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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.


1995.02.DD - Guitare & Claviers (France) - Welcome To The Snakepit (Slash)

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1995.02.DD - Guitare & Claviers (France) - Welcome To The Snakepit (Slash) Empty 1995.02.DD - Guitare & Claviers (France) - Welcome To The Snakepit (Slash)

Post by Blackstar Sat Aug 13, 2022 7:06 am

Original text in French:


Welcome to the Snakepit

How did you get the idea to record a solo album? Was it the pressure with GN'R (that's how they call them in the U.S.!) that made you want to do something else or was it the example of Duff and Gilby?

Well, we weren't really looking to do that. Originally, I wrote a bunch of songs with Matt. We recorded them at my house. They were just demos that we did on the fly, but they sounded pretty good. We were really just doing it for fun and actually had no plan in mind to make an album. Plus, let's face it, it's not a solo album at all. That bullshit term doesn't fit what we did at all. Sure, it's named after me because I started it, but it's really a group effort! At first, we even wanted to call this record "Wayward Musicians Suffering From L.S.D", ha ha ha!!!

Could this new material have been on the next GN'R album or was it specifically written for Snakepit?

When we were working on our demos, Axl came by a few times, he ended up listening to the seventeen tracks we had put in the can but he never wanted to get into them, so we continued to do our thing without asking questions.

Maybe you're no longer on the same page regarding the musical style...

That's definitely part of it. As you can tell by listening to my album, I want to do heavy songs, to do rock music, whereas Axl would be more into ballad stuff like "November Rain"...

Why continue under these circumstances?

Because it's a great band, even if it's getting harder and harder to communicate with each other. But everyone is taking advantage of the breaks to do the projects that are important to them, and Guns N' Roses is still our priority. We'll make a new album as soon as I'm done with this, which should be before the end of the year.

Snakepit consists of Gilby and Matt, but also Eric Dover, the former Jellyfish guitarist, and Mike Inez, who can be now regarded as the former bassist of Alice In Chains. How did you get in touch with them?

At the beginning, the first demos were very simple, I was playing the bass and Matt was playing a drum machine and tapping on pads, you know what I mean? We did that at my house and we wrote seventeen songs that way. And then Gilby, who I asked to come in at that time, added some rhythm guitar to the demos. We also wrote some songs together. Then we brought in Mike Inez and he replaced the bass lines I had done with his own. That's when we realized we had a band and we went to a professional studio to redo all the basic tracks. At the same time, we started auditioning singers because that was all we needed to make an album. Mark, who plays in Gilby's band, suggested Eric Dover (Slash also auditioned Ron Young from Little Caesar, as well as Spike, ex-Dogs d'Amour). I had a demo of him and I really liked the way he sang, so it was only natural that I called him. He came to my house and when he started singing, it clicked right away. That's what made me think: "Okay, this is the right guy!

How is it different for you to work with Gn'R versus as a solo artist?

The main thing is that there is no pressure for the Snakepit record, not more than with the Snakepit band. Working on my own, I can stay a little more on the sidelines, whereas with Gn'R I have a huge responsibility on my shoulders. Each member of the band has a huge responsibility and, consequently, an incredible pressure on top of that! There is no hassle with Snakepit. No one comes to bust our balls by playing the rock star. With my band, there's none of that, it's much more relaxed, we only care about the music and that's the main thing. Writing with the Snakepit guys is a thousand times more fun. Gn'R is such a huge band that sells so many records, that Snakepit is like a vacation for me, ha ha ha!

There are fourteen songs on the album and you still have three in stock. Do you plan to release them as singles?

I don't know anything yet at this point; we'll have to see what the record label people will want to do. We really didn't think about the commercial aspect of the whole thing when we made this album and, frankly, we don't care about it at all, it's just the enjoyment of playing that motivates us...

"Lower" is a reference to Kurt Cobain's suicide...

When we were writing the lyrics with Eric, Kurt shot himself and my ex-girlfriend, Savannah (blonde porn star), killed herself, too. We were on that track and we were kind of inspired by that because the music really fit that depressed state of mind. I didn't know Kurt, we just ran into each other here and there in a business context, but I really like his songs.

And "Be The Ball" is about pinball...

I was involved in the development of the Guns N' Roses pinball machine with the guys at Data East. We really worked hard on it and since I have one at home, my friends don't even say hello when they arrive, they go straight to play on it! This pinball machine is insane, we put in samples of guitars and drums. Not to mention the game itself, which includes things never seen before on a pinball machine. I would ask them if they could put this or that idea into play and they would respond. Then, when the pinball machine was built and we sold 5,000 of them worldwide, the people at Data East asked me if I wanted to write a song about it. I thought that was a great idea. Plus, my wife Renee was very happy, she's a pinball freak, she plays like a maniac. I started by buying her the Addams Family pinball machine and today we have more than twenty of them at home, ha, ha, ha!

There are no covers on It's Five O' Clock Somewhere...

We intend to do some cool covers when we play live, but we didn't want to record them. For example, I can tell you that we're gonna play "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf...

What will be the first single to be released from your album?

"Beggars & Hangers-On", which we're going to do the video for very soon. But it's not going to be like Guns N' Roses at all, we're going to do it quickly by filming a show.

There are a lot of backup vocals on the album. Did you sing on it?

I'm not really good at singing; my friends can tell you that. At one point, before Eric joined the band, some people suggested that I sang lead, but I told them flat out no. I don't consider myself to be much of a singer at all. As far as It's Five O'Clock Somewhere is concerned, I only do a few backup vocals with the other guys, nothing major. The album was already recorded when Eric came in and we both went back to the studio to record his vocals. He did it all in twenty-six days!

