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1995.03.01 - RAW - Slash's Snakepit: Stripped Down 'n' Dirty!

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1995.03.01 - RAW - Slash's Snakepit: Stripped Down 'n' Dirty! Empty 1995.03.01 - RAW - Slash's Snakepit: Stripped Down 'n' Dirty!

Post by Blackstar on Sun Sep 01, 2019 7:31 pm

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Transcript:
-------------------

Slash's Snakepit
STRIPPED DOWN 'n' DIRTY!


SNAKE(PITS) ALIVE!

SLASH and his SNAKEPIT are comin’ to town, and their first US gig is on April 1! Are they just one big joke? Has Slash fallen out with AXL? Have GUNS N' ROSES finally come to a sticky end? Or does Slash just wanna drop the bullshit and get "stripped down” and dirty? With the intrepid NEIL JEFFRIES on their case, Slash and 'Pit singer ERIC DOVER have no choice but to deliver the truth...

THAT HAIR is tied back and his air is laid back. Ice cubes rattle in a glass of cranberry juice arid Stoli' vodka as he lounges on the hotel bed. Ten minutes ago Slash was contemplating punching the guy from the NME. Now he’s volunteering to answer the inevitable questions about Guns N' Roses, even though he’s far more interested in Snakepit.

With the faintest trace of a sigh he announces that “the obvious question is okay,” before continuing in a low voice like Jack Nicholson:

“I mean: is Guns still together? Yes it is. Is Axl in the band? As far as I know. Am I still in the band? I don’t know. (He shrugs) No, I haven’t quit. If Zakk’s (Wylde) gonna be in the band, that’s an issue which ... we were just jamming. There was never any decision when I left to do this. When I said, 'I’ll be back in August,’ we hadn't come to any definitive decision as to who was gonna be the rhythm guitarist. I love Zakk. He’s a lot of fun, but we don’t sound like Guns N’ Roses with two lead Heavy Metal guitar players. It just sounds different. But if that’s supposed to be the case when I get back, we’ll talk about it, so I have no idea where it stands right now.”

When was the last time you spoke to Axl?

Slash: “The last time I was out at rehearsal,” (perhaps less than a week ago) “which was right before I left to do this promo thing.”

Yesterday (February 6) was Axl’s birthday... Slash looks genuinely surprised:

“Was it? Awww.”

By way of apology, he offers “I called Duff!” (Duffs birthday is the day before Axl’s), then adds sheepishly: “No, I didn’t call Axl on his birthday. I guess I’ll have to call him now.”

BESIDE SLASH, patiently listening, and occasionally answering is Eric Dover, aged 28, whose previous claim to fame is being hired last year by the late lamented West Coast outfit Jellyfish to play guitar and sing backing vocals on the second leg of their ‘Spilt Milk’ tour. He sits here by the grace of God and an incredible set of vocal chords that refreshed Slash’s ears in a way 40 previous applicants - including Ron Young (ex-Little Caesar), Spike (ex-Quireboys) and Doug Pinnick (King’s X) - had failed to reach.

Eric’s audition was a shit-or-bust affair. While the rest of the band were actually recording the album at Conway Studios, Eric was invited up to Slash’s home studio by his guitar tech Adam Day to write some lyrics and sing over a rough demo.

Eric: “I was playing with Mark Danzeisen from Gilby Clarke’s band. And I was working with Roger Manning” (keyboardist from Jellyfish). “Roger and I had started a thing to see what our songs sounded like, then Mark told me Slash was looking for a vocalist, and I got Roger’s blessing to do it so he wouldn’t get pissed off at me!

“I’d never met Slash and I pulled up and there’s this huge gate, like Transylvania, Dracula’s house. It’s got bushes blowing in the front yard and there’s cracks all over.” Slash now calls it 'The Earthquake House’ after it was hit by the LA tremors of January ’94. The Snakepit studio is more or less intact, but was the house badly damaged?

Slash: “It's totalled! I was there at the time, too! Talk about Rock ’n’ Roll.”

Eric: “So they gave me ‘Song In D’, which turned into ‘Beggars And Hangers-On’.”

