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2000.MM.DD - Guild - Back In The Snakepit: An Interview With Slash

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2000.MM.DD - Guild - Back In The Snakepit: An Interview With Slash Empty 2000.MM.DD - Guild - Back In The Snakepit: An Interview With Slash

Post by Blackstar on Tue Mar 17, 2020 8:48 pm

Back in the Snakepit
An Interview with Slash


Slash at home with his Guild D100

Since bursting on the scene in the mid '80s as the smoking top-hatted lead guitarist of Guns'N'Roses, Slash has stood for everything good about rock'n'roll—attitude, soul and burning leads. Since the dissolution of Guns, Slash has been as busy as ever, playing out with friends and generally enjoying himself in his home studio. Acoustic or electric, Slash's playing has always been as distinctive as his image.

In 1995, while still in Guns, Slash began a side project called Snakepit with fellow GNR bandmates Matt Sorum and Gilby Clark, bassist Mike Inez from Alice in Chains and singer Eric Dover from Jellyfish. The side project recorded the rock'n'roll cult classic It's Five O'Clock Somewhere before the members returned to their respective full-time bands.

Since leaving Guns'N'Roses, Slash has been busy as an occasional sideman and general rock'n'roll celebrity. He has played with countless acts and guested on dozens of records by other artists. Slash has been a loyal Guild acoustic player (D100, DV52) since the GNR unplugged days, but he also designed a signature doubleneck acoustic-electric for Guild, known as the Crossroads.

After a long and exhaustive search for a new vocalist, Slash and the new lineup of Snakepit are about to release the long-awaited sophomore release. The new lineup includes Rod Jackson on vocals, Ryan Roxie on guitar, Johnny Griparic on bass, Matt Laug on drums and Teddy Andeadis on keyboards. The new album Ain't Life Grand!? will most likely hit stores in mid to late 2000.Slash took a minute from his busy schedule to sit and talk with Guild about life, the band and everything guitar.

Guild: Let's talk about your new album.

Slash: It's called ''Ain't Life Grand!?'' and that's with an exclamation point and a question. I'm just really proud of it. It's one of very few, if any, rock records coming out right now. Itąs really cool that through all these different changes in music these days, I've managed to hold true to what it is that I do, and still be able to produce something that is really cool and as far as I'm concerned, just has the kind of energy level that turned me on to rock'n'roll in the first place. So that's all good, and we're going on tour. I've got great guys in the band I'm working with.

Guild: Tell me about the title. Is there any kind of statement you're making there?

Slash: No, actually there's no statement. There's a song on the record called ''Ain't Life Grand,'' and I think that covered every facet of what the band's about. It used to be the ''Stripper Song,'' put it that way. It's just, ain't life grand, with its ups and downs. It is, ain't it?

Guild: It took some time to find your vocalist. Tell me about the guy you're working with now.

Slash: It took a year to put the band together, all things considered. I knew Teddy, playing keyboards, from Guns'N'Roses and The Baked Potato in LA. I met Johnny, the bass player, through him. And Johnny introduced me to Rod. A little bit later on, after it looked like the Snakepit thing started to look like it had legs, like we were going to get something going. I met Rod at the Roxy in LA. He had a band that he was working with. So Johnny had seen him before, and he says, ''Just check this guy out.'' And I was still in the process of auditioning an unparalleled amount of singers. I didn't go for him the first time I saw him, because the band was completely different than what I was doing, but I thought he had a great voice. After listening to another box full of tapes and auditioning different guys, Johnny submitted to our demo tape to Rod and I got it back a couple of days later, not even knowing who he gave it to, and I thought it was awesome. So that's how it started. Ryan and Matt were already in the fold at that point. It went from one musician to the next until it was a whole band.

Guild: Now, for you, is it Snakepit, the band? Or is this Snakepit, Slash's band?

Slash: That's one of the most important things about the whole Snakepit vibe. I didn't want to go out and start a solo career based on my guitar playing. I'm not that type of guitar player. I don't think I'm technically good enough to be that. I think that bands focused around one guitar player tend to be a little bit boring. I wanted to put a band together. Regardless of the success I had in Guns, my whole reason for being wasn't to be the other guy for the lead singer. I never anticipated that that would happen. It's kind of a weird thing. I don't know what other guitar players who come from famous bands with a front man and a lead guitarists. I've never even asked them what they think of that.

Guild: That's maybe a question for Keith Richards.

Slash: I've never discussed that with Keith. That's not what it's all about for me. With Snakepit, I was trying to start a band that was more of a team effort. Everybody's equal, and there's no rock stars in this band. I don't have any egomaniacal head trips to deal with, including my own. So all the songs are written by the whole band. Everybody holds their own as far as musicians, so you won't be listening to an hour of guitar solos. It's still a guitar-driven band, don't get me wrong.

