Slash is the most celebrated guitar player of our generation – whether it be time spent as one of the founding members of the legendary Guns N Roses – or one of his engaging later projects – there is no denying the skill and innovation Slash brings to the wondrous art of the raging guitar. His latest project is Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators – a collective ready to rock your world in with an all-out vengeance. The combination of Slash and Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge -along with bassist Todd Kerns and drummer Brent Fitz – has unleashed phenomenal results! World On Fire is their latest auditory adventure, showing all band participants at the very height of their creative prowess.
Slash, Kennedy and the troupe found themselves raging across the country opening for the legendary Aerosmith. In late September, Slash returns to his Hollywood roots, performing intimate shows at The Whisky, The Roxy, and The Troubadour. Expect Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators to demolish all three of these iconic venues!
We recently had a chance to chat with Slash about World On Fire, working with Myles Kennedy, the Hollywood music scene, his Rocky Horror connection, and other blazing topics of interest. Read on…
How is the tour with Aerosmith been going so far and what have been some of the highlights?
The Aerosmith tour has been fuckin’ fantastic. It’s been really great. Great watching those guys kick ass every night. It’s one of the best tours I’ve seen them on, really meshing so great. The highlights, I jammed with them in Boston, which was definitely a highlight for me. The whole tour has been a highlight, I can pick out playing Los Angeles, playing The Forum with them was a highlight because its LA and it’s The Forum. They’ve remodeled the building and it’s one of the best venues, or is the best venue in Los Angeles now for an arena. The whole tour has been a series of highlights, I’m having the best time and it’s been great for our band to be playing with them when they’re in such peak form. The crowds have been great, so it’s all killer.
Did you know Steven Tyler or Joe Perry or any of the guys prior to this tour?
Guns N Roses opened for Aerosmith right when Guns N Roses was starting to break in 1988. So I’ve known them ever since. There is a great camaraderie, we all know each other very well. It’s a little bit like a family atmosphere.
Let’s talk about World on Fire. First, is there any story or concept behind the album title?
No, the album title is really a song on the record. I had a hard time trying to think of an album title that really encompassed the whole record and was a good label for the whole record. Then, really in the eleventh hour, desperate for an album title I think we were mixing at the time. The title World On Fire just sounded good. Then I realized that it had a much broader connotation considering everything that’s been going on in the world thus far [laughs], but at this point in time. It means a lot for an individual’s personal life. It could mean a lot of different things. I thought, that’s a good title. So we went with that.
How do the songs on this albums compare to Apocalyptic Love?
They really don’t. I dont think I’ve ever compared anything, like a current project to a past project. The only thing that has any sort of connection to the last record and this one is there’s a song called “Shadow Life” on the record, which actually the main riff in the song originally was in a song called “You’re a Lie,” which was the first single off the Apocalyptic Love record. When we were in pre-production for that record, I decided that the chorus wasn’t strong enough as it was so I took that riff out and re-wrote the chorus. The riff was still great, it just didn’t fit as the chorus of that song so we re-hashed it and it ended up being “Shadow Life.” So that’s really the only connection to the last record.
What do you think has made you and Myles Kennedy work so well together?
That’s just an unsaid thing. We just have a natural chemistry together, a sort of creative connection and also a personal connection that just clicked when we first met. That’s something you can’t really cultivate, it just happens.
The other two members, Todd Kerns and Brent Fitz have really impressive credits. How did they become involved?
It’s sort of interesting. When I first hooked up with Myles, we recorded for the first time on my first solo record. I was like, OK, would you want to do a tour? I had to put something together to support that album. He actually signed on to do that, which was shocking for me. I thought he was going to say no because of his commitments to Alter Bridge. But he happened to be off at the time, so he signed on. Then I went out doing the audition circuit and I started with drummers and I was basically working with guys I already played with before, but trying to find the guy with the right feel for what I was thinking at the time. A lot of people brought up this guy who I never met or heard of named Brent Fitz, from Las Vega. So many different people unrelated to each other mentioned his name so I sought him out and met him in Vegas and then he came out to LA and we jammed for the first time. It was the perfect feel for what I was looking for. Then I had a bass player in mind at the time and the three of us jammed together and Brent and I agreed that he wasn’t the right bass player. So he suggested Todd Kerns, another guy I had never heard of who also lives in Vegas. Todd drove out and he was the perfect fucking bass player, it was unbelievable. It clicked right there, we had an automatic rhythm section thing going and then Myles and I rehearsed for a week and we started touring.
