Slash has always been one of my favorite guitar players on the planet earth since I was a young rocker, if he’s even from the planet earth. From the minute I saw “Welcome To The Jungle” on MTV (back when they still played videos), between Guns N’ Roses and Motley Crue, I knew that I wanted to move to Los Angeles to become a rock star. Unfortunately, I’m sitting here writing about those dreams and interviewing my favorite rock stars. That being said, I have a funny story to share; the last time I interviewed Slash, my digital recording device actually ran out of battery juice halfway through the interview and I panicked and ended up asking Slash the same question twice. He ended up calling me out on it by saying, “Dude, I already answered that question!” Needless to say, I told Slash about this story and he laughed and made sure I was fully powered for this interview.
Last weekend, Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators kicked off a new leg of their World On Fire tour in Orlando, Florida, which sees the band hitting our shores at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg, PA on May 5, Terminal 5 in NYC on May 7, the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on May 12, and the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ on May 16. Since my debacle of an interview to promote his Apocalyptic Love CD, Slash has released the band’s second CD, World On Fire, toured with Aerosmith in what turned out to be one of the biggest tours of the summer and was even honored at this year’s NAMM convention with the Les Paul Award. I got the chance to sit down with Slash and redeem myself with a fully-powered digital recorder. Here’s what we talked about:
The last time we spoke you were just about to release Apocalyptic Love. This past September, you released World On Fire, and it seems like you’ve been, for the lack of a better term, “on fire” ever since.
Yeah, we’ve been pretty inspired and we’re having a good time and we’ve been developing a whole, sort of, rapport that is doing pretty fluid ever since the tour started. So, we’re busy starting up the next record now. Just to get going so that when the tour is over, we can get in and get the next one going ASAP.
With Myles’ schedule flipping back and forth between your band and Alter Bridge, how do you two find the time to write new material for, like you said, this next record?
Whenever there’s a gap of any kind, like right now; we had a few weeks off since the last gig, then I get together with the guys and just start working on some of the stuff that I came up with while we were touring because that’s when I do most of my writing is when we’re on the road. And so I just compile tons of ideas and we jam some out at soundchecks and stuff. Then as soon as we get off the road, we just go right in. So, right now, Myles isn’t doing anything either, so it helps, but when he does go out with Alter Bridge, I’ll just jam with the guys and send him tapes so he can start getting some ideas for some of the stuff. We work it out some way or another. I think it’s probably just because we work all the time in some way, shape or form, so time doesn’t really get wasted.
I think I read somewhere that you have Pro Tools on your bus, so I’m sure none of your ideas get lost…
I did have Pro Tools on my laptop, but for me it’s easier to just tape ideas straight into my phone. By the time you set up with Pro Tools and get ready to go, you’ve lost interest in whatever it was that was on your mind at the time (laughs). Pro Tools works great for scoring, like if I’m scoring on the road. Like that kind of thing.
World On Fire was your third straight solo CD to hit the Top 10. Is it safe to say that this is THE band now and we probably won’t see another Velvet Revolver record?
Well, Velvet Revolver is just in a state of hiatus until something happens, so I don’t want to discredit it, so-to-speak, as to what happens to it in the future. But this is definitely something that I’m having a good time doing. It’s turned into more of a band kind of thing ever since we went in and did Apocalyptic Love. It really started to develop into that group camaraderie and we really enjoy writing and performing and all that together and so, yeah, it’s turned into a “thing” (laughs).
Well, you certainly have one of the longest names on any bill—Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators.
(Laughs) Right. I think eventually, slowly but surely it will just end up being The Conspirators and we’ll just leave it at that. Because I’m not gonna change it. Somebody asked me, “Now, that it’s turning into a band, are you gonna make a new name?” and if I was gonna go ahead and do that, maybe a couple people would catch on, but I’d say probably one out of five people might catch on, if not one out of 10. So it’s pretty much been established as Slash and Myles and The Conspirators. We’ve abbreviated it to “S and K and C” and whatever (laughs).
I read that in June, you’ll be releasing a live CD and DVD of your performance from The Roxy in Los Angeles back in September?
Yeah, we did three club gigs in Los Angeles and actually one in New York before the record came out and we recorded the one at The Roxy. So that is coming out on DVD.
Is the tracklisting on that live CD and DVD basically what we can expect on your current tour, which hits our shores in May? Or will you be adding some more music from the World On Fire CD?
I can’t remember what the setlist was for that one particular night. But, yeah, it changes every night. I guess sort of the basic format is probably similar, but we sort of interchange songs throughout the middle of the set or whatever, so…
What was it like to spend your summer vacation last year with a band who influenced you when you were growing up, Aerosmith?
Well, if you remember, this is the second time I’ve toured with them. I toured with them with Guns N’ Roses, really when Guns was first breaking back in 1989. That was just a whole cool set up. But this particular tour going out with Aerosmith, this time around, for some reason, I can’t figure out why, but it was just something really great about jamming with these guys at this point in time. They played fucking great every single night. It was fun for us to play with a real rock ‘n’ roll band because for what it is that we do, we are one of those few bands out there that’s really stripped down and just does the straight-ahead kind of raw rock ‘n’ roll band and there’s not a lot of people to sort of team up and go on tour with.
