Australian Guitar - - Feature -

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].

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