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2004.07.09 - The Guardian - 'I died. I do remember that' [& unedited audio interview] (Slash)

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2004.07.09 - The Guardian - 'I died. I do remember that' [& unedited audio interview]  (Slash) Empty 2004.07.09 - The Guardian - 'I died. I do remember that' [& unedited audio interview] (Slash)

Post by Blackstar on Fri Aug 21, 2020 3:55 pm

'I died. I do remember that'

When three battered ex-junkies from Guns N'Roses got together to form Velvet Revolver, the cynics got ready for a flop. Guitarist Slash tells Adam Sweeting about going straight, going steady and making the critics eat their hats.

By Adam Sweeting

IT PROBABLY WASN'T Atlantic City that Guns N'Roses had in mind when they wrote 'Paradise City'. The latter was a vision of a debauched rocker's nirvana "where the grass is green and the girls are pretty", but Atlantic City barely lives up to its billing as a tasteless parody of Blackpool.

It's a grim cluster of fast-food outlets and concrete-slab casinos advertising cabaret turns by Wayne Newton or Patti Labelle, and the fabled boardwalk looks like a shopping mall that never got finished because the contractors went bankrupt. Some say the Mob tossed the corpse of union boss Jimmy Hoffa into the marshlands alongside the highway.

Yet this is where Guns N'Roses veterans Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum find themselves on a sultry summer Saturday in June. They're here with their new band Velvet Revolver, in which they're joined by vocalist Scott Weiland (formerly of Stone Temple Pilots) and second guitarist Dave Kushner.

Atlantic City is the last stop on their debut American tour, a string of gigs that kicked off at the Roxy in Hollywood before scorching across the US. They're headlining the first day of a weekend mini-festival at Fantasy Island, which turns out to be a patch of waste ground behind the parking lot of the Borgata casino resort, with Budweiser tents and the kind of amusement stalls where you throw a ball at a target to send a girl in a bikini tumbling into a tank of water.

Cynics predicted that Velvet Revolver's alliance of battered ex-junkies – in Weiland's case, the "ex" part is in rather faint lettering – would disintegrate before it left the runway. Hence, there was a noise of hats being eaten when VR's new album, Contraband, sold 250,000 copies in its first week, barging the smarmy Usher off the number one slot and trouncing the combined sales of new greatest-hits compilations from Guns N'Roses and Stone Temple Pilots.

"You sort of have to expect no matter what you do that there's going to be this negative thing that comes with it, and people's preconceptions of what you're doing," drawls lead guitarist Slash, making inroads into a bottle of burgundy in the band's dressing room. "God knows I had to deal with it with Guns N'Roses the whole time."

For once, the guitarist has pulled his mass of tumbling black curls back from his face so you can actually see what he looks like. Despite having survived snowdrifts of drugs, lagoons of Jack Daniel's and groupies tumbling out of wardrobes, Slash seems younger than his 40-odd years.

"The kids, the actual fans, were feverishly talking about Velvet Revolver because I think they needed a new shot in the arm as far as rock'n'roll was concerned," he continues, "but then of course there was the buzz from inside the music industry which was, 'Oh, Scott's a fucking heroin addict and Slash and those guys are all washed up,' but they all were watching us, y'know? But once we were onstage the only people that really mattered for us were the people who'd bought a ticket."

One mogul who thought he could sniff a phenomenon on the wind was RCA's Clive Davis, the man who shaped the careers of Janis Joplin, Whitney Houston, Alicia Keyes and Carlos Santana (twice), and the only non-performer ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Davis flew to L.A. and drove out to the band's rehearsal studio, to find out, says Slash, whether they were serious or "if it was just a bunch of elements plucked out from superstar bands and put together as a fabricated fuckin' thing". Davis swiftly concluded that the Revolvers were the boys he wanted, though since we're talking about three-fifths of the biggest-selling rock band since Led Zeppelin, this can't have been one of his most difficult decisions.

"We ended up going with Clive because his deal was maybe not the best one but it was good enough for us," says Slash, "and he was old-school enough that we'd feel comfortable with a record company that he was running. It turns out some of the other people that were shooting big numbers at us are now no longer employed, so we made the right move."

For the former Gunners, Velvet Revolver represents a dramatic role reversal. Where Guns N'Roses was like a wagon-load of nitroglycerine rattling towards a precipice, VR is more like a therapy group. Slash is the only one who still drinks, and the tour manager carefully sweeps the backstage area clear of alcohol before the others can find it. Where once you would have found the Gunners lying face down in a trough of cocaine (or worse) before a show, a drugs ban is strictly enforced.

Fables of Slash's wild years could fill several volumes, and he recounts his yarns with the affable nonchalance of his hero, Keith Richards. "The one where I died in San Francisco? I remember exactly what happened. These drug dealers came to my hotel room at 5am. They had everything and I took all of it. I started down the hallway and I ran into a maid, and I asked where the elevator was and then bam! I collapsed. Little Spanish lady, it freaked her out. When you overdose, there's a certain kind of scene where everybody is just moving really quickly and there's noise from radios and everything; I've experienced it a bunch of times. They took me to the hospital but I said, 'I'm fine', signed myself out, went back to the hotel and we flew to the next gig."

In the decade since Guns N'Roses, they've all changed in different ways. Drummer Matt Sorum has explored new avenues in arranging, production and composing. A burst pancreas suggested to bassist McKagan that it was probably time to quit boozing, and he straightened his head out by going back to Seattle to take a degree in finance. Like McKagan, Slash has become an enthusiastic husband and father, and had just flown in from L.A., where his wife had given birth to their second child.

"I woke up the other day in my hotel room and I was going, 'God, I'm so glad I don't have some stoopid bimbo I gotta kick outta here from last night, y'know?" he says. "After a while you've done it too many times and it just gets old." Your missus probably worries about you on the road? "She doesn't worry about me, she'd kick my ass," he chuckles.

"But I was married once before and I must have been the worst husband you could possibly have. I used to keep three or four different hotel rooms in the same hotel so I could go back and forth to different girls. Matt [Sorum] really thought I was sick; he thought I needed treatment for sex addiction. That's when I met my current wife. We were always really good friends and we used to fuck around here and there. Then I ran into her just before my divorce and we've been tight ever since."

Scott Weiland is the biggest cause for concern, following years of heroin addiction, arrests for possession and enforced spells in rehab. Weiland was allowed out of his lock-down facility in Pasadena under police escort for four hours a day to record the Contraband album, and was drug-tested every evening on his return. Although clean for a couple of months now, he still has to report regularly to a counsellor in LA.

The band fell together after Slash, Duff and Matt all turned out to play at a benefit concert in 2002 for ex-Motley Crue drummer Randy Castillo, who died from cancer. They enjoyed playing without crazy control-freak Guns N'Roses vocalist Axl Rose so much that they started making plans, and when they were hired to write 'Set Me Free' for the soundtrack of The Hulk, they went looking for a singer. They had heard Weiland had split with Stone Temple Pilots.

"We knew he was loaded," says Slash, "but he showed up and he sang great, but he did have this gigantic fucking enormous monkey thing happening, and so we talked about it. He admitted he had a problem and wanted to work on it, and we said, 'Look, we've all been there, probably worse than you have, so if you want some help we'll help you,' and we just worked through it together. We were doing it one step at a time and we didn't have any visions of the future."

Weiland may be their biggest liability, but he also adds a vital whiff of volatility. His lyrics bring a sense of wrung-out personal turmoil to the VR songs, not least in the self-loathing onslaught of 'Big Machine' ("He's a junkie piece of shit because he says so") or the album's grandiose mega-ballad, 'Fall to Pieces', where Weiland plays the spectator crushed by the falling debris of his own life. "The record is really a snapshot of that year, from June 2002 when we met Scott up to October last year when we went in the studio," says Slash. "With Scott and his lyrics it's a very personal thing. I don't think any of us would want to go there unless he asked us."

The Contraband album is a smartly conceived mix of punk attitude, road-drill riffs and shrieking metal, but with plenty of hooks and harmonies to sweeten the dose. Onstage, the quintet teeter along the tightrope between passion and pastiche, with Slash spinning backwards across the stage in mid-solo with a cigarette clamped between his teeth, and Weiland wiggling and mincing as if raising a defiant digit to the entire history of heavy-metal machismo.

Sometimes they strike a pose on a plinth, centre stage, Slash holding his guitar up vertically, Weiland frozen with arms aloft, and McKagan shaking his blond mane and displaying his chiselled physique. Their final song is the Guns N'Roses heroin anthem, 'Mr Brownstone'. Not, we trust, the shape of things to come.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2004/jul/09/velvetrevolver.gunsnroses

----------------

Thanks to @Surge for sending us this article!


Last edited by Blackstar on Mon Oct 05, 2020 8:11 am; edited 3 times in total
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2004.07.09 - The Guardian - 'I died. I do remember that' [& unedited audio interview]  (Slash) Empty Re: 2004.07.09 - The Guardian - 'I died. I do remember that' [& unedited audio interview] (Slash)

Post by Blackstar on Mon Oct 05, 2020 7:59 am

The unedited audio interview this article was based on:



Adam Sweeting: It sounds your tour has been going great.

