If you get ten minutes with one of the world’s biggest names in music – who also happens to have a quarter of a century’s worth of interview experience – ask him questions he hasn’t answered two hundred times already. That was the approach to this interview with Slash, the legendary guitarist.
A few hours before Slash went on stage in Copenhagen, I got to sit down for ten quick minutes with the guitar legend. Ten minutes tend to go by really fast, and since I had already been fortunate enough to meet Slash for a lengthier chat three years ago, there was no reason to attempt any form of the so-called in-depth interview this time around.
While preparing for the interview, I thought about the fact that Slash has given interviews for a quarter of a century. About how Slash on this tour alone must have answered an endless number of similarly phrased questions about his latest album – Apocalyptic Love – and the ongoing tour. Not to mention all the unavoidable questions about the likelihood of a reunion with Axl Rose.
So it became obvious what to do: Prepare a rapid round of questions that he probably hadn’t already answered two hundred times before. I spent the first precious seconds of my time explaining the concept to Slash, and he was all for it.
So, off we went – covering topics such as Slash’s drumming skills, the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen, Twitter, Barack Obama, old Use Your Illusion mysteries and his favorite video game.
How good are you at playing drums?
– I’m a fucking horrible drummer! Absolutely no coordination whatsoever. I’m good at tapping drum samples on a keyboard – I have a rhythm there. But when it comes to the whole hi-hat and snare… I’m terrible.
Do you think it’s fun, though? Playing drums?
– No, if I did, I’d pursue it. But it doesn’t really interest me. It’s ironic, because drums is such an important part of everything I write – so I think drums, but I don’t sit down and play them.
During a show, which song are you more excited to play – the very first one, or the very last?
– That’s a funny question! You know, I’m obviously more excited about the first one than I am the last. But I enjoy playing the last song, ‘cause it’s just such a great song to play live (Paradise City, ed.). I never really thought about that, but the anticipation going into the first song is definitely a lot different from going into the last one.
Going to the Zoological Museum
Everybody always talks about who their favorite lead guitarist is. Who’s your favorite rhythm guitarist?
– That’s a good question. My favorite rhythm guitar players would have to be Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Malcolm Young, James Hetfield, Nile Rodgers… Um… I know I’m leaving somebody out! Shit. That’s what comes to mind.
That’s cool, I just wanted one! You were at the Zoological--
– Link Wray!
Oh yeah. So, you were at the Zoological Museum here in Copenhagen yesterday, right?
– How did you know??
You tweeted the picture of the spider chair.
– Oh yeah! (laughs)
What was the highlight of the museum? Besides the chair.
– I’m a big museum buff, and I was disappointed in the dinosaur exhibit. It was as minimal as possible. But I think the highlight for me was the arrangement of the whole evolution of mammals, and the development of how sea mammals developed from land mammals and stuff like that. There was some cool stuff in there.
You’re really into evolution?
– I wouldn’t necessarily say evolution, but I love wildlife, so evolution is part of the whole thing.
Imagine if Twitter had existed in the 80’s and 90’s
What’s your favorite joke?
– Oh, I don’t know! I’m a big comedian fan, too, but I…
Who’s your favorite comedian then?
– Right now there’s a lot of people on Twitter that are really funny. Rob Delaney is hilarious. And he’s becoming very popular. And there’s… Oh, fuck, I can’t think of her name! There’s a lot of really funny comedians on Twitter – but they’re on Twitter, so I don’t think of the names! One of my all-time favorite comedians would have to be Dave Chapelle. Richard Pryor. And, um… Yeah, we don’t have time for all that!
What’s the best rumor you’ve ever heard about yourself?
– The best rumor was that I was gonna be back in Guns N’ Roses or something like that – that’s always a good one!
What’s the strangest one you’ve heard?
– I haven’t really heard that many strange rumors, to tell you the truth. I’m actually pretty free and clear of all that stuff – for some strange reason. Or I’m just not interesting enough! (laughs)
You have more than 10 million followers on Facebook and Twitter. How carefully do you consider your words before you post them?
– That’s a good question. I only really update stuff… I throw in little anecdotes once in a while, but I don’t really try to part with any words of wisdom on there, or to be too prophetic. Every so often I’ll get in the mood and tweet some random shit. I definitely know things I don’t wanna put on Twitter, because I don’t wanna sound like that guy that thinks that the shit that comes out of my mouth is that important or that funny or whatever. But, God… A lot of times I think about if Twitter had existed in the 80’s and the 90’s – it would have been intense! (laughs)
Obama winning meant not having to move out of the US
I know you supported Obama in 2008. How happy are you that he beat Mitt Romney?
– I’m very happy. I don’t talk politics, but I have to say I’m elated that he did win. I was really dreading it – I thought I was gonna have to move out of the fucking US, and that would have been a lot of… Organization and stuff! (laughs)
Which song is stuck in your head more than any other one these days?
– Right now it’s a new song that we’re just writing.
Oh, so it’s one of your own?
Okay, cool. So, here’s a weird question. At the end of You Ain’t The First, someone yells “to the bar”, and you respond with something that sounds like either “okay”, “first take”, or “cut the tape”. Can you resolve the matter? What are you actually saying?
– You Ain’t The First... I don’t remember… Maybe it’s “first take”? Yeah.
Cool. In a similar vein – who did the spoken part at the end of Get In The Ring?
– That’s Axl.
Is it really? Everyone thinks it’s either you or Duff.
– No, uh-uh. The spoken part – talking down all those different people?
No, the part with “all the fans who stuck with us through all the fucking shit”!
– That’s me!
That’s you? Oh, good.
– Yeah. I forgot about that!
The music business has gone even deeper down the toilet
What’s one terribly underrated band or songwriter that everyone should check out as soon as possible?
– Um… Hold on. Shit…
They’re gonna get the Slash bump.
– Mmmm. I don’t know – Rory Gallagher comes to mind. I think a lot of guitar players overlook him. Um… Joe Walsh. Rory Gallagher and Joe Walsh. That’s what comes to mind, but I know there’s many more.
What’s your favorite video game?
– Angry Birds! That’s the only one I play. I have an iPhone and an iPad and stuff, and I was introduced to that game when it first came out. The concept and the physics of it – you know, the weight of all the different objects and how they fall? It just blows my mind! And I geek out on it. I’m running like three different Angry Birds games at the moment. But otherwise I’m not really much of a gamer. I like car games. Like Forza 4 – or 5 now, I think. It’s an amazing feat of technology. But I’m not really into Call of Duty and all that kind of stuff.
Alright, one minute left. I gotta pick the last one. When I interviewed you three years ago…
– I thought you looked familiar!
Oh, really? You said the music business was in the toilet. Has it gotten better now? And, if it has, how important is social media in that context?
– Well, the social media is probably the best avenue for up-and-coming artists. It’s the only avenue, really, to get the word-of-mouth going. I think the music business is still in the toilet – and digging ever deeper! (laughs) I’m at the point where I’m completely my own entity. I have my own record company, and I just do things my own way. When it comes to rock n’ roll, I think it’s pretty much in the toilet – but as far as commercial pop music and all that kind of stuff, it’s as big as ever, but it’s gotten to the point of being very, very generic and predictable, and there’s not too much I enjoy about regular commercial radio. But yeah, I think it’s turned into a very stodgy business that has completely shunned any risk-taking whatsoever. And art is risk, you know!