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Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010

Slash Goes Solo, In Good Company

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Slash’s band Velvet Revolver may still be looking for the right singer, but the guitarist didn’t have the same problem while recording his self-titled solo album. He found 13 of them.

He recruited a baker’s dozen vocalists, each of whom took on lead vocals for one song on his new album, save for Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge, who sang two.

Despite the many vocalists and personalities involved, Slash says recording the album went smoothly.

“You know, it was a very simple record to make,” says the guitarist known as Saul Hudson to the Social Security Administration. “It wasn’t complicated, and it wasn’t fraught with issues or ego problems or anything like that. It was very, very, sort of casual and relatively simple, just coming in and doing it, hanging out for a while and taking off. It was one of those things that could have been a real hassle, but it wasn’t.”

Slash says he had the idea to do this sort of album while on tour with Velvet Revolver in 2007; he moved forward with the project after singer Scott Weiland left Velvet Revolver in spring 2008.

“I just sat down and wrote a bunch of music,” Slash says. “Then I would listen to the music and it would sort of dictate to me who would be the appropriate singer. And then I would seek out the vocalists, song by song, and send them the demo and sort of impress upon them that it was a completely open forum, that they could do whatever they wanted with the material and it was subject to their interpretation.”

Each guest singer offered a different degree of input, Slash says.

“Like with Fergie (of the Black Eyed Peas), we did the music exactly the way I wrote it,” Slash says. “She sang to exactly what I wrote. We didn’t change anything. That happened a lot on the record. But then with Kid Rock, with M. Shadows (of Avenged Sevenfold), we worked on those songs from the ground up. They really had an idea of the parts they wanted to do.”

The album shows surprising variety. “Crucify the Dead,” with Ozzy Osbourne, is the kind of eerie rocker one might expect to hear on one of the former Black Sabbath singer’s own albums. “Beautiful Dangerous,” featuring a full-throated performance by Fergie, is a stomping dance-rocker. “Promise” puts Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell into a brooding but hooky pop-rock setting, and Iggy Pop cuts loose on “We’re All Gonna Die,” a track that merges garage rock and moody metal.

The freedom Slash felt in writing for his album was a major contrast to his time from 1985 until 1996 in Guns N’ Roses, where singer Axl Rose was lead songwriter, and even to Velvet Revolver, where it’s been reported that especially on the group’s second album, Libertad, Weiland was wielding the most control over the music.

Slash plans to return to Velvet Revolver soon.

“We’re going to get together at some point in October, when I’m on a break from this tour, and start compiling (vocalist audition tapes from) everybody that we have that sounds worth listening to a second time and start working on…going back to the audition process hopefully, and do all that between October and January,” Slash says.

As for Guns N’ Roses, the band will be eligible for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. That has spurred speculation that the band might at least regroup to perform at the ceremony, but Slash won’t show his hand on the prospects of some sort of reunion.

“I know we’ll be eligible, and when that time comes, we’ll deal with it then,” he says.

For now, Slash’s main priority is his U.S. tour. His band includes Kennedy on vocals, Bobby Schneck on guitar, Todd Kerns on bass and Brent Fitz on drums, for a set that encompasses Slash’s entire career, from Guns N’ Roses through Snakepit, Velvet Revolver and his solo album.

“It’s cool because, since it’s my solo tour, I can do whatever I want and I can play stuff from my entire catalog, whereas in Velvet Revolver and even Snakepit, I have to concentrate on that particular band,” Slash says.

Slash plays the Pabst Theater on Sunday, Sept. 5, at 8 p.m. with openers Myles Kennedy and Taking Dawn.