Slash on New Velvet Revolver Frontman: ‘We Haven’t Found the Guy Yet’
It could have been a real episode of destruction. Ex-Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash was rocking out the Guns classic ‘Sweet Chile O’ Mine’ to a sold out crowd in Milan, Italy when a dude squirmed his way to the front, climbed on stage and charged at Slash. Seeing what was going on, a security guard tried to intercept and the fan bounced off him like a pool ball and ricocheted towards the oblivious guitarist.
“I got hit, but I didn’t get tackled,” Slash told Noisecreep from his Los Angeles home about a week before his band launched a tour of Japan and Australia. “After the security guard broadsided the guy, he bounced into me. But had the security guy not jumped in, the velocity that this guy was coming in with, he would have taken me over the stage, and that would have been a drag because the stage was pretty high up. But luckily, that’s not what happened. So I just continued playing and it was one of the best shows on the tour. I’m a rock guy. This kind of s— goes with the territory.”
During our informative conversation with the rock legend, Slash talked about his new self-titled solo record, the future of Velvet Revolver, his new custom Gibson guitar, Appetite, and what players should do if the want to capture that classic ‘Appetite for Destruction’ sound.
How did your solo album come together?
I’ve got a history of playing on other people’s records and doing sessions and stuff, so during the last Velvet Revolver tour with Scott [Weiland], I decided I wanted to have a bunch of people singing on my record instead. And then when the tour ended I decided the time was right to do that, because I was ready to do something on my own to get away from the sort of band situation I had done for a long time. I wanted to be in an environment where I was the one putting it together, doing anything I wanted.
The record features guest vocals from a wide variety of performers, including Ozzy Osbourne, Ian Astbury (the Cult), Lemmy Kilmister (Motörhead), Fergie (Black Eyed Peas), Andrew Scockdale (Wolfmother), Izzy Stradlin (Guns N’ Roses), Iggy Pop and Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge). Did you write the songs on the album with certain singers in mind?
I just started writing music. And as I put together these songs, I started thinking [about] who would sound good for each individual song. And once I did that I tried calling these guys and then send them a demo. And most of the singers were into it and enthusiastic. Then we would get together and they were free to add to something or change something as they saw fit. So they were really collaborations. And it was fun to work with these people and see where the songs went.
Any good stories about working with Ozzy, Lemmy or Iggy?
It was an intimate thing and it was a really nice experience working with these people. There weren’t really funny stories or anything. It was just about these creative interaction between two artists. But the funny thing about Iggy was I send him the music and then he called me back and said, “Check this out.” He was real excited and he put the phone down on the table and put the demo that I gave him into his stereo cranked it up and then sang the lyrics in the middle of the room. And I heard this over the phone. It was a very old-school kind of thing. That was probably my favorite story.
You worked with some unlikely characters like Adam Levine (Maroon 5) and Fergie. Why did you choose these singers who are far out of the field of hard rock?
Well, the music was really diverse and that’s how I decided who I wanted for the tracks. With Fergie, I had heard her do rock ‘n’ roll before. I jammed with her before and she’s a hell of a rock ‘n’ roll singer. So I gave the music for ‘Beautiful Dangerous’ to her, and she came back with something that was sexy and nasty at the same time. It was a really cool collaboration because it stretched both of our limits and allowed us to do something people wouldn’t expect from either one of us.
After you get back from Australia, you’re launching a U.S. tour in September. Will Myles Kennedy be doing all the vocal parts for you?
He’s been great. He’s got a great voice. He’s one of the most fantastic rock singers and he’s a great guy. It’s a lot of fun to tour with him. The band sounds amazing.
Any chance he’ll become the next singer for Velvet Revolver?
No, he’s already got a band, Alter Bridge, and he’s not leaving. We offered him to sing in Velvet a year ago, but he turned it down then. So we’re still looking for a singer. As soon as we establish the singer, we’ll be able to set the time to actually go in and start working on the record. We’ve held a bunch of auditions, we just haven’t found the right guy yet. We stopped for the tour, but we’ve been listening to demos from different singers. But right now I can’t say there’s someone who we’re leaning towards. We haven’t found that guy yet.
Have you written songs for the next Velvet Revolver album?
When we came back off the tour after Scott left we came back in and wrote half a dozen or more really cool songs. It’s really heavy stuff and I think it could be the best Velvet Revolver album yet.
You’ve got a new guitar coming out through Gibson, the Appetite.
Yeah, I played it recently. I was on tour in Europe and I played it through my own rig so I could check it out and approve the prototype. And I was floored at how great the guitar sounds and plays. And if you look at the specs they’re almost identical to the U.S.A. model. So it’s very satisfying to me that the guitar is reasonably priced, yet you get as much quality out of it as you get from the higher priced models. So it’s sort of a steal. I feel that anybody who picks it up, from a beginner to a pro, it’s something that will do the job perfectly and last for a very long time.
Why call it ‘Appetite’?
It’s a replica of the guitar I used to record ‘Appetite for Destruction’ and really every record since then, including the record I just did, for which I used this guitar in its entirety. That’s where the Appetite name came from. There were a lot of diehard fans that were really in key on the guitar that I used on that record because it has such an iconic status at this point. That guitar sound seems to be appreciated by a lot of guitar enthusiasts. So this guitar is really a replica of that guitar.
For guitarists on a budget who wants to buy this guitar and get the sound you had on ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ what other gear should they have?
Well, I actually did a Marshall based on the sound of that record as well, which is probably coming out before next year. And that’s a signature model Marshall head that was based on the sound of the amp that I used for that record as well. I was just touring with the first prototype and it sounds great. We’re doing some finishing tweaks to it and should be out in October or November. Obviously, that would go perfectly together with the Appetite guitar. But any decent Marshall will work.
Are there any great stories of things that happened in recording sessions with that guitar?
Well, the funniest thing about the guitar I used on Appetite was how I got it. I was really broke and I hocked all my decent guitars before we went into the studio to make ‘Appetite for Destruction.’ All I had left were a BC Rich Warlock and two Jackson guitars, a Firebird and a prototype archtop Strat-style guitar. I brought them all into the recording studio for the ‘Appetite’ sessions and all three sounded horrible. I was like, “F—, what do I do? I have to do the overdubs and I have no instrument.” So Guns N’ Roses manager, Alan Niven, showed up the night before I went in to do the Appetite overdubs and brought me this Les Paul. I went in the next day and it was the most amazing sounding guitar. I rented a Marshall that just sounded great and that’s what ended up being the guitar sound for the ‘Appetite’ album, which has now become this legendary album.