This month marks seven years since guitar god Slash retired his bottle of Jack Daniels for good — all part of a post Guns N’ Roses evolution that has seen him transform from poster boy for the group’s “Appetite for Destruction” to sober band leader, horror movie producer and today’s recipient of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Speaking to Variety from Europe, where he just finished a tour of 11 countries before segueing to 17 stops in North America in support of his second solo studio album, “Apocalyptic Love,” Slash describes the May release’s title as a tongue-in-cheek reference to “sexual relations on the eve of the apocalypse … that final fling.”
But there’s nothing final about where Slash is in his career. The album, a collaboration with vocalist and lyricist Myles Kennedy, entered the Billboard 200 at No. 4 while topping the Independent and Hard Rock charts, a respectable follow-up to his 2010 solo debut “Slash,” which debuted at No. 3. All this remains a strong indication that a quarter century into his career, Slash, be it through his music or his lasting legacy with Guns N’ Roses, remains a major force in the rock realm.
“Apocalyptic Love,” released on Slash’s label, Dik Hayd (people still get uncomfortable figuring out how to pronounce it, he says), is marked by the guitarist’s trademark full-throttle, shreddy licks. And despite mixed critical reception, fans are enthusiastic, according to the axe man known for his trademark sunglasses and leather top hat. “The original material is going over huge and we are playing six or more new songs per set because there’s demand for it,” says Slash, whose real name is Saul Hudson. “That is always a really rewarding feeling after putting out a new album, when there’s any kind of inclination in the audience to hear the new stuff.”
Touring with Kennedy, also frontman for the band Alter Bridge, is a very different experience from touring with Axl Rose or members of Velvet Revolver, says Slash. “He’s really laid back and sort of quiet and keeps to himself, very low maintenance. What’s most important is that he is really hard-working …he’s not fragile. He’s a road dog.”
Slash is already working on songs for the next record, which will also be a collaborative undertaking. And despite being named the No. 2 greatest electric guitar player in the world by Time magazine (right behind Jimi Hendrix), he has no inclination to put out an instrumental record.
“To do a whole album just me and the guitar sounds really self-indulgent,” he says. “Shredding alone doesn’t really excite me.”
Composing movie music, on the other hand, is a solo activity that appeals to him. He’s scoring “Nothing to Fear,” the first movie by his new production company, the aptly named Slasher Films (the film has just wrapped principal filming). “Nothing to Fear” is about a family that moves to a small town in Kansas called Skull, unaware that it also happens to be one of the seven gateways to hell.
A lifelong fan of classic horror, including such wide-ranging films as “The Exorcist,” “Night of the Living Dead,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” Slash founded the company with the intent to recreate the psychologically driven storytelling of those works. “And if I ever have to do anything that looks like a franchise, it will be done with integrity,” he says.
In the meantime, Slash continues his concert trek through North America before performing seven dates in Australia and New Zealand in August, then back to North America from Sept. 4 until hitting L.A.’s Wiltern theater Oct. 3. November dates in South America will follow.
Today’s ceremony on the Hollywood Walk of Fame will be presided over by pals Charlie Sheen and Robert Evans. The star represents a meaningful yet “surreal” point in his career, he says.
“(Former GNR drummer) Stephen Adler and myself, we were like 14 and dreaming about becoming rock musicians and ditching school so we could wander around Hollywood Boulevard, through the real underbelly of the city,” he recalls. “Now after all those years of seeing people get stabbed up there and buying weed on the street, to be getting my own star … well that’s a real happy turn of events.”