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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.


2018.09.DD - Clay Marshall via Blabbermouth - Interview with Slash

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2018.09.DD - Clay Marshall via Blabbermouth - Interview with Slash Empty 2018.09.DD - Clay Marshall via Blabbermouth - Interview with Slash

Post by Blackstar Tue Oct 02, 2018 9:23 am

One highlight of Guns N' Roses' concerts during the "Not In This Lifetime" tour has been the "Chinese Democracy" track "Better", which features an intro that doesn't appear on the album version of the song. Guitarist Slash says it's only natural that the song's live rendition sounds different with him and bassist Duff McKagan performing it.

"Any of the 'Chinese Democracy' stuff, the way that that stuff evolved was really Duff and I sort of learning the songs and the integrity of the songs and playing it the way that we would play them," he recently told writer Clay Marshall. "They're such different musicians that actually recorded, so they ended up sounding the way that they ended up sounding, but the arrangements are more or less the same. We did change the intro... that was actually just some idea, something that came actually from another piece of material, and it just somehow morphed into the intro for that song because it was so cool."

During GN'R's recent European tour, the group began performing "Slither" by Velvet Revolver, Slash and McKagan's mid-'00s supergroup that featured late vocalist Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots). "If you got a hold of an old set list from 2016," Slash explained, "you saw there was a set list and then there was an alternate set, which was just songs that we could do audibles with [and] move shit around. It was on there, and the band actually jammed it way early on just to get the groove together and all that. But it just never came up. Then, when we went into rehearsals for the European tour, Axl came in [and went], 'Let's try 'Slither'.' It was never even something that we've talked about, but hearing Axl do it, considering he's channeling a little bit of Scott in that, and then Duff and I sort of having been with that song since its inception, the three of us doing it together was very cool. I couldn't put a verbal description of that feeling, but that was cool."

The band also recently began performing "Shadow Of Your Love", a track dating back to the mid-1980s that appears on the recently released expanded remaster of GN'R's seminal debut, "Appetite For Destruction". "The remastering, that was basically easy," Slash said. "It actually does sound really good, which I was skeptical about. But the actual box set as far as all the old material, after all these years, knowing that all this stuff exists and it's just sitting there, it was actually cathartic to get it all out. It was really cool to go in when we mastered it to sit there and actually listen. I've never gone back and listened to any of that stuff — I just know it exists — and to sit there and listen to all of it was really, really cool."

Also included on the reissue's deluxe editions are two early versions of "November Rain", the video for which recently became the oldest music video to reach 1 billion views on YouTube. "That was an epic production," Slash recalled. "That was all more Axl's vision than anything I had to do with it. My contribution was [that] I would write my own part, where the leaving the wedding and doing the church thing was concerned. The way that [director] Andy Morahan shot it, I thought, 'This is going to be the last thing I ever do,' because these helicopters were flying [right] at me. I thought, 'It'll look cool doing it, and that will be my last day.' Because it was such an elaborate production, being a very sort of stripped-down rock guy, I was like, 'Oh, God. All this stuff!' But it did come out pretty fuckin' awesome. Now, all this time later, it's more of a hats-off to Axl than anything that it's reached that threshold. I always knew that that was a cool song. I never count my eggs as far as in advance how epic or how big, because always whenever you feel that is when it goes the opposite direction. You just do it; you enjoy it in the moment; and wherever it goes, it goes. But I always knew that that was a really great song."


Going into 2018, Guns N' Roses' "Not In This Lifetime" tour had already grossed nearly half a billion dollars worldwide. By the time it wraps up in South Africa in November, it will likely be the second-highest-grossing tour of all time, but guitarist Slash says that's not why he considers it a success.

"Sitting on the outside, the Guns tour, it wasn't ever about it being whatever it ended up being, looking at it from a dollars and cents [or] a status thing or whatever other people look at it for," he recently told writer Clay Marshall. "The actual experience of doing it and having these amazing fucking crowds and this response to the band, and the band itself, just that whole thing was amazing. It was so cool and it was such, in a way, a validating thing for that lineup. That was that was about — that's why it was so much fun, and that's why we did it for so long. It wasn't because, 'Oh yeah, we're going to make a lot of money on it,' but as a player, that's what I was getting off on.

