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Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.


2017.12.29 - Sixx Sense - My Favorite Riff with Nikki Sixx: Slash

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2017.12.29 - Sixx Sense - My Favorite Riff with Nikki Sixx: Slash Empty 2017.12.29 - Sixx Sense - My Favorite Riff with Nikki Sixx: Slash

Post by Blackstar Tue May 08, 2018 3:25 am


Nikki Sixx: All right, Nikki Sixx, here with my friend Slash, what's happening buddy?

Slash: Hey.

NS: It's good to see you.

Slash:; Good to see you too.

NS: Coming down to do My Favorite Riff. We're gonna talk about amps and guitars and your favorite riffs and stuff, and this is the last My Favourite Riff that we're doing so you're the big headliner dude, but I'm so happy, we've been friends for a long time, you know, and it's good to do kind of what we used to do, we used to hang out, you have a guitar and we would talk and that's what we did.

Slash: -and it's memorialized on-

NS: Yeah.

Slash: Yeah.

NS: So I was thinking about, you know, all those songs - when I was first learning - that inspired me to keep learning and some of those being some of my favorite riffs and was kind of wanting to pick your brain in that department.

Slash: Well, I mean, I think you... fuck, I think one of the my first favorite riffs when I was a kid had to be Whole Lotta Love, cuz that was just such a... to me that was the soundtrack for what the 70s were gonna be.

NS: It really kicked it off.

Slash: It was  so driving and it was so sexy and it was so just... you know, I think that that record is actually what initially turned me on to the Les Paul too because the sound of that guitar... So that was definitely one of them. I mean, I think a lot of Zeppelin stuff, you know, like Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, that was a good... I could go on, The Ocean was a good one.

NS: I've tried to rip that one off so many times and it's a great one.

Slash: But I think, you know, if we just sat here I'd go through all the records that, you know.... You Really Got Me from the Kinks was great. I'm thinking of... there was a lot of Who records because when I was a little kid living in England my dad was a huge rock and roll fan, but a huge Who fan, I think that it was his favorite band at the time so there was a ton of really cool Who riffs, you know, Magic Bus was a great one. Anyway, so yeah, I mean, we could go on for days about great riffs.

NS: I think that, like, the riff is something that we all know, like, Welcome To The Jungle you're like, "Oh, I love that song." That riff is so definable or, you know, many of the things that you've written... when I'm just playing and playing and playing sometimes it'll be like, "Whoa, what's that?" Do you have that, like is that where like some of these great riffs came from?

Slash: Yeah, you'll be messing around and a succession of notes will go by that maybe you heard in the course of... anyway, and it'll catch your ear and you'll go back and sort of, you know, suss out what it was.

NS: Kind of define it.

Slash: Yeah, it does happen a lot. And they come from, you know, just jamming with drums a lot of times because, I mean, riffs are very much a rhythmic thing and it's just jamming with drums and things will pop out.

NS: Yeah, do you, when you're working by yourself, work with, like, you know, drum loop or any kind of a metronome?

Slash: I use the metronome on my phone some times.

NS: Yeah, me too.

Slash: Cuz I have a tendency to write in weird key signatures, not intentionally.

NS: Not in 4/4 necessary, and you get it to the band they're like, "What time is this in?"

Slash: Yeah, yeah, so sometimes I'll use a metronome just to check out what it is that I'm doing to see how that translates.

NS: Yeah, that's interesting, many times I would go to rehearsal with Motley and I would show them the riff and then I'd hear Tommy and Mick going, "Is that even 4/4?" And I was like, "Is it not?"

Slash: I could be jamming something in my hotel room all night the night before sound check then come in to soundcheck and go, "Check this out," and realize that as soon as the drums start to come into it it's completely different than what I was-

NS: Yes, so the metronome will keep you honest [?]. So-

Slash: You were talking about John 5 earlier and he plays with a metronome all the time.

NS: He will come over to my house and we would just be playing and he would turn the metronome on and he's so sweet but he would push it, like his phone at me, like, "Listen to the metronome!" Because when I grew up I never played with the metronome.

Slash: Neither did I.

NS: I had a drummer who, I was like finally had a drummer, but on my own when I practice I never had anything-

Slash: It's actually, it's a discipline but it's a good thing because it teaches you to play in time, obviously, but one of the great things is as a soloist or somebody who just jams a lot, you can have a tendency to speed up and do all kinds of stuff that, at your whim, right? Which isn't really conducive to playing in a band situation.

