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1995.04.28 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Guns N’ Snakes (Slash)

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Post by Blackstar on Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:52 am

1995.04.28 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Guns N’ Snakes (Slash) Gnr-sl14


Guns N’ Snakes

Slash brings new side band back without Axl Rose

By Alan Sculley

THE LAST TIME Slash was in St. Louis for a concert, the evening ended with him and Guns N’ Roses bandmate Axl Rose being whisked away from Riverport Amphitheatre.

The date was July 2, 1991.

Inside, the amphitheater was in shambles, the result of a riot that broke out after Rose stopped the show and stormed off stage after he had jumped into the crowd to confront an audience member he claimed was trying to videotape the show.

Now, almost four years later, the guitarist will be back, this time with his side band, Slash’s Snakepit, for a May 1 show at Mississippi Nights. It might surprise some, but Slash is not only more than ready to set foot in the city as a solo act, he also thinks the band as a whole would be eager to return.

“I think the promoters would be into it. I think a lot of people would be sort of wary of what’s going to happen," Slash said. “But I know from Guns’ point of view, we’d do it in a heartbeat if we were touring. It’s probably everybody else who would go, ‘well maybe you shouldn’t.’ I mean, I don’t know what to expect, you know, but that’s my attitude. S—, I’m doing it.”

To say the least, Slash has vivid memories of the Riverport ordeal.

“With the St. Louis thing, you know, that was Axl’s deal, and I don’t want to conflict anything with whatever it is, however he settled that situation,” he said. “Some of the s— that went on was [messed up] up because a lot of people jumped on the bandwagon with it. But as far as the actual situation was concerned, I do firmly believe that there were a couple of security guards that just weren’t paying attention to what Axl was trying to communicate to them. And Axl will do that. He just jumps in the crowd.

“And the reason we’re sensitive about the camera s— is because we get bootlegged. I mean, from the public’s point of view, I don’t think they understand the financial impact that bootlegging has on a business like, say, Guns N’ Roses or even back to Led Zeppelin or anything.

“So I know where Axl was coming from. It was a little bit dramatic, and I don’t think leaving the stage is necessarily correct. I don’t condone that or anything, but from where I was standing, I was still just playing my guitar. I just looked over and all of a sudden Axl’s not there and I see this commotion go on.

“Then, of course, what happened after that was a fluke,” Slash said. “I’ve never seen anything like that, the retaliation aspect of it, because there was a point there where Axl and I went to go back on stage. And we didn’t know it had gotten started because we were back in the dressing room.

“So we got up and went to the side of the stage and looked, and there were like riot cops and everything was broken and people were bleeding. There were like stretchers and s—, and I was just like, ‘Jesus Christ!’ And then they whisked us away in a van, and I had my top hat on. They said, ‘Get that [bleeping] thing off! Duck!’ And we got out of there. There were cops pouring in. I mean, the whole thing was a nightmare.

“I have a videotape of it that someone took, and I can’t watch it. I watched five minutes of it and went, ‘Jesus, I just can’t, I just don’t want to be reminded of the whole thing,’ ” Slash said. “And that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to come back and play in St. Louis. I was trying to get Axl to do a club gig there because that would be cool. We have the [guts] to be able to come back and do that. It’s like a getting-back-on-the-horse kind of concept.”

The Slash's Snakepit project that brings Slash back to town came about quite by accident. After Guns N' Roses finished touring in 1993 Slash decided to stay busy by setting up a home studio and writing some songs. As Slash began putting his songs on tape. Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum dropped in and began helping with song arrangements. Then guitarist Gilby Clarke (who was recently booted from the band by Rose, an incident that Slash said he still finds upsetting) joined in on the fun. A friend suggested also getting in touch with Alice In Chains bassist Mike Inez, and before Slash knew it, he had the basis of a side band and a record.

Over a 12-day period, the foursome fleshed out and recorded the songs Slash had been writing, leaving only lyrics and vocals to be added. After listening to about 40 audition tapes, Slash found his vocalist in Eric Dover, former guitarist with the pop band Jellyfish, and the two quickly went to work on writing lyrics and laying down Dover’s vocals.

Within two weeks, the band, newly christened Slash’s Snakepit — a reference to the guitarist’s studio and his collection, by some accounts, of nearly 300 snakes — had a completed CD called “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.” Its 14 tracks reflect the spontaneity of the project.

The CD is a raw, loose and hard-rocking affair, characterized by the bluesy flavor of many of the disc's best tracks, including “Neither Can I,” “Beggars and Hangers-on” and “Good To Be Alive.” In some respects, the CD takes Slash back to his roots by capturing some of the gritty-ga-rage band groove that helped make Guns N’ Roses’ landmark 1987 debut, “Appetite for Destruction," seem so different from the polished pop metal of the late 1980s.

The formation of Snakepit caught Rose off guard, Slash said.

“I played some of this stuff for Axl at one point, and... he was, like, going, ‘It’s too retro, it’s too like old hard rock, and I want to do something more like Pearl Jam,’ ” Slash said. “And I said, ‘Oh, no, no, no. We’re not going that direction.' So I kept the material, and then the band sort of materialized.

"Then all of a sudden, Axl wanted the material back,” Slash said. "And I go, ‘Dude, the album is finished.’"

Slash’s decision to release the Snakepit record and to do a tour of clubs and small theaters, coupled with the inactivity of Guns N’ Roses over the last year or so, has fueled questions about Guns N’ Roses’ future. But while Rose and Slash have their rocky moments as musical partners, any talk of the band’s demise is greatly exaggerated, Slash said. In fact, the band — with Zakk Wylde of Ozzy Osbourne’s group guesting on guitar — is in early rehearsals for a new record.

“I would never leave Guns,” Slash said. “Right now, I’m just taking a hiatus because I need to. With Guns, the first three chords of any song, it’s like one, two, three, yeah, the whole crowd goes nuts. It’s like I sort of want to go out and take a little bit more of a risk.”

Alan Sculley writes about pop and rock music for a number of publications.

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