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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.


2024.04.04 - Blues Matters - Orgasmic Blues (Slash)

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2024.04.04 - Blues Matters - Orgasmic Blues (Slash) Empty 2024.04.04 - Blues Matters - Orgasmic Blues (Slash)

Post by Blackstar Sat Apr 06, 2024 3:36 pm


By Paul Davies  
Photo: Gene Kirkland

He’s the top hat, aviator shades, low slung guitar wearing lead guitarist of Hard Rock behemoths, Guns N’ Roses, whose unmistakeable guitar riffs have helped to shape modern rock music. However, behind all this loud and heavy sonic attack, Slash possesses a true love of the blues with his all-star cast release, Orgy Of The Damned, coming across as his love letter to the Blues:

"I hadn’t thought of it that way,” he chuckles. "It was just something that I’ve wanted to do for a while... record some Blues covers with guys that I actually used to play with a longtime ago in a blues cover band back in the late 90s,” he reflects. "I always said that I wanted to record that, and I’ve been so busy with so many other things for all this time. Then suddenly, in between legs on the Guns N’ Roses tour, I thought 'I'm going to make that record now and I called all those guys up and we put it together. It was impromptu, very casual and fun.”

Slash hooked up with former fellow 'Blues Ball’ band members Johnny Griparic (bass) and Teddy Andreadis (keys), plus Michael Jerome (drums) and Tash Neal (guitars/vox) and jammed up the dozen song selections in North Hollywood. They then recorded the instrumental tracks over a week in spring 2023 at East West Studios and at his Snakepit Studio in LA with producer Mike Clink. The tight but loose feel of the backing tracks enabled the singers to do their thing as Slash takes up the story:

"A couple of them were there at the studio when we did the record. For the rest of them, I would have to go out to wherever they were, find a studio in that town and go in and record their vocals over the tracks.” I enquire about his process of selecting singers: "It was pretty much the same as it was when I did the solo record with all the different singers in 2010,” he affirms. "You have the song and think who would be great to do this song. I was very fortunate. I picked the right people, and they all had a close connection with each proposed track, and it went really well. It was actually very easy.”

Slash further explains what Blues music means to him: “I got turned on to the blues really young. I had no aspirations to pick up the guitar back then”, he declares. "I was always drawn to it even though the direction that I chose to go in as a guitar player was very much hard rock, high energy but firmly rooted in Blues guitar stylings. When I first picked up the guitar it was at the explosion of the whole finger tapping and guitar pyrotechnics era. But my influences were all from way back to those kind of guitar roots even though Guns N’ Roses are a hard rock band, it’s still sort of bluesy,” he states. "Anyhow, when I first picked up the guitar, the blues licks were the first I learned how to play.” He was raised on a diet of classic Blues based guitarists: "When I first picked up the guitar, it was primarily the British Blues guitar and rock players: Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Mick Taylor, Keith Richards... but in learning their stuff it turned out that their whole thing was lifted from all these older blues players I found when I was hanging out with my grandmother: BB King, Albert King, Robert Johnson, Little Walter and Lightnin' Hopkins and it took me full circle. It’s been an interesting journey,” he proclaims.

Slash pairs up with former Free/Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers on Albert King’s Born Under A Bad Sign: "I've actually known Paul a long time and worked with him and, as soon as I knew that I was going to do this record, Paul came immediately to mind. I think he was probably one of the first people I thought of. I wanted to do Born Under A Bad Sign and automatically thought I wanted him to do it, and he did a beautiful version of it. Simple.” He furthers: "I was always influenced by Paul Kossoff and I think that was one of the first things Paul Rodgers recognised when I first worked with him.”

Surely, even a musician of Slash’s stature has to pinch himself sometimes with the players involved on Orgy Of The Damned: "It's such an honour and so humbling to be able to work with all of them, but especially the ones that I have been listening to since I was a kid. They have been part of the fabric of my music existence ever since I can remember; to be able to get them to work with me on something is fucking awesome."

