There are only a handful of guitar players - successful guitar players - who continue to delight in the simple act of placing a pick against a guitar string. Most of the seasoned vets do take pride in the craft but for many of them, it's simply a job. For Slash
, playing the six-string continues to amaze and enthrall him the same way it did when he was in his new rock band called Guns 'N' Roses
. When he talks about the guitar, his eyes light up. When he is describing a lick or a new song, he is all smiles and honesty.
, Velvet Revolver's second album, Slash
has truly brought his playing to a new level, eschewing the sort of bluesy, quasi-classic style/tones on Contraband
, and replacing them with very modern textures. His playing bridges that earlier GNR/VR period with a dark and ambient quality that had never been present before.
In talking about the new album, he was obviously delighted with what he'd created. Slash is a rare diamond in a field of carbon copies. He has never tried to be the fastest or the craziest or the heaviest - he simply wanted to be a guitar player who could always be depended on to play the right riff.
Ultimate-Guitar: The new record really solidifies the sound of the band. It's a huge leap forward from Contraband. What did you do different this time?
It's hard to explain. The first record is great and it was a cool opening statement and stuff, but it wasn't an example of what everybody in the band was really capable of. But we just sort of all got together and, based on the excitement of finding just that unity, we just went in and did it really quick. We didn't really sit down and explore. We were lucky to even make the first record because we did a show at the El Rey, and we had I think a 5 to 6-song set. We contemplated just going on the road and not even putting a record out. Then we thought, No, let's slow down for a second. Let's put a record together.
So we did.
I think that over the course of the last couple of years, from touring and just being together and being through a lot together and this and that and the other, the band actually sort of got seasoned a little bit. We did 5 shows, I think it was somewhere in July. We did five shows in California, and even at that point, the band had actually set. It actually felt really, really comfortable. I could look back and think how hard we were really trying when it first started. There was a lot of getting to know each other. I've known a lot of these guys for fucking ever, as a band getting to know each other. So at this point, we went in and just started writing songs. It was a whole different kind of environment.
So, during these last three years, was it finding that settling period in order that the band could move forward and say, Okay, let's make a record now?
All things considered, it wasn't really a conscious effort like that. It was more like, yeah, we wanted to make a second record. Getting it started took a long time, just getting everybody in the same room. There was a lot of other bullshit surrounding the band, coming from all different directions. It was sort of like a lot of little obstacles going on. Once we finally got in, we just started doing what it was that we did. So there wasn't a conscious effort to, Okay, now that we've been playing together for so long
It just sort of naturally happened that way.
Rick Rubin was going to be the first producer and then that didn't happen. What was it that you thought Rick might have brought to Libertad?
In this particular climate, when it comes to sort of rock and roll and what that sort of means these days, it's hard to think who you want to make a record with because there's no records coming out that we actually like. Or I'll speak for myself, that I actually like, except for bands that have been around for a long time. Nine Inch Nails or Queens Of The Stone Age or Foo Fighters or something like that, those are bands that I like, but they've been around for a while. So in what's going on right now as we speak, we didn't know who to work with.
So Rick came up. His name comes up and I thought, You know, I've known Rick for a long time and I know he obviously makes some amazing records. So let's see.
So we sat down and we met with him. It was like we were just getting into writing mode at that point. He says, Just keep writing.
So we did a lot of writing for a little bit. This was sort of like in March, April, and May. Then we stopped for about a month and we started up again in July. He started coming down to hear what we were doing. We didn't know what to expect, but I had heard that he's not a real sort ofHe doesn't have a real presence in the rehearsal studio and in the recording studio.
So it turned out that was exactly the case. He would show up for half an hour one day and then we would continue working. We were trying to adhere to some guidelines that he had set for us, how to go about doing it - which is sort of unheard of, for any of us to actually listen to anybody.
In terms of schedules?
No, how to go about the actual writing process. So we said, Well, that makes some sense. So we'll try a couple of these different things.
Then we fall back into our own rut! Then he would show up 2 or 3 weeks later, again for a half an hour, and that started to become a little bit weird. Also, he was working on so many other records at the same time, that we didn't feel like we were obviously exclusive at all. That was all just adding up, but we were sort of being nice about it.