Slash:
“It didn’t have to be perfect; I wanted to hear the voice to see if it was someone I could relate to. Eric’s tape came and I was like, ‘Wow! That sounds cool!’. So I first met Eric when I was doing guitar solos for the record (laughs). I finished my solos in a couple of days, then booked some time in a place called Rumbo - where ‘Appetite ...’ was done - and me and him sat there and ...”

Eric: “... just threw ideas back and forth.” Slash: “We crammed 14 songs’ worth of lyrics together. Once it was finished we said, ‘It’s cool, leave it!’. That’s why it sounds so raw, ’cos once the vibe was there we didn’t f**k with it - even if it was out of tune: even my guitar solos. I took off to New York next day, mastered it and that was it! Hahaha!”

RAWNESS AND spontaneity are the strongest points of ‘It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere’ (the title comes from something an LAX airport barman said to Slash when he ordered a stiff Jack ’n’ Coke early one morning). But as RAW’S review (issue 168) pointed out, it doesn’t have the melody like Guns.

Slash: “Well it’s not meant to! Those melodies are unique to GN’R because of the combination of people. This is an entirely different band.”

The band began via demos recorded by Slash and Matt Sorum (drums). Then Gilby Clarke (rhythm guitar) and Mike Inez (bass) came in to record the album.

“There’s similarities obviously in my sound,” opines Slash, “Eric had nothing to work with except the music where me and Matt and Gilby went, ‘We’ll put this riff here, and this sounds good, and this works’.

“We pulled this off in a haphazard way,” continues Slash. “It was a kind of escapism to drop all the pressure and those f**kin’ whining bands and bullshit we’re from. We slipped in the studio, had such a good time and -regardless of what anybody thinks of the album - it was such fun we’re gonna do this club tour. I think we’ll really come together as a good band as we play live; I already noticed that from playing acoustic with Eric. So we’ve been writing songs and will actually do a proper album at some point.”

YIKES! SO you’re trying to tell me that you’re not calling ‘It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere’ a proper album?!

Slash: “No.”

Eric: “It’s a proper accident!”

Slash: “Yeah! Very haphazard. We just went (He makes a noise like a car crash).”

But you wrote the riffs originally for GN’R.

Slash: “I didn’t write them for anybody! These songs were written one a day.”

Eric: “Just like vitamins!”

Slash: “Just from jamming. I’d have a riff and Matt would come up with a beat, and by the end of the day we’d have a song. We didn’t take it so seriously ’cos we had no reason to.

“We’d finish the song at the end of the day, drink a beer, hang out - that was it! Once Gilby and Mike Inez got involved I thought, ‘This is cool. It doesn’t cost anything and we’ll go in the studio and record it when we find a singer’. Then Eric came along and I thought, if anything, it’s got heart. Hahaha!”

Sonically, ‘It’s Five O’ Clock ..." is close to ‘Appetite ...’. Was there a deliberate attempt on your part to return to that era?

Slash:Anything but doing ‘Use Your Illusion’ again! As much as I love Guns N’ Roses, and as close as we all are - we’re like family - but after two-and-a-half, well f**k ... Two band member changes, four years in the making of the f**kin records, then two-and-a-half years of touring it’s like, I gotta get away from it before I do snap. All these videos, this record company stuff, attorneys here, attorneys there, managers coming and going; it’s not conducive to the ‘creative process’.”

WHAT SIZE venues are you planning to escape to on this tour?

Slash: “Between 800 to 2,000 seaters.”

How long is it since you’ve done those?

Slash: “F**k! Ages! Although Eric and I did one the other day in Stockholm. There was just 500 people there: some guests and kids off the street. We played four acoustic songs to people who didn’t know what to expect. We had three stools up there on stage. Me on one, him on another, a packet of cigarettes and a bottle of booze in the middle. We played four songs, three of ours and one by The Stones, ‘Jigsaw Puzzle’” (from ‘Beggars Banquet’, 1968) “That’s as stripped down as I’ve been in years. It was cool ’cos we were f**kin’ taking a chance. First song people got really excited, somebody threw a glass of water at me! It was completely off the wall.”

Isn’t that the kind of thing you like best? How comfortable were you playing huge gigs like Wembley Stadium. Where does your mind go to at gigs like those?

