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SoulMonster

1993-03-15 - Interview with Slash

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1993-03-15 - Interview with Slash

Post by Soulmonster on Sat Jun 18, 2011 7:19 am

It took, for me to realize what true Guns N' Roses was perceived as, by reading something in the press, or gaining response from some kid at a show, or something like that. I mean, I know what it's suppose to feel like, but I never put a label on it. So, right now it feels great, it feels better then it has in a long time.

But there's been so many changes and this and that and other, that I never knew what the fuck it was suppose to be. You know, the definitive Guns N' Roses. It would take, looking at the back of a compilation record, put together by the record company, for me to even get an idea of what that was suppose be. And then I would be, I'm sure would go:

"That's not fucking right at all." And then start analyze it. Otherwise it's just sort of like, keeping what you think you should be doing intact, and pursuing that, not letting anything else sway it. And I feel that's what we're still doing.


When Guns N' Roses first started, actually trying to get gigs, we'd be lucky if we could get an opening slot on a Sunday night, if I remember correctly. And we persevered. We went from that, and taking all bullshit, you know, no pay and whatever other pitfalls there were. And then going from that to making a Monday night, maybe a middle slot, and working up the week, you know, working up through the week. And a lot of it was, you know, word to mouth. I mean, we worked our asses off, doing flyers, and do whatever promotion that had to be done, scamming like crazy, I mean, pulling all the stops. Just to continue on, without having any sort of prospects the, you know, the distant future of getting to be a big band.

And so we went up the ladder, to me what seems like these tini tiny steps, that when we finally did get to a point that we where successful. It didn't seem like that big of a jump to me.

Until we finished the Aerosmith tour in the states, and we were finally off the road after like two years, that we've been on the street. And before that, you know, we didn't live anywhere. So we've been on the road for like ages, physically speaking.

But, you know, the tour was done, and we were back on the street again. And not only that we were back on the street again, but everybody we were used to seeing on the street, looked at us completely different. It was a shock. So, you know, we managed to get going to a complete rut from that. And, you know, not loose interest in music, but to loose interest in trying to get to another plateau. We didn't even realize were we've gotten to in the first place. And once we did finally get to a point where we could go back and start performing again. We were on a higher level then we've left at. You know regardless of the slump that we've been in for a while.

And, so now we're just doing those same little steps, you know, as we were doing in the early days, only starting from a different level and working our way up. Now that we're headlining and all that, it's hard to look at it as being some supersonic jump from street level to stardom. And it's been a short period of time, I suppose, I mean, we have been together for seven, eight years now. And the whole time has been a struggle. We didn't do like any bands, I wont mention their names, whether we were focused on a top-40 hit and then kept writing top-40 hits until we finally made it and then got big all of a sudden, I mean, we've played from UCLA, all the way to where we are now, everything in between. And gone through, and survived a hell of a lot of shit that most bands, I don't think, couldn't survive. I don't pad myself on the back or anything, but I mean what credits do. We've worked our asses off to get here. And it wasn't like we were looking to be the biggest band, or anything like that, we've just been playing and playing and playing and playing.

And we have a lot of ideas, things that we want to branch out with. And luckily, from the albums or the recordings, people have been pretty responsive to it, but that's why we have an audience in the first place. I think the best to keep everything under control, as far as sanity is concerned, and it's not easy, but…

One of the first things that comes to mind is, with everybody else looking at us from a distance, and either seeing us as a bunch of cartoon characters that you just like plug in and then they go. Or people that actually know us and wonder how we can keep it going for so long, or what makes it tick. It's like, the main focus is coming from the guys in the band and the people that are actually hands on the road. And work all trying to keep it together, and it's so personal. And we see what everybody else is going through. And all the individuals that are involved in making it work, become so close that you do it for them. If you start to fall apart, you grab on to somebody else that's holding it together, for strength. And it goes on like that.

I think there's a lot of people that can attest to that. So, you know, it's like, if everything seems to fall apart, there's always another couple of guys that didn't happen that particular situation and are doing fine. And you can hold on to them and you make it through the next day. So, it's not an easy thing, you know, you have to sort of, you know, you have to reach for solidness so that you can stabilize yourself.

Guns N' Roses have played pretty extensively throughout Europe over the last couple of years, as part of the "Use Your Illusion World Tour." Why are you coming back again this summer?

