APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
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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

2018.09.21 - Metal Talks on Spotify - Interview with Slash

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2018.09.21 - Metal Talks on Spotify - Interview with Slash Empty 2018.09.21 - Metal Talks on Spotify - Interview with Slash

Post by Blackstar Fri Jan 26, 2024 3:58 pm



Transcription:
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Intro by Slash

Slash: Hey, I'm Slash and you're listening to Metal Talks on Spotify.

Living the Dream

Slash: The beginnings of Living the Dream started, basically, while we were on the road for World on Fire. So as per usual, every time we do a record, all the music's written in dressing rooms, and hotel rooms and buses during the previous album tour. And so that's where a lot of this material originated. And then towards the end of the tour, we actually started doing a couple of these songs and jamming them in sound checks, and Myles got some of his lyric and melody ideas, and we got some of the grooves together. And then we had a couple pre-production sessions in Los Angeles, like towards the end of 2015. And then, you know, I went out on the road with Guns N' Roses, which was sort of like an unplanned thing, which ended up taking the better part of a year and a half. And so during that year and a half, I kept wondering exactly when I was going to be able to get the guys back together and go in and actually start pre-production again. So in January of 2016, or no, 2018, sorry, we managed to find some time from January to May to go in, go back and sort of revisit some of those early riffs and ideas and then introduce some new ones and then start the whole pre-production process, and then we just recorded the whole album. So that's basically where Living the Dream came from.

A Solid Ear

Slash: We recorded this album with Elvis for the second time and I just - when I first met him during the World on Fire record, he was somebody that had a lot of background with analog recording, which was how I wanted to record that particular record. And he had just a really, what I would say, a really solid ear. You know, he knew exactly what he was hearing and what he wanted to hear and how things managed to get to a certain point where it sounded a certain way. And [he was] also very technically gifted and very up to date with technology, you know, in the recording field and engineering. And then he's also a really hard worker and somebody that can outpace me, so that's one of the most important things for me, is I do not like working with lazy people. It's like, you live and breathe at 24-7, and it doesn't matter what time it is, or whatever; you just work until you accomplish what you're setting out to do. So I loved the way that the World on Fire record sounded, so when it came time to do this next record, he was just automatically my first thought. And it was one of the things on this next record, because I was trying to do it at a lower budget point than the last one. I had to record it digitally, and I also wanted to make it even rawer sounding than the last record. So I told him that that's how I wanted to do it, and his reaction was positive. We ended up doing it under conditions that weren't perfect for him, because all I had was a 16-track board. The studio's brand new, so there was a lot of technical issues with a couple of various things that made it very difficult and impossible to mix in there and… You know, so he couldn't do any real what you would consider rough mixes that were good references. Or he managed to do it, but it was really hard. So, you know, he's just one of those guys that can rise to the occasion under whatever circumstances and I like him. He's a good guy. And he also records Myles really well.

Driving Rain

Slash: Driving Rain is a riff that came up. I actually think we were in the Hamptons doing a gig in this sort of small club/theater kind of deal with the low ceiling. I remember it really well and I almost can picture in my mind's eye the moment that I actually played the riff for the other guys at soundcheck. And we just jammed on it from there - the opening riff is as far as that ever got. And once I sort of realized that we had a good pocket going, and Myles was inspired and he started singing something, I started working on the rest of the song. We completed it on this - you know, in January, February, I think somewhere in there. We actually put together a finished arrangement of it. And most of the rest of the song is pretty brand new. And it got picked to be the first single just because we had a bunch of potential first singles and this was the one that seemed the most well-rounded. It wasn't overly dark, it wasn't overly, like, super fast, it wasn't… I think it was the most accessible out of that handful of songs to make a first single. So that's where that came from.

From UK to L.A.

