Slash Discusses Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Michael Jackson and Guns N' Roses in 1990 Guitar World Interview
Steven wasn't a technically great drummer, but we had been playing together for so long that we had a great collective feel. His meter, however, was always changing-up and down, up and down. So we had never really played with a great drummer. We didn't know what it would feel like. Not to say Steven isn't any good -- I don 't want to put him down -- but we never really played with anybody that was awesome. Duff and I started realizing how good Guns N' Roses could be after playing with some great drummers, like Kenny Aronoff from Iggy's band. We just looked at each other after playing with Kenny and went," Wow!" Then when Sorum came down and kicked ass, it confirmed things. The band sounds about 100 times better.
The difference is insane. At one point Duff thought it was his fault. We couldn't get a decent groove going, and we couldn't figure what was going wrong. Then we thought it was the whole band! You should've seen us! Y'know, long faces and shit ... [laughs]
What's the Guns N' Roses studio game plan?
We've written about 30 songs and we're going to try to go into the studio sometime in early July with our producer, Mike Clink. In a perfect world, we'll get it done as fast as possible.
How will you approach the new Guns N' Roses record? You seemed to enjoy the spontaneous "one take" method used on the Dylan and Iggy records.
I'll probably approach it a bit differently. In general, I'm much more meticulous with my own stuff. We usually rehearse the music pretty thoroughly, then go into the studio and play it live to capture the band energy and feel. Then I'll re-record my rhythm parts in the control booth without headphones. I hate wearing headphones! Then I'll try to do my solos in two or three takes. Sometimes we combine 'em.
You'll be hearing some new Guns N' Roses real soon. We have a new song called "Civil War," which will appear on Nobody 's Child; Armenian Angel Appeal [Warner Brothers], an album George Harrison is putting together to benefit Armenian orphans. Guitar-wise, it's pretty indicative of where my head is at these days. I'm playing slower, and I'm trying to spend more time getting my head and fingers to connect with the guitar neck, as opposed to just wailing all the time. We've also recorded a version of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" that will appear on the soundtrack of Tom Cruise's new movie, Like Thunder. And that sounds pretty cool -- I like my playing on that. We're hoping that both tracks will let people know that we're still around [laughs], and that we've matured a bit.
There was a rumor that the new record was going to be a double album. Is that still a possibility?
It's still an idea, because we're trying to figure how we want to approach it. We want to put all the material out, because we're too impatient to wait for a next record, and some of the tracks are 10 minutes long.
Is there going to be much acoustic material, like on GN'R Lies?
There will be more of a balance. There will be acoustic parts, but there will not be one entirely acoustic song.
Will there be any changes, equipment-wise?
When we rehearse, I use what I've always used live -- a really great-sounding, new Les Paul Standard with .010 gauge strings and one of my old Marshall Jubilees. When I go into the studio, I'll whip out all my old guitars and find one cool-sounding head and cabinet.
I know this album has been a long time in the making. Everybody 's been going, "Where's the new record, dude?" But it's hard to explain the ins and outs of getting a group of people together that have gone from being nowhere to being so huge that they can't go outside their house anymore. People don't understand it and they don't want to understand it. They just want to hear about the whole big rock star fantasy trip.
But aren't you bringing some problems on yourself? The longer you wait, the greater the expectations.
The problem really isn't with us. Our attitude has always been, ''I'll be done when it's done, so fuck off." We had to go through a year of personal readjustment -– having to buy fucking homes and so on. When I first bought a house, I didn't even want the damn thing. I was a lot happier living out of a duffle bag. But with our success it was inevitable that we would have to make investments and all that shit. So most of time off was spent adjusting to this huge change, along with some assorted drug problems. That made it tough going at first.
I've grown up a lot, though. I always thought I would be the eternal teenager, and then all of a sudden you have all these mundane responsibilities -- like taking out the trash. That's just a basic example of something you don't really want to deal with but have to anyway. I was just used to being on the road where everything moves at this incredibly fast pace and everything is done for you. Then it stops and life begins to feel real hollow. So, it took all this time to adjust to the differences. I feel real comfortable now -- I've got a couple of dogs, some cats and a few snakes. I've actually made a life for myself outside of the road.
Did you lose sight of your music at any point?
Every once in a while I would realize, "Gee, I haven't picked up my guitar in weeks." But there were other times when all I would do is play. I don't really know how that works. There are times when you get in these creative lulls and think your life is over [laughs]. Then it all comes back.
The big problem is that while you're going through all these changes, the business side can't and doesn't wait.
How has your writing and playing matured?
I've become a lot more aware of what a guitar is capable of, and what my direction is. I understand more of what turns me on.
Does the positive or negative feedback help?
Not really. I only write things I think are cool. If somebody else doesn't like it, then my attitude is that they don't have to listen to it. Whatever musical changes we've been through have little to do with other people's praise, criticisms or expectations. Don't get me wrong -- it's great when people groove on what we do, but if everyone listened to the new record and said, "Gee, there 's no 'Sweet Child O' Mine'," I would have to just shrug my shoulders. When I listen to Appetite, which was made like four years ago, it sounds really immature to me. If I were recording it now, I would make it more subtle in some spots. But I think that's only natural: I mean, we recorded that thing four fucking years ago – you can 't help but grow.