Re: Slash, Canadian Radio, January 1994
by Kristy Knight
We're back, 97.7 HTZ-FM, pleased and proud to have on the phone with us... Slash from Guns N' Roses. Hey Slash!
Thanks for calling in, man!
What's going on?
Oh, same old song and dance, my friend. How you've been?
What song and dance would that be anyway?
Aerosmith's "Same Old Song And Dance", friend.
It's gotten to sort of clichÃ© at this point, I don't even known what "the same old song and dance" means anymore.
Well, I give your head a shake then. Well, I guess you had your head shaken up a little bit. We're you in the quake?
Yeah, I was there. That was intense. Of all the intense things I've been through in my life, that was one of them.
Where were you? Were you sleeping?
Actually I just gotten done recording and come down the stairs, and was getting in bed and kiss the little woman goodnight, kind of thing. And all of a sudden: "Bam!", and the TV popped out across the room and that's when it started. The whole house blacked out and it was pretty much one of the most violent things I've ever been through.
Aah, the house is fucked! [laughs] Everything living in the house, my pets and my wife and my cousin-in-law are all fine. All things considered, I could give a fuck about the house.
Thank god for insurance, huh?
Yeah, that too.
How many pets do you got now? You got a bunch, don't you?
We got about 50.
Oh my god! You got a zoo.
It is pretty much a zoo at the house. Not to mention all my friends. [laughs]
You got a lot of snakes, don't you?
A lot of reptiles in general. A lot of cats. We have a mountain lion.
You have a mountain lion?
Oh, can I come see it?
No, he's over at someone's house right now.
What's his name?
His name is Curtis.
Eats a lot, huh?
Yeah. He probably eats more, you know, financially-wise in one day than I do in one week.
Oh my god. Too much. Oh, I guess we should talk about business here, Slash. Let's talk about... well, I guess this new little you got out, Spaghetti Incident.
... new cigarette tax.
Oh yeah? Don't tell us about that in Canada.
Yeah, I know.
Nah, nah, nah. So why the album of cover tunes? What made you wanna do that?
It wasn't a pre-planned kinda thing. It was to leviate the pressure that we were dealing with in making the last record. Which was the Illusions records. To warm up, we would jam old tunes we're familiar with.
And we recorded four and thought they sounded pretty good, so we thought "At some point we'll put an EP out". And that was the end of it. And then we recorded some more, you know, during the tour. After the tour's over, we recorded even more than that. And we thought: "This is twelve songs of material. We might just make it a record. And we put it out, and that was that.
So, when you're on the road and recording yet another album, don't you loose your mind?
Well, actually it's more grounding. Because the tour is something that's set up where it's just gigs and hotels and chaos the whole time. And, you know, one of the great ways for the guys in the band to have any kinda sense of reality, and for us to bond is just to go into some studio on the road and just jam.
Verbally, I don't think I can express what it fells like to be just, running the gauntlet for two and a half years on tour. You know, everybody's staring at you, and everything's being scrutinized. The shows gotta be... It's a little bit too professional after a while.
So, it's cool to just like, you know, personally call up a studio and go: "Yeah, this is Slash from Guns N' Roses. I need such and such a time booked. And we'll be down there." And then we show up, and... And show up, and just get together with the guys and record some material. And get a little more down-to-earth than the environment that we're in most of the time, as far touring is concerned.
So, did you all get to pick a track on this album?
Did you all get to pick a track?
What do you mean "pick a track"?
Well, I mean, you got so many cover tunes on here. Didn't you get into a fistfight: "No, I wanna do "Since I Don't Have You." "No, I wanna do that. I wanna do this." I mean, did you all get your individual pick?
It's the exact opposite. We didn't set out to make a record. There was no arguing at all. What we did was like: "I wanna record "Buick Makane" and I wanted to do this song and that song." Axl wanted to... So, we just like recorded the stuff without knowing that we were gonna make a record at all. It's a very cohesive kind of collaboration between the guys in the band. There's no hierarchy that says what we're gonna do and what we aren't gonna do.
What about Michael Monroe? Where did you dig him out of the ashes?
