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SoulMonster

1993-12-DD - Interview with Slash

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1993-12-DD - Interview with Slash

Post by Soulmonster on Sat Jun 18, 2011 9:29 am

Exactly what spaghetti has to do with Guns N' Roses is perhaps not sure, as is which incident that's aimed at. But "The Spaghetti Incident?" is nevertheless the title of the long-awaited cover album with punk- and rock songs that Guns N' Roses have promised for almost two and a half years.
Among the songs are UK Subs' "Down On The Farm" and The Damned's "New Rose", Iggy and the Stooges "Raw Power" and Nazareth's "Hair Of The Dog". It's also the album that is going to tie up the band between Guns N' Roses' record tour 1991-93 and the next album. The guitarist Slash looks back at what's been and looks forward to what is next.

A hostess rolls in a tea wagon in the suite of Sheraton Hotel in Stockholm that goes by the name The President Suite.

The wagon contains a lot of the things you usually recognize from press meetings, as peanuts, coffee, Coca-Cola and mineral water.

But also something a bit unusual as an un-opened bottle of Jack Daniels, that is the type of whisky that the Rolling Stoner Keith Richards usually calls "the old lubrication".

- It's Slash's bottle. No one but him gets to open it, says Guns N' Roses press agent Wendy Leister.

When Slash finally comes to the suite half an hour after the actual time for the interview, he steps right up to the wagon, opens the bottle, fills the glass with ice, sits down in the couch, place his feet on the table in front of him and lights a cigarette.
He's dressed in black torn jeans, basket shoes of Converse model and a white T-shirt with no arms, that has a colorful motive where two girls are either in a fight or possibly a sadomasochistic lesbian intercourse.

In other words he's not dressed properly for a man that's got a fortune of a huge amount of million dollars. But well for a very famous rock musician.

The glass and his choice of clothes are maybe a bit cliché. But this is Slash and this is how he's always been. Nothing can change that fact. Neither now nor in the future.


Advantage with a good mood

On the low glass table in front of him lie some newspapers with reviews of the show the night before.
He looks at them with a certain interest.
Laughs at Axl's T-shirt with the in the USA very famous murderer Charles Manson. Together with some similar minded people he sadistically murdered the girlfriend of Polish director Roman Polanski, Sharon Tate. It happened in the end of the sixties and Manson is still in jail.

He notices all the small signs around the reviews and wonder what they are. He gets happy when it turns out the general grade is high.
Some reviewers have pointed out the fact that an Axl in top shape also makes Guns N' Roses as an entirety better and do good shows. That even though the outer circumstances for the show meant were almost insufferable with rain and wind that made you think more of a dark evening in the autumn than summer.

Well, that's probably just the way it is, he says smiling. If Axl's in a good mood, us others in the band don't have to think about what he's doing and why. But if he's in a worse mood, we have to spend a big part of the show at not making him more pissed off or irritated and therefore screw the show even more, Slash says with a smile.

But shouldn't you as a paying audience gets to see one person that at least pretended that everything was OK?

Not Axl. It's just not possible. He will absolutely not do anything he doesn't feel like and I respect that. Of course it happens that a show doesn't fully work due to his mood-swings. But he can't pretend. But the times we are good, then it feels really good. Then there is nothing better.


Hard to say no

What strikes me after talking to Slash a while is how incredibly kind and gentle he really is as a person. He seems to be completely unaware of his own person and importance.

Apparently he doesn't understand that Guns four albums altogether has sold upwards to 50 million copies, or that so many fans care so much about what he and others in the band does.

This even though his well-known appearance limits his possibilities to move around.

I don't go out so much at all as in the past. In some ways I feel a little "raped" and limited by the fans because of that. But it's still a small price to pay for the opportunity to travel around the world and play to people, says Slash.

Before the interview the press girl Wendy Leister told that Slash find it very hard to say no or say something negative about and to people. He let others handle the sometimes disagreeable but often necissary job to say no. Not because he wants to appear less nice, but because he has to. After all the day and night only have 24 hours.

Spanish TV did an interview with him a while ago and I specifically told them that Slash don't do any small commercials for the show (also called station id:s), says Wendy.

But they asked him to do it anyway and he agreed because he couldn't say no. Afterwards he wondered if I hadn't told them. I went insane over the TV-team, Wendy remembers.


Long world tour

The two last years record tour has undeniably turned Guns N' Roses from being "just" another hardrock band - even though they're the band who's debut has sold most copies - to a such big and public matter that even your grandmother can comment on the band.

A big part of that change of course lies in the band itself. Their massive record success has made that the press, radio and TV have noticed everything they've done. The band hasn't really done anything to improve their image.

There are certainly more people who know of negative events like the riots in St. Louis and Montreal in Canada 1991 [webmaster comment: The article says 1991, but the riot in Montreal was in 1992] than people that know five songs with Guns N' Roses.

The tour was started on May 24, 1991 in the Alpine Valley Theatre in Wisconsin (also the site for the last show with guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan before he died in a tragic helicopter accident). Although the first gig was on May 9 in the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco, and to be even more exact, the band also participated on Rock In Rio in January.

