RUSHONROCK editor Simon Rushworth caught up with the former Guns N Roses guitar hero for an exclusive chat.
And Slash will be kicking off the RUSHONROCKRiffLords series next week – with a slew of fret melting big guns to follow! Watch this space!
rushonrock: Explain the decision to replace a string of guest vocalists with one singer on Apocalyptic Love…
Slash: It wasn’t my initial idea. I had no idea what I was planning on doing after I made the album with all of the guest singers. But I knew that involving so many people on that record would be a one-off. I had no intention of doing a repeat performance of that record.
rushonrock: So how did Myles get the gig full-time?
Slash: On the first solo record I had a couple of songs that I had decided to include but I just couldn’t find anyone right to sing them – or at least any so-called big-name singers. I had heard of Myles Kennedy but never heard him sing. In the end his versions of those songs came out amazing and at that point I asked him if he wanted to do the first tour. I was then introduced to Brent Fitz and he introduced me to the bass player. Suddenly I had this great band and we played some shows on the road. A handful of dates became a year and a half and Myles and the band had become part of the family.
rushonrock: So is Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators a real band (albeit a far from catchy band name)?
Slash: Definitely. At this point I feel as if more than delivering a solo project I’m part of a band. Each member of the band has an input into the songwriting project and looking towards the next record I don’t see that changing. We’re on the road for a while but I’m in the early stages of recording ideas and logging them for future use.
rushonrock: Anastacia has already become a staple of the Slash set so what’s the story behind that song?
Slash: I can’t really tell you the story behind the lyrics. Myles has sort of explained it to me a couple of times but he’s best placed to pass comment. In terms of the melody it was like this: in the beginning it was just something I stumbled upon during my guitar solos in the live performances. It was all improvised. I just came across the melody and expanded on it every night. Finally I had time to put it together and write the rest of the music. It was simply put together but it worked out well.
rushonrock: How do you, Myles and the other guys operate as a songwriting team?
Slash: I do the music first and then depending on the situation I record it and send it to Myles. He might come back to me with some more ideas – maybe stuff to make his vocal work. And then whenever we get the chance we sit down together and work on the songs. I come up with a basic bunch of ideas and then spread them around! In the case of the new album we went into the studio after a month of rehearsals and recorded everything live. That’s why it’s such a spontaneous sounding record. There are no set rules on how we write and record – I just come up with some riffs, record some music and see what Myles makes of it!
rushonrock: The current UK headline tour sold out in double quick time – is there not a temptation to play bigger venues?
Slash: I’m pretty happy where I am. We get a fair chance to play all of the bigger venues during the summer festival season. I like to keep the headlining shows where the venues are a little bit more intimate and the rapport with the audience is that little but more immediate. But don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I don’t like playing arenas. As a musician it’s very gratifying!
rushonrock: If you were a kid getting into music now would you still take up the guitar over anything else?
Slash: I took up the guitar because I liked the guitar. It was all about the instrument rather than any consideration of the professional aspect. For me, because of who I am, the guitar would still be as inspirational now as it was back then. I was inspired by the sound of the 60s and 70s guitar music that I’d heard. That exciting break in a rock song when the guitar takes over just hit me. I was brought up in an era where the Yardbirds and the Stones and Hendrix had dominated and the guitar was king. But I had no aspiration to become a guitar player proper until I picked it up as a 15-year-old. I was enjoying playing the guitar without realising or imagining that’s what I was going to do.