Slash: It’s been awesome.

Sweeting: Yeah.

Slash: I mean, it’s been great in a lot of different ways, because it’s been... the band, first time really on the road after everything that we went through to get together and all that, and then to go out there and play for all these people. And we started the tour without the album being released and just doing all this new material in front of an audience who’s never heard it, which to me is the way to do it, because that’s how a band start – you know, you go prove yourself in front of a crowd of how many people and see how they react to something they’ve never heard before. That’s how new bands do it.

Sweeting: Yeah.

Slash: So we did that and we had the greatest response, and now that the record is out, everybody loves it and that’s sort of cool.

Sweeting: (Laughs)

Slash: (Laughing) It wasn’t just a bunch of false advertising. So everything - I mean, it’s been so positive and it’s also been done the way that I’ve always thought how a real rock and roll band should do it, at least in my mind.

Sweeting: Kind of organic.

Slash: Yeah, yeah, that’s the word I use, always. It’s very organic. The whole making of the band was very organic, so... yeah, that’s good.

Sweeting: I guess over the last - you know, since the whole Guns era, I mean, music has gone sort of digital, hasn’t it, and kind of approached in a very different way a lot of the time.

Slash: It’s done a lot of things since then. But even back then, you know, Guns N’ Roses was the antithesis of everything that was going on then. So it’s interesting that I end up - I mean, it’s interesting, but it’s almost like you’d expect it that I’d be in a band that’s totally against the grain now.

Sweeting: (Laughs).

Slash: And the funny thing is that, like, when I was doing the Guns N’ Roses thing, I was always that guy, always that musician from way before Guns started. Then, when Guns came, I was always just very much myself. And with all the changes that have gone on in this industry and so on and so forth, and the sort of lack of interest in rock ‘n’ roll for a while, almost to the point where music has gotten emotionless and has no fucking thrill factor or anything left, I just stayed the same and it has just come around full circle. So, like, I’ve just been patient, you know? Sort of phased off, I guess.

Sweeting: Yeah. I was reading somewhere, I think you were saying something like you basically wanted to be doing it, you know, when you were kind of in your eighties or whatever. Like, you know, what you thought BB King would do, or Keith Richards, those kind of things.

Slash: Well, see, I mean Keith would be proud to be mentioned in that same company, you know, with BB King and Muddy Waters and all that, because I’ve read interviews where he said that. And I just think that that’s the way you do it, you know? You start out doing this and it never stops. I couldn’t imagine going, “Okay, I think I’ve done my time here” and pack it up and-

Sweeting: Do another job now.

Slash: Yeah, right?

Sweeting: (Laughs).

Slash: I don’t see it happening. So yeah, I plan to be doing this well into my... probably until I’m pushing daisies. [Talks to the waitress]

Sweeting: (Laughs). Isn’t that what Duff was thinking of doing, a completely different career? This thing he was gonna be in finance or whatever.

Slash: Well, no. You know, what I think happened with Duff, with everybody in this particular group, we’ve got a pretty interesting story, because everybody comes from a certain background, which is pretty colorful; and we all sort of push life to its limits, you know (laughs), like as far out there as you can possibly get. And then we all sort of had to grow up at some point, sort of deal with the breakup of Guns N’ Roses or the breakup of STP, or, with Dave Kushner, just trying to find the right band, and with Matt the same thing, trying to find the right band, but surviving, going through all these different chemical abuse problems and just managing to come through it more or less unscathed – you know, damaged, but still moving - and just to have gone through all that, and then finally sort of finding each other and having all this wealth of experience, but still having this amazing drive to do the same thing that we’ve always all wanted to do. And now we’re doing it, which is fucking awesome. I can’t really explain how awesome that is for all. Anybody that actually sees the band is seeing a band that’s been through the fucking mill-

Sweeting: Yeah, yeah (laughs).

Slash: And still relish the whole fucking... every aspect of doing it. We’re, like, the real deal. There’s not a lot of bands that can actually say that. I think Motorhead is still around and-

Sweeting: (Laughing) Yeah. The Stones-

Slash: The Stones are still around. But there’s not a lot of new bands that are out there, especially rock ‘n’ roll bands, that are singing about the kind of shit that we’re actually singing about, which we’ve really seriously been through, you know?

Sweeting: That story when you apparently died or were clinically dead, or whatever, and then revived and went and did the show, is that really true, the way that happened?

Slash: Yeah! I’ve got a lot of those stories, but they’re not a big public thing. But it’s sort of cool with me. It’s like, I’m the one guy that never gets out in the press, I don’t have my fucking rockstar name on my driver’s license... Anything that happens to me is very quiet, which is good. I’ve had a lot of incidents like that, but the one that you’re talking about is one in particular in San Francisco, where I died in the hotel, and they revived me in the hotel and I was like, “Okay!” Actually, they revived me in the hotel and took me to the hospital and I said, “Okay, I’m fine.” They said, “You can’t leave” and I said, “I gotta go, I’ve got a gig.” So I signed myself out and walked down the street back to the hotel, and we flew to the next gig.

Sweeting: Wow.

Slash: And that was that.

Sweeting: So what was that? Was that drink or...

Slash: That was drugs.

Sweeting: Drugs.

Slash: Yeah. That was one of those occasions where I got out of hand and, I think, sort of just didn’t care (laughs). I was pissed off about something in particular, and I ran into the wrong people and knew that they had what I knew I was looking for; and they showed up at, like, five o’clock in the morning in my hotel room, knocked on the door and they had everything. And I did all of it, and I was on my way, actually, to another guy’s room - when all of a sudden I fucking collapsed in the hallway - to get more (laughs). So...

Sweeting: (Laughs) Can you remember how you felt at the moment just before you went down?    

Slash: I remember exactly what happened. What happened was, I got the phone call, I said, “Okay, I’ll be up there in a minute” and I got up, I told the people who were in my room that I’ll be right back - which means I must have been not in my right mind if I was gonna leave some people I don’t know, who are drug dealers, in my room – and I went out, opened the door and I started going down the hall, and I was starting to physically collapse. And I ran into a maid, and I remember asking where the elevator was, and then just bam! - that was it. It just freaked her out.

Sweeting: I can imagine.

Slash: A little Spanish lady. I remember her really well. And it just all went sort of “boom.” And the next thing you know, I woke up with tubes coming out of my throat, and sitting on the same place where I passed out, and all these people and my security guards staring down at me thinking I was gone, and all that. There’s a certain kind of... what’s it called... like, everybody just moving really quickly, and noise, and stuff like that that happens when you OD (laughs). I’ve experienced it a bunch of times; you wake up and there’s, like, this whole thing going on around you, you know, and all these people moving around, and sticking tubes in and talking on radios, and this and that and the other. Then they put me on the stretcher and took me to the hospital and I was... But at that point, I was up – you know, they should’ve just left me there (laughs).

Sweeting: (Laughs) But you didn’t get busted.

Slash: Huh?

Sweeting: You didn’t get...

Slash: No, I didn’t. I was thinking, knock on wood, I’ve never really been busted big time.

Sweeting: There was that Keith Richards story in Toronto, when the Mounties woke him up and arrested him. They walked him around the room to wake him up, and then they took him downtown (laughs).

Slash: Right.

Sweeting: He said that was a pretty unpleasant way to wake up (laughs).

Slash: No, actually, Keith’s story is one of the classic drug bust stories for, at least, a rock musician (laughs). That hasn’t happened to me. I’ve had one big run-in with the police having to do with that, and it just cost me a week in jail, so it wasn’t too bad.

Sweeting: Yeah.

Slash: That cost – that was a big one for him.

Sweeting: I mean, a lot of people, when these little things happened to them, they would think, “Oh no, I’m never doing that again. That’s terrible.” But, obviously, somehow you kind of...

Slash: I’m not - you know what?

Sweeting: I know you’re not doing it now, but-

Slash: I’m not really as bad as people might... or I wasn’t as bad as people – I mean, I was terrible, but I was also very focused. I’m very focused as a musician and my whole reason for really even being here is to do that. So I never let those things get to the point where I couldn’t play. And when it did happen, I would straighten myself out. It wasn’t whether I was gonna die. If I just all of a sudden stopped living, well, that was a whole different issue; I didn’t have any control over that. But if I was gonna continue playing, I had to sort of balance out my highs, you know? (laughs)

Sweeting: Yeah, yeah.

Slash: So that kept me on a, more or less, even keel. But the thing that really fucked me up was usually downtime; because during downtime, when the band wasn’t working, I didn’t know what the fuck to do. You move at this certain breakneck pace as a musician on the road, and everything is going and going. And then, all of a sudden, it comes to a screaming halt and everybody goes home, and you’re like-

Sweeting: It’s like the end of a party.

Slash: Yeah. It’s like the party ended, yeah. And you just drop into the abyss, and then you have to pull yourself out; which, after a while, it gets pretty just... I think a combination of just getting bored with the whole thing, lack of quality and the basic drugs that you’re doing. You know, and the high never gets better than that first few times that you really started doing it.

