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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

2022.02.22 - Rolling Stone India - Slash Talks New Album, Future of Guitar Music and India Memories

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2022.02.22 - Rolling Stone India - Slash Talks New Album, Future of Guitar Music and India Memories Empty 2022.02.22 - Rolling Stone India - Slash Talks New Album, Future of Guitar Music and India Memories

Post by Blackstar Wed Feb 23, 2022 2:43 am

Slash Talks New Album, Future of Guitar Music and India Memories

The guitar great’s latest record, ‘4’ with rock act Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, released last week

By Anurag Tagat

Right from the sizzling guitar lines on “The River Is Rising” on Slash’s new album 4, it is impressed upon you that this is a thundering, no-holds-barred rock record. The fourth album from the legendary guitarist and made with vocalist-guitarist Myles Kennedy (from rock/metal band Alter Bridge) and the Conspirators exudes a grittiness as well as warmth in its tonality, something that rock artists have more recently traded in for polished, squeaky-clean riffs.

Not Slash, though. The axeman for Guns N’ Roses and the erstwhile supergroup Velvet Revolver ensures that every second on this 10-track album is wild and deadly. The band – Slash, Kennedy, drummer Brent Fitz, guitarist-vocalist Frank Sidoris and bassist-vocalist Todd Kerns – took the decision to record live in the same room at RCA Studio A in Nashville with Dave Cobb (best known for his work with artists like Chris Stapleton as well as Rival Sons). It didn’t end there. Slash says over a Zoom call, “We mixed the record manually, as opposed to using automation, which is how people do it now, where you program all the faders to do certain levels and changes on their own, it’s programmed ahead of time.”

Instead, Slash, Cobb and the band did things old school. The guitarist explains, “We put the song on, run the tape, and then we all stand at the board and move the individual faders that everybody wants to move. You have to do it right in your take or you have to do it again. The whole record was sort of done in that kind of spirit.”

In a manner of speaking that has been made notorious by rockstars like Slash, he adds, “It was definitely cool.” That confident-yet-casual summation is certainly a byproduct of the culture that he’s helped shape right from the Eighties. Slash’s demeanor throughout the 20-minute interview – he laughs at some points but always keeps his responses concise and info-packed – holds a mirror to the way he makes music. It’s serious, but fun. At one point, he describes the recording process as “professional” but also “very creative.”

In 2022, when rock and roll’s cultural currency is not as strong as it used to be, he’s okay to stick to his guns. Of 4 he says, “A record like this is not necessarily going to be accepted [on radio], but it makes me happy. Because when it comes to rock and roll, I just think it should be done this way, as opposed to the way that a lot of people are doing it.”

Throughout the 44-minute record, Slash, Kennedy and the Conspirators do it their own way. Kennedy’s impassioned croon pierces through the razor-sharp hard rock songwriting, roaring on songs like “C’est la Vie.” There’s familiar but fun grooves on “April Fool” and twists and turns offered on “Call Off The Dogs.” Slash leads with a phaser-like psychedelic lead on “Actions Speak Louder Than Words” and “Spirit Love,” flitting from spaced-out to ominously serpentine.

Slash speaks with Rolling Stone India about the making of 4, the time he hopped on an EDM track and his memories of India. Excerpts:

Rolling Stone India: You’ve had a pretty long association with Myles Kennedy now. How has your friendship and understanding as musicians grown?

Slash: We just do what we do. I don’t really stop to think how we’ve grown or evolved, or whatever, we just sort of naturally grow, the way that anything grows over time [laughs]. We do really have a great time together, and we work well together, and we just enjoy creating the other and stuff. So it’s just something that happens naturally, I don’t really give it that much thought. It has been a long time. I mean, it doesn’t seem like it, but it’s been over 10 years. It’s exciting to have a new record about to come out and then we’ve got all the touring prospects. I’m rehearsing with the guys now. It’s great to be hanging out and jamming and stuff.

After the first album (Slash, 2010), what convinced you that it was better to have a group of people like Myles and the Conspirators rather than a revolving door of collaborators?

The revolving door of collaborators was just a one-time idea that I had. I thought, “I should get a bunch of singers, you know, due to a bunch of songs and work with all these different singers.” It was just an idea that I had in the aftermath of Velvet Revolver, it seemed like a good time to do it. I met Myles while I was making that record. It occurred to me that I had to somehow go out and support this record that I just put out, and I obviously, am not going to grab a handful of singers and take them out on the road. And Myles seemed a likely candidate to be able to sing all the different styles and the different ranges, to do a tour like that. So I asked him if he wanted to do it. And he said yeah, and then I met Brent and Todd and it just went from there. It was a really great chemistry right from the very beginning, so it was definitely special from the onset.

You mentioned the recording and mixing process for 4 was like something you hadn’t done in a long time. Did it bring back memories, make you feel nostalgic or ask, ‘Why don’t people do it like this anymore?’

Well, it’s not so much nostalgic. It’s just that being able to have a little bit more control of your own destiny than the industry would like to provide [laughs]. You can just sort of get away from the sort of commercial trappings of Top 40 radio-based music, and just do something that’s very organic and done in a way so that you can really appreciate the outcome. I don’t have anything against the way that we always make records, it was just that this was a really fun experience to be able to do it for the first time where you set up all the amps in the studio and just play live like you would in a venue.

I just haven’t really been able to do it exactly like that, really ever. What ended up happening is it just sounds very much like a band playing together, you know? [laughs] And commercially, it doesn’t mean anything. Because the way that radio is constructed, it’s been making digitized, sort of homogenous music for the masses for years. A record like this is not necessarily going to be accepted, but it makes me happy. Because when it comes to rock and roll, I just think it should be done this way, as opposed to the way that a lot of people are doing it.”