The last gig was however in Belgian Werchter on July 11, 1993. [Webmaster comment: The last gig was really on July 17, in Buenos Aires, Argentina]

Close to four million people have seen the band live (plus everybody who saw the show from Paris on cable in the summer of 1992) during upwards to 200 shows, including two visits in Sweden (August 1991 and June 1993).

Slash has experienced both his 26th and 27th birthday during the tour, got married with an "actress" and above all seen Guns rise to a mega-band.

- How strange it may sound and considering how many albums we've sold, this tour is the first one headlining we've done, says Slash about Guns N' Roses that previously has opened for Mötley Crue, Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith and The Rolling Stones.

- But we haven't reached this position without a lot of hard work, says Slash and disappear into a long and stilted story about rock n' roll that you've heard too many times.


A lonely kid

Long before Slash got his nickname and long before Guns N' Roses was formed, one Saul Hudson was born.

That happened on July 23, 1965 in the English town Stoke-On-Trent, a town most famous for pot-manufacturers and a soccer team who's only exploit during about 130 years history is to have won the Cup in 1972.

By the age of eleven he moved to the US and Los Angeles with his mother Ola. She worked a clothing designer and for a while she dated David Bowie. "The thin white duke" could have become Slash's stepfather.

- I don't remember much of my time in England and I don't think I'm carrying anything typically English. It's not something I'm aware of anyway, says Slash about his first eleven years.

- When I moved to the States I didn't fit in. My parents were completely different then all the other parents of the kids that I grew up around, you know, looser and cooler and, you know, more in the music business as supposed to being attorneys, doctors. So, I didn't really get on.

Eventually he met people with the same idea about life as himself. Like Slash these people were on the margins of life and were always on the edge. A person like that was the drummer Steven "popcorn" Adler that Slash met at Bancroft Junior High. With him he started his first band - Roadwork. [webmaster comment: The band's name was Road Crew]

- What I discovered in him, and many others at that time, was that there actually were people who were ready to take chances, that were ready not to go the usual paths in life. And do something else than what you're "expected" to do, say Slash who unfortunately must admit that he relate more with "outcasts" than so-to-speak "normal" people. Not totally unexpected he's also married a woman who in her way is an outcast, but not for one moment seem to understand all the excitement he creates. He married because he loved her but also not to loose her.

So to her I'm just Slash. The guy that snores… And smokes too many cigarettes, Slash say laughing.

He himself has very to accept the star status that surrounds so many rock musicians and doesn't want to be impressed either. He thinks it would feel uncomfortable since nobody really wants to be put on a pedestal.

Slash has had the fortune of working with many of his childhood heroes like "the old guys" in Aerosmith and the guitarist Jeff Beck (even if that meeting only resulted in a rehearsal before a Guns show in Paris last year).

- To label somebody a star puts that person in a very uncomfortable and stupid position. I don't wanna expose anybody to that treatment and I can only hope to be treated the same way, even if it's almost impossible, he says.


A notorious band

Guns N' Roses is from the moment the band formed very well documented.

The fans know the most about everything from the first official gig at the Troubadour Club in Los Angeles [webmaster comment: Actually it was one OF the first gig with the classical line-up.] on June 6, 1985 via the contract with Geffen Records on March 25, 1986 to the release of "Appetite For Destruction" 1987, that got to be the highest selling debut album in rock history (about 19 million copies).

But the media devoted just as much to the group's wild rock n' roll life at the side of the music. Drug abuse of all kinds, rumors about break-ups, a certain guitarist that urinated in the ashtray of an airplane and other disturbing behavior, was like candy for the press that so long had waited for a scandalous band after all prim Jesus-like bands like U2 and Simple Minds.

One that felt very bad about all this was the singer Axl Rose. Not because of what the press wrote but because that all the events slowly choked the band. Today Slash can look at that time with a little more "sober" eyes. He doesn't excuse himself but can explain.

- We all carried a lot of shit that got outlet through music and unfortunately also through drugs and alcohol. In Axl's case it was more of an emotional problem. He's spent a lot of time working his problems out, Slash tells.

- But the drugs almost broke us as a band. If we hadn't done the gigs with Rolling Stones the fall of 1989 and Axl publicly confronted us with the problems, the band probably wouldn't be around today. He was really concerned and couldn't reach to us others and make us understand how serious it was. But it finally happened.

Slash says that today everybody in the band, are clean from drugs. He himself shouldn't have touched any chemical substance since that day for almost four years ago when he more or less was kidnapped by then-manager Alan Niven and was flown to Hawaii for rehabilitation.


Escaped members

Everybody didn't manage to break their abuse.

The drummer Steven Adler for example never succeeded, or never got the chance (choose yourself) to get away from his heroin abuse and was therefore fired in the summer of 1990.

His last achievement was drumming on the song "Civil War" that was first released on a charity compilation record for the children of Romania. It is the band's definite peak song-wise.