Sweeting: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Slash: It just becomes tedious, you know? But I mean, all things considered, I’m still the one guy in the band that needs to have a little bit of something going on, like a drink, or some sort of a party, or something after the show, or whatever. But, you know, if somebody comes up and goes, “You wanna go do a line?” I’ll think twice.

Sweeting: Yeah (laughs). Good, good. But, I mean, the family stuff and your babies...

Slash: That, probably-

Sweeting: That, like, makes you think a lot, I guess.

Slash: That made me stop fucking around. Like, I would stop and start, and stop and start. But when my wife first announced that she was pregnant, it straightened us. Because she and I were, like, a pretty crazy couple. Anybody in Hollywood that knows us will tell you we were that sort of couple. But when she told me she was pregnant, I was actually in the beginning of another binge - I could see it coming - and she was doing what she was doing, and it just straightened us out. So that whole nine month period was a whole completely different focus. I was also trying to start another band, and somewhere around the time that this band first-first started is when he was born, so then I had the band thing. You know, it’s one thing if I’m not in a band and I’m not working consistently, and I’ll be out there trying to work; but it’s like trying to keep it cool, too, trying to keep clean and all that. So the baby sort of helped, and then it helped my focus as far as trying to get this group together, even though I didn’t know it was gonna be this group. I was doing another one, and then I ran into Duff and Matt. We went and played this impromptu gig for the first time, and it was such a magical event that we said we should continue on, and we did. So we spent the next year auditioning singers and all this other stuff. And those guys are sober, completely sober, so I was pretty laidback; and I had the wife and the child home, and I was working through this and really, really being tenacious about making something happen and persistent or whatever you wanna call it. Then, finally, when Scott came in, which was June of last year, all of a sudden we had a band. So then we just really locked onto the music. And that was really that – that’s always been my main passion anyway, you know? Fucking around with getting high, and overdoing it, and this and that, was never an image thing, it was never something for me to, like, be cool and have to do... It was just, like, a pass time, some sort of pass time, you know. I wouldn’t even call it a hobby, a side gig, you know?

Sweeting: But I guess that thing also, when you’re doing a show and you’re in such a high, and then you come off the stage-

Slash: It’s hard.

Sweeting: It’s hard to...

Slash: I mean, nowadays when we do a show, when it’s over, I sort of actually have gotten a little bit mellower afterwards. Like, I need some... somewhere to sort of withdraw for a while. So I’ll go to a neighborhood pub and hang out there with some locals, you know?

Sweeting: Yeah.

Slash: That kind of deal. But if you were used to fucking chasing chicks around and looking for something exciting to do, you just couldn’t wind down. But now, after having been through that and seen it all, I know that there’s nothing out there that I haven’t seen already and it’s just – it’s a bore. You know?

Sweeting: (Laughs).

Slash: I woke up the other day in my hotel room, and just the first thing that happened in the morning was that I woke up and I was like, “God, I’m so fucking glad I don’t have some stupid bimbo I gotta kick out of here from last night,” you know? So, I mean, I think you just live and learn; and, after a while, you’ve just done it too many times and it just gets old.

Sweeting: Does your wife worry about you when you’re out on the road, though? Does she think that-

Slash: No, no. She doesn’t worry about me. She’d kick my ass (laughs). No, actually, my wife is an interesting story. I was married once before and I was probably – had to have been - one of the worst husbands you could possibly have, because I was... they wanted to check me in for sex addiction back then. I used to keep three and four different hotel rooms in the same hotel, so that I could go back and forth to different girls and stuff. Matt really thought that I was sick; he thought I needed to go to an institution. Actually, during those years, while I was still married, I met my wife now. I was just always really good friends with her and we used to fuck around here and there. Then I ran into her just before my divorce and we’ve just been tight ever since. I never really needed anything else from anybody else, so it’s just... you know, she doesn’t have to worry about it. She does worry, but she doesn’t have to.

Sweeting: (Laughs) Yeah, yeah.

Slash: She’ll never read this. I’m not just trying to make her feel good. It’s just the way it is, you know.

Sweeting: Sounds cool. Also it must be difficult because it’s such a young thing, rock ‘n’ roll. It’s like, it makes you feel young and it’s mostly that, well, it has always been for young crowds. So when you go out there, it must – it makes you feel young. You know what I mean? (laughs).

Slash: I mean, from your perspective, that’s would probably be an interesting way of looking at it. For me, though, it’s just... I never tried to put a label on why I love doing it. Maybe it’s because when I was young I was crazy and I fucking was out there, but it was about – it’ll sound cliché, but it was about trying to capture the thing that... what it was that turned me on in the first place, the music that I listened to. I was really, really engrossed in a lot of different music when I was coming up. When I started playing guitar, it was all about whatever influenced me - you know, trying to pick up some of that, and go out and do it on my own. So I’ve just been on this long journey just doing that. It doesn’t really matter how old or young I am, or how old and young they are, or anything. It’s just what I love to do. And when you’re doing it, it gives you a ton of energy, it gives you a sense of fulfillment. I mean, there’s no feeling that matches the one that you get on a great night in front of a bunch of people who love what you’re doing.

Sweeting: Yeah.

Slash: I never really put any parallels on it and I never put any borders on it either, you know, or any limits or any analytical kind of thing to it. I just do it. It’s very gut kind of thing.

Sweeting: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Slash: It’s only when you talk about it to somebody who wants to ask you a question that you really have to start to think about it.  

Sweeting: Critics come up with stupid theories (laughs). So when you were just learning to play, who were the kind – did you listen to a lot of blues type stuff?

Slash: I listened to a lot of stuff. When I was a little kid, I lived in England and my dad was really into rock music; which, I was born in ’65, so it was pretty fresh and exciting right then, at least for the Brits, because there was the Who, and there was the Stones, and there was of course the Beatles and whatnot.

Sweeting: And Zeppelin came up.

Slash: Yeah. But I remember my dad loved the Who, my dad’s brother loved the Moody Blues, so there was a lot of English rock ‘n’ roll going on at the time.  So I remember Zeppelin, I remember the Yardbirds before that, and Eric Clapton and... I could go on and on, and on. There was also a lot of American stuff, there was Bob Dylan, and there was Joni Mitchel, and I don’t know what else; I could go on and on. So then there was a hardcore blues thing underneath all that, which was like Chuck Berry, and Muddy Waters was just a big one, Robert Johnson... There was a lot of this stuff going on, because that’s what influenced all the rock bands, you know. Except for the Who; that was more of – at that time, it seemed like it was very much a teenage thing in England. That was... It seemed-

Sweeting: Yeah, they were sort of different.

Slash: They didn’t have that whole bluesy background, regardless if they did personally or not. Their whole thing was reaching out to the youth of their culture and that generation – no pun intended with the song. Anyhow. And then my mom was American, black woman, right?

Sweeting: Right.

Slash: So then I was raised on all this other kind of music, which was a lot of soul, a lot of funk, a lot of sort of, you know, like avant-garde kind of music, and my mom is really into dance... So there’s a lot of different kinds incoming. But what happened was, when I was about 14 I guess - you know, you get to an age where you discover your own music and there’s the bands at that time, which was in the late ‘70s, and for me it was, like, AC/DC, and Aerosmith, and shit like that. Then you just put it all together and... There was one record that I listened to, which was an Aerosmith record that just was this gritty rock ‘n’ roll record which is the Rocks one, the one with Back in the Saddle on.

Sweeting: Yeah, yeah.

Slash: That was, like, the spear that just hit me, you know, and that’s why I decided that’s what I wanted to do. So I took all that music that I loved as a kid – and there’s tons of it – and then added that element to it, and then just went out and started doing it on my own. So there was a lot of influences, a lot of major influences going on, and it’s hard to sit here and name them all. I wish-

Sweeting: Yeah, yeah.

Slash: When I’m sitting by myself, you can just sit there and scroll down all these great people. But when someone asks you, you’re like, you have trouble...

Sweeting: To count them in. Yeah, I know (laughs). Do you always like to play with another guitarist? Because you’ve got Dave in the band, and you had Izzy in Guns, and...

Slash: I didn’t really ever think about it. In my own bands, when I was in high school and before Guns N’ Roses, I was always the only guitar player – and I could never find a singer. Then, when I finally met Axl, Izzy and Axl were part and parcel. So that’s how that happened, so we just... And the way that Izzy and I developed as a two guitar player thing was by not developing at all. He did his thing his way and I did my thing my way, and even though we were playing the same song, we played the parts completely different and it had a great kind of – you know, looking back on it, it had a great kind of sound to it, it made it a little bit more interesting than your typical two guitar band. Then, since then, I’d just gotten used to having another guitar player just because it makes it bigger or whatever. But it has to be the right kind of guitar player and that’s hard to find, trying to find the right guy that compliments what I do and vice versa, you know? That’s the one thing that just came out of nowhere with Velvet Revolver. Dave Kushner came in to rehearsal one day, a friend of mine since junior high school-

Sweeting: Oh, really?

