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2004.09.10 - Daily Mirror - All Guns and Poses (Slash)

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Post by Blackstar on Wed Aug 26, 2020 9:26 pm

ALL GUNS AND POSES

HOW SLASH SURVIVED HEROIN TO BUILD A SECOND CAREER WITH VELVET REVOLVER

As he leads us down to Slash's lair, his road manager tells me not to get him "all boozed up". This advice seems a little late. In his dressing room at the Helsinki hockey stadium, the former Guns N' Roses guitar god's face is partly hidden by the familiar mass of black curls. Even so, a guilty schoolboy grin - and the unmistakable smell of Tennessee whiskey - are easy to detect.

"When we arrived last night I went out to this crazy-ass bar," says Slash, 39. "Everyone was lining up shots until four in the morning."

In a few hours time, the London-born, Stoke-raised guitarist will have steadied himself enough to display impressive axe heroics with his new band Velvet Revolver. The group includes former Roses survivors Duff McKagan and Doug Sorum, alongside Stone Temple Pilots vocalist Scott Weiland and Slash's old school chum Dave Kushner.

Their multi-million selling debut album Contraband has provided a formidable return for Slash in a band many thought was comprised of wasted has-beens.

In the past, McKagan's two-gallon-a-day vodka habit caused his pancreas to explode and Weiland's crack addiction led to many a run-in with the law. Slash's heroin and alcohol habit brought him closer to death more often than the average undertaker.

"I don't know how many times it was, I can't put a number on it," he admits.

"It was through not caring and being stupid. Y'know, that thrill-seeking mentality. The first time I took heroin I knew I'd discovered my favourite drug of all time. I never liked the hyped-up state cocaine puts you in. Even coffee puts me on edge but heroin was, like, 'Everything's cool'. I think a lot of the attraction is down to insecurity. The sort of personality that shoots heroin is often a shy guy who wants to be cool and relaxed. But you can get to such a low point on it, you just don't care about your self esteem.

"One thing I always had was my ability to play guitar. When I found that I couldn't even do that I knew it was time to quit, although it took me some time."

The crunch came for Slash - real name Saul Hudson - in the middle of a Guns N' Roses tour in Arizona. He went berserk in a hotel bathroom, broke through a glass shower stall and badly injured his foot. When he was found covered in blood, he was bundled onto a private plane away from the police and flown to a rehab unit.

"I used to see little men crawling round the skirting boards," he recalls.

"I'd take photos of myself in the mirror and show people the little men that were crawling out of my hair. I told David Bowie about it on the telephone and he seemed to recognise the problem. When he said, 'You are in a very bad place', I remember thinking, 'He must know. I am in deep shit'."

One reason for his reliance on smack and alcohol was the stress of working with the band's notorious frontman Axl Rose.

"In that band it was constant bummer after bummer," he says. "It was so unpredictable. When it was working it was great, but me and Duff ended up alcoholics partly because we never knew what was going to happen next."

One night, Bowie came to see Guns N' Roses with Slash's mum Ola, the pair having been an item in the '70s.

"Axl heard he was there and started into Bowie from the stage about some bullshit," he recalls. "I was so embarrassed because David was always so polite, proper and English. He really didn't need or deserve anything like that. The thing with Axl was that he never took any drugs. Maybe he should try medication."

Although proud of Roses' musical history, for Slash there is no going back.

Velvet Revolver's success isn't the only reason all is now right with his world. His second wife Perla - they met in a Las Vegas casino and were introduced by a leading porn star - has given him two young sons; London Emilio aged two, and two-month-old Cash Anthony.

"I don't drink anything like I used to," Slash confesses. "Having kids made a difference. It happened at the right time, when I'd turned the corner. I was at the births and I was stunned. At my two-year-old's birthday party, I watched him play and this overwhelming wave of love just hit me. I was like, whooah."

The warm glow indicates a changed man - the rock god has evidently found a much more powerful drug than heroin.

- Velver Revolver's new single Fall To Pieces is out on September 20. Contraband is out now.

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