Slash: “It can be really weird. The energy level’s great ’cos the whole crowd’s there, but I had more fun being a secondary opening act at Donington than ever headlining Wembley, ’cos there’s that rawness of being the underdog that I love. I’d have a hell of a lot more fun playing in an indoor environment.”

Where you don’t have to worry about lighting cues?

Slash: “We don’t worry about lighting cues anyway, that’s why the show is so f**kin’ wacky! Hahaha! I just enjoy the opportunity to play, but I can’t say I get off on the rest of it. I can’t knock playing in stadiums ’cos there’s a sense of accomplishment there, but I don’t see why we couldn’t go back when we did ‘The Spaghetti Incident?’ and play some clubs. But Axl just wouldn’t do it. So I’m getting a lot out of my system by doing this.”

It must have crossed your mind that Snakepit could get big.

“I have no idea and I don’t care right now,” Slash shrugs. “I’m just looking forward to the first gig. I’m not trying to pre-plan too much. I know the first date’s on April 1 (laughs) in the Mid-west, Idaho or somewhere. In the States the album comes out on Valentine’s Day, and the tour starts on April 1 so go figure! This is definitely a band with a sense of humour.”

ON YOUR thanks list you have guys like Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil. Did you work with them?

Slash: “No. Most of them are friends. Jerry Cantrell’s name is on there ’cos he let Mike Inez go! There’s no one from Guns N’ Roses on here except Duff, ’cos he wrote the end part of ‘Beggars...’

You’ve kept the album artwork very much in the family, yes?

Slash: “I drew this thing on a napkin, then I gave it to my brother (Ash Hudson). He’s got a company in downtown LA called Conart, a graffiti art clothing thing. My brother’s real cool, real street, like, ‘Hey! Wassup?’.

“So I gave this napkin to Ash and said, ‘See if you can do this’. If you look at it carefully you can see, towards the end of the tail, an electrical outlet...” (2 cm above the ‘e’ in five - Helpful Ed) “... ’cos this is a photo! He had the whole thing painted on a wall. It’s awesome. Then my dad (Slash’s father Tony has designed album covers in the past for Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, etc - Well-researched - Ed) helped me work out the logo and lettering - the record company insisted that we put ‘Slash’ on the record, because it’s just supposed to be Snakepit, you know?”

Tell me, please, it’s only coincidence that this sleeve looks like a dollar sign.

Slash: “It is! I get all my stuff from people on the road. I don’t buy anything. And someone gave me this; it’s like a rapper’s chain. A snake with a bone in it, and it does look like a dollar sign. When we were recording the album and came up with the name Snakepit I saw that ‘S’ again and thought, ‘There you go!’. We took the idea and changed it into this. But if anything, this shouldn’t represent the dollar sign.”

Just as well, or Gene Simmons will sue you... Slash didn’t know it but Eric tells him that the Kiss breadhead found a loophole in US laws and now owns the copyright. “What a guy!” quips Eric in mock admiration.

TIME, LIKE the cranberry and Stoli’, is running out. But Slash is still laid back so I attempt to wind him up. You turn 30 this year, don’t you?

Slash: “Yuh.”

Looking forward to that?!?

Slash: “I don’t care.”

Nope, I can see you don’t give a shit.

Slash: “Hahaha! No I don’t.”

Eric: “Someone told me last night that I’m the kind of person that will get younger as I get older, so that makes me feel good.” Slash: “They told me I was just gonna die!” The same person?

Slash: “No, that was on the first f**kin’ press release for Guns N’ Roses: ‘They’ll be great -if they live long enough’. That hasn’t changed yet. I’m still going. You know, I’m gonna go on for a long time and it’s gonna piss a lot of people off! The only thing that’ll piss me off is that Axl is so f**kin’ health conscious, he’s gonna live longer than I am. After it’s all said and done and we’re all dead except for him, he gets the last word, hahaha!”

***

SLASH Vs AXL:
BOTH GUNS STILL BLAZING


The feud between GN’R stars SLASH and W AXL ROSE won’t be resolved until August at the earliest, when the band plan to start a new album. Still not even sure who exactly is in the line-up, Slash spills his heart out to NEIL JEFFRIES...

