SLASH – As Live As It Gets

November 16, 2011, 5 years ago

news rock hard slash

By Aaron Small

Tickets to SLASH’s homecoming concert this past summer in Stoke on Trent, England sold out in less than two hours. July 24th, 2011 marked the first time Slash had returned to Stoke since leaving there as a little boy at the tender age of five years old. Destined to be a special event from the onset, the evening’s festivities unfolded fabulously inside Victoria Hall – a venue built in 1888 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. The 21-song set – featuring songs spanning Slash’s entire catalogue: GUNS N’ ROSES, SLASH’S SNAKEPIT, VELVET REVOLVER, and his new solo material – was recorded and is now available as Slash’s first live solo album, appropriately titled Made In Stoke.

Somewhat surprisingly, Slash admits, “I actually haven’t listened to it since I mixed it.” 10 to 15 years ago, a live album was dubious at best as listeners never knew how much was actually recorded live and how much was over-dubbed in the studio. Made In Stoke sounds 110% authentic, as those in attendance that night witnessed it. “Yeah, you definitely can’t mistake it for an overly produced record.”

The wording on the cover of Made In Stoke reads: Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy Live. Slash shares why he felt it important to put Myles’ (who also sings in ALTER BRIDGE) name up there. “In all honesty, I thought it was important from the onset. When I first put the tour together, Myles is a phenomenal singer and I definitely wanted to put his name there so people realize that he wasn’t just a side guy. That’s just the way the tour was labelled so it went without saying that’s what the record was going to be called; and I’m going to probably call the studio album that we’re working on now the same thing. Myles is in Alter Bridge – that’s his band. But when I work with him, what we do is a completely different and separate entity, and he’s so identifiable in that context to me, that I think he needs to be brought to the front so it’s not just the Slash thing, even though my name is on the marquee.”

On Made In Stoke, Myles belts out his own renditions of songs originally sung by: Axl Rose, Scott Weiland, Ian Astbury, Rod Jackson, and Eric Dover – that’s a lot of vocalists to fit in your back pocket; “I know,” concurs Slash. “When I did the last solo record and I had all the different guest singers on it, I definitely intended to tour on it, but I didn’t really know who was going to be able to sing that diverse a set. I met Myles when I was doing the very last couple of songs on the record; I didn’t have any idea who was going to sing them? I’d done the rest of the album and I’d heard about Myles, I’d never met him, wasn’t totally familiar with his voice even because I didn’t know who Alter Bridge was then. Then he got asked to do the LED ZEPPELIN tour when they were talking about doing it without Robert (Plant), so I was interested in him, and I had these two songs (‘Back From Cali’ and ‘Starlight’); I couldn’t think of anybody to sing these tracks… and Myles popped into my head. I thought, I’ll just take a chance on it and send him the material. And he sent the songs back with these amazing vocals on them. When I was in the studio with him, and meeting him for the first time as a person, I really liked him and his work ethic. We got along really well, but something about his voice told me he could do a wide range of vocal styles. So I asked him if he wanted to do the tour, and it just so happened that Alter Bridge was on a break. So we rehearsed for a week and went out and did our first show, and the tour started from there. We had a certain kind of spontaneity and magic in that first week of rehearsal that I just felt comfortable with him doing all this material.”

It’s rather ironic that Myles was asked not once, but twice to audition for Velvet Revolver (before Scott Weiland was initially hired and again after Weiland left the band), yet he never did. Furthermore, Slash’s bassist, Todd Kerns (SIN CITY SINNERS, AGE OF ELECTRIC), did audition to be the singer of Velvet Revolver, but didn’t make the cut. Now they’re both in Slash’s solo band. “I didn’t even know about the Todd Kerns thing until Todd told me; so we never actually met,” reveals Slash. “He must have submitted something, but I didn’t know he was one of the people who tried out for vocals in the band. It’s funny too ‘cause he’s a great singer (Todd handles lead vocal on ‘Doctor Alibi’ on Made In Stoke). But with Myles, I remember the second time we sent music to him, he never sent it back and it just sort of got forgotten. Myles is the one that told me about the first time; so yeah, there is a little bit of an incestuous thing to it, and it’s very ironic.”

A bonus live DVD is packaged with the special edition of Made In Stoke; featuring a mere five of the 21 songs performed live, as well as an interview with Slash, serving as an enormous tease. The top-hatted guitarist explains that, “The whole concert was released on DVD in The UK and the rest of Europe. The typical licensing issues that we have, having to do with Guns N’ Roses stuff applied in The States so I couldn’t release the entire package. If you want to get the whole concert, you have to buy an import.”

