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2004.04.14 - LiveDaily - Interview with Slash

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2004.04.14 - LiveDaily - Interview with Slash Empty 2004.04.14 - LiveDaily - Interview with Slash

Post by Blackstar on Fri Aug 21, 2020 6:46 pm

Thanks to @Surge for sending us this interview!

LiveDaily Interview: Slash of Velvet Revolver

by Don Zulaica
LiveDaily Contributor

Aspiring supergroup Velvet Revolver --with a lineup that includes former Stone Tempe Pilots vocalist Scott Weiland, Guns N' Roses survivors Slash (guitar), Duff McKagen (bass) and Matt Sorum (drums), and former Electric Love Hogs guitarist David Kushner--is set to unleash its debut album, "Contraband," on June 8, with a theater tour to follow.

While it might seem at first glance to be a carefully constructed label ploy, the origins of the band actually go back a couple of years to the death of drummer Randy Castillo (Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne). The early version of the band, which featured Buckcherry's Josh Todd and Keith Nelson, performed at a benefit in honor of Castillo, who lost a long battle with cancer at the age of 41.

There have been many twists and turns since then, including the unlikely procurement of Weiland. As Slash explains, "This was definitely something that was either meant to be or some serious cosmic fluke."

LiveDaily: I read an interview with Matt Sorum where he said, "Most of the singers I've worked with are a little crazy. When they're comfy and sweet, they usually suck." Do you agree?

Slash: I don't think I've actually procured enough singers in my day to be able to label them as such. But in my experience, from the ones I've worked with and other ones that I'm familiar with, it tends to be that the singer needs to be a little different. [laughs] There's a difference in the way that singers look at things, in general. But as far as being crazy, it all depends on what you think "crazy" is. [laughs]

How did this all come together?

Slash: It was when Matt, Duff and I decided to form a band to play a fundraiser, as a result of Randy Castillo's death. All of these musician friends of Randy's got together to play. And when I was at the funeral I ran into Matt, he asked me to play, and then we called Duff--it was a total, one-off buddy thing. Duff flew in and I got these guys from Buckcherry to fill out the band.

So we put together the six-song set and did the gig and it was really intense. I'm looking to get a thesaurus, to try to find the right words. I don't know why Matt and Duff and I never thought about putting together a band before--probably a lot of it having to do with the Guns N' Roses stigma, and we were off doing our own things. I was starting a band with Steve Gorman from The Black Crowes, Duff was playing in his band Loaded, and Matt was making a solo record. But the next night Duff called me and we thought this was too cool to ignore. There was too much chemistry.

We rehearsed with Josh and Keith for a few months, and we basically had sort of musical differences, let's put it that way. We decided to find the right people, and started writing like crazy. Dave Kushner was playing in Duff's band Loaded, and he came down to fill in, and it was just natural. He has a different approach, but he's very rock and roll, a terrific guitar player.

How did Scott get involved? Did you know him personally?

Slash: Everyone in the band knew him in one way or another, except for me. Duff's wife knew Scott's wife, Matt knew him from rehab, and Dave Kushner knew him because Dave's band, the Electric Love Hogs, opened for STP for a while. I was the only guy who didn't know him at all. I'd seen him once at the KROQ Acoustic Christmas, and knew his music from the radio.

Scott was the first guy that I thought of, that would be perfect for this band. I liked his voice, liked STP, but wasn't aware of that much about him. Duff called him up, and he was interested to hear some material, so I sent a CD of, like, four songs to his house. And we got a call back and he said, "The stuff sounds great, but I'm really sort of torn because I'm still in STP and we've got a tour coming up. I have to see what's going on." Which is totally cool. We didn't want to have anything to do with breaking up STP, and let it go.

Then we auditioned all these singers, and from the hundreds of CDs and cassettes we got the typical Axl clones, a lot of Eddie Vedders in there. It was tedious. Several months later we were asked by our management, "Who are the top ten singers you'd like to get for this band?" Scott's name came up again, and it was around that time that STP broke up, and Scott's wife went to Duff's wife, trying to get in contact with us. Right around that time we got a couple offers to do the soundtracks for "The Incredible Hulk" and "The Italian Job," so we used those as vehicles to bring Scott in. It all clicked from the moment he walked into rehearsal.

When did you start writing for "Contraband"?

Slash: That happened pretty quickly. We did the "Hulk" recording and then a gig right after that, which is kind of what cemented us. It was at the El Ray Theater, and it went over like gangbusters. At first we were going to put out an EP of that show and do a tour, but then we decided to do the record. We started writing, and by October we were ready to go into the studio.

How did you and Kushner decide on guitar parts?

Slash: He's usually the guitar on the left-hand side, and any kind of weird sounds, like a synthesizer or futuristic--it's his guitar. I do all the leads. On the intro to "Sucker Train Blues" there's some guitar licks that are his. That was the very last new song that we wrote for the album.

How many takes to you do for your solos?

Slash: Usually, in a perfect world, it's the first take. Sometimes it takes more. On that particular song, that was the first take. Pulled a Strat out and just did it. I attempted to go and do it with a Les Paul, which is completely different, and it was like, why bother? On another song, "Superhuman," there's two guitars going on at the same time, and I played both of them on the record. When we play it live, Dave's going to play one part, so that will be cool.

What are the tour plans looking like?

Slash: It looks like we'll start out in the States, and by the end of the summer we'll be in Europe. This will probably be theaters. I think, depending on what opportunities are given, we'll try to keep it more toe-to-toe with the audience, although we'll do the odd festival and would love to be able to do the arena thing.

I've done a lot of touring, and I've learned a lot about what works and what doesn't. I think the best thing to do is maintain a good relationship with your audience, and try to keep it as compact as possible. In an arena, you can actually do that, but when you start playing bigger places than that, then it starts to become impersonal.

To make a show intimate in front of 20,000 people is no small feat.

Slash: You can do it, and I've got to say I cherish being capable of playing in front of that many people. After doing arenas with Guns for so long, playing the clubs with Snakepit was a huge shot in the arm for me. It re-established why I really love what I do.

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