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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.


2001.07.21 - Rock Revival - Interview with Slash

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2001.07.21 - Rock Revival - Interview with Slash Empty 2001.07.21 - Rock Revival - Interview with Slash

Post by Blackstar Sat Apr 17, 2021 4:18 am


After an apparently "out of nowhere" choice of a career in the music industry, he has rabidly pursued it tooth and nail. Fortunately, he never had to work too hard at selling his talent. In the two decades since he has been on the scene, he has become an icon...a legend in the rock world. He has accomplished just about every feat a musician dreams of. Now, he holds the reins behind a powerful driving force of ultra-talented artists who come together with like minds and strong abilities to fulfill a common goal...musical domination. He is Slash...the famous, the infamous, the surprising individual behind that trademark image. It was a personal honor to have the opportunity to go one on one with this candid, open and even humble "rock star". To sum him up in one word... surprising.

JD Hey, Slash! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me!

S Oh! No problem!

JD Let's start off with is the chemistry with the members of Snakepit different than that of previous bands you have performed with?

S That's a tough question. When you say people I've worked with, do you mean just in general?

JD Yes

S Well, the chemistry in this band...we all have mutual influences and tastes, and we all have a similar desire to produce a certain kind of music, so that's first and foremost probably the most important thing. We all get along as people. That's very important. Our chemistry as a band, as a collective unit is very healthy, so that's not necessarily different than other people that I've played with except this is our band.

JD How did Snakepit come together?

S Well, I've been thinking about this because I've been asked this question a few times and didn't really have a good answer. It wasn't at all formulated or preconceived. The closest thing I can think of is that I had a band that was basically a throw together band called Slash's Blues Ball a little while back. I got on the phone to put together for a particular gig, so I made phone calls to all the local musicians that I'm good friends with and I ended up... one of the guys was the bass player, Johnny we did six months of touring, having a great time doing Slash's Blues Ball, which was really just a glorified cover band. We covered everything from John Lee Hooker to the Stones to Joe Walsh. We did all kind of different material. It was all very cool. We had our own approach to doing the material the way we did it. After about six months of doing that, I thought that I'd like to be doing new, original material. So Johnny and myself started getting it together to look for another guitar player to see if we could start a band. Slowly but surely, we started to piece the band together. I met Ryan Roxie when I was doing events with Alice Cooper. I thought he was a great guitar player, so I talked to him about it and he came into the picture. I met Matt Laug jamming in a club and me and Johnny thought he was a great drummer, so we talked to him and we got him into it. The only person we had to find to complete the picture was a singer. That was the hard part. We auditioned some 200 singers. Johnny actually knew this one guy with the most amazing voice. After 200 singers, he goes "let me borrow that audition tape you've got", which had some instrumental stuff that the band had recorded, and he gave it to Rod to put a vocal on. Johnny gave me the tape back and said "listen to this. See what you think". I was just blown away. I was like, this is the shit! This is the guy! So, we called Rod up, he came down and we started working together. We came up with a song called Been There Lately, which is a song about a certain time and place where we should have known each other. We all used to live in the same place called Hollywood Billiards. The only thing that separated us is just different times that we all lived there, but we had mutual friends and all that kind of shit. That was kind of a bonding period...that song. That was where we started and it just kind of went from there.

JD "Ain't Life Grand" is the second release from the band...

S Actually, it's the first release by this lineup.

JD Right, but Slash's Snakepit did release another album previously that was a lot different than this one

S Oh, completely different. It was a completely different set of guys. It just goes to show how sensitive that line is, how tiny that margin is from one group to the next.

JD So, you think that was the main difference, just what the players were putting in?

S Well, that was the main difference, plus there was also no intention of taking the first Snakepit record and making it a permanent thing. That was just a bunch of friends of mine, all sort of putting their two cents in on material that I was working on. Some of the guys had some material and I had a studio called Snakepit Studios...that's where the name Snakepit, it was basically a glorified demo tape. I just kept pushing it one step further by making an album out of it and then going out on the road with it, which was at the time a huge eye-opener for me because I had been in the Guns N Roses umbrella for so long that to break away from that and be able to go do something else, I had a real good time at rediscovering why I do what I do for a living. It was almost as if it were meant to happen. So, once that was over with, I went back to my former band and that didn't work out so, I did a whole bunch of different stuff until this ended up happening. To make a short story long (laughs).

JD You also made the switch to Koch Records for this release and already you're seeing greater success through this release. What do you think that Koch Records is doing right that your previous label may not have been doing right?

