Virtual musical collaborations became the new norm throughout the course of the pandemic, but few were able to put on an electric guitar firework display quite as dynamic as Tom Morello and Slash’s Interstate 80.
You’d be forgiven – especially after listening to that dueling call-and-response guitar solo – for thinking that both were trading lines face-to-face in the studio. In reality, the two six-string titans recorded their own parts in isolation, and expertly pieced them together like a complex jigsaw.
During a new Artist Takeover Mode on Pandora’s Hard Rock Radio, Slash spoke of the pair’s less-than-ideal collaborative process, and how they managed to assemble the intricacies of Interstate 80 without ever meeting each other in person.
In a Guitar World-exclusive excerpt, Slash recalled, “This next song was recorded during the pandemic. Tom Morello had called me up and said, ‘Hey, [do] you want to put a guitar solo on this new song that I'm doing?’
“So he sent it to me and, and you know, I put a guitar solo on it,” he continued, “but it was one of those things that was a call-and-answer: soloing back and forth between the two of us. I sent him my solo and then he put a solo on it and edited it together.”
However, that was just one piece of the puzzle. With the track came a Guitar Hero-themed music video that, again, had to be filmed and edited remotely. It was a task that came with a similar set of challenges.
As Slash explained, “[Morello] called me up and he goes, ‘Hey, you wanna do a video for this song?’ And I was like, ‘Sure.’ I mean, how do you want to do a video? We’re in the pandemic. It was really at the thick of it. Nobody was interacting with anybody in person.
“He had me shoot it in my studio, and I had me and my girlfriend come in and shoot it with her phone,” he continued. “I just played the solo a couple different times at different angles and I sent it to him, and he edited the whole thing together. It actually looks pretty cool anyway.”
Elsewhere in the takeover, Slash name-dropped two new guitar acts that are currently on his radar – Zeal & Ardor and Viagra Boys – and discussed his most recent record with Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators, 4.
It turns out The River is Rising, 4’s lead single, had a similar inception to Interstate 80. Just like the Morello track, it was born in the depths of the pandemic – an origin that permeates through the single’s meaning.
“The River is Rising is just a piece of music that I put together during the pandemic right before we actually went into pre-production for the record,” Slash noted. “I sent it to Myles [Kennedy] and he came up with a great chorus idea and the chord changes underneath the chorus.
“It's actually a really good sort of reference to all the chaos and division that we've been living through in 2020, and a couple years prior to that.”
Head over to Pandora to listen to Slash's Artist Takeover Mode.