08 September 2000
Slash has had an interview with Murray Engleheart this month in which he tells Murray Engleheart why things are looking pretty rosy right now.When Slash was in Australia to promote his debut solo album, ‘It's Five O' Clock Somewhere’, a Sunday afternoon cruise on Sydney harbour was held in his honour. The relaxed guitarist wandered casually about, chatting effortlessly to anyone and everyone, while being careful not to get his new tattoo in the hot summer sun. A month or so later, I was trying to reconcile the relaxed atmosphere of that afternoon with the Slashster squeezing out fret sparks in high style for Michael Jackson at the opening of the Grammy Awards. "Michael's bad!" the guitarist declares. "I played with Michael for the simple fact that he's something that I listened to as a kid. But he's like the genuine article, and he's one of the most talented motherfuckers I've ever played with. So when I got the offer, I was flattered. “I've played with a lot of diverse people. I played with Boz Scaggs a couple of years back and nobody expected that either!" he laughs. "I just played with Rod Stewart. I do it all the time." For the moment, though, that broad worksheet has been put on hold. Slash is in full, flat-out rock ‘n' roll mode once again. His second solo album, the pumpin' ‘Ain't Life Grand’, is due in October, and what better environment to break in the new band and material than opening for AC/DC in stadiums across North America?
Murray Engleheart:You must be very happy with what you have achieved this year...
Slash: It's fucking great! Are you kidding? It's a blessing! When I decided to make this real career move and quit Guns N' Roses and all that kind of stuff and really buckled down and decided to put a permanent band together, there were so many fucking changes that went on having to do with the record company, management, attorneys, this, that and the other - all the shit that goes on behind the scenes that just nobody would ever really know about. I had to clean the slate and just get back to doing a simple rock ‘n' roll thing. I recorded the album out of my own pocket in my own house and once that was finished, I left the record company, I got divorced, I left my band like I left Guns N' Roses, all that shit I had to go through. Now it finally gets to a point where (the second album is) coming out in October, and it's like I beat all the odds and I'm playing with AC/DC. It's great.
Murray Engleheart:Any jams with Angus?
Slash:Not so far. I hung out with Malcolm yesterday, but I haven't jammed with those guys.
Murray Engleheart:The new album is far more focused that the ‘It’s Five O’ Clock...’ album...
Slash:Well, there's a long story that goes with that. ‘It's Five O' Clock...’ is exactly what it sounds like. It was my release to get away from whatever pressures that Guns N' Roses was becoming while I was still there. So ‘It's Five O' Clock Somewhere’ is exactly what it implies. But I hadn't quit Guns N' Roses at that point. It was just sort of a haphazard, almost a fluke, record that once I got together with enough guys and we were having a good enough time, I just kept going to the point where it had a cover and it become a CD, and then I went on tour with it. But at the same time, everybody was contractually obligated to all their different bands, me and Matt (Sorum) and Gilby (Clarke) being contractually obligated to Guns N' Roses, Mike Inez to Alice In Chains and Eric Dover to Jellyfish. So we knew it was just going to be a fun outing. But for me, it was a real shot in the arm. I was like, “This is the reason I do what it is that I do!” For one, it was a good time and for two, to be close to my audience, an audience, any audience, and to travel and go out there - the same thing when Guns started, what turned me onto the whole thing in the first place. Anyways, this particular record, ‘Ain't Life Grand’, was when I finally made that decision to quit the sort of - I don't know - corporate monster that Guns N' Roses had become. I thought, ‘Snakepit's still a cool name. Put another band together and make it permanent and make a serious record.’
Murray Engleheart: It's very rock...
Slash:There are so many passing trends and fads and so on and so forth that go on. Every decade, there's got to be at least a half dozen of them. I started doing what it is that I do because I was turned on to rock ‘n' roll for whatever it was that turned me on to it, and that's what I follow.
Murray Engleheart: At what point did you realise that you had to get out of Guns N' Roses?
Slash:It was somewhere during the original Snakepit record, the ‘It’s Five O' Clock Somewhere’ record. Before that was even really a concept as far as an album was concerned, when it was just like demos, I was like, “Well, this would make great material”, at least a great foundation for the band to work on. But Axl had made up his mind that he didn't want to play that type of music any more. So I was like, “OK, cool. Fuck it then!” I went off and I did the Snakepit thing and the tour and everything and by the time I came back, I realised that the direction that he wanted to go in, or whatever, the conflict of interest, was definitely against whatever it was that we'd been doing, and that we weren't going to come to any kind of plausible meeting of the minds.
Murray Engleheart: Do you see him much? Are you at peace with him?
Slash:I guess so. I haven't spoken to him since (laughs). I see Izzy and Duff and Steve Adler and Matt, those guys. I haven't talked to Axl for a long time. Five years ago.
Murray Engleheart:The amazing thing is that in the time since you left, you've done an album and you're on tour and they're still working on the same record...
Slash:I guess that would be the reality of it (laughs). But as hard as it is or as hard as it's been for me to get all my shit together on my own, he's (Axl) going through the same thing, because he's the only remaining member of Guns N' Roses left. So my heart goes out to him, because I know what a tough fucking job it is.
Murray Engleheart: Was ‘Use Your Illusion’ a pinnacle or a downfall?
Slash:‘Use Your Illusion’ was actually one of the most personal fucking achievements that anybody - and I can speak on behalf of everybody in the band - made. The material on there is so close to home, and it was such a hard couple of records to make. It was the whole growing up period in his particular business, fucking going from being some little garage band to being this stadium act and all the shit that went along with it. I thought those two records were a fucking achievement that is unparalleled (laughs). But you can't expect everybody to understand that, because you'd have to live it.
Murray Engleheart: How did you see the ‘Live Era 87 - 93’ album?
Slash:The live record was cool. It was one of those things that came out of nowhere and I got involved with it because, regardless of any kind of, you know, rumoured animosity having to do with myself and the Guns guys, that's still my family, that’s where I came from. So when I heard that that was going to happen, I got into the whole mixing of it and all that kind of stuff. I was surprised we were as good a band as we were! (laughs) I was sort of amazed! But it's a really good honest representation of our shows. That's like about as in-your-face, blatant fucking Guns N' Roses as it gets. There's no fixes, no fucking bullshit.
Murray Engleheart: Any real chance of a Guns reunion?
Slash:You know what? Everybody keeps talking about it. Chances are, I don't see it in the foreseeable future (laughs). There's too much bullshit. I mean if somebody goes, “Hey, you know what? There's a weekend here, or a weekend there. You guys want to all get together and fucking go and do these two shows here at such and such a place or whatever”, I'd be like, well, first things first. It's got to be the original band and then you've got to get us all into one room and, schedules permitting, I have no fucking intention of slowing down what I'm doing with Snakepit. I'm saying that, but, more so than anything, I think the person that would rather not have that happen would be Axl. That's the whole reason this all started in the first place.