Back in 1987, I heard a guitar riff for the first time that would change the face of music forever! That riff was the intro for “Welcome To The Jungle” off of the smash hit Appetite For Destruction. Today, “Welcome To The Jungle” can be heard in just about every sports arena or stadium in the U.S. The hits that followed like “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Paradise City,” “You Could Be Mine,” “Don’t Cry,” “November Rain,” and “Civil War” became instant classics, making Guns ‘N’ Roses one of the most influential bands to come out of the ‘80s. Unlike the hair bands that dominated that era, GNR were different. They were dangerous!
The creator of these classic Guns ‘N’ Roses riffs, of course, was Slash, one of the most recognizable guitar players in rock and roll. He’s the only guy that can successfully pull off his trademarked top hat, long, curly hair, and sunglasses. In 1994, while GNR was on a hiatus, he formed Slash’s Snakepit, a side project that featured his GNR band mates Matt Sorum and Gilby Clarke, along with Alice In Chains’ Mike Inez and Jellyfish’s Eric Dover. The group would go on to record Slash's material that was originally intended for GNR and released It's Five O'Clock Somewhere in 1995. In 1996, Slash officially left Guns ‘N’ Roses, which would ignite his much publicized feud with eccentric singer Axl Rose. For the next two years, the guitarist would tour with his blues rock cover band, Slash’s Blues Ball. The following year he reformed Slash’s Snakepit with a whole new lineup and in 2000, would release his second CD, Ain’t Life Grand. He would spend the summer opening for AC/DC on their world tour to support the disc. Finally, in 2002, Slash’s Snakepit would disband for the last time.
Later that year, during a tribute concert for the late Randy Castillo, Slash reunited with GNR’s Sorum and Duff McKagan, leaving the trio to realize that they still had the chemistry they had in Guns ‘N’ Roses, so they decided to form a new band. They brought in another guitarist, Dave Kushner, who played in Duff’s side project, Loaded. After many months of searching for a lead singer, Stone Temple Pilots’ Scott Weiland would join the group and Velvet Revolver was born, allowing Slash to shine once again. In 2003, Velvet Revolver released their first single, "Set Me Free," and the next year, their debut CD, Contraband, debuted at number one. A few years later, Velvet Revolver released their sophomore effort, Libertad. During a show in 2008, Weiland announced to the crowd that it would be the band's final tour and a month later, he parted ways with the group.
After Slash released his debut solo album, Slash, Velvet Revolver began writing new songs for their third CD while auditioning new singers, including Jersey’s own Jimmy Gnecco. In the meantime, Slash would bring in Myles Kennedy, Bobby Schneck, Todd Kerns and Brent Fitz to help him promote his solo debut with a world tour.
In April 2011, Slash stated that Velvet Revolver still hadn’t been able to find a suitable singer and will remain on hiatus while his fellow Revolver mates focus on other projects. He then began work on his second solo CD and this past May, Slash released his second solo effort, Apocalyptic Love, featuring the hit single, “You’re A Lie.” His bond with Kennedy grew so strong that when Guns ‘N’ Roses was recently inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and Axl Rose chose to decline a fan-craving one-time reunion with the original GNR lineup, it was Kennedy who stepped up to perform with the original lineup at the induction ceremony.
Slash, Kennedy and crew will be at The Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ, on Aug. 3, and The Paramount Theater in Huntington, NY, on Aug. 4. I was recently given a few minutes with the legendary guitar hero to talk about the new album, Velvet Revolver and the tour. The transcription is below:
First of all, congratulations on becoming the newest star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame!
Oh, thank you (laughs). Yeah, it was very, very cool! On the personal level, it had a significant feeling for me because it was totally where I grew up and a lot of my young adult and adult experiences all across the board and every extreme happened all in that particular neighborhood. Even from when I started playing guitar in my first band, and even for Guns ‘N’ Roses, it was all within that fuckin’ however many square mile radius. And so it was very sort of a…not what you call an achievement, but it was definitely sort of a very personal kind of milestone, I guess, for me.
Now, let’s talk about your current lineup on Apocalyptic Love with Myles Kennedy. How did that collaboration come about?
It came about when we were touring off the last record. From the time that I met Myles all through the tour, I was really taken back at how awesome of a singer and songwriter he was, and not to mention a fantastic overall individual he is. And then I also have these great comrades-in-arms in Brent Fitz and Todd Kerns, and I just thought that if I was going to make another fuckin’ record, I should just make it with these guys!
So far off of Apocalyptic Love, I’ve only heard the title-track, “You’re A Lie,” “Halo,” “No More Heroes,” and my personal favorite, “Anastasia.” Were these songs all brand new or were some of these old riffs that you had lying around in the Slash riff Vault?
(Laughs) Well, thank you, but I don’t really like to rehash old riffs, I like to move forward. There’s not really a “Slash’s riff vault” for that reason. So, everything that is on Apocalyptic Love is brand new and nothing is rehashed from Slash’s riff vault (laughs).
How does it feel to be put in the same category as a Jimmy Page or a Joe Perry when it comes to legendary guitarists?
Dude, I’m not even going to answer that one! I don’t even see myself in the same light as those two guys. In fact, they are the reason why I picked up the guitar in the first place and the only reason that I do what I do. To say that I fit in the same category as those guys would be an injustice to them, but I do appreciate the compliment!
Where do we stand with Velvet Revolver? Because, I remember seeing footage of my bud, Jimmy Gnecco, joining you guys on stage for a few songs. What happened there?
Actually, we jammed with Duff last night! Unfortunately, as for Velvet Revolver, we’ll remain on a hiatus until we find the right singer to replace Scott. Jimmy Gnecco is an amazing singer and we really wanted to work with him. The unfortunate thing was that our schedules conflicted. Whenever we wanted to fly him out to work with us, he was already engaged in something else, but Jimmy was without a doubt the type of singer we were looking for! He was amazing!
Your tour hits The Wellmont Theatre on Aug. 3. When was the last time you played in Jersey and what can we expect to hear? All new stuff with some Velvet Revolver and GNR sprinkled in?
It’s funny that you ask that. Our set seems to change every single night! We play stuff from Snakepit, my last solo record, and the new one, Apocalyptic Love, and we’ll sprinkle in some Velvet Revolver stuff and GNR stuff that the fans want to hear, but the setlist changes almost every night. The one thing that does constant is that the set will be dirty, sludgy, sweaty, and heavy! As for the last time we played in Jersey, we were there last year only at a different venue. We’re really looking forward to this show because we always have fun in Jersey!
Slash will be at The Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ, on Aug. 3, and The Paramount Theater in Huntington, NY, on Aug. 4. For more information, go to slashonline.com.