How does recording an album live with the band in the room influence things when you get on stage and take this record on the road? You guys traveled together to Nashville as well and even had to battle Covid.

We have a certain kind of very cool, laid-back relationship when we work. So going out and doing this record on tour is just going to be an extension of what we experienced making the record. And I guess that’s sort of like the way it always is.

We’re rehearsing now and getting ready to start touring at the beginning of next month. And it’s just a cool feeling. And it’s, it’s great to sort of be doing some of these songs off this new record. They sound exactly the way the record does because they’re performed the same exact way as a band [laughs]. Yeah, it’s all good. The making of this album was definitely a bonding experience, a great group effort. I think everybody’s gonna feel really good going out and performing, supporting this record as a result of that.

What is it like prepping for the release of this album as well as the tour with so many variables and things still so dynamic in the world of live music, given the pandemic?

Fortunately, I did have the experience of going out with Guns N’ Roses for about three months just recently, and it’s a little bit of a different landscape out there. There are a lot of pitfalls you got to watch out for, and you got to keep everybody safe, and you got to protect the tour. So we didn’t have any guests, we didn’t have any backstage parties or any of that kind of stuff. For the most part, we stayed pretty much either in the venue or in the hotel. And there weren’t a lot of extracurricular activities, if at all.

So I expect that this tour with The Conspirators is going to be exactly the same thing. I don’t know how long it’s going to be before we can actually sort of go back to normal. But you know, that said, the actual shows themselves were fucking fantastic. The crowds were fantastic and everybody is excited to get out of the fucking house. It was very explosive. So I’m really looking forward to The Conspirators tour, because it’s in smaller venues, and it’s going to be a lot more intimate. But at the same time, we have to be doubly cautious as well. So you know, all these considered, it is, as we say over here, all a crapshoot [laughs].

This is the first album coming out on Gibson Records – at this point in your career, what do you look out for in labels? And what’s your advice for other musicians shopping for labels?

To tell you the truth, man, I haven’t been with a label since Velvet Revolver was with RCA back in 2008. I’ve been my own label, and then I would use different companies for distribution. So this is the first time I’ve been attached to a company that’s representing a label. But it’s a different kind of label, I think it’s a little bit more down to earth, it’s more music-based than any of these big corporate labels out there.

I mean, obviously it’s Gibson, so it’s music-centric. There’s a certain kind of organic, grassroots thing to that. I’m sort of happy and proud to be part of that as an artist putting a record out, that they’re going to represent me as a musician. It’s not really about sort of Top 40 singles and all that kind of stuff.

But for people, like young guys and gals, or whatever, out there looking to get involved in this industry, it’s a really fucking crazy time to be doing it. There’s really almost no benefits to signing with a label [laughs].

I think a lot of kids are doing it on their own, using social networking and doing everything indie-based, and using the different platforms that social networking and SoundCloud and shit like that… YouTube, to put out music as opposed to a label. With a label, you have to sell your soul to the label, especially nowadays, where records don’t necessarily even sell anymore. For a young person going out there to make a record, it’s like the Wild West – you have to figure out a way that you can reach as many people as possible and be able to do it without having any real financial backing. So you have to be creative.

We’ve seen a lot of guitarists jump in for collaborations over the years. A lot has happened over Zoom as well recently, with remote collabs that are often cross-genre. A hip-hop artist or pop artist gets a guitarist on their track, for example. Where do you see these going?

You call it collaboration, but it’s almost like mashups. It’s definitely commercially viable. I mean, I remember when I was getting hit up a lot to do EDM stuff. They wanted to mix electric, rock and roll guitar in a sort of very synthetic, EDM kind of sound.

I actually did one recording with a guy named Chuckie [Surinamese, Aruba-based trance/house DJ-producer]. It was sort of cool, you know? Like, interesting. I mean, a lot of these sort of, ‘trying to do it just for the sake of doing it’ doesn’t really interest me.

I just did a thing with [American duo] Black Pumas, which was really cool, where I sort of tied my guitar into a bigger ensemble, with a lot of rhythm section and stuff like that. So yeah, there can be really interesting opportunities that come along, if it’s with the right people.

What’s the most adventurous collab you might see yourself do? Or even turn down?

[Laughs] I think the EDM thing was a stretch for me. I don’t think I was really that into it at the time. And having done it, I look back on it, and I probably could have done without doing it. But it was an interesting learning experience. I learned a little bit about the EDM world while I was doing it. Most of the other stuff that I get into, it’s all music. It could be doing something like working with Michael Jackson [and how that] is very different than if I’m working with Alice Cooper. But it all sort of is relevant. Right? It’s sort of easy to adapt my style into different styles. So we’ll see what comes up down the road. I haven’t done anything super crazy that I can think of besides the EDM thing.

Since I’m calling from India, how was your time there when you visited with Myles and the Conspirators in 2015. What’s a great memory you took back from the trip? Think you’ll be back here?

I think probably one of the most memorable trips this band has ever had, and also shows that this band ever had were those two shows in India and getting to spend a couple of weeks there. And I want so badly to go back.

It’s hard to know whether they’ll have us back, just from financial reasons and whatnot, you know. It was something we still, to this day, talk about. It was just really, really special. The people were great. The audience was great. Everybody that worked with us was great. So yeah, really fun, happy memories of our trip to India. And yeah, have us back! [laughs] Yeah, I would love to come back there.

https://rollingstoneindia.com/slash-4-album-interview-india/
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