In all honesty, the reason that we're going back to Europe, is… most, 75 percent of the tour is focused on places we've never been. And the unfortunate thing about Europe is that… aah, like in the States we can play arenas, we can go anywhere from theatres to arenas to… to stadiums. And there's even in between venues, that you can play. And in Europe you have, little tiny clubs, theatres and stadiums. So, we have to play, you know, the gig that is gonna facilitate our show.
Which means that we're going back into stadiums again. And so in some of the countries that we want to play in, the only place we can play in is in the stadiums that we have played in already. But, uuh, everybody travels far and wide to those gigs from all over the country. It's a lot different then playing in the States. So if we wanted to make up a gig that we couldn't have done, because we couldn't have gone in to that particular little city. If we go to, you know, the main stadium in the country, then those people will commute to get there. So, you end up playing same country over and over again. So people keep travelling from different cities, if that makes any sense. It's basically just to reach a bunch of people that you haven't reached before.

What do you think are the main differences between American audiences and those in Europe?

European crowds have always been really different then American crowds. The kids get really excited, you know, I mean… I think that, that, uuh, when uuh… I don't know. When a rock n' roll gig comes in to Europe they greet it with open arms and… with a lot more excitement then they do in the States. Because in the States it just, it cruises there on daily basis. If you miss one gig, there's another one coming the day after. So, that's one mayor difference. And then I think there's a greater appreciation for… I don't know… rock n' roll in a sense that I can't really describe why it is. But they seem to appreciate dynamics more, you know. And, I mean, that could be an American individual that would argue with me. But I'm talking, on a mass scale, you know, the kids really understand what the fuck is going on… that's the first feeling that I get. Then when you get on stage, you have to prove yourself, you really do. You have to, to, to stand up there and really pull the shit off, so to speak. Because you can't fake it. There's no fooling Europeans, you know.
Even if you're playing in some tiny little country out in the middle of… of nowhere, you know, they see everything. And they can… the vibes are, they pick up on the vibes and everything. For… what your show's about. How you're feeling, what your attitude is, or, you know. If you think the show's going well, they seem to know whether it is or not, you know. And that's a mayor difference. Other then that… I mean, touring through Europe is just different because it's a whole culturally different thing, you know, altogether. No matter where in Europe you are. Uum, in America, since that's basically where we're from. There's nothing that's completely ,um, out of whack, as far as we're concerned, you know. It's all pretty predictable, within reason. Whereas in Europe you can end up in certain places, and you just feel like in the land of Zod. [laughs]
It's interesting, when you get in to the actual, the actual, um… production aspect of it, it's not all that different. We've all been there before. But when you get on stage and the crowd starts cheering. You can feel that you're in a completely different place, you know.

When you're going through Europe, playing to record breaking audiences and the shows are promoted as the biggest ever, Do you find that this puts an additional pressure on you?

Yeah, unfortunately. What happens is that… From the pressure of having played those big gigs, you feel like that when you get up there, the huge amount of people that can't even see you, for the most part. You know, there's only the first 10 or 30 rows that really can see your expressions and, you know, if you fucking drool all over yourself. Burning yourself up with your cigarette, you know, I mean. Everybody else is just expecting some unbelievable show, which is really… that's, that's a pressure. To go out there and know that people are thinking that. I mean, I'm amazed that we can play the size of the stage we've been playing.

Do you still get nervous before you perform?

Yeah, I still get nervous. I mean, the only time… I mean, if you're not nervous, you're gonna have a bad show. That wasn't something that was taught to me, I learned that from experience. It's still a challenge, it's still, you know, that you have something to prove, not to them, not to the people you are playing to, but to yourself. And go out, and press the people that you are playing for, with your newfound sense of confidence, right. Then you're doing alright. When you think you got it made, and you got it all together, then you're gonna screw up. I mean, that's something I've learned personally, I can't speak for everybody else in the band. Everybody has their own psych that they use to, you know, approach getting on stage and playing to that many people.

With all that nervous energy you use up during the show, are you tired at the end of a performance?

Not really tired, sort of trying to take it all in and, just calm down and, get back to, you know, get ruded, get back down to earth and just calm down, you know. The worst thing that happens with this gig is that you get going on such a high for a while. Even if it's up and down through the show, by the time you're done, you just wanna feel like… get everything in perspective. Because you know the rest of the evening is gonna be fucked. [laughs] Not in a negative sense, but, you know, that whatever you were going in to, whatever it was making it feel, like, whatever is making you so happy while you're on stage, once you're off, there's no recapturing that feeling so you get back on again. So the time between getting off and getting back on is gonna be just one big fucking, you know, tug at your fucking short hairs.