This record is co-produced by you and Mike Clink, who has been the producer of the GN'R albums. How was his involvement different this time?

Let's just say that this time, as it was my own thing, he didn't have any pressure from anyone...

By that you mean that all final decisions were now rightfully yours?

Absolutely. Even on the production level. Snakepit is not Gn'R and we were really free from start to finish. Moreover, having worked together before, it was great that we were able to do that on a more intimate project...

The cover of the album is superb, who designed it?

My brother has his own graphic design company and he works with great artists. I had made a vague sketch of this cover on a piece of paper. I liked the idea, but as far as drawing goes, I'm not that good and that's when my brother told me to give him my sketch. He had it redone by a guy who knows his shit. The result is really cool!

What is the touring schedule apart from the United States?

After the States, we’ll go to all parts of Europe and probably Japan as well. We'll try to play as much as possible. As far as I know, this will keep us busy until the middle of next summer...

After that, you're going to get back on track with Guns N' Roses. Have you started working with Axl again on the next album?

Yeah! You know, we've always been recording ideas and we don't want to be in a mad dash to come up with songs. We never stop kicking ideas around. Every time we see each other, we're recording stuff. At this point I may be pretty busy with Snakepit until this summer, but as soon as the tour is over, we'll get back to work with Gn'R!

You still have to find a replacement for Gilby and I've heard that you considered Zakk Wylde...

We even worked with Zakk but I have to say that we haven't made a decision yet. I don't know if we’ll go with him in the end. He’s very good but his style is too much like mine... Personally, I would have really preferred to continue with Gilby but, as everybody knows, there was a big conflict between him and Axl. I think it's a shame, but Axl has got a mind of his own. He has always refused to write with Gilby. I don't know why he has such a big problem with Gilby.

Did you also work on other projects?

I just recorded a version of "The Star Spangled Banner" (the American anthem already covered in an explosive version by Jimi Hendrix!) for the movie "Black Panthers". As the name suggests, it's a film that traces the history of the African-American movement during the sixties and seventies. I'm very proud of it and the movie is really great! I also played a DJ in a new episode of "Tales From The Crypt;" I only made a couple of cameos and hardly said a word, but it was still a blast.

As far as influences are concerned, the songs on It' s Five O 'Clock Somewhere show once again your interest for the music from the seventies...

Yeah, that's true, but I'm listening to more and more recent stuff even if I still have a big fondness for that great period... I still listen to the records I grew up with and I think I always will! Right now, in my car, I have the latest Stones album which I love, as well as Tool's album, Offspring's album and Tom Petty's album. I can listen to any kind of music, I'm not very trend-oriented. I listen to Alice In Chains, Soundgarden and bands like that... and also the Snakepit album to check whether I’ll get tired of it.

Speaking of Alice In Chains, do you have any news about the band?

I don't think they're doing anything anymore, the rumors were indeed true. It's sad because it was a really great band, but I have to admit that it's good for me because Mike will be completely available for the Snakepit tour. He's a really great bass player. We've known each other for years and I'm very happy to have him around, he's really a bass player you can rely on. It's just a shame for Alice In Chains.

Which guitars did you play on this new album? Is the equipment you used different from the one you use with Guns N' Roses?

Not really, I still use my Gibson 59 Handmade as my main guitar. I used it for most of the album except for the solo on "Back And Forth Again" where I used a Fender Stratocaster. And then there's also a song called "What Do You Want To Be" where I played with another Stratocaster, that one had a Floyd Rose type vibrato... Oh yeah, there's also a little bit of acoustic here and there as well as mandolin and banjo on one track. Other than that, I played everything else with my favorite Les Paul.

What is your favorite string?

I usually use 10-46 strings, which is nothing special...

Do you have any favorite open-tunings?

On It's Five O' Clock Somewhere, I play "Back & Forth Again" in D open. The rest is in standard tuning.

What about amps?

It's exactly the same configuration as when I play with Guns N' Roses. In fact, I always have the same gear, whether it's live or in the studio.

Do you have any new collaboration projects with guitar manufacturers?

I've been involved in the design of the new Guild double neck, I have three of them but I think it should be released commercially soon. It's a double neck acoustic only, it's never been done before and I honestly don't know why (not true, Jimmy Page currently uses an Ovation double neck - Ed.). I still have a Les Paul that Gibson made specifically for me but it never sounded right and I don't use it. I think they want to make one for me but... I lent them one of my old Les Paul’s so they could use it for the model they wanted to give me, but they made four of them and not one of them sounded right; I kept the best one and it's probably lying around somewhere.

Do you have your amps and guitars modified?

The amps, not at all. As for the guitars, I had Seymour Duncan Alnico II pickups put on my Gibson’s, except for my two old beauties that are perfect as they are.

How do you use the effects?

As little as possible. I don't have any effects in my setup and I just add a little delay, really slight, from the console, but what comes out of my amp is not processed in any way. I like to go for spontaneity, a sense of urgency, and to be aware of what I'm playing. In the studio, we all played together at the same time and it's nice to have a natural sound. Effects tend to make a sound lose its character. The big difference between Snakepit and GN'R, I mean in terms of recording the songs, is in the overdubs. This time, we really did the minimum of "re-doings" whereas, for the last Guns N' Roses album for example, Axl insisted on a maximum of overdubs. I personally don't like that at all, but that's how we did it. This time, we could record one or two songs a day, I'd throw in a guitar solo and that was it! I tend to prefer that approach and that's how we did it.

One last question, you named your band after your passion for snakes (a snakepit is a vivarium for snakes, Slash has one at home). Do you still have snakes?

More than ever. I have about 400 of them, we set up a small breeding at my place. We have two big warehouses full of snakes!

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