SLASH IS TOURING AUSTRALIA IN 2019:
Monday January 28th Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Wednesday January 30th Convention Exhibition Centre, Brisbane Friday February 1st Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne Sunday February 3rd RAC Arena, Perth
been touring with us since 2012, and this was the first record he played on.
We need to talk about guitar solos, because there are some insanely juicy ones on this album – as is to be expected from a Slash record! What is your philosophy when it comes to tearing out the perfect solo?
I appreciate all of that, but man, I don’t even know! It’s not necessarily about having anything perfect with your composition or any of that – it’s just about expressing yourself authentically in the context of the song. You just have to go for broke. Play what you feel in that moment and go wherever the track is taking you.
And it’s always a spontaneous, first-take kind of a thing; as you’re rehearsing it, and when you’re in pre-production and you’re getting closer towards making the actual record, whatever that first spontaneous thing you did on the guitar was, nine times out of ten, you tend to just keep going in that direction. That first off-the-cuff thing you played is usually what dictates the most melodic direction the song is going to head in.
So by the time you actually go in to record, the structure and the melodic trajectory of the solo is pretty much already there, give or take a few licks. You can’t sit down and fastidiously work it all out – that’s never worked for me.
Does the specific gear that you use come into that, or is it more about what you do with what you have?
It’s always been pretty much that, y’know, where you just play whatever you feel is right. It doesn’t matter what guitar you’re playing it on – when you get to the section of a song where the solo is going to be, emotionally and melodically, you hear it in your head the same way every time.
How did you want this album to push you forward as a guitarist and a songwriter?
There are definitely moments that you would consider ‘a stretch’, but I mean, that happens with every record. You’re always looking to do something different with every new album. Again, it’s not a conscious thing where you sit down and go, ‘I’m going to stride forward and break new ground on this, that and the other.’
You just want to get past where you were before, so you start to stride towards a little bit of an unfamiliar territory – even though it’s still rock’n’roll and it’s still in the vein of what it is that we do, you start to branch out a little bit. Because otherwise, you just grow stagnant.
So would you say that you’re still learning things as a guitarist?
Dude, are you kidding!? I think the more I do this, the more I find I need to learn. Being a guitarist is a neverending journey!
What did this album in particular teach you about the guitar?
One of the things about this record that’s different from the other ones is that most of it was done on some vintage Les Pauls that I’d never really used in the studio before.
I’ve always been one to say that you can take a brand new guitar and make it sound as good as anything you could dig up from the ‘50s, but all things considered, I used a few vintage guitars on this record and I found that they just had a really great, pure kind of a sound.
And that was something you couldn’t necessarily get from a brand new reissue of the same model, because it just wouldn’t have the character of that original guitar from being around as long and being played on as hard. So I did realise that there is a difference, and it was profoundly obvious in the way that those guitars recorded, and the way they sound on the album.
There’s something special about a worn-in guitar that you just can’t get from something straight off the manufacturing line, y’know? When you pick up a guitar that’s seen some shit in its lifetime, you’re not just getting the sound of that wood and those strings, but you’re getting the character of that guitar as well. You’re getting the sounds of the live it’s lived and the experiences it’s had.
Yeah man, absolutely. And I’ve always sort of known that, but at the same time, y’know, I’ve just never thought, ‘ Well, you need to have a vintage guitar.’ Even though I’ve owned vintage guitars for a long time, I’ve never felt like I needed to go into the vault and pull one of these older guitars out to do something – I would just use whatever I had laying around.
But then in this case, I did use some of those older guitars, and there’s definitely something that I can consciously recognise as being different. There’s a couple of songs [on Living
TheDream] where I used my [Kris] Derrig Les Paul, and a couple where I used a current reissue Les Paul, and they definitely have a more contemporary sort of hard rock sound than the songs where I was using the ’58 and ’59 Les Pauls and the ’ 56 Goldtop.
What are you shredding out with on the road at the moment?
I’ve got a brand new ’59 or ’58 Les Paul reissue from Gibson with a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard – it’s sort of an odd tobacco colour, but it’s just an amazing sounding guitar. That’s been my main guitar since just prior to the last Guns N’ Roses run in Europe.
So there’s that, and then I have a 1987 ’57 reissue Goldtop that I love, which I got on the road, and my Gibson Appetite For Destruction Les Paul that came out in… 2011, I think it was? I’ve been using it since then – that’s one of my main go-to live guitars.
And then I’ve got a really cool BC Rich Bich that I’ve been using on the road for a long time now – since the beginning of the Guns N’ Roses tour – and then a Gibson EDS-1275 Double-Neck. That one is really, really great, and it’s actually a replica of my old 1960-something Double-Neck. So those are my go-to live guitars at the moment.
Is there a guitar out in the wild that you’re still yet to get your hands on?
Not really. I’ve always had very limited aspirations as far as the guitars I want go. I got a ’58 Gibson Flying V and an Explorer back in the ‘90s, and I think those were probably the most coveted guitars I had any aspirations for. I’m not a huge collector – I like certain things, and I usually get them right away if I can [ laughs].