APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
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SoulMonster
APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.

Cheers!
SoulMonster

2000.12.25 - Classic Rock - Mr. Brownstone (Slash)

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Post by Blackstar Thu Jan 07, 2021 5:13 pm

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2000.12.25 - Classic Rock - Mr. Brownstone (Slash) 2000_129
2000.12.25 - Classic Rock - Mr. Brownstone (Slash) 2000_130
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Transcript:
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MR. BROWNSTONE

He used to do a little but a little wouldn’t do it, so the little got more and more... Now SLASH speaks to CLASSIC ROCK for the first time about life after GUNS N’ ROSES. Getting in the ring: MICK WALL. Cornerside portraits: ROSS HALFIN.

Hollywood, baby. After midnight. Hunkered down in his real life snake pit, just a short limo ride from Sunset strip, Slash is already halfway through another bottle when I show up. “Fuck, man, it’s you," he says in that slow, easy drawl I used to know so well. “I've been looking for you! They gave me this list of who I was gonna be speaking to and your name was the only one on it I knew. Are we, like, the only ones left alive, man? What fuckin’ happened?”

“Um, I was hoping you'd tell me,” I say.

“Shit, man. How many years... shit, 1993? Was that it? I don’t know. We just got off the road, totally burned out and... I don't know, I guess, somethin’ happened, huh?"

I guess it did. But this isn't how I meant to start this. I wanted to start with the new Slash’s Snakepit album, ‘Ain’t Life Grand’; the best piece of work the boy with the corkscrew hair has done since...

“Guns N’ fuckin’ Roses, man," he says, unconsciously echoing the band’s old, once-shocking by-line. “I’ve really missed it. Not the whole fucked-up Gunners thing that evolved around us, but just being in a band. I’m always jamming somewhere, whatever, but it’s not the same as having your own band.”

It seems there is to be no gently easing into it; no platitudes about the new Snakepit album needed first before we get down to the real nitty-gritty.

I admit, I’m surprised. 10 years since my last interview with him, five since he officially left the band - or what was left of it - I rather expected Slash to avoid the thorny subject of Guns N’ Roses. Instead, he seems anxious to have one final say on the subject.

“It’s talking to you again,” he jokes. “It just brings it all back to me.”

Shit happens, I say, parodying another of their famous catch-phrases. But he is defensive suddenly.

“Even when I was still doing that thing,” he says, referring to the heavy-duty drug trip he was on from about 1988 until the band's juddering demise five years later. “Even through all that, it was still Guns N’ fuckin’ Roses, you know what I mean? Everybody’s been trying to put a negative side to it since then, but there was always an integrity level. No matter how fucked-up things got, we always put one foot in front of the other, you know? We always went out and did it.”

They certainly did. From 1987, and the release of their monumentally successful ‘Appetite For Destruction’ album, to their symbolic replacement at the top of the US charts by Nirvana’s equally genre-redefining ‘Nevermind’, in 1992, Guns N’ Roses were not only the biggest rock band on planet Earth, they were also the baddest, no argument allowed, fucker...

But instead of capitalising on that fact, the band - guitarists Slash and Izzy Stradlin’, bassist Duff McKagan, drummer Steven Adler, and singer W. Axl Rose - spent almost three years off the road while they pratted around trying to get it together long enough to make a credible follow-up.

Strange to relate, they weren’t even headliners when they effectively drew a close to the ‘Appetite For Destruction’ world tour in September 1988, just as the album finally reached No. 1 in America, 14 months after release. Even when they briefly came out of retirement a year later it was only to open for the Rolling Stones at two outdoor stadium shows, right on their doorstep in LA.

At a time when any other band in their position would have been churning out copycat hits and raking in the bucks from their own headline stadium tours, Slash and the Gunners allowed themselves to sink into the neon ooze of an LA half-life.

“I always used to say the problems only really arrived for us when we came off the road,“ Slash says now. “And it’s true. Taking us off the road for so long nearly killed us.

