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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.


2008.10.06 - Modern Guitars Magazine - Interview with Slash

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2008.10.06 - Modern Guitars Magazine - Interview with Slash Empty 2008.10.06 - Modern Guitars Magazine - Interview with Slash

Post by Blackstar Sun May 16, 2021 5:38 pm

Slash Interview

By Rick Landers

Slash…the name alone conspires to attract and enthrall a cult following of guitarists and fans. Add the nonchalant tilt of a black top hat, a skull and bones talisman, a classic Les Paul, exotic good looks and voodoo charm with monster music talent and you’ve mixed the cauldron with a roll of the dice to conjure a rock god.

Oh, okay, so during our interview I suggested he joined the “soccer mom” league, not with disrespect, but to highlight the tectonic life altering shift he's experienced from that of a singularly focused rock star to husband and father. Life changes and Slash [Saul Hudson] is now the father of two boys, London Emilio and Cash Anthony, and married to the lovely Perla Ferrar. His paternal love shone bright in his recent autobiography Slash, and it seems he’s handling the father-rock god balance with finesse.

There’s plenty of ink written about Slash, so let’s run through a short list of some of his awards and honors, to highlight his legacy. In 2005, Esquire magazine honored him with its Esky Music Award for “Best Guitarist.” He joined other guitar legends with his own star planted on Hollywood’s Rock Walk of Fame (2007). That same year, at the 4th Annual Metal Hammer Golden Gods awards, he was awarded the title of “Riff Lord.” His guitar solo on the amazing “November Rain,” garnered him several honors including the song being listed at number 6 on the “The 100 Greatest Guitar Solos,” by Guitar World magazine. His work with Guns n’ Roses, Velvet Revolver and Snakepit have all been coveted by rock guitarists and highlighted by bullets running them up the charts.

And now a new book, Reckless Road: Guns n’ Roses and the Making of Appetite for Destruction, shows Slash’s life from the early days to today, written by his long-time friend, author and rock photographer, Marc Canter.

Slash is in a great place in his life. He has accomplished so much with his music, guitar playing and tone, the spirit in his guitar solos and the coolest rock image on the planet. He’s been a monumental influence on guitar playing, leading to a huge wave of people picking up guitars and learning to play. And his love of Gibson’s Les Paul guitars has been a major factor in keeping it the guitar of choice for guitarists around the world. He brought the axe back in style with his heavy handed riffs that rock! He’s a great friend and wonderful father to his kids. Over two decades on the scene and Slash’s music is a gift that continues to inspire, making a deep impression. Slash has helped change Rock ‘n’ Roll forever.” Marc Canter

When Modern Guitars spoke with Slash last week, we talked about recent happenings in his life, along with his thoughts on guitar legend and innovator, Les Paul, Slash's musical career, his new recording project and the new Limited Edition Gibson and Epiphone Les Paul Goldtops that bear his name and embody his musical inclinations.

* * *

Rick Landers: Before we start talking about the new Gibson models, I've got a couple of other questions to preface those. How about telling us a little bit about your contribution to the new CD, Les Paul and Friends: A Tribute to a Legend, how that came about and why you chose "Vocalise," as your contributed song?

Slash: I actually was working with the guys who played the rhythm section for that particular song, Abe Laboriel Jr. and Abe Laboriel Sr. Are you familiar with those guys?

Rick: Yes, I am.

Slash: It's a take on a classical piece. I can't remember the composer. It's sort of an, almost improv, but based on that feel. It was picked out by Bob Cutarella who is basically the producer on the record. We got together and he showed me some different bits of what he had going on and chose that one. It sort of just took on a life of its own. So, one evening and we're jamming.

Rick: Okay, thanks. I've met Les a couple of times, he's a great guy. Beyond guitar playing, how has he influenced you as a person, not so much as a guitarist, but as a person?