Slash: I grew up in - well, I started out in Stoke-on-Trent in England, which is a pretty small, close-knit little town, village. And I was weaned on music in Stoke, I'd say that was where my big introduction to rock and roll came from. My dad - and this was 1965, ‘66, ‘67, my dad and his two brothers, my dad was the middle of two brothers, and they were all hardcore music enthusiasts, like, super rock fans, rock critics… You know, it's hard for me to verbalize that kind of a thing, but they were just really, really passionate about it. And so, from as early on as I can remember, I was listening to The Kinks, and The Yardbirds and The Stones, and a lot - my dad really loved The Who, so that was a big one. And then, you know, there was The Beatles and Gene Vincent and Moody Blues and…  god, I'm probably leaving something out. Donovan, I think, was in there. But anyway, so that's what I was sort of raised on. And, you know, Stoke was great. My dad and I used to take the train into London a lot and sort of hang out in this sort of bohemian ‘60s kind of thing that was going on. My dad was very much an artist and had been going to art school, and all that kind of stuff before I came along. So we had a lot of beatnik friends around London that we used to hang out with. It was very sort of communal. And you could just show up at somebody's doorstep and just crash there. It was pretty cool. Anyway, and then my mom being American, living in Los Angeles, we eventually - I think I went back to L.A. when I was one years old, I don't really remember that. But then I went back to London, or back to Stoke, and went to school and all that.

And then at some point when I was a little older, we moved permanently to Los Angeles, which was pretty much a culture shock for me, because it was way busier, obviously ten times bigger than Stoke, and really, really energetic and electric. I remember that very much. But we lived up in Laurel Canyon, up on Wonderland Avenue, in the thick of this whole sort of songwriters, very artsy, kind of music and art scene that was everybody living up in that area. So my dad is a graphic designer and photographer, and my mom was a clothes designer, so we were working for people in the record business or they were working for people in the record business. So my dad was working for David Geffen. My mom was making clothes for everybody from Cher to Joni Mitchell to Sylvester, who was this very sort of avant-garde flashy singer at the time. So there was all these different people and that whole environment was really, really inspired and really, really creative and the people were really cool. And again, it was because it was the ‘60s or beginning of the ‘70s, it was very sort of communal, you know. And once again, there was just this sort of really heavy-duty sort of musical environment for me. So at that point I was introduced to The Doors and to Led Zeppelin and, you know, like, Jimmy Cliff and Peter Tosh and Stevie Wonder and… So there was just this other whole musical world that I was introduced to. And that was basically how I grew up.

And as I got older, at some point we moved out of Laurel Canyon, started moving into Hollywood. And it was the kind of family where we lived very much paycheck to paycheck. We moved a lot. I went to a lot of different schools. It was very... it was a fun lifestyle, but not stable, you know? So, when work was good, you ate well and when work wasn't good, you know, you're struggling and I remember that a lot. And going to a lot of different fucking schools and never really fitting in at all, because I was sort of pretty much the same as I am now but minus the nose ring and the top hat. So I just did not fit into conventional sort of student curriculum and, you know, I still had the English accent, which I worked very hard to get rid of because that was one of the things that made me extremely different than the average kid in elementary school. So it was, you know, an interesting kind of life in all ways, but still around a lot of music and around a lot of art, and so on. And then I picked up the guitar when I was… I guess the summer that I was 14 years old and turned 15. I remember that pretty well. And then at that point I didn't give a shit about trying to deal with school anymore.

Horror Movies, BMX Racing and Picking Up the Guitar

Slash: Well, one of the things besides the music in England that I got turned on to, there was a great sort of horror movie kind of thing happening in England at the time. And you had these Hammer films. And so you had like Vincent Price, and Peter Cushing, and Christopher Lee, and all the sort of classic horror icons, and The House That Dripped Blood, and Dracula, and fucking Quasimodo, and all these cool… So I was a huge horror addict on top of everything else. And then, when I moved to the States, my mom was a confirmed horror and science fiction person, so she turned me on to a bunch of different stuff. And because I sort of was raised in that Freudian sort of philosophy of raising your children where kids were sort of considered equals, my parents took me to all kinds of stuff that was stuff that you wouldn't normally take, you know, a 5, 6, 7, 8 year old kid to. And so, you know, I went and I saw 2001, I saw The Exorcist, I saw Night of the Living Dead, and Forbidden Planet. I saw all this really, really cool shit, which definitely had a big influence on me. So I was always and still to this day, you know, a huge horror buff or horror enthusiast, I suppose. So that's something that stuck with me and that I've actually branched out into starting to produce horror movies at this point.