“I mean, we had to stop, we’d been out there for, like, two years. But that’s how long it took ‘Appetite...’ to take off and it was just strange that as all this was happening we were sitting round wondering what the fuck.”

So would he have done things different then, looking back?

"Oh, man,” he sighs. “We should have made another album and just gone straight back out there. We should have done a lot of things different maybe. But then...”

It wouldn’t have been Guns N’ Roses?

"Right.”

Being in LA at the time, I recall seeing the band around town on a number of occasions throughout those lost, last years of the 80s. Slash and Duff were habitués of the LA club scene; the sort of rock steady dudes you’d always bump into at places like Rainbow, the Roxy, the Whiskey, and the Cat.

Out of their heads on booze and coke and anything else they could get their hands on, surrounded by sycophants and groupies, at least they looked like they were having a good time.

Which is more than could be said for the others. Sightings of Izzy or Steven were more rare and far less conspicuous, due, as we discovered in retrospect, to the fact that they were both then entering the first melancholy throes of heroin addiction.

Slash was also partial back then to a bit of “the bad boy,” as he called it. But he made no secret of the fact - at least, not at first. Steven and Izzy, though, appeared to have become full-time members of the club. It was perturbing.

As for Axl, he was no stranger to the halfmoon tables at the Rainbow, either. But he tended to travel alone; isolated from the rest of the band. Indeed, when I think back now, the only time I recall seeing Axl actually with any other member of Guns N’ Roses was in the dressing room before or after a show.

Not that he drank alone. Along with his half-brother, Stuart, writer Del James, and a gaggle of other floating members of his entourage, Axl was never short of company. But these were still the days when he travelled without bodyguards.

He already had a major rep for being one bad mother to get into a tangle with - a real red-head who never failed to notice when someone looked at him funny - but on the few occasions I happened to share a drink with him I usually found him, ironically, to be quite mellow.

I remember standing outside the Cat Club with him one night while he showed off the enormous new ghetto-blaster he’d just had fitted to his car, blaring out Metallica’s ‘Eye Of The Beholder’ at knee-trembling volume. He was intense but talkative, maybe even a little shy.

Which is why, I assumed, he’d grown the big red beard he sported throughout 1989. What with the thick horn-rimmed glasses, and the old baseball cap turned backwards, it made him virtually unrecognisable from the back-combed sex-bomb then seen on MTV every day. A perfect disguise, in fact, which allowed him to roam the streets of LA, free from the kind of hassle the more instantly recognisable Slash and Duff were then starting to really suffer from.

“I leave all that shit to them,” he told me. “Slash and Duff are like the cartoon figures of the band,” he added strangely, I thought, at the time.

Axl was a drug man, too, of course. But in a different way. There wasn’t much he wasn’t “brave” enough to try. He even told RIP magazine how he’d enjoyed “lost weekends” on smack; the gist of it being that it was all OK, as long as you kept it “under control.” Which, rather remarkably, he probably did, being so frighteningly hyperactive. Downers were never Axl’s trip, not unless he wanted to crash out. And only then, usually, after he’d already been up for three or four days.

No. The strange and bitter truth about those days is that Slash and Guns N’ Roses almost wilfully throw it all away; as if to prove to themselves that they really did not give a fuck. Like Axl says in the song: welcome to the jungle, baby, it gets worse here every day.

By the time I heard they’d finally got it together and actually begun recording again, in 1990, I was almost past caring. The good news was that both Izzy and Slash appeared to have cleaned up their acts - at least, with regards to the big stuff. The bad news was that Steven patently had not. As a result, he was ousted soon afterwards and replaced by Matt Sorum, stolen from The Cult after Slash caught their LA shows on the 'Sonic Temple’ US tour.

Steven and Slash had grown up together. It was Steven who showed Slash how to play his first chords on the guitar. It can’t have been easy to let him go like that.

“Ah, man, it was fucked-up,” he says sorrowfully. “But Steven... Steven... he just wouldn’t quit it, and everyone was saying, ‘Oh, his playing’s off.' But he was never that great with his time-keeping or whatever anyway. It wasn’t about being the perfect drummer. Steven was just GNR through and through. He just was. We shouldn't have let him go really...”

