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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.


1995.08.DD - Planet Rock Profiles (Irish TV) - Interview with Slash

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1995.08.DD - Planet Rock Profiles (Irish TV) - Interview with Slash Empty 1995.08.DD - Planet Rock Profiles (Irish TV) - Interview with Slash

Post by Blackstar Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:36 am


[Intro titles]

Dave Fanning (host): Tonight on Planet Rock Profiles we’re going to talk to one of the most famous guitarists of the past decade. Born in England in 1965, but raised in California from the age of 11, Saul Hudson, better known as Slash, is the ultimate hard rock/hard livin’ guitarist. In the late 1980’s, his band released an album which is one of the biggest selling debut albums in the history of recorded music. It’s called Appetite For Destruction, and they’re called Guns N’ Roses. Now the thing about it is that Guns N’ Roses are on a sabbatical at the moment, even though they became the biggest rock band on the planet in the early 1990’s. And while they’re on that sabbatical, Slash’s itchy fingers have resulted in the formation of a new band, called Slash’s Snakepit.

Fanning: Alright, listen. Tell us then, Slash, first of all about the album. The fact that there’s a Snakepit album on release, was it always meant to be an album, or you just got into the studio with some friends?

Slash: It was really just – I mean, at the start of it, it was a step-by-step kind of thing. At first, it was a bunch of us hanging out and really just sort of enjoying each other’s company. Then it turned into jamming and coming up with new riffs and stuff like that. And then we – you know, at first there was only two of us; it was Matt and myself. And then, after that, Gilby got involved, and then we met Mike Inez. All mysteriously he showed up at a party one night I was having, and I don’t even know Mike (laughs) - at least I didn’t know him at the time. So then Mike showed up, and Matt told me that he’s the guy from Alice In Chains. So I go, “Whatever” and he says, “He’s a good bass player.” So he came up and he brought this whole new sort of vibe to it. And then, all of a sudden, it seemed like a band, and it was so much fun doing it, the whole sort of – the best way to put it would be sort of that random kind of just guys jamming together, and having a communication, and bonding just through the plain, you know? And as personalities, without the rockstar shit, without all the other stuff. It was just enjoying playing together. That is what started it. And then we went in and made a record without even any vocals. We just sort of put arrangements together, and we thought that on a musical level it sounded really good. So then we thought, “Well, who’s gonna sing?” and there was a lot of different thoughts thrown around, like I could sing, or maybe we get all our different friends to come and sing on different songs. But I figured, you know, we should find a singer that sings the whole album. So that’s what we did, and we found Eric. And at that point, it was like, “Well, we’ve made a record. We should go tour,” and it just, sort of like, built up as it went - all the way up till now (laughs).

Fanning: So was it easy to find Eric? Was he the first choice?

Slash: No, no. He was number 41. We’re gonna get him a t-shirt that says “Number 41.”

Fanning: Did you find him?

Slash: He was recommended by Marc Danzeisen, who is Gilby Clarke’s ex-drummer.

Fanning: I mean, he’s been in the band called Jellyfish. Did you know the Jellyfish album?

Slash: No.

Fanning: You’d never (?)

Slash: No. The funny thing about this particular band is that, images and all that shit aside, it was based purely on the fact that he could sing. I’d never met the guy before I heard him sing. So it was really a rarity in these days of, like, glamour and, like, trying to have a pose and so on so forth. It was based on a tape that I heard him sing one of the songs, and he wrote a song called Beggars And Hangers On, which turned out to be our first single.

[Clip from Beggars And Hangers On video]

Fanning: What kind of rapport there is between a musician, like a guitarist, and the rest of the band? There’s got to be something between the lead singer and the guitarist. So what is it about you and Eric? I mean, is it that you’re urban and he’s sort of fond of (?)

Slash: The thing is – the main thing about Snakepit is it’s just a bunch of backline guys. It’s a whole different thing. There’s no lead singer and lead guitar player sort of hierarchy there. With Guns N’ Roses, I admit, yeah, there is a certain kind of focus on, say, Axl and myself. But with this band, it was an equal amount of effort from all the guys involved. So Eric, being a rhythm guitar player or a lead guitar player from Jellyfish, he doesn’t have that sort of lead singer attitude. So, really, it’s just a garage band of a bunch of equals.