But the other thing that I got into later, when I was around 12, 13, and 14… I don't know how I got into BMX racing. Someone must have had a bicycle or something and it just turned me on. And so I got into that. And, like, anything that I do, when I set my sights on something, I get very single-minded and focused on that one particular thing. So I started BMXing until I got up to be considered a pro. And then, you know, my aspirations at that point were to become a motocross racer. So that's where I was, and I saw absolutely nothing else. There was just that.

And then I picked up the guitar, which is sort of a long story into itself. But basically Steven Adler, who I met while I was riding my bike, I went over to his house one night after we first met. He had an electric guitar and an amp, and a little piece of shit stereo turntable. And he put on Kiss Alive 2 and started banging on a guitar, everything turned up to 10. And at that point we decided we were going to start a band. And so I decided, okay, well if we're going to start a band, then I had not really known that much about instruments. I mean, I really just didn't know technically that much about them. So I thought, well, I'll play bass. And I didn't own an instrument at the time. But there was a local music school a block away that I used to pass by all the time. So I went in there and I met the teacher - who I still talk to from time to time, his name is Robert Wollen, this guy and guitar teacher. And he took me in the room, and he had an acoustic guitar that he was playing and he goes, “So what is it exactly you want to do?” And I said, “Well, I want to play bass." And he said, “Well, do you have an instrument?” And I said, “No”, and he's like, “Hmm”. And so while he was talking to me, he was playing some Eric Clapton stuff. It was Cream, I can't remember if it was Sunshine Your Love or what it was. But he was playing the riff and the solo part. And I was like, “Well, that's what I want to do”. You know, specifically single note lead guitar is basically what I was describing. And he goes, “Well, that's not bass, that's electric guitar” and I was like, “Okay”. So from that moment I shifted from bass to guitar and he told me “Come back when you get an instrument”. And so I went back to... I was staying at my grandmother's apartment in West Hollywood at the time. And I knew I'd seen an acoustic guitar at some point somewhere, so I asked her where it was and pulled out this flamenco Spanish guitar buried in the closet. And they had one string on it. I started teaching myself how to play riffs on this one string. So like, remember that Chicago song 36 or something, 2-4, whatever the fuck that, da-na-na-na-na, da-na-na-na-na, you know, and Dazed and Confused and anything else I could execute on one string. And then I took the guitar to the guitar teacher's place and he taught me how to put the other five strings on it, and I decided at that point to start taking some lessons.

And then, what ended up happening is, anybody knows if they've taken piano or cello or fucking recorder lessons you start out with these real rudimentary scales and you start reading basically from sheet music, so that's where he was… that's where I was headed. And I pretty much hated it, but I stuck with it. And then he told me, “If you actually finish whatever lesson it is that I give you, I'll teach you any song that you want to hear or any song you want to learn”. And so that was, like, a cool deal. So I would do these lessons, and at the end I would pick a song and he would put the record on, and he would learn it right there and then, and then teach it to me. And I thought, well, if he can do that then I can listen to a record and do the same thing. And so I ended up doing that, and leaving the guitar lessons and sort of all that extracurricular rudimentary guitar stuff and sheet music behind, and learning everything by ear. So that's basically how the guitar thing started for me. And then it was like overnight I went from, you know, an aspired professional motocross racer to a guitar player, like within the space of 24 hours. And so the bicycle then became a vehicle to get me from point A to point B while I was carrying my guitar around.

The Beginnings of the L.A. Glam Scene

Slash: With the local scene in Los Angeles, this was in 1980 - no, this was, like, 1979, 1980. And, you know, at that point I was going to a lot of rock and roll festivals, I was going to the Troubadour, and to the Starwood, and to the Whiskey, and seeing a lot of punk rock bands because there was a great thing happening in L.A. L.A. is so grounded, as far as I'm concerned. Everything is very trendy in L.A. So even punk rock, as great as it was, it was very sort of fashionable and just very L.A. But there was some great bands. There was my all-time favorite L.A. punk rock band called Fear that I saw in Los Angeles. And then there was, I saw The Germs, and I saw X, and I saw a handful of other bands.