So why did they? A pause. He knows that I already know, that I’m just trying to get him to talk about it. To talk about him. The real red-head.

"Axl always had this kind of vision of where he wanted to be, what he wanted the band to be,” he says, at length. “He didn’t like people he thought were trying to hold him back.”

The follow-up to their astonishing debut, when it finally came, in July 1991, was, somewhat surprisingly, everything Axl had promised himself it would be. Two double albums released simultaneously - ‘Use Your Illusion I' and 'Use Your Illusion II' - it was the boldest move by a rock band since all four members of Kiss released solo albums on the same day back in the 70s. With one crucial difference: unlike the Kiss collections, both Guns N’ Roses albums went to No. 1, taking it in turns to top the US charts for the next six months and selling over five million copies. Each.

Best of all, they both contained a superb variety of material: from the brutally executed covers of Bob Dylan's 'Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’ and Paul McCartney’s ‘Live And Let Die’, to leering, finger-jabbin’ rockers like ‘Locomotive’, ‘Pretty Tied Up’ and ‘You Could Be Mine’, and including such dizzyingly ambitiously epics as ‘Civil War’, ‘November Rain’, and, most moving of all, the poignantly autobiographical ‘Estranged’.

It’s often been said since that a trimmed-down version of both collections onto one lengthy CD would have produced perhaps the greatest rock album of the 80s, but that is to miss the point entirely. Both ‘Use Your Illusion’ albums represented a band showing us all of their tricks while operating at the very peak of their crooked powers. As such, it is characterised as much by its throwaway moments - the effete ‘The Garden’; the ludicrously offensive ‘Back Off Bitch’ - as it is by its monstrous heights. And they don’t come much more monstrous than ‘Get In The Ring’, the most paranoid, uptight, wrong-headed, if genuinely heartfelt, examples of a band lashing out at their critics since Sid Vicious chain-whipped Nick Kent of the NME.

The inclusion of my own name in the handful of writers Axl lambastes in that song came as a surprise. (My crimes, in a nutshell: writing a book about Guns N’ Roses not sanctioned personally by Axl, and an article, in 1990, in which he insisted I had deliberately misquoted him - I hadn’t.)

Initially, I felt a strange mixture of both amusement and disappointment: amusement, because, let’s face it, it's hilarious to hear your name thundered out on some record by a zillionaire rock star with his nose all bent out of shape; disappointment, because I was still naive enough to believe a journalist and a rock star could actually be friends.

But that was soon replaced by a much deeper horror. Could Axl really be so out of touch with reality now that he really thought we were all out to get him?

It appeared he could, and over the next few years Axl would alienate not just the media, but his record company, concert promoters - even, it transpired, his own band, all of whom would eventually run to escape him. Leaving Axl where he is today: an isolated, tragicomic figure still thinking he fronts Guns N’ Roses but really just another solo singer with a fancy name and a deep-seated insecurity so profound he can’t even bring himself to release the Guns N’ Roses album he’s spent so long making - without Guns N’ Roses.

Slash was still only 25 when he played guitar on and co-wrote most of the ‘Use Your Illusion’ sets. And yet it was the last serious Guns N’ Roses recordings he - they - ever made. You might say he - they - peaked early. Or you might say simply that they blew it.

Ask Slash why and he’ll tell you he finds it hard to remember exact details of those days - “I can never remember ‘when’ or ‘how’, I just know ‘what’!” - but thinks the turning point probably came during the Gunners’ fractious, now legendary, co-headline tour of America with Metallica, in the summer of 1992.

“At some point during the Metallica shows, I just lost Axl,” he says. “I just didn’t where he was at anymore. I didn’t know where I was at anymore! Steven was already gone, and then losing Izzy [who had quit at the end of ’91]. And it was all nothing we had control of. Everything was kind of... out of hand. Then all of a sudden, we got off the road after two-and-a-half years of touring, and everything just kind of... stopped. Dead.”

