Music interview: Slash

By Conrad Schoenleber

Minnesota Daily, U. Minnesota via UWIRE

With his cigarette, top hat and Jack Daniels, Slash personifies rock ‘n’ roll. The ex-member of Guns N’ Roses and representative of the golden age of hard rock is still making music. The Minnesota Daily got a chance to talk to the articulate shredder before his show at the Medina Entertainment Center last Thursday about touring, image and the death of rock ‘n’ roll.

Tell me about the tour you’re on.

It’s actually one of the coolest tours I’ve done since the early Guns days. It’s one of those things I had no expectations for. I put together this record, and it’s really cool and everything, and I wanted to put together a tour on it. We put together a fantastic backup band with all guys who aren’t from L.A. and I’d never met before, and it’s been kickass ever since.

You mentioned they’re not from L.A. Does that make a difference?

Apparently. I live in L.A. — I’m a fixture in Los Angeles. I’ve been working within that community for a long time. I know everybody. I know all the players. It’s very predictable at this point, at least for me. When I was making this record, before I even thought about the tour, I started working with people I had never worked with before. It took me out of my comfort zone, and I was working with people who don’t necessarily follow the rules of the people in Los Angeles.

Has this tour brought out a different crowd?

It’s a mixture of really young kids when they can get into the venue … Like people in their 18s to 25s. And then people who come from the old school. It’s a hardcore rock audience. They’re real energetic and real educated. They’re not part of what you call the millennium new guard, like 30 Seconds to Mars and others.

There’s been a lot of argument that rock ‘n’ roll as a movement is dead. What do you think?

It’s not even a [expletive] movement, are you kidding me? The whole spirit of what rock ‘n’ roll is, the sort of risk factor in all that kind of stuff, that hard edge of what rock ‘n’ roll is, is almost completely nonexistent in the industry. Even though there’s a lot of rock bands out there, and people are into the concept, I hate to sound cliché, that there’s a lifestyle to it, but there is definitely an attitude — a freewheeling energy that rock has. It’s so dead in the industry that nobody can gain a foothold and start a movement.

Well, what does it take then? You’re somebody who has defined that sort of lifestyle.

I sort of didn’t want to use that term, because it’s such a general term. I guess it’s a willingness to think outside the box. One of the great things is the old expression, “Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.” I don’t think it’s necessarily about how you have sex or if you do drugs, but it’s just like staying loose and taking life as it comes and doing things your own way.

But that just sounds so cliché.

It is now. It’s acceptable as [expletive]. Originally what it was supposed to embody was actually pretty cool back in the day.

What will it take for rock ‘n’ roll to come back?

Whatever it will be, it will have to break the established pattern. There’s a certain way this industry has become and it’s going to have to go against that and break a lot of barriers. In order to do that it’s going to be really unacceptable. Once one band does that, they’ll gain a following and start a movement. It will be short lived, of course, but maybe it’ll work.

Have you talked to Axl at all lately?

I haven’t talked to Axl since 1996, man.

What did you think of Chinese Democracy?

It’s definitely an album that continues down the road that Axl was traveling. I think it’s [expletive] good. For all that has been said, I think Axl is a really [expletive] awesome guy and extremely talented.

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