NS: Yeah, 10 BPM faster than everybody else. But that happens when the chorus kicks in too and the audience starts going and you're like, "Wow, we're hauling ass!"

Slash: Yeah, everything speeds up, that's a little different.

NS: So want to throw a couple of your favourite riffs at me?

Slash: One of the ones that I was was the one who when I was like 14, yeah, roughly 14 years old and I heard The Rocks record and the first song in that record, that one-two punch of Back In The Saddle and Last Child?

NS: Yeah.

Slash: Just made that record, you know.

NS: Yeah, Last Child still to this day, right.

Slash: So awesome.

NS: But that's City Boy Blues off of Theater of Pain.

Slash: Oh yeah?

NS: Like, pretty much note for note.

Slash: Really?

NS: Yeah.

Slash: I did not know that.

NS: Now everybody knows that.

Slash: What was I gonna say? So, yeah, Back In The Saddle and it was that, you know, their intro which is fucking such a killer fucking intro but then it kicked into that riff and it was on the sixth string bass and yeah just like, "Fuck!" and then of course the vocals, insane. But see, I don't even know if I play it right  because he played it on a six-string bass so I'm not sure where he's playing it but on the guitar [plays guitar]. It's such a unique riff, it's really original.

NS: Does it, like, go to a major in there? Is that why it just... Sometimes a major and a minor pentatonic, it pops out.

Slash: I mean, in that sense it's very Stones like because the Stones always have this sort of major thing going on and it was bluesy but it still had this sort of major thing that just made it more sort of rock and roll, heavy metal, and so it has that element to it, but it still has the, I guess that we call it a minor third. It's a really, really cool riff.

NS: Great riff.

Slash: And we were talking about... Remember, you know, Black Dog, I mentioned Black Dog?

NS: Yeah.

Slash: And so everybody knows this one [plays guitar]. That turn around.

NS: I get tangled in there.

Slash: I finally learned what it was [plays guitar]. So it's this [plays guitar].

NS: Oh, there it is.

Slash: Two notes.  

NS: But it it puts it back on the one.

Slash: Yeah, yeah,  yeah.

NS: I always get lost on that one.

Slash: Yes, because I never could totally hear what it was, it was Jason Bonham who showed it to me.

NS: Really?

Slash: No fucking way. Yeah, we played together some gig with with Ozzy in Norway, like a bunch of years ago and chose to do that song and he saw me sort of like sort of improvising my way through that part and he goes, "Oh, it's just this," and I was, "Oh!" So it was like the heavens opened up-

NS: What was the one we talked about, was it Whole Lotta Love?

Slash: Yeah.

NS: I think we both played it wrong for a long time, I know I did. Was it when the bend... Is it Whole Lotta Love or Communication Breakdown?

[plays the guitar]

NS: [?] that if you miss the little thing it screws it all up, but you sometimes can't hear it on the record. If we do this [mimicking slowing down the speed of the vinyl]

Slash: Yeah, slowing it down.

NS: Yes, slowing the record down and screwing up the tuning. Kids today got a whole lot better-

Slash: Oh, there's all kinds of ways-

NS: [?] other ways of learning-

Slash: out there, to learn, I mean you can pretty much find an example performed on YouTube, I would imagine, of almost any song, someone's playing, whether they're playing it right-

NS: You find that a lot.

Slash: It's still easier than using sheet music that you buy it, though, because that stuff is never exactly right.

NS: No, right.

Slash: The interpretation of rock and roll by people who write sheet music, because it was at one point there where I learned how to read music pretty well and I would look at these fucking sheet music and it would be, whatever, AC/DC or something, and it was just not right [laughs].

NS: Right, right.

Slash: You know.

NS: It's easy to not be able to interpret something... As like the years went, when did you find that you're learning these riffs and, you know, I know I've had those moments where it's like the whole, like, it all made sense, you know, made sense, it's like when you finally connected the dots. How old do you  think you were when that happened? Because it's like, when I met you, you've been playing for quite a while, you're young, but you're, I mean, you were really great. Really.

Slash: Oh, that's... I mean, I'm flattered by that. I think for me it was really, you know, I was talking about that, I had this little... the first thing I ever bought having to do with learning how to play guitar, was this little How To Play Rock Guitar book I found in Aaron's Records [?] or something and it was... it had tabs in it and, you know, the tabs are simple enough and it showed some sort of positions and the notes in that position and related that to a couple different sort of rocks standards or whatever, and it was really just putting like four notes together that sounded rock and roll and I was like, "Oh my god!" and it's just, I mean, and that just sent me, you know, running after that. And so it's, I think, always been about, you know, accomplishing whatever it is that you wanted to hear or were hearing in your head, and that's such a turn-on when it happens.

