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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.


2018.08.14 - Forbes - Slash Opens Up On Guns 'N' Roses, His New Album And 'The Fame Monster'

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2018.08.14 - Forbes - Slash Opens Up On Guns 'N' Roses, His New Album And 'The Fame Monster' Empty 2018.08.14 - Forbes - Slash Opens Up On Guns 'N' Roses, His New Album And 'The Fame Monster'

Post by Blackstar Wed 15 Aug 2018 - 1:31

Slash Opens Up On Guns 'N' Roses, His New Album And 'The Fame Monster'

By Steve Baltin

I recently dubbed Dave Grohl “The coolest guy in rock.” Slash is right there with him. My favorite Slash story comes from 2011.

I was at the Super Bowl with the Black Eyed Peas the year they performed. I ran into Slash, a surprise guest during the halftime show, in the locker room area a few days before the performance. Because it was supposed to be a surprise and they didn’t want anyone to see him, they whisked him away immediately before we got a chance to say hello.

A few months later we were on the phone where he asked, “Where did I just see you?” I said, “Uh, the Super Bowl.” He responded, “That’s right, I felt so bad I didn’t have time to talk to you. I always try to make time for you.”

So knowing how humble and generous Slash is, I joked with him, “What’s been new with you?” when we recently met up at a Los Angeles studio to discuss Living The Dream, his third album with his band the Conspirators, due next month.

He answers in earnest -- wrote some songs, did a two-year tour with Guns ‘N’ Roses, just a little. In an in-depth, fascinating revealing conversation that could have gone on for hours, Slash filled me in on the last two years, why the most important thing to him was rekindling his friendship with Axl Rose, seeing Keith Richards at Desert Trip, why he felt bad leaving the Conspirators in the lurch for the GNR tour, how GNR weren’t ready for their early success and so much more.

Steve Baltin: You’ve been busy since I saw you last.

Slash: When did I see you last? It was the World On Fire thing, right? I went on the road, I wrote some songs during that, started pre-production at the end, hooked up with Axl, ended up doing these Coachella dates, which turned into a two-year tour, which still isn’t over. We had a break during that in January, so I hooked up with the Conspirators guys, wrote some new songs, started pre-production in earnest, had the record mixed and mastered by May, then when straight to rehearsals with Guns, went and did this last stadium thing, now I’m doing this before I get to go out with Conspirators again. So it’s pretty cool, I’m excited.

Baltin: I talked about this with Joe Perry and some of the guys in the E Street Band as well. You’re in that artistic sweet spot of having the best of both world, the big rock machine and your passion project. Do you feel that?

Slash: Even though it’s been two years, the Guns ‘N’ Roses thing was not planned, so it wasn’t some sort of aspiration. It just sort of came out of nowhere and ended up being really, really fun. I never would have expected it to happen in the first place and then be such a joyous thing. So now, at this point, I’m firmly ensconced in that and able to go and play with...sort of like concubine kind of thing (laughs).

Baltin: You say it was more joyous than you would have expected. It does feel like, for most people, as you get older that other stuff falls away and doesn’t matter.

Slash: I’m so stubborn that I’m loathe to admit it, even at this point in time, I’m going, “Well, that’s not what it is. I don’t know what it is, but that’s not it.” To me, it seems to be something more cosmic than that. Granted, there are changes that I will recognize in myself since then, and I will take the blame for a lot of that negativity. With Axl, it’s harder for me to say. I don’t know what it is for him, but we’ve been having a really good time. And we never sat and talked about this particular aspect of it. We’ve just been doing it.

Baltin: I also spoke with Myles [Kennedy, Conspirators singer] a few months ago about his album. And I’m sure one of the cool things when you went to make this album is you both bring new things to the table.

Slash: For us musicians, you’re always reaching for something. But when I got into the studio with these guys, I missed them and I had a little bit of guilt for having put them in a situation where I took off for a tour that had seemingly no end in sight and left it all hanging cause we had started working on new tunes and they were cool and we were about to go into another cycle. I wrote a bunch of new songs, so there was a song on the record called “Mind Your Manners,” which I wrote, the first thing we played when we got back in the room cause that’s always so awkward. “What do we play first? Do we just jam or what do we do?” We jammed that and that became a song, so that was cool. But some of the material was old, from 2015, and that made me feel like I was going backwards in a way. Normally what happens is there’s a certain shelf life and then you move on. So that made me go, “The songs are really good, so I want to do them.” But, in a sense, I felt it was going the other direction.

Baltin: As you grow and change the songs change for you though too, so they probably didn’t feel like the same songs as in 2015.

Slash: Yeah, it’s a whole new animal in 2018. We had a really good time just throwing this thing altogether. And all the guys were f**king amazing. This was Frank [Sidoris’] first record and I didn’t know what to expect. And he did a f**king awesome job. I was really proud of him. Todd [Kerns] was amazing, Brent [Fitz]was f**king amazing. So definitely with everybody the game was up. I was listening to prior records cause I’m trying to figure out songs for the setlist. So last night I was jamming along and I go, “God, this new record’s so much better than the other ones.” So I feel this progression growing as individuals, but also as a group. We’re getting better and better, which is awesome. I witnessed that. 

Baltin: I am sure though as well the two years away helped give you that perspective because you stepped out of it and saw it change.

Slash: Definitely, cause I never listen to the past records anyway. But after this amount of time I gotta listen to at least snippets of some of the songs just so I can figure out what songs I want to put in the set and so on. And now we have three records, so we have what are so-called singles people are familiar with, then there are deep tracks and all that. But it was a trip listening to “Apocalyptic Love.” It’s potentially great stuff in there and some of it really arrives at a great place, but not all of it. So the band has just become more cohesive and I think, as songwriters, we just started gelling.