Then finally it came to a point suddenly where we were starting to get frustrated, and we were also starting to get disillusioned. We started getting inhibited by our own material and going through this weird thing. We didn't know exactly how to put our finger on. At that point, we really wanted to get going. It didn't seem like with Rick we were going to be doing anything in the near future, as far as releasing a record or whatever. We didn't even know which songs were good or weren't good. We were sort of leaning on him to sort of give us an idea.
So somehow we ended up calling up Brendan O'Brien, who Scott knew (O'Brien produced Stone Temple Pilots). I talked to him on the phone and he said all the right things. So he came down to the studio, he came down to rehearsal. And inside of 3 weeks, we put all the songs together, arrangements and everything. We just went straight into the studio. He just has a real hands-on kind of attitude. He's also a musician, which is great because we're showing him how to play the songs and he can pick up the guitar and play along with us. So we can go through some arrangement ideas or this or that or the other. He just has a really keen ear for everything that's going on. We didn't feel at all imposed on by him. We sort of did our thing and it just worked out.
You can really hear his presence in terms of guitar tones and song structures. Is that the kind of input you would get from him?
I think the biggest thing that I noticed was he was great at simplifying the stuff that we made complicated, like certain song arrangements. Like, You've already got the song right there.
Because we kept digging up new parts and all this kind of shit. We also have this thing where we started jamming on something and we come up with so many different ideas inside the parameters of one tune. It's hard for us to give that up because it's all spontaneous stuff and it sounds cool and this and that. But as far as an arrangement to a song is concerned, he would be like, You don't need to have all those different parts.
So that was helpful. It made certain aspects of it a lot simpler.
As far as guitar tones and drum tones and all that kind of shit, that was something where, when we actually went into the studio, I did have sort of these different ideas as to what I thought I was going to do. We just set up a Marshall and I go, I need this sound
or I need to get a Vox
or something like that. He'd dig up an old Vox Combo or something like that. So he had access to a lot of stuff. But it was really just sort of like not over thinking anything. So it was very raw and it was very live.
One of the cool things about making this record was that, rather than going, Okay, we're going to go through all the basic tracks and then we'll come back and do the vocals and the guitars and all that kind of shit,
we did it song by song. Scott was there singing with us and it was real sort of camaraderie happening in the studio. That was unprecedented in my experience in the bands that I've been in.
You've never worked that way?
|"Over the course of the last couple of years the band actually sort of got seasoned a little bit."|
Not really. I mean, just to go in and basically complete a song all the way through, with all the sounds and everything, then move on the next one is pretty different for me.
So each song was pretty much realized conceptually before you even began recording them?
That was one thing we always do and I always have done. I'm a huge stickler for pre-production, rehearsal. I hate going into the studio and trying to make it up then and there. So it was a quick process once we got in there.
In our last chat several years ago for Contraband, you said, If it's not broken, I'm not going to fix it. Did you adopt that philosophy again? Was it the Marshall and the Les Paul with you? Did you make up much in the studio this time? It sounds like there are so many different mutations going on through the different songs.
What I thought was something that I started to do on the first Velvet record, which was, I'm going to use some different applications here and there.
On the first Velvet record, I actually did try some new amps and try a couple different guitars for different things. In this particular case, I thought I was going to be doing more of the same thing. But what ended up happening is I did 60% of the record with a couple Marshall heads, a couple cabinets, and my regular Les Paul copy that I've been using for years. And that was it! And a wah wah pedal; I used a wah wah pedal a lot on this record. That was basically for the majority of the songs.
The first song on the album, Let It Roll, is a big rock kind of a shuffle.
Any new gear on this opening cut?
I changed up a little bit and used an MXR Q-Zone pedal (QZ1) that gives it that nasally sound. This was all sort of like off the cuff. Like, Let me try this and see if that works.
I had an idea of what I wanted the sounds to sound like in my head. So I had this great little MXR that they just put out. It's this little box that's got a gain button or a boost button and a distortion button. That was like my main tool for the entire record. Every time we did the solo, one of those two buttons and I'd be off and running.
Then I used a Voice Box on one tune. I just pick up little things here and there. But I did switch up guitars on a couple songs. Obviously, there's a lot of slide, so there was that going on. So I had a (Les Paul) Junior that I had rigged up with high action for slide.
Yeah, Spay is one of them. And you haven't heard it, but there are some other songs that aren't on the record, and actually some of those songs branch out even more. But they'll come out later. There was another song, a song called This Fight, where I used a Gretsch that I bought off some guy that day. I said, Let's just try this and see if it sounds good. Because it's a different kind of a song.