But at the same time that that was going on, you also had a sort of parallel universe of just post Van Halen metal. Like the beginning of the glam scene was happening; which, all things considered, is funny, because when Van Halen came out, I hadn't started playing guitar yet at that point, but Steven Adler and I were sort of hanging around listening to that first Van Halen record. And it was really obvious to me that all the music that I had grown up listening to had just ended at this point, and that Van Halen was something that I really wasn't - it sounded great, but I just wasn't really into the whole sort of image of it. And that was really the precursor for L.A. glam. I mean, there's no other artist I can think of that had a bigger influence on that whole sort of ‘80s explosion than Van Halen. And it's true, it just ended everything from the ‘70s and before, and it all started with that record and then it all went forward from there. So yeah, in L.A. there was this early sort of glam scene. I think one of the bands I saw at the Starwood at that time was Nikki Sixx's band London, which was very, very glam, you know, but they were good.

And so yeah, there was the punk rock scene and the hair metal scene that was just beginning. And the punk rock scene died out and turned into new wave, so I remember seeing the fucking Go-Go's. But I wasn't really into that whole scene, although I saw The Knack, I saw a lot of different bands that were happening all the time, but what was really happening was the development of this glam metal scene. So all in all, I pretty much hated everything in Los Angeles when that was happening (laughs). But at least it was happening and it was exciting, because there was so much energy. It was such a scene, it was so… everybody was so passionate about it, it was so vibrant that looking back on it, it was still a really fun time. As much as I might have hated it at that time, there's nothing like that going on in L.A. at the moment.

Early Days of Guns N’ Roses

Slash: Shadow of Your Love was one of these songs that Guns was doing when I first started with those guys. I actually saw Axl and Izzy and Chris Weber play in a version of Hollywood Rose around the time that Axl and Izzy and I first met, like before I didn't know who they were. Steven had talked me into going to the Gazzarri’s - it was, yeah, Gazzarri’s - to go see them play. And I was pretty much sort of a homebody, you know, I hated the scene on Sunset Strip at that time so much that I didn't like to go up there. But Steven loved it and said, “You gotta go check out the singer”. And so I finally went up there with him, and I saw Chris and Axl, and I don't know who was playing bass but Izzy was there. And I think Shadow of Your Love might have been as old as that. There's two songs that I remember playing when I got involved with Axl and Izzy, and it was Shadow of Your Love and a song called Reckless Life. Anyway, so Shadow was one of those first songs that when Guns came together and I became a part of that. I don't even know who wrote it - maybe Chris Weber might have wrote it, I'm not really sure. But we played it as part of our set pretty early on in 1985. And then it sort of got phased out as we wrote a lot of new material, which was a little bit more complex and a little bit more sort of thought out, maybe, than Shadow of Your Love was. But it's fun playing it now. It's like, it's amazing in 2018 to be introducing a song that we haven't played since 1985.

That particular song was the song that we used to demo Mike Clink. When we were looking for somebody to produce the record, Tom Zutaut introduced us to Ron Nevinson’s engineer, Mike Clink, who had worked on, you know, Heart records and... But the one thing [was that] he engineered UFO records and he did the Strangers in the Night record. So that was my automatic – like, Strangers in the Night was, at least for guitar players, one of the great sort of guitar player standards, you know, for metal guitar playing, Michael Schenker and all that. So, I thought, okay, this guy will be interesting. So we went in the studio with Mike Clink, just to try him out, to see what it would sound like. And we recorded Shadow of Your Love. And the version of that song that we just released is that demo version that we did back in 1986.