Slash is currently working on his next solo album and has announced that Myles will sing all of the songs this time around. During the interview contained on the Made In Stoke bonus DVD, Slash describes that forthcoming album as “musically epic,” a phrase which he elaborates on. “I started writing material for the next record with Myles in mind pretty early on. I just wrote the way that I normally write, but I sort of made allowances for taking things an extra step, just ‘cause I know him. So I built up this arsenal of material and I kept sending it to Myles, and Myles was doing whatever it was that he wanted to do with it; that’s the way it went while we were touring. Then we came home and I started working the songs up with Brent (Fitz, drummer) and Todd (Kerns, bassist), and Myles had written stuff on the road while he was in Alter Bridge. He was sending me that stuff and we basically had complete creative license; a chemistry and a certain amount of freedom, so I can just do whatever it is that I feel I want to do and it’s not restricted. So the album hits a lot of different styles; we have real straight-ahead hard rock songs, and we have what I would call six-minute long journeys, all kinds of stuff and it’s all aggressive or heavy in its own way, but it really hits a lot of different moods. We’ve recorded three songs and we’re going to start recording the rest of the record in December. I’m really excited about the way – I don’t know how to explain it, but it does a lot of different stuff and it invokes a lot of different feelings. It’s very honest and very musical, and we’re performing it live so it’s got that certain urgency to it. It’s just cool.”

Reports of an April 2012 release have been circulating. “It’s very realistic,” confirms Slash. “We’re ahead of the game at this point, so we should be fine. If anything could possibly happen, it would be May, if there was any kind of a hiccup.” The three aforementioned song titles have been leaked: ‘Halo’, ‘Standing In The Sun’ and ‘Bad Rain’. “Those are the three we recorded, so I can safely say those titles aren’t going to change. I have a lot more but you never know, so I’ll leave it out for now.”

In addition to reconvening with his solo band in the studio in December, however it’s also been said that Velvet Revolver is going to get together in December with “a couple of singers.” “There is some truth to that. In the first week of December, we’re going to get together and work with a couple guys – in what capacity – if we’re really going to get in the rehearsal studio and work that way, or meet up with them and figure it out, none of that is etched in stone. But we’re going to definitely hook up with a couple guys this winter.” Refusing to reveal their names for obvious reasons, Slash does offer the following tidbit about the Velvet Revolver candidates, “One of the guys is sort of known, the other guy as it happens is definitely pretty well known. Then there’s another guy who’s well known in another country, anyway.”

Back in 2007 Slash issued his biography, simply titled Slash. Last month his GN’R and VR cohort, bassist Duff McKagan published his autobiography, It’s So Easy (And Other Lies). “I talk to Duff pretty regularly and he personally brought a book over to my house. I haven’t read it yet; I’m going to because I said I would. But I’m really reluctant to read rock biographies or autobiographies, especially people that I know. I don’t want to know more than I know at face value, I don’t feel comfortable. It’s a weird perspective; it’s like spying on them or something. So I haven’t read any of my bandmates’ books, I haven’t read Steven (Adler)’s . The only rock autobiography I’ve read in a really long time was (AEROSMITH drummer) Joey Kramer’s ‘cause he gave it to me. Other than that, I avoid it. I didn’t read Keith’s (Richards of THE ROLLING STONES). I did read Heroin Diaries (by MÖTLEY CRÜE bassist Nikki Sixx) actually; it was good, especially ‘cause we come from the same cloth.”

Grabbing headlines around the globe is Guns N’ Roses being nominated for induction into the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame. “It’s cool. I think over the years people have – especially when Velvet Revolver did the VAN HALEN induction – been saying ‘in a certain amount of years you’re going to be eligible.’ People have been hinting at that and all of a sudden here it is. At this point it’s pretty quiet because you have to get inducted for it to really mean anything. It’s an honour to be nominated; I think that’s good enough when it comes to my own personal feelings about it. But you do have to get inducted to start planning any kind of event or how it’s supposed to go, you cross that bridge when you get there.”

During what little time Slash has away from music, he focuses on his recently established horror movie company, Slasher Films. Their first movie will be called Nothing To Fear. “We’ve had to postpone the filming a couple times just to get all the production and casting together. Now we have finally leaped all those hurdles, so we’re set to go on pre-production in January, the actual production in February. We have an amazing production crew from special effects to sound to the composer I’m working with, all that stuff. So it’s really, really exciting at this point, but I’m trying to keep sort of quiet about it because I don’t like to make a lot of noise about something that I haven’t done yet; this is my first one. As soon as the movie’s finished, I’ll be on that whole promotion trail. But I’m very confident that it’s going to be a fantastic movie; Anthony Leonardo is directing it.”

Finally, those waiting to see Slash live on stage will have to be patient. “We’re talking about doing a couple concerts after pre-production, playing as much of the new material as possible before we actually go in and start recording it. The plan is to do it right before Christmas, but it’ll be a private kind of thing. Publicly it will probably be closer to the release of the album – late March, April would be the best bet.”

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