NS: Yeah, I mean that is the thing that just... it gives you this... like you can't quench the thirst for the instrument. I still find it today, I think, as a kid.

Slash: Yeah, it's just putting notes together that... you know, a melody or whatever and you do it, you're a songwriter, you you know this, you get something out of the right combination of notes, that is the best possible feeling for a musician, you know, it's like in actuality I don't think sex or cuisine or, you know, anything... for a musician that's the biggest turn-on. I mean, for a racecar driver it's being able to take a turn at a certain angle and being able to do it at a certain speed, so with guitars it's just being able to hear and feel that melody that moves you.

NS: Yeah. How do you find the craziness that's been of your life and Guns N' Roses and, as long as I've known you [?] have been kind of just happy to play guitar, I got to see you backstage, we're backstage right now-

Slash: You know, like, where you feel most comfortable-

NS: Yeah.

Slash: The rest of it is an exercise and trying to sort shit out and, you know, deal with communicating with people verbally, that's always a pain in the ass and, you know, navigating all the different things you have to navigate through to be able to to exist. But with a guitar you can basically, you know, say whatever it is that you feel like saying without talking.

NS: Yes, no feedback.

Slash: Yeah, yeah.

NS: Unless you want it.

Slash: Yeah, and so I mean, I think that's what makes it, you know, all the shit you have to go through being in a working band as far as like touring is concerned and even going in to make a record, or whatever, it's the fact that at the end of the day you're going to be able to play and that sort of makes up for all the other bullshit.

NS: All the other stuff.

Slash: You really just... it doesn't do anything for you, you know.

NS: I feel that, like, I don't know when... I had this awareness, I probably did really young, so did you, but I'm my most centered when I'm playing my instrument with other musicians, whether it's in studio or-

Slash: It's because I think that's where you feel... I mean, I agree because I feel like whatever you're doing by yourself is all a means to an end, which is to get into a group situation and perform this very big version of that idea.

NS: Yeah, and you're just at peace then, you know, for sure, 100%. Any other favorites?

Slash: I hadn't really thought about it. I only brought the one.

NS: Yeah, that's okay. I've never seen how the beginning of Welcome To The Jungle, as long as I've been sitting around you and seeing you playing guitar, and I've heard it 10,000 million times, how does that go?

[plays guitar]

Slash: That's basically it.

NS: It's a great riff.

Slash: It's a little tricky to play because you're skipping strings the whole time.

NS: Right.

Slash: It didn't seem like it at the time to hear that that's what the, you know, that's the thing about it, it's skipping from... to the D string, it's still hitting the B.

NS: Did that come out of an exercise?

Slash: No, it's just, I think I had this [plays verse rhythm] I had that part and I was trying to think of an intro.

NS: Which is actually, now I think of, ss a very Rocks-era Aerosmith part [humming] It is a little bit, you know.

[plays guitar]

Slash: And so I was just trying to think of an intro and that just came, I don't remember spending a lot of... too much time. I mean, that song came together when we, remember Nicki Beat?

NS: Mhm.

Slash: We were rehearsing at Nicki Beat's place in Silver Lake and we would have three hours booked there and a lot of the material on Appetite for Destruction came during those sessions and-

NS: What, kind of jam sessions or?

Slash: It was just all of us coming in to rehearse. And Welcome To The Jungle was a riff that I had already had, that I played for Axl at one point, you know, and he mentioned at Nicky's, "Play me that riff that you had the other day," and so we started working on that riff and I just [plays intro] You know, it just came pretty quickly.

NS: Yeah. those are the best ones.

Slash: I swear to god, that Appetite record for the most part, at least instrumentally wise, pretty much wrote itself. I don't remember, I mean, I remember the advent of certain riffs and whatnot but it all just sort of very organically came together. It is probably one of the most unorthodox arranged records as far as the songs are concerned-

NS: Yeah, that's what stuck out to me. Like when I first heard, like, the music from you guys, I'm gonna see you guys play, like the Roxy, there was different timing changes and stuff that were like unique for the time, shaked it up a little bit.

Slash: It wasn't like when I hear sort of certain people talk about how they really worked out these parts and had an idea for this crazy thing, we were just sort of just very spontaneously, "Okay, one guy's got a part, another guy would come up with something else." We would try and get it all together before the three hours Nicky Beat's were up.