There are really just a small handful of bands that we really sort of relate to. And just playing with Aerosmith was just totally inspiring and I think it made us a better band. And I also saw Aerosmith in a different light than I’ve ever seen them before. I really appreciated what a really great fuckin’ chemistry they had and just saw something in them that I might’ve taken for granted back in the day. So it was a lot of fun, it was a great summer and it was a great rock package too! And I got to jam with them on a handful of shows, so that was cool too!
At NAMM in January, you were honored with the Les Paul Award. How much of an honor was that for you since you seem to have been virtually born with a Les Paul in your hand?
Yeah, that was an especially gratifying accolade, not so much what it was for, as the fact that it was in Les Paul’s name. Regardless of the fact that I’ve been playing Les Paul ever since I started, more importantly was that he was just such a great guy and mentor to me and a friend. He was somebody who really took me under his wing when he really didn’t have to take any interest whatsoever. I think he was instrumental in getting my chops up as a guitar player over and above where they were at, at the time when I met him. Shit like that, but it was just a cool recognition.
Did you ever get to sit down and learn technique from him and stuff?
We jammed a lot. Yeah, I’ve never been good at sitting down with a guy and having him teach me anything because for some reason I have a short attention span, but you really take it in when you’re actually playing with somebody in a recording situation or a live situation and you pick up things consciously and subconsciously things happen and I played with him a lot.
That brings me to my next question. You’ve been known as an artist who collaborates with other artists on many occasions. Is there any artist or band that you haven’t collaborated with yet that you’d love to collaborate with?
Normally, those are things that just happen and when the opportunity arises, I make sure to take advantage of it. Especially when they are people who are hugely influential to you or people you look up to. We had one issue that’s come up a bunch and that’s me jamming with Stevie Wonder and we’ve been talking about it for years, but it’s never happened. And then I got a phone call from his people months ago asking if I wanted to play with him in Los Angeles at The Forum in L.A. I was like, “Fuck!” I forgot what country I was in (laughs) and I was just so bummed! Here’s an opportunity to go and play with him in Los Angeles and I’m wherever I was that I was. Anyway, that’s somebody I’d love to go up and trade licks with.
Are there any bands inspiring you right now? What are you listening to?
Well, I’ve just been listening to the radio a lot. There are a couple of bands that we played with that I sort of discovered out there on the road that are pretty cool. One of my favorites is a band from Canada called Monster Truck, who is really cool. There is a band on the East Coast—I’m pretty sure they’re out of New York [actually from Austin, TX]—called Scorpion Child that has a really cool record. I don’t what they’re doing or if they’re even on the road. I’m not sure what happened, but I heard their record when we were making our record and I was like, “Fuck! This is great!” They’re sort of this old-school Aerosmith-y kind of rock band. And I got a friend in L.A. who’s a singer and basically the leader of this little group called Hillbilly Herald, which is a kickass AC/DC kind of deal, but really sort of original in their writing and all that. So there’s that, and there’s this killer band out of France called Gojira, which is this metal band that I think is just really fuckin’ awesome.
But there’s not a lot of stuff going on. I remember in the late ’80s, early ’90s when Alice In Chains came out, Soundgarden came out, and Nirvana and all that and that was a really exciting time. There were those records and I think Lenny Kravitz’s first record came out. It was just exciting. It hasn’t been like that. There’s been no movement inside a year or two years where there’s just been a whole bunch of bitchin’ records from new bands coming out. There was a period there where there was a bunch of records that came out from bands that we all know and love, which was great and fun. Mastodon came out with a record, Machine Head came out with a record and it’s all metal, but sometimes I find the only really sort of alive genre in rock ‘n’ roll right now—I guess we can call it a subgenre—is in metal that seems to be coming out with new shit, but it’s few and far between that I hear a bunch of new records from new bands coming out.
I’m glad that you said that because I feel like a lot of these bands are starting to sound the same and it’s tough to distinguish who is who anymore.
Well, there’s all these overproduced… Actually, you know, one band that is really cool that’s got a new record out that is really good is Halestorm. But most of these sort of new active rock bands, they all sound overproduced and fabricated and like you said, sound a lot of the same, and that’s what the new guard in rock ‘n’ roll is right now. I’m waiting to see if that is going to bust open at some point soon. I know it’s coming. I know there’s that explosive moment when something really exciting and new happens and influences a whole bunch of us.
One last question for you Slash…Are your sons old enough to know that they have one of the coolest dads on planet earth?
(Laughs) I don’t know what they think actually. I pretty much can bet that they think that I’m not cool (laughs). Unless I do something that they totally get into like when I did the SpongeBob movie or some shit like that. And sometimes their friends tell them, “Your dad was in Guns N’ Roses,” and all this other stuff, but for the most part, I’m just “dad.” Yeah, they think I’m cool, but not the kind of cool that you think is cool (laughs).
Catch Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg, PA on May 5, Terminal 5 in NYC on May 7, the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on May 12, and the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ on May 16. For more ticket info, visit slashonline.com.