these things out of me and it's like, Aaargh! I was horrified. So, of course I wore the pants and let Steve borrow them again so he would catch them right back. And the only other thing I ever caught was something that I picked up from a porn girl. It was nothing major and I got rid of it but I've been really fucking lucky. When Renee and I split up, and it was common knowledge, people, women, came out of the woodwork and told her stories about me like you wouldn't believe. Note-for-note detailed fucking information about me. It must have been the CLIT Society. Ever heard of that? Chicks Linking Information Together. She yelled at me for an hour. That kind of curbed my appetite for wanton sex, for being… what's the fucking word?"

Promiscuous.

"Promiscuous. Thank you."

*

Tonight, Slash is the special guest of Radio One DJ Claire Sturgess on her Sunday Rock Show, where he will chat, play some tracks from his new record, perform a couple of songs live and answer a handful of the listeners' Slashular enquiries. He will also letch relentlessly at any available women (particularly his on-air hostess), drink eight enormous Jack Daniel's, slur to the point of unintelligibility, announce his intention to "get his pecker out", discuss "doing coke on live radio", rave repeatedly about Absolutely Fabulous ("Keith Richards used to be my hero, now it's Patsy") and tell a fruity story about a paramour who had her labia pierced with tiny bells. "It was," he declares happily, "like fucking Christmas."

But the most shocking element of the entire two-hour show is when Slash picks up an acoustic guitar. He really isn't very good. Despite hammering away determinedly with his chubby pork'n'beef fingers, he regularly mis-chords, hits wrong strings and generally displays a surprising lack of expertise. "Fucking acoustics," he says by way of an excuse. "They've got no fucking sustain."

As the session finishes, Slash, who is now frankly drunk, quietly tells me of his ultimate dream. "I want to open this place," he confides, "where you start the night off go-karting, then you go to this bar-type place and get wasted, then you have these topless chicks that serve you… curry."

*

As he is leaving Broadcasting House, Slash expresses a regret that he didn't check into his hotel under the nom-de-hilarite of Oliver Clothes-Off. Then, summoning an ounce of your English irony, he fires his parting shot, "I can't stay around with you guys, I've gotta go hang out and party. Dude."

But before he totters into the night, there is one final question you must ask Slash: is it true that you once died for eight minutes?

"Wow," he says, melodramatically rocking backwards on his heels. "Where did you hear that? I don't remember ever talking publicly about that. Uh, but, yeah, I've had a couple of close calls. I don't know what you'd call it though. They told me that I was out for a while but I really don't remember anything about it. I didn't see any fucking bright lights. But even if it did happen, I was too fucking high to have seen anything."

And with that, his minder Ronnie efficiently decants the over-refreshed musician into a waiting car and they're off to an Indian restaurant where they will sink more booze, float a curry and talk a skipload more gibberish about chicks, dope and rock'n', if you will, fuckin' roll.

Slash, man. He "hangs out". He "parties". He's familiar with the term "wanker".
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