Slash solo album interview: the track-by-track guide
4th Mar 2010 | 12:03
Slash: the debut solo album
“I’m like a music whore. I wanna go out and fuck everybody.”
Slash’s debut solo album is the must-hear hard rock record of 2010. Featuring a glittering supporting cast of friends, legends, contemporaries, pop stars, young upstarts and former Guns N’ Roses bandmates, ‘Slash’ the LP is absolutely “not a lead guitar solo record.” Although, as you might imagine, there’s no shortage of smoking hot guitar playing…
If you want to hear the Slash solo album first, 7 April will see Classic Rock magazine’s special 'Classic Rock Presents Slash' fan pack released. This will feature a 132-page deluxe edition of the magazine along with a limited edition poster, patch and CD containing all 14 album tracks plus two special bonus cuts.
That’s right, we said all 14 LP tracks. In addition to the tracklisting reported previously, another song featuring Alter Bridge frontman Myles Kennedy entitled Back From Cali has been squeezed in at the last minute. So if you order the Classic Rock Presents Slash fan pack, you now get 16 songs in total.
Back at the tail end of 2009 we caught up with Slash the morning after the Classic Rock awards, and as well as revealing his favourite guitar riffs of all time, he gave us a track-by-track rundown of every song on the album, and revealed all about the collaborative writing and recording process.
Ghost (featuring Ian Astbury and Izzy Stradlin)
In “90 percent” of cases, Slash’s demos were fleshed out with the killer rhythm section of Josh Freese on drums and former Jane’s Addiction bassist Chris Chaney. The album kicks off with a track that’s a nod to the early days in more ways than one…
“It was actually pretty smooth sailing, and pretty easy to get it all together. I was amazed. Ian and I have a long history. Guns N’ Roses’ first tour of Canada and the US was with The Cult. Those guys had been around, and we were this crazy upstart band that they took out with them.
“I always thought Ian was great and when I finished the music to Ghost, he came to mind instantly, probably because of the chord changes. But I hadn’t talked to him in a while and I felt sort of embarrassed to send it to him. One of the things I had to get over making this record was getting the nerve up to go after these people. But he’s an amazing singer. To be in the studio and watch him work was definitely a very cool experience.
“The only other person who played guitar on the record was Izzy, who came in and put some guitars on Ghost. It’s really cool because me and Izzy have a very recognisable dual guitar sound and I hadn’t heard it in a while. It was just great fun. I love Izzy.”
Next track: Crucify The Dead (featuring Ozzy Osbourne)
Crucify The Dead (featuring Ozzy Osbourne)
“Ozzy was a lot of fun. It was a real honour – he’s so busy with his stuff – and he took the time to stop and really focus on writing the lyrics for this song.
"We recorded the vocals up at Ozzy’s house, and it was funny because I’m sitting here and Ozzy’s here and we’re sitting at the control board and he’s got his microphone, and he’s working on the lyrics and he’s singing them, trying to work out how they should go. It’s such a recognisable voice!
"It was just a trip to hear Ozzy working out the parts for a piece of music that I wrote. Somebody I’d been listening to since I was a kid, all of a sudden right there. He put together a very poignant set of lyrics about a particular subject matter that a lot of us can relate to..."
Next track: Beautiful Dangerous (featuring Fergie)
Beautiful Dangerous (featuring Fergie)
“I got hip to Fergie being probably as good or better a rock singer than she is a pop singer. I heard her do Barracuda, the old Heart song, and I was like, fuckin’ wow!
"I ended up doing a couple of shows with her where she sang Barracuda and Sweet Child O’ Mine. She’s one of the most phenomenal fucking rock ‘n’ roll singers, male or female, I’ve ever heard.”
Next track: Back From Cali (featuring Myles Kennedy)
Back From Cali (featuring Myles Kennedy)
“When we were thinking about getting a single I was thinking of writing another song and getting Myles to sing it. Then it dawned on me that I had another killer piece or music that I had demoed up for this record but couldn’t think of anybody to sing it so I'd been resigned to the idea of not doing it.
“So I put an arrangement together and sent it to him and he wrote this killer part for it. We flew him out to LA, recorded the song and squeezed it onto the record at the very last minute. Before we even recorded the song we had to get the album artwork done and had to put the name of the song in there before it was recorded. I knew it was going to be a good song, but it was by the seat of our pants.
"It’s different to anything else on the record. It’s a heavy, slow AC/DC kind of deal with really, really great vocals.”
Next track: Promise (featuring Chris Cornell)
Promise (featuring Chris Cornell)
“Chris was great. Promise was probably the most unorthodox piece of music that I’d written, it was very different. It was one of those things, I don’t know why I thought of him for that song more than any of the others, but I sent it to him and within 48 hours he sent me this great lyric and we were off and running. it was as simple as that. Everybody seems to like this one.”
By The Sword (featuring Wolfmother's Andrew Stockdale)
“It’s just a riff that I had that stuck with me. I think I came up with it here in the UK with Velvet Revolver at a soundcheck. A lot of the material on the record was written in hotel rooms during that last Velvet Revolver tour.
"Andrew’s phenomenal singer but I’d never met him before so I didn’t know who to fucking contact! And a friend of mine – Tom Zutaut, the guy that signed Guns N’ Roses to Geffen back in the eighties – got his number for me.
"Andrew happened to be in Hollywood working on Cosmic Egg, so I took an acoustic over there and we wrote the song together. I had this riff and a couple of chord changes and he changed a couple of chords for the chorus, it was just very organic. It’s a very cool song.”
Next track: Gotten (featuring Adam Levine)
Gotten (featuring Adam Levine)
“It was a piece of music I couldn’t let go of. I finally got to the point where I had a complete arrangement and had written string parts on keyboard and recorded a demo. Even the engineer who I was doing the demos with was sick of hearing that song!
