Ivan Chopik of GuitarMessenger.com recently conducted an interview with legendary guitarist Slash (VELVET REVOLVER, GUNS N' ROSES). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
GuitarMessenger.com: Coming back from this extensive tour, has it been difficult for you to maintain your healthier lifestyle that you've adopted in recent years?
Slash: This has been a whirlwind tour that we just did — from a European tour, to Asia, to Australia to the U.S. all inside of basically eight months. With the exception of days that we were flying, we were playing like six nights a week. You just have to pace yourself. The only thing really that I focus on is the gig. I don't do anything else, except for handle the press and stuff. There was a lot of work going on in this tour. Because it's my solo record, there was nobody else to share any of the duties. [laughs] It was all up to me to get everything done in addition to the actual show. It was a lot of work. Basically, all you've got to do is pace yourself, and try if you can to get some rest here and there — and try not to eat a lot of crap [laughs].
GuitarMessenger.com: One of the things I really admire about your playing is that as excited as you may feel and get during various parts of the show, you still manage to have a really relaxed rhythmic feel. Is that something you're conscious of and have worked on, or does it just come to you?
Slash: No, I always thought that I was on top of the beat. [laughs] I do rush things a little bit, but I don't really have a concentrated approach on how I do things once I'm out there doing it, you know? How I play is spontaneous, feel-wise — it is what it is. I don't really think about it too much. That said, I'm very focused when it comes to the actual execution of whatever it is that I'm playing, and being in tune with the band and all of that kind of stuff. It's all very, very important. It's sort of just part of my gig: we go in, make sure everything sounds cool, and then sort of lock in — and then I don't think about that aspect of it very much more after that.
GuitarMessenger.com: When you're not on tour, is there some aspect of your playing that you're still trying to change or improve on?
Slash: I have my guitar right here, and I sit around and just see what comes up or see if there are any ideas — sort of just mess around. I don't have a regimen. I don't have a focused line of thinking as far as how I approach the guitar, I just sort of do stuff with it and hope for the best and hope that something inspiring comes up or I might stumble on something. You know what I mean? The best thing, I think, is to just to keep a guitar around as much as possible.
GuitarMessenger.com: Are there any new artists out there that you've been getting into recently?
Slash: I did really enjoy jamming with AIRBOURNE. When we were doing the European festival tour, we were doing all of these shows with that band. That was pretty cool. Those guys are the closest thing to a sort of AC/DC-type hard rock band, full of energy kind of thing that I've seen in a long time. I like Jack White's new band DEAD WEATHER, BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE is cool, and the new AVENGED SEVENFOLD record's good. There's a band from Australia which is just now breaking over here called KARNIVOOL, which is really, really cool. There's stuff here and there — there hasn't been one thing where I've just been like:, "Wow!" Like when I first heard ALICE IN CHAINS, say. There hasn't been a movement like that, but there are cool things that are starting to happen that are rock and roll-based. Hopefully in the next of couple years as things develop, there will be more of that happening.
GuitarMessenger.com: Having weathered the ups and downs of the industry for so many years now, what's some advice that you can give to young artists trying to get out there and make their mark in the industry?
Slash: I don't know. Right now, I'm busy sort of hanging on as far as sticking to my guns in what it is that I do, and really not fitting in with everything else that's going on in music at this point. It's hard for me to know what to tell somebody trying to get it together at this point in time, because it just seems so corporate now. A lot of records are being made where people don't even know how to play. There's a lot of technology involved, and nowadays it seems like everybody's trying to conform to the music industry standard. It used to be that there was a record business and then there were the musicians, and the twain didn't meet on the same ground. Now it seems like everybody is all on the same page, and it's really focused on money. It's hard for me to say what somebody should aspire to do in the music business at this point [laughs]. I would assume that the most important thing is to learn your instrument, and to know what it is that you want to produce musically, and then to go out there and go for it. It takes a lot of work, and a lot of commitment and dedication, and you have to be prepared to deal with all of that and want to do it.
Read the entire interview from GuitarMessenger.com.