Interview: Slash Discusses His New Solo Album, 'Apocalyptic Love'
The legendary guitarist talks about his latest solo effort, Apocalyptic Love.
Indeed, at 46, Slash is going as hard and fast as he ever has. In addition to his solo career, the guitarist has his hand in everything from a record label—the playfully named Dik Hayd imprint, which is issuing Apocalyptic Love—to a horror-movie production company, Slasher Films, which just had its first project, Nothing to Fear, picked up for major distribution. And on the guitar end, he continues to post an incredible number of guest appearances and one-off spots, from recording with everyone from Rihanna to the animated characters Phineas and Ferb, to performing with Lenny Kravitz and Joe Perry at a recent gig in Las Vegas, to boning up on a few Black Sabbath songs for a run, along with Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde, Geezer Butler and others on the upcoming Ozzy & Friends tour.
Then there’s the task of tending to the ongoing saga of Velvet Revolver, which remains in limbo since the departure of Scott Weiland in 2008. Though rumors circulated last year that the band had worked up an album’s worth of new material with singer Corey Taylor, and that the Slipknot/Stone Sour frontman looked to be all but a lock for the position, more recently it was revealed that Slash had vetoed the move. “It just wasn’t right for me,” he says. “The thing with finding the right guy is I have to be able to feel it. And there’s not necessarily always a verbal explanation for that; it’s just an innate feeling that I can’t necessarily explain. So Velvet has actually worked with a couple of people over the last few years”—other unsubstantiated names that have circulated in the press include Big Wreck’s Ian Thornley and Ours’ Jimmy Gnecco—“but there hasn’t been someone where I’ve felt, ‘Okay, we hit the nail on the head.’ It hasn’t gotten to that point for me.”
In January 2012, the band did rear its head, if only for a moment, joining up with Weiland for a four-song performance at the House of Blues in L.A. as part of a benefit concert staged in memoriam for musician John O’Brien. But Slash is quick to assert there was no intent behind the reunion other than helping out the family of a friend. “There was nothing to accomplish from doing it except to raise money for John’s family, which was the sole motivating factor,” he says. “Other than that, it was like, Let’s just try to have fun. And we did. But that was it.”
Similarly, he views the Hall of Fame performance with Guns N’ Roses as an end, rather than a new beginning, of sorts. “It was a really cool experience,” he says. “I mean, I hadn’t played a Guns song with Steven [Adler] since probably 1990. Maybe even before that, if I really think about it. So to be able to do that with him and Duff was a nice thing. But Steven was the first one to put it into words, I think, where afterward he said, ‘Now I can just put this whole chapter behind me.’ And I think for everyone involved it really put a cork in the whole reunion thing, so to speak.”
As for whether he had harbored any hopes that the full Appetite for Destruction–era lineup, with Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin, would perform at the ceremony, Slash is candid. “Ideally, I did want to do it with the original band,” he says. “And I figured it would have probably been the first and only thing comparable to a reunion that we would ever do. But that was sort of wishful thinking. I had a feeling that wasn’t going to happen.”
In a strange twist, it was the press release issued by Rose just days before the event was to take place—in which the singer declined his invitation to the ceremony and renounced his induction entirely—that sparked the semi-reunion into existence. “I was actually together with Duff when that came out,” Slash says. “So when it was confirmed Axl wasn’t going to show we decided, Fuck it, we’ll play. We already knew Izzy wasn’t coming, so Gilby was the obvious choice there. And I think I said to Duff, ‘Why don’t you just sing?’ And he actually mentioned bringing in Myles. So I went to Myles about it, and he wasn’t sure. He was like, ‘I don’t want to get put in that position, getting berated by Guns fans.’ But he came around, and the next thing you know we were on a plane. So the whole thing really came together at the last minute.”
Now that the moment has passed, and he’s back to focusing on the work in front of him, Slash is appreciative of the experience. “For a while I didn’t even want to go to the ceremony,” he says. “I just felt that if we weren’t going to play I didn’t need to be there at all, and I got pretty down on the whole thing. But once it was all happening, there was a certain kind of clarity that hadn’t been that tangible for me before. It really felt like we had accomplished something. And it wasn’t so much about any of us individually, or who was there and who wasn’t there, but rather about the band itself, and also the fans that had put us there. There’s a really vibrant sort of legacy for Guns N’ Roses that has gone on full force for all this time, and that’s something to be really humble about and grateful for.”
It’s the way Slash feels about his career in general. “I’m really passionate about what I do, and I’m fortunate that other people seem to dig it too. And if I think about it, probably the only reason I’ve managed to excel at this is because music and the guitar have always been 150 percent of my being. I know a lot of players that just don’t dig the work that much anymore, but I still do, and that’s what keeps me forging on.
He continues. “I mean, at the end of the day, it’s just real basic shit. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to get a rock band together and go out and make music and play, you know? You just have to have the love for doing it. And I love doing it.”
This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue of Guitar World. For all the features, reviews and columns from this issue, pick it up now in our online store.
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