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2001.03.09 - The South Bend Tribune - Slash and Burn (Slash)

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Post by Blackstar on Tue Apr 21, 2020 9:16 am

2001.03.09 - The South Bend Tribune - Slash and Burn (Slash) 2001_031
2001.03.09 - The South Bend Tribune - Slash and Burn (Slash) 2001_030

Transcript:
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Slash and burn

Former guitarist of Guns N' Roses keeps working, rocking

WRITTEN BY TRIBUNE CORRESPONDENT JEFF VRABEL

About six seconds into our conversation, Slash hangs up on me.

In fact, several times during the course of an hour. Slash’s cell phone quite unceremoniously clicks off. And one of the biggest guitarists of ail time, the driving force behind one of the biggest rock ’n' roll bands of all time, the man whose tales of success and excess with Guns N’ Roses provided some of the best rock ’n’ roll lifestyle stories of all time, the man who’s played with Dylan, Iggy, Ozzy and Michael Jackson, the man who once graced the Ameri-can Music Awards with a string of acceptance speech profanities, and the man who currently tours the world with a band named Snakepit, calls back somewhat sheepishly and apologizes that his phone won’t let him move around the house much.

“OK, I have no idea what the hell that was,” he says, exasperated, after the third time this happens.

These little cell phone hang-ups represent the few times it’s not immediately apparent that you’re talking to one of the most recognizable, incendiary guitarists in recent memory Slash is a guitarist from the old-school mold, a throwback to the school of hard rock, and, from the sounds of things, time hasn’t mellowed him much.

“I think that’s my problem,” he laughs. “I just live for this thing it is that I do. I’m sort of an overgrown teen-ager.”

He still wears a giant top hat, still drags religiously on his ever-present cigarettes, still thrashes away at his Les Paul through a towering mop of black curly hair. In many ways, he’s the exact same guy that burst out of Hollywood in the 1980s and blew the rock world away with the glorious train wreck that was Guns N’ Roses. And while the remnants of that shattered band are scattered all over the globe, Slash hasn’t quite slipped out of the spotlight like, say, his former band’s singer. Through his first band’s ugly demise and the dawn of his solo career, he’s retained an unlikely stability.

It’s his work ethic that, in the years since the implosion of Guns, has spawned two solo records, a number of worldwide tours, a gaggle of guest spots, side appearances and cameos. And it’s responsible for the current incarnation of Slash’s Snakepit, which comes to the Heartland on Friday in support of the band’s second release "Ain't Life Grand."

Rocking in a pop world

Still, marketing a groove-driven rock ’n’ roll record in an age of poppy bubble-gum goodness isn’t a recipe for instant sales success. But this isn’t new territory for Slash.

"Same scenario I’ve been through before,” he says. "When Guns broke in the 80s, it was New Kids on the Block that were huge, Debbie Gibson, all that kind of crap. I’ve always been involved in the antithesis of whatever's going on. I actually think life would be dull without it.”

The first Snakepit album, 1995’s bluesy "It's Five O'clock Somewhere,” wasn’t so much of a full-band effort as a side project uncoiled during those years spent wondering if Guns N’ Roses would ever reconvene.

Recorded with Guns veterans Matt Sorum and guitarist Gilby Clarke, Alice In Chains bassist Mike Inez and vocalist Eric Dover from the band Jellyfish, "Five O’ Clock,” according to Slash, was a way to address his nagging workaholism during a period in which the future of GNR was in characteristic doubt.

“A lot of people don’t understand that the first Snakepit record was more or less a glorified demo," he said. “Guns was in a state of not doing anything, and being that I have to keep busy all the time, I just kept working with friends in a studio in my house. Eventually, we took it the whole nine yards.” Although it didn’t spawn any hit singles, the record was warmly received by critics and sold respectably But more importantly, it served as a vehicle to get Slash back out on the road to play for fans who had been thirsting for some new material.

"What I realized when we took it on tour for like four months, was that I had the best time sort of reinventing what it is that makes me love what I do,” Slash said.

