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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.


2005.03.DD - Guitarist Magazine - The World According to Slash

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2005.03.DD - Guitarist Magazine - The World According to Slash Empty 2005.03.DD - Guitarist Magazine - The World According to Slash

Post by Blackstar Mon Jan 11, 2021 11:21 pm

The World According to Slash

By Benji Bartlett

Guitarist hangs out with the Velvet Revolver axeman to try to discover what makes the most iconic guitarist of his generation we present the ultimate guide to Slash's guitars!

Just hours before Guitarist meets him, Slash has a life changing experience. Out and about in London, he's accosted - as tends to happen when you're a globally famous guitar hero - by a starstruck fan: "Hey, it's Slash from Velvet Revolver!" Not so long ago, he might have been just 'Slash'. More often than not, he's 'Slash from Guns N' Roses'. This time our fan affirms what Slash has wished for the last two years of his life.

He's not only back and rocking hard with some of the best guitar playing of his life... he's also escaped the shadows of his previous band. "Y'know what," he says of his fan's salute to his new band, "it really made my fuckin' year."

Sitting in the central London HQ of Gibson guitars, Slash has much to smile about. Velvet Revolver are 2005's hottest rock band, as their dazzling UK live shows back in January attested. The man plays his own signature Gibson Les Paul through his own signature Marshall amplifiers. Despite a life of rock'n'roll excess, he looks pretty tidy for 39 and talks as fresh as daisy. In many ways, he's the archetypal ever-youthful rocker, his Converse trainers/leather jacket/black jeans combo still serving him well after nearly 20 years. As his Snakepit album title suggested: Ain't life grand?! What's to complain about? As it happens, fags...

"I've been to the fuckin' ends of the earth trying to find these cigarettes," he starts, lighting up some French tobacco. "It's a horrible situation, but I got two cartons of 'em flown in from France. It's like trying to find some Persian dope with these Gitanes!"

Rest assured, then, that although much has changed in Slash's world, he hasn't yet swapped booze for fruit smoothies or cigarettes for yoga. As his first draugh Guinness of the day magically appears in his hand, and just as quickly starts disappearing, we get down to business. Last year, Guitarist charted the story of VR's debut album: this time, we're here to dig deeper and weirder, armed with a pile of questions provided by helpful members of Guitarist's online forum. In nearly two hours of conversation, we learn that Slash 'probably' believes in UFOs, likes to order a breakfast of eggs-plus-sausage and fruit, can't decide whether Jaws or The Godfather is the best movie ever, and reckons Led Zeppelin's The Ocean is his all-time favourite song. But let's start with some sweet talking praise...

This is Velvet Revolver's second sold-out UK tour, album sales are good, plus you have Grammy nominations for Best Rock Song (Fall To Pieces) and Best Rock Album (Contraband). Feeling happy?

"It's hugely flattering. It's such an accomplishment from where we started. Everything was against us and to actually pull it off and get nominated for a Grammy is awesome."

Is it true that the auditions for a singer for Velvet Revolver were filmed?

"Yeah, there's a VH-1 special that shows the beginnings of this band all the way up to the point where we went into the studio with Scott (Weiland, vocals). It's been seen in the states already. I'm sure it'll come around over here."

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

"I had no fuckin' clue! I was racing bikes and was near professional status and somehow I started playing guitar and that was it. I didn't have any long term goals. When I started playing guitar I didn't even think about it as being my career. I'm a huge rock fan and would have loved to have been a big rock star but I spent most of my time learning how to play the fuckin' thing and stuff like that. Then you just sort of live day by day just trying to get better at what you're doing."

What is it about the Gibson Les Paul that you like so much?