Baltin: So did they give you s**t for taking off in the middle of the record?

Slash: No, initially, we were on the road somewhere in the U.S. and I’d spent some time with Axl and I told the guys straight up, “I’ve been talking to Axl and we’re talking about doing some shows and I don’t know what that’s gonna lead to. I’ll keep you posted.” Everybody’s feedback was very supportive because it was such an unprecedented event that those guys being fans of the whole Guns thing wanted to see it to happen. “But then what did that mean for the future?” They don’t know what I’m thinking (laughs). But I had been waiting for a moment where I could step out of Guns, for a second, and just focus on doing this record. Pretty much after we’d been doing this for a year I was like, “Okay, I need to find a moment.” So it came and it was good.

Baltin: It’s interesting how you refer to it as the Guns experience. I’ve known you so many years seeing you on that Jumbotron at Dodger Stadium was weird. Did it feel surreal to go back into it and realize people cared that much?

Slash: There was a lot of surreal stuff about the Guns thing. For me, the biggest thing was me and Axl sitting together and talking. And we were right back to us as normal friends. That was, in and of itself, a surreal moment and it was really cathartic and I felt really relieved. All that negative black s**t that had been collecting over years and years, being perpetuated. So that was one thing. But the support from the fans, they could have gone whichever way, and it would have been fine with us because it was just  good for us to get together. But, to have the enthusiasm, just the overall reaction from fans globally over the course of the whole f**king tour, is something that, as a kid coming up, you can only ever wish for. It was really something you feel very humbled by and grateful for. I don’t want to get into all that kind of s**t.

Baltin: I was interviewing Don Henley and we were talking about having two of the biggest-selling albums of all time. And he said he really didn’t even think about that because thinking about it is what messes with your head.

Slash: When you’re onstage, you’re talking about the Jumbotron, and there are fireworks, I see photos and stuff, and you’re just onstage. It’s nothing, there’s a lot of room and you run around, you’re into the song. But none of that other stuff is part of the experience for me. People in the front are experiencing something a little different than I’m experiencing in the moment.

Baltin: I mentioned Joe Perry, who you are friends with. Are there people you look to for the way they’ve balanced multiple projects?

Slash: It’s a pretty different situation because of the gap of 22 years between shows, but 20 years between conversations. So that makes it sort of unique. But I went one of those Desert Trip shows and I saw Keith [Richards] at the Stones one. And I was so happy to see him because I hadn’t seen him since all of this stuff had started. He was obviously not very supportive of my leaving Guns at the time because to him you keep that together. And I had just gotten to a point where, even with that advice, I couldn’t listen to him. Fast forward 20 years and he’s playing this gig and we’d already done Coachella. I saw him and I said, “Yeah, it’s back together, it’s really good.” And I gave him a big hug.

Baltin: But as I was also just talking about with Foreigner when you have big success as a young age you’re not equipped to deal with it and it overwhelms you.

Slash: It’s hard. Any one of us would hate to bitch about it because f**k, you finally arrive in that place where you were basically working towards. Your entire youth you gave up everything so you could do this one thing and get to a certain point. Then you get there and start whining about it? So I’ve never been one to complain, but I will say that streetwise and realistic and prudent as Guns ‘N’ Roses was as a young band that aspect of it I didn’t see coming. I don’t think any of us saw it coming and it was really sudden being an opening band and then all of a sudden being a stadium band.

Baltin: Do you also appreciate it so much more as a person cause you didn’t expect it and didn’t know how to handle it?

Slash: I do remember always appreciating it. I remember always walking into the venue and seeing them putting the rig together and going, “All this s**t for us.” So I was always very appreciative, but that was a singular thought in the midst of all kinds of chaos. But I have to say there’s a different, clearer appreciation of everything involved, not just the setup, but everything. Just the harmonious existence between us musicians, all that. It helps not to be loaded too. That’s something I will admit to.

Baltin: I go back to one of the first interviews we did, where you said, “I find myself doing things now to promote an album I never would have dreamed of.”

Slash: That’s a big, long introspective conversation in and of itself. One day we should have a conversation just on that because every so often I get asked questions similar to what you asked, “How does success….?” and also, “What is it that makes drugs such a key part of the image of the rock star?” There are a lot of things that go on with success, fame, creativity and pressures of the business and all that s**t. I remember back in 1991 doing some gigs with Michael Jackson at the Tokyo Dome and then doing some gigs with Guns ‘N’ Roses at the same venue, a couple of days later. And working with Michael Jackson really gave me a good idea of the fame monster and for somebody as talented and amazingly together as he was, the legions of people around him he didn’t trust. There was one person I saw he felt totally comfortable with.

Baltin: I wonder, for all these artists, if they knew what the fame cost, would it be worth it to them?

Slash: You give up everything, including your sanity, to be able to succeed at this.

Baltin: It’s so interesting you say you spend your whole life building to this because I know what happens with so many artists is you don’t fit in as a kid, you think fame will make it better and you still are an outcast.

Slash: Even more so. Out of all the people I know there are two groups that really had it down. Lemmy, he had a very linear, arrived at a certain place and maintained a certain kind of control over stuff and he was happy and just did his thing. And the other was AC/DC, regardless of all the tragedies that happened with that band over the years, as a group they worked to get big and they managed to hold on to that and do their thing. As far as what I’m aware of.

Baltin: What songs from the album are you most excited to play live?

Slash: I just did a live set for shows that will be happening before the album even comes out. Half the tour the album won’t be out yet. So I put “My Antidote,” “Driving Rain” and I put on “Call Of The Wild,” that’s the album opener. And probably “Mind Your Manners.” Those are three in-your-face rock songs.

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