There's a song called Gravedancer, where I picked up a brand new Strat at some point during rehearsal. I was going through a Strat phase because all I had been listening to for 6 months was Albert King and that was it. So I picked up this new Strat and that song was written on a Strat. So I picked up the new one, but I ended up in the studio using an old one that I had in storage. I recorded the rhythm track and I went to go do the guitar solo on the Strat, and it sounded very Strat. I was like, You know what? I'm just going to do this on a Les Paul. It's just that I have a feel for a Les Paul. Where with the Strat, it's like I'm trying to make it sound like a Strat. It doesn't feel as comfortable to me. So that particular song, I put the Les Paul solo on the end with the wah wah pedal.
Then I had also gotten a hold of this pedal called an Octavian. It's some company called Chicago Iron who has been remaking them. They sound really cool. I used it and did another solo on the end of that song, and it sounds fucking awesome. But then when I went to go mix, I realized that that solo sounded very much put on the track, as opposed to the wah wah pedal solo that I did that day with the song. So we took it off, but it's a great sounding rig. The song, She Mine, that's the Octavian boosted fucking like crazy at the beginning, that weird sound. Throughout the whole thing, the solo, then there's a bendy riff. That's what an Octavian sounds like if you crank the volume on your guitar all the way up and you put the boost on and have the pedal turned all the way up. It sounds like something's dying.
You never tune down.
No. How did you notice that? I do tune down for certain songs. Slither is tuned down. On the new record, She Builds Quick Machines is tuned down; I wrote that tuned down. But I try to get away from tuning down because everybody has used that. David (Kushner, rhythm guitarist) is really into it, so everybody else in the band played it tuned down and I played it regular tuning. But it made for some interesting chords doing it that way.
You talked about the band settling and really beginning to understand each other. Is there more understanding between you and Dave?
Something developed. Like I said, all this stuff, all these little nuances and little adjustments are always unsaid. It's never something where you make a point of sitting down and talking about it. So then I pick up on stuff as it goes. With this record, I noticed that I actually paid attention to what Dave's parts were and where they were at and what they were. Just without consciously doing it, but I was very aware of them and I actually knew where I was playing around them and what sort of synergy they had. It wasn't until we started recording that I started really noticing how I was playing off all that stuff. So that was really great. That song in particular Dave wrote.
On Get Out The Door?
Yeah. I remember thinking, That's a really, really cool riff.
Then when the whole band started playing it, it had this certain kind of sound to it. I wanted to get away from doing the whole tuning thing. He's got it covered, so let's see if I can just do something in standard tuning that's going to fit it.
It was cool back in the day. But like when Kiss and Aerosmith were all tuning down a half step, we're like, That sounds heavy.
And of course, Black Sabbath was tuning down a step and a half in certain songs. That was great, but it just became the staple for heavy metal after that. You can always hear it coming.
Are you using the Voice Box on Get Out The Door?
That's the only song, actually, that I put the Voice Box on. It's the Talk Box by Dean Markley. Remember those?
Yeah, I do. She Builds Quick Machines is the first single - is it difficult choosing the song that not only has the most commercial appeal but will represent the album on a musical level?
There was more of a debate over the first single this time. Last time, it was easy; Slither just sounded like the first single. This one, Quick Machines, was dubbed the first single from the earliest stages. Then the record company said, Yeah, cool. First single. Then as a band, we started going, 'Get Out The Door' is pretty cool and it's different, also that song 'She Mine.' But we ended up sticking with Quick Machines because it was the most indicative of the band. Then if we do anything else after that, it shows growth, as opposed to growing and then going back to just standard rock stuff.
There are some time changes in Machines that sound pretty hip.
Again, not a concentrated effort on this particular one; it's just the way it came out.
You're using a Gretsch on The Fight?
And there is some acoustic guitar there?
No, it's the Gretsch. I'm pretty sure there's no acoustic guitar on there. Yeah, it's all just that one Gretsch that's on there.
Is there a Leslie on the solo?
No, that was just the Gretsch and it was a Marshall. I don't think we used anything else for that. I'm trying to think if there was something else. I might have used the vibrato on it. I know that there was something that I used a little vibrato pedal on, so that might have been it.