Dig him out of the...? He be insulted if he heard that.
Sorry, don't tell him I said it then.
No, Mike's a cool guy. We've known him for a long time. And Stiv Bators died. And we're like, I don't know, hanging out somewhere in LA or New York, or something. And we thought, "Let's do a Dead Boys song". And that was that. Everybody fucking thinks about this shit way too much. It's not that complicated.
Yeah, I was thinking about that when I was getting my interview together, I thought: "I don't wanna get into... well: "why does you say "ugli-bugli" on the b-side of..." You know, you might just pull your hair out sometimes.
Like, over-analyze and... It can be a pain in the ass, but at the same time I understand... You know, trying to look at it from an outside perspective, I can understand why people wanna understand where the fuck we're coming from.
So... I hate to talk about the "new" record. Is this just rest-time, right now for you?
Is this rest-time for you right now?
No, as soon as the tour was over, was when we went and finished the material for Spaghetti. And it's sort of, what you call, post-road syndrome. If you've been on the road for two years, or more than two years, as in our case, you get used to a certain pace in life.
So, when you... when the tour is over... I mean, literally, the last day means you're getting on a plane to go home. Not really had any foundation, as far as home is concerned, in the last nine years or so, and especially for me. I was probably about 16 when I started to hang out at chick's houses, or whatever. I haven't really had any firm foundation. So, when you get... when you get done off the tour, it's like "go home!". "Where is that, exactly?"
And what you do is go straight back to work, so... One thing I don't wanna go through is another whole drug-binge, like I did last time I came back... We finished recording "The Spaghetti Incident?", then I went in the studio and mixed it, and mastered it with Bill Price and this guy in New York that I mastered... George... George something.
Anyway, so that was set and done and I built the studio in my house. And started recording material for the next record. So we got about 14 or 15 songs for the next record.
Take a rest buddy! Anyway, let's take a break here. We'll come back and I wanna talk about, you know, how you're dealing with the road and get into a couple of personal things I wanna ask about... Little, tiny things. Just little trivial things, but let's take a break. Here is "Ain't It Fun". Guns N' Roses, on 97.7 HTZ-FM.
We're back 97.7 HTZ-FM. We're talking to Slash of Guns N' Roses. I guess you don't really have to say "Slash of Guns N' Roses" anymore, you know...
You know, I never give it any thought, actually. Kristy, you're funny. [laughs]
You're crackin' me up.
It's almost like you've turned into this character of rock n' roll. I mean...
Seems like you're almost a parody of yourself, you know, it's like...
You could have a Guns N' Roses cartoon on Saturday morning, you know.
Oh no, no. We wont do any of that Kiss-shenanigans. We are doing a pinball machine, though.
Oh, no way!
It's almost done. I've been working... Actually, to tell you the truth, when the earthquake hit, I'd already planned on going to Chicago to work with the Data East Company, who make awesome pinball games. And I came out to Chicago to work on the artwork for it. So, it's sort of like, my little project, that I'm working with them. And it should be out in the summer.
So, do you have samples of your tunes there, or something?
We have to use samples, but we're using real guitars and real drums for it.
But of Guns N' Roses tunes?
Yeah, there's like 13 songs on it.
Well... It opens up... I can't tell you. You'll see when it comes out.
Almost caught me there.
[laughs] So... where did you grow up Slash?
Where did I grow up? I'm a Hollywood kid.
Are you really?
Born in England, but I moved to LA... Actually, to tell you the truth, what's really funny is, in 1971, my first visit to the States was at my grandma's house in Los Angeles. And it was the exact day of the 1971 earthquake.
So this is my second big one.
"Welcome to America".
Yeah, well, you know what? My wife's cousin Greg, his first visit to LA, right. He comes to my house, he had to sleep in the room where all the cobras are. And so, he got a little nervous, 'cause the cobras get up at night and start moving around. So he moved into my wife's office. And he had Curtis to deal with and all that, and all of a sudden the earthquake.
So he's pretty frazzled. He got about 20 years of stress in about ten minutes [laughs].
"You gonna stay for free, you gotta stay with the cobras.