There had been the ‘Spaghetti Incident’ album at the end of '93 - an incongruous, poorly received collection of covers that made them appear even more out of step than did the onset of grunge - and that was it. Finito. Not that Slash realised it yet.

“When I first got home, I just put together this funky little studio and just had a good time, you know? Had some fun. I didn’t have a thing in my mind about quitting the band, it was just the band wasn’t really functioning. Matt was still there, but Gilby [Clarke, the guitarist who replaced Izzy] had been fired, and Axl was... off somewhere.

“I knew that nothing was happening with Guns, so I ended up doing, like, a hundred solo gigs, just clubs and shit. [The first Snakepit gigs in 1995]. Stuff I never made a dime off of.”

So at what point did he stop being in Guns N’ Roses? Was there a phone call? A fight? A lawyer’s letter? What?

He sighs again. “When I came back, I thought, ‘I don’t really like my day job anymore’. I was frustrated, because nothin’ was happening. But I hung in there for a little while, then finally got disillusioned with the whole thing. That’s when I started thinking about doing my own thing again.” He's rambling a little, but then you're allowed to when it's this late into the game and you’re this far into the bottle. What he's trying to say though, I think, is that he would still be with Axl and the rest of the original Gunners today if it wasn’t for the fact that Axl doesn't seem to want that anymore.

"He's got the name," he says. “But that’s it.”

But why? What happened?

"Oh man," he says. "What do you think? There's not a day that goes by without someone asking me something about that band. It’s like I’m rehearsing in LA with my new band, getting into that, and suddenly there’s a lot of GNR on the radio. It follows you around. Like I go down to the Whiskey, the sort of place I’ve been going since before I was in a band. And I still get people asking when the band is getting back together.”

Can he understand why, though? For a certain generation, ‘Appetite...’ is what ‘Led Zeppelin II' or ‘Exile On Main Street’ was for the previous one: a gen-u-wine touchstone rock classic.

“Sure, sure, because, for me, nothin’ much has changed, either. Not really. Everything that went on in the band, it didn’t matter if it was playing Donington way down on the bill, or flying to gigs on the private plane we had after that, it was always the same for me.

“Me and Axl are different like that, the whole 'aspiration of stardom’ thing. I always hung out in the same places, always did the same things, wherever the band was at. But for him it was like everything changed. He wasn’t like the same guy anymore, it was like the band wasn’t the same band anymore.

“I only started doing sessions because we had so many days off. And then when we would tour, there’d be all kinds of shit going on. Riots... That’s why Izzy left. All because of the surrounding bullshit.

“But for me, nothing has ever really changed, I wont let it happen. If it results in a really cool band going from one place to another, OK. But I go into it with the same amount of heart every time.”

Nevertheless, he sounds traumatised by the whole experience. Not so much the vaulting leap to stardom, but what happened - or didn’t happen -afterwards. What’s the first thing that comes into his mind now when he looks back on those days?

“I don’t know. I try not to look back too much. I don’t even watch videos of the band. Not because I’m not proud or whatever. But I’m here now, and that’s what matters. And there’s no real negatives to the whole GNR situation, even now, when it comes down to it.”

He’s right there If anything, the almost permanent malaise that has appeared to engulf the band these past seven years has only added to their mystique. So tell me again, I say, because I’m still lost here - what happened exactly?

“I don’t know. It’s like, where Axl’s head was at when we started compared to...” He drifts off, then tries again. “It’s like, everybody’s got a story to tell from those times, and they’re all about different relationships, and yet to the outside world it all seems like the same story.

“But it’s not. There’s a certain personal side to it. I can’t relate to Axl. Maybe I never could. I mean, Axl came with Izzy, I came with Steven, and then we all hooked up with Duff...

“When the other guys left, I realised I was out alone, and that meant me and Axl had to come to terms with... not our animosity, but having a different opinion about everything. And, I mean, you know, Axl works as hard as anybody else but only on what he wants to work on. And... I just lost interest. Everybody keeps going on about a reunion, but the truth is, he doesn’t want to see me any more than I want to see him.”