When you're not feeling 100% for some reason - If you're not well or when there's something preying on your mind, how do you get up and do a gig?

Really, the only way to get up for a gig, if you're not feeling well, or if you, for whatever fucking reason it is, um, physical or mental. And you don't feel like you're up to it. It's somewhere between that ramp that goes up to the back of the stage and when I get in to my guitar room. And the lights go out and the crowd is just screaming. It's somewhere there's some other energy that comes from, I don't know where, because what usually happens is that we do two hours of just raging. And then an hour after the show's over, you feel just as shitty as you did when you got on. So there's some sort of god-given energy that comes, you know. It's from the energy from the crowd. And I think a lot of it, which I'm really, really proud of, is the genuine fucking enthusiasm in the band. To do what we do, that we forget about everything else, when we get up there. And are so into it, and love it so much that you forget about all the other stuff. And it's just you and the crowd. So whatever mental or physical illments you might have are forgotten. At least for that small period of time. And then you can dwell on it for, you know, the rest of the night until the next gig. [laughs]

On the last leg of the tour - where you played arenas across the United States - You brought out certain songs that you haven't included in the set for a year or so - Songs like "The Garden" and "Dead Horse." You also did quite a bit of acoustic material in the set. What was it like to play those songs again?

That's… that's cool, I mean, I would do more, you know, it's like: I would more and more often. Um, because pulling out new stuff, just makes it really fresh. I love turning the corners on everybody. And going, you know, and showing the fact that aah… We're just that kind of band, you know, that can do that. I mean, it's like, it's one thing to play "Jungle," you know. I mean, we can do "Jungle," you know, whatever… However "Jungle" is supposed to sound like, we can do that. But when you turn around and play something like "The Garden," and having it totally be as heavy as that song is, and pull it off live, and just fucking blow everybody's minds with it. 'Cause they're not expecting it. That's pretty much the joy of, of continuing touring. To keep pulling the stops, you know.

Let's talk a little more about the material. What are some of your favorite points in the set - What songs do you always get off on?

It varies from night to night, you know. I mean, sometimes, like "It's So Easy" might be magic for me that night. Um, "Double Talkin' Jive" might be magic one night. And the sound, and the sweet-spot on the stage isn't the same from night to night. You know, it depends. So, every time we play any particular song, it's different from night to night, you know. There's no song that's always perfect, you know. There's certain songs that are hard, you know. That are like technically harder to play. And you think about it a little bit. You are more conscious then the fact that you're worried of playing it accurately. So that magic night might be a little more distant usual with other songs, but aah… Every song has some special thing to it. But, it just depends what night it is.

Which of the songs that you play intimidate you?

"Live And Let Die." Especially with that new double-neck that I've been playing. [laughs] You know, 'cause I have to make sure I switch the buttons right. Sometimes it used to be the intros to "Paradise City," before I go into the actual song. Or definitely having to do the fucking guitar-solo, because I never have that mapped out, you know. Let's see… the end of "Double Talkin' Jive" always intimidates me. I'm intimidated by a lot of stuff that we're playing, you know, I tell you. You know, it depends on the guitar sound, and how the rest of the guys in the band are feeling, or how they're playing, you know, you know. Where Axl's at, I mean. Like I was saying earlier, it's like, it depends on a given night for that given song, you know.

Is the reward greater for you when you pull off the hot solo or produce some amazing ending to "Double Talkin' Jive"?

The reward for just getting up there is to have a good night. And if there's one song in particular that you don't pull off, soy, or you're just not particularly happy with it, you know. Like you feel like you could have done it better. Then you make up for it with the next song, but the show itself, since it is a team, the rest of the guys are playing great and everything else is fine. My little fuck-up isn't something to dwell on. It's not worth risking… screwing up the vibes for everyone else 'cause I'm upset about the song that we did before. So, I usually don't dwell on it for too long.

What keeps touring interesting for you - especially when you've been out on the road for so long?

I mean for me personally, it's… it's digging the guitar and getting in to, plugging it in that night, and going out. And it's a challenge for me, to go out and play as best as I can every night. Um, I'm sure the other guys would have some sort of similar kind of response. So, that's exciting, and that's fresh every night. You know, when you start to play the same licks in certain songs, it gets to be a little redundant. And if you don't play it, sort of like the Pete Townshend syndrome where the kids expect you to fall down drunk, or they expect you to, you know, whatever. That gets a little hard, but as long as it seems like, like you can get up there and unpredictable naturally, you know. And do your own thing, and have a good time and have it still sound like something new and different to the actual crowd, then that makes it still exciting.