Slash: Aside from the obvious guitar stuff, and also him as a technician and tinkerer and all that stuff, as a person, it's hard to separate the person from the stuff that he does. I've never really hung out with Les outside of a musical environment, you know? So, I always see him as a musician. But at the same time, as a person, he's great because he's full of energy. He's one of those people who doesn't take "No" for an answer. He's a bit of an adventurer, you know, a little bit of a maverick. He's well-mannered, very astute, very loving, good sense of humor, but definitely a caring guy. And at the same time he's a little tough guy, too, when it comes down to it. [Both Laughing]

I just love him to death. We met a long time ago and it was in Fat Tuesday's in New York. I got up to play with him for the first time ever and he basically wiped the stage up with me. I used that experience as a bar, so that any time I've ever played with him since then, I could always use that bar to see how much better I've gotten as a guitar player.

Rick: You must feel especially honored to have your name associated with Les and with the Gibson family. Wasn't there a 1988 Slash Les Paul model?

Slash: There was. It wasn't available commercially. No, wait, that wasn't 1988. There was one in 1990, roughly 1990. In '88 was the first guitar that Gibson ever sold me directly and it was just a typical 1988 Les Paul standard. I've been using it for so long that they finally came out with a guitar called an 'Inspired By', which is basically an identical replica of that guitar.

Rick: Okay. Much different, I guess, than your first...

Slash: Over 20 years difference in the finish...

Rick: Probably much different than the Les Paul copy that you started with.

Slash: Yeah, very different.

Rick: How did you collaborate, how did the collaboration begin with Gibson, and what level of involvement did you have in helping create both the Epiphone model and the Signature Goldtop Gibson model?

Slash: Do you want me to go back to the beginning and how our relationship developed or just over these guitars?

Rick: These guitars...

Slash: Obviously we've had this relationship for a long time and I'm constantly going to them at the beginning of the tour cycle or whatever and going, "I need a guitar for this. I need a guitar for that," and when Velvet Revolver first started, I'd wanted to take my 1988 Les Paul and retire it. So, I went to Gibson and they built me sort of a Slash model, let's say. It sounded amazing, so I had a couple of those and did the first Velvet Revolver record with that particular guitar.

I think they sold a couple commercially. But, it wasn't like a big launch like this kinda thing. It was a very limited edition. And then at the beginning of this next tour that we did for the Libertad record last year, I went to them, I said, 'I need another guitar.' I specified what I wanted and you know, because Les Pauls are pretty much perfect right out of the box, I don't have a lot of things to have to tweak on them.

I'd like to make sure that it's a particular size neck that I feel comfortable with and I put the Alnico pickups in them. I usually choose old-looking hardware, just because it looks cooler to me. I'm very particular about the finish, if I have a choice, right?

That's basically how it starts and when we did these Goldtops, we took it a little bit further. We redesigned the tone pots so that they wouldn't diminish volume or presence when you turn them all the way down. Because one of the great things about the Goldtop is, on the rhythm pickup, if you turn the tone down or are using a Marshall with a certain amount of gain, you get one of the sweetest, creamiest lead sounds, which is great for blues or any kind of long-sustaining notes that you wanna do.

Basically the Goldtop is a reissue of the 1991 Goldtop I got from them back then. And I used it for the whole two and a half year Guns N Roses "Use Your Illusions" tour. That was the guitar I did all those real epic solos for, or epic songs rather, like "Sweet Child of Mine" and "November Rain" and "Estranged" and "Heaven's Door." And all of these had these very melodic, sustaining solos. That guitar was just perfect for it. It got stolen in 1998 or '99 along with a bunch of other guitars. I got everything back, except for the one guitar.

Finally, I went to Gibson and said, "Could you check your logs and see if you can find the specs for a 1991 Goldtop?" And they did and so they built me one. They said, "Oh, this is a great guitar. Maybe we should put this out commercially." So, here we are.

Rick: I'd think there would be more demand than the numbers of models that are gonna be produced. I think there's gonna be 2,000 Epis and 1,000 Gibsons. Once those guitars are sold, will there be any follow-up production of those models, or are they limited?

Slash: They are limited. They're not gonna be like a regular season-long kind of production. As far as I know, it stops there.