It wasn’t so much a big falling out over anything specific, he says. “It was more gradual. Duff left after I did. And there was bitterness down to mismanagement... But it all comes down to this: if I hadn’t quit, I would have died, hanging round with nothing to do, no mutual artistic relationship, nothing...” He tails off again, the words turning to ashes in his mouth.

“He threatened to sue over the first Snakepit record, you know,” he says, the pain and astonishment still there in his voice. “I mean, I tried to hang on in there, but it was like a big, revolving door, from really hi-tech equipment, different guitar players, all kinds of shit going on... I was just waiting for the dust to clear.

“Eventually, I thought, we’ll never be able to put this back on the right path. It was getting so bad I saw myself really slipping again...”

Into what? Heroin?

“Whatever...”

I ask about ‘Live Era’, last year’s live Guns N’ Roses album, the out-of-nowhere double-set that was originally, as I recall, supposed to have come out back in 1992, while the band was still on the ‘Use Your Illusion’ world tour.

A wonderfully evocative collection of live recordings from all eras - pre-fame, fame, and apocalypse now - excellent though much of it was, if ever an album had ‘contractual obligation’ written all over it...

“Yeah,” he says, “it was a contractual thing. Geffen were owed albums or somethin’, I guess. But I figured if it was gonna come out anyway, it might as well be as good as we could get it. I thought, it could be a great idea, there hasn’t been any great live albums since Aerosmith’s ‘Bootleg’ in 78. Before that, you’d have to go back to The Who’s ‘Live At Leeds’ album in the 70s.

“So anyway, suddenly there’s lots of faxes and phone calls, everybody avoiding each other. But they sent me tapes, and the guy who was producing, I don’t remember his name, but he was pro-tooling it [a computerised system whereby raw analogue tapes can be expertly doctored]. I thought, no way! This is not the band I was in.”

Aghast, he was only able to persuade the powers that be at Geffen Records to allow him to try his own mix of the tapes when it became apparent that Axl himself was not actively involved in the project.

Enlisting the aid of former Faith No More producer Andy Wallace, Slash remixed the live tapes “the way it should be. Andy did a mix of like one song and I was like, ‘Oh, there it is!’

“Because that first mix they sent me scared me, man. But I worked shoulder-to-shoulder with Andy, then Duff came down, and in the end there were only a couple of fixes where the drums dropped out, and we had to bleed the mikes, because Steven was gone by then.”

And what did Axl make of the new mix?

“I don’t know. I didn’t ask and nobody said anything.” He takes a large, audible drag on his ciggy. “He’d closed the book on the whole thing before that. Like, when I was coming up with ideas for what would have been the new GNR album. On a personal level, I was pissed off at him, and he was pissed off at me for turning my back on him.

“I mean, I just didn’t know his aspirations were so high. It wasn’t a conscious effort for the rest of us. But Axl’s whole concept on everything was somethin’ else. We did try, Gilby and Matt, too. We were undeniably really trying...”

So what, if anything, would actually entice him back into Guns N’ Roses?

“I went back two or three years ago,” he says glibly. “They called me up, but nothing much had really changed. No one knew what was going on...”

Yes, but what if it was the original five-piece? What then? Would he consider it? Even just for the money?

“Listen,” he says, wearily, “anything you can imagine, it’s already come up, OK? Three years ago, while we were sitting round trying to make a connection, there were offers to do things for incredible amounts of money. I mean, so much money where anybody would have taken them on.

“Or you’d get that thing: why don’t we just play some clubs? And you know me, I’ll try anything. But from an emotional level, we just weren’t ever coming down on the right page.

“I mean, we were always like that. The key thing that got us back together in ’89 was the Stones thing. It was a miracle gig. We broke up on the first night, but we came through it and still did the second show.”

So you're saying that, in theory at least, it could still happen - if only Axl would lighten up long enough to let it?

