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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

2022.04.01 - GQ - "I'm Still Obsessed With Guitar": Slash Keeps On Rocking

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2022.04.01 - GQ - "I'm Still Obsessed With Guitar": Slash Keeps On Rocking Empty 2022.04.01 - GQ - "I'm Still Obsessed With Guitar": Slash Keeps On Rocking

Post by Blackstar Sat Apr 02, 2022 1:39 pm

"I'm Still Obsessed With Guitar": Slash Keeps On Rocking

The rock legend breaks down his new music, his weirdest session and how he stays inspired.

By Rob Tannenbaum

When Slash was 18 or 19 – musicians are not famous for their recall of exact dates, so let’s leave it vague – his fame didn’t stretch beyond L.A., where local store owners knew him as an elusive shoplifter. While trying to cobble a band together, the guitarist put an ad in the Recycler, a free paper that functioned like a Tinder for California hard rock bands, including Motley Crue and Metallica. In the ad, a Guns N’ Roses bandmate later recalled, Slash listed his musical influences: Fear, Aerosmith, early Alice Cooper.

Almost 40 years later, those influences are still the hallmarks of Slash’s playing – some punk, some garage rock, some bluesy hard rock, and an astringent mix of volume and distortion. Everyone else in L.A. was imitating Eddie Van Halen’s sleight of hand shredding when Guns N’ Roses released Appetite For Destruction in 1987. Slash had a guitar tone like sulphuric acid, and all he wanted to do was glower, not show off.

In the decades since GNR de-poufed metal, Slash has left the band and rejoined, formed and left Velvet Revolver, played on sessions with artists ranging from Lemmy to Michael Jackson, and formed a band with Alter Bridge singer Myles Kennedy. In February, Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators released their fourth album, titled 4, and began a six-week tour, followed by Guns N’ Roses dates from May to December.

Slash called from a Ritz Carlton outside D.C. – “I haven’t stayed in a DoubleTree in a long time,” he laughed – to discuss his new album, the mystique (and unusual apparel choices) of Bob Dylan, and what kind of music he’ll make when he’s an old man. “I’m still obsessed with guitar,” he said. “But the shoplifting obsession went out a long time ago.”

GQ: When was the last time you were nervous before a show?

Last night. I’m always nervous before shows. It’s a combination of anticipation and performance anxiety (laughs). It pretty much dissipates within the first couple of songs.

The first song on 4, “The River Is Rising,” refers to lies and indoctrination, and asks, “Have we been hypnotized?” Do you consider it a political song?

It’s political in some ways. The record was made in 2021, after we’d gone through the chaos of 2020, so it’s about a lot of things that represent 2020. As a rule, I avoid politics when I’m discussing music with the media, because I don’t want to be an advocate for one side or the other. I don’t want my opinion to be taken as being important.

But you couldn’t help but be affected by everything going on politically and pandemic-wise – which in its own way, turned out to be a political subject. It was going on not just in the U.S., but it seemed to be a symptom of a lot of the planet.

“The Path Less Followed” is a song of advice or warning to someone younger, about the trials of being a musician. Is touring still as exciting to you as it used to be?

I love touring, but only because I love playing. And I go through whatever the fuck I have to go through to get up and play every night. It’s amazing what you’ll go through in order to do that (laughs). I don’t think there’s ever been a time when traveling on tour has been enjoyable. It’s always a pain in the ass, and more so now. First they had all the [airport] security to deal with, but now with COVID, it’s really fucking like pulling teeth.

When you named the album 4, was there any thought to using Roman numerals, like Led Zeppelin did sometimes?

(Laughs) In the back of my mind, I feel like someone mentioned that, but it was never a consideration for me. The reason we called this record 4 is because there was no title I could think of that didn’t in some way reference the year we just had. So I figured I’d rather avoid it altogether. And four is a milestone worth recognizing, that we’d made four records at this point.

Your mom was a costume designer for a lot of musicians, and your dad designed album covers. What kind of people were they?

Well, my dad’s still with us, so let’s not talk about him in the past tense (laughs). I have none of those cliched complaints about my parents keeping me down, and trying to make me into a dentist, or all the other stuff most rock people complain about. My parents were sweet, sensitive, peace-loving, conscientious individuals, very much products of the ‘60s generation. Which means I’m a direct product of that too.