Slash: Yeah, before we played guitar. Then he was also, years and years later, in Duff’s last band. And he just came in to just fill in for a while - just until we found the guy that we were looking for or whatever - and just hang out. And he just brought this whole new guitar approach with him and it just fit perfectly, and I don’t think we ever even questioned it; “So let’s just play with David.” “Yeah.”

Sweeting: Yeah (laughs).      

Slash: You know, “fuck all this searching stuff”. If it works, just go with it. The same thing with Scott. But I have to go back, I remember I totally got off on a tangent on an earlier question having to do with what everybody was doing in the band. I went off and started – I knew I had lost my place (?).

Sweeting: Alright (laughs).

Slash: I forgot to answer you. Real quick, I’ll throw this in: I was putting together another band, so I was always doing the same thing; I was never gonna change. Same with Matt, you know, he was always doing sessions, or he was doing a solo record at the time. But Duff was the one guy who was so scarred from the whole Guns N’ Roses experience that-

Sweeting: He thought about the other career type thing we were talking about.

Slash: That’s what I’m getting at.

Sweeting: Yeah, right.

Slash: He was so scarred from the Guns N’ Roses thing, that he realized that we had become a multi-million dollar band and he’d been so drunk through most of it, he had no idea how any of it worked. And he was really reaching to get sober, because he had to, and to find a way to sort of make up for being ignorant. He decided he wanted to know how he had all these contracts that he didn’t know how to read. So he decided to go to school, and in that he ended up in finance and found that he was good at it. So he just started doing it to the point where – he was always, you know, a musician, but he was really starting to excel in this particular subject. So I don’t think he was planning on becoming a suit and sitting behind a desk.

Sweeting: (Laughs) Hard to believe, yeah.

Slash: He just was taking the concept of understanding everything having to do with how not so much the music business works, but with how the contractual side of finance works.

Sweeting: Right.

Slash: And he was just still doing it, and he was in college when I hooked up with him again. Then he dropped it all to do this. We all dropped everything that we were doing to do this. Anyway, so that’s the answer to that question.

Sweeting: Yeah. It could be quite useful as well from the band’s point of view that he’s got this sort of stuff (?).

Slash: Yeah, yeah. Well, it makes it really great, because I have my own way of looking at things, but my mind is, like, I don’t have the attention span or the interest to really understand it to that extent. I only look at things pretty much as black and white and logical, and I like to get to the root of the problem as quickly as possible. So I’m not the perfect person to explain to you how this and that works other than in the simplest way. When it gets complicated, I’ll go to Duff, “What do you think about this?”

Sweeting: (Laughs) So, I guess, you must have gone through a few of those, all that legal stuff and the business stuff with Guns. So, generally, do you come with a different perspective this time around?

Slash: Well, yeah, it’s definitely a different perspective. I think with Guns we started out totally on the right - I mean, when we started out, it was just us and we did our own business. It wasn’t until around when the Use Your Illusion records came out, that we’d become so big that we had all the fucking vultures on us. And we sort of lost touch with the sort of street level business sense that we had, and just started letting them take care of it, and we would be out playing. You know, we trusted a lot of people that turned out to really screw us around - I learned it later that this was all going on, and it’s still something that we’re trying to set right. So I learned a lot since Guns N’ Roses broke up. I’ve learned a hell of a lot since then. Plus, I had the experience of leaving Guns N’ Roses, which everybody thought was a disastrous move, but it was something that, to this day, was the smartest move I ever really made. Then I was going through problems with different record companies, and the industry changing, and this and that and the other. It was just a huge slap in the face with, like, the biggest frying pan you could ever imagine; just this whole business and having to deal with it from - you know, instead of just being sort of a rowdy punk with a guitar that everybody is sort of intimidated by or whatever. Now it’s like, I gotta figure out how to fucking contend with these people and be smart about it. So there’s a lot of learning going on (laughs).

Sweeting: Yeah (laughs). So obviously Clive Davis has been quite an important figure in getting it together with the label. So did he discover or heard some of the tapes, demos or whatever?

Slash: What happened was, when Scott came into the band, how we approached Scott. He was the guy, even though we auditioned some 1000 plus singers. When we started looking for singers, he was the guy that I thought would be perfect for the band. But he was in STP, so obviously it wasn’t gonna happen. So, at one point, nine/ten months later, we got an offer to do these two soundtracks for these two different movies; one was The Hulk and the other one was The Italian Job. In the Italian Job they wanted a cover song, they wanted the Pink Floyd Money song, and in the Hulk they wanted an original song. So, at that point in time, we were contemplating this offer going, “We’ve got to do something,” you know. We were so over-anxious to do something, and then here was something to do, and we didn’t have a singer, but “let’s do it anyway.” And, right at that moment, it was like an act of fate or something, fucking all of a sudden Scott was out of STP. So we found that out, and we made the phone call and said, “Do you wanna just come down and work on a song on this movie,” totally based on that premise, not with the huge grandiose visions of fame and fortune, and the long... you know, almost what we’re doing now. None of that, just this one song. And once we got in the same room together, it just clicked. So what happened is, we recorded this original song and then that got out, and then – you know, because we never went out. We didn’t want to deal with record companies. I mean, it was, like, the last thing in a creative element you want to deal with. So that song came out, and the record companies started coming to us, and Clive was one of them. But Clive was the only guy that actually flew in a plane from New York to L.A., dropped off and then drove all the way to this little shithole rehearsal studio that we work in, on his own, and came in and wanted to watch the band, to see if it was genuine or not, if it was just a bunch of elements plucked out from superstar bands or something and put together as a fabricated fucking thing. That’s exactly what we’re not, but he actually came down to see what we were. You know, obviously, he’s such a huge icon in this business just for the – not for even the business sense that he has, but for the amount of talent that he’s been able to recognize. You know, that’s why we admire him so much and respect him so much. And he loved what he saw. So then there was a little bit of a bidding war with a couple of different record companies, but in our heart of hearts we wanted to go with Clive.

Sweeting: Yeah, yeah.

Slash: But we let it run its course and we ended up going with Clive just because his deal was as good – maybe not the best one, but it was good enough for us and we felt that he, at least, was old school enough that we’d feel comfortable with a record company that he was running, as opposed to some of these other ones. And it turns out, some of the other people that were really shooting big numbers at us are no longer since then. So we made the right move.

Sweeting: Yeah, yeah. Turnover business. Hasn’t that been what people are sort of accusing you though, of being sort of a manufactured supergroup?  

Slash: Well, you know, it’s like, you sort of have to expect that, no matter what you do, there’s going to be this negative thing that comes with it and people’s preconceptions of what you’re doing. I mean, god knows I had to deal with it with Guns for the whole time, and some of it was warranted. You know, “They won’t make it another week” or fucking “They’ll die before they fucking do this” and dah dah dah. And it was like, “Yeah, whatever,” because we knew what we were doing. And in this band, it was like, we got together in a way that you can’t even – I can sit here and tell you, but the way it came together was almost like a... I don’t know, like someone just decided, “Okay, put me in this room, at this particular time with this particular person,” and this other guy came around and it’s just all sort of like the galaxy was formed or something. It just sort of happened, you know.

Sweeting: Yeah, it was a big bang.

Slash: Big bang.

Sweeting: Yeah (laughs).

Slash: Then, all of a sudden, there we were all standing and we were just writing music, and that was it. So when word got out that we were doing this, everybody started speculating. So you have the kids, you know, the actual fans, who were fucking feverishly fucking talking about it on the internet, and were all positive and excited, because I think they needed a new shot in the arm as far as rock ‘n’ roll was concerned. But then, of course, there was the industry buzz, which was all, like, how Scott is a fucking heroin addict, and Slash and fucking “those guys were all washed up,” dah dah dah, and all that. But they all were watching, you know?

Sweeting: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Slash: And we just sequestered ourselves in our little room and just did our thing, and sort of tried to keep it all out, and that was basically it. And now, at this point, when we started the tour, we’d finished the record, we made sure that nobody really heard it and it didn’t get on the internet, and so on. We started the tour and everybody shut up, because then, once we were actually on stage and doing our thing, the only people that really mattered for us to prove anything to were just the people who bought a ticket and showed up. That’s how it always has been for me; it’s always about your audience. And we just kept playing, and all the reviews or whatever were really positive, and everybody, sort of the whole thing, changed. Right before the tour started I knew that, once we got out there, all that negativity would sort of take a – it would slow down, and they’d start talking to find something new negative to focus on.  

Sweeting: (Talks over laughing)  

Slash: And the record is out, and then the record does really well, and so now it’s been pretty much, you know, pretty quiet.

Sweeting: (Laughs) Yeah (?).

Slash: But there’s got to be some controversy, I guess, because somehow I’m a magnet for it. I’m the most laidback, non-confrontational, quiet guy; and I’m, more or less, very polite. You know what I mean, I’m a genuinely fucking nice guy, you know? I don’t go out and cause trouble on (?).

Sweeting: (Laughs) And they wrote stuff about you.

Slash: Huh?

Sweeting: And they wrote all this stuff about you.

Slash: Yeah. But I mean, all things considered, I don’t go out looking for trouble and I don’t, like, just try and piss in the fire and fucking get sparks going, and all that kind of stuff. But what happens is, I attract chaos. Everybody around me is chaos, so I’m so used to it. So my whole demeanor is still very laidback with all this chaotic stuff going on. So if it doesn’t happen, I think something is wrong, you know (chuckles).