Crazy Party Days

Slash: Sweet Child of Mine came from… there was a point where Guns N' Roses had signed a record deal. The record company didn't want us out on the circuit anymore, so we took our advance money and we were living in an apartment, a few of us. Steven and Ax and I were living in one apartment - Izzy had his apartment and Duff had his - and it was pretty fucking decadent, and raw, and fucking drug-addled, you know, booze-driven period, more so than even it had been before because we actually had some cash (laughs). So we lived in that apartment until we got evicted. And then a management company came along, I think it was Randy Phillips and Arnold Stiefel. They came along and they tried to impress us with sort of the possibilities with money in Hollywood. So they rented us this great big house in Loughlin Park. And we took the house. We had no intentions of actually having them manage us, but we used to take advantage of free lunches and whatever else we could get off these people. And I mean that with all due respect. Arnold and Randy are pretty well respected in the industry, but for us punks at the time, you know, we just sort of took advantage of whatever we could. But we knew who we liked and who we didn't like and, you know, taking advantage of this house was something that we did for selfish reasons but it had nothing to do with signing a long-term deal with Randy Phillips and Stiefel. So we were in this house and it didn't have any furniture and, you know, after a few months of living in there, it pretty much had become sort of a burned out shell of a house after all the partying and craziness that had gone on there.

So, one morning or early afternoon like hungover kind of thing, Izzy and Duff and myself were sitting in the living room and Axl was sitting upstairs in the bedroom. And I had this riff and it was just a succession, it was sort of kind of a pattern that's very much in my style to do. And I was formulating this rotation thing of this sort of melody. And so I was playing that and then Izzy started playing chords underneath it, and it started to sort of turn into something that sounded like a song. And so we were rehearsing in the Valley in Burbank, in this warehouse kind of place, and we went in there and Axl says, “Hey guys, play that riff you guys were playing at the house the other night”. We didn't know Axl was even listening. We had no idea that he'd heard what we were doing. And so we started playing it and he had come up with lyrics on this whole thing. And so that was really sort of the beginnings of Sweet Child of Mine. And, you know, I remember we wrote the entire song in one - as we always did, we wrote it in that one rehearsal session. And from there we ended up working with this guy, Spencer Proffer, who wanted to produce our record. And so we did some demos with him, which actually ended up being the flip side of the Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide EP. The live stuff that is in there is actually studio recordings with a live track put on it. And in those sessions we did Sweet Child of Mine and at that point we had a middle section that we didn't necessarily know where it was going and that's where the “where do we go now” part came from (laughs). Anyway, so that was really the origins of Sweet Child of Mine.

A Pure and Innocent Moment

Slash: Paradise City was a song that… we were as a band in a van with a manager named Bridget that we had. And we were heading up to San Francisco to play a date with a band called Jetboy at a club called The Stone in the city up north. And I don't know if it was on the way there or on the way back, but the beginnings of Paradise City came. And it was all of us together. I had an acoustic guitar and there was that chord changes which I had, and then there was the melody of, or the lyrics that Axl came up with, or something to that effect. But whatever it was, it was very much that kind of magic band moment where guys were all just sort of creating something out of thin air together. And it was a fun time, and that was the very beginning of that song. I think the chorus and the words and the melody all came from that van ride. And then we finished the song back in our... I'm trying to think where we were living right now at that time. But wherever it was, we finished the rest of the song there. But it was a magic moment where the whole band very naturally collaborated without any sort of outside kind of pressure or without anybody trying to get involved in what we were doing. Because as you get bigger down the line, there's always people sort of stepping in, trying to have some influence on what you're doing. So this was a very sort of pure and innocent moment, you know, that I feel like was recorded in that song.