Fanning: I would have thought that maybe you would have tried vocals.

Slash: I don’t have the personality for it. I did try it. I mean, some of the songs that I did write lyrics for in the album, I did sing at first, but only just to write them. But to go out in front of a microphone... For one, I can’t stand still that long; and for two, I mean, I can’t even look at the audience when I’m playing my guitar, let alone me standing up there singing, you know? (laughs)

Fanning: Okay. Well, then, what’s so important and what’s so different than what you were doing, say, between ’87 and, say, ’92 or ’93, in terms of being up there live on stage? You’re playing more sort of, if you like, friendly or warmer places. Is that something that you have needed and something you had missed in those seven years?

Slash: I wouldn’t have traded the last four months of touring for anything, just to be able to go back and... I hate to even – it sort of even irks me to say to go back and reestablish, in my mind, what it is that made me start playing in the first place. But after getting to a certain point, and you’re playing stadiums, you start to lose touch with reality, so to speak. To go back and reestablish, in my mind, what the whole thing is about, to get into clubs and to be able to deal with an audience on a toe-to-toe basis, where you can actually touch each other and it’s almost like we’re all hanging out in the same room, and there’s no difference between the audience and the band? There’s no amount of money I would have traded for that experience, to go back and to that.

Fanning: Well then, the last six months, what will that bring to when you now get Guns N’ Roses back together again?

Slash: I have no idea at the moment. I mean, that’s something that I wanted to do when we did “The Spaghetti Incident?”, but there was a little bit of a difference of opinion about the subject (laughs) - with Axl . So I need to - you know, when this Donington show is over, my main thing is I have to go back and reconstitute the relationship between Axl and I, and obviously the other members of Guns N’ Roses, and try to figure out what the hell we’re doing. Because now that I’ve been out for a while and seen what’s actually going on since Axl’s been out there, I need to sort of communicate with him what actually goes on, and maybe he’ll understand me, maybe he won’t – who knows.

[Live footage: Slash’s Snakepit]

Fanning: Okay. When you were, like - many years ago, you were brought up in Britain and then from the age of 11 you were brought up in California. When you got that first guitar from your grandmother, did that change you as a person? Did that change other people’s perception of you, like you were suddenly a cool guy and maybe a little bit of a geek before that?

Slash: (Laughs). Thanks, okay.

Fanning: Well, I don’t know. I’m only asking.

Slash: No, no (laughs). The way that happened was, I was just pretty much an outcast from even when I lived here in England, because I always had long hair and I was always wearing holey jeans. It was just a different – you know, the average preschooler doesn’t walk around like that (laughs). And when I moved to L.A., when I was in school, I was living in a pretty substandard area, but I was going to a decent school and all the kids there were – it was all about having certain kinds of shirt, a certain kind of pants, and so on. I just did my same trip, so I was always very outcast. So when I started playing guitar, I didn’t even give a shit about that at all; the pressure was sort of off. I just stopped dealing with it altogether. Then, all of a sudden, everybody thought it was cool. I don’t really understand the psychology behind that.

Fanning: With your family, I mean the current Snakepit album, the cover, it’s very much a collaboration and everybody’s there but your mother (?) because you’ve all got some sort of artistic...

Slash: I drew the actual snake thing – you know, the “S” - and then I gave it to my brother, who gave it to one of his employees who spray-painted on a wall, we took a photo of it. And then my dad helped me to art direct it – you know, to put the arrangement together.

Fanning: What’s the biggest thing for you in terms of, like, a drug? Is it live on stage? Is it playing? Is that the one thing you always wanted to do? Because you’ve done loads of guest appearances, too.

Slash: I just like playing. I mean, I dig playing, I dig the interaction between myself and other musicians, and making something happen out of an ambiguous kind of relationship. And I like touring, I like travelling and in travelling to play – you know, that’s what touring is all about.

