By Carol Anne Szel — Slash is one of the few people in the world that is known by his first name alone. Cher, Madonna, Prince, Bono. Identifiable. Famous. Unique. Slash.
With the release of his first solo album titled "Slash" on Roadrunner Records, this former Guns n' Roses guitarist and co-leader has gathered some of the world's top singers to make this one of the most talent-rich musical offerings in years.
Fergie, Ozzy, Chris Cornell, Iggy Pop, Kid Rock, Cypress Hill, Adam Levine, Ian Astbury, and Dave Grohl are just a few of the vocalists that sing tunes, including a duet by Fergie and Cypress Hill of Slash's infamous Gn'R tune "Paradise City."
Slash, who was born in England and raised in Los Angeles, rose to worldwide acclaim as guitarist with Guns n' Roses in the 1980s with records topping 30 million in sales. Guns n' Roses had hit after hit with singles like the iconic "Welcome To The Jungle," the poignant "Sweet Child o' Mine" and of course "Paradise City." Touring the world in stadiums to throngs of rabid crowds, the legend of GNR and its inner turmoil are well documented as one of the great urban legends in hard rock.
Since the bands slow demise in the late 90s, Slash has never slowed down. From his first post-GNR band Snakepit through his band Velvet Revolver, Slash has never been shy to jump in on big musicians gigging or doing charity benefits along the way. Now as he prepares for a tour in support of his new self-titled release, I had the chance to sit down with Slash a while back and got a candid, honest, and fascinating story from the man himself.
You had your first huge success in Guns n' Roses, and have seemingly not stopped since. What was it like for you taking that leap of faith from Guns forward?
Slash: I was still in Guns and we had just finished the "Use Your Illusions" tour and I wanted to do something that was more along the lines of a simple rock and roll band. And so I put together this really simple project that was Snakepit. And I did that for a few months, took it on the road and played like clubs and theaters, some festival stadium dates and whatever. It was very back to basics and very stripped down and real. Compared to the stadium tours that Guns n’ Roses had been doing the previous few years.
You had a break from GNR towards the end, then went back for a few more tries as a band. How did you know it was over?
Slash: What was good was that I got re-acquainted with why I love doing what I do. And then I went back to Guns and it was just sort of, just out of control. Inevitably I ended up leaving and I toured with Snakepit for a while. And when that was over I started searching around for what I was going to do that was sort of career move. And then by chance I ended up hooking up with Duff. And that’s basically the origin of Velvet Revolver.
You have the reputation among musicians of being a great guy. What are your thoughts on that?
Slash: I wouldn’t exactly know. I get along with other musician’s pretty easily, and I like playing with other people because it keeps my chops up and I get to learn how to work in other people’s environments and learn how to adapt quickly. And just get along with people. Do what it is that you want to do which is play music.
You've had one of the most controversial singers in Axl Rose. Is it hard to trust someone singing your songs and getting the feelings of the tunes in sync with yours?
Slash: Well Axl was really the first like real singer I worked with and one of the best singers I’ve heard. But before that I think I had one singer. I used to do instrumental stuff at keg parties and whatever. Because a bad singer can ruin a band.
Axl was the first singer I worked with where I was partners with somebody. And realistically I’ve only worked with four singers in bands that I’ve been a part of.
A few years ago you write your autobiography entitled, appropriately enough, "Slash." What inspired you to write it?
Slash: It’s written more or less by me as opposed to somebody else’s interpretation of what they think my life is about, what went on with Guns n’ Roses and all that stuff. And there’s a lot of stuff in it because all things considered there was a lot of stuff to put in. I actually remembered enough stuff to fill the book up!
Even though the book’s done I keep remembering stuff I should have put in it, but too bad.
So you wanted to set the record straight so to speak? Is that one reason you released the book?
Slash: I wrote it so I won’t have to answer any more Guns n’ Roses questions! That’s the only reason I did it. I got so sick of being asked every single day - four or five times a day every time I open my mouth to the media – about Axl, about Guns, about this or that or the other. And I just was fed up with it. There’s usually a lot of sensationalism involved. But it’s usually people who are looking for dirt or looking for some controversial something or another so they can sell magazines or whatever.
Basically what it boils down to is it’s just a slow but constant issue between Axl and I that constantly gets brought up on a regular basis. It also continues to test what little relationship he and I have. I have nothing pleasant to say usually, and that constitutes as being negative on a regular basis. I sort of wanted to get past that. I’d really like to get past all this sort of bullshit that goes on between me and the rest of the guys.
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