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SoulMonster
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

2024.05.20 - Libération - Slash, back in black

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2024.05.20 - Libération - Slash, back in black Empty 2024.05.20 - Libération - Slash, back in black

Post by Blackstar Sun 26 May 2024 - 4:04

Original article in French:
https://www.liberation.fr/portraits/slash-back-in-black-20240520_VEIJJEOC6BBDJGEVMIPJYPTF3I/

Translation:
___________

Portrait
Slash, back in black


The legendary Guns N'Roses guitarist is back with a blues album that takes him back - unintentionally? - to his African-American roots.

By Guillaume Gendron

"SLASH on promo in Paris at the end of April for his blues album." The e-mail flashed on a rainy March morning. Five capital letters, an electric shock to a jaded heart. The greasy-fringed teenager who'd fallen asleep under the poster of the shirtless icon, with his top hat and his golden Gibson Les Paul, was back. A quarter of a century later, the eternal pistolero of hard glam is just a click away on "Reply to". With one condition: "Please come back to me if you'd like to meet him to talk only about this blues album and the influence this music has had on him. So we'll avoid anything to do with Guns N' Roses, etc. PS: he won't be playing guitar."

A month later, in the labyrinth of staircases of a Parisian luxury place, we're gambling. Nothing about Guns, the electric quintet who, at the turn of the '80s and '90s, ruled over a sunken world of bandanas and pins emblazoned with the rose and the pistol. Nothing, then, about that handful of albums reeking of leather and stupor, sold by the millions, those stadiums transformed into riotous volcanoes. Nothing, either, about Axl Rose, fiery-haired alter ego and sworn enemy in tight shorts. The two are back together, at least as colleagues, since the hyper-lucrative reformation of the quasi-original group in 2016 threw them on the road, as long as there are alimony payments to be made. That leaves "The Blues Album". What can we say? It's Slash jamming out speeded-up standards with some buddies in his garage. Except that the buddies in question are called Iggy Pop or Brian Johnson, lead singer of AC/DC. Among others.

Here we are in the "showroom", a sort of VIP loft with subdued lighting and walls covered with gleaming six-strings. Sitting back in an armchair, Slash. Exactly what you'd expect. "Straight from the flight case", the publicist greedily warned. The 58-year-old soloist wears a pair of aviator mirrors like a Malibu cop, framed by a thick black head of hair held back by a soft cap; a "Snake Farm" T-shirt (the man is a reptile collector); a nostril piercing and rings on each finger. Faded tattoos stretch across his body-built biceps. From needles to barbells, one addiction chases another. A tea brews. No more Jack Daniel's at his feet. The guitarist, whose doctors presented him with the bill for his excesses at the age of 35 (he now runs on batteries, pacemaker permitting), has been sober for twenty years. Ice-breaking platitude: "This room is sick...". Slash coughs. " Yeah. That acoustic one's my favorite." He reaches out - shuddering - but the neck is locked to the wall hook. The postscript was right.

Saul Hudson, real name, was born in London in 1965, grew up for a few years in Stoke-on-Trent, the sleepy capital of British pottery (Limoges, that is), before moving to the canyons of hippie California. His father was a flighty, tortured, Jewish English graphic designer. His mother, a renowned African-American stylist, used to dress Diana Ross and Ringo Starr - she was also Bowie's lover. "I'm a product of my time... This kind of couple simply didn't exist before. But it was the Sixties, people were adventurous..." His parents were very busy, and Slash was entrusted to the care of his black grandmother, a pianist in her own right, who placed in the hands of the turbulent teenager a worn-out acoustic guitar with only one string left. The original legend would make Slash the most influential Afro guitar hero since Jimi Hendrix. Like Jimi Hendrix, Slash has never brandished his mixed-race identity as a standard, even when Axl Rose was humming his hatred of "niggers". In his bio, a few lines refer to the "hyper white (sic)" metal scene of the '80s and the looks that were heavy with meaning. In the clubs, his hair on his face, his fair skin and the smoke of Gitanes served as a shield. Neither black nor white, just Slash. It's no coincidence that he's featured on Michael Jackson's Black or White manifesto.

This brings us back to the only authorized subject of the interview, the famous "blues album". Almost all the tracks are covers of black bluesmen - there's even a soul track, the Temptations' well-worn Papa Was a Rolling Stone. And then there's that album cover, a pastiche of Marvin Gaye's Hot and Sweaty, with its racialized bodies in trance... Could Slash have unconsciously released his first black album, but not in the way Metallica imagined? "Oh. That's probably the most interesting question I've had in ages," he says, baffled. But there's no question of opening the floodgates. While he confesses to having experienced "racist stuff at school, because I was different, in every sense of the word", he has never categorized music by color, unlike the entire American music industry since its inception. "But the blues, it's clear, comes from my mother's side. When I showed the album cover to a friend, he said, "What's all this ethnic stuff here?" I didn't realize it..."

A firm believer in feeling ("psychoanalysis pisses me off to no end"), Slash hates pontificating. Even more so if the background is political. His version of the blues, chromatic and noisy - he calls it "primal and sexy" - has more to do with the Harley than the cattle car, the saloon than the cotton field. Which doesn't stop him from claiming an influence a world away from maned hardos: B.B. King and his somnolent solos. "What I liked was that he had a personality. Nobody cares how fast you can play, as long as you sound..." The two guitarists rubbed shoulders on stage. "I don't remember the first time. Too drunk. The '90s are a big blur..."

Slash is now a sort of plush toy from that decade, to be trotted out here and there, as he was with Ryan Gosling at the Oscars in March. The rocker appeared on stage at the Kodak Theatre, ejaculating his saturated pentatonics on the finale of I'm Just Ken, an ironic hymn to patriarchy taken from the Barbie gigacarton... "I was on tour in Asia, and it was Ryan who insisted on sending a plane to pick me up. The guys had been working on the choreography for weeks, and all I had was the sound check. I was like a jackrabbit in the headlights..." The nasty tongues say that it showed. And what about being a walking symbol, Ken guitar-style? "It's always complicated for me to talk about that. The image I project, the top hat, all that... it's never been calculated."

Slash is just a multi-millionaire in his fifties, with two young sons barely of age and a childhood sweetheart back in his life, who relaxes by producing budget horror films. His Instagram account is a dumping ground for morbid snapshots and gravelly montages - a ghost train with porn posters. A few months ago, a photo of him sitting idly in a fast-food restaurant went viral: "This guy just dropped a $200 tip at the Waffle House!" No one recognized him without his famous headgear. And therein lies the usefulness of the thing: once removed, it's invisible. "I don't wear my hat to go shopping, you know. Except on stage, I try not to be that guy. I couldn't stand it..." Not so much a fear of the dark as a search for the shadow.

July 23, 1965 Born in London.

1985 Guns N' Roses formed in Los Angeles.

2024 Orgy of the Damned (Gibson Records).
Blackstar
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