Rick: And the information I have says that the Epi comes with a personally-signed certificate by you. Does that mean that you signed 2,000 certificates for the Epiphone?

Slash: I'm actually sitting on the same couch right now where I actually signed all 2,000. It's a bitch to sign 2000 certificates! Let me tell you, you do it in increments of 500!

Rick: Will the Gibson also have a signature?

Slash: The Gibson does as well, yeah.

Rick: So are your hands okay?

Slash: Yeah, yeah. They're fine.

Rick: [Laughs] Okay. I understand that you've also got a new book coming out by Marc Canter. Can you tell us a little bit about the book?

Slash: Yeah, that's Marc's book. Mark is a really close friend of mine from way back in the 5th grade and when I first started playing guitar, he used to just bring his camera. He used to shoot a lot of rock concerts. He used to sneak cameras in and shoot from Judas Priest to Aerosmith and whoever else you can think of. So, he's pretty handy with a camera.

When I first started in my first band and what not, he used to always come and take pictures and physically record the shows. When Guns first started, I guess he saw something in Guns that we, maybe, didn't necessarily see at the time. But, he really thought it was gonna go somewhere.

He started shooting all the shows, recording all the shows and never missed one. Really, for the whole time that we were a club band up, until the point where we got signed. So, this book is really, really candid stuff from all these different dates, backstage and some other casual stuff.

But, it's the kind of pictorial history that most bands don't have because they either weren't fortunate enough to have somebody that saw more in them than the band itself saw or, you know, just having somebody around with a 35mm on a regular basis. But, it's really a cool, cool book. It's probably the coolest rock and roll table book I've seen in a long time.

Rick: You and Anthony Bozza came out with the autobiography, Slash by Slash about a year or so ago.

Slash: Marc's book is almost the the picture counterpart.

Rick: That last book was kind of fueled by the sex, drugs and rock and roll theme. But near the end, I got the impression that you were beginning to side a little bit more with soccer moms, and you were looking at yourself more as a real father and family man. Is that the case?

Slash: Yeah, I mean, all things considered, it goes through all the basic craziness and then, somehow, towards the end of it, I ended up married and now with two kids. So, having this sort of rock and roll craziness and domestic life sort of mixed, sort of getting rid of all the real hardcore stuff that I used to live on. You know, it all sort of works together. It is what it is. I guess you get the idea from reading it.

Rick: Yeah. Now, London and Cash are your sons. Are they following in your footsteps as far as music, or do they have other artistic endeavors?

Slash: Well, they're four and six. One of them, the six-year old seems to like sports more than anything, avoiding girls and that kind of thing. And then the younger one is probably the one that seems the most artistic, because he does a lot of drawing and he plays his piano, and is attempting to learn how to play the guitar. So, he seems to be going in that direction.

Rick: I've heard that you're working on a new solo album. Is that true?

Slash: Yeah.

Rick: And that you plan on having more than one lead singer?

Slash: The plan at this point is where I'm just using different singers for every song. So it'll probably be...if there are 12 songs, there will be 12 singers, put it that way.

Rick: I'll ask you a coded question: Will there be a rock 'n' roller who is really good at golf on that album?

Slash: Actually, to tell you the truth, I couldn't tell you. [Laughing]

Rick: Okay. I was thinking Alice Cooper.

Slash: Yeah, I know you were. He's the only rock 'n' roller that I know who's really good at golf. I just played on his record. Most of these people are people that I've worked with in the past.

Rick: Did you? What's it called?

Slash: His new record's called Along Came a Spider and I did a song on there called "Vengeance is Mine." We just did a video for it, so I don't know exactly when it's supposed to come out.

Rick: Okay, thank you. Over the years, have you found that you prefer to be working in an ongoing group, or is it more fun for you now to work with various artists on various projects?

Slash: My core is definitely group-oriented. I've always been in a band ever since I first picked up the guitar. Within the first six months of learning how to play guitar, I was in a band, and I'll always be a band guy. But, I also love the experience of going and doing sessions with people I've never worked with or people that I really admire that I grew up listening to or whatever, and learning how to adapt and sort of think on my feet. I do that a lot.

