So, Slash, do you think you and Axl Rose could ever be friends?
As he begins to talk, Slash - the legendary guitarist who got his start in the turbulent rock band Guns N’ Roses and is now a part of supergroup Velvet Revolver - loses his cell phone reception.
He’s on a tour bus, rounding the country in support of his band’s latest album, “Libertad,” and his cell phone has been cutting out like this every few minutes.
It’s especially dramatic this time, considering the question, considering he and Axl don’t get along at all.
Back on the phone, Slash good-naturedly responds, “We’ve spent too much time talking about that subject.” Much as he has done in music, he’d rather move on from Guns N’ Roses.
Many other subjects were covered during this chat with Slash (real name Saul Hudson, 42): The 20th anniversary of “Appetite for Destruction,” his autobiography; the upcoming “Guitar Hero III” video game that he’s on the cover of; and how Velvet Revolver - a band made up of ex Guns N’ Roses and Stone Temple Pilots members - puts together a set list.
Many calls were dropped, too, making for these snippets of Slash.
On the band’s current tour: “It’s an awesome tour. It’s very real. Alice in Chains is awesome; they deliver such an impactful gig. Our gig is really awesome as well. It’s just one of the most real things going, where you can see real rock `n’ roll performed by people who are real rock musicians and love what they do.”
On the progression of Velvet Revolver: “You can just tell the difference between the band since we’ve completed this record and started this tour and the band when we did our first tour. It’s just something that happens with time.
“When we did the first record, we didn’t have the luxury of being together for two or three years and playing clubs and all of that kind of stuff. We got together and did our first record relatively quickly and went straight on the road. We pretty much cut our teeth on that first tour. By the time we were halfway done with that tour, we really hit a stride. Going into this record, I think we were a lot more established as a real group.”
On choosing a Velvet Revolver set list: “Now that we have more of a catalog to choose from, we do some songs off the first record, but we do a lot of songs off the new record - that’s the priority.
“Then we throw in other stuff around that. It’s cool to do this particular STP song or this particular Guns N’ Roses song that we really like. If we’ve been playing a song for a long time, we’ll ask what else can we do to change it up. It’s not that complicated. It’s probably a half an hour’s worth of work.”
On the 20-year anniversary of “Appetite for Destruction,” which was in July: “Everybody made a bigger deal about it than, obviously, I would have. It’s cool. You can’t complain about being recognized. It’s an accomplishment, having done something 20 years ago that’s still significant now. That’s really great. All the fanfare that went along with it - I was actually surprised at the amount of it.
“But as far as celebrating, the actual physical date that it happened, the anniversary, I wasn’t that cognizant of it. I think everybody else was and that me made aware of it.”
On how he looks back at the Guns N’ Roses era: “The Guns thing was awesome. I was 19 when that band started, and I owe everything in my career to that band.
“It was one of the coolest things going and still, looking back on it, it was one of the coolest things there has been.
“I’ve moved on, concentrating on what there is in the now, but at the same time, I’m very proud for having been part of that.”
On following Guns N’ Roses these days: “I only know about what goes on because everybody else tells me about it. I don’t pay that much attention.”
On his upcoming autobiography: “It’s pretty much done at this point. We’re doing the final editing. It covers from 1965 `til just before about now. It’s basically my telling of everything that happened from my point of view. Everybody else seems to be taking advantage of the fact that there is no real authorized book from any of the guys from Guns N’ Roses. There are a lot of stories and a lot of people generating a rumors based on whatever.”
On playing “Guitar Hero:” “I got turned onto the game and got really sort of heavily addicted to it. Then I got a call from Activision asking if I’d be involved in something having to do with the `Guitar Hero III’ game. I was beside myself with glee. I was like a little kid. I couldn’t wait.”
On playing “Guitar Hero” vs. actually playing guitar: “It’s a lot harder to play if you’re a guitar player, let’s put it that way. The novelty of the game really has nothing to do with really playing guitar. It’s sort of like you go through a lot of the motions. It’s the next thing to air guitar, plus you get to play along to a lot of really cool songs.”