Appetite for Destruction

Slash: So with the 30th anniversary having just come out, it's hard for me to really even look at the 30th anniversary and the sort of box set and all the sort of fanfare that goes with this moment in time, sort of looking at the band's history and whatnot. It just gets so surreal that I don't even really dwell on it. So the fact that it's been 30 years is something that you can say, but I don't really grasp it, you know? (laughs) But the one thing I can't help but recognize is just where the origins of the Appetite for Destruction record - I mean, I remember them very, very clearly, all the sort of different experiences that we were having, and where that music was coming from, and how sort of more or less that album sort of wrote itself. You know, we were all together all the time, and it was just very much a snapshot. Each song was a snapshot of whatever it was that Axl was going through and where the guys in the band were at, and it all came together. And so we were definitely the kind of band that always – you know, when we walked into a room, no matter who else was in the room, we always knew who we were and we were not scared of anything. We just sort of did what we did, and we didn't take any shit from anybody and we didn't let anybody try to tell us what to do or how to do it, and whatnot. And so that album was written and recorded in that spirit from all the way to the point of getting the album cover done and releasing it and so on. So we never catered to sort of the industry conventions or any of the kind of perks and stuff that people would offer us to sort of get us to go this way or go that way. You know, we've got great stories about people at the record company, David Geffen especially, trying to get us to edit songs for radio releases, and this and that and the other. And you know, we’d take, like I said, the free lunch or the free dinner, but we would never let anybody fuck with our shit.

But you know, that said, when it finally came out and we went out on tour with The Cult in 1987 going across Canada, we hadn't - I didn't have any vision of where it was gonna go long term at all. I mean, I thought at best we would have been, you know, sort of like a cult band with a decent sized following and we would just exist doing our own thing with that loyal following, and it would just go as long as it went. And we'd probably be dead before we were 30 anyway. And that was that. And so, you know, when 1989, 1990 rolled around and we went from being, you know, sort of an opening band for Aerosmith, and Motley Crue, and Alice Cooper, and all that into the sort of this headlining band. That in itself was a bit of a shock and very sort of surreal, and very hard to manage. And then, you know, it just went from there and it's become this really iconic record, which is a blessing for myself personally, just because to be involved with something that would stand the test of time to that extent and be a record, a hard rock record very commonly found in a lot of different people's record collection. You know, it's just... it's pretty fucking awesome. And touring on it now and playing those songs, every so often you have a flash of the moment that that song was written or when maybe the idea of the riff first sort of came to mind or maybe an incident in a club where you played it for the first time or whatever. So it does have a certain kind of sentimental thing that happens on and off during the set during certain songs, come and go. But yeah, I mean, 30 years and we're still out there playing it and people are still fucking losing their minds to Welcome to the Jungle every time we play it. It's definitely a trip.

Velvet Revolver

Slash: Velvet Revolver was something that came unexpectedly in roughly around 2002, where Duff and Matt and I got together with Josh Todd and Keith, whatever his last name is, and Steve Tyler and a couple other people for a benefit for Randy Castillo at Gazzarri's in Los Angeles - it's not called Gazzarri's anymore, it's called something else, but that same venue. And we got together for Randy Castillo, who had passed away, and it was a benefit concert for his family. And then Duff had called me the next day and said, “Man, that was such a blast. We should really do something”. And so we started working with the guys from Buckcherry, and then that didn't work out. And so we went into this whole thing of auditioning singers, and it became like a serious venture, we were going to put this band together. And then we ended up working with Scott Weiland and, you know, there's a lot of history there, but we put together Contraband, which was the first Velvet Revolver record.

And one of those songs was the song Slither, which was the band's first single. The single was big and the album went to number one, and it was a little bit of a crazy rollercoaster ride. Anyway, so all these years on, Slither's always been a sort of identifiable riff for me because it was one of those riffs that I brought to the band. So, you know, I play it in the Conspirators. But early on when Guns got back together, we were talking about different songs we might possibly do. And Slither's always been on the set list. We just never did it until this most recent European tour that we just did and Axl said, “Let's try that song”. And he just fell in love with the groove and the cadence of the verses and stuff. And so, yeah, it's funny. So it gets the second wind all these years later.

