As the guitarist for Guns N’ Roses, Slash cemented himself as one of rock’s great modern guitar heroes. But in the 17 years since leaving GN’R, the wild-maned musician has forged a path worthy of the rock ’n’ roll history books in its own right. In addition to forming Velvet Revolver alongside Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland, the guitarist has released two solo albums and contributed session work to albums ranging from Michael Jackson’s Dangerous to Rihanna’s Rated R. Outside of the studio, he’s kept plenty busy, too, contributing to a roster of film and television projects that includes the upcoming horror film Nothing Left to Fear. (Slash serves as coproducer.) In addition, he’s become a vocal spokesperson for a number of nonprofit organizations, including the Los Angeles Zoo.
This Friday, Slash takes to the stage at the newly reopened Lobero Theatre as part of an all-star lineup that includes Jimmy Vivino and Robert Randolph. The concert is in celebration of — and to raise money for — Notes for Notes, the Santa Barbara-based nonprofit that provides free music education and outreach to children and young adults across the city. Recently, I caught up with Slash to talk touring, humanitarian work, and advising the future generation of rock ‘n’ rollers.
After 30-plus years, what still excites you about playing guitar? I don’t know; I just love playing guitar, and it seems the longer I’ve been doing it, the more I love it. I’ve never really stopped to think what’s really at the bottom of that. I just go with it.
Similarly, you’ve spent the better part of your life on the road. How does touring now compare to touring with GN’R? It’s actually comparable to GN’R in the ’80s, except for all the drugs that happened back then. I really enjoy it, it’s a lot of fun, and I like the pace of it. We do anywhere from five to six shows per week, and I love that; the more I do it, the more I love it.
Do you actively seek out new music? If so, what/who has caught your attention of late? The latest record that I’m really in love with is Aftershock by Motörhead. I think it’s one of the most brilliant rock ’n’ roll records that has come out in a long time. I also really like the new Black Sabbath record.
You’ve worked closely with the L.A. Zoo for years now. Can you tell me a bit about your relationship with them and/or your capacity on GLAZA’s [Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association] board of trustees? I’ve been a patron at the L.A. Zoo for as long as I’ve lived in Los Angeles. It’s sort of been a home base for me. I’ve been able to watch the zoo evolve over the years, and it’s turned into a great conservation destination. I really enjoy being part of the GLAZA organization and having something to do with the future developments and focusing on conversation and privatization of the L.A. Zoo.
How did you get involved with the Notes for Notes benefit? Well, I met the guys from Notes for Notes through Evan Skopp at Seymour Duncan.
The lineup is pretty impressive — you, Jimmy Vivino, Robert Randolph. Are you guys planning to collaborate at all? At this point, all I know is that we’re going to be jamming. We will be rehearsing the week before the show, where we’ll come up with the specific arrangements, but overall it’s pretty loose.
What kind of advice do you bestow upon young kids who want to pursue music, both for hobby and as a career? As a hobby, it’s a hell of a lot of fun, but as a career, it’s a hell of a lot of work. Patience, perseverance, and practice — those are the three things that come to mind, and those are things that I still practice today. It’s a never-ending process, but at the same time, if you love what you do, it’s very rewarding.
Slash joins Jimmy Vivino and Robert Randolph and friends onstage at the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St.) for the 3rd Annual Benefit Concert for Notes for Notes on Friday, December 6, at 8 p.m. Call (805) 963-0761 or visit lobero.com for tickets and info.