On Pills, Demons, Etc, there's a wah wah and that main melody line is doubled?
For the most part of the song, it's just me and Dave playing it. Then there's a third part that I put on, which is the octave up, or 2 octaves up towards the end.
Scott's singing and lyrics are really strong. How involved do you get in the lyric writing?
I had a tendency from time to time, when Scott picks up on a riff, like say we have a piece of music and he picks up on it, he'll start singing. I'll hear what he's singing and roughly where he's going with it, and by the time we get into the studio I don't know exactly what the entire song sounds like lyrically. I might be walking around and catch one of his notepads and go, Oh, okay.
But I'm really out of the loop there.
I remember in Guns N' Roses, I never get involved with the lyric writing unless somebody asked me. If somebody got stumped with something, then I go, Okay, well then this would sound good.
But I don't get too involved in that aspect of songwriting. I did in my own band, like when I did the first Snakepit record, I think I had a lot of shit that I had to say. So I put some lyrics in there.
On American Man, the guitars sound like strings.
That particular day, we had moved the drums out when we did the guitars for that song. I remember because that was one of the last songs on the record, so drum tracks were done. We had moved the amps out into the big room, where the drums were. It was probably the most recognizable sound for me, as far as that kind of a Marshall. It's just something about it sounds like, Oh, that's very familiar!
So the solo, we just put some reverb and there was a little gain on it and that was it. So there's no strings; It's just one of those singing kind of melodies.
On Mary Mary, you can really hear all the percussion going on.
That was important.
Is that Brendan's input?
No, that was collective, but Brendan knows how to do it. We always want to put percussion on it because all of our favorite Stones' records all have cool percussion on them. But we never know how to go about doing it so that it sounds cool. When we did the last record, we were working with Josh Abraham, and he was a very New Order type of a producer. It's hard to get anything organic out of that guy, so we ended up just shelving different ideas that had to do with a really good understanding of feel and all that kind of shit. Matt can do it, but you have to know how to record it properly and all that kind of stuff. Brendan was great because I wanted percussion on all this different stuff, and whenever the idea came up, Brendan was like, Yeah! Let's go for it!
He made a point of, Let's get it right.
One thing about that particular song, There's a solo on there, it's a slide solo. Because this whole record was done in probably the most spontaneous kind of a setting, we usually keep like the first take of something or actually keep a take from the actual basic track, from all the playing together. Like there will be a solo and it's like, It's fine.
It's hard for me to do that because I feel like I have to fuck with everything. But that particular solo was taken off the demo when we first recorded the song over at Matt Sorum's house months and months ago.
Just Sixteen has a bit of a Stones' feel to it.
That's the first time I've managed to get a song that has the boogie chords in it. This band will never play, dung-a-ding-a-ding-a-dinga'
(sings simple Chuck Berry 12-bar blues riff). It won't do it. This is like one of those riffs that I wrote and everybody dug it. So we managed to get a Stonesy kind of thing in there, so it's sort of cool.
Then the ELO cover?
Now there's a good story behind that one. We had 2 covers going on this record. The one I was going to tell you was Psycho Killer, which will come out later and is a really good Talking Heads' song. That was the only one that the band had actually come up with. Brendan came around one day and he goes, You know, I've got an idea for a cover. He wouldn't tell me what it was, knowing that I wouldn't be into it. Finally he waited until it was just the right timing and he goes, You know the ELO song 'Can't Get It Out Of My Head'?
I love ELO for what ELO does. I love Jeff (Lynne) and that's all good, but for this band I was, I know that Scott could sing the shit out of it, but I just can't hear us doing it. That's a little sappy.
He had to really persevere. He finally talked me into doing an acoustic track along with the drums, and then we just built it from there. Finally, the next thing you know, I'm putting guitars on and all that kind of shit. It just came together and came out really good. I put the solos on there when we were mixing. There's a couple songs in there where the solos were done later and that was one of them.
It wasn't even my guitar and it wasn't even my pedal because it was over in Southern Tracks in Atlanta. That's where we mixed the record. So I bought Brendan a guitar, a 60's reissue Les Paul, and it got there right before I did. So I just picked up that guitar up and he had just any ordinary wah-wah pedal in the studio.
What kind of acoustic are you playing?
There were a few of them that were around, Taylor and a Martin. On that particular song, I'm not sure exactly which acoustic it was. It was probably the Martin because it sounds really warm.
