Wednesday, November 18, 2009

LAYN Rocks

In this exclusive interview, Slash talks to editor Rick Florino about LAYN Rocks this Sunday, his upcoming solo record and Marty Scorsese ...

Slash is the rock n' roll equivalent of Martin Scorsese.

While maintaining a classic sensibility, he injects true grit and passion into each and every composition, just like Marty. Appetite for Destruction was Slash's Taxi Driver — a raw and primal piece of cathartic art. In the same vein, Contraband was his Casino — a sprawling epic collaboration by genre titans.

In between laying down tracks for his forthcoming Slash & Friends solo debut, the legendary guitarist is focused on giving back—much like our favorite filmmaker ...

This Sunday November 22nd at Avalon in Hollywood, Slash & Friends will play a benefit show for Los Angeles Youth Network [LAYN], an organization aiming to end homelessness among kids. Some of those "super friends" appearing at LAYN Rocks include Ozzy Osbourne, Perry Farrell, Billy Idol, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park & Dead By Sunrise, Travis Barker, Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother, Dave Navarro and a few surprise guests. Plus, Mr. George Lopez will be MC-ing.

It doesn't get anymore rock n' roll than that, and this is bound to be an unforgettable evening.

How did LAYN Rocks come together?

My wife, Perla, and I support LAYN. She's actually on the board. We're trying to raise money to keep it going, and we've been doing these Slash & Friends gigs recently. Basically, we get a bunch of people together and put on a concert. Perla had asked me if I'd be interested in doing it to support LAYN, and I was fully into it! This will actually be the first Slash & Friends gig I've done in Los Angeles. Basically, I wanted to put together something that would be a really big blowout, and that's what we've done! We've got all these different artists, and it should be an amazing event.

Does performing on stage with other musicians tend to breed studio collaborations later on for something like your solo record?

No, this show actually has nothing to do with my solo album. One doesn't feed the other. However, having done a couple gigs with Chester Bennington makes me think about him if I'm writing a song. If there's a song that's right for Chester, I'll be like, "I've jammed with him, he would be perfect for this!" Performing together on stage inadvertently fuels future collaborations. The correlation isn't totally direct though. But, if there was an idea, we may come back to it. The more people you know that are singers and musicians, the bigger pool you have to pull from when you want to do some sort of collaboration.

Andrew Stockdale's playing with you on Sunday. Are you going to do your song together?

We're talking about it [Laughs]. That seems to be the plan. That's a cool thing too. There's a song that I recorded with Ozzy, but we're not going to have a chance to learn it. I've actually done two songs on the record with two of these guys performing at LAYN Rocks.

When you play a benefit like this, is it more special than a regular gig in some aspects?

It is special! There's something about it. It's a one-night event. It's not totally self-centered — which is how a concert usually is [Laughs]. Everybody is hanging out and having a good time. There's no pressure. You don't feel the pressure of having to be "The Headliner" and having an entire set to put together. People can leave all of those concerns at home and simply get up and jam. Because everybody is a pro, the jams are really good [Laughs]. The audience has no idea what they're in for because most of them have never seen anything like it. It turns out to be a really exciting event for everybody involved. It's a lot of fun.

The energy in the room must be particularly palpable because everyone is playing for the same goal — even though you're all from different bands.

Exactly! There's definitely a feeling of camaraderie and a feeling of giving and caring as well. It's really cool.

Do you have anymore of these benefits planned?

This is the only one that I've got going on. After Sunday, the holidays are coming, I've got a record coming out and all of this other stuff happening. One thing I've got to tell you — you lose a lot of sleep trying to get these things together [Laughs].

Well, the lineup looks legendary enough to be worth the sleep deprivation.

[Laughs] Musicians are coming from all different directions. We'll all convene over the weekend and rehearse. Then we'll put it together on Sunday and see how it goes. It should be a lot of fun! I've worked with pretty much everybody on the bill. I've never played with Travis Barker before, which is going to be cool. I've never worked with Andrew Stockdale outside of the studio, but he's a great guy. I've played with Chester, Dave Navarro, Billy Idol, Perry Farrell and Ozzy live before. Having all of these amazing get together is incredible. For me, to be on stage the whole night while they walk up is huge.

There's a '70s vibe to the whole event. It's very classic. In many ways, you're like a filmmaker from that particular renaissance. You're like the Scorsese of the guitar! There's an outlaw vibe but an epic sense of refinement ...

[Laughs] That's a huge compliment! I love Scorsese! I was obviously raised in the '70s, and I come from the outlaw rock n' roll background as far as who I was raised with, what my parents were all about, what kind of music I listened to and so on. I would imagine I've gotten some influence from that which has spilled over into what I've been doing since I picked up a guitar. I like that old, '70s vibe where people just get together and jam for the sake of making music as opposed to everything being the way things are today. Now it's money-driven, image-driven and that corporate sort of thing. It's nice to be able to make a minute and do something that has nothing to do with any outside interests except for jamming — especially if you're doing it for a cause.

Is that vibe spilling over into your solo material?

The solo stuff is really cool because it does have a similar vibe. It wasn't created for any kind of cause, benefit, fundraising or anything like that but, at the same time, there's something to it. The last couple bands I've been in — Velvet Revolver, Guns N' Roses and even Snakepit — there were so many concerns coming from the record company about so many different things. The pressure can be a little bit of a drag at times especially if you've got ego problems within the band. That's what being in a rock n' roll band can be about. I wanted to do a solo record so I could do something that I'd dictate myself and would be my responsibility. Whether it sinks or swims is all up to me. To get a bunch of people together who I think are really talented and have them sing is amazing. The singers were all great because they didn't have to worry about pressures from their record labels about whether or not the song was going to be a huge hit single. I got amazing performances because the whole thing was so laidback. That's one of the similarities between my record and this concert that we're doing on Sunday. It's really done for the pure joy of it, as opposed to trying to prove something, trying to sell a certain number of copies or whatever it is that motivates everybody these days [Laughs]. [ARTIST direct]

Sunday, November 22, 2009
8 PM - 11 PM
The Avalon, Hollywood CA


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Anonymous said...

Dude, i do love slash, but to compare him to martin scorsese is a TAD excessive. And comparing Casino with Contraband is clearly an excess!
That being said, great that slash is involved with fund raising. During the appetite/UYI years, Gn'R did what in that regard? Civil Warm, Farm Aid and Freddy Mercury Tribute and that was it...not a band that u'd recall for good film taste or support to NGO's.

Mack Arillo said...

I think the Scorsese comparison is a bit over-the-top.

Slash is more like Tarantino - he blew us all away when he first appeared on the scene, and hasn't done much worth writing home about in since the mid-1990s.