The album opens with Steppenwolf’s, The Pusher. It's a track that Slash played in his ‘Blues Ball’ band and is given a slinky blues feel over which there's an out of this world vocal by The Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson as Slash tells me: "He actually blew my mind when he came in and did that. He only ran through the song twice and he did two different kinds of versions of it and that’s one of them. He played the harp solo live, both vocal and that solo, he was magic.” There's a myriad of magical moments throughout the recording including a Blues Matters favourite Beth Hart on Stormy Monday: "She came in and that was just a rehearsal take,” he reveals. "She's just singing the shit out of it in that one take, and she was done for the day. It was so intense. There was no cause to revisit it. We were playing it for the first time in the studio since we left rehearsal just feeling it out. She came in, sang it and off we went. That’s a very cool, spontaneous one.”

Further spellbinding instances include erstwhile Stooge Iggy Pop’s menacing growl on Lightnin' Hopkins' Awful Dream: "That was the one song on the record that was chosen by the singer. I hadn't planned on doing anything with Iggy,” he declares. "But I’d heard that he had always wanted to do a Blues thing. I didn’t know that and called him up and asked him if he were to choose a track to do which would he do? Awful Dream was his reply." He discloses more: "I listened to the original Lightnin’ Hopkins version and it's a real rough throw together outtake. I got the basic idea, and didn’t really learn it, I sort of got the idea and went into my LA studio with Iggy. We sat on a couple of stools and did it just live like that. He was fucking great and his mimicking the harp solo at the end is brilliant."

I ask Slash if it was his choice to cover Howlin’ Wolf’s Killing Floor with AC/DC’s Brian Johnson: “That was my choice, but he’s very much influenced by Howlin' Wolf and loved the idea of doing the song. It was a great outlet for him, and he relished doing it. That was a fun session,” he confirms.” ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons also got in on this act after some convincing by Slash: "Billy and I have been tight for a long time, and he was funny because I told him I was going to do this version of Hoochie Coochie Man. I asked him if he would play on it. In the beginning he wasn’t so sure because he didn't know if I was going to bastardise the song. He didn’t know what the hell it was going be.” He furthers: "I finally did a demo of it for him, and I was persistent. He heard it and liked it and did an amazing vocal. I can’t imagine anybody else doing that vocal and he put a great guitar solo on it."

One of the many highlights is hearing a couple of artists recording tunes that are way out of their comfort zone such as Demi Lovato on Papa Was A Rolling Stone as Slash takes up the story: “That was the whole reason for asking her to do it. I wanted to get this young female voice to tell this story about the late and estranged infamous father and she just came to mind. I know her so I could easily approach her about it. It clicked right away when I brought the song up. She knew the song, and related to it on a personal level, and came in and just put her heart and soul into it." It is a dynamite version as is Country star Chris Stapleton performing on Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac's Oh, Well:

"I’ve noodled that riff around for years, for decades, but I've never really played it from one end to the other with any band that I’ve been with,” he admits. "So, it was great to take that on and do it. Chris doing it was an eleventh-hour idea that I had. I was familiar with Chris because he and his band opened for Guns N’ Roses on some shows, and he's just phenomenal. So, that was always in the back of my head to put that song together and Chris’s drawl is amazing on it.”

He tells me more: "We didn't know each other, and he was one of the few people that I hadn’t met before. I got his number and cold called him, and he was gracious and generous about the whole thing. At one point, we had a session and then he got sick, and he couldn't do it. We made sure that he came back around and got it done.”

A couple of decades sober has transformed Slash into a workaholic: "I’m not really good at sitting around,” he confesses. “My problem before was that in between tours I just didn’t know what to do with my time. I like to stay active.” As further proof of this, and his altruistic nature, he has organised the upcoming SERPENT Blues tour in the States with Keb Mo, Beth Hart, Kingfish, Samantha Fish, Warren Haynes and more... back to the present and Orgy Of The Damned is being released on the newly established Gibson Records label which is something of a first for both artist and label as he says:

"I’ve been on my own label since 2010. I went to different distributors to make deals for the global release of this record, and Gibson came up and said that they were putting together a label and would I be interested in doing this record with them? Which turned out to be very perfect without any issues. It's been great partnering with them. It’s not a corporate thing. That’s one of the reasons I don’t like using regular labels.”

"Gibson is rooted in music, and we’re partners on this." That puts the top hat on this beautifully tailored love letter to the Blues that first inspired this singular artist to play his way to the stars.

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