Fanning: I’m looking at the back of the Snakepit album and it was recorded in a very short space of time. I got the impression that in the studio the most important thing is feel, not perfection.

Slash: It was not perfection. It was more about we were just having a good time. If the take felt good, then we used it. Usually that was, like, after learning the song – that was the first part, because we wrote them so quick. After learning the song, then we’d play it until we could play it all the way through once or twice; and then we’d record one or two takes after that, and that was it.

[Live footage: Slash’s Snakepit]

Fanning: What about the actual lifestyle? There’s much less pressure this time around. Is this the way you want to do it on the road?

Slash: I want a rock ‘n’ roll band, you know. I think a lot of people have gotten – either they’re trying to be so esoteric that they’re trying too hard; or, I don’t know, maybe they’re losing the feel of what the rock ‘n’ roll attitude, as far as I’m concerned, is supposed to be about. There’s a lot of great bands out there that have it down pat, because that’s the way they are. You know, being in a rock ‘n’ roll band you have to just be you. That’s the main thing. You can’t listen to your manager or your record company people, or anything like that. You just have to do what it is that you do. And if that’s the type of person that you are, then rock ‘n’ roll is sort of in your blood. I hate to sound so corny, but where it’s something that pumps inside you, then that’s it. Don’t conform to anybody else’s standards, which, unfortunately, a lot of people in this business are privy to.

Fanning: What about getting married? Did that change even more in the last year that you (?) with Snakepit? Or maybe in the last couple of years. Was that good, bad, different or worse? (?)

Slash: Let’s see... I gotta relax here for a second. You asked the question so fast. Alright... Getting married has been great, cuz I love my wife very much. But, at the same time, I don’t change very easily, and so there’s a lot of, like, checks and balances in the relationship, where I have to adhere to certain needs she has, and she has to deal with me, basically (laughs). So we’ve been pretty harmonious. You know, it’s been almost three years, so we’re doing pretty good.

Fanning: Have you actually had to, like, change your life or just adjust, if you like, to deal with the pressure presented by the Guns N’ Roses’ personal problems?

Slash: Guns N’ Roses’ personal problems have been there ever since it started. It’s just the bigger the band gets, the more amplified they are; and it just seems - from a public point of view, it almost seems excessive. But it’s the same basic shit that it’s always gone on. It’s just now it’s on a bigger scale.

Fanning: What about being out in public and having to do things, and just being able to play now, in Snakepit. I mean, you weren’t just sort of the front person in terms of having to talk about Guns N’ Roses and all these stories. You were also the peacemaker in public. Did that sort of role, whether you liked it or not, that was put on your shoulders or whether you took it - did that role eventually just annoy you?

Slash: I’m still doing it (laughs).

Fanning: Yeah. I was just gonna get to that. Is that a no or yes?

Slash: No, I mean, it’s a hell of a lot harder to be angry or pissed off, or just in an indifferent mood that day, and just start bitching about this and that and the other. Then it’s just, sort of like, relax and try and deal with it, and keep things sort of tied together; and then, because the outcome is a lot more relieving than the outcome of a big fight.

Fanning: Okay, sure. But at the moment, like, it’s rock ‘n’ roll, it’s on the road, it’s in the studio, it’s on the record, and it’s great on that level. But, I mean, the previous, like, seven or eight years, you say the press (?) and it was totally, completely and absolutely crazy, though.

Slash: Yeah, but I don’t read it (laughs).

Fanning: No, but I mean the actual real life between the whole lot of you the band.

Slash: No, it wasn’t that crazy. I mean, yeah, it’s fast paced and unpredictable, but at the same time that’s the kind of material, or that’s the kind of things that make the material come out the way that it comes out, which is very spontaneous and, although combustive, it makes the real thing. I mean, this is what we’re going through. So, you know, to get shocked by it, if you’re in the band, would be almost ludicrous. And if you’re trying to do it for shock value, then you’re just posing. So I just take it as it comes.

Fanning: Okay. But the core of Guns N’ Roses is still there and that’s going to be about 1996. Is that...?

Slash: You know what I have to say about that. We’ll see what happens.

Fanning: Okay. But what about a Snakepit second album?

