Slash Talks ‘Apocalyptic Love,’ Zoo Commercials with Betty White + More
Earlier today, (March 27) we had the opportunity to interview legendary ex-Guns N’ Roses / Velvet Revolver guitarist Slash about his upcoming album, ‘Apocalyptic Love'; recording with Alter Bridge vocalist Myles Kennedy; his love for animals, Betty White + much more.
We already posted the eye-catching news that Slash ‘would love to‘ join the ‘Appetite for Destruction’-era Guns N’ Roses lineup during the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Now we give you our full interview with the iconic axeman.
Enjoy Loudwire’s exclusive interview with one of rock ‘n’ roll’s biggest living legends, Slash.
For the new album ‘Apocalyptic Love,’ one thing I found very interesting is that you actually recorded it onto analog tape and so few people do that nowadays. What was the inspiration for that?
I did the last record on analog as well. I’m a firm believer that tape just sounds better for recording a rock ‘n’ roll band — for drums and recording amps and so on — it’s a lot warmer. And ultimately if you can put it on vinyl, it’s still the best listening experience. So I’ve done enough digital recording to know what I like better for sure. They don’t produce tape like they used to, if you can find tape, to me it’s an optimum way of recording.
And it’s super expensive nowadays.
It’s rare, they don’t make tape like they used to, hardly at all. We have a stockpile of tape at the studio and that’s what we used.
You’ve had a very wide variety of playing styles with Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver and with your solo work. What can fans expect from ‘Apocalyptic Love,’ in terms of your guitar style.
I mean it’s a pretty simple, straight ahead rock record. It’s pretty indicative of what I do. I can’t really say anything about particular styles outside of what people might be familiar with coming from me. The biggest difference is because we recorded the album live, it’s very spontaneous.
No click track?
No, I think we counted everything off ourselves. I don’t think we did use a click — maybe on a couple songs — but it’s everybody playing in the moment. There’s no like flying in guitars from somewhere else and all that kind of stuff. It’s probably the most spontaneous recorded record that I’ve done so far.
You’re collaborating with Myles Kennedy on ‘Apocalyptic Love.’ Besides some solid vocals, what else does he bring to the table?
Well he’s a great vocalist, he’s got a great lyrical style and all things considered, he’s just his own personality as a frontman, so it’s hard for me to explain other than the fact that he’s a great singer and he’s a great songwriter.
When it comes to the physical writing and recording process, how would you compare your creative mindset now to when you were first starting out?
I mean I’ve been doing this for a long time, so I have that many years of experience under my belt compared to when I first started. Every record is different. Every time you go in to make an album it’s a little different — there’s no set sort of way of doing it. With this particular record, I wrote everything on the road, which is very different for me than it was when I first started obviously. Other than that, it’s not really a mindset, you know? It’s not like some sort of Zen state that you’ve got to get into before you can actually create anything. So, it’s just wherever you are at that particular time that ideas are coming.
And you mentioned that you wrote the entire album on the road. Is there anything about the road in particular that inspires you as opposed to being at home?
It’s just that you’re on the road, so you’re going to write somewhere. [Laughs] If you’re on tour, you write there, if you’re at home, you write at home. We spent a lot of time on the road on this last tour, so I just started compiling ideas while I was out there. I think the difference nowadays is that instead of in between gigs spending all my time in the hotel bar or in the street coping drugs, I find myself pre-occupied with writing.
That’s a good switch off. Do you find that it’s better to be out of your comfort zone to write an album?
I don’t see why that would be the case, to be outside of your comfort zone to write, unless you want to write about something extremely uncomfortable. [Laughs] Some writers, people who write books or journalists put themselves in awkward situations so they can write effectively about their environment, but as far as writing songs I don’t see any reason why you would want to be out of your comfort zone.
There’s a new documentary that you’re going to be a part of which is all about the Sunset Strip, the musical revolution and all the excesses that happened there. What can we expect to see from you in the documentary?
I have no idea. Someone told me about that. Someone must have interviewed me at some point and told me there was an interview. I think Matt Sorum has something to do with it and so I did the interview. I have a pretty strong history from being raised around that area, but I don’t remember anything about that. [Laughs] It was a long time ago.
[Laughs] Memory’s a bit hazy?
No, about the interview itself.
So it’s been a long time in the process.
Yeah, it was a couple years ago if I remember correctly.
Is it going to be mostly focusing on music or the excesses?
I don’t know. I did an interview, I don’t even remember what the context of the interview was, so I’d forgotten all about it and someone else asked me about it and I’ve just been reminded of it recently, in the last couple days.
You’ve been in a bunch of commercials with Betty White for the LA Zoo. It’s really cool to see a public figure on television in a commercial that you actually enjoy watching. How did that come to be?
I’m on the board at the L.A. Zoo and Betty’s on the board at the L.A. Zoo, but we’re sort of the resident celebrities, I guess? We’re the most known public figures on the board. So there’s this new exhibit that’s been opened [and] that’s been highly anticipated for years, which is the new reptile exhibit. And I’m a big proponent of the whole, sort of, reptile support, and so they came to us and said, you know, ‘Would you want to do some ads to help promote the grand opening of ‘The Lair?,’ which is what it’s called. So we said ‘Yeah,’ and then they wrote up these commercials that we thought were pretty funny and we just spent an afternoon at the zoo doing these commercials. But I’ve known Betty for five or six years.
Through the zoo?
Yeah, but I’ve always been a fan of hers ever since ‘Mary Tyler Moore,’ and so she’s just this really frisky, energetic, little lady whose super, super sharp and hilarious. So yeah, we had a good time.
What do you actually do as a member of the board?
There’s so much stuff that goes on, especially because at the moment the zoo is owned by the city and we’re trying to move it to being a privately owned zoo — so there’s a lot of red tape that goes along with that — but anything having to do with the zoo’s budget, having to do with new animals moving in and out. We had an issue a couple years ago with an elephant that we were moving into a new enclosure, and we had some clashes with the animal rights people. Stuff like that. There’s always things going on with the zoo and so the board sort of makes all the zoo’s decisions. I’m an animal fanatic.
What is that process like? To take it from a government-owned zoo and making it private?
It’s pretty complicated. There’s a lot of moving parts. Really when it comes down to it, it’s all politics.
Are there any newer bands that you are really into or take inspiration from for this new album?
There’s definitely not any newer bands that I took inspiration from for the record, but there a couple newer bands… It’s a really weird time in rock music and I think a lot of the new bands have a different kind of energy than what turned me on. The last onslaught of really great new bands that I remember was in the early ‘90s. And so it’s been a little slow, but there are some cool new bands. I think Lamb of God is f—ing awesome. There’s actually more going on in heavy, heavy metal, than there is in, what I would consider to be, rock n’ roll, which is… bands like Aerosmith. No new bands have come out that have that sort of blues thing going on at all. You’ve got sort of bands like Shinedown, that we’re going out on the road with, that are a good band, they’re certainly in a class all themselves. Five Finger Death Punch is another one, there’s a bunch of bands like that, which I think are actually pretty good, but I definitely didn’t get any inspiration on the new album from them.
Do you see any bands nowadays that you think could stack up to Guns N’ Roses, or Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, Smashing Pumpkins? Like those hugely popular and super innovative bands?
Um…and it’s not a new band, he [Dave Grohl] just keeps making records, that would be the Foo Fighters. Probably the most recent band that came out that I think is really solid. A lot of the other ones, I just really haven’t been inspired by.
Slash’s ‘Apocalyptic Love’ is set to be released on May 22.