“No. That was three years ago. At this point, not for any amount of money, man. I love what I'm doing now. And I want to keep it grounded, with other guys who know me from my bullshit."

You’re saying you wouldn't do it ever if it was the original guys?

“OK. It would be fun on a weekend, maybe. But it would have to be the original band. But it's not
gonna happen. Axl and I haven't talked for five years. I avoid the whole thing now. I don't want that huge low, where nobody is doing anything, it's one of the major dangers for me."

But what if an offer did suddenly come in?

“Hey, it happens all the time! I'm not kidding. We get an offer to do Guns all the time. But who wants to do one of those 10-minute rehearsal things? It would be like when Page and Plant did that Zeppelin gig on TV [the infamously untogether Atlantic Records anniversary show in 1990]. It could all go... blah.

“Like when Izzy left, it was pathetic. It was more between Axl and Izzy, but then Gilby broke his wrist and Izzy very kind of reluctantly came back for those shows. He was there but it wasn't real. It felt... weird, I don't know. It would have to be real. And I mean, Steven is probably irretrievable. To this day, we could never find another drummer like him. He was one of us, real GNR. He just didn’t function anywhere else outside of the band."

At which point, I finally let him off the hook and ask him to talk about his new album with Slash's Snakepit.

"I think it's the best thing since GNR,” he says, perhaps predictably. But that doesn’t mean he doesn't mean it. “The issue’s not about who I’m playing with now, no one really gives a shit, I just do what I do because I like to do it. It was the other guys that made it into a real band.”

Not least his new vocalist, Rod Jackson.

From Virginia, where they build ’em big and strong, and formerly with small-timers Rag Doll, Jackson’s gritty, street-level vocals certainly fit into Slash’s patented Les Paul riffage better than did those of his predecessor, Eric Dover. No mere Axl clone, Jackson’s lyrics are also the most inspired Slash has had to work with since the good old bad old days.

“It’s sort of a Cinderella story. I met all the guys at gigs. I met Rod Jackson and he put a lyric on a tape of mine, a song not on the album called ‘All Things Considered’. I didn’t know who he was, he was just a mutual friend from the neighbourhood, who knew Wes Arkeen [co-author of ‘It’s So Easy’, now deceased].

“I went to see his band one night after rehearsal, they were called something like Shady Tree, a very disconnected band with a great singer. Kinda like The Doors. Then he came down and sang 'Been There Lately’, which is about a place we both used to live in, a kind of a squatting place for junkies. Back in the day, as they say. But he’s a great lyricist. All of the lyrics for the most part are his. He’s a natural.”

Most pleasing from his own perspective, Slash says, is that “I always wanted to do the same thing as early Guns, just real spontaneous. The first Snakepit album [‘It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere’] took two weeks to make, and it was a cool record. I mean, nothing's ever perfect but it’s not meant to be, not in rock ’n’ roll. It’s the heart and soul that’s behind it that matters, and that gets through to you when you hear it.

“Doing this one was more of an accumulative record. We all dropped everything else in our lives to do this, and it was against all odds. A lot of the guys in the band had no money. I had my own problems with the record company [Interscope, who Slash recently left in favour of SPV]. We just locked ourselves away for a month and wrote the thing. It’s not part of a new trend, or any industry standard, it’s just really cool rock ’n’ roll.”

As we speak, Slash is contemplating his first visit to the UK with the band (see The Big Picture), a handful of small club dates in December. When we met, he and his band had just returned from opening for AC/DC in America, and at one stage it was hoped they would stay on the road with the band when they left for Europe, too.

But, says Slash, he would prefer “to come back and do a full-on headline show. Maybe like in a club or somethin’. I don’t know, just rip it up somewhere cool.”

Doing the AC/DC dates in the US have fired them all up, he says.

“It was a real shot in the arm reminder of what we got into this for in the first place. The first few shows we did were completely unannounced and when people showed up, they were really surprised. But we managed to get the crowd going every single night, and AC/DC were really nice, too. We gave them a kick start to their show, the same as when Guns were opening for Aerosmith.”

