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1993.01.29 - The Age - The Gunnas According to Saul (Slash)

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1993.01.29 - The Age - The Gunnas According to Saul (Slash) Empty 1993.01.29 - The Age - The Gunnas According to Saul (Slash)

Post by Blackstar on Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:55 am



More than 70,000 punters are expected at Calder Park on Monday to see Guns N' Roses. RICHARD PLUNKETT holds the attention of guitarist Slash long enough to talk about the music, the press and the ones who went missing in action.

IT MIGHT be because of the shag of hair that constantly covers his face, or it might be because when he’s on stage he’s busy concentrating on his guitar. Still, it’s difficult to believe it when the Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash says he has no idea what heavy-duty pyrotechnics are seed to back up the band’s live show. "Hey, I just get up and play, man,” he says.

Maybe the vagueness is simply because Slash, aka Saul Hudson, is feeling a little green. The band has just returned two hours late from a cruise through the Great Barrier Reef, taken during a stopover in Port Douglas.

Nevertheless, lingering seasickness doesn't normally cause amnesia. Guns N' Roses shows on their 'Get In The Ring' tour explode enough fireworks to convince spy satellites another war just started. Each show has about 140 assorted flashes, bangs and fountains, finishing up with a 100-piece display of fireworks. And then there’s the band itself, which has displayed a disturbing ability to inspire riots at some of its more volatile gigs.

The Gunnas’ Australian tour comes after a "Fear And Loathing" jaunt through South America. Their manager was almost kidnapped; they received bomb threats; the lead singer, Axl Rose, faced assault charges in Brazil; and in Bogota, Colombia, rock concerts have been banned indefinitely after 1500 people who couldn't buy tickets to Guns N' Roses decided to loot shops, fight police and smash up cars instead.

To make sure the Melbourne concert is nothing like the one in Bogota, the following items have been banned from the grounds: alcohol, bottles or glass, umbrellas, animals, weapons (surprise, surprise), studded belts and babies under three years old. And, to quote the official release, there will be "a huge security force to patrol and protect patrons (expected by the concert promoters to be over 70,000 within the concert)."  Guns N' Roses tend to make people go to great lengths.

Take Danny Sugerman for example. After writing 'No One Gets Out of Here Alive’ and ‘Wonderland Avenue’, which chronicle his experiences with the Doors and Los Angeles, he set to penning a tome on Guns N’ Roses humbly titled ‘Appetite for Destruction'.

In this book Sugerman goes to absurd lengths to compare Axl and the boys to Dionysus, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Blake and practically everyone else on tbe undergraduate essential-names-to-drop list. Barely a 19th-Century poet or Greek mythological archetype comes through unscathed.

Slash doesn't like the book. ‘‘It’s a complete load of garbage, man. He wrote it like he'd known us for years when he’d only interviewed Axl a few times. If I ever saw him in a club, he knows I'd get him. He's scared of us.”

He should be scared; Guns N’ Roses have a reputation for getting even with their critics. The song after which the tour was named, ‘Get In The Ring’, is a ferocious and obscene attack on journalists. It’s also one of their best songs: fast, hard, angry, anthemic and brutal. Guns N’ Roses get inspired when they get angry.

Musically, Guns N' Roses are an amalgam of all the tougher brands of rock, from Led Zeppelin-style rifforama to white-hot punk to blues and the Rolling Stones' tight groove.

It's a remarkable achievement considering their origins in that pit of appalling music, the Los Angeles hard rock circuit. Poison was its band, and poison was its nature.

“We were never part of that scene. I never thought of Guns N' Roses as an L.A. band because we all immigrated there.” Guns N’ Roses were founded there in 1985, their name being a combination of two bands members bad played in, Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns.

Given the extent of their popularity, their recorded output isn't voluminous. For a start there is ‘Appetite For Destruction', the band's 1987 breakthrough album and the 'GNR Lies /Live?!* Like A Suicide' album — actually a pasting together of a 1988 EP and a 1986 EP — released in 1988.

The most recent is the flawed ‘Use Your Illusion’ I and II, which came out in late in 1991. Some of it impresses but did they really have to release a song as dull and predictable as ‘Shotgun Blues’? ‘‘We wrote that song about eight years ago, so I don't make any excuses for it — it’s what we were back then. But I think 'Use Your Illusion' will stand up as a great album 10 years from now.”

Some of tbe best songs off 'Use Your Illusion' were credited to Izzy Stradlin, the rhythm guitarist who dropped out of the band (be did a lukewarmly received tour here last year).

Slash is still angry that he left, or rather at the way be left. "He didn’t have the courage to come up and tell us in person; he got his lawyers to contact us. He left me looking for a replacement with about a day to find one. Thanks a f------ lot.” He says that well before then, when they were recording, Izzy wasn't pulling bis weight. "What we got weren't songs. They were scraps of songs, done on tape. We had to complete them.”

Of the original five members, three are left; Slash, Axl Rose and bass player Duff McKagan. When you look at early photos of the band, Slash looks like the one most likely not to make it, with his drooping lower lip and attached cigarette, semi-paralysed posture and unseen eyes.

But Slash sailed through the wild days when the money began to flow in from ‘Appetite For Destruction', and came through looking reasonably healthy and with a sharper, more funky guitar style. The same kind of lifestyle burned out the original drummer, Steven Adler.

The key to Slash's apparent immunity might be his parents, who, unlike Axl Rose's conservative backwoods family, were a racially mixed bohemian couple making a living on the edges of the music world. It would have been a great place to observe how to deal (and how not to deal) with being a musician.

Slash was born in 1965 in England and moved to Los Angeles when be was 10. His mother, Ola Hudson, was a costume designer for Diana Ross, the Pointer Sisters and John Lennon, as well as one of David Bowie’s dates for a time. His father, Anthony Hudson, designed album covers for artists such as Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. Also, Slash has said, his father was an alcoholic.

Slash himself got married last year, to an actress/model, Renee Suran. Published wedding photos showed Slash posing in a particularly rock star-ish open-chested shirt while his wife sat and dragged on a cigarette. No wonder Axl is said to have described Slash as one of his favorite cartoon characters. “I don’t like talking about my marriage, y'know, but yeah; the photos were pretty cool. Heh heh."

Besides the band, Slash has played his low-slung guitar for artists as different as Lenny Kravitz, Spinal Tap, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. The only one he speaks ill of is Dylan, whom be helped with his 'Under The Red Sky' album.

"They invited me to come along, and when I get there he was wearing these gloves and a hooded jacket, and be barely even said ‘Hello’. I did one of the best solos I've ever done, straight off, and then later I hear they cut It out and you can only hear me playing a bit of rhythm guitar. He said it sounded too much like Guns N' Roses! What the f- - - did he expect me to play?"

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