S Initially, when Geffen was still Geffen, everything was fine when I did the first Snakepit record. We sold over a million copies on that, so that was fine. But, when the transition came from Geffen into Interscope, that's when things started to get very confusing, very out of hand. Also, the transition of popular music was making a huge change as well. So, we ended up leaving Interscope so we could go to a label that was more understanding of what kind of music we do and how we go about it. It was basically a good move at the time.

JD You're known for having quite an impressive collection of guitars. Out of all of them, which would you consider your favorite?

S Probably the one I carry with me now on the road and the one I use mainly in the studio. Those two are pretty much are irreplaceable.

JD Those are the ones you started out with as well, right?

S Exactly

JD You have said many times that you are much more into live performances and even when you're in the studio, you try to make it as live as possible.

S I like the approach of performing live in the studio and I do like being in the studio when you have all the material together and you're getting it down on tape and it sounds great, but it's all a means to an end. Sort of one hand feeds the other. You go into the studio to make a great record so you can go out and perform it live, and you can't really do one without the other. So, I don't favor playing live over recording in the studio, because I know if I'm going to be performing in the studio, I'll be playing live, (laughs) ya know what I mean?

JD You're also outspoken on your own musical influences and how much of an inspiration they were to you over time. Who would be the single, biggest influence?

S That's a tough one. The one who probably had the biggest effect on what I sound like up until now would have to be Aerosmith in 1976, which is already a huge conglomeration of influences taht i was exposed to, that Aerosmith was influenced by, that I was exposed to as a kid. So, it's all sort of relative. But, I think they hit the nail on the head as far as taking it to that hard rock edge that I just ahd a natural affinity for.

JD Didn't you say at one point that they were the main reason you even considered a career in music?

S I don't think it was so much the consideration of a career in music, but it was like I had to do something like that. I didn't know what it was. At that time, I really didn't even know the difference in what a bass guitar and an electric guitar were.

JD You started off playing bass though, didn't you?

S No, I changed instruments before I even started.

JD As far as songwriting goes, does it come naturally for you, or do you really have to work to create a song you are proud of?

S Either it's happening or it's not. It's really kind of a natural thing. It's hard to think about it and you can ask any writer, there's no real formula for it. If you sit down and try to do it, you find it's the hardest. When it comes spontaneously, that's the most magical time, when it just flows out of you, but you never can predict when that's going to happen. Unfortunately, that's one of the necessary evils of being a songwriter or trying to put a record together...trying to get used to the fact that you just have to go with it, one way or another.

JD Many people have pointed out how similar Snakepit sounds to early GNR...

S Well, one fifth of the Guns sound was definitely me, so that one fifth is going to transfer over into anything else I do in some way, shape or form. Mostly in the sound or style or approach of how I play guitar. That's sort of one of those things that go without question There is a couple of pieces of music where nobody knew it was me until they saw my name on it or it was announced on the radio that it was me. That did surprise a lot of people because it was a big adult contemporary hit that was instrumental on acoustic that people were amazed when they found out that it was me. For the most part, anything having to do with rock guitar or even R&B guitar or even more off the wall stuff that I have done, it sort of carries a little bit of sound that goes back to what I was trying to establish in GNR days. To this day, I'm still working on trying to get it right.

JD I'm sure that, over time, you must have learned a lot about the business. What would you say you're doing differently this time around?

S It's not what I'd consider different. I mean, really it's the same guitars, the same equipment, the same approach. I've gotten a little bit more experienced as time goes by, and I've gotten, hopefully, a little bit better as a guitar player, but other than that, the approach is really the same. Nothing's really changed.

JD You're currently out on a mini - tour, but from what I hear, you're constantly adding new dates?

S Yeah, we're constantly adding dates. It's one of those things where we very spontaneously, around booking one gig, started booking a whole tour. So, now at this point, we just keep adding and keep adding. We did it all very last minute, so it was not pre-planned from point A to point B. It gives it a little bit of that rock n roll urgency to it, which is cool.

JD So, you really couldn't say how long this tour will be lasting then, at this point?

S Well, yeah, I could say that probably going into the fall it's probably going to end and we'll have to start thinking about what the next record is going to be.

JD Do you already have songs written for that, or any idea of what can be expected?

S Yeah, we have stuff that never got finished when we made "Ain't Life Grand" and we have stuff that we've been doing between the release of that and now, and all the time from now until we go into the studio to do a record, so I think we're going to have a hell of a lot of material to work with.

JD I'm sure you've been asked this a million times, but make this a million and one. Would you ever consider doing a GNR reunion, if the opportunity came up?