"The whole big-numbers thing, that's not the thing that turns me on about it," he continued. "What is great about it was that it happened, and it was a positive thing. For us as individuals or as a a group, it was something that I had no idea was even possible, because there was so much bad blood lingering for so long, and when we got together to do the Troubadour and Coachella, there was such a great vibe going on. That extended through the entire tour with no hitches, no matter what different obstacles came up against us like we've had in the past. Nothing derailed us, so that in itself was great, and then on top of that, the response that we got... we didn't have to get that response. All that shit is really humbling. That is really the magic of it for me, and the fact that it was successful monetarily and all those sort of accolades, it's cool and I appreciate it, but it's not the thing that makes it what is really great about it."

Notably, the band members performed very few interviews during the tour. "It wasn't conscious. There was just no need to," Slash said. "Nobody wants to do press. [Laughs] We didn't have to do any press during that time, and it was really sort of nice. Doing The Conspirators, I know how it all works. I do the majority of the press for the band, and I go on these international press tours and domestic press tours and there's radio and there's all this stuff, and having been doing that straight since my first proper solo record through 'World On Fire' up until GUNS, when GUNS happened, it was like, all I had to do was play. It was really sort of cool. But I'm back at it [now]."

Unfortunately, the band's media blackout meant that the only official documentation of the "Not In This Lifetime" tour was visual. "The best documentation that was really done was Kat [photographer Katarina Benzova] putting stuff up on the Guns N' Roses site," Slash said. "As far as writing or any of that kind of shit, there was no real documentation of it. It has been [about] us going and playing every night and really just focusing for the most part on that — getting from gig to gig, country to country. Back in the '90s, we had this guy Austin and another guy that videotaped the entire 'Use Your Illusion' tour, 24/7, so no, we didn't do that. There's nothing really – there's nothing that I can think of that sort of recorded the last two years for posterity.

"There really isn't very much analyzing going on," he continued. "There's a great camaraderie that exists — we shoot the shit, we do our thing and we come up with some different ideas for this, that and the other, and it's really just sort of a day in the life... When I think of The Stones, there was a period there where they were very into documenting stuff so that people could see [what was happening], but then you reach a certain point, and they don't have anything really to prove about anything – they just do their thing. I think maybe we might have arrived at a place like that on this tour, where we're just doing it, and it's really us and those legions of fans that are there to support it. It's been an experience for us, this whole journey. I'm playing with three people I had never played with before, so there was that evolving. It's really been an experience for us, this whole journey. For me, you could never record this in a way that would really translate to fans properly. It's been a real personal journey for everybody involved."


Considering the overwhelming success of Guns N Roses' ongoing "Not In This Lifetime" tour — which will likely end up being the second-highest-grossing tour of all time, according to Billboard — few would have begrudged Slash for walking away from his solo career, which saw him release three albums between 2010 and 2014 (the latter two with vocalist Myles Kennedy and a backing band called The Conspirators). According to the guitarist, though, he always intended to resurrect The Conspirators — whose new album, "Living The Dream", was released on September 21 — as soon as his schedule allowed.

"They're all really good guys, really good people," he recently told writer Clay Marshall. "We've developed this thing over the course of time, and it's gotten better and better as it went [along]. I've gotten really close to them. You sort of miss hanging out with them and working with them, because they're a lot of fun to work with. The Conspirators guys are really, really unique in that all they want to do is play, and they're all good players, so they really get off on doing a bang-up job with whatever it is that we're doing. There's nobody really on the [12-step] program or anything; they just naturally don't get fucked up. It's great. Not saying that anybody in Guns does, but just with this particular group, for my having put a new group together, I've always had that issue with any of my bands. So yeah, I just sort of missed hanging out with them, and it was fun when we got back together and started jamming and stuff."

Slash said he started writing "Living The Dream" during The Conspirators' world tour in support of 2014's "World On Fire". "We fell into that natural mode where I started writing ideas on the road, and we jammed some stuff here and there at soundcheck and whatnot," he said. "We had a couple little pre-production sessions prior to the end of the tour. When [GN'R] had the break in December [of 2017], [The Conspirators] got together and started revisiting some of those old ideas, and over Christmas, I'd written some new ones, and we just got together and had a great time getting back in the room together. I felt better because we'd finally ended this — I'd put everybody in a state of limbo for a year and a half, so it was just really good to get together and work on the record. We have this little studio with a little 16-track [board], and we made what I think is a really cool record. As soon as I was done with the master, I was back in rehearsals with GUNS, and off we went. But now I'm really excited about going out and playing — being back in The Conspirators world, and playing this U.S. run we've got, and then we've got a pretty global tour next year."

