INTERVIEW BY COREY PARKS
INTRODUCTION BY COREY PARKS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY LIZA LEEDS
If you don’t know who this guy is, then you’ve been living in outerspace for the last twenty years. The rockers love him, the punks love him. Behind that mass of black curls lays one down-to-earth dude. He’s the neighborhood longhair kid who’d ride around on his BMX, get stoned and jam in his garage for 37 hours a day. The thing that struck me about Slash the most is that he just loves rock and roll. He loves to play and he loves his band, and I can relate.
“IT SEEMS LIKE THE PUBLIC IS SICK OF THE PROCESSED MUSIC THAT’S BEEN GOING ON AND IS LEANING TOWARDS SOMETHING THAT’S A LITTLE BIT MORE REAL AND SOMETHING THAT’S GOT MORE SOUL TO IT AND SOMETHING THAT’S A LITTLE GRITTIER.”
Hey, Slash. How are you feeling this morning?
I’m okay. I’m sitting here drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.
I was going to ask if you had a morning ritual.
Yeah, basically, it’s a cigarette, a cup of coffee and probably some running. I know I have to go running in a little bit, and I’ve smoked half a pack of cigarettes already.
Isn’t that the best thing to do, to have a smoke after you exercise?
Yeah, it’s the best afterwards, but there is a difference when you smoke too much before you exercise. I’m doing interviews this morning, and I can’t do interviews without smoking.
This is my first interview, by the way.
[laughs] I’m your first.
How’s your tour going?
The tour is going great. There’s been a lot of stuff going on, but at the same time, we’ve all just been thinking about touring. We were just trying to get a good release date together, and we were making sure that Scott was cool and all that kind of stuff. The first gig that we hit was the Roxy in LA, and I think we were so loud that we ripped everyone’s heads off.
I love that.
We needed to be on a bigger stage to have it come across properly, but it was great. Then we went to St. Louis and had our first real gig. That was amazing.
I thought the El Rey was your first show.
It was our first gig, but not the first gig of the tour. That was a kick-off thing.
I was reading about this DVD of this six-song set at the El Rey.
Oh, that’s from our first show ever. We’d just started writing the record, but we were so excited and over the top about what we were doing that we had a press conference. It was partially for the ‘Hulk’ movie because we had this song in the ‘Hulk’ movie. Universal gave us this opportunity to do this press conference and play a small set. We put together some originals and then we played a couple of covers. It was our first time together live. That’s what really cemented the band into being totally for real. It was the first time I’d ever seen Scott on stage.
Yeah, I’d never seen STP.
Is he a good frontman?
He’s amazing. That’s what really got it going. That’s what gave us the glue to keep it all together through all this shit we’ve gone through.
You sound like a kid playing in your first band. It’s really inspiring.
There’s nothing different about it from the first band I was ever in, as far as that whole zeal of being in a band where you feel tight with all the guys. Everybody is on the same page, and everyone wants to go and conquer the world. It’s like a garage band with a bunch of guys who had parents that were in big bands before.
Are there any major differences working with your old Guns N’ Roses bandmates now compared to the old days?
Well, working with Duff and Matt, no, it’s no different. Duff and I have known it each other for so long, I can’t really recognize anything that’s any different. I mean, Duff’s probably 190% healthier now than he was then. Matt’s pretty much the same. There’s not much to be said there. Dave and Scott are two guys I’ve never worked with before. Scott is great, because he is so much easier to deal with than the singer from my last band. And Dave is just the biggest sweetheart in the world. There are similarities to the old band in the original early days, because it’s the same kind of ferocity. Some of the stuff is a lot different just because we’re all a lot more experienced now. Guns didn’t have any experience when we first started. There’s this kind of anxiousness about going out and doing it that we would have really never recognized before.
Well, I think it’s such a great line-up. I’m a big fan of Dave Kushner’s from way back in the Wasted Youth days.
I went to junior high school with him. It was interesting because I went down to the Viper Room to see Duff’s band play one night, and Dave was on the stage. I was like, ‘Wow, I haven’t seen him in years.’
He’s great. For about two seconds, we did a little side project with him. I ended up doing the thing with Courtney Love instead. Big mistake. But I jammed with Dave a few times. He’s a great guy.
He brought a sound to the band that gave it a lot more layers. His sound gave it something special. There was another guitar player that we were working with before Dave came in, and the guy is a good guitar player, but it just sounded like another guy playing what I was playing. It didn’t have that added personality that the sound from each different guy should add to the thing. Then Dave came along and very humbly offered to fill in until we found somebody.
Well, when I listen to it, I know the chuga-chuga is you. When you hit the scene, it was really cool. For a long time, there weren’t any great guitar figures like Jimmy Page and Joe Perry. You made the transition from being a punk rocker to going into metal. You brought that early audience with you. I know a lot of hardcore punkers from back in the day, and everybody loves you and has a lot of respect for you. I’m super stoked to see you back out there.
Well, that’s cool. We’re having a really great time. I don’t think there’s anyone that’s as excited as we are.