His longer term plans are more vague. Someone has mentioned Japan to him, but as he says: “I didn’t know we were gonna do AC/DC until we flew off to do it. You know me, man. It’s just one foot in front of the other, play as much as you can, see what happens. The same attitude I’ve always had.”

He still does a couple of GN’R tunes in the Snakepit set, but not, perhaps, the ones people most associate him with.

“No, we don’t do ‘Sweet Child O’Mine’,” he deadpans. “We do mostly neutral songs like ‘It’s So Easy’ and ‘Mr Brownstone’. I can’t play ‘Sweet Child...’ without everybody else, I’m just not comfortable with it. I mean, I wouldn’t even like to do it in a garage without the others there, too...”

In amongst the new tunes are “some Otis Redding, a Zeppelin song, and some more obscure things."

Does he feel there’s still a sizeable enough audience out there, though, for what he does, now he’s not in Guns N’ Roses anymore? Caught between Slipknot and Linp Bizkit, Slash's Snakepit could be seen as positively quaint by younger eyes.

"Maybe," he chuckles. “But I’m positive that there's plenty of real rock 'n’ rollers out there. There's always these periods where the biz takes an angle on something good, but then everybody jumps on it and it puts other people off. I’ve been fortunate. Guns happened in the same vacuum, and we never compromised on anything for the biz, ignoring suggestions from the big wigs, just doin’ it for fun.”

What does he make of the next-generation rock ’n’ roll bad boys like Marilyn Manson or GN’R wannabes like the Backyard Babies, though?

“Uh, there isn’t many of those guys I’ve really heard,” he replies, non-plussed. “Our band was rehearsing next to Marilyn Manson, and they sound like a cool band, but I haven’t met him or hung out or anything. And... what were they? Backyard Babies? No, I don’t know their stuff...

“I just hope we can help spearhead this new decade of rock. Playing with AC/DC, all those gigs were sold out, so there’s always people who are major into rock ’n’ roll. But until I got this together, I’d only turn up in clubs occasionally, relative to LA. I’d play the Cat Club, go for a drink, Thursday was the big night, and I’d go down there and get dragged up on stage.

“Then somethin’ strange happened. About a month before doing AC/DC, I didn’t go down there and the next day I got a call from Johnny our bass player and he said ‘Guess who got up at the Cat last night?’ I said, who? And he goes, ‘Axl’. I asked how was it and he goes, ‘You know what, I’ve played with him more than you have in the last five years!’”

What would have happened if you had been there, though?

“I don’t know. When I got up last Thursday, Gilby was there and I got up and played with him and Tracii Guns, Matt Sorum, Johnny, and Jim [Phantom] from the Stray Cats. I mean, Gilby sued us, it wasn’t as deep as what went down with Axl, but it was, like, a noted thing. But I still got up...

“Had I been there the night Axl showed up though, I don’t know. It would have been interesting. One of us would have walked out or the heavens gates would have opened up.

“His whole thing, as communicated to me, is that it was really nice to get up in front of an audience again, because he hasn’t done it in such a long time. But I have no idea what he’s doing or what any of it all means or anything.”

The bottle is almost empty and it’s time to let the snake slither back to his pit. One last thing then: ‘Get In The Ring’. The readers of Classic Rock would never forgive me, I say, if I didn’t mention that.

“Oh, man,” he sighs. “It’s like, I know you and I fuckin’ love you to death. That whole thing... it’s kind of a blur, I wouldn’t have even known what that was about.”

We both know there is more than a hint of bullshit to that but we let it pass, as old hands are wont to do. Life’s too short, amigo. And anyway, it’s good to have a chinwag with the old bugger again. There’s not much you can really tell about a person from an hour-and-a-half's conversation, not with 10 years standing between you. But if I had to make a snap judgement I’d say Slash is as good - and as baaad - as he ever was. Looks the same, sounds the same, I don’t know what he tastes like (eewww!) but listening to his album made me happy that someone like him was still out there somewhere. Doing it. Whatever it is. 24-7.

