Former Guns n' Roses guitarist Slash puts a lot of time and energy into looking out for newer artists. Whether it's inviting relatively unknown singers like Rocco DeLuca to sing on his albums or offering new bands the chance to tour with him, the axe-slinger always gives back to the music community. Slash's latest passion is Guitar Center Presents Your Next Record, which was launched in February 2010. The project is a first-of-its-kind unsigned band competition.

After sifting through more than 12,000 demo entries, Slash and legendary producer Mike Clink (Guns N' Roses, Megadeth) handpicked a Northern California band called State Line Empire to receive the ultimate career-boosting opportunity courtesy of Guitar Center. The prize package included a $10,000 Guitar Center shopping spree, various endorsement deals, an opening slot on Slash's Monster Energy Bash, and more.

Perhaps the coolest part of the prize was having Slash play on 'Drive Me,' State Line Empire's hard-rocking new single. The song is available now on iTunes and at other retail outlets. Slash recently talked to Noisecreep about his passion for discovering new music.

Noisecreep: At this point in your career, why is identifying undiscovered talent so important to you?

Slash: It's crucial. For people to hear exciting new music, new talent has to be discovered in some shape or form. The way that it used to be done is not really in practice anymore, so the system needs people to go out and look for it, and figure out a way to get new music out there.

Did you have someone early on in life who encouraged your artistic side?

My parents were supportive. I was raised in a real creative environment in the sense that everybody in the family loved rock 'n' roll, but also because there was lots of painting and graphics and illustration and whatever going on during my upbringing. So when I picked up the guitar, they felt that anything was better than me hanging around outside a 7-11 beating people up, which was sort of what I was like when I was a teenager!

What drew you to working on Guitar Center's Your Next Record project?

They asked me if I'd be interested in doing it, and I thought it would be a real cool thing to do. It turned out to be a really tough gig, because there were a lot of bands and a lot of auditions. There were tons of recordings that came in -- thousands of them -- and we had to sift through all these recordings, trying to find something that was really cool. And we did find some cool stuff, but I have to say that unfortunately there was a lot more dreck than there was cool stuff [laughs]. I was a little bit disappointed in that, but at the same time there was some cool stuff.

Out of the bands that you heard, what made you choose State Line Empire?

They were one of the best-sounding young rock 'n' roll bands that I heard out of all the stuff that we listened to. It came down to a final four, all of whom were really cool, but State Line Empire was the one that really [embodied] the really simple, aggressive rock 'n' roll band with a good song.

Cornerstone Promotions

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received when it comes to music?

I've had a couple, and the one that comes straight off the top of my head is intonation. It's as simple as that. Our old manager, Allen Niven, mentioned the importance of intonation to me at one point, and I don't think I'd ever even thought of it before. It was something that always stuck with me, so when you're bending a note or whatever, don't over-bend or under-bend.

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