Sweeting: Yeah (laughs). That is a bit of a Keith Richards thing, isn’t it? That kind of happens to him, I think. He’s, like, pretty laidback and all this stuff goes on around him.

Slash: Yeah. It’s just funny, though. Everybody in my life is – there’s always this sense of fucking it’s-about-to-explode kind of thing going on, and I’m just sitting back smoking my cigarettes.

Sweeting: (Laughs) So is there that element, do you think, with some people? Like this car crash thing, that they’re waiting to sort of crash and burn, because that-

Slash: Well, I mean, maybe that’s the thrill of it all. It’s like, because it’s rock ‘n’ roll and the passion for me is so strong for it, and I love the energy of it and I love the frenetic fucking pace that it’s at, the frantic pace that’s happening - that’s what I love about it. It is like getting in a race car and fucking, you know, redlining it all the way. But, at the same time, while you’re in there, you’re just sort of cool – just hanging out, you know? But I think I get a turn on from the whole spastic way that it all works, you know, in a sort of a sick way.

Sweeting: (Laughs). But getting Scott to join the band must – I mean, you realized that obviously was some sort of calculated risk, because...

Slash: Well, I mean, we had conversations. First things first, we just wanted him to come down and work on this tune. He came in and, you know, like, we’ve all been there and there’s nothing wrong with that, really. If you can handle your high and you can function, that’s all anybody can ask from you, if you’re happy and you’re having a good time. So we can see it when it’s coming, when somebody’s sort of going off the deep end. And when Scott came in, he just came in because he wanted to work on something; and that was genuine, right? So we came in and we just went to work. We knew he was loaded, but he showed up. That’s all he really had to do.

Sweeting: Yeah, yeah.

Slash: He showed up and he sang great.

Sweeting: Yeah. The first thing is when people just don’t turn up for rehearsals and stuff. That’s when it won’t work. (?)

Slash: Well, yeah. Then there was a point there, where it was sort of like, “Okay, now, if we’re really going to take this seriously, let’s extend this another step,” you know, “let’s go in and record,” let’s... And we just sort of subconsciously were watching to see how he worked. There was a point there, where we did the song, and he had showed up for everything and everything was great, but he did have this gigantic, fucking enormous monkey thing happening. So we talked about it. He, actually, admittedly said he had a problem and wanted to work on it, and we said, “Look, we’ve all been there, probably worse than you have. So if you want some help, we’ll help you.” And we sort of just worked through it together. It wasn’t a calculated risk. It was more like, we were doing it one step at a time anyway. So we didn’t have any - like I said earlier - visions of the future. We were just sort of in the now and just sort of stepping through it. And if something were to happen at that point, we would try – if, say, something looked like it was not going the right way, because we’re such survivor types, we just fix it. We just work on it, you know, patch it up. That’s the way we’ve been and then we just kept going. But, obviously, you want to have some sort of resolve to whatever - you know, a long-term resolve to it. So we really worked hard to put him into a place - or he put himself into a place, but we worked hard to get him through all this stuff. Then, of course, he got himself in so much trouble that he had to deal with it the way that none of us have ever had to deal with it, which is dealing with the law on top of, you know, his other anxieties that he had going on. So he ended up really shining, because he managed to stick it through, and do all the work, and be there through the whole thing while he was still dealing with this nagging legal situation. That is probably one of the things that made us a lot closer, because anybody – you know, I look at Kobe Bryant and I wonder how is he going to make a fucking game if he’s got to be going to a game from court, how is gonna be able to concentrate. And Scott had the tenacity to be able to do both and then come out at the other end clean and happy, and his family is back together, and he’s got a whole band that loves him, so he’s in a good way. So I think it was worth the effort.

Sweeting: Yeah. So he’s back with his – is she his wife?

Slash: His wife, yeah.

Sweeting: Oh, I didn’t realize that. That’s good. Good for him.

Slash: Yeah. And his two kids.

Sweeting: So is he still having to do that thing when he was – when they let him out four hours a day or something to record the record?

Slash: Yeah.

Sweeting: And then go back there? So maybe that was kind of a good discipline thing that he needed?

Slash: Well, I mean, I’ve been to enough rehabs, and to be able to get out for four hours, that’s like a godsend; and to be able to get out and go – even if it was just to go and walk around in a 50 by 50 square outside, you know, with prisoners. So he got to come out and just come into work, and hang out in that environment, and he would do his work and he’d go back. And he started to look forward to those four hours every day, you know. So it probably, as much as I hate to say it – I wouldn’t wish his experience on him or anybody else, but I think, in the long run, it helped him to really sort of focus and be able to handle whatever... In his situation, you start using your high as a lifeline, you know, like you’re dependent on it, because everything else is so fucked up that you gotta get high to escape it. And he managed to sort of take all of those problems and narrow it down to just a couple, and just deal with those.

Sweeting: Yeah. That’s a kind of a learning precipice or something (laughs).

Slash: I’m telling you, man, this band is a very interesting story, but it’s just really hard to sit and explain it.

Sweeting: No, sure (laughs).

Slash: You have to really be there (laughs).

Sweeting: But the record sounds – it’s got a really good balance of... it’s like it’s really hard and it really rocks, but also it’s quite - you know, it’s sort of melodic as well and stuff. It’s quite easy to kind of get into.

Slash: I haven’t listened to it.

Sweeting: (Laughs) Not at all?

Slash: I listened to it, obviously, when we made it and, you know, of course I listened to it a lot then, but I was listening to the mixes and all that. We just wrote it the way that we wrote it, and we loved what the whole thing was and what we were doing. Then we established all the songs and had everything ready to go, and we went in the studio and just recorded it. Then, you know, the rest of it was just mixing it and mastering it, and putting it out. And we started the tour before the album came out, so I haven’t actually listened to the record.

Sweeting: (Laughs) You must have heard it on the radio a few times (?).

Slash: Yeah, I’ve heard it. Yeah, I don’t want to sound ignorant. I know what it sounds like, but I haven’t really sat back now, at this point-

Sweeting: To listen to it right through.

Slash: And listen to it, yeah. It’s been a while. But, I mean, I listened to it in the mastering lab and I thought it was a cool record, but I didn’t think about all the different elements other than, like, you know, you’ve got all these familiar sounds all meshed together and it makes this whole thing that you can recognize all the different guys from the different bands that they were from, but as a whole it sounds like its own band.

Sweeting: Yeah.

Slash: So, because of that, it sounds not like what you totally would expect, which is cool. I don’t think this band could have been made up of any different people. I think, if you could change one member, you would change the whole band.

Sweeting: Yeah.

Slash: Which is a tough thing to say, considering all the bands I’ve been in my time (laughs).

Sweeting: (Laughs) Did Scott write all the lyrics or most of the lyrics?

Slash: He wrote all the lyrics.

Sweeting: All the lyrics.

Slash: Yeah. We’d write some music and he would take off with it, and go into his little studio and record the vocals on it, and come back the next day with a demo, and we’d listen to it and go, “Cool;” and then we’d work on it from there. But he would have all his lyrics together. With Scott and his lyrics, it’s a very personal thing. I don’t think any of us really necessarily wanted to go there, unless he asked us, and even then I’d be like, “Oh Scott, you can write it, come on.”  

Sweeting: Yeah, they seem to have a kind of feel that there is a lot of sort of turmoil going on in there about certain stuff, all the stuff he’s been going through.

Slash: Yeah, the record is really a snapshot of that particular – of that year, from the June that we met him all the way up until, I guess it was... let’s see... June, July... we went in the studio somewhere around... let’s see, fuck... it was May/June and we went in the studio in October of the next year. So everything that we wrote over that whole period and all this stuff was going on, you know, and all those songs were a result of that. So it’s sort of cool, because it’s really sort of – just stops time for a second.

Sweeting: Yeah, yeah. So if you recorded it, you started recording it, like, this week, would it sound kind of different again?

Slash: I don’t think we would have written the same songs this week.

Sweeting: No, I guess not (laughs).

Slash: Yeah.

Sweeting: But, I mean, in terms of the way you are playing together. I guess that changes things. Relationships evolve a bit or whatever.

Slash: Yeah. I mean, if, say, we’d written all those songs and we’d done all this, and decided to go in and record it now, it would probably sound a little tighter (laughs).

Sweeting: (Laughs) It sounds pretty tight.

Slash: I mean, all things considered, that’s one of those questions I can’t really answer.

Sweeting: (Laughs) No-

Slash: Because I just can’t imagine – it was just done the way it was done (laughs).

Sweeting: Yeah.

Slash: I can’t really look beyond that.

[continues in the next post]
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2004.07.09 - The Guardian - 'I died. I do remember that' [& unedited audio interview]  (Slash) Empty Re: 2004.07.09 - The Guardian - 'I died. I do remember that' [& unedited audio interview] (Slash)

Post by Blackstar on Mon Oct 05, 2020 8:00 am

[cont.]
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Sweeting: Yeah. Where did you get the name of the band?