As such, “Ain’t Life Grand," the second Snakepit album, was recorded by what is technically the first Snakepit band vocalist Rod Jack-son, bassist Johnny Blackout, drummer Matt Laug and guitarist Ryan Roxie (who, due to a prior commitment, has been replaced by Keri Kelli for the current tour).

“This Snakepit is the first real group we really sat down and put together,” Slash says.

The current tour is the latest step in along line of re-cent Slash projects that have come up since the end of Guns. In addition to the two incarnations of Snakepit, he organized Slash’s Blues Ball, a traveling cover band that specialized in blues/rock stan-dards and kept him on the road and onstage.

He’s also spent a lot of time performing with a lengthy and diverse list of performers. A partial sampling reads like the ingredients of an odd mix tape: Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Blackstreet, Carole King, Alice Cooper, Lenny Kravitz, Marta Sanchez, the Insane Clown Posse, Cheap Trick, Rod Stewart, Iggy Pop and Ozzy Osbourne.

"You know what's cool about that? It was never something I ini-tially set out to do," he says. "The people that I hook up with are just people that I met somewhere, or hung out at a bar with, or happened to be at the same club on a jam night - that's basically it.

“But it’s a compliment for me that anybody would wanna do something with me in the first place. And when that happens and it sounds right, it’s just icing on the cake."

The man does have his standards, though. He recently turned down an offer to perform with Britney Spears at an awards ceremony “There’s cool, and then there’s that real fine line, and then there’s un-cool,” he laughs.

Days of Guns N’ Roses

Slash doesn’t blow off Guns questions or even hesitate to discuss them. But he speaks of the olden days in a distinctly past tense manner.

“It was (expletive) cool, man." Slash says. "My only regret about the ending of that whole partner-ship, the whole crazy reality that was Guns for 12 or 13 years, is all the fans that wonder why we broke up. The reasons were pretty clear, but it’s just a drag for the bona fide fans.”

The Guns breakup was, indeed, a long, drawn-out process that didn’t so much happen as creep along over the course of years. Members were tired, then rehired, the band was headed into the studio, then they weren’t, guys thought they were in the band, then they weren't. Eventually, Axl decided that he wanted to take the band in a tech-no/Nine Inch Nails sort of direction, a style that contrasted directly with Slash’s. Unable to reach a compromise on the direction of the band, the wheels eventually fell off the whole operation, and Axl and Slash parted ways for good in the mid-’90s. They haven’t spoken since.

“When a band breaks up - for personal problems, lack of musical unity, or overall focus, or the drugs or whatever—a lot of people think, ‘Hey, it’s just a rock ’n’ roll band, it can’t be that hard.’ But it was a very volatile thing with us, a systematic tearing away from the actual thing that got us started in the first place."

As it sounds, the constantly swirling rumors of a full-scale Guns reunion are just that.

“Without a couple of years of serious psychotherapy, I don’t see it coming,” Slash laughs.

Still, the Guns years have given him a unique perspective on Snakepit — a sense of been-there-done-that wisdom that make him one of the long-standing icons of the guitar world.

“The most important thing is the raw passion, just plugging it in in front of an audience to (expletive) jam. That’s really the beauty of what it is that I love to do. You get out there, really get toe-to-toe with the people you're playing with, the band works as a band, and you just sweat it out together.”
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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Apr 24, 2020 2:18 pm

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Post by Blackstar on Fri Apr 24, 2020 2:23 pm


Oh well. I've tried to check if an interview has already been posted, but with the Slash interviews being so many I didn't avoid double posting.
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2001.03.09 - The South Bend Tribune - Slash and Burn (Slash) Empty Re: 2001.03.09 - The South Bend Tribune - Slash and Burn (Slash)

Post by Soulmonster on Fri Apr 24, 2020 2:28 pm

@Blackstar wrote:

Oh well. I've tried to check if an interview has already been posted, but with the Slash interviews being so many I didn't avoid double posting.

No worries, they are different enough to warrant separate entries.
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