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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.


2024.06.DD - Blues In Britain - Slash: The Wild & The Damned

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2024.06.DD - Blues In Britain - Slash: The Wild & The Damned Empty 2024.06.DD - Blues In Britain - Slash: The Wild & The Damned

Post by Blackstar Tue Jun 11, 2024 12:38 am

The Wild & The Damned

Slash, probably the most recognisable hard rock icon and guitar hero in the world today, has feet firmly planted in the blues world. Orgy Of The Damned, a celebratory album with a selection of A-list guest singers including Billy F. Gibbons, Paul Rodgers, Gary Clark Jr, Beth Hart and Brian Johnson proves just that. The man in the top hat is on tour with his solo band, featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, when Blues In Britain's resident rocker Liz Medhurst catches him on the phone from Brno in the Czech Republic, on what he describes as "a pseudo day off”.

It’s good to see you reunited with your friends and colleagues from Slash’s Blues Ball, Johnny Griparic and Teddy Andreadis. Whose idea was it to do the album?

It’s something I always wanted to do when we played together back in the nineties, and I thought one of these days I would love to record this. Because it was just a fun thing I was doing, not really to be taken that seriously, more pressing things took precedence over the last thirty years. On the last Guns N’ Roses tour, I had a couple of weeks off between legs and I thought, I'm gonna do that record now, it's been in the back of my mind snaking its way to the floor. So I called Teddy and Johnny who I've been in touch with this whole time. We had a set list from 1998 so I picked some songs off of that and some new songs that I've always wanted to do. Then I decided instead of doing it the way that we used to, with Ted singing, let’s have guest singers do it because I really didn’t want it to be considered like me doing a traditional blues record. I think that's a little corny like, ‘hey, guys, I'm doing a blues record now!'- like I'm jumping on the bandwagon with all these other guys that have been doing it for years.

How did you choose the songs to include and work out their arrangements?

Johnny and Teddy play in blues bands for a living. That’s what they do, so they know all these songs backwards and forwards. I wanted to keep the integrity of the hook and keep the melody intact so that you knew what it was. I didn’t want to disrespect the material, but I didn't stick to the format as far as arrangements go, I felt like I had the freedom to be able to change things. When we did ‘Stormy Monday', Beth Hart had the idea of doing the whole song in a minor key instead of major, which was a killer f**king idea. So we transposed it into a minor key and then Ted had the idea of flipping it back into a major at the end, which was equally as good an idea. That’s a special take, because we did the whole thing live in the studio together, but only two vocals were done with us in the studio and one of them was Beth. And that was the only take of that song we did. We were gonna run through the song one time before she sang, but soon as she heard us go into it, she just jumped on the vocal and I'm sitting there looking at the other guys trying to figure out to make sure we’re all playing in the right changes and everything. She starts singing her ass off, and she had just come in from Jeff Beck's memorial so she was pretty raw to begin with, and she just came in and belted this thing out with such ferocity that when she was done, she collapsed on the floor and that was it for her for the day. There was no getting a second take after that!

Did you try any other songs that didn’t make the cut because it just wasn’t happening, or for space?

Well, there's definitely songs that were in our repertoire from back in the Blues Ball days that I didn’t want to do because there’s a gazillion blues tracks out there that are pretty familiar to most people, they’ve been done too many times and they're too predictable. ‘Superstition' by Stevie Wonder was one of those songs that we decided not to do, and we ended up doing ‘Living For The City’ instead, which was my favourite song of his. I'm a huge B.B. King fan and we used to do a great version of ‘The Thrill Is Gone', but I didn't want to do that because that's another standard that is just so predictable and there's a fine line between doing what's popular and doing what's just cliché.

There are some real surprises in the performances: when I first heard ‘The Killing Floor’, I didn’t recognize that as being Brian Johnson straight away -

We don’t usually hear him sing in that manner, he really relished doing that song. When I brought Howlin’ Wolf up to him, he was so excited, he naturally wanted to do it in the range that the original was, and it just sounded great. There was no need to try and “AC/DC it up", it’s unique for people to hear him sing like that. Brian's got really classic roots, a great wealth of musical knowledge going way back. It was great hanging out with him, getting to hear where he comes from as an artist.