In the confusion he signed papers where he on princip gave away the money he had the right to. Therefore he sued the band and the legal process that was going to start a few weeks ago ended with an out-of-court agreement.

Reportedly Steven got about 2.5 million dollars.

And previous guitar player Izzy Stradlin that left the band during the fall of 1991?

Well, he returned as familiar for five gigs on the European tour this summer as replacer of Gilby Clarke who had hurt his wrist. Slash really doesn't want to talk about Izzy but he does it anyway.

- I really looked forward to playing with him again and really hoped that he had changed. I booked a place before the first gigs in Tel Aviv to rehearse. But Izzy thought it was unnecessary, that it was just wasted time. He hadn't changed one bit and therefore the gigs turned out the way they did, Slash.

- Izzy simply doesn't like playing rock at the level where we are right no. We understand it no and I'm personally very fucking disappointed at his previous behavior.


Works a lot

Slash is definitely the one in Guns N' Roses that works the most of all. The band's PR girl told before the interview how Slash made sure to fill every day off during the tour with work outside the band. It could be anything from performing somewhere with Michael Jackson to playing on an upcoming album with the old English blues veteran John Mayall.

- I always think about music during the wake hours. If I don't play with Guns or play on a record, I write songs, rehearse or talk in the phone with somebody about music. I would go nuts in no time if I didn't have something to do, Slash tells.

His intensive work just doesn't counteract laziness; he feels physically and emotionally much better as a person and doesn't risk falling back into drug abuse.

He really never has been able to handle his free time in a good way. To ensure himself to not get away from the music be able to work anytime at all, Slash has invested in a home studio.
- There I can work on songs not just for Guns but also for other artist, he says with a smile on his lips. Because the breakthrough as guitarist with Guns N' Roses has made him an asked-for musician. For a while he accepted every offer he got and went into the work with an open mind.

Sometimes it hasn't been so good, like during the first time with Michael Jackson or Bob Dylan. But just as often it's been killer, like when he recorded "Always On The Run" with Lenny Kravitz, a song originally written for Guns.
- Axl and Duff were like: "Why did you do that?" I was like: "'Cause Steve couldn't play 'em".


Floating music

Slash says he's got several ideas for new Guns songs but that he's neither put them on paper or tape. "I have them up here" he says and points at his head.

He knows Axl is working intensively with new lyrics but have no idea about the content ("you have to ask him"). And to ask Slash about his musical ideas is like asking an environmental hippie on drugs how to solve the world's economical problems.

- I don't work towards creating a certain style or do something consciously "right" or pull away with the band. I just try to "float along" and see what ideas come up and do something that makes sense with them.
What's gonna tie up the "Use Your Illusion"-records and the tour with the coming studio album is not any original material but a cover album with a lot of old punk and rock songs. Some songs the band recorded already three years ago. The album has gotten the somewhat odd title "The Spaghetti Incident?", contains a few surprises.

Except for earlier known punk tunes like Fears' "I Don't Care About You" (Slash picked this song), The Misfits' "Attitude" (that Guns played live this summer) and the UK Subs' "Down On The Farm" the band has put in several rock songs.

English Nazareth has contributed with "Hair Of The Dog". Iggy and the Stooges' "Raw Power" can be heard as well as the 35-year-old song "Since I Don't Have You" with the Skyliners.

- Basically these are songs that we liked when we grew up and we just wanted to record them because it was fun.
Somehow we always manage to confuse people, in particular the people that work in the music business, since no one really knows what we're doing or why. Everybody has heard about this record but no one really believed we would release it, Slash smiles.


No politics

At least one thing about the coming album is certain, and that is that Guns wont write outspoken political songs or even songs touching the subject politic. The song "Civil War" with its references to the American civil war and the assassination of President Kennedy in November 1963 is probably the first and likely the last.

- Politics is for people like Peter Gabriel and Bruce Springsteen! We're just a rock n' roll band, Slash says and lights up another cigarette. By that it ain't said that the lyrics don't cause controversy.
When the record company persuaded the band to release "GN'R Lies" in December 1988 the song "One In A Million" caused irritation among black people rights-organizations as well as organizations working for the rights of homosexuals. One such organization denied the band to participate in a charity concert to raise money to people ill with HIV.
- And then as far as the whole racist thing is concerned, it had nothing to do with racism, or us speaking out against blacks or anything. I'm half-black, so I was like: "Ok, this is a good one. And we're definitely not homophobic. Axl's view doesn't maybe match with what you're "supposed" to think. But the experiences Axl had of gays when he came to Los Angeles for the first time, you can't take that away from him, Slash explains. He knew that that particular song would cause controversy but believes that the media and others watch the band a lot more careful because so many, and in particular youths are listening to the band's music and lyrics.

- I don't think anybody would have cared if we were a small, shitty band that only sold a handful of records. But sometimes it strikes me when fans writes to us and explain how much our music means to them, how much we really can and could affect, Slash says thoughtfully.

- I might feel responsible for a moment and start thinking about how we can be comprehended and why. But you can't think like that. Because after all Guns N' Roses is just a rock n' roll band.
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