As a former member of Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver, Slash knows more than most musicians about what he calls "band drama".
"It just goes hand in hand with rock 'n' roll," the
44-year-old guitarist says with a seen-it-all laugh. "It's a very volatile world. And I actually thrive on it – but at the same time it makes it really hard to get anything done."
Getting stuff done was the primary motivation behind Slash's self-titled solo debut, due on April 6 in the United States on the artist's own Dik Hayd Records via EMI Label Services.
"After the last Velvet Revolver tour, I was like, 'I just need to do something on my own'," says the musician, who's also released a pair of discs with Slash's Snakepit. "'Something where I can make my own decisions and do whatever it is that I want to do, without having to conform to anyone else's taste."
Not that "Slash" is free of other creative input: The 13-track set contains collaborations with an eclectic roster of guest vocalists, including Ozzy Osbourne, Chris Cornell, Kid Rock, Ian Astbury and Iggy Pop. Slash says the idea behind the all-star hookups was simple: "I just wanted to get different people I admired and thought were great on my record. I'd been doing that on other people's records forever."
Avenged Sevenfold frontman M Shadows – who lends lead vocals to the hard-rocking Nothing to Say – insists that despite the guest list, the album is undoubtedly Slash's show. "You can tell he's doing the record as a way to try different things," Shadows says. "He definitely branched out, and the result is all over the place. But the guitar playing is so obviously Slash. That holds it all together."
"Slash is a guy who appeals to everyone," says Maroon 5's Adam Levine, who sings Gotten, a bluesy ballad. "He was in Guns N' Roses but he also wasn't afraid of playing on a Michael Jackson record. I've always loved his attitude towards music, the way he embraces tonnes of different styles."
Slash says the album's stylistic diversity – where you can find Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister (Doctor Alibi) rubbing elbows with Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas (Beautiful Dangerous) – developed in an organic fashion. "Once I came up with the concept, there was no forethought as to who exactly should be on the record," he says.
"I just started writing music and compiling stuff from old tapes. Then I sat down with it and kept thinking, 'This song would great for so-and-so'. Once I got the songs into reasonable demo form, I'd send them out to different people and just hope they were interested."
Slash didn't even have a MySpace profile when he started working with the management company Collective Music Group, so the firm set him up with Facebook, MySpace and Twitter accounts.
"All that stuff was new to me," says Slash. "I mean, I literally didn't own a computer until, like, 2002. At some point I got a BlackBerry, and that kind of opened up the whole thing for me. Now I've come to terms with the way things are. Social networking is great for interacting with fans and being able to talk to people in real time."
"He thinks it's cool," adds Jeff Varner of Collective, who stresses that the guitarist's Twitter feed – which he's used to urge Madonna to "sit on Justin Bieber's face", among other things – is not fake. "It's really Slash. He's like, 'Love it or hate it, this is me'."
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