So do you have a room for them?
All over the house.
They don't stay in the cages?
No, they stay in the cages. But there's cages all over the house.
But I keep most of them separated. Like... you know, I have one room, which is my office that has all the dangerous snakes. You know, the poisonous ones in that room and then there's a couple of rooms in the back of the house... When we bought the house, there's a maid's room. I don't have a maid so I put... that whole room is filled with cages. And then there's a, what do you call it? A maintenance room in the garage, and then there's a couple of big cages in the main part of the house.
So does Renee like them or not?
She's... I mean, anybody that can deal with me as a husband, you know... Snakes really aren't that kinda big deal.
Yeah, I kinda sensed she probably got her hands full. Yeah, I can see that. So, tell me about... I mean, when you came to see your grandmother in 1971, and you came to Hollywood, your name wasn't Slash. Who called you Slash? Where did the name Slash come from?
You know, it's funny when you say Hollywood. Do you know who Seymour Cassel is?
He's an actor. Did you ever see "Dick Tracy"?
Ok, he was Sam Katchum in "Dick Tracy".
Ok, right on, I got it.
That's one of my best friends from Junior High School's dad. And we used to... All the bad kids in Junior High... You know, all the pot-heads and all that kinda stuff. We all used to have our own clique. And so we hung out at Matt's house, because Seymour was a druggie himself at that point, and that's we're we used to hang out.
And I was always... 'Cause I asked him this the first time... we were on tour. So this was like a year ago, in Europe. I said: "why did you actually call me that? Where did it come from?" And he said it was because I was always in fuckin' such hurry and running around the house and so on.
So, he called me Slash and it's just stuck after that. After a while all my friends started call me that. My mom even calls me that at this point.
Except for when she's pissed off at me, she goes "Saul Hudson, come here!"
Yeah. No. I mean, she doesn't really have the chance to do that anymore, but...
You don't see her a lot?
...it's happened a couple times.
Do you see your mom a lot?
Do I see her a lot? I keep in touch with her. I see her, like, for the major holidays, when I'm not touring. So, I see her every so often.
Is she one of those moms that calls up and says [in mock-accent] "I just saw your new video on MTV"?
Cool. My mom is very, very cool.
Really? Here's what, what about the top hat? Where did you get it?
I bought it on Melrose. I was walking around on Melrose and went into this shop, which isn't there anymore, and I saw a top hat. I tried it on and I bought a concho belt and I was sitting around with Axl, and I put the concho belt on the hat, took it apart and put it on the hat.
And then we had a gig that night at the Whisky. There's a picture of it on the innersleeve of "Appetite For Destruction". There's a picture with me with no shirt on, playing a BC Rich and that's at the Whisky. Stoned out of my mind [laughs]. In those days, right. And wearing a top hat. And that's the first time I ever wore one.
It was just like, cool looking, and at this point I can't wear it on the street anymore.
Oh, no doubt.
'Cause everybody recognizes you.
Well Slash, put it this way, if I was walking down Melrose with a top hat on, people would think I was Slash.
You know what's really stupid about the whole thing, is every Halloween, I have to deal with all these people doing that whole imitation.
Yeah, I know.
I mean, think about it. It's so like comic book. It's not even funny.
[laughs] Do the comic book! You're doing the pinball machine. So to ??? come on.
We don't. Other people have done comic-books.
Yeah, Ozzy's got one out right now too, huh?
There's an Ozzy comic book out.
Oh, bunch of them. There's Kiss ones, Ozzy... I'm sure they'll come out with the Nirvana one at some point.
Ok, they have to do that one.
Yeah, and then there's us, and some other rock n' roll bands around.
Yeah? So, are you the super-hero in your comic book?
I'm always buffed out. [laughs]
[laughs] Slash flying high again, so to speak. Anyway, let's take another break here and we'll come back and chat more with Slash of Guns N' Roses. This is an honor talking to you, man!
Oh, come on!
Well, I know. But I gotta say that. We'll take a break here. More Guns N' Roses. We'll be back with Slash on 97.7 HTZ-FM.
