Who needs multiple singers when you've got Myles Kennedy? Slash's new album, "Apocalyptic Love" (out May 22), only employs the one singer unlike the self-titled rock album the guitarist released in 2010 which features an assorted bunch: Lemmy, Fergie, Ian Astbury, Ozzy Osbourne, Adam Levine, Chris Cornell and more.
Kennedy, who also fronts Alter Bridge with three Creed members, impressed the former Guns N' Roses and current Velvet Revolver axeman when he nailed the vocals for that album's "Back From Cali" and "Starlight." He then asked him to front the touring band.
"I'd like to be able to give myself a little bit of credit for being able to recognize when somebody is really genuinely good," Slash tells Billboard. "When I first met him and he did that 'Starlight' song, I was like, 'Whoa!' From that moment on, when we worked together and just started rehearsing for that tour, I thought, 'This guy's really great.' That's the only reason I got him to do that tour in the first place because I knew that he could handle the diversity of all that material."
If Slash had said "Apocalyptic Love" included multiple vocalists, you might believe him. Kennedy's vocal range and tone, and ability to infuse different character into a song, is like many singers rolled into one: in the title track, he hits that heavy metal upper register; "One Last Thrill" gets snarkier" and "Standing In The Sun" deeper and darker.
Slash says the music was often written during the band's crazy touring schedule at odd hours, so he would just record it and send it to Kennedy to work on at his leisure. "There was never the pressure of 'We have to get together and work on this stuff.'"
Some of the lyrics are apparently about Kennedy's long conquered drug past. "I think there was a period in his life that we've often talked about that is the basis for the majority of the lyrics on this record," Slash says. "There's some random songs that don't have anything to do with that as well, but I'd say the majority of them have really pointed lyrics about something in particular that he went through."
For the recording, Slash returned to producer Eric Valentine and brought his whole touring band -- now known as Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators: Kennedy and two Canadians, bassist Todd Kerns and drummer Brent Fitz. And again, just like the last album, it was cut live on analog gear.
"I just had an amazing experience with Eric the first time," says Slash. "He's somebody that likes all the same stuff that I do and is a genius. I didn't think twice about doing it with him. That's one of the reasons why we were fortunate to do it live because he actually built a room in the studio that I could play in with the other guys and just use monitors for playback."
The first single, "You're A Lie," which went to rock radio late February, Slash says "almost didn't even make it on the record" -- and now it's a Top 20 hit on the Rock Songs chart.
"It was the second song that I had presented to Myles," he recounts. "We rehearsed it at soundcheck and what is now effectively a chorus was completely different. It went through a couple of different morphs in the latter part, towards the end of the making of the record or in preproduction.
"You can't really beat into something too much. The chorus wasn't working out the way that it was intended to and I was just like, 'You know what? F--k it. We'll just move on.' Then, all of a sudden I had this idea that just came out of nowhere and Myles came up with the melody and that became the chorus -- and that [song] became a single. It was really weird."
"Apocalyptic Love" comes out on Slash's own label, called Dik Hayd International. Is that supposed mean "dick hard" or "dickhead"? "It could be either," Slash smirks. He licensed the album around the world: "It's EMI in the States; Roadrunner in Europe, Sony in Australia, Universal in Japan and Canada."
Slash with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators begin a tour overseas June 10 in the Netherlands, followed by European festivals dates and shows with Motley Crue; a date in Lebanon (June 25) then back home for some U.S. dates and a cross-Canada tour. The last listed date is Aug. 4 in Huntington, NY.