Solo Record

Slash: When Velvet Revolver… like when we sort of ended our relationship with Scott Weiland, and then we sort of half-heartedly went and auditioned a bunch of singers, you know, I just - definitely my heart wasn't into really continuing this thing. But we did it for… let's see, that was 2007, 2008. So we went down that road for a few months and worked on some new material, and worked with some good people and whatnot. But I just didn't feel like it was something that I wanted to continue pursuing. So I was like, I've got a completely open slate - and before Velvet Revolver started. The song Slither and Fall to Pieces, both those riffs were something I'd written for my own solo band that I was doing at the time. And then Velvet Revolver came along and so it sort of stopped that. And I just, you know, introduced those songs to Velvet Revolver. So in 2009, I was like, okay, I have a completely open slate. What do I want to do? So I decided I wanted to do a record where I would just write the material and have a bunch of different people sing it. Because I didn't want to sort of like try and start another band, and have to find a singer, and do that whole thing again. So I'd written and recorded a bunch of different musical ideas and then I sort of picked who I thought would be appropriate singers for each one of these songs and, you know, put a tape together and went to them and told them what I was doing, gave them the tape. And for the most part, it worked out with all the different singers. So I found Eric Valentine, told him what I was doing, and asked him if he wanted to produce the record. And we went on this little journey of recording the music, doing the arrangements, and at the same time writing with different singers. So I mean, songs like - well, working with Matt Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold was one situation where I had two parts, two major parts of the song, and the rest of it was wide open, and we really collaborated to put together this whole arrangement, and it was great. And then I had other guys like Lemmy, who I just had the entire song pretty much arranged, and he just wrote to that arrangement and stuff like that. So it was a lot of different scenarios, working with a lot of really great people, a lot of people that I'd admired and listened to for a long time, and a lot of people that I admired that I'd never even met before, but I just liked their voices. It was a really fun experience. And there was the 12 or 14 or 16 song original album, but then there was another version that came out with all the different people that I had worked with over the course of that whole creation of that album. So it ended up being like 30 songs or something. So that was a very positive experience.

But the best thing really that came out of it was, I had written two songs I had no idea who should sing them. And so I just kept putting them off to the side and pursuing the ones that I did know who was gonna sing them until I'd done the whole record and I was still faced with these two really cool pieces of music with no idea who should sing them. So I'd been hearing a lot about Myles Kennedy. Actually, he was one of the guys we almost auditioned for Velvet Revolver, funnily enough. And I talked to him on the phone and I sent him the demos, but he just never showed up. And so I'd sort of forgotten about it at that point. And then, fast forward to 2009, 2010, and Led Zeppelin, Jimmy and John Paul Jones had called him up and flown him out to England before some touring idea that they were going to do with Jason Bonham and, you know, obviously a singer, which never happened. And so when I heard that, I thought, this guy has to be really good. I've never heard Alter Bridge. I'd never heard him sing. So I called him up. I got his information and I called him up and I said, “Look, I'm doing this solo record with all these different people. Would you like to sing on something?” And so he said, “Yeah” and I emailed him a piece of music. And about a week later, I got the email back and I opened the attachment, and was sort of like a little trepidatious about even playing it, you know, because I didn't want to be disappointed. But I turned it on, it was this song called Starlight and it was really fucking good. So I sent it to Eric Valentine and I said, “Is it just me or is this really good?” Because I thought maybe I was just getting a little too anxious. But, you know, so he agreed. So we flew Myles out to L.A. and we met for the first time. And I took to Myles immediately and we recorded the studio version of that song and then he went back to Spokane where he's from. And then I thought, well maybe he could sing the other song, too. So I sent it to him and he recorded the vocals for Back from Cali at his house. And so I put those on the record and I thought, well now I've got this fucking great record with all these different songs on it but I've got a different singer on every song. How can I tour? I don't make records unless I'm planning on doing a tour. So I thought, well, who could sing all this stuff, plus Guns stuff and Velvet and Snakepit and whatnot? So I thought that guy Myles could do it. And I called him up, not expecting a positive answer because I knew he had his own band, his own schedule and priorities and shit, but I asked him if he wanted to do it and he said, “Yeah”. So that was the beginning of me working with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators and everything. So that was, you know, one of the real sort of positive things that came out of that first solo record.

