British-American rock legend Slash spoke exclusively with Billboard Radio China during the Asian leg of his extensive world tour with Guns N’ Roses. Slash shot to fame as the lead guitarist of the hugely successful rock band during the late ’80s and early ’90s, establishing himself as a living legend and guitar god.
Despite taking a hiatus from performing with GNR, Slash remained active, co-founding the group Velvet Revolver before releasing four solo albums, including three with his band, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. In 2016, Slash re-joined the band that made him a household name.
Approaching the finale of the hugely successful Not in This Lifetime… Tour, which began on April 1, 2016, and has grossed nearly $500 million USD, Slash reflected on what has gotten him to where he is, and the key to his personal success. He remembers back to childhood when he first picked up a guitar and is humbled by his achievements, crediting his unwillingness “to take no for an answer from that day forward,” and the motivation to simply better himself, as the attribute that drove him to succeed.
“I didn’t have aspirations to get where I am at at this moment, it was just to keep playing, to keep getting better, to keep working on the next gig and … eventually the time comes when you get to make a record,” he explains, “and it was just sort of putting one foot in front of the other the whole time, and just keeping it moving and going forward, and always sort of striving to do the next best move you could possibly make and persevering. I guess ‘tenacious’ would be a good word for it. And that’s the long and short of it.”
This passion to continue to be a part of the voice of hard rock has brought him back to the band that made him a celebrity and one of the few individuals recognizable by a single moniker. In describing the reunion of the band and the Not in This Lifetime… Tour, Slash raves that, “It’s been one of the most amazing professional experiences of my career,” before adding that after being apart for nearly 23 years, the reunion has been very well received and a humbling experience.
In conjunction with his Guns N’ Roses reunion, Slash has continued to enjoy an extremely successful solo career that has seen the release of four solo albums to date. Three of these albums — including his newest, Living the Dream, which was released in September — feature Slash’s band, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators.
In fact, the group was working on the album when the opportunity for Slash to rejoin GNR for a limited run snowballed into nearly two years of touring, putting that record on hold until a brief break in early 2018 allowed the band to complete it.
Slash describes the record’s hectic completion, saying they, “hunkered down and … started recording and literally finished mastering the record on my way to GNR rehearsal for the next leg of that tour.” He describes the record as “a straight-ahead rock and roll record. It’s very live and very raw.”
The band — Myles Kennedy, Todd Kearns, Frank Sidoris and Brent Fitz — will embark on an international tour in January and will visit China for two of the tour’s stops: Jan. 20 in Beijing and Jan. 22 in Shanghai. The tour will feature the album’s debut single, “Driving Rain,” which Slash describes as a “mid-tempo, catchy and accessible song with a cool melody.”
Regardless where in the world touring takes Slash, home is never far from his heart and his mind, especially recently, as wildfires ravaged the Los Angeles area Slash calls home. Many of his friends have been displaced, evacuated, or lost their homes.
He shared he is bracing himself for what he will encounter when he returns home, saying, “It will be a shock for me to go and physically be there when I go back in December and realize that some of these places that I am so familiar with are no longer there.”
He also laments the dichotomy of emotions he’s feeling: the thrill of being on the road doing what he loves coupled with the sense of helplessness not being at home. “Watching it while it’s on the news and it being so close to home, it’s a weird kind of helpless feeling that you have while you watch this thing happening,” he says, “and then … you’ve got a gig in a couple of minutes and shift gears and you go out and play and you forget all about it and you’re out there for 3 hours … and you come back after the show, and you turn the news on, and another neighborhood just went up in flames.”
When he finally does return home in December for the holidays and surveys the new landscape, he won’t have much time before he is back on the road in January. He said he looks forward to returning go China and hopes that his Chinese fans have an amazing time.
He’s not certain what’s in store after the band finishes up the tour July 9. Whatever lies in his future, it is safe to say that the man deemed one of the greatest guitarists of all time and 2012 Rock N Roll Hall of Fame inductee won’t lay down his favorite Gibson Les Paul guitar for too long before the passion and tenacity that have guided him to success propels him into yet another undoubtedly exciting project.
Listen to the full radio interview on Billboard Radio China.