“The thing is," he says, “I never had too many problems with anybody, and if I did I just don’t talk to them anymore. But it takes a lot for me to fall out with somebody. I mean, shit happens, but I never had any kind of problems with you. If Axl had a problem with you, I’m sorry. But Axl, you know, he had, like, problems with...”

Everybody?

“Uh huh. But then, everybody talked so much shit in those days. I’m just glad we came out of it alive.”

Well, when you put it like that...

***

THE BIG PICTURE
ALL THE NEWS, VIEWS AND GOSSIP FROM THE WORLD OF CLASSIC ROCK

Edited by Dave Ling


WELCOME BACK TO THE JUNGLE

Gunners line up Rock In Rio date, Slash and his Snakepit confirm three British shows in December

The waiting is finally over, Guns N’ Roses are to play their first concert in seven years. Although official sources were unable to make a formal confirmation, frontman W Axl Rose and his new-look line-up will appear the giant Rock in Rio festival in January, according to the Brazilian festival’s promoter.

However, Rose’s management, Big FC Entertainment, have issued a statement revealing that Guns N’ Roses will finally commence touring over the course of next summer. As documented in this issue’s cover feature, guitarist Slash left the band years ago, and his place has been filled by ex-Nine Inch Nails man Robin Finck and the avant-garde character Buckethead. The former, who recorded with GN’R for two years before returning to NIN, has now committed himself to the project once again.

The latter is a mysterious figure who takes his name from a habit of playing with an upside down container of Kentucky Fried Chicken on his head!

The eccentric guitarist, who is understood to have played on GN’R’s comeback opus, has released four albums of his own, including last year’s ‘Monsters And Robots’. Former Primus drummer Bryan ‘Brain’ Mantia has also joined the Gunners, according to close sources.

There is still no news of when Guns N' Roses’ much-delayed 'The Chinese Democracy’ album might surface, or indeed when the new line-up’s re-recorded version of 1987’s multi-platinum album ‘Appetite For Destruction’ will be unveiled.

However, the statement did reveal that Pink Floyd/Kiss/Alice Cooper producer Bob Ezrin has been brought in to oversee the apparently thankless task of streamlining the work of past collaborators such as guitarists Zakk Wylde, Brian May and Dave Navarro, Pearl Jam drummer Dave Abbruzzese and Chris Vrenna of Nine Inch Nails.

Since its inception more than six years ago, producers like Youth, Mike Clink, Moby and Sean Beavan have all been linked to the album. The most recent incumbent was former Queen guru Roy Thomas Baker, who Ezrin is now reportedly working with in an A&R capacity.

Meanwhile, Slash and his Snakepit have confirmed three hotly-awaited UK shows. The quintet, who were originally reported to have been guests on AC/DC’s European tour, will now be playing headline dates at: Sheffield Corporation December 3, London Camden Underworld 4/5.

To coincide, Snakepit will also release a limited edition single of ‘Been There Lately’, a track from their new ‘Ain’t Life Grand’ album.
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Post by Soulmonster Mon Jan 11, 2021 1:08 pm

I went back two or three years ago. They called me up, but nothing much had really changed. No one knew what was going on...


This is an interesting quote. Slash returned to GN'R in 1997-98? Do we know any more of this?
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Post by Blackstar Mon Jan 11, 2021 1:52 pm

@Soulmonster wrote:
I went back two or three years ago. They called me up, but nothing much had really changed. No one knew what was going on...

This is an interesting quote. Slash returned to GN'R in 1997-98? Do we know any more of this?
I've wondered about this, too.
Later in the interview Slash said he hadn't talked to Axl in five years.
Taking into consideration Slash's interviews from 1997, where he implied that the breakup could just be temporary, and also the fact that Slash and Duff were released from the recording agreement with Geffen in May 1998, it's possible that there were efforts (mainly from the label and management) throughout 1997, while Duff was still in the band, to bring Slash back and Axl conceded, but maybe Slash returned only briefly and left again without talking to Axl.
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