On For A Brother, there are a bunch of cool noodle licks, little bits that fly in and out.
|"One of the cool things about making this record was that we did it song by song."|
In pre-production, we actually wrote that towards the very, very end. It was one of those riffs that Matt came up with. We came up with an arrangement and had it down, but it was very, very second-to-last song that we actually recorded. So we just did it live in the studio and that's all you're hearing. It's just the entire song in the studio.
Some of the licks have a Clapton thing going on.
It is what it is. It was very just off the cuff. It was one of those things where I was like, Should I go back?
That's where Brendan's influence is. No, it sounds fine.
That song Pills, Demons was the same kind of deal. That was the first solo that I did. I was like, Well, let me go back and fix it.
But he was like, No, it's fine.
Spay is the slide song that really had an STP feel.
When it was written, it was sort of a punk rock kind of thing. Then Scott put the vocals to it, and actually, he screamed them all the way through. Later, he decided to sing it and put the screaming in the background. But vocally, it reminds me a lot of STP.
Matt and Duff are playing so well together on that track and the rest of the album.
Yeah, everybody performed really, really great on the record. I was amazed. I was like, Scott, your singing gave me chills the whole time.
Then Matt just played amazing. Duff and Matt are so tight on this whole thing, and Dave came around. It was a different record for me because, even thought it took a long time to get to the point of writing it, once we really honed in it was written pretty quickly. The amount of pre-production meant that there weren't solo that I had been playing for months and months, so it was all very sort of off the cuff. I thought I'm getting better as being a spontaneous guitar player, put in a situation where I can accomplish it.
In our last chat, you described the last record as spontaneous. So whatever you're doing, it's working.
Whenever I do a one-off for somebody else, you're in a situation where you don't really have time, nor do you want to embarrass yourself by spending a lot of time on just putting a solo down or a rhythm track. So when it comes to being able to put down your own material, it's sort of the same kind of thing. It's like I'm impatient. I can't hang out for too long. Sometimes you get forced into a situation where you have to because the part is not done yet or they haven't executed it. This was more like just natural and it just happened, so it was cool. I learned a lot in the sessions.
Talking about one-offs, you were involved in a fair amount of sessions during this three-year lull.
I do them here and there, yeah.
You were working with people like Chris Daughtry, Sarah Kelly, Derek Sherinian, and Paulina Rubio. Do these various styles intrigue you?
Usually it's probably somebody I know. In Derek's case, it was Billy Idol. And a couple people he's working with, Brian Tichy, he plays drums and he also co-wrote a lot of the material. They came to me with an idea of doing In The Summertime. I know these guys, so it's fun to go do. Sarah Kelly was something that Mike Clink called me up and asked me if I'd be interested. He sent me the songs, and one of the songs just blew my mind and I was really into that. Then he asked me to play on another one while I was there.
The Chris Daughtry thing, that was sort of like, no, I wouldn't have known to do that. It was a record company thing because we're on the same label and they just asked. I was reluctant at first because of the whole American Idol bit, but then at the same time, I wasn't familiar with him. He hadn't won, so I didn't know who he was. So they sent me the song before I had even met him. I was like, I could play on it. Then I went to the studio and met him, and I was like, He's a nice guy. Paulino Rubio is just this hot, Brazilian chick. That was fun!
And you were on The Fast And The Furious II: Tokyo Drift? Was that cool?
Yeah, that was a lot of fun. That was completely sort of a left field type of session. I've only worked on a couple different soundtrack things before, and usually in sort of the same kind of way that I would do anything else. I'd put together a piece of music and record it the way that I would do it, and then they'd put it in. With this, I went and worked with the actual composer, who does everything by computer. It's all synthesizers - he does play bass and drums, but I mean, it's just not a rock band at all.
What happened was he showed me his creation, which is like the soundtrack for this entire fucking movie, with all this digital stuff and blah, blah, blah. I just sort of went in and played on top of a bunch of shit, then he put it all together and that was it. But I had a good time doing it and it came out sounding appropriate for the movie, so it was a cool experience.
What about the Les Paul tribute?
The record? I didn't play on the record.
That was fun. It was sort of weird not having Les there. I didn't see the whole thing, but I heard about it. I heard it was a lot of sort of overindulgent, kind of modern, fast whatever, which didn't really fit the idea in my head as a Les Paul tribute. I just went up and played, I think it was Superstitious with Edgar Winter. We had a good time doing that and then split.