Do you think that Guns N' Roses have become "safe" over the last couple of years or do you think that the band has been able to maintain its edge, despite such mass international popularity and acclaim?

'Safe' is definitely not where I feel that we're at. Trying to make it good though, is something that we've been concentrating on. If not something that we've sat and talked about together, or anything that we make, like a group-effort at. Verbally, you know, we just go onstage and we know that we all wanna play well. So that it sounds like something good. Because when you get into those huge places it's so easy to sound bad. I mean, you can be a hard-rock band and, and trying to pull off some sort of pseudo-punk attitude and sound like shit in those huge places, because it's just so fucking clear. It's not like we can crank up and just blow the doors off some little tiny building. Where if we made a mistake no one hears it. Which it used to be like, it's just go in and blow the doors. Because you're in these places were everything is more or less crystal clear. And, you know, I've heard live tapes, you can't afford to like completely fuck up. You have to be aware, and especially for me as a guitar player, I'm very conscious about being a good one. Um, it's just different.

I know this has been covered before, but tell us a little bit about what happened with Izzy Stradlin and how playing with Gilby Clarke now compares to this.

After, after the whole drug period… Um, I think everybody went in their own directions. And as far as dealing with getting off the drugs, everybody had their own approach. And from the time that we'd more or less quit, you know, dope and stuff. Um, Izzy had more or less lost interest in… I don't know if he lost interest or, I mean there could have a lot of phases, and I don't wanna, you know, put Izzy's personality into one little sentence. But what it seemed to me was that he'd lost interest in doing the work that was involved. He didn't feel comfortable with all the other guys. Because we'd all gone through this massive emotional experience in trying to get ourselves out of the slum. And he just didn't wanna run with the ball anymore. So, when we finally did get through that whole period and we, we got into the studio he wasn't that interested. He didn't have that much input, as far as recording and all that was concerned. And that was a really stressful time for the entire band anyway. And we went out on tour, and he finally quit. And the time that he was on tour, right before he quit, I was just really pissed off. Because it seemed like he'd show up and he would stand on the stage, for the alotted two and a half, three hours. And then, you know, split. I felt for that whole period of time that he was on stage, he really didn't wanna be there.
So Gilby likes doing it. So there's a lot of interaction, and ahh, you know. I don't like to say anything against Izzy because we've all been playing together for a long time. Um, but I mean, it just got to a point where he just didn't wanna be there. So Gilby does wanna be there, so… You can feel it, you know. There's definitely some different feeling. And I don't feel like I have to rely on myself to cover the guitar and stuff, as much as I used to.

What's your relationship with Axl like these days?

My relationship with Axl is really, really personal. So, I don't know if I would like to talk about it that much. Because it's been so blown under proportion, in a negative way, that I'm scared to say anything anywhere about it. You know, a little gun-shy. Um, it's real sensitive, kind of… I don't know , like a partnership kind of thing. And I don't like it being tanned, you know, and thrown out of whack, because of the press or the media or whatever. So I'm a little shy, you know, to say anything.

Let's talk a little about some of the other projects that you have been involved with recently, where you've jammed on records and on stage with all sorts of different musicians - Everyone from Lenny Kravitz to Michael Jackson to Bob Dylan to Rose Tatoo. What is the attraction for you here?

Because I dig playing and, you know. Some people go out, you know, doctors go and they play golf. I get together with musicians and we jam. And we've recorded. And most of these people I've played with are, they are cats that I've met and, you know, people I admire or respect in some wayship before. And gotten to know. And we get together and we play. And we record and it comes out cool. And whenever Guns isn't doing anything, in order for me not to sit around and fester, you know, hanging out with somebody, you know. Just jam with them. And so that's where that started. And then I started doing it a lot. And then, um, more recently I started getting all the phone calls. You know, will you play on this and will you play on that. Um, are you gonna be available at this such and such date. Which is gotten a little bit more then, you know, I never planned on doing it this much. But I'm still having a good time and all things considered, it's been a lot of fun.

Do you think Guns N' Roses fans find it strange that you would play with someone like Michael Jackson?

