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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.


2010.04.23 - Faster Louder - Interview with Slash

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2010.04.23 - Faster Louder - Interview with Slash Empty 2010.04.23 - Faster Louder - Interview with Slash

Post by Blackstar Mon Jul 19, 2021 6:33 am

Slash is calling from his home in Los Angeles, from inside a room I am choosing to imagine is not too far from the one all his pet snakes are kept in. I don’t know this for a fact, but having just re-read his autobiography, I’m filing any snake questions under “Do Not Ask”.

Other things we know about Slash: his heart houses a defibrillator which shocks it into a regular rhythm, not the worst by-product of a substance abuse history which could be best described as ‘prodigious’ (other side-effects include brushes with death, Steven Adler), and he is now a completely clean-living father of two. This July he will turn 45.

Slash grew up in LA in the 70s, and was babysat by David Bowie, just one of his costume-designer mother’s many clients at the time. He tooled around Laurel Canyon on his BMX, toyed with turning pro before finding a guitar which would thereafter be surgically attached to his hands. He’s played in a few bands you might have heard of, and some you might not have, including London, perhaps the greatest band of Sunset Strip never-weres there ever was.

So, things I will not be pressing Slash on: Do you talk to Axl? (No.) Will you ever talk to Axl? (No.) Do you wish a truck would cream Axl? What do you think about Chinese Democracy? Is Chinese Democracy perhaps the worst record ever made? Will there ever be a Guns reunion? How much money would it take for you to consider a Guns reunion? So, Axl: do you talk to him?

Slash is touring the release of what he thinks of as his first proper solo album, which is weird, because it’s the most collaborative album he’s ever done. It features a cast of different singers who could best be grouped together under roughly three categories: Oh, Of Course (Iggy Pop, Ozzy Osbourne, Ian Astbury, Lemmy, Dave Grohl and Duff McKagan); Sure, Why Not (Kid Rock, Andrew Stockdale, Chris Cornell, Adam Levine); and Does Not Compute (Uh, Fergie).

But talking to Slash, who is soft-spoken, open and prone to punctuating his sentences with quiet laughter, reveals that he’s just as curious as he ever was about music, and possesses as far from an elitist, snobbish mindset as you could find in anyone. He just wants to play music, and work with people free from “fucking idiosyncratic personality issues,” whoever they might be. And if you don’t like it, that’s whatever to him.

Hi Slash.

Hello. Is your name Elma, or Elmo?


That’s adorable.

Ha, thank you. You’ve named this album after yourself, but there’s more collaborators on it than any other Slash album.

Well ok. I did that because it’s my record. I made all the phonecalls and all the arrangements, and I hired the producer, I did all the basic whatever to make a record. Wrote all the music and then went out and begged all these singers to sing on it. So it’s still a solo record, it’s not like a compilation record, you know what I mean?

There’s been other records that bear my name, but it was really a record company thing to put my name on there because they figured it would sell more records. But those were actually bands, and it was the same kind of arrangement as Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver, so it wasn’t really any kind of a solo thing at all.

How did you decide on who were going to work with this time?

It was easy, I wrote the music first and when I would have something – a solid idea for pieces of music or a song or arrangement – then I would think, “who would sound really good singing this? What style of vocalist? Which of my favourite singers is this gonna fit?” And that’s what I would do. I’d figure that out and then contact that individual and see if they were into it, and fortunately everyone was really great. I was really blessed when I put this record together, because everybody came on board.

I think the one thing I was right in making the record was, I paired the music with the proper singers. So I didn’t go to anybody and give them a piece of music that was so fucking leftfield for them that they would be like “I don’t fucking get this,” you know? [Laughs] They were more like, “Oh yeah, this is right up my alley,” which is why I thought of them in the first place, and I think that worked out really well.

There are some people on here, some collaborations, that fit really well with what we know you for doing. And then there are some other people that are pretty different for you. People like Fergie. Or even looking at someone like Adam Levine. Did you deliberately want to work with people outside your scene?

Well that’s the thing, you know. I’m a rock guy, that’s what I’m known as. I always will be. That’s my first and foremost passion. But as a musician I like a lot of different stuff. Guns N’ Roses you know, we would branch out as best we could as a group. With Velvet Revolver you could only go so far outside of what the band is really capable of. So I do a lot of session work with all kinds of people that you would never expect, because as an individual I can do anything I want. So I do play on a lot of eclectic stuff which I great because I learn a lot and I meet a lot of great people. I think when you’re working with brilliant people it really transcends all genres and it just becomes amazing music regardless of what type it is.

So when I did this record I wrote some stuff that was pretty regular for me, and some stuff that was even heavier than you’d expect from me, and some stuff that was just different. And so I found the appropriate singers that I felt would fit the vibe, so that’s where all those different people came from. But I do different shit all the time!

Really? Who’s someone we wouldn’t know about you playing with?

I played with Ray Charles, Bob Dylan. Obviously the Michael Jackson thing, I think everybody knows about that. Ah fuck, let me think. Insane Clown Posse.


Heh, yeah.

Do you have a personal Jesus? Is there one person left you really want to collaborate with?