S It's not really one of those things....I'm the kind of person that says "never say never". I don't see it in the foreseeable future, but all the guys as individuals, myself included, there's just no real interest in going that route. If it was the original band and we were going to do one song, that's a possibility I suppose. If I told you no, it'll never happen, then something would happen (laughs).

JD When I spoke with Steven Adler recently, it almost sounded like that could be a potential possibility in the future.

S No. I have talked to him and the other guys, but that's never been a part of regular conversation.

JD So, you do still talk to them?

S Yeah. Well, I haven't talked to Axl in a long time.

JD How do you feel about him continuing on with the Guns N Roses name at this point?

S Well, when he brought that, it didn't really bother me, because I can't see him using the name without the guys in the band. If that's what he wanted to do, I was like fine, whatever. I just didn't want to fight the issue. I mean, what am I going to do with the name, ya know (laughs)? I think it would have been wiser if he would have gone on to produce another record with another name and sort of left the Guns N Roses thing a little bit more....well, just leave it alone. None of the other guys decided to use the name Guns N Roses.

JD Over time, you have worked with some colossal artists...Michael Jackson,. Bob Dylan...

S Everybody that I've had a chance to work with, it's been kind of like a mutual excitement. It's all the same. I'm always excited to go in and do a session. The Michael Jackson was a heavy one. Getting up and jamming with Boz Scaggs was heavy. That wasn't a session. That was just a live gig. Playing with Motorhead was great. Playing with Iggy Pop was great. All of them are worthwhile. It's always fun.

JD Is there anything you worked on that you later wish you hadn't been involved with?

S Not that I didn't wish I hadn't been involved with, but there was some that I wasn't happy with the end result, when it got to the point that it was out of my hands. Very rarely does that happen. You go in knowing that you're at the mercy of the producer and so on. When it comes out great, it comes out great. When it comes out not exactly how you wanted it to, you take it with a grain of least they made the record they wanted to make. I did a Rod Stewart session recently where one of the songs didn't come out the way I thought it should have, and one of the songs sounds amazing, so it's a give and take.

JD One thing that I have always respected about you is that you're not afraid to go out there and say you were a fan once too and you remember that. Do you think that means that you don't even realize your own level of popularity? I mean, you are the icon now; you are the Joe Perry to a lot of people now.

S Well, I don't know. There's always something that you're sort of reaching for, and I'm still working on pulling sounds out of the guitar that I want to do consistently. I still think that I have a lot of limitations with my guitar playing that I'm trying to iron out, and being that everything around me is still basically the same, I feel very normal...normal in my eyes anyway. Life goes on just the same as everyone else. The struggle is still there and all that kind of stuff. It's very flattering and almost scary when I run into kids outside the gig or wherever who give me this whole thing about how much I mean to them as a musician or just in life in general. It sort of scares me (laughs). I think the whole image is fabricated, not in a bad way, but in a way that they don't know the whole, real story. It's probably just as complicated as theirs is (laughs).

JD When you first came out on the scene, you instantly created your own signature physical appearance and it created a lot of hype. I don't think I've ever seen an article where you were mentioned and the writer did not bring up the hair, hat and cigarette. What do you think would happen if you decided tomorrow to cut your hair, ditch the hat and quit smoking?

S (Laughs) I don't know. The stopping smoking would be the hardest part (laughs).

JD Did you mean to create such an uproar?

S No, not even! I had no idea! I get it every Halloween. It was never really a thought. That being the case, after the fact, I didn't really realize how established it was until people started drawing so much attention to it.

JD What do you think of modern, mainstream rock?

S There's not really a lot of it that I pay that much attention to. Every so often, I'll hear a cool song on the radio, depending on what city I'm in, something will pop on, but I'm still sold on a really good rock n roll band. There's very few and far between when a good rock n roll record comes out. SO we continue doing what it is that we do in the midst of everyone else doing something else entirely different. I think that's cool because there's a market for whatever it is they're doing...I just don't adhere to it (laughs).

JD If you were asked to coin your own musical philosophy, or motto, what would it be, in a sentence?

S What would it be? In a sentence? My own musical motto...uh...I think the most important thing in all this is to maintain your integrity and never conform and be as honest to yourself and especially to the public that has been nice enough to take an interest in you as a musician. Never change that. That's the most important thing.

JD Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

S I try not to do that (laughs). I know I'll be playing, but that's about as broad spanned an answer I can give you. I couldn't have told you ten years ago where I'd be right now either.

JD Well, I think that's about all I have for you this time. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat!

S Oh, no problem! Thanks! I gotta go...all the phones are ringing over here. Talk to you soon!


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