Interview: Slash talks “World On Fire” and Remaking “Cut-Throats Nine”
Wed, 24 Sep 2014 11:52:01
"I look back at the last record and feel we’ve evolved nicely as a unit," Slash declares about his third full-length solo effort World On Fire. "We’ve had a great time regardless!"
You’ll have a great time cranking World On Fire as well. It’s a real rock record purest sense. The riffs and solos scorch, while Myles Kennedy’s vocals stretch to unimaginable heights. He and Slash make for a formidable singer-guitarist duo a la the genre’s most notable. These gentlemen are blazing brighter than ever on World On Fire…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Slash talks World On Fire, reveals his next film project a remake of Cut-Throats Nine, and discusses new bands he digs.
When you went into the studio, did you feel that unity going more than ever? Apocalyptic Love feels like your solo debut…
Apocalyptic Love was definitely my first record with Myles Kennedy, Brent Fitz, and Todd "Dammit" Kerns. The Slash record with all of the different singers was really the first solo thing I ever did because there was nobody involved except for me and the producer. We brought in all of these outside people to sing and play drums. This has been a band effort since before we went in to do Apocalyptic Love. That was when I established this was the band I wanted to make the next record with. I was really happy with that album. It was great. It was the only record in my career that was done completely live. There were hardly any overdubs. It was just us in a room playing. On this last record, we did the same approach, but I fine-tuned the guitar sounds later. That was a real test to see what kind of band we were dealing with in the studio. It turned out great. At this point, it's established itself as a really creative working ensemble.
What was your overall vision?
All things considered, the origins of every song on the album come from the Apocalyptic Love tour. I would just write things on the road. When the tour was over, I would go through the accumulated batch of material and see what I thought was good. Instead of making demos for the band guys, which is what I did on the last record, I just went in and started jamming these ideas out live in the rehearsal room. That brought a cohesiveness to it for sure. It gave the other guys an open forum to make up their own parts and so on. We made loosely arranged demos of that and sent them to Myles while he was on the road with Alter Bridge. He was getting his melodies and ideas. When he was done with the Alter Bridge tour, we hashed out every song and got the arrangements just so. We kept working day-in and day-out getting the songs together. Michael "Elvis" Baskette came in, and he furthered tweaking everything. He got all of the conjunctions for the different parts tight—which we lazily overlook when we're jamming [Laughs]. We went straight into the studio. At that point, we had all of the songs down and we knocked them out pretty quickly. Then, we went into guitars and vocals. It was done fairly quickly. There was no overall concept to it. It was a bunch of material that was put together at the same time.
What's the story behind "The Unholy"?
Well, I've been doing a lot of movie things lately. When I write music for movies, a different side of me as a musician comes out. I really liked that side. It's something I never apply to the confines of a rock band who's doing songs at roughly around four minutes long. It's not as a rule, but it just never happened. I thought, "God, I'd just love to sit down and write thematically in the context of the band as opposed to only doing it for cinema and visuals". "The Unholy" was the result of that, and it still ended up being seven minutes long. It started out like it does on acoustic.
Where did "Thirty Years to Life" come from?
That was something I definitely developed on the road, and I remember bringing it to the band in different variations of arrangement at soundchecks during the tour. I don't really know what the origin of it was. A lot of it is just me sitting around in dressing rooms and hotel rooms. I come up with things, I record them, and I forget all about them. However, I remember jamming that particular song with the guys at soundchecks. At one point, it was just the intro riff and those chord changes. I'd come back a week later, and I’d have that plus some other parts. We’d jam some more. It all came together when I was home and going into rehearsals with the guys.
Which song from World On Fire speaks to you the most?
There are songs I’m definitely looking forward to playing. When you make a record, it doesn't matter if it’s five songs, fifteen songs, or seventeen songs—I never get that sentimental attachment to any one song. It becomes more about every one of them as a whole because you’re so close to them and they all mean something. It’s impossible to find a favorite song. As far as going out and playing live, I’m looking forward to doing "Wicked Stone", because I know that’s going to kick-ass with that high volume delivery. I think "Beneath the Savage Sun" is going to be an epic live track. "Automatic Overdrive" will be a good live track. "Bent to Fly" is a single in Australia, and I think that will work its way into the set. We will probably play every single song off this album at some point or another over the course of this tour coming up. Because the whole album was played live in the studio, it’s naturally intended to be played live in front of an audience.
When did the title strike you?
Myles came up with the title for the song "World On Fire" in the lyrics. During the whole overdub stage of this album, I kept trying to think of what would make a great title for this. I couldn't think of one phrase or word that encompassed the record as a whole. I kept putting it in the back of my mind. The next thing you know, we were going into mix the record, and I didn't have a title [Laughs]. I was looking at the different tracks to see if anything fit, and "World On Fire" just popped out. It has a much broader connotation as the title of the record as opposed to what the song is about. It’s a simple rock ‘n’ roll song about seizing the moment. The backdrop of making all the overdubs was CNN. With everything going on, it seemed like a great statement for what everybody in life is going through in general. It could be politics. It could be personal life. It could be fucking anything you want to make of it. That’s how it ended up being the title.
If you were to compare World On Fire to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
That’s a good one! For some reason, Sleeper the old Woody Allen movie comes to mind [Laughs]. Let’s see. There’s got to be something a little more contemporary—maybe A Clockwork Orange…
It’s Sleeper and A Clockwork Orange together!
What’s the next movie you’re working on for Slasher Films?
I have a movie that I’m working on right now called Cut-Throats Nine, which is a remake of an old 1972 Spanish thriller. It’s not really a horror movie. It’s a thriller. I actually watched the original last night. That’s something we’re casting right now, and it’ll be in production next year. I have some other ones lined up that I’m looking to do, which I’m very excited about.
What appealed to you about Cut-Throats Nine?
Funny enough, I had never even heard of the original. It’s Spanish dubbed in English. A friend of mine who is a writer-director wanted to show me a couple of different scripts he was working on, and one of them was Cut-Throats Nine. It was such a brilliant fucking script, having never even known about the other movie. I thought, "If you’re going to do this, I really want to get involved in it". Then I finally watched the original and got an idea as to what the story looked like on film even though it was way different than the remake. I definitely attached myself to it early on.
Who have you recently seen that blew you away?
One of my favorite bands out there is Rival Sons. Another one is Monster Truck. They’re really good. Another one is from Australia—Airbourne. They’re very much like AC/DC. Gojira is just starting to make waves now. They are killer. There’s a band from L.A. called Hillbilly Herald. They’re one of the best live bands I’ve seen in recent memory.
What’s your favorite song from World On Fire?
See our review here!