Guild: The last Snakepit album came out in 95, right?

Slash: It was in 95. That one, which I still love, I didn't spend as much time on it, or have a permanent band when we did it. The reason being that we were all from different bands that were on hiatus. We were all supposed to return to our respective bands and continue working in that capacity. Gilby Clarke and Matt Sorum and myself with Guns'N'Roses, and Eric Dover with Jellyfish or whatever his project was at the time, and Mike Inez with Alice in Chains. I managed to go out and do a four-month tour. I tell you, it was like 80 shows on four continents, in four months. And it was just a real blast to go back and work in the same capacity like when Guns first started, which was like really working your butt off and every different kind of venue that you got an offer to do a gig, whoever would have you. It was really getting to a toe-to-toe level with all your fans and stuff, whereas as Guns'n'Roses had become sort of a major stadium entity in itself. Not to knock that, because that's a great accomplishment, but it was nice to get into a rock'n'roll band that was still playing anywhere from theatres to opening slots at stadiums, and just working all the time.

Guild: So you started with Guns, right at the bottom, and then make it to the top of the top. Then you go out on your own at the bottom again. What was that like?

Slash: It's very humbling, for one. When you go back and you have to seriously work at entertaining whatever audience it is. I think one of the things that any stadium band can admit to is that once you reach a certain level, there's certain things about when you were starting that were so much fun that really repeat themselves in a stadium capacity. I'm not just talking about the gigs themselves. I'm talking about the traveling and the whole first-class touring vibe you get. Everything becomes the same. The only thing that does change is the audience in every city, but they're always enthusiastic. They're going to love you no matter what, unless you really screw them over and play really bad. But every city has a different kind of flavor, and that's what you look forward to. The rest of it is just getting in jets and going back in forth to nice hotels and waiting to go to soundcheck. Whereas, when you're playing in smaller venues, you get more of a feeling for the town that you're in and the people that you're playing for. You sign a lot more autographs. Like I was saying, you're a lot more toe-to-toe with your audience. That's a great feeling, because it really makes you realize why you're there and what you're there for.

Guild: The only time I ever saw Guns, you played a few spontaneous blues things, and that's what sticks in my mind most. It was a real connection with the audience.

Slash: One of the cool things about Guns was that we were always able to keep a real spontaneous, improvisational vibe to it. Between set tracks like ''Jungle'' or ''Sweet Child O' Mine'' or whatever, there was always room to do improvs and do it when we felt like, and change the set around. Which is something I think is priceless.

Guild: And you still have that with Snakepit?

Slash: Yeah, one of the most important things is not to fall into the rut of having the set so predictable that it bores the people who work with you, the band itself, and also some of the fans who actually follow the band from gig to gig, from city to city, which does happen. You don't want everybody to fall into this boring groove. I've seen a lot of bands go through that. We never did fall into that kind of rut. Anything that I get involved in, as far as bands are concerned, is based on what I liked when I was growing up, or what I like to listen to. That's where the energy comes from. I've never really gotten off that path.

Guild: You've been playing Guild acoustics for some time now. When did you first get involved with Guild?

Slash: As soon as Appetite for Destruction came out, somebody loaned me a Guild acoustic and I thought it was great. I kept it in my hotel room. I'm the kind of guy that once I find something that I like, I pretty much stick with it. Maybe, it's laziness, I don't know. So I figured that anybody that could produce an acoustic guitar that's as sturdy as the one I borrowed, I figured I would be able to find another one as good. You don't always have the luxury of carrying classic guitars around, especially if you're in a rock'n'roll band and you're travelling around. You'll usually break it. So if a company is making production model guitars, and they put a lot of care into it, you end up sticking with that company. And that's how I ended up sticking with Guild all this time, even now that it's years later and I can pick and choose, I already know the companies that make guitars that are tried and true.

Guild: What's the story of The Crossroads, your signature doubleneck?

Slash: The Crossroads guitar came about some time before the first Snakepit record. I designed a pinball machine. I think Guns was on a post-tour hiatus. I don't know how to wind down, so I was still fidgeting with stuff. I came up with the idea that there were no acoustic/electric guitars out there. So I started doodling on napkins, and I came up with a guitar that was a hollowbody at the top and a solidbody at the body. I ended up comfortable with Guild building it, and it really is efficient as far as live performances are concerned.

Source:
https://web.archive.org/web/20030224064757fw_/http:/qfg.info/misc/guildslash.txt
Blackstar
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