And of course it was wonderful to hear Paul Rodgers back in the game and singing wonderfully -

Paul is the prince, isn’t he? One of the ultimate British blues rock singers of all time. Fortunately, he took me under his wing back in the nineties and had me play on a couple things that he did and we got on really well and played together live many times. ‘Born Under A Bad Sign' is one of those songs that teeters on the edge of being cliché because it’s been done a lot, but I love that riff and I’ve always wanted to do it and I was like, f**k it, I'm gonna do it regardless. I called Paul because I just couldn’t imagine anybody else singing it and I was honoured that he took the time to do it and it's a sublime vocal, so perfect.

What about for you? Was there a particular favourite for you to play, any standout track?

That's one of the reasons I picked the songs that I did, because they all have a special thing for me, all uniquely different. So I can't say I'm partial to one in particular. We did ‘Key To The Highway’ and I had Dorothy on it and she’s f* *king great. I always wanted to work with her and I've never even met her before, but I cold-called her and said, ‘Hey, I'm a big fan of yours'. This was the staple Blues Ball song from the ‘90s when I first started jamming with these guys, the song that I really remember doing every night, so that was a sentimental thing for me. I love being able to do ‘Papa Was A Rollin' Stone', which we did in another incarnation of Snakepit where I had Johnny on bass - we used to play it live and we had Rod Jackson who did a killer interpretation of The Temptations vocal for that song. When it came to this record, I didn't want to try and sound so much like The Temptations, it always felt weird to me that adult guys would be singing to their mom, so it made sense back then, but redoing the song, I thought it would be way more poignant if there was a young girl asking her mom about her infamous late father. I automatically called Demi [Lovato], who I’ve known for a little while. She jumped at the idea of doing it, it really meant something to her. If that happens then you're halfway there because you're going to get a sincere vocal from the heart and that's where we were with Demi. She sang her ass off and it worked out really well.

You’ve done so many gigs, played with absolutely everybody and in many different bands, but the question has to be asked: what was it like playing with B.B. King at the Royal Albert Hall?

Wow, what a huge honour that was. B.B. is my all-time favourite blues guitar player, the one that I really relate to melodically out of all the different guys. He was the one that spoke to me early on, we had met a couple times and I've actually jammed with him once before. It helped break the ice for that Royal Albert Hall appearance because I was petrified. He was such a gracious individual and he'd always been so sweet to me for some reason, always appreciated my guitar playing. God knows I'm one of those kids that plays guitar and he’s played around the best guitar players his whole career, so he's being very generous with that. It was nice to be up there with him and he made me feel very at home up there. I won’t even listen to what I played on that because I was so nervous, I know I didn’t play for shit, so every time I see that video on Instagram or something, I don't even listen to it.

Later this summer you’re launching the S.E.R.P.E.N.T. Festival, a one-day blues extravaganza with an all-star line-up performing across 24 dates in the U.S. Tell me more about that -

It's the band that's on this record - Tash Neal, Johnny Griparic, Teddy Andreadis, Michael Jerome Moore and myself - and then the other bands are playing, so there’s six bands per show and it changes up. You’ve got Keb’ ‘Mo and Samantha Fish, you've got Warren Haynes and Eric Gales and different configurations any given night, depending on how it's arranged. I'm sure there'll be some jamming too. This is really exciting because it's gonna be a great outlet for me to go out and be able to do this kind of stuff every night for a couple of months, playing with all these really great blues artists. We’re giving back to the charity, so there's a great communal vibe of bringing people together and trying to contribute in some fashion, the whole thing is in good spirit and I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited by the fact that there’s stuff I can put together that I have never done before and just go out and wing it and see what happens because that’s how my whole career has been anyway!

Liz Medhurst
Orgy Of The Damned is out now on Gibson Records

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