Honestly, I’ve always got a guitar with me. I’m the musician 24/7, so I’m always looking for a jam. But I don’t really set these things up. It’s a matter of circumstance. Somebody calls me, or you go to a pub and you hang out with somebody you admire and you get to talking and the next thing you know, you’re doing a session.

A lot of different situations—running in music circles—and you bump into people. And you’re like, “Oh, I really like you,” and it turns out they really like you too, and then you get together and play. Sort of like going on a fucking date [laughs], you know? That’s sort of like, the language of musicians. They get together and jam, whereas most people get together and fuck, or whatever. You know what I’m saying? We do it all the time, so it’s not like I’m sitting around thinking, “Gosh, you know who I’d love to play with?” It just doesn’t work that way.

Could you pick a favourite session?

There’s a couple I really love. Like when I get into the rock thing again, playing with Alice Cooper is great. Playing with Iggy Pop is great, playing with Motorhead is great – I’m still that guy. Those are always my favourite sessions. So, leftfield, outside-the-box ones are more interesting, they’re more of a challenge for me. I can’t say that it’s as fun as banging out four fucking chords with Iggy Pop, but I love doing it regardless.

One of the most fun-sounding tracks on the album is the instrumental with you and Duff and Dave Grohl ( Watch This Dave ). It’s Guitar Hero-ready. Clearly that beef with Nirvana and Guns is way in the past.

See I don’t know anything about that. I only remember something happened with Kurt and Courtney and Axl, whatever that was. And I just thought it was all fucking silly, whatever. I didn’t know Dave Grohl had anything to do with it, but he brought that up at one point and I had no clue! [laughs].

I just love Dave. He’s this generation’s alternate rockstar. He’s the only rock person I know who doesn’t have fucking idiosyncratic personality issues, he’s not an egomaniacal person. He loves what he does, never complains. He’s always in a great mood and he’s fucking great at what he does. It’s really bizarre—there’s no demons he needs to bury with coke or alcohol or shit like that.

That must be different for you.

Ha! Yeah. And, I fucking love his drumming, his playing is phenomenal. I wanted him to sing the song on the record, but he didn’t want to sing on someone else’s album, he’s still very shy about that. He was really into his drums because he’d just done Them Crooked Vultures. So I decided to turn that song into an instrumental, which I’m glad I did.

Is Velvet Revolver totally over at this point?

No, no we never made any announcement like that. It’s just been very dormant since I started this record, and we got back from the last tour and parted ways with Scott, and then got together and wrote a really insane bunch of material and everyone was really happy. And we started auditioning singers again.

That was sort of tedious and embarrassing and as soon as I got that feeling that we were going to rush to find someone, we decided to put it down, and we’ll revisit it. So I started doing my record, and Duff’s doing his thing with Loaded and Matt was also busy, and so we’re getting back together next year to start working on the singer search again.

You seem to really love the Twitter. Do you like the space it’s created a between you and your fans? Maybe you could find a singer that way?

I love it! I hate the name of it though. It’s such a stupid fucking name. If it was called something else it would be great [laughs].

It’s really cool to know where your fans are coming from. You can give out accurate information from the horse’s mouth without relying on press releases and publications. And just being direct with them, without having to go through the hassles of meeting on the street, or having them come to my house! [Laughs]. It’s very personal. I also realise that it’s taken the place of smoking. I worked that out the other day, because it gives me something to do with my hands.

Wait, you’ve quit smoking?

I have. It’s been almost a year. I haven’t been on the road as a non-smoker proper though, I don’t know if I can handle it. I don’t have any vices left now.

Wow, good job! But that is such a stage prop for you, though.

I know. I tried the toothpick. It wasn’t the same. I’ve been chewing that nicotine gum like crazy ever since I quit.

Can I ask you a question, which if you could answer would solve one of the enduring questions of our age?

Yeah okay.

OK. At the end of the November Rain video, why is she dead? What did she die from?

Ha! Oh yeah that’s right, at the end there was the coffin.

Yeah. It’s like one minute; party, someone dives through a cake, and then next minute—funeral. It’s quite confusing.

The Guns N’ Roses videos, the big trilogy I have no idea what any of those videos are about. I would just write my little scene. And I never had anything to do with any of the rest. And I never read the script, so I don’t know exactly. I just know it was part of a long story that Axl wrote with a guy named Del James.

I just thought you might have special insight. Like, ‘Oh yeah, she had a really bad cold or something, and that’s why she died’.

No, I’m not exercising my sense of humour on that one. But I could come up with something. But all things considered, I don’t really know all that’s going on.

Wait, acid rain.

She died from acid rain?


OK, awesome. And lastly, if you could have been born as a musician in any other time in history, when would it have been?

You know, all things considered I’m pretty happy with how things turned out. I guess if I came up in the Renaissance period as a musician, that would have been very interesting, all the different instruments I could have played, it would have been waaaaay different. For the sake of making it interesting I’d go there.

You could doll up in a Louis XIV wig Elton John style and play together again.

Right, right. I’d run around chasing people with these long skirts and no underwear (laughs).

Slash’s self titled album is out now and he plays at the launch of MTV Classic in Melbourne on Wednesday 28 April.

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