While touring with GN'R in 2016 and 2017, Slash said he didn't continue working on "Living The Dream". "There is a conscious separation of the two [bands]," he said. "For The Conspirators, I write stuff in hotel rooms, then bring it to soundcheck and we can start working it up right there. With Guns N' Roses, it was conscious not to do anything that wasn't going to be Guns N' Roses. I do have some ideas that I wrote that are specifically Guns N' Roses ideas, because that's when it came up. For that whole time, anything that I wrote was specifically earmarked for that. Then when Christmas came along, I started sitting down and writing with The Conspirators in mind.

"When I'm out doing GUNS, all your focus is on that," he continued. "We're playing these huge venues and it's a whole world unto itself, so I didn't think about anything having to do with The Conspirators at the time other than [wanting to find] the first available opportunity to be able to go in and record. When the break happened, I guess I sort of decompressed over the holidays and was just playing my guitar, and sort of just put Guns out [of mind]. I think you have to, because you've just been doing nothing but that, so as soon as have a moment where you don't have to think about it, you sort of put it to the side, so then I started to focus my energy on the other thing, and it [was] just switching gears completely. We did that for a while, and then I went back to Guns rehearsals, and then you re-tool your mind to be able to make that [transition]. I don't think one really has too much influence on the other."


During a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times about his new solo album, "Living The Dream", Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash spoke at length with writer Clay Marshall about a number of topics. Some select "outtakes" appear below (as transcribed by

On whether there's a dream "guest star" situation for him equivalent to Axl Rose touring with AC/DC:

Slash: "I can't think of anything off the top of my head. The Axl-doing-AC/DC thing, I went and checked that out, and it was awesome. I was probably as skeptical as anybody because of the iconic status of the band, and he pulled it off and it was great. I'm probably a little bit more intimidated about the idea of having to fill someone's shoes — someone that I look up to or had a big influence on me. If I was going to get that phone call, I'd want to do it in a band that no one would expect me to be in."

On his new recording facility, Snakepit Studios:

Slash: "It's nice to have a spot that's yours, and you're not under the gun for lockouts or that kind of thing, where you can just go in and the only people around are yourself and your tech and your producer and engineer, whatever it is, and just be able to hang out all day without any time constrictions. That is definitely cool."

On his sobriety:

Slash: "I was always passionate about guitars and music, and that's really at the end of the day, along with a couple other little things, [what] really saved me. I'm really fortunate, because for a lot of people, their only inspiration came from using. I didn't have that problem, so when I came out of it, I got really into playing and getting better at what I was doing. The only thing I've noticed the difference is, I tend to play with more energy and a lot faster than I did back when I was drunk — which led to some great long notes, but..."

On the defibrillator he still has in his chest:

Slash: "I had the option to leave it in or take it out, but taking it out meant an operation where they were going to have to disconnect the electric wire from my heart. I was like, 'Eh, just leave it in.' But I'm in good health. I haven't had any issues like that since basically 2002. That was the last incident. It was just because I never explained to the doctor when they put it in — you have to know the lowest threshold for your heartbeat and what's your highest, and I didn't take into account the adrenaline from performing, so it was set at certain place. When I'd go out and get going, playing, it would kick in, so I had it adjusted and I didn't have that problem again."

On whether he still gets excited playing iconic venues in his Los Angeles hometown:

Slash: "There's still that sort of feeling like when you were a kid, and all those places you sort of looked on with that dreamy sort of [perspective]. That never really totally leaves, no matter how many times you play there. I remember with GUNS, just recently playing The Forum, it still holds that allure from when you were young and fantasized about playing those venues."

On the best advice he received from Aerosmith's Joe Perry:

Slash: "The only piece of real, sort of direct advice he ever gave me was way back in 1988, I think it was, when he told me. I called him up from Japan at one point to tell him that Izzy was in a bad way. I think he thought I was talking about Izzy like I was talking about myself, but using Izzy. He was like, 'I'll tell you right now — he needs to get help, but then if you do that, don't come back to me if you fuck up. I'm not here for that. It's not a destination, it's a journey,' which is a classic Alcoholics Anonymous line. That's always sort of stuck with me. Other than that, Joe's not really what I would consider an advice-giver. That's one of the reasons I like him so much — he's a wealth of knowledge, but he's not sort of telling you what you should do."