Working on a solo record, which is really my first solo record where I'm not using a fixed band, has just been a new experience for me because I don't have to answer to anybody.

And, you know, it's a little liberating in a way. But, at the same time, while I'm doing that, I'm still in Velvet Revolver and we're still looking for a singer, and we're still writing every day as a group. I like to be able to do it all, you know?

Rick: Yeah. Have you found any performer that you've worked with that wasn't part of your regular band that has particularly impressed you when you first met them, that you really weren't expecting them to be that good or that unique in their style or playing ability?

Slash: I know what you're saying. I don't know if I come into a situation in that kind of a sort of, you go in and I have been pleasantly surprised with 90% of the people that I've worked with. But, you know, like I did a tour with Ronnie Wood, and this was a few years back. I was really amazed at what an amazing musician Ronnie Wood is, because he doesn't always give the impression of being that good [Both Laugh].

Michael Jackson amazed me, even though I've always thought he was great, to work with him in person was a phenomenal experience. And it goes the other way. There can be guys like Bob Dylan, who was extremely difficult to work with. But, working with Iggy Pop was a great experience and I had no idea that working with Iggy could be so inspired and cover so much ground musically, you know, in just a couple of days.

And so, they're all different. Everybody's got their own really cool characteristics that identifies them as being unique.

Rick: One of our columnists, Billy Morrison, you know Billy?

Slash: Yeah.

Rick: He's got a group, I think he's still got it, called Camp Freddie. Have you played with Camp Freddie?

Slash: A dozen or so or more times.

Rick: How is that type of experience when you're going on stage. Are you playing almost impromptu or what?

Slash: It's very impromptu. The first time I ever played with Camp Freddie, I was like, "Oh, this is dynamite!" Because they have all these guest people come up and the first time I played with Camp Freddie, I got up there and was doing "Whole Lotta Love" with...oh, man, I always forget this guy's name...born in the same town as me in England. He's a real huge pop guy in England. But, he's never broke over here. Maybe it'll come to me. He was on stage and then also I was playing with Macie Gray. That was like two people I'd never played with before. So, the experience with playing with Camp Freddie is you can get up there and end up working with somebody on one or two songs that you might never have expected to work with.

Rick: I saw Billy play at the Gibson NAMM party with sort of the same kind of group. I don't think it was called Camp Freddie, but it was a Gibson group, and it was just pretty amazing how a number of different artists who weren't a band, could basically get on stage and just crank out some great rock 'n' roll.

Slash: Yeah, I think that's one of the great things, one of the things that's very important as a musician, to be able to pull together to work with people you've never worked with at the spur of the moment and be able to go up there and make music together. I think that's one of the things that makes music such a wonderful experience. When you, as a player, can get together with people. It really shows how music brings people together.

Rick: Yeah. I think that's true. I've got one last question and it's a question that I asked Les Paul last time I met with him. I want to see how your answer compares to his and, then I'll tell you what his answer was when we're finished. I asked, "How do you think you'll celebrate your 100th birthday?"

Slash: [Both Laughing] My 100th birthday. Oh, Christ.

Rick: You know, he's getting close.

Slash: That's a lot to ask. [Both Laughing] Let's leave it at that. If I have my druthers, though, it will probably be doing a jam somewhere like I did on my last birthday and that's probably the most fun I could have on a birthday is if I just have a gig. So, I'll probably be doing a gig with some other people that I've known all that time, you know? It'll still be festive and it'll probably be in Las Vegas or something.

Rick: Okay, well his answer was, "Well, I think I'd celebrate it very much like my mother who was glad to be here on earth." He said he was very grateful and you've got to be very grateful and to celebrate would be to say, 'Hey, you know, I'm gonna keep going until the time comes and when I'm not supposed to be here, and none of us know that answer.' It's a little convoluted. But then he says, "We only know that we all have the same ticket." [Both Laugh]

Slash: Yeah, that's probably true.

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