Slash Releases Fourth Album With Myles Kennedy, Talks Axl Rose, GNR

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Included between Axl Rose and Myles Kennedy, Slash knows he’s lucky share the stages with two muscular howlers.

But the ace guitarist in the identifiable ebony top hat is more than a little responsible for the massive, sustained sound Guns N’ Roses success as well as the smaller but equally musically scathing crunch-rock of Slash with Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators.

Slash, Kennedy and the rest of the band — drummer Brent Fitz, bassist Todd Kerns and rhythm guitarist Frank Sidoris — kick off a 28-city tour on Tuesday as an intro to the Friday release of their aptly named fourth album, “4 “.

The disk – the first release on the new Label Gibson Records in affiliation with the guitar brand – arrives in great shape, including deluxe vinyl and CD box sets and, in a nod to a certain demographic, a cassette.

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Many songs, such as “The Path Less Followed”, were written before the pandemic and draw inspiration from a myriad of life experiences. Slash wrote the riff for the “Fall Back to Earth” cutscene while on safari in South Africa (“Musically, for me, the environment has an influence,” he said), while the beautifully melodic “Fill My World” reflects Kennedy’s sadness after seeing his Shih Tzu Mozart panicked during a storm via his home video system.

Calling from a band rehearsal in Los Angeles, Slash, 56, spoke with USA TODAY about the conspirators collective fight with COVID-19work with famed producer Dave Cobb on “4” and the young artists who will continue to carry the torch of rock ‘n’ roll.

Q: The band’s The River is Rising tour kicks off on Tuesday. How scared are you of going through with everyone healthy?

Slash: Crossed fingers. We just did the Guns N’ Roses tour and there were a lot of precautions. We have so many safety measures (prepared) for this tour, so let’s go. They’re a conscientious bunch of people, but you can’t control everything and it’s hard to contain this thing.

Q: How has almost everyone in the band had COVID affected this new record?

Slash: We were 100% sure that we were all safe. We rented a tour bus from Las Vegas to Nashville, where we were checking in. Everyone was tested at a clinic in Vegas, everyone was negative. We had a great drive across the country to Nashville and we got this great live studio recording experience. We did it relatively quickly and as soon as we were done I got the call from Myles that he tested positive. And then we were dominoes. I was vaccinated and got it two days later. Fortunately, the recording was made. We only had a few overdubs, so it slowed down, but we got lucky.

Slash, along with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, hit the road on February 8 for the River is Rising Tour.

Q: You had the privilege of working with two of rock’s toughest singers. From a musical point of view, what is it like to create with Myles versus Axl?

Slash: It’s a completely different group. With Myles and the other guys, that’s his thing, and Axl and (GNR bassist) Duff (McKagan) and this environment, it is its own thing. With the Conspirators, it’s not a huge band like Guns N’ Roses, so we don’t have major expectations and we’re doing it for fun and we’re going to play. Guns N’ Roses has become a thing and there’s no escaping the fact that it’s as big as it is and there’s this pressure. I’m really lucky to be in two very good groups.

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Q: You recorded with Dave Cobb in Nashville, which produces a lot of country and roots artists (Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile). What made him the right choice?

Slash: No offense to Dave, but I didn’t know who he was at the time. I talked to people about who the good rock producers are right now and I was given a short list of four. What’s interesting about Dave is that even though he was mostly country, they were the coolest, most down-to-earth, rawest, most human records, so I dug that. On top of that, he had recorded Rival Sons and they stood out as a great sounding rock band on the radio. I called Dave and we had in common that we wanted to record a live rock record. I record live all the time and want to capture that energy of everyone in the same room. It’s not tangible to the average listener. If you listen to the Faces, you don’t know how the energy is as it is. It’s that invisible thing that really has an important facet of what the record looks like.

Slash (center) with Myles Kennedy and the conspirators.

Q: You’ve been together for a decade. Did you ever expect this project to last this long?

Slash: Luckily for me, I never think too far into the future. When we started doing this in 2010, I could never have imagined this 10 years later. But it was so much fun and one of those kinds of things that there was instant chemistry between the four of us. We had this thing locked and loaded and Frank (Sidoris) came over and everything was fine.

Q: When you see young rockers like Wolfgang Van Halen and Marc LaBelle of Dirty Honey, what do you think of the future of rock?

Slash: Wolfgang comes from a heritage and is an island unto itself. But with Marc, we had his band on our Living the Dream tour and they were great because you don’t hear too many rock bands like them. There’s a real wave of kids playing rock ‘n’ roll that’s stripped down and unaffected by the trappings of this industry and Dirty Honey is one of those bands. It’s not common, so the average person isn’t really aware of it, but kids are. I love seeing him.

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