Slash: Well, when we did that Hulk movie, after the Hulk song was done, we had a press conference to do for Universal, and also we used that as a vehicle to announce that we were a real band and we went up and did six songs live at the El Rey in L.A., El Rey theatre. So what happened was, when we recorded the song for the Hulk, on the credits it just says Scott, Slash, Duff, Matt and Dave. So we didn’t have a name and we knew this when we had this press conference coming up. It was, like, the last important detail that we kept pushing behind. So, finally, we started thinking about the name and I showed up one day at the studio with this name, “Revolver,” which I thought was cool. But it turns out there’s a million bands out there named Revolver.

Sweeting: (Laughs).

Slash: Not big bands or anything like that, but just garage bands or whatever. But you look on the google search and you’ll find them. So what happens when you do that is, because these names are out there, you end up having to buy all these people out. Believe it or not, we don’t have the fucking money nor the patience to do that. So we had to come up with another name and Scott walked in one day with "Black Velvet Revolver;" and I was like, “That sounds too Stone Temple Pilots, so let’s just call it Velvet Revolver.” That’s where it came from.

Sweeting: (Laughs) Yeah.

Slash: It’s great, because the “revolver” part sounds pretty much what the band sounds like, and Scott brings that “velvet” part to it.

Sweeting: Yeah, yeah.

Slash: It definitely adds something different, a different texture to it.

Sweeting: I was just wondering, there’s just a couple of bits where kind of you and Dave have this contrasting guitar thing going, like on... Superhuman kind of struck me, because you’re doing your kind of repeated high riff-

Slash: Riff, yeah.

Sweeting: And he’s doing this kind of scuzzy atmosphere that’s really good.

Slash: That’s what’s so great about Dave and I. Because, I mean, I’ve gotten a lot better as a guitar player, I think, over the years - god I would hope so - but my style is pretty much still very old school; you know, just my Les Paul, a Marshall, a wah wah pedal, and really not too much else ever (laughs). So he comes in, he brings all these – he’s always fooling around with these cheap effects that he finds and brings all these otherworldly guitar sounds to mix in with mine, and it’s just the two complementing each other. It’s a very sort of surreal guitar sound on one side and a very sort of strict rock ‘n’ roll on the other, and they sort of just come together and they just make a soundscape. It’s pretty cool.

Sweeting: Yeah. So it’s not too analyzed.

Slash: No, no. It’s the same as when I used to work with Izzy. That’s the thing. I was like, I never wanted to be in a room and have to work out guitar parts with another guitar player, a la, say, Judas Priest or Scorpions, or any of that kind of thing. I always liked the way that Izzy and I worked together. It was one of the best guitar teams that I was familiar with. And then, back in the Stones, there was a great two guitar thing going on, especially when Mick Taylor was in the band.

Sweeting: Yeah, yeah.

Slash: And, you know, with Aerosmith, Brad and Joe, they always had two different guitar styles going on that complemented each other. You can’t really go out there and look for that. You just sort of stumble on it – you know, it just sort of happens. When Dave came in and said, “Can I just fill in for a little bit or hang out until you guys find somebody else?” and he brought this element with him, all of a sudden it was like, “No, we don’t need anybody else. This is fine.”

Sweeting: Yeah.

Slash: That took, like, a week to make that realization.

Sweeting: Yeah, pretty neat. There’s also need that you can have compatible egos. (?)

Slash: Yeah. Well, I mean, I have to admit this band, in my experience, is probably one of the most economical groups that I’ve either been in or that I know of.

Sweeting: In terms of...

Slash: Just they’re... when I say economical, there’s not a lot of ego stuff.

Sweeting: Right, right.

Slash: And it’s great. I think everybody’s gone through some version of that in their time. But I mean these guys collectively, or even individually, us guys all sort of have these very sort of cool laidback – not really what you’d expect – attitudes about what we are, who we are. So it makes for a pleasant band to be in, because there’s not, like, this huge ego clash going on, at least not now (laughs). So we figured, you know, we’ve had such a good time thus far. I think, in the back of our minds, it’s all like, “Let’s just sort of keep it that way.” We don’t wanna have to go through all that other bullshit that we’ve all been through. So one thing I think we’ve definitely learned over the years is how to keep a band together at this point, you know? It’s one of the tangible experiences that we’ve gained over all this time.

Sweeting: So in Guns though, did you, Matt and Duff always have a good relationship?

Slash: Yeah.

Sweeting: Despite all the other shit that was going on?

Slash: Yeah. I mean, Matt and Duff and Izzy, Matt and Duff and Steve - the back line was always cool. Axl was always difficult, but he was manageable up to a point. Then he became, progressively, more unmanageable. And then he also - because being the lead singer and being always more sort of controlling, as far as just the “I won’t play if I can’t do this” kind of thing, then it just got to a point where the rest of us sort of dropped off and we said, “I can’t go there anymore; you’re on your own,” you know? And he’s still out there.

Sweeting: Yeah. So was it a clash between the whole band and him? Not you and him?

Slash: No, it was actually the whole band and him, but I was... Izzy was actually the first one to say, “I’ve had enough of this” and then left. Then I hung in there as best as I could and I replaced Steve Adler with... Steve was just an irretrievable drug addict. Like I said, there’s a fine line where you can get high and keep it together or you get high and you just can’t function. Steve went over that line and we could never reel him back in; we tried, and we tried. So I found Matt and Matt kept us going. Then we found Gilby to keep us going when Izzy left. Then, when that whole Use Your Illusions epic tour ended, I realized that the real – gee, it’s the word again – organic thing that really made Guns N’ Roses work and those original five guys is how we actually made music, and now we had a bunch of different guys in the band and just... Plus Axl was so out there in his own world that I was like, “We can’t.” We tried to make it happen, but it just wasn’t there – you know, not properly.

Sweeting: Yeah, yeah. Very difficult. Are singers generally different from the other kinds of musicians? (laughs)

Slash: Yeah. I mean, it’s safe to say that singers, for the most part, are different. I think you have to be. I mean, if I had to go... I mean, going out and playing guitar, I have a lot of tools that I hide behind; you know, I do the whole hair thing and I have the Les Paul to hide behind. I have a bundle of energy just playing my guitar and I’m pretty introverted, but I’m out there in front of all this people and I can do this. But if I had to go out there and really address the audience and do this whole thing-

Sweeting: And talk to them. Yeah, yeah.

Slash: I don’t think I could do it. I don’t have the personality for it. So you have to be pretty unique to be a frontman/singer kind of guy.

Sweeting: Hmm, interesting (laughs). Just on the guitar thing again, I think in that song, You’ve Got No Right - you have kind of a big solo on that.

Slash: Mmm-mmm.

Sweeting: So, when you are recording that, do you put a lot of... Do you sort of pre-plan it quite a bit, and so you kind of do this bit here and then you kind of build up a peak here? Do you know what I mean?  

Slash: Well, just to give you some insight as to recording, how we record: what we do is, when we write the song - usually everything that we ended up recording happened in the first day that the song was written; it’s all very spontaneous. Then you go back and you rehearse it, and you sort of tweak it to make it sound cohesive or whatever, and you work on some of the parts, and this and that. By the time you go in the studio, the song is completely done. And the solo, which, in that song and pretty much all the songs on the record, is – that was the way I heard it the first time we got to the solo section; that was the first run that it’s... So I stuck to that almost as a melody. So, when I went in the studio, it was already an idea that I’d done already, and I just did it in the studio and recorded it, and it went to the record.

Sweeting: Right.

Slash: So in the studio there’s not a lot of tweaking going on, if you know exactly what you’re doing. Maybe some notes change, but they flow within the structure. So that’s a pretty spontaneous solo, but, at the same time, I sort of had the idea all along from the day the song was first written. Then, you know, in contrast, there’s some other songs in the record where – there’s a song called Spectacle on the record, which has a solo in it that was, like, the first take of it.

Sweeting: Right.

Slash: And I never really knew how that solo was gonna go (laughs). So, you know...

Sweeting: (Laughs) So that one worked.

Slash: It’s really a total gut thing. It’s like, when you go in and the red light goes on, you just play what you hear in your head. And if it turns out good - because I can’t do more than two or three takes, if it turns out good in those first two or three takes, then I just use it. I did try doing it one time where I had to put a solo on a song called Sucker Train Blues, where I used a Stratocaster on it. So I went back and tried to do a different solo with the Les Paul, and both me and the producers said, “Well, the first solo was fine,” so we just left it there.

Sweeting: Yeah... You had a wah wah on Slither.  

Slash: Yeah. That was another first take.

Sweeting: Is that a tool you have to use to be quite careful with the wah wah, because it...

