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2001.03.DD - The Pure Rock Shop - Interview with Slash's Snakepit

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2001.03.DD - The Pure Rock Shop - Interview with Slash's Snakepit Empty 2001.03.DD - The Pure Rock Shop - Interview with Slash's Snakepit

Post by Blackstar on Mon Apr 13, 2020 9:51 pm

Slash's Snakepit:
New Band, New Label, New Millennium - Same Attitude

Interview by Kara Uhrlen

Slash's Snakepit began promoting their new release, Ain't Live Grand (Koch), before it hit the shelves, in fact, you've probably already seen them on the road with AC/DC. But what you may not know is that since the release of It's Five O'Clock Somewhere (Geffen), Slash has assembled a completely new line-up of musicians for his Snakepit.

Rod Jackson (Vocals) ...

Fronting the new effort is vocalist Rod Jackson, who delivers a blues-influenced hard rock sound and sites Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Robert Plant, Stevie Wonder, and Steven Tyler as some of his main influences.

Jackson says that he first met up with Snakepit's Johnny Blackout, when his own band was in need of a bass player. While Blackout had filled in, he was more interested in seeing Jackson tryout for Slash's Snakepit. After asking who had already auditioned for the vocal slot, Jackson learned that he was up against some pretty big names. He is really not sure what made him stand out from the crowd, but attributes getting to know the band as being part of the reason he was selected.

"I went 'awe f*ck, there's no way that I'm going to get this gig, and it turned out that I got it…I think I got to know them. I really got to know everybody well. I think a lot of the singers that got there, just did their thing and left. I wanted to get to know everybody," said Jackson.

Jackson says that despite the legendary status of their lead guitarist, he has never actually looked at the band as revolving around Slash. He describes them as one big unit where everybody contributes equally. "When we're playing up there everybody is just pulling their weight and doing their thing."

Johnny "Blackout" (Bass) and Teddy ZigZag (Keyboards)...

Johnny Blackout, who has done session work in Los Angeles and worked with former Guns 'N Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke, first joined Slash as a member of his Blues Ball project, which formed after Slash received an offer to headline in Budapest. Blackout says that they played anything that was in demand covering everyone from Elvis to Hendrix, but never recorded any of the material.

He was recruited along with former Guns 'N Roses keyboardist Teddy ZigZag, who regularly jammed with him at the Baked Potato in Hollywood. While the two were expecting to only work with Slash for a single show, things snowballed and the cover band received enough offers to necessitate a small tour. And after that, Blackout says, "it was time to get serious and put together a real band and start writing songs."

Matt Laug (Drums) and Keri Kelly (Guitar) ...

Blackout explained that Matt Laug, a session drummer, had actually got involved at the tail end of Blues Ball, so he stuck around as well, and guitarist Ryan Roxie was recruited when Slash went down to Mexico to perform with Alice Cooper. After recording the new album, however, Roxie parted with the Snakepit when the band was still shopping for a new label. He chose to join Cooper on the road again, and was replaced by his Dad's Porno Mag bandmate Keri Kelli (also Ratt, Warrant), who is now considered a permanent member.

Jackson says that though he wishes they could keep their keyboardist Teddy ZigZag on tour with them, along with their horn section, they are not able to do so at this time. He says that maybe when the album really breaks and they are doing their own things they can use the full band, but for now ZigZag has joined Roxie on tour with Alice Cooper.

Slash (Lead Guitar)

When Slash began making his mark in the hard rock world as a guitarist, he says "there wasn't any preconceived sound." He had a basic idea of what he liked and what he didn't like, and then he set his sights on trying to establish a sound of his own, which he has maintained over the years. He learned all about being one of the black sheep on the block when he joined Guns 'N Roses, and eventually learned to embrace his individuality.

"God knows I'd like to be successful at what it is I do for a living as well, and at the same time, part of the struggle and part of the going against the grain and part of being original is part of the whole fun of putting up with the other bullsh!t that goes with this industry, which I think is overall a corporate piece of crap in the first place."

Slash first introduced his solo project with the album It's Five a Clock Somewhere, which he says didn't even start out as a record. He originally formed his band during a break from Guns 'N Roses with other musicians who had commitments to established bands, and eventually, their demo recordings turned into an album that ultimately resulted in a four-month four-continent tour. Unfortunately, by the time Slash official quit Guns 'N Roses, he was left without a band.

Taking things much more seriously this time around, Slash found a band that could dedicate themselves completely to Slash's Snakepit, and a record label that could give them personalized attention that they need. He chose to switch labels after mergers and consolidation transformed what was formerly Geffen Records, and settled on Koch.

When Geffen became Interscope he soon realized that he didn't know or trust anybody there. Knowing that he would get lost in the shuffle, he worked towards an amicable separation and began his search for a new label that was a bit more knowledgeable than he was personally. And thus far, the band has been pleased with the move. In fact, Jackson says that being on a smaller label has given them more freedom, because there are fewer hands involved.

Despite the small label, Blackout believes that having a big name artist in the band has helped Snakepit bypass some of the typical obstacles that new bands face like showcases and club tours. They began touring with AC/DC before their album was even released, and had been scheduled to catch up with them again in Florida for their second US leg.

(Editorial Note: While we've had no official statement from management, unfortunately beginning with Pittsburgh, the band began canceling both club shows and their performances with AC/DC for the upcoming weeks stating illness as the cause. We hope that they will be back on the road by early April to update this with a road report and live photos from Cleveland.)

Interestingly, Slash says he doesn't want to restrict the band to just playing in front of stadium and arena audiences. He believes that one of the most personal things about playing in front of an audience that's intimate, is that you have such a personal relationship them, and you really can't establish that kind of relationship playing in front of a stadium even if they know your whole record.

"I like doing all of it, I like to the stadiums, I like doing the theaters, I like doing the clubs, I like doing impromptu gigs where you just happens to show up for the gig and there happens to be on or two or three of you from the band and just getting up there and winging it…I think the whole fun of it is just getting out there and just putting your heart and your soul into it," says Slash.

Jackson also stands behind the bands live show and explains that unlike the contemporary pop stars that have their songs, clothes, and images chosen for them, Snakepit sets out to do it their own way. The band prides themselves on being one of the only bands out there that are still delivering old school rock, says Jackson, "It's 'hard rock, blues-based ass kicking sh!t…you come to our show, your gonna sweat, your gonna drink, your gonna have a good f*cking time."

For more info on the band, visit the Koch's Slash's Snakepit site at www.slash-snakepit.com or the official fan site at www.snakepit.org.

https://web.archive.org/web/20020821040151/http://www.tprs.com/interviews/slash.htm
Blackstar
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