Working with the Conspirators

Slash: The Conspirators consist of Myles Kennedy on vocals and then Brent Fitz on drums, Todd Kerns on bass, and Frank Sidoris on rhythm and lead guitar. And that's pretty much the original line up with the exception of Frank, because I had another lead guitar player, or another rhythm guitar player filling in on the tour for the Apocalyptic Love tour. And then when we did World on Fire, we let him go, and I auditioned different guitar players. And Todd and Brent knew this guy named Frank from Las Vegas. And so I auditioned all these different guitar players, and I also had Frank come in. And Frank was great and played killer guitar, had the perfect personality for it, and was good friends with Brent and Todd. And so we took him out on the road. And then on the Living the Dream record, it’s his debut recording with the band and he did a phenomenal job. I'm really proud of him. Because, you know, all things considered, to be able to come in and make up your own parts and do all that stuff, because I'm not going to sit there and tell him “play this” and “play that”, you have to just come up with your own shit (laughs). And he did an awesome job.

Apocalyptic Love

Slash: Yeah, well, I mean Apocalyptic Love was - you know, it was the first thing that we really recorded as a band together and we recorded it as live as possible. So we recorded all the tracks live, the rhythm guitars, the solo guitars, all that stuff, which was something that people just don't do, you know. So it was a fun experience, but there was a couple really great songs that are on that album. Standing in the Sun was one of them, which we mentioned earlier because there was an homage to it on the Driving Rain song. But I think it was the first single that we put out and still look at it as a really strong song. It's one of the major songs in our set. And then the other one was Anastasia, which was never really released as a single, but is definitely the fan favorite for that album. Well, Anastasia, a lot of people thought it was maybe a Bach guitar piece or something that I had gotten the melody from, but it wasn't lifted from any particular piece of classical music. But it does have that influence. So it was a certain kind of melody that is very reminiscent of the kind of patterns that they play in classical music. And then the intro to the song was finger-picked on a flamenco guitar. So that's where the sort of classical sound of it comes from and the sort of classical influence.

World on Fire

Slash: World on Fire was a really good next step from Apocalyptic Love. It really showed that the band sort of didn't – I mean, because when it came together, it had a very natural synergy and the guys in the band, all of us together from the get-go, had a certain kind of chemistry. So when we did Apocalyptic Love, you know, the next record is the one that shows whether you either peaked at that point, or if it's going to start going downwards, or if it's going to start going forward. So I think World on Fire was really good, very indicative of a band that is getting better and better. I mean, the title track, World on Fire, is probably one of my favorite songs, looking back on it, on that record, because it was just so high energy and the style of that song and Myles' lyrics. So that was pretty cool.

Knowledge and Experience

Slash: The biggest difference between myself as a guitar player now and when I first started is obviously knowledge and experience. Because that's such a broad concept, you know, the stuff that you learn how to do as you just practice and practice, and because I'm the kind of person that rather than just sit around and practice, I play live as much as possible. So you learn so much about the guitar and you listen to other guys play, you know, and so it's really from a lot of experience you just sort of blossom in the amount of things you are able to do.  And then you also start to maybe mature as a player. You know, god knows, I don't know how old I'll be before I learn how to just play less (laughs). I mean, it's just one of those things, the guitar is a never-ending journey, so you're constantly thinking of things or finding things that you want to do and aspire to, and you just sort of, you know, go that direction and see where you end up. So, you know, as a young guitar player I loved what that was all about when you first start playing, because if you have it in your soul to be able to put those notes together and say something meaningful, you do it in such a naive way that you can never go back and be the guitar player you were in the first year or two that you first started playing. And some of that stuff is so sort of innocent and visceral, you know? And so you're hoping that when you're 20 years or 30 years down the line that you're playing with that same kind of passion and sort of hunger, but you also have this sort of knowledge of all these different things that you've picked up along the way and you're still growing. So it's hard to compare yourself to when you first started, but a lot of that for me seems like it's still the same. It's just I picked up a lot of things along the way.

Thank You for Listening

Slash: So, I'm Slash signing off. Thanks for listening to roughly about an hour of me rambling on about various subjects. Hope you're going to be listening to all the music and the Living the Dream record is out now. So thank you for listening to Metal Talks.
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