Interview: Slash

The ex-Guns N’ Roses guitarist made his way to Minnesota as part of a nationwide tour.

Conrad Schoenleber

With his cigarette, top hat and Jack Daniels, Slash personifies rock âÄònâÄô roll. The ex-member of Guns NâÄô Roses and representative of the golden age of hard rock is still making music.A&E 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 âÄònâÄô roll.

Tell me about the tour youâÄôre on.

ItâÄôs actually one of the coolest tours IâÄôve done since the early Guns days. ItâÄôs one of those things I had no expectations for. I put together this record, and itâÄôs 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 arenâÄôt from L.A. and IâÄôd never met before, and itâÄôs been kickass ever since.

You mentioned theyâÄôre not from L.A. Does that make a difference?

Apparently. I live in L.A. âÄî IâÄôm a fixture in Los Angeles. IâÄôve been working within that community for a long time. I know everybody. I know all the players. ItâÄôs 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 donâÄôt necessarily follow the rules of the people in Los Angeles.

Has this tour brought out a different crowd?

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

ThereâÄôs been a lot of argument that rock âÄònâÄô roll as a movement is dead. What do you think?

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

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

I sort of didnâÄôt want to use that term, because itâÄôs such a general term. I guess itâÄôs a willingness to think outside the box. One of the great things is the old expression, âÄúSex, drugs and rock âÄònâÄô roll.âÄù I donâÄôt think itâÄôs necessarily about how you have sex or if you do drugs, but itâÄôs 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. ItâÄôs acceptable as [expletive]. Originally what it was supposed to embody was actually pretty cool back in the day.

What will it take for rock âÄònâÄô roll to come back?

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

Have you talked to Axl at all lately?

I havenâÄôt talked to Axl since 1996, man.

What did you think of Chinese Democracy?

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