In 2010 you made a solo album with guest appearances by lots of different singers, including Iggy Pop and Lemmy. Did you talk to either of them about having a band together?

No. That record was a product of a single idea – I didn’t have any designs on working with anybody for an extended period of time. I’d just left Velvet Revolver. I was on my own for the first time in a while.

I had two songs left over. I didn’t know who’d be the right singer for them. Right about that moment, Myles Kennedy, who I’d never heard sing, had been flown out to England to possibly lead the ill-fated Led Zeppelin tour. [Jimmy Page and Robert Plant were looking for a new singer to tour and possibly record with.] I thought, “This guy must be really good.” So I called him and we talked, and I sent him a demo of one song. He put a vocal on it and sent it back and it was fucking amazing.

We flew him out to L.A. to record two songs, “Starlight” and “Back From Cali.” He had an amazing range, and was such an easygoing guy. And I thought, if anybody could sing all the material from my catalog – which was what I was going to do for a tour to support that record – it would be this guy. Once we went on tour, it was everything that you, as a kid, want a band to be – fun and easy. And that’s basically what we’ve been doing since 2012.

You might be the only musician who’s recorded with the Insane Clown Posse and Michael Jackson. Is there one session that stands out in your mind, not so much for the music as for the experience?

I did a session with [producer] Don Was and Bob Dylan [for the 1990 album Under the Red Sky] that was very surreal. It was summer and I was introduced to this guy who was wearing one of those woven surfer hoodies with the tassels and stripes. He had black leather gloves and a hat, with the hoodie pulled over it, and sunglasses. And it was like a hundred degrees outside!

George Harrison was there, doing some guitar stuff. Kim Basinger was there. She was very sweet, but I have no idea why she was there. I went into the studio with my happy-go-lucky guitar player attitude. It was a simple song with a I-IV-V [chord] progression called “Wiggle Wiggle.” Right before I played, Bob asked me to make it sound like Django [Reinhardt, the French-Romani jazz legend]. I didn’t think he was serious. I played what I thought was one of my better one-off guitar bits as me, and also did an acoustic track. And I asked Don to send me a rough [mix] when he was ready.

A couple of days later he sent me the cassette, and when we get to the guitar solo section, it’s nothing but me strumming acoustic for sixteen bars. I called Don and said, “What happened to the guitar?” He told me, “Bob says it sounds too much like Guns N’ Roses.”

At least Bob spoke to you. That doesn’t always happen.

I’ve noticed that a lot of musicians, mostly due to being insecure, are very aloof when it comes to meeting people. They can be impolite, or try to maintain mystique and not talk. Bob Dylan must have started that whole thing, and made it look cool.

Do younger musicians ever get in touch with you to discuss sobriety?

I’m not a huge flag-waver for sobriety. I have had conversations with youngsters in different programs who are trying to get sober, and I’ve given group advice, which I appreciate doing. I know how overwhelming it is, and I love to let people know they’re not alone. It’s a desperate situation for everybody who’s going through it.

Who’s a guitarist you wish more people knew about?

The first guy that comes to mind is Danny Gatton, one of the most incredible guitar players I’ve ever heard. Hardly anybody knows who he is, unless they’re serious muso guitar players. I’ve always loved Tele players. Danny had a great combination of using a pick and his fingers, and if you listen to Hot Rod Guitar, there’s so much going on in what he’s doing that it’s almost overwhelming. And he does it with such great tone and feel. I’m obsessed with the guitar and guitar sounds. It’s still a wondrous journey for me.

Do you think the music you make will change as you get older? How do you imagine your 60s and 70s?

It’s crossed my mind a couple of times, because for the most part, what I love doing is high energy rock n’ roll, and it hasn’t really mellowed out much since I started. I don’t think that far into the future, so I don’t try to envision it. But it’s interesting to think about me doing what it is I do now when I’m in my 70s.

Maybe you’ll make jazz albums when you get older.

I just don’t see that happening (laughs). Nothing against jazz, but I’m just saying.

https://www.gq.com/story/slash-4-myles-kennedy-the-conspirators-interview
Blackstar
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