"I thought Adam wasn’t going to be sure about it. But I went to his house and he actually liked it a lot and he wrote the perfect vocal for it. He sings like an angel on it, and it doesn’t sound like Maroon 5 but you can tell it’s his voice. I think people will really appreciate the way it sounds.”
Next track: Doctor Alibi (featuring Lemmy Kilmister)
Doctor Alibi (featuring Lemmy Kilmister)
“Lemmy’s like one of my all-time fucking heroes, and he’s a mate too. I really appreciate everything about him. I asked him to play on the record because it just seemed like one of the coolest things to do.
"He came in and he wrote these great fucking words – he’s such an awesome lyricist. And the song is basically about the doctor saying that if you keep living the way you are living then you’re gonna die and then another doctor saying, keep doing what you’re doing you’re gonna be fine. And it sort of tells the story of my whole existence!”
Watch This (featuring Dave Grohl and Duff McKagan)
“I wrote the basic parts and I had sort of a loose arrangement, but this was definitely the loosest song of the bunch, and having Dave there, who is such a dynamic drummer – I’d never actually worked with him but I’m very familiar with his drumming – and with Duff there too, they’re both very creative so I knew we could throw this together.
"I didn’t want it to be epic, I wanted it to be three minutes long, and it came together very quickly with a very spontaneous, live kind of vibe. Actually, I tried to get Dave to sing it, but he wouldn’t sing it, so I just said fuck it, we’ll put guitars on it. He was adamant about not singing, he was like, I just wanna play drums, and he’s a fucking phenomenal drummer.”
Next track: I Hold On (featuring Kid Rock)
I Hold On (featuring Kid Rock)
“Sometimes I would take two different ideas and send them to one artist to see which they gravitated towards. With Kid Rock, I sent him the first one – absolutely no reaction, no phone call back, nothing.
"I thought, hmm. So I sent him an email telling him I had another song that I thought he should hear because I had two songs that sounded like him. So I sent him the other one; instant reaction. This is great.”
Next track: Nothing To Say (featuring M Shadows)
Nothing To Say (featuring M Shadows)
“There wasn't a lot of conscious thought about what kind of record I was making. I was just pooling all of these people together and it was a devil-may-care kind of thing, but once I started to look at the list of people I’d already worked with, sort of halfway through the record, I had some of my heroes on there, some of my contemporaries and I wanted to have some young guys.
"For this song I was thinking that Dave Mustaine would've been great, but I didn’t want to spin way too much into any one era. Then I thought of Avenged Sevenfold, and fortunately we share the same management so M Shadows was easy to contact! And he was great, he came in and worked really hard to get the melodies together, he took it very seriously. It’s me getting away with something I couldn’t do in Velvet Revolver!”
Next track: Starlight (featuring Myles Kennedy)
Starlight (featuring Myles Kennedy)
“This particular song was the one I thought was the best on the record in terms of the way it was arranged and the music and everything. I couldn’t figure out who would be right vocalist and all of a sudden Myles Kennedy just popped into my head. I contacted him and I sent him the song, and a couple of days later he sent me back a demo of the lyrics and vocals he’d written, and it was fucking amazing. I was really excited to record that.”
"I wanted to get Jack White, but he didn't want to sing. He said I'll play drums, I'll play guitar, but I don't wanna sing. He was one guy that I wanted to work with. Pretty much everyone else that I went after I managed to get. It turned out to probably be a blessing because Myles really fit that song. Jack would've fit it too but it would have been a different kind of a trip.”
Next track: Saint Is A Sinner (featuring Rocco DeLuca)
Saint Is A Sinner (featuring Rocco DeLuca)
“This is a very different kind of a track. It’s all on acoustic and he sings in this great, high falsetto voice. It’s amazing.”
Next track: We're All Gonna Die (featuring Iggy Pop)
We're All Gonna Die (featuring Iggy Pop)
“Iggy was the first guy to come in the studio and put a vocal down. When I sent him the song he called me up a couple of days later and over the phone, on my answering machine he left him singing the words while the demo I sent him was playing off the stereo in the background. It was so rock ‘n’ roll, it was really, really cool.
"I flew him in from Miami and he came in and put that down. It was just great, he sort of set the tone for the whole record.”
Classic Rock bonus tracks
Baby Can’t Drive (featuring Nicole Sherzinger, Alice Cooper, Flea and Steven Adler)
“I promised Steve Adler if he stayed clean long enough he could play on the record. I hadn’t played with Steven in 20 years and it was great. One of the reasons Appetite For Destruction is so great is the energy that he brings to the table. It was great to get in a room with him and start playing and just to recognise that sound that he has.”
Paradise City (featuring Fergie and Cypress Hill)
“I’ve been playing Paradise City with Cypress Hill since 2002. It was just one of those fun things and I always said, I’m gonna record this one of these days. Finally the time came for me to do my own record and we went in and recorded it and we didn’t know who was going to sing the chorus vocals for the longest time.
"But I'd done a song with Fergie and I was thinking, god, I would love to ask Fergie to sing the chorus but she seems like she doesn’t wanna sing it. Then we did this gig in Norway and she came up and sang a few songs and she sang the chorus to Paradise City so finally I asked her to do it.
"It’s a different version than the original and it’s slowed down the way I originally wrote the riff. With Guns N’ Roses everything sped up, which was just the nature of the band! It’s cool, but this is more of a rhythmic, heavier groove.”
Special thanks to Guitarist magazine’s Rob Laing for additional material. Click here to order Classic Rock Presents Slash, on sale 7 April 2010.
Liked this? Now read: Slash on Velvet Revolver, Les Pauls and going solo
Get MusicRadar straight to your inbox: Sign up for the free weekly newsletter