We're back, 97.7 HTZ-FM. We're talking to Slash of Guns N' Roses. Once again, thanks for calling in today, man. Appreciate this.
I was actually making crank calls and just happened to stumble across your number.
[laughs] The first time you met Axl Rose.
What did you think and where was it?
Let's see... The first time I met him was at an apartment. They'd had an ad in the paper. Him and Izzy had an ad in the paper for a lead guitar player. Now, I'd already met Izzy, without knowing that's who I was calling back, and I went down and met Axl.
And he was on the phone talking about himself for... for the entire time that we were... He was talking to some chick. I don't know what was going on, but that was when we first met. And nothing came out of that. And somewhere down the line, he was mutual friends with Tracii Guns, who's somebody I grew up with. From LA Guns?
And so when Tracii had a falling out with Axl, they called me up and I came down and that's where Hollywood Rose started. Then Izzy quit, because... That whole guitar player syndrome, you know, like... I don't wanna have to... Izzy is the kinda guy that don't want somebody else making his decisions for him. And so when I came around...
I'm sort of like a power-freak too, I guess. You know, I'm sorta like: "this is what we should do here". You know, and so we got into conflict. So he quit. Me and Axl carried the band on for a while. And then Axl and I had falling outs, until the point where we separated for a bit. And the Guns N' Roses started. And... It's a long story. [laughs]
[laughs] Go ahead.
I could go on...
Go ahead! I wanna hear more.
I met Duff in Cantner's, you know, when me and Axl were in a band together and had an ad in the paper for a bass player. And that's how I met Duff.
So, what about when... I mean, you finally all got together, and you're playing for, maybe the first time, I don't know, someone's basement. Did you feel something?
One thing about this band is, even though, you know, we're considered a very street-wise band, which I would imagine in LA we are. But there's something very naive and innocent about the whole way we approach everything. So we just do what we do and then take the repercussions afterwards. So we had idea what we were doing.
Or where we were going. Or where we were headed. I don't think anybody ever fucking talked about it, you know. You just do one gig and then you move from Monday, opening for some band in a club, to a Friday, headlining, you know. Step by step, like that. So, we never went backwards to the point where we're at now.
So let's spin your bran for a minute here. From those basement days and opening for bands and stuff, down on the strip. Now, people have called you and you can say you guys are the Plant & Page of this generation.
Oh god! That's... You said it, I didn't.
Yeah, but it's true, Slash. I mean...
That's so... clichÃ©, you know.
Yeah, it's clichÃ©, but, I mean, everybody's gotta put a mark on something and you guys are out there, and you're influencing a generation.
Well, a good example of how clichÃ© that is, is when this record that we just came out with was released. Everybody said: "That's Guns N' Roses punk record". Which it's not, at all. It's just like, some of the bands were icon punk bands at the time. Like... the late 70's, when we're heavily influenced by that kinda stuff. But then, you know, T-Rex is not a punk band. Nazareth is definitely not a punk band.
There's all kinds of different types of music on it. But all it is, is really us playing all these different kinds of songs. You know, after the fact, when you think about it, it's just goes to show that there's no such thing as, you know, putting labels on music. It's all about a certain type of attitude. It has nothing to do with... You know, punk and heavy metal and, you know, just rock n' roll in general. All the good stuff is all synonymous.
Yeah, but you have to put on labels on things...
Yeah, you need a name for something. Otherwise it's fuckin'... It doesn't... It's not conducive to conversation, I suppose.
Yeah. Well, people have to understand it. Therefore... We have to understand what red is, so therefore we call it red.
You know, it's kinda like that. But, I mean, doesn't it... Do you ever... The time ever come where you realize: "Oh, this band is big and it's almost out of control." Well, it is out of control-big. How do you ground yourself? Like, you personally. That little Saul Hudson guy, that Slash guy. How do you say: "no". Lke you're saying: "No, it's a clichÃ©"?
It's constant. Trying to keep yourself grounded and... You know, 'cause you still get up in the morning and take a piss and everything, you know... is more or less normal, as far as your life is concerned. But, as soon as you walk out the door, then all of a sudden you're this character.