On his past comments that being a rock star is "an intersection of who you are and who you want to be":

Slash: "For me, I think that really having a perspective on it now, when I was a kid coming up, with the exception of the top hat, I was exactly the same [as I am now]. Being Slash the guitar player is an outlet for me that Slash the regular person on the street, day-to-day, there's an extension of that that I could never be as myself, but it's very relative. In other words, the guitar's that outlet that sitting here, I don't have."

On his feature film production company, Slash Fiction:

Slash: "I've got four different movies in different stages of development right now, so that's a whole other thing that I'm juggling all this at the same time. I love accomplishing shit, so it's great, because it's all moving and it's all sort of pointed in a direction of getting done or arriving at a positive place. They're all really great scripts and I've got two deals done and I've got two pending. They're horror/thriller. The thing with me is really good, intelligent, story-driven [and] character-driven dramas that have a scary twist to them. It's not slasher movies; it's not gore. That's fun for me because it's something outside of music that I'm still involved with music because there's a score, and if I can get to a point of doing a couple movies a year and just have a steady thing — they don't have to be huge or anything — that's exciting, so that's something I'm looking forward to."

On his goals for 2019 and beyond:

Slash: "Next year is all touring [with The Conspirators], but going beyond that, obviously I'm not going to not mention wanting to do a Guns record along the way. It's not a personal challenge or anything, but I would love to see a Guns record get done and have it be, to us, really great. That would be awesome. I'm looking forward to The Conspirators tour. I'm really happy with the record. For the most part, that's it — do this tour, let's hope for a Guns thing, let's just keep it all going."


On "Living The Dream", his new album with vocalist Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators, guitarist Slash displays some funk, blues and boogie-rock influences that aren't readily apparent in his work with Guns N' Roses.

"A long time ago," Slash recently told writer Clay Marshall, "there was that Lenny Kravitz song called 'Always On The Run'. The reason I wrote that with Lenny was that was a riff that had no home elsewhere. He heard it and was, like, 'Oh.' Everybody else was hating on it, and he was like, 'Oh, that's really cool.' He was an outlet. [In The Conspirators], I've just been doing stuff that I haven't really done as of yet, so it's just starting to come out now. I listen to a lot of old-school rock 'n' roll guitar and blues guitar anyway, so as much as a loud, blistering sort of rock guitarist that I am, I have a lot of guitar players that I listen to that are more in the mode of boogie guitar and blues guitar, like Albert King and Freddie King. The three Kings. Those are guys that really had a profound influence on me, so it comes out when it can."

He adds that whenever he records a new album, he tries to avoid repeating anything he's done before. "You have your style," he explains. I know that ever since I first got a Fender Princeton [guitar] and a Distortion Plus [pedal], I've been working on what it is that I like to do. That was when I was 14 or 15. A lot of stuff will tend to sound like you doing what it is that you do. If you catch something that you [play that] melodically is something similar, if your ear catches it, it's something that you're not going to continue pursuing because you've already written it before, or worse, somebody else has. For the most part, the ideas, when they get out there, are pretty original, but if there's an energy or an attitude or an attack that's similar to something else that I've already done, it's just because it's the nature of what it is that you do. I try not to have anything that sounds familiar as a melody and then go, 'Oh, let's do it anyway.' I try to catch myself when I'm doing guitar solos that I'm not using licks I already have. Sometimes you listen back to something you just recorded — especially right now, because I've been listening to those last four [solo] records – and I tend to see certain patterns that I fall into. I never really noticed it until you have to listen to it."

Despite being arguably the most recognizable guitarist in rock, Slash doesn't typically rate highly in guitar magazine readers' polls, but the oversight doesn't bother him. "In this world of guitar — and I've been doing this for a long time — there's this obsession with technical prowess and technique and this, that and the other," he says. "[It's] sort of like X Games — it's excelled to the point where you can watch guitar players literally blow your mind and make your jaw drop over all these things that they can do. It totally reminds me of when I used to race BMX — I look at BMX then and I look at what they're doing now, and I'm like, 'Fuck.' It's great, and I don't knock it, but you're always compared, everybody's compared to all these guitar players, and who's best, who's better, who's the fucking greatest this, and blah blah blah. Some of it's on an emotional level, but most of it is technical and speed. The most important thing if I'm put in that place, because I'm really not trying to compete with anybody, so the most important thing for me is [that] somebody can recognize your voice. For me, any guitar player that's worth anything has something to say, and it's something that you can recognize — with one note or 1600 notes, you know who the person is. You know they have a musical personality that comes out, just like when you're seeing an actor and they convey a certain presence that you know is unique to them. I would be happy if people knew me as a guitar player by how I come across as an individual."