Are there any keyboards on Gravedancer?
There is some keyboards. That's the only keyboards that I know of. I think there are also keyboards on This Fight. There are certain songs that need piano or need that kind of thing to it. Usually, on a ballad I will give it that much more space.
In terms of the actual studio itself, did you record digitally?
We're recording everything to tape; bass and drums we're doing to tape. Guitars are going to Pro Tools and everything's going to Pro Tools at that point. That's basically it. There's nothing major. We're still going to 2. From that point on, Pro Tools has just become the tool of the recording studios.
Can you hear a difference in your guitar tones from back in the Guns' days?
It depends. The way that I see it is that Pro Tools seems to take a little bit of edge out of it. There's something about the immediacy of doing stuff to tape that I can tell the difference between Pro Tools and when you're just going to 2-inch. It's just the sharpness of it, a little bit of edge. On the drums, it's immediate. I can hear that right away.
In your mind, was there ever a thought that, We better not make a Contraband Part II?
I think there was one conversation that we had at one point, where we actually, as a band, just sat down at rehearsal one day. We took a break from what we were doing or something, and we were all just sitting around. We had this conversation that was like, What ideally would we want to do?
I think Rick was there for this. Ideally what would we want to do with this record?
The summation of the conversation that followed was to make something that was as good or better than any of the collective or individual recordings that we had done, or records that we had done in previous bands or what not. That was like the only time that we ever talked about it. I guess it was a subconscious bar. That was it. Then we just kept working!
I think that the whole sophomore kind of thing is a little bit intimidating because when we were considering going into making the next record, we thought, Oh, this will be great and a piece of cake.
There were a lot of great ideas, but we couldn't get into a room to really all focus. The longer that took, the more intimidating the concept became. Finally once we got to work, it went away.
But one of the things about the first record is, that having done it on the tour and then enough time after the tour, it actually seemed like such a long time ago. I think that obviously the band had blossomed since then that I don't think we had any intention of doing anything that sounded like the first record. There was no reason to go back and go, We want to make a record.
It didn't matter if it had sold 10 million records. We weren't going to go back and try and recreate that. We were going to expand on it.
Did it feel like it did recording the second GNR record, Lies? Emotionally, was there anything similar?
No. The Guns thing, we did the one record, the first one, and that record just kept steamrolling and getting bigger and bigger. We just kept staying and staying out on the road and what not. At some point, yeah, it was time. The tour ended and we put out the Lies record, as sort of something to do before the next big sort of full-scale record. But we had so much shit going on, keeping us from making that record as well. It was really hard.
That was the only similarity. I was seeing that for no real particular reason, we can't get into the studio. That had me a little bit probably nervous. Looking back on it, maybe that's what was really bugging me about the situation, was that it was reminiscent of maybe the Guns' Use Your Illusion record. We just couldn't get everybody together because of some fucking unforeseen fucking problem that was causing angst or whatever it was. Finally, we managed to stick it out and get through that. Then everything sort of cruised.
Do you talk to Axl at all?
I know about what's going on with him, probably about as much as anybody else does because it pops up in conversation. Otherwise, I don't really spend too much time thinking about it. But I'm glad that he's out there and he's doing something. He's got a record, which I know is done. He just has to put it out. I really have no animosity toward him anymore. I have finally gotten over that. I don't have any of this sort of bitter resentment about the whole fucking upheaval that was 1996.
So it's actually a nice, content feeling, and I'm glad that he's working and I'm glad that I'm working. I feel like I've achieved something by having gotten a little bit out from underneath the umbrella of the constant Guns N' Roses recognition, which is great to an extent. You want to be able to do some other stuff without havingit's like toilet paper on your heel. So now I feel content in doing what I'm doing and sort of letting bygones be bygones. Although I think he's probably still pissed at me for a lot of things. But I'm like, whatever. It probably is my fault. Whatever, I'll let it go.
Do you feel that with the success of Contraband and the pedigree of the band itself, that critics might hold your band to a higher standard?