Slash: Well, it depends. I mean, over the years, it’s been such an old fucking effect, really. Some people have done amazing things with the wah wah pedal, like Eric Clapton of course, Jimi Hendrix, and there’s a couple of other guys, but those two really stick out in my mind as the pioneers of the wah wah pedal. I think I’m pretty good with one and I only use it in certain places, but I hear a lot of other people still using as well and it doesn’t sound the same; it sounds a little, sort of like, forced or whatever. So you have to be not necessarily careful with it, you just have to either have a knack for it or not. You know, like, I’m not a great slide player and you don’t see me running around with a slide all the time, just because I just don’t have – I mean, I can do some stuff very natural with it, but you listen to guys like Duane Allman and you go, “I’m not that good a slide player.” (laughs). I don’t think I’ll ever be that good; I don’t want to be that good at it, I don’t work hard at it. So, therefore, you never see me running around with a slide trying to be one.

Sweeting: Yeah. Lowell George, he was very good.

Slash: Who?

Sweeting: Lowell George from Little Feet.

Slash: Lowell, yeah. Lowell George is great, yeah.

Sweeting: He did a lot of tunings (?)

Slash: Yeah. I mean, it is a whole another instrument to itself, because there’s all the different tunings and some guitarists only play slide guitar, really.

Sweeting: Mmm-mmm. And Fall to Pieces...

Slash: Uh-hah?

Sweeting: The big of two or three ballady tunes. It’s the biggest, isn’t it? (laughs)

Slash: That’s one of those songs... What were you gonna ask me?

Sweeting: Oh, yeah. I was wondering if you were thinking of sort of a Sweet Child O’ Mine type of thing or any of that kind of...

Slash: Well, when I wrote the song, this band hadn’t started yet. I was actually in the band that I was putting together before this happened, right up against – like, I was doing one thing and the other one spontaneously happened. But I’d written that music beforehand. I think it’s just sort of the way that I write or whatever, because when we brought it back in Velvet Revolver and Scott put lyrics to it, the music had already been written and he just added this vocal to it, and I was like, “That’s a great song.” But it is sort of that kind of a ballad that is reminiscent of those kind of ballads in Guns, because that’s the way that I write (laughs). It’s more of a style thing than really an effort made to sort of reproduce that vibe; it’s just sort of a natural thing.

Sweeting: I was reading one of the metal magazines and I think they thought it was too obviously commercial.

Slash: I mean, we didn’t write it to be commercial, but when it was done, I have to admit it was like, everybody sat around, so that’s... You know, there’s songs and then there’s song-songs.

Sweeting: (Laughs).

Slash: We, as Velvet Revolver is concerned, write whatever we think sounds good. They’re not necessarily classic, like the greatest songs you’ve ever heard, as far as, you know, like a Carole King song.

Sweeting: (Laughs).

Slash: They’re not super structured, perfect written songs. But that was one of the songs that, when it was written, it just came out that way; and, at the end of the day, that’s a really good song (laughs).

Sweeting: (Laughs) Yeah. So it’s kind of a natural...

Slash: It’s not what you would call intentional, like you go, “We need to write a hit.” It’s just the way... And I don’t know, I mean, everybody loves the song now, but at the time, when we recorded it, I thought that’s one of those songs, it’s such a song-song, that’s one that’s gonna get passed over (laughs).

Sweeting: (Laughs) Yeah. It’s just one of those you just – you know, people just remember it when they hear it. It’s just one of those songs.

Slash: Well, that’s good.

Sweeting: Yeah, I think. What about that Loving the Alien song? Was that kind of a – I was getting this off the white label, but it sounded like it was kind of an added, kind of a hidden track.

Slash: It was almost going to be a hidden track.

Sweeting: Yeah.

Slash: It was, I think, not the last song that we wrote before we went in the studio, but one of them. It was very, very impromptu. I mean, I think Duff and Scott started working on it first, none of the rest of us were there – did it [the tape recorder] stop?

Sweeting: No, it didn’t.

Slash: Okay. So none of the rest of us were there, but they’d recorded it on a multi-track. So then I showed up – no, Dave showed up one day and he put some stuff down. Then I came in, I heard it and I put some stuff down. It was just a very surreal sounding song, so we thought, “Well, this is” – you know, “it’s not like all the rest of the songs in the record” where we all were sort of in the room at the same time when it was written. This was sort of written by different people, different guys in the band at different times. We just liked the vibe of it so much that we went in the studio and actually played it as a band to see if we actually could recreate that sort of vibe as a group. And it came out really easy. So once it was done, it was the most different song on the record, but I said, “But it’s a great song”-

[Someone interrupts asking if they want more drinks]

Slash: Um, what was I gonna say? Oh. So, at the end of the day, it was such a different sounding song that I remember there was mixed emotions about whether it was too contrasty to the rest of the record. And I said, “You know what, we should keep it on there because it’s what we recorded.”

Sweeting: Yeah, yeah.

Slash: We wrote all these songs as part of our new repertoire. So it ended up being on there. But at one point they were saying, “Why don’t we stick it on there and not say that it’s on there?” and I was like, “ew,” you know, all that ‘70s trickery (laughs). So we just put it on there.

Sweeting: (Laughs) No, it has an interesting feel it to it.

Slash: Yeah.

Sweeting: It’s kind of slightly different, as you’re saying.

Slash: Mmm-mmm.

Sweeting: It’s good.

Slash: Yeah?

Sweeting: Yeah, I like it. (Laughter) Is it true? I read this little interview with Billy Bob Thornton when he had his album out, and he said you bought his house – no, he bought your house.

Slash: He bought my house, yeah.

Sweeting: (Laughs) Yeah, that was pretty funny. With the studio in it.

Slash: Yeah, I bought a house back in late ‘90s and I moved in there, and they had – it was one of the only houses in L.A. that actually had a basement.

Sweeting: Right.

Slash: And I just went, “Wow, studio! I’ll build a studio.” So I built really probably one of the best home studios that I know of in L.A., and I recorded the last Snakepit record down there. Then, after the record was done, I was just like, I was done with it, you know? So Billy and I ran into each other at the Whiskey bar in Hollywood one night, and he was looking for a house. So he went to go look at it, because I had a studio in it, and he bought it (laughs)... because he could.

Sweeting: (Laughs) Yeah, yeah. Fantastic.

Slash: Yeah.

Sweeting: He’s a pretty cool guy.

Slash: Yeah, and the studio is still there, intact; which is great, because it’s got a legacy to it.

Sweeting: All right. So he’s still living there.

Slash: Yeah.

Sweeting: Yeah, that’s cool. So how did you put – when you first went out on the tour, knowing people didn’t know the new album since it wasn’t out, how did you pick what you were gonna play and how you were gonna balance it with the older stuff or the Scott stuff or whatever?

Slash: Well, this is what happened: I said, “Before we go out on tour, let’s go do a gig at the Roxy, just a club gig, sweaty...,” you know. And we did the whole album - pretty much the whole album. But all along we thought we’d got to do, like, our favorite STP songs, and we picked our favorites and Scott had his. Then he wanted certain Guns N’ Roses songs, you know, because he’s a big Guns fan.

Sweeting: Yeah.

Slash: So we thought it would just be fun. So we threw that whole... we did, like, a two-hour set and threw all that in there. And then, realizing that it was two hours long, we sort of tried to weed it out a little bit and shorten it down, but we still kept two Guns N’ Roses songs and two songs on the set, just because it’s fun. Also, I have to admit, it’s like, when we did our first show, because nobody knew any of the material on the record, it was the only thing they did recognize.

Sweeting: (Laughs).

Slash: You know, I’m just as tough as the next guy, maybe even tougher, but to go out in front of an audience and, without having a single or anything out, play a two-hour show with nothing in it that anybody really recognizes is pretty hard.

Sweeting: Yeah.  

Slash: You’re gonna do a set that nobody knows, and try and break it down to 45 minutes.

Sweeting: You’ve been doing that Nirvana song.

Slash: We have been. We do that or we do the Pistols. But the Nirvana is just so cool. But nobody knows it. Nobody really knows it.

Sweeting: (Laughs) So why did you pick that one?

Slash: I think that was Scott’s. He came in one day and he goes, “I love this song,” and I actually thought it was the greatest tune and I never, ever thought to play it before, because, I mean, who would you get – who would sing that? But Scott... It was like, “Oh, Scott wanted to sing it” and I was like, “That’s fucking awesome, because we’ll do a great job doing it.” We had a hard time trying to pick what covers to do and we always wanted to do them, but, you know, you try and pick cover songs that people be familiar with; and the kind of cover songs we pick aren’t necessarily the most commercial, commercially viable songs.

Sweeting: Yeah.

Slash: So that was one of the ones that we just stuck in there. And even when we do the Pistols, not the whole audience really recognizes it. Either the die-hard Pistols fans-

Sweeting: Which Pistols song is it?

Slash: We’ve been doing Bodies.

Sweeting: Bodies.

Slash: Yeah. So there are the hardcore Pistols fans out there that know exactly what we’re doing and then, in contrast, there’s a bunch of kids out there that aren’t really familiar with the Pistols, which is just sad.

Sweeting: (Laughs).

Slash: (?) how the hell people are being force-fed music without any roots at this particular point in time. So, you know, I figure if we play cover songs that they don’t know, maybe they’ll go and buy the record, and fucking maybe get a little history thing.

Sweeting: Find out a bit about it.

Slash: Yeah.

Sweeting: So did Scott know the Nirvana guys? I guess he could have met them then.