"The first electric guitar that I ever got was a Memphis Les Paul copy. That guitar wasn't the best quality and eventually the neck bowed... I ended up sticking it neck first through a wall at a rehearsal studio. Then I went to a BC Rich Mockingbird, and then through a period of searching. I had a killer Strat for a minute and Jackson gave me a couple of guitars. And finally I got (Lou Reed/Alice Cooper guitarist) Steve Hunter's guitar, which was a flame top Les Paul but it got stolen. I went into the recording studio when Gun's N' Roses did Appetite For Destruction and I was only 20 years old when all this was going on. So, we're doing the basic tracks for the record and none of these guitars sounded any good. They all sound great live because they're really loud and it's an open space, but when you're listening to the playback speakers...I'm going: I need a guitar! I had to do guitar overdubs in a week and I was handed a Les Paul's not even a real Les Paul, it was hand-made by this guy, Max. Ever since then I've been a Les Paul guy.

"I was always gravitating towards the Les Paul because it's very solid, and it's got a cool look to it. I keep one in my bedroom and when I get up in the morning I'm like: that's so cool! They're flexible, they're heavy and solid."

Do you have any hobbies?

"I used to collect dinosaur models and I used to race bicycles. I pretty much stopped racing professionally when I started playing guitar but I always kept a bike around. Now, there's nothing else that interests me. I used to collect snakes but I got rid of 'em when the babies were born because they were way too big. It was a disaster waiting to happen! I don't have any interests. All I do is work."

Do you have a practice regime?

"I hate practising, I don't really do it. What I do is just play. I either have a song to work on, or some ideas, and I work on those until I can execute them properly. Or I like to jam wherever there's a bar. That's how I keep my chops up. When the band rehearses, there's a lot of noodling going on. The only time I ever really 'practice ' is if my imagination is taking me nowhere and it's before a show and I need to warm up. I've never been able to find the proper exercise, a regimented thing, that works for everything. I've never known how to do that on guitar. The best thing to do is just play.

How do you stay in physical shape doing what you do?

"There was a point there where I finished my last Snakepit tour and there was a lot of sitting around thinking..I had to do something to get off my ass. I try to work out but I hate it with a passion. I'm half-English (Slash was born Saul Hudson, in north London) and, as far as my dad is concerned, I'm British. He says, We do not work out! That's the way it is. When I'm home in LA, a trainer will come over and kick my ass for an hour or so. When I'm on the road I have to make myself go down to the hotel gym. It's against my best wishes, but I try!"

Where does Slash go shopping?

"I fuckin' hate shopping! Every so often my wife will say to me, Will you go to the market? I'm like, Oh fuck. Everybody knows me because I'm the oddest guy around and they see me sometimes on magazines. I'm a real road dog. I'm best staying away from supermarkets, diapers and all that stuff."

What did father Christmas bring you?

"I got a Hummer. It's funny - I got my wife, Perla, a car and she got me one in turn. There's not one piece of chrome on it except for the stick shift. It's lowered six inches and has black rims. It's the only way I would drive one because they're so common in LA. It's pretty cool. My main car, which I've had since 1989, is a 1966 427 Corvette Stingray. I have a Gibson Les Paul Custom Shop guitar with a matching paintjob."

What the hell is that Guild double-neck guitar we've seen you playing?

"Ahh, that's a guitar that I designed just for me, you can't buy it in a store. I have a couple of different ones. I have a steel-string acoustic on the top and a regular electric on the bottom. I also have one with an acoustic 12-string on top with an electric on the bottom. They're both hollow-bodied acoustic on the top neck, whereas my Gibson double-neck is just a regular electric solid body."

Do you play acoustic guitar when you are around the house?

"I have a Gibson acoustic, a Blues King. I keep that and I have a Les Paul Standard. I spend most of my time playing acoustic, but then at the same time if I'm writing stuff on this (Slash points to Guitarist's Korg PXR4) I'll pull my electric out and work on that. I do everything very quietly when I'm at home - I can't stand anybody hearing me when I'm practising or writing."

American guitar players often get asked to play the US national anthem at a baseball game - ever done it?

"I've done it! I did the national anthem at a Lakers basketball game and then I've got one coming up in April for a football game, Toronto against Kansas City in a stadium. Right now I'm calm, but as it get closer it's gonna be a little intimidating. It's hard to just go out in the middle of a stadium on your own."

Over the years, you must have toured just about everywhere: where do you most want to visit?