The producer, Michael Baskette also has done some Alter Bridge recordings in the past. How did he become involved and what did he contribute to the process?
The last Alter Bridge record came out, it had been out for a while and I was thinking about different producers for this record. I heard one of the Alter Bridge songs on the radio and I was really impressed with the way the bass and drums sounded. I asked Myles about him, obviously they had a relationship, and Myles was very close to the chest about not giving me any real information and not being responsible for any creative decisions I might make and just suggested I talk to him. Mike and I had a really great lengthy conversation about tape versus digital, guitars, recording guitars etc. We just hit it off. So we did a bunch of pre-production before he came in and got all the songs together, then when Mike came he really was the knot in the bow, so to speak. He tied everything up and he worked on all the little parts that even myself, who is a crazy workaholic, there’s details you just don’t want to deal with, certain conjunctions and parts, this and that. When you’re playing rock and roll, you can very easily ignore them. He came in and he tied up all the loose ends and really got what the band sounded like and what we were trying to sound like. We were on the same page as far as that goes. We go into the studio and he was just fuckin’ amazing to work with. One of the hardest working producers I’ve ever worked with. That fits my personality great and he actually pushed me and the other guys and got the best performances out of us. Sonically, one of the first producers that I’ve worked with that really managed to pull out the great guitar, drums and bass sounds and obviously he’s great with Myles. I was really happy.
Do you still enjoy playing the old Guns N Roses songs after all this time?
Yeah, that was the whole concept when I first started after my first solo record and going on the road, was to be able to play all the stuff from my past catalog that I don’t really get to play anymore. With Velvet Revolver, we couldn’t really play too much Guns stuff and if we did it was very limited. As much as people like to think of that as a solo band, it was more of a group. So we didn’t really lean too much on Guns N Roses back then. So it was nice to be able to pull from Snakepit, Velvet Revolver, Guns N Roses, the solo record and also new material that we’re doing now. It’s a lot of fun.
Do you think you and Axl will ever speak again?
You know, I know you know that’s not something that I’m going to get into. [laughs]
Let’s move on then. What was the experience like working with icons such as Michael Jackson and Ozzy Osbourne on their material?
Specifically those two, Ozzy who’s been a long time friend, I’ve worked with a few times. For one, it’s an honor to work with somebody who’s an icon to the extent that he is and as the prince of the heavy metal genre. It’s great fun working with him, but he’s also such a sweet guy and a down to earth and humble individual, it’s just nice to be around him. And then obviously he’s just so tremendously gifted that anything you do with him is going to come out sounding great. Then Michael was the same, one of these really inspiring, gifts from on high, performer, songwriter, singers. It was an honor to work with him. We had a really great working relationship for quite a while.
What are you looking forward to the most about playing the iconic rock clubs in West Hollywood, what can your fans look forward to in those shows?
The clubs in LA, those are all rooted in my history. I started going to the Troubadour when I first moved to Los Angeles from England when I was a little kid with my parents. So that has the longest history for me, but also the Roxy, Guns N Roses had their beginnings there and I did gigs with Snake Pit there. The Roxy, I also have a history with when my mom was doing the wardrobe for Rocky Horror Show when it came through town, I was there every weekend for six weeks. It’s also a place where Guns played and Velvet Revolver and Snake Pit played. Even this band, the Conspirators, our very first gig was at The Roxy. Then The Whiskey, I have a history there too. I actually used to roadie there when I was a teenager. To come back to LA and play those same places, that small and personal atmosphere and to the local home crowd. It’s a great experience. I dont know what to expect, it’s going to be pretty manic i would imagine but it’ll be a lot of fun.
Thank you so much for your time. Good talking with you!
Good talking to you as well.
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)
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