Hanging out in the back room of the Gibson tour bus. Click on the image for the entire slideshow.
Sitting inside a parked Gibson tour bus behind Sam Ash Music in Hollywood, Slash peers over his sunglasses and through his tumble of curly hair that threatens to catch fire with every Marlboro he lights. We sit at a narrow table and Slash smiles, stretching out in the booth across from me, wearing deconstructed army fatigues, a faded t-shirt with sleeves rolled up, and let's not forget the classic black leather top hat.
Forgoing typical rock talk for more nerdy fare, we're discussing the weather, which lately in Los Angeles could be signaling the Apocalypse, with unpredictable storms one day and sweltering heat the next. Slash takes a drag off his smoke and says, “It's insane, I know. It's like the end of the world.”
Slash is excited to talk with the L.A. Weekly, which he calls “the only publication that really gets under the fingernails of this [city].” Likewise, I am excited to be talking to him, the man of a million projects. In the past year alone the Velvet Revolver and ex-Guns N' Roses guitarist released an autobiography, parted ways with VR singer Scott Weiland, became the face of Guitar Hero III and announced plans for his first solo-album.
On the day of our interview I met up with Slash at Sam Ash for the October 7th launch of his signature series Les Paul Goldtop guitar, a reissue built to sound exactly like the one stolen from him in 1998. Read on for our interview, photo and video footage of the Sam Ash event, and exclusive pics from inside the tour bus.
L.A. Weekly: So tell me more about this Sam Ash event and the Les Paul reissue.
Slash: This is a new Les Paul that Gibson is launching today, actually. It's basically a replica of a guitar I used for years. I got it from Gibson. It was 1991 so it was a brand new, off the showroom floor Goldtop and I used it for all these epic songs with these long sustained note guitar solos like “November Rain,” “Knockin' on Heaven's Door,” “Sweet Child of Mine” and a couple other songs like the Godfather theme. Anyhow, it was just this amazing sounding guitar, very well rounded. What I loved was I'd take the tone off the rhythm pick up, turn it all the way down, do these solos and it was just sustained for days. There was no real pick attack because you turned the tone down so you just got this creamy sound. I loved it. In 1998 I was hanging out watching a movie with a friend and realized I was missing all this stuff. My guitar tech came back all white, like, “All your guitars are gone.” It was unreal. Like something out of a bad dream. Slowly but surely over the years I got the guitars back and the only one I didn't get back was the Goldtop. So finally I went to Gibson and said, “Can you guys look up the specs on the 1991 Goldtop?” And they did and they built me one. They thought it would be a good idea to make a Slash model.
L.A. Weekly: What's funny is I remember you once told me about your kleptomaniac tendencies as a kid.
Slash: [Laughs] Yeah, it all comes back.
L.A. Weekly: [Laughs] And someone actually stole your top hat once.
Slash: That's because I was drunk and passed out in a booth at this club. And I woke up sans hat. What's funny is a long time ago, when I was sort of a street rat, I've always had this thing for guitars since day one, this mystique about them. I remember there was a neighbor of mine that had a big plate glass window that looked into his living room and he had a Rhodes keyboard and a Les Paul in there. This was during my stealing days and I'd walk by there and scheme on how I was going to get in. [Laughs] But I never did do it and I think that was karmically proper.
L.A. Weekly: You've said about band dynamics that you don't think there needs to be volatile chemistry in a band to create good music. For the solo album, without having a domineering or problematic frontman to deal with, is that opening up doors for you?
Slash: Sitting around thinking about stuff every so often, I realize that where I get the most inspiration is when the guys that you're working with… it's like being with a woman… you have this energy. When you have a lot of negative stuff going on it just completely depletes the creative process. It's nice to be able to do a solo record and do whatever the fuck I want.
L.A. Weekly: I interviewed Dave Mustaine awhile back at Guitar Center Sessions and he sang your praises but then said, “Buckethead is probably twice as good a guitar player as me and Slash combined, and can stand having fried chicken rubbed up against his face all night for a couple of hours.”
Slash: Well, that is actually true. Anybody who knows me knows that technically I couldn't play my way out of a paper bag. [Laughs] Or a Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket, for that matter. I manage to do what it is I do based on a certain kind of feel and sound. I'm getting better at it but I've never been what you'd call a technical guitar player so he's totally right [laughs].
L.A. Weekly: I also read today that you have a Slash action figure coming out and it says your action figure has 15 movable parts. What are these movable parts exactly?
Slash: I have yet to see it. Maybe you can move all ten fingers [laughs].
L.A. Weekly: Maybe your ears wiggle?
Slash: [Smiles] I don't know. It's a McFarlane Toys thing from the Guitar Hero III game. I'm hoping it's ten movable fingers because I can't think of any other movable parts [laughs]!
Video Footage From Sam Ash Music, October 7th:
Slash makes his grand entrance into Sam Ash Music:
Fans line up outside Sam Ash Music on Hollywood Boulevard to meet Slash.
Slash meets a female fan and signs her new Les Paul.