“I didn’t walk into their dressing room with a bag of blow and an open bottle of Jack Daniels; we weren’t going to do that…plus, those [drugs] were mine!” recalls Slash, laughing. The mono-monikered guitar star is flashing back to when Guns ‘N’ Roses opened for Aerosmith in 1988. “We had a blast, and it was one of the best professional experiences of my career–having Guns open up for Aerosmith and having our band fucking finally cross that wave. That was just really cool.”
Cut to 26 years later, and he’s again opening for Aerosmith, this time gone from Guns for 18 years, sober for nine, and with his band of about three years–Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators. The iconic, large-than-life cartoon character that is Slash hasn’t outgrown his rock ”n’ roll all night and party every day (and night) lifestyle, though these days, the father of two lives it minus booze and substances. A sober Slash is a busy Slash: “I enjoy what I do and I get bored easily. I need to play. If I’m not on tour, I’m jamming. And if not I’m doing a session; I’m always playing.”
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Hence the upcoming World on Fire album via his own, goofily named Dik Hayd International records, his fifth album sans Velvet Revolver or Guns since 1995’s Slash’s Snakepit CD, It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere. With album sales of more than 100 million, the Grammy-winning, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee could easily kick back. But in addition to the Aerosmith tour, he’s doing a series of hometown shows at the infamous LA clubs where GN’R got their start: The Roxy, the Whisky, and The Troubadour. Although GNR incinerated the late ’80s Sunset Strip scene, New York has long been a favorite haunt for the British-born rock star.
“The first time I came to New York as a musician was before Appetite and it was to meet with Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero who were going to mix the record, and for (Geffen A&R rep) Tom [Zutat] to show me what it’s like to a be an executive at a record company,” he recalls. “I remember going to the China Club, pissed drunk, leaving shitfaced and trying to walk back to the hotel. I ended up in Alphabet City in the morning. I made my way back; I can’t remember the hotel but it was up by Central Park, and I had to walk, and got back at like 6:30 in the morning. I’ll never forget that.”
These days, life is less tumultuous. The guitarist, who has had the good–and bad–fortune to work with two talented if volatile singers in Axl Rose and Scott Wieland, has a far saner front man in Myles Kennedy, who also sings for Alter Bridge. On tour, if the principals are sober, the vibe isn’t. “Now [touring] with Aerosmith, it doesn’t remind me too much of ,” Slash says of Guns hazy heyday. “But at the same time there’s a great camaraderie and feeling of familiarity, and most importantly, a certain synergy between what they do and with what we do that really works well together. It’s a package that’s genuine, so that’s a really strong feeling. The whole thing is just really ‘up.'”
Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators plays with Aerosmith on September 3 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.