Slash: There won’t be a Snakepit second record until Guns next record is done.

[Clip from Good To Be Alive video]

Fanning: There’s two Irish musicians that you’ve always given a big nod to, and one recently you tried to (?) died. He’s Rory Gallagher and you did that introduction on television here in Britain. What did he mean to you when you were growing up? Because Rory Gallagher didn’t necessarily mean that much in America.

Slash: Well, see, a lot of the musicians I listened to in America weren’t popular in America. But Rory was somebody my dad listened to, my dad being British, and Ireland being so close to England and all those musicians sort of flocking together. He was just a great guitar player. I didn’t know who it was when I was younger; it was just cool guitar. But I got a chance to get to know what his guitar playing was all about as I got older and I started playing guitar. And we got a chance to jam together. It was like, you know, playing with a legend as far as I was concerned. And he’s a guy that was - actually he’s a hero, more so than a lot of musicians that have passed away over the years, just because the only reason he died was because he played too much, and that’s... I can’t knock him for that. I’d hope to go out that way.

Fanning: How about Phil Lynott? I mean, at the time of their biggest hit, The Boys Are Back In Town, that was when you had just arrived in California, in ’76.

Slash: Yeah.

Fanning: Did he mean much to you or it just sounds like that?

Slash: It was just Thin Lizzy at the time. I mean, it’s a sad state of affairs when somebody passes away and then you realize how great they were, which is usually the case. But I was just a big Thin Lizzy fan. They had, like, twenty guitar players go through that band. I never knew then, I just listened to the records.

Fanning: What other kind of music do you listen to now, at the moment? I mean, like, in Britain it’s all sort of anything to do with Blur and Oasis, and in America it’s still Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and whatever.

Slash: Well, in America – you know, just cuz I just was back there for a couple of days – listening to the radio it was like Hole, Pearl Jam, Green Day, stuff like that; and, you know, whatever (laughs). I do like Nirvana and I like Soundgarden, but I still prefer, you know, John Lee Hooker overall, old Stones stuff...

Fanning: What about other people that you played with? Michael Jackson is probably the most famous, before and after, if you like. What kind of a guy is he? You’ve said before that he has a great sense of humor. I don’t see it. I mean, I don’t know the guy, obviously, but I just don’t see that. Is he a funny man?

Slash: Yeah (laughs). I mean, Michael is Michael. I don’t know. I don’t know him well enough to talk about him publicly on a personal basis or a personal level. But for my experiences with him, he’s had always a very, sort of like, a keen sense of sarcasm - you know, the subtle kind – and great sense of humor. He’s different, you know. And I’m gonna work with him again. He’s been good to me as far as – you know, I’ve had a good time working with him.

Fanning: Okay. What does that mean? Do you get a phone call and, say, “Come in and do a bit of guitar” and then, say, “We will do more tomorrow” and –

Slash: Yeah. I just talked to him the other day and we’re gonna do a show coming up.

Fanning: You’re going to do a live show. You’re gonna be in the band.

Slash: Yeah.

Fanning: What happens when you’re doing stuff, his studio stuff, like (?) that might be very easy to get discarded. You don’t even know, in fact, what songs might be on this kind of album.

Slash: Well, it happens. I mean, I just went through that recently. I go and put guitar on stuff that I have no idea what the end result is gonna be. But that’s just Michael, you know, so it’s a different world as far as my approach to guitar playing and working with the band is concerned. But that’s Michael.

Fanning: Tell us about the attraction of snakes, Slash.

Slash: (Laughs)

Fanning: What’s so great about a snake?

Slash: I just like snakes. When I was a little kid, I caught a snake in San Francisco and ever since then I’ve been fascinated with snakes. But snakes, dinosaurs, lizards, we have tons of cats... There’s a certain kind of mysterious kind of vibe that those particular animals give up that I really like.

Fanning: Okay, Slash. Thanks very much for talking.

Slash: Yeah.

Fanning: Thank you.

Slash: (?)

Fanning: Good handshake.

Slash: (Laughs)

[Clip from Beggars And Hangers On video – End Titles]

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