Iconic axman Slash is still rockin’ and finally drama-free

by Jon Bream

Star Tribune (Minneapolis) (MCT)

14 May 2012

 

MINNEAPOLIS — The controversial Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction of Guns N’ Roses is behind him. So, too, are Scott Weiland and Velvet Revolver. Finally, Slash can enjoy life in a band that’s not dysfunctional.

“It’s really liberating. It’s so stress-free,” said the iconic guitarist. “Everybody is happy doing what they’re doing. There isn’t a lot of drama and fussing. It’s been a long time coming, I suppose.”

Then he laughed.

The band is officially billed as Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. He actually started touring with this group two years ago to promote his 2010 solo debut “Slash,” on which Kennedy joined a parade of more famous guest singers, including Ozzy Osbourne, Fergie and Lemmy Kilmister.

“He’s very down-to-Earth and a humble individual,” said the 46-year-old guitarist. “Definitely not the kind of lead singer that I’ve had a lot of experience with.”

You’ve probably heard the back story about GNR frontman Axl Rose refusing to attend last month’s Hall of Fame induction. He and Slash have a rift deeper than the Grand Canyon and more complex than any of Bob Dylan’s lyrics. Slash showed up in Cleveland along with GNR heyday members Duff McKagan and Steven Adler and later players Matt Sorum and Gilbey Clarke to make speeches and play some songs.

“It was definitely an uncomfortable, nagging kind of thing, because there were so many negatives,” Slash said last week. “I was positive that there would be no positive outcome.”

For Slash, it was a bit of deja vu because as a member of Velvet Revolver, he helped with the controversial induction of Van Halen in 2007 when its co-founders Eddie and Alex Van Halen and David Lee Roth refused to show up.

Which situation was more awkward?

“The Van Halen induction was a nightmare,” Slash said. “And we were potentially a mirror image of that. Now at this point, (GNR’s induction) is something I’m really happy I did because it was very close to not happening at all. It turned out that in the moment, it was a really positive and fulfilling experience.”

Part of the good vibes were because Kennedy stepped up on short notice and sang the GNR classics “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” “Mr. Brownstone” and “Paradise City” with the ex-Gunners.

“He did a (expletive) amazing job,” Slash said.

Kennedy, 42, has gained a reputation as the go-to replacement singer, having rehearsed with Led Zeppelin in 2008 before a possible reunion and forming Alter Bridge with members of Creed after that band imploded in 2003. When Slash called Kennedy in 2009, he needed a vocalist for the two final songs on his debut solo album. Kennedy ended up as the permanent singer in Slash’s solo band. The group’s first album together, “Apocalyptic Love,” arrives May 22.

The quartet is not afraid of melody or muscle. Kennedy wails with emotional urgency, and Slash displays his wide-ranging guitar vocabulary, from razor-sharp riffs and soaring solos to chiming runs and bluesy careening.

In concert, Slash’s quartet will feature tunes from his two solo albums as well as material from Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver and his earlier solo group Slash’s Snakepit.

“This tour picks up where we left off,” the guitarist said. “We don’t have, like, ‘a show.’ We’re a rock band.”

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