GUNS N’ Roses, the world’s top Rock band, remain in turmoil this week as its two lynchpins, Slash and Axl Rose, still fail to see eye-to-eye. Slash is currently in Europe on a promotional tour for his side-project Snakepit, while Axl is back in LA fuming that he can’t start work on the next GN’R album. Slash is committed to Snakepit - also featuring Guns drummer Matt Sorum, plus ex-Guns rhythm guitarist Gilby Clarke, plus Alice In Chains bassist Mike Inez and singer Eric Dover (last seen touring with Jellyfish) -until the end of July, and will not return to work with Axl until August.

Axl’s frustration has lately been demonstrated by getting Paul Huge to play guitar without Slash’s knowledge on GN’R’s new version of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ (from the Interview With The Vampire soundtrack). Huge is an old friend of Axl who gets a co-writing credit for ‘Back Off Bitch’ (on the ‘Use Your Illusion’ sets).

Then, in mid-January, Axl invited Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde to spend a week jamming with him, Slash, Sorum, Duff McKagan and keyboardist Dizzy Reed with a view to possibly writing songs for the next album. All this amidst rumours that Axl had threatened to sue Slash for recording - with Snakepit - songs that he had originally presented to Axl for Guns.

RAW spoke to Slash this week to get the guitarist’s side of the story. His replies were lengthy, breathless and impassioned.

IS IT true that there is a lawsuit in progress over the songs on ‘It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere’?

Slash: “No. It was brought up; I’m surprised that anybody knew about that - I never went public with it. What happened basically is ever since Guns N’ Roses... even when they first started, it’s always been my thing to be the glue that keeps things organised. That’s always what I’ve done. Not to say that Axl or Duff don’t help, it’s just that that’s always been my thing. I live, sleep, breathe Guns N’ Roses. That’s all I ever did.

“So all of a sudden for me to get up and disappear really blew Axl’s mind, ’cos he’s always had me to lean on. All of a sudden he wants to do a record. Now, I’ve waited around for years at a time for him, so when I ended up hanging out with these guys and made a record...

“Axl had a tape of demos with no vocals on it that he turned down on me, so I said, ‘Okay, well no big deal, I’ll write more stuff, whatever you don’t like about this particular direction ... What direction do you want to go? Because I’m not really sure what you’re getting at because I wanted to do a real hard, back-to-basics kind of thing?’. So he wasn’t sure and we really weren’t getting on that well: he fired Gilby and that started a whole big slew of f**kin, you know, that caused a mess between us for a while. Then Eric, Matt, Gilby, Mike and myself went in the studio to do a record like that! (snaps his fingers).

“All of a sudden Axl decides he wants some of the songs back and I go, ‘They’re gone!’ And he goes, ‘You couldn’t have done a record that fast!’ I said, ‘Well, it’s done!’. So he says, ‘Well, I’m gonna sue you!’. ‘Like, for what?’. ‘Because they’re supposed to be Guns N’ Roses material!’. ‘No they’re not, I wrote them!’.

“He has this sort of distorted image in his head that because I’m such a part of Guns N’ Roses that anything that comes out between this hand and this hand is Guns’ material. At the time I wasn’t thinking about doing any kind of side-project or starting another band, I was just writing. I was sitting around the house, I had a new studio, and when he said he didn’t like them I was like, ‘Cool! Whatever!’.

"THEN I started hanging out with these guys and we had such a good time I thought, ‘We should record this, because we have a decent band,’ so we went and did it. Then he was like, ‘Woah, wait a second, slow down!’. Axl moves at like a quarter of the speed that I do. That’s always been one of the issues with Guns N’ Roses, that’s just the way it is, always has been. I mean, Axl’s awesome but sometimes I need to get back to having to get to work on time. I need that drive. Not just be some sort of lazy Rock star waiting around till whenever.”

Is that because he gets side-tracked or does he just work slower than you?

Slash: “He just works slower. He takes things a little bit more seriously than I do. And he has to wait till the timing’s right, and this and that. I mean, I can write a song at the same time as falling out of a car! I just sort of do what I do and I don’t like to think about it too much, whereas he does like to think about it. So that’s one of the things, opposites attract; that’s one of the great things between the two of us, but at the same time this happened so quickly for him he was like, ‘Woah! Woah! Stop! What happened?”’

But he did threaten to sue you?

Slash: “Yeah, yeah, but we worked it out. That’s just Axl’s way.”

But the conflict continues.
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