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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

2004.11.26 - The Irish Times - Velvet Revolution (Slash)

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2004.11.26 - The Irish Times - Velvet Revolution (Slash) Empty 2004.11.26 - The Irish Times - Velvet Revolution (Slash)

Post by Blackstar Sun Aug 28, 2022 3:31 pm

VELVET REVOLUTION

Shaking off the ghost of Guns 'N Roses hasn't been easy, but über-guitarist Slash has managed it with his new band Velvet Revolver. He tells Tony Clayton-Lea how the haze of drink and drugs was lifted and the band's new album produced the biggest first week sales of any début in US rock history

Velvet Revolver is not, some of you might be pleased to read, the new Aerosmith or - Axl Rose's lawyers forbid - the new Guns N' Roses. Rather, they seem to be the aural equivalent of a potential sports celebrity disaster: you know something exciting is going on, you realise there is skill and craft involved - but will they make it to the end of the game? Winning or losing is irrelevant; it's the taking part that's important and the possibility of falling apart that pushes you closer to the edge of your seat.

Yet the voice of former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash is a soothing thing, so perhaps things are going to be alright after all. Where one would expect the man to be something of a loosely held together individual (he once described himself as an "irretrievable alcoholic"), it's altogether more of a pleasant surprise to discover that he's an even-tempered guy, calm to the point of flatline and clearly smarter than the Slash of the 1980s (who was addicted to cocaine and whose tongue once turned brown due to the amount of Jack Daniels he consumed).

These days, Slash - born Saul Hudson in, of all places, Stoke-On-Trent - is no longer the party animal. Approaching 40, Slash is busy making up for lost time - the time lost in a fog of drink and drugs, the time spent waiting for something to happen after his departure from Guns N' Roses. His new band, Velvet Revolver, is the result of a sudden realisation that, despite his reputation as one of its best rock guitarists he couldn't sell a song that didn't have Guns N' Roses lead vocalist Axl Rose singing it.

In June 2003, Velvet Revolver was born. With a referential nod to his previous band - lest we forget one of the most successful rock bands of the late 1980s/early 1990s - and a hint towards the influence of the Sex Pistols, Slash, two of his former Guns N' Roses colleagues (Matt Sorum, Duff McKagan), one-time colleague of Duff's, guitarist Dave Kushner, and former lead singer with Stone Temple Pilots Scott Weiland got together to make the band's début, Contraband, which was released earlier this year.

So far it's a so good situation: a US Billboard number one, the album registered the biggest first week sales of any rock début in US recording industry history. Statistically a winner, it's also one of the best old-school rock records of recent times. Sinuous melodies, slab-like rhythm, snaking guitar solos and neurotic vocals are balanced throughout as dynamic rock, a bit of punk, a hint of grunge and classic rock 'n' roll balladry are carefully mixed and paced. Result? Who cares about Guns N' Roses anymore? (Axl Rose, who owns the band title, has been working on a follow-up to the band's 1993 covers album, The Spaghetti Incident; it has been scheduled for release each year from 2000, but as yet hasn't seen the light of day.)

Slash agrees that Guns N' Roses is a hard act to follow, but points out it's been eight years since he has played with them.

"I don't really like to spend time talking about that band, but the interesting thing is the strong legacy about them. The level of hysteria around the band - or should I say the name - has continued. I don't totally understand that because there's really been nothing going on for quite some time. Velvet Revolver happened because Duff and I got together with Matt Sorum and Scott Weiland, and it was so good and intense we decided to carry it on. That's when we decided to drop all the defences. So trying to follow in Guns N' Roses' footsteps wasn't an issue for us at all, because it's been so long since Duff and myself had been in the band."

Yet despite Slash becoming a noted guitarist for hire - he worked on recordings for Bob Dylan and Michael Jackson - it seemed as if he would be forever remembered as being a former member of Guns N' Roses.

"Yes, it's likely for some time this was my claim to fame, and sometimes it was tedious to be constantly referred to as that. At the same time, I can't really complain, because that's how I got to be here. Plus, I'm very proud of the heritage of Guns N' Roses. But at the same time, it can be a little tiresome when all you're remembered for is your time in that band. Funnily enough, in the past year I've been recognised as Slash of Velvet Revolver, which is cool and very liberating."

So Velvet Revolver isn't an albatross around the neck that GnR was? "Not even close. Velvet Revolver is very much a rock 'n'roll band; we're quite volatile. The one thing that marks out this band is that everyone in it wants to do it. One of the biggest conflicts I had in my prior band is there was always one guy who didn't want to do anything, which made it difficult. Velvet Revolver is a whole different situation because it's a different mentality."

The attitude does indeed seem more business-like than the Jack 'n' coke days of yore (when Guns N' Roses were once nicknamed Lines 'n' Noses) and far less stupidly laddish (in the lead-up to being signed by a major label in 1986, Axl Rose informed a female A&R executive that Guns N' Roses would sign with her label if she walked naked down Sunset Boulevard; she refused. The band subsequently signed to Geffen and released one of the best hard rock records of the 1980s, Appetite for Destruction, which sold in excess of 13 million copies).

Slash attributes this change of mindset to cleaner personal and lifestyle habits. "You can only push the excess to a certain extent - it never has the same appeal when you've done it so often. I'm fortunate in that I was definitely suspect of being one of those types of people at some point or another. Sadly, a lot of people have gone down that road and not come back. Most come out of the fog completely jaded and tired and don't even understand what they were doing. With us, there is a forward current that has always been about the music."

So the image of Slash as the epitome of rock 'n' roll excess and dissipation is incorrect? "When I see the image of what the media and general public perceive as being a rock star, I don't see myself on that particular level. Cartoonish sometimes, yes, and I do live certain aspects of the life still to this day. At the same time, this is just the image. For me, it's never been about dressing to impress."

Velvet Revolver's début album, Contraband, is in most record shops nationwide. The band play Dublin's The Point on January 12

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/velvet-revolution-1.1310563
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