The reason that it's cool to play with a lot of different musicians, um, from a technical point of view. Is just that it gives you a chance to experience working in someone else's environment. And makes you, it helps you grow. It, aah, it forces you to play as best as you can in a different style of music, you know. If I was to play with another band like Guns, it wouldn't make much sense, right? So when you play with other people, if you find something in their style that you dig, something that you like, you try to adapt to it. So you're learning, you're having a good time, you're not conscious of it at the time, Looking back on it, realizing that you're learning and all that. When Michael called me, I was just flattered. Because Michael, no matter what anybody says about the guy, is undeniably like awesome talent, you know. And I wasn't gonna turn it down, it's not uncool, you know, to go and play on a Michael Jackson record. And so I went and did it, and I can't say that it was an easy thing to do, because of how disorganized it was. But, I'm proud of it after the fact. Now all the commercial stuff that goes along with it, and all the sort of hoopla and fucking paparazzi that, that's associated with it. I could really give a shit. That wasn't my point. It was just to go and, and pull it off and, and make it sound good, Which I think it did came out sounding cool, and that's all that really matters.

The beginning of this tour started the same day the Iraqi war started - January 15th, 1991. 1993 is where we are right now. How does a band like Guns N' Roses, who work so hard to keep its edge, keep this from being routine?

The thing that makes it keep its edge and makes it all worthwhile is the fact that when we get together and actually start playing. Then everything start to make some fucking sense. Because the rest of it has gotten so fucking out of proportion. And, so complicated, yet so out of reach. You can't really tie all the little ends together. And, little bits and pieces and, all the, um, the people involved and all the emotional levels and, and stringing out all together. So, you know, it all seems so, so difficult to keep that together. That's really once we all start working as, as unit and to actually get the band onstage. Do the show and get the band offstage. And then get to the next gig. That's, that's where, all of a sudden, it all start to make sense. It's like, when we actually start to put the wheels into motion. You know, brrr, bands onstage and we do our thing. And that part, which is really way left-field anyway, because we don't know what we're doing anyway. And once we're done, they picks us up all collectively and puts us in the dressing room, and then they carry us all up to the next city. So, the only thing that's keeping us together is the fact that we can get up there and still feel natural. Because if we were to be as mechanical as the rest of it is, then the whole thing would be pretty fucked up, I would imagine.

After two years on the road are you tired?

I think that the only times that I'm not tired is when I'm walking up the stairs. And about to get on the stage. And you hear the crowd and you're about to break in to the first tune. And then there's some sort of like revitalizing energy that get, you know, that comes out of nowhere and it carries you around for two hours. [laughs] You know, the rest of it is just… it's just fucking hell, I mean, you know. And especially for doing it for, as long as two years, with and, and having, and having all those other dates looking at you, you know. I usually go: "Ok, that's gig, that's gig 450 and we have 60 more coming," you know. [laughs] I mean, it's a little, it's a little nerve-racking. But playing actually… I can't say I'm tired from playing.

Do you have any theory as why Guns N' Roses have become such a popular phenomenon?

It's really hard for me to take the fact that Guns is doing so well, for granted. Because it's such a hard work to keep it going, and I see loupe-holes, aah, where we could easily fall apart and we managed to survive, you know. With member changes, with um… Oh, we just, you know, just everything in our everyday existence where we could fail, you know. We could make the wrong decision, or we could make the wrong move or, um… basically just fuck up. So, with all that going on, it's hard for me to look at us as some sort of phenomenon, you know. If I was to concentrate on that, I'll probably miss something a lot more important. Which would probably just be the integrity of the band and, and what we're standing for, and what we're trying to hold on to. Because, as hectic as, um, popularity has gotten, it just makes the work much harder. It makes that much harder to concentrate and focus on the music and, you know, being a band in general, you know.

Being a fan of rock music and bands like Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith, how do you compare Guns N' Roses 1993 and where you are and what you're playing to vintage Aerosmith, vintage Led Zeppelin and vintage Rolling Stones?

The only thing that I, you know... When it comes to, to Guns right now, especially in 1993, is that we're here and we're like surviving. But, I mean, come on, we've only done, um… One real studio record, one comp… One, um, aah…mini-EP, kind of, with acoustic stuff on, or whatever. We did two full-size records, which is probably about the size of about three, and then. To me that's just not enough yet, to even say that we're anybody, you know. I wanna do another record and have that, you know, being an accomplishment and to go, I wanna have that feeling of like: "Yeah, we really are established as, as not a shit in the pan. And in the future, like when all said and done, and maybe Guns is gone, I just like, I'd like to, to know what we'll be remembered as, you know. And I, I don't, I'm not working towards being some historic band or something. But I like to think that at least in the nineties we were significant, you know.
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