Slash says that the current lineup of GUNS N' ROSES is a "really well-oiled machine that's super functional."
Only rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin and drummer Steven Adler are missing from the classic GN'R lineup that recorded 1987's classic debut, "Appetite For Destruction". Slash, singer Axl Rose and bassist Duff McKagan are on board, fortified with a backing band of Dizzy Reed (keyboards), Melissa Reese (keyboards), Richard Fortus (guitar) and Frank Ferrer (drums).
During an appearance on the "Talk Is Jericho" podcast, Slash spoke about GUNS N' ROSES' "Not In This Lifetime" tour, which is now one of the highest-grossing in music history. The trek has seen the band, which was once known for tardiness and unpredictability, improving its time-keeping considerably, with Rose seemingly having toned down his famously fiery personality.
"The GUNS N' ROSES lineup that we've been doing this last couple of years with… It's sort of amazing, because of GUNS N' ROSES' history, but suddenly, it's this really, really well-oiled machine that's super functional," he said. "So the one thing you don't have to worry about is… It's like I walk into a room with me and the band and [we are about] to get to work, everybody is fucking ready to go. So that's a blessing, because when it's disorganized or not everybody is together, it makes it impossible to do this much work. So I don't have that issue to deal with, which is cool. And they don't have to deal with it with me either. [Laughs]"
Slash went on to say that it was nice to hear from Rose after they hadn't talked for 19 years following his exit from GUNS N' ROSES in 1996.
"There was definitely some new ground to cover as to some of the catalysts who were causing… And a lot of it was not really between he and I — it had to do with outside parties that were part of the entourage, so to speak — and that explained a lot," the guitarist said. "But then there was different things between he and I that we needed to talk about because of how we handled those outside influences. So it was just good that we finally did talk, because, shit, man — it was 20 fucking years that we did not say one word to each other… You're talking about two of the stubbornest people you could ever come across."
Billboard magazine reported in January that "Not In This Lifetime" had topped the $475 million mark in gross sales with the wrap of GUNS N' ROSES' 2017 touring schedule, making the trek the fourth-highest grossing tour of all time. Asked if the shows have turned out to be bigger and more successful than he anticipated, Slash told "Talk Is Jericho": "I think that was part of the beauty of it — I didn't have any expectations. I think it was more of a positive thing for me to go in and just be in a room with Axl and Duff and actually just play. And so that was in and of itself the coolest thing about it. And so the desire to go and do those couple of shows at Coachella and the warm-up shows, that was just gonna be a blast. It wasn't really about how big of a response there was gonna be or how well it was [gonna be received] — I don't think we were thinking about that. It was just fun to go out and get together and play. And then, all of a sudden, the response became something that we had — at least for me personally, I had no idea it would be like that. And that was throughout the whole tour. So it was pretty special."
While Adler made sporadic cameos throughout the "Not In This Lifetime" tour, the characteristically reclusive Stradlin has been absent from the trek, telling The Wall Street Journal that his non-participation was simply due to the fact that he was "not being able to reach a happy middle ground through the negotiation process."
Slash addressed the decision to work with Fortus and Ferrer during the current tour, telling "Talk Is Jericho": "That's sort of a bigger subject considering all the different things that went on during that period of trying to figure all that out. But all things considered, when certain things that we were sort of trying to get sorted out didn't work out, Axl's band, that he had been working with literally for 15 years, and so I felt really comfortable with Richard, and Frank was great. So it didn't take rocket science to keep all that together. And just the other stuff that we were trying to do didn't work out. I'm not gonna get into all that though… Even [in] the '90s, we didn't have the original lineup. So it wasn't something that we were, like, going 'Oh my God' about."
Slash has praised his working relationship with Fortus, saying: "Richard's great. I don't know all of the guys that played guitar with GUNS prior to my coming back — I hadn't met any of them. Richard was the first one… he was there at [the first] rehearsal, and we hit it off automatically. He's one of those guys who's an amazing technician — he's very knowledgable about guitar techniques and all kinds of shit guitar. He's rooted in the same kind of rock guitar and same kind of influences that I am, so we spoke the same language. So, all in all, working with Richard was really a sort of boon for me, because I was doing my thing, and he was doing, on his side, covering it all and also sort of pushing me as a guitar player at the same time. So it's definitely one of those beneficial relationships that we established really early…. It's almost like it was… What's the best way to put it? It's sort of a 'meant to be' kind of thing, because if it would have been somebody else, it might not have worked. But it just happened to work perfectly from the moment I walked in."
The "Not In This Lifetime" tour launched in April 2016 with a nightclub gig in Los Angeles and shows no signs of stopping, with more dates booked in November.
Slash is currently touring with his solo band, SLASH FEATURING MYLES KENNEDY AND THE CONSPIRATORS, to promote the recent release of their new album, "Living The Dream".
Photo credit: Katarina Benzova