"China. I've been to Hong Kong but I've never really been through China. And although I've been to South America a billion times I've never been on a jungle trip, I'd like to do that. I've been to Africa and hung out in the jungle for two weeks and that was great."

How much would you have to be paid to shave your head?

"It would have to be for a bet. But I don't think you could offer me two million dollars to shave my head!"

Do you read books? If so, what?

"Right now, Pincher Martin by William Golding, the guy that wrote Lord Of The Flies. My dad is a fan of literature, so he gives me great books all the time. I like factual books about dinosaurs. I read the newspaper too."

Over the years you've had the pick of the world's finest guitar products, but have you ever invented a product that should be manufactured?

"Actually, I made a killer fuckin' guitar stand that was attached to my amplifier which I thought was great. I make up little things that make things convenient for me, but I'm not about to put a patent on any of 'em."

You're not only famous in guitar circles, like many people we speak to, you're famous full-stop. How do you deal with that?

"In the context of working, touring and stuff it goes with the territory and it's nice. I actually appreciate the fact that people recognise me for what I do. But when I'm at home I stay as low key as possible. Being famous at home is weird. Being stuck in a store where everybody knows who you are is very intimidating."

In that case: ever been stalked?

"In the past, yeah. I had this guy from the fuckin' East Coast show up on my lawn one day. I came out of my house to walk a friend of mine to his car and I see this guy in the shadows. I go up to him and say, Who are you? When he steps into the light I see that it's this guy who's been following the band since we started. He says, Well, I was in LA... and I'm like, How'd you get my address? That was pretty freaky. I've had some weird girl stalkers over the years too. But since I've been married it's calmed down a bit."

You did a session for the late Ray Charles: did that make you want to learn more about chart reading?

"(Laughs) No! Luckily the charts had the chords on 'em. It was hard. It's not something that I've got a real affinity for, but at the same time all those Ray Charles sessions were probably the most exciting things I've ever done, they were awesome. I worked on the movie, Ray, as well. It was really cool to be playing with all those old cats..."

A lot of readers wanted to know this: is there any chance of more music from Snakepit or are you totally committed to Velvet Revolver now?

"I'm totally committed to Velvet Revolver. The only reason I did Snakepit when I did was because it was something to do in between the Guns N' Roses tour and the making of the next record...which, of course, all went fuckin' south. I don't see any reason for doing it again unless Velvet Revolver wanted to take a real extended break, which I don't see coming any time soon..."

Away from the mainstream rock, is there anything you listen to or play for yourself that might surprise us?

"Doing Eric Clapton's Tears In Heaven probably would (Velvet Revolver appear on the charity single for Tsunami charities, also starring Ozzy Osbourne and Steven Tyler - Ed). I've heard that song a million times but I never would have thought that I would end up playing it. I do like the song, but it's not really my type of thing. When I was playing with Ray Charles one of the records we did was a country thing. I'm sure that would suprise people."

What's your idea of complete bliss?

"I pretty much live it, y'know? Going out and playing every single night. For me bliss is a really great gig. The band plays great, the crowd is amazing and you have really good fuckin' sex that night. Good people to hang out with after the show always makes for a better gig too. When we played Hammersmith last time we were in the UK we played a really good show and then hung out with Brian May and Jimmy Page afterwards. My wife was there and the whole evening was just beautiful. That's bliss to me."

So what's your idea of hell?

"I went through it, it's something I have nightmares about: a gig that for some strange reason goes complete fuckin' awry. The singer doesn't show up or some bullshit like that. Or the sound is terrible, or all my strings are breaking - just one of those nights where everything goes wrong. Cancelling shows is hell to me as well, y'know? Not having a band together, not being able to find a good singer or a good drummer to play with. Just doing nothing is hell."

As the time comes for Slash to go to soundcheck, 'doing nothing' doesn't seem like much of an option for the man. Although he will always be revered for his trailblazing playing on Guns N' Roses' albums, the last year has seen Slash stage a remarkable comeback. He may be madly busy, but he likes it that way:"I'm a fuckin' musician who lives and breathes music all the time," he grins as he departs,"and I've never really thought about anything else. I'll do this until I'm 70 years old..."

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