You know, you go down to Tower Records in LA and it's like, everybody stares at you. And you gotta get to a point where the band is as big as it is, it goes with the territory when you're on tour. But when we're at home and trying to write and so on, the main thing that helps us grounded is the relationship that we have with each other.
You know what I mean. That's the only... You know, that and some close friends and that's about it. 'Cause everybody else treats us like we're fuckin' weird or something.
I was gonna ask you, does it gotten to the point... Sometimes, though. I mean, do you still say: "Hi Axl. Do you wanna go rent a video?" Are you friends, or is gotten to be business associates? Do you see so much of each other on the road, you don't wanna see each other?
That's what I was trying to get out. That's the only thing that keeps us from being completely whacked out, is that we're all still really close friends.
It's nice to have that family, huh?
We just jam a lot, you know. We just get together and play and all our musical roots and all that kinda shit are still intact. You know what I mean. So, like... We've been working on songs for the next record and all we do is like, jam up at my house. Well, up until the earthquake. The studio is now down. [laughs]
But, we've got 14 songs done, at this point and as soon as I get back to LA from Canada, I'm gonna rent a place to live next to the rehearsal studio and then we'll just go in there and start jamming. And that's how we hang out. That's what we do.
That's a good thing. What's this about I hear you playing with Carole King?
Yeah. Carole's a good friend.
Wow! I mean, you got such a list now. There's Kravitz and Jackson and... You like the side-work, don't you?
Well, it's good experience, is what it is. It's like, a lot of these people I know. Michael was the one I didn't know at the time. But, a lot of these people I just gotten to know. Either from the business, or people I went to school with. Or... people that were friends with my parents. You know, stuff like that. And so we just get together and play. It's really not that big a deal.
But, at this point, it's great to work in other people's environment. You know, I'm a pretty decent studio guy at this point. I can deal with any situation in any studio, just because I've worked with so many people.
And it's how I keep active. Otherwise I'd fuckin'... I don't wanna be a complacent, fat, you know... Sitting around in a house somewhere doing nothing, because of, you know, I was successful with, you know, a couple of records. I mean, it's like good to keep working, and knowing that you still have the groove happening and your chops are still together and so on.
Just a couple of more questions, 'cause we're running out of time and I know you gotta go.
... come on, come on. [laughs]
Ok, two more. One thing, it's the shiest question, but I'm gonna ask it anyway 'cause people wanna know. You've got certain members doing the solo thing. What about you?
I don't... At this point, you know, as we speak, I don't have any interest in it. 'Cause what would I do? Like, some dumb guitar record?
So, I don't need to do that. I play with enough people and I got enough freedom within the confines of what it is all about. We don't really have any confines. Because everybody freaks out. [laughs] And, anyway. So, no I don't have any interest in doing it.
All right. Now, the Estranged video. When you come up from the water, you gotta tell me about doing it.
Oh, it was... You know, when you see the video, it's not anything close to as hectic as it was, at the time. I got down to... We did it at Universal Studios, and I figured it would be in some sort of tank or something like that.
And I get there and it's the "Jaws" set, right. Which is a huge lagoon, man-made lagoon. And they had... guys on jet-skis, huge hydraulic fans making the storm happen. That whole sky behind me, the backdrop. And the water was like, some, I don't know, ten below zero. I had to stand in it from eight in night to eight in the morning. All right, it's three lousy seconds out of the video. [laughs]
I had like paramedics checking me for hypothermia and all that stuff. It was a nightmare.
And then, you know, the video comes out and it's like, you pop out of the water and there you have it... guitar solo bit. And then it's over.
Oh, it's worth it, though. What a great shot.
And all of Axl's shots in the water were either in Miami or in 92-degree water tank.
Well, that's Axl for you.
You got more balls.
No, I wouldn't go as far as saying that.
[laughs] All right. Listen buddy, thanks for calling... Buddy... I'm calling Slash buddy, hello! Thanks for calling. I really appreciate it. A lot of people out there have been looking forward to this interview. So, thanks a lot.
Take care. This is fun.
All right. Here's Estranged. Guns N' Roses. Thank you Slash!