While Slash says he doesn't feel any sort of responsibility to continue flying the flag for guitar-driven hard rock, he admits it's unlikely to see him doing anything else. "If I turned around tomorrow and decided that I wanted to play harp, then I would play harp. And I do like harp, actually," he laughs. "If all my fuckin' passion and energy was to switch from guitar to another instrument tomorrow, I would do that, but I love guitar. It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with how it fits into contemporary music right now. It might be top of the heap one month or one year or two years or whatever it is at some point in the future, or it might stay where it is. I don't know, but it doesn't really affect so much how I do things. But one of the things I do recognize about it that's sort of cool is that for all us people who do have sort of a passion for [rock] — especially young kids coming up that are really into it — is the glamour is gone. If you're aspiring to be a rock star, it's not about jets and cars and money and houses. If you want to do it, you have to do it because you love it. You're not going to get anything back from it at this particular point in time. I sort of love that about it — that it's really down to you against them. If you have that passion and you're willing to risk everything to do it but you have something to say, then go for it."


In September, Slash joined forces with Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators for their first tour together in three years, a month-long American trek that wraps up on October 16. The following month, the guitarist will rejoin Guns N' Roses for what will apparently be the final leg of the "Not In This Lifetime" tour, after which he will soon once again hit the road with The Conspirators.

Moving forward, juggling two active bands will likely be his new reality. "For all intents and purposes, I would imagine that I'd be able to do the two things [simultaneously]," he recently told writer Clay Marshall. "Granted, you have to sort of look at it a little bit in advance. Guns is doing a southeast Asia tour coming up in November and [I] was looking to see what it was going to be doing next summer so I could plot out my whole thing. You have to be very conscious of one in terms of the other, but as far as the big five-year plan or any of that kind of stuff, I'm never one to really sort of plot out the future."

Slash said he's received no push-back from anyone in the GN'R camp over releasing his new solo album, "Living The Dream", prior to the completion of the "Not In This Lifetime" tour. "It's all sort of out in the open and understood, whatever anybody is doing outside of Guns," he said. "It's very transparent."

Touring with The Conspirators is a drastic change of pace from the "Not In This Lifetime" tour, Slash explained. "It's a really no-pressure, very laid-back gig. It's very simple, [and] for me, it's almost refreshing. You can just book a tour and go out and play and there's no other bullshit, and there's not a lot of fanfare, I guess. I think I've always needed that because Guns N' Roses became such a big thing with so many moving parts and so many people involved, although it is way cooler now than it was in the '90s, where it was just a behemoth thing with all these inexperienced people at the helm trying to figure out how to take advantage of it, and I think it became a big hindrance for the band in the long run and had a lot to do with why things happened the way they did. In this instance, now it's way more professional and way more down to just the band, but it's still as big as it is no matter how you look at it. So yeah, I do find it's nice to be able to have this simple, little thing that doesn't require all that much attention. [Laughs]"

Now that he's rejoined Guns N' Roses, Slash said he feels less of an obligation to perform GN'R songs live with The Conspirators. "We have a pretty decent-sized catalog of original material. With Guns, obviously I've been doing that for a while, so we'll narrow it down to one, maybe two songs in the set, and leave it at that. The same with Snakepit – we had like, four or five songs out of those two albums [on past Conspirators tours], so we'll probably do one, maybe two. We were talking about doing 'Beggars & Hangers-On', but I'm like, 'Oh, then I've got to break the slide out.'"

Still, he said he's excited to get back on the road with a group he feels has grown considerably during past tours. "I was aware as we progressed that the band started out at a certain place," he said. "We were doing 'Apocalyptic Love', and we were at the peak of our game at that moment, and then we went on the road. Being on the road always turns it into the best it can be, because you're jamming every night and there's a lot of synergy happening, a lot of improvising and whatnot. As a group, you get that much better, and you go in with ideas for the next record, and if you're fortunate, you're inspired, [and] it comes out that much better. It's definitely a natural kind of upward motion, progression. I think that's where we ended up with 'World On Fire'. If all goes well, the next record we do will be that much [better]."

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