NS: Shout At The Devil was like that, it's like I had an idea, "Here's a song [?]," and it was, "Okay," and then it was over and then one day we had this album, we did the Dr. Feelgood album with Bob Rock [?], it was a great experience but it was [?] so everything was really thought out and those albums are necessary, too. Very rarely do you get to write, you know, like your first album then have it just happen like that.

Slash: Yeah, well, you see the EP-

NS: Yeah, the Too Fast For Love, yeah. That was a similar similar thing but-

Slash: I think there was a great riff that's not on the EP-

NS: Stick To Your Guns?

Slash: Stick To Your Guns, yeah. I remember that was on that... well it was on the EP but it wasn't on the-

NS: [?]. Because they needed to cut it because there wasn't enough time because the vinyl.

Slash: Oh, someone told me that you had.... What was it? Something having to do with Kim Fowley.

NS: No, but Kim Fowley... Kim Fowley asked me to write a song for Blondie and I wrote that song for Blondie.

Slash: See, it's great how these crazy stories and you hear them and you just think them as fact at that point.

NS: Yeah, yeah.

Slash: I think it was that Kim Fowley had the publishing to that song, or you sold him to publishing that song to get some money to do whatever.

NS: I think I wrote the song for $100. And that was like a $100, in 1979, maybe. I wrote it... because it was pre-Motley but I always liked that riff, too.

Slash: Yeah, and then there's another now I'm going to Motley stuff, but there was a riff on another song on the same record that had a similar riff that actually made the record which is [plays guitar].

NS: Oh, that's Too Fast For Love, yeah, yeah.

Slash: And then the other one was... Fuck, I can't even remember.

NS: That's okay, I can't either. [...] that's like just the chromatic [demonstrates] and just all the way, you know, so it's a pretty simple riff. But that's actually a Cheap Trick's song played backwards, I I think it's Up The Creek.

Slash: Yeah?

NS: It's part of that [?] I have a couple of, you know, Motley songs that might be your songs, too.


Slash: That's funny.  

NS: We all do, see that's the thing is that when we love a riff we played and then we're like, "Oh, that's really cool," and then it kind of morphs into something else and one day you're like, "Oh, it's half Black Dog and half something."

Slash: Yeah, that definitely happens.

NS: Yeah, you have to be careful. I've never ended up in a situation where I've... I don't think I've ever gotten in a situation as a songwriter where I found it was too close to somebody else's, but I'm sure-

Slash: I haven't either but I did have a situation with Velvet Revolver once where we, before Velvet Revolver really became Velvet Revolver, we had written this two parts of one song, right, Duff and and Matt and I, and then we were working with some other guys who will remain nameless who brought in the other two parts of that song. And so when Velvet Revolver came together, we kept the song as it was and it turned out that the other two guys had lifted their parts from a band that they were rehearsing next door to. So that band heard that song and said, "Well, those are our riffs," and we didn't know what the fuck they were talking about. Then we heard who it was, and "That was the band that was rehearsing right next door to you guys's rehearsal studio." So when we heard the record, you know, the song, I heard where those parts were and it was like, "Oh fuck," but we didn't write it.

NS: So those guys had songwriting credit.

Slash: Well, not the the original band but the guys we were working with, but the only thing is, is we were getting sued by the original band for that song.

NS: A mess.

Slash: Like out of the blue, one of those things where you're like, "Huh? You gotta be fucking kidding me."

NS: Yeah, the lawsuit would between-

Slash: And some band you have never heard of.

NS: We must have had more lawsuits, as soon as you get successful the lawsuits just start.

Slash: Yeah, yeah. No, I had a stalker guy who said that all my riffs I cosmically stole out of his brain and he was making all these death threats and writing these, sending us these letters. I had to get a restraining order, so we're sitting in court and here's this guy, I've seen pictures of him, and here he is in the flesh and he's telling the judge that I stole his riffs-

NS: He believed it?

Slash: Yeah [laughs].

NS: That's like, maybe you did.

Slash: Yeah, right.

NS: "Where are these rifts coming from anyway?"

Slash: It was really a bizarre.... yeah.

NS: You know what, people are crazy but rock and roll stays the course.

Slash: Yeah, well, it wouldn't be rock and roll if it weren't crazy.

NS: That's true. Thank you so much-

Slash: Dude, thanks for having me. Really good to be here.

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2017.12.29 - Sixx Sense - My Favorite Riff with Nikki Sixx: Slash Empty Re: 2017.12.29 - Sixx Sense - My Favorite Riff with Nikki Sixx: Slash

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