Thursday, September 9, 2010
Slash: " It’s a Relief ..."
Whether you experienced “Paradise City” for the first time back when it was common practice to record videos from MuchMusic onto VHS, or whether you heard it through Guitar Hero, there’s not much preamble needed to introduce the name Slash. I feel genuinely sorry, however, for anyone whose knowledge of Guns N’ Roses began during the bloated “November Rain” era of epic music videos, or worse, who didn’t even hear GN’R until sometime in the many, many years since the band proper ceased to exist.
While the continued existence of “Guns N’ Roses” (a.k.a. Axl’s Roses) is little more than a punchline, Slash has remained an unparalleled axeman and, surprisingly, has come out the other end of his long, chemical-abusing tunnel as an articulate and perceptive commentator on the rock ’n’ roll experience. His 2007 autobiography is one of the great books on the subject.
EYE WEEKLY had the honour of speaking with Slash on the line from his home in LA (and yes, my 13-year-old self was im-fucking-pressed) about his star-studded, self-titled solo album — the impetus for this tour — his former bandmates and the wisdom of HST.
You had a fitting Twitter post the other day, quoting Hunter S. Thompson’s line: “The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” Are you a fan?
I quote Hunter every so often. I’ve always loved Hunter S. Thompson. I was influenced a lot by all the wacky edgy, rock ’n’ roll personalities that have been around over the years — and he’s definitely one of them.
You just got back from Australia, right? How have the shows been going?
Awesome. The guys are so good that I can just play and not worry about keeping it all together. They all really carry their own weight and everybody loves what they’re doing. It’s a relief to be in a situation where I don’t have at least one guy in the band who’s a complete basket case.
I assume you’re talking about the Velvet Revolver experience with Scott Weiland.
Uhh, maybe…. [nervous laughter]. There always seems to be one guy who’s just disconnected from the trajectory of the group.
That’s a polite way of putting it. Do you think the improvement is a case of you being in charge of the band?
I wouldn’t go so far as to say all that. I’m not really the in-charge guy. [The musicians know] it’s my gig, and that I put it together and blah blah blah. But everybody’s there to have a good time and I don’t have to be the dictator, so I think it really is just one of those circumstances where I’ve been fortunate this time around.
The mix of people playing on the record is pretty eclectic, from Fergie to Ozzy to Iggy, and I’m assuming it could have been a scheduling nightmare. But you furthered the potential complication by having everyone come into the studio. Was it essential to have people come in and do it with you rather than just email tracks back and forth?
It never occurred to me to do it any other way. I think probably because I come from an old-school recording background — I hate to call it old-school, but it’s been a while since people made records on two-inch tape and everybody played live in the studio. So, when I was making this record, I automatically wanted to go back to doing it the old-school way.
What was it like playing with ex-GN’R rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin again?
Great. I hadn’t seen Izzy probably in a couple of years at that point, and he just rolled in like he always does. He got there before me, and basically had his track down by the time I got there. He’s always a no-frills, quick application [kind of guy]. And then we just hung out for a while and shot the shit — we have such a history that it’s like a couple of war veterans getting together.
You recently tweeted about your GN’R bandmate Steven Adler’s just-released autobiography. Were you supportive of him writing it?
Yeah. I’ve been really sort of hands-on supportive of Steven ever since we dragged him out of that shell of a place where he was living in Vegas a few years ago. He was really on his last leg in this burned-out house, and he really didn’t look like he had much time left on the ticker. I had to get him out of there and into rehab. And it was a long and complicated journey, but he finally did get it and hold on to sobriety, or whatever you want to call it, and he turned his life around. So I’ve been there through the rehabilitation of Stevie.
Have you read the book yet?
No, I haven’t; I’ve been with him through the whole process of writing it. I plan on reading it on the bus coming up. Every time I start to read it, Steven tells me, “It’s really dark.” I’m like, I know, I was there.
posted 9:22 AM