Slash embarks on 2010 UK tour
Henry Northmore catches up with guitar legend Slash as the tour accompanying his first ever solo album arrives in Scotland
Since Guns N’ Roses conquered the world (selling over 100 million albums) Slash has lent his guitar skills to music by Michael Jackson, Alice Cooper, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles; formed his own band, Slash’s Snakepit; started Velvet Revolver with fellow GN’R alumni Duff McKagen and Matt Sorum (alongside Stone Temple Pilots vocalist Scott Weiland); been transformed into a playable character in videogame Guitar Hero III and firmly secured his place as the most iconic guitarist of his generation. Officially quitting Guns in 1996, Slash kept his dignity despite the vitriol aimed at him from Axl Rose’s camp. Even through the fame, the adulation and tabloid tales of excess he’s still friendly and unassuming with a sincere and infectious love of hard rock.
Born in Stoke on Trent, Slash (aka Saul Hudson) grew up listening to his parents’ music, sharing their passion for The Stones, The Kinks and The Who. He moved to LA at the age of 11, once again absorbing the contemporary rock that surrounded him (professing an early love for ‘Aerosmith, AC/DC, Cheap Trick and Black Sabbath’). ‘I had no aspirations to be a musician but I picked up a guitar for two seconds and haven’t put it down since,’ explains the softly spoken Hudson, when we speak during his recent trip to London.
He has gone on to win accolades across the globe including a star on Hollywood’s Rockwalk and coming runner-up in the ‘Best Electric Guitar Player of All-Time’ by Time magazine (he was pipped to the top spot by Jimi Hendrix). ‘I have my moments as a player that really come from a sincere place and maybe people pick up on that, or maybe it’s just the riffs. But it’s been cool to be recognised as a decent guitar player,’ he says modestly, ‘that’s one of the things that I’ve always wanted, to be able to communicate with the guitar better and better as I go on, and I think that’s started to work a little bit.’
Surprisingly, his first ever solo album only came out earlier this year, a collaboration with the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Lemmy (Motörhead) and Iggy Pop. ‘I wrote the music, made a demo, then sent it to the artist I thought should sing on that piece of music, then they could write the lyrics. So every song was co-written by the vocalist.
‘Obviously it’s a rock record, because I’m a rock guy, but I have different moods that don’t always translate with say Velvet Revolver, Snakepit or Guns N’ Roses. When you’re in a group it tends to have certain boundaries musically. So this was a lot of fun because I could do whatever I wanted and pick the appropriate singer to go with that song, like say Adam Levine [Maroon 5] was just perfect for that particular piece of music, and it really accentuates the difference between all the songs.’
Perhaps the most surprising collaboration is a track with Fergie of Black Eyed Peas. ‘She’s got one of the most kick ass rock voices I’d ever heard coming out of a girl, or anybody for that matter. There were rumours that I was going pop but I knew what I was doing.’
However, for this tour it’s Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge) who is fronting Slash’s touring band (the only vocalist to have contributed two tracks to the album). ‘I’m just having a gas, the band is great and Myles is fucking incredible, so we’re just having a really really good time.’
Slash, HMV Picture House, Edinburgh, Thu 1 Jul.
A full transcript of this interview is also available.