I don't know if I was thinking about it at the time. I remember when Contraband was coming out, we went and started touring before it even came out. So we had built up a sort of callousness to what we had coming, which was the comparisons and this and that and the other. I think that we put out a good record, that had it been by some unknown band, would have been recognized as being a really great record. But we had to deal with the pressures of living up to all these other expectations. We had to take it with as much of a grain of salt as we possibly could because there was no way that we were going to combat all that. So you just had to roll with it. We just kept going out and doing our shows. The people that were coming to our shows weren't really putting us into that kind of a situation. It was more of the media and the press. So we managed to get through that.
Going into this next thing, next time around, I think we've gotten through that, most of that. I haven't had to deal with it since. So I'm imagining that everybody is going to see this as being a record where it's just a band that everybody knows who it is and all that kind of stuff. I don't think we have all that pressure of trying to live up to anything. We'll see. No one has asked me any questions so far about the same shit that I had to answer 2 years ago, almost 3 years ago.
As a guitar player and composer, can you look at Libertad and feel proud and excited in the same way you did at the beginning of your career?
|"In Guns N' Roses, I never get involved with the lyric writing unless somebody asked me."|
I love what I do. So just as whole, I've always been excited about it. That's what keeps me here. So many of my so-called, I guess, peers or whatever are pissed off or bitter about stuff that they have or haven't done in their career. If it's finances or it's this or that. Just the fact that you can get up and play. You have a guitar or more than one guitar, and you've got access to be able to play all the time is a blessing. So when you go in and you do a record and you have the opportunity to go out and tour, that's like, fuck! That's all I could ever ask for. So like at this point, the record is done. It's in the car. There is a definite sense of accomplishment, but I never sort of pat myself on the back because I know how fleeting it all can be. So I'm enthusiastic as I ever have been and I just go with it and sort of try and keep it all together.
What are your plans now?
We leave for South America next Sunday. So we're going to do a 2-week tour over there. We're going to do some shows with Aerosmith and some shows on our own. Then we come back and we start a tour of the States, which is a quick sort of 2-and-a-half week promotional tour, from California to New York just playing theaters. Then we come back and we go out and do a month of festivals in Europe. Then we do a States-side tour, like in big places with a couple of other bands and do that that kind of thing. It's a good bill, which is exciting. I'm not going to say yet because the ink is not dry.
I imagine that bands would have to be pretty cool to appear on a touring bill with Velvet.
No, that wasn't necessarily the case when we were doing the Contraband tour. There was a couple bands that were cool, but nobody knew who they were. Then there were some other bands and everybody knew who they were that we couldn't stand. So this time around, on the headlining, domestic tour we managed to get together a bill of bands that we really like that everybody knows. So it should be cool.
Do you have any plans to go to Japan?
Yeah, I think we're going in September. I think it's September or October; somewhere right after the States.
Do you remember the Contraband Japan tour?
Uh-huh. It was great. I think we were really well received everywhere. The only time I think we ever had a hard time - well, let's see, the prima donna kind of way of looking at. The only time that we weren't like totally put up on a pedestal was when we were doing these random festivals in Europe, where we were playing on these bills that were just haphazard at best. At that point, the record had just come out and we just didn't know where we stood. So we did our thing, but it wasn't like fully having control over the whole thing. So we sort of had to take it as best as we were given it. That was interesting. That was an interesting little trip.
The Aerosmith tour should be amazing
Oh, yeah. If I remember correctly, Guns actually, like when we first really broke out and became sort of really popular, was on the Aerosmith tour. So I've known those guys since then, and I've been really close to them ever since. I'm looking forward to just going out and jamming with them.
You're one of the guys from back in the day who has continued to carry the torch forward with a big, classic rock guitar sound. Do you ever think about that?
I'll listen to something that we're working on or whatever and listen to it, like a rough mix in the car of just that day's rehearsal. I'll go, This sounds cool and I like it.
I might think, Would I like it if it wasn't me?
I don't know what people are going to think when they hear it. I think it's a good-enough record, where I expect everybody to like it to an extent. But reading to it and what the guitar is about or any of those sounds or styles, I don't know what the perspective is going to be. I don't dwell on it because, like a lot of things in life, it's just pointless to really spend any time. It always turns out different than what you end up initially believing in the first place, so you just sort of go with it.
But it's been nice to be recognized as a decent guitar player at this point in my career. Kids come up and say they started playing guitar because of me and this and that, and that's pretty overwhelming. The thought of anybody actually sitting around and learning stuff the way that I used to do it is like, Really?
2007 Steven Rosen