Slash: Yeah, I mean, all things considered, he hasn’t really told me any big Nirvana stories, but I think he’s hung out with them before. I know Dave Grohl, but as far as, like, Kurt was concerned, I know Duff knew him and I met him one time when Axl got into a fight with Courtney, I remember.

Sweeting: (Laughs).

Slash: But I don’t know how well Scott knows them. But they come from that same scene, you know, so... That was funny, because that was such – I was, you know, in Guns N’ Roses at that time that scene blew up. We were doing stadium tours and very aware of everything that was going on, but we weren’t actually what you’d call a part of it, we didn’t have a camaraderie going on with too many of those bands that were almost like a separate entity that was going on.

Sweeting: They probably thought you were, like, the big megastar... (laughs).

Slash: Yeah. I think we were disliked by that whole bunch. But, like, we took Soundgarden on the road with us at one point and that was cool, you know; and we played with Faith No More, which was cool. We loved all these records, but because we were, like, this big megastar band, it put sort of a wall between us and the new creative things that were going on at the time; which, in a way, is sort of – it is what it is. It didn’t really bum me out, but at the same time there was a lot of stuff going on that I wasn’t aware of, you know. Like, I didn’t hang out with any of these people, I didn’t really know them that well. So then this whole scene came and went so quickly, and I met most of them afterwards.

Sweeting: So if this band starts to get to that same kind of scale as Guns did, how would you react?

Slash: Well, that’s the thing. It’s like, when we started, I think just knowing what we know – you know, having been around the block enough times – the thing is try and not do twice the things that you didn’t like the first time. So, I mean, obviously, we’re doing theaters now, and it’s great and it’s a very personal... I mean, it’s really what I live for. Even in the Guns’ stadium days, I would go into local bars and jam with local blues bands or whatever, just to have that really toe to toe kind of reciprocation with the people that you’re – you know.

Sweeting: Yeah, yeah. That’s kind of what a lot of, you know, blues guys used to do and jazz guys used to do.      

Slash: Yeah, you need it to keep your feet on the ground and to keep really in touch with the people you’re playing for; because, I mean, it’s great that you’ve got 50,000 people show up to see you play, and you hear the cheers and it’s awesome, but it really starts to become otherworldly, you know? So, in this band, I mean, right now we’re not, I don’t think - we’re way too humble to start thinking about getting to that point. But, at the same time, I know there’s gonna be a change after this leg of the tour.

Sweeting: You’re gonna play arenas (?)

Slash: Yeah. So I’m gonna – what we’re gonna do is we’re going to see where this takes us on this leg. We have a whole tour of Europe to do in the same level that we’ve been doing this North American thing. Then, if we can manage to go into arenas, I think that’s where we’ll stop; and the only thing is to play festivals where there’s a lot of bands, if you want to do those big things. I don’t want to ever go out again and do two years of touring as a stadium band.

Sweeting: Yeah.

Slash: At least in arenas you make the environments your own, and it’s indoors and people come in. It’s a little bit more personal and it’s on a bigger scale than theaters, but it’s not that big-

Sweeting: Yeah, you can see the people at the back (laughs).

Slash: We’ve made a sort of pact to do that.

Sweeting: Yeah.

Slash: And I like festivals with lots of bands on them as opposed to, like, two co-headlining mega bands.

Sweeting: Yeah, yeah. So, I mean, you must be able to... I mean, presuming that you’re getting the kind of buzz that’s coming in and you must be getting offers to do this, that and the other, as people see how it’s going.

Slash: I think that – well, actually I know what’s happening. There’s offers coming in, but the way that the business has changed, the actual touring business has changed, that I don’t think they’re planning on – people aren’t offering big stadiums anymore. I think they’ve decided somewhere out there in the business world and they’re going, “Well, stadiums actually are starting to lose money” or whatever. So don’t even have to worry about that at this particular point. So the offers that are coming in are for arenas. That’s how we know that there’s arenas; it wasn’t that we were getting too big for our britches.

Sweeting: Yeah, yeah. True.

Slash: You hit it on the head. So arenas were like, “Okay, cool.” If we can be big enough to headline an arena, you know, with another band, then that’s cool. It’s still personal enough, you know? And we’ll leave it at that. And then some festivals gigs and we’ll be fine.

Sweeting: So who does stadiums? I mean, the Stones did something like that. But they don’t do the big – they only do medium ones, don’t they?

Slash: The Stones, they did a great tour. I went to three Stones shows in L.A. They did the Wilton Theater, which is where we just played, then they played Staples Center, which would be the arena, and then they did the Irvine Meadows or whatever big outdoor place. You know, it’s the Stones; they can get away with all kinds of shit. But I thought it was great. The best Stones gigs were the ones that were in the smaller places, really.

Sweeting: Yeah. Yeah, I’ve never seen them in a small place.

Slash: It’s great. It’s amazing to watch. And that’s what I recognize as a fan, because I’m such a rock fan that it’s just grab the shit that you really like; just like when you’re learning how to play guitar, grab the shit you really like and use that. Don’t bring in elements of stuff that you’re familiar with or that you’re not real popular with you, not because someone else told you to do it. You know what I mean?

Sweeting: Yeah.

Slash: There’s nothing more exciting, though, than being in a position to go out and make 50,000 people jump up and down. But then, it’s great a couple of times. There are a few times when you can do it. But if you start doing it every single day on a whole tour, you lose touch with reality.

Sweeting: Yeah. So looking back at the Guns era, are there things that you specifically say, “I know where we went wrong then, we shouldn’t have done that”? Or...

Slash: No, no. There’s no “we shouldn’t have done this” and “we shouldn’t have done that.” It was all part of our – everything. I have no regrets. It was all part of our, you know, going from here, which was nowhere, to all of a sudden becoming this other big thing. I think the biggest problems with Guns N’ Roses really, when it came down to it, were whatever Axl had problems with and whatever we had problems with Axl.

Sweeting: Yeah (laughs).

Slash: I can’t say that we were, the band, you know - he had disagreements about shit that we were doing, but we disagreed with that.  

(Laughter)

Slash: It was just that it turned into a big conflict at the end of the day.      

Sweeting: Duff was saying something to me about – he was really... after seeing the Clash in San Francisco.

Slash: Yeah.

Sweeting: There was some barrier between the band and the stage, and Paul Simonon got to smash it down, and Duff thought it was kind of significant.

Slash: It was one of those gigs that he was at. I can totally relate to it because, you know, there’s been a bunch of shows that I’ve been, defining shows that in my lifetime are the most memorable gigs that I’ve ever seen. So I know the feeling when you’re like, “I was there.”

Sweeting: (Laughs).

Slash: Anyway.

Sweeting: So you gotta, I mean...

Slash: Yeah, I gotta go back to the hotel and get my shit together, and plus... What time is it now? I’ve got seven (?)

[Talks with someone about hotel arrangements]

Slash: So, are we done?  

Sweeting: Yeah, I think that’s great. You are excellent, yeah.

Slash: And you’re not going to put all this in the Guardian.

Sweeting: (Laughs). It’s true, actually. It’s true. I thought that was great, really interesting. I’m looking forward to the show.


Last edited by Blackstar on Mon Oct 12, 2020 1:55 am; edited 2 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Oct 06, 2020 9:50 am

Do we know what episode Slash is referring to here: "I’ve had one big run-in with the police having to do with that [=drugs], and it just cost me a week in jail, so it wasn’t too bad"?
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Post by Blackstar on Wed Oct 07, 2020 8:05 am

@Soulmonster wrote:Do we know what episode Slash is referring to here: "I’ve had one big run-in with the police having to do with that [=drugs], and it just cost me a week in jail, so it wasn’t too bad"?
Maybe the one in Phoenix in 1989? From the way Slash has referred to it in various interviews it sounds like he considers it the most serious incident in regards to drugs related trouble with the police (although he never mentioned having done any jail time).

Then there is the 1986 incident (also recounted by Marc Canter) when Slash said he spent 2-3 days in jail for a charge not related to drugs (although the arrest was drug related).

There is also a DUI case from 1997 in the L.A. Court database. Slash has never mentioned it and there were no reports in the press (or at least I haven't found any). Unless it was about another person named Saul Hudson.
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Post by Soulmonster on Wed Oct 07, 2020 12:31 pm

@Blackstar wrote:
@Soulmonster wrote:Do we know what episode Slash is referring to here: "I’ve had one big run-in with the police having to do with that [=drugs], and it just cost me a week in jail, so it wasn’t too bad"?

Maybe the one in Phoenix in 1989? From the way Slash has referred to it in various interviews it sounds  like he considers it the most serious incident in regards to drugs related trouble with the police (although he never mentioned having done any jail time).

Then there is the 1986 incident (also recounted by Marc Canter) when Slash said he spent 2-3 days in jail for a charge not related to drugs (although the arrest was drug related).

There is also a DUI case from 1997 in the L.A. Court database. Slash has never mentioned it and there were no reports in the press (or at least I haven't found any). Unless it was about another person named Saul Hudson.

I was thinking about the Phoenix incident, too. I will put the quote there and make a note that it might refer to another episode. Thanks!
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