Axe-Man Slash Keeps Door Open To Guns N' Roses

Guitarist readies new Snakepit disc; says he'd return to GNR if asked.

Staff Writer Chris Nelson reports:

Depending on which minute you catch him, the career plans of former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash appear to be all about the future or all about the past.

On one hand, he's got a new label -- Interscope, the result of the recent merger between corporate powerhouses Universal and PolyGram -- plus a new album from his rock outfit the Snakepit, and a tour coming up next month.

"I can't f---in' wait, you have no idea," Slash said, speaking from a quiet corner just outside the women's bathroom at the airport in Salt Lake City, Utah.

At the same time, he reunited last week with former GNR members Duff McKagan (bass) and Matt Sorum (drums) for a club gig at the Slamdance film festival and says he'd return to Guns N' Roses if singer and sole remaining original member Axl Rose would just ask.

Slash said he is interested to see where Axl Rose takes GNR, which he left three years ago, after helping launch the band to superstardom in the late 1980s with such hits as "Welcome to the Jungle." The singer is said to be working on the follow-up to 1993's Spaghetti Incident with former Replacements guitarist Tommy Stinson and onetime Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck on an album that will reflect an electronic influence.

"If Axl was to break down and finally realize what the meat and potatoes of Guns N' Roses always has been, I'm only a phone call away," he said.

Meanwhile, the second Snakepit record, due out in May or June, is in the phase of preparation tagged by industry types as "post-pre-production." "We're going to do a small tour and end up back in L.A. playing the Roxy on the 15th of February," said the 33-year-old guitarist. "Then we'll go back in the studio, do all the basic tracks and record."

When the as-yet-untitled record hits the streets, fans will notice not only a different band lineup than played on 1995's It's Five O'Clock Somewhere but a new company logo on the back cover. Slash, long affiliated with Geffen Records, is moving to Interscope. Last month's restructuring at the new Universal Music Group folded both Geffen and A&M into Interscope under the name IGA Group.

Slash (born Saul Hudson) said he finds the label switch a bit disconcerting. His father, an album art director, first worked with Geffen Records founder David Geffen back in the mid-1970s.

"You sort of just roll with it and deal with it as realistically as possible, and maintain your own personal integrity as far as your music and the decisions you make," he said. "You hope you're smart enough to play the game your way and still work within the confines of the industry."

In the scheme of things, the guitarist said he's thankful that he's still got a label deal. McKagan's solo album is on hold, according to Slash. IGA publicist Dennis Dennehy said at this stage of the restructuring he could not comment on releases by any artist, including those of Slash, McKagan and Guns N' Roses.

Last week, 500 people throughout Universal's operation were laid off. Slash said it will take time to get used to the new staffers at Interscope. "I'm going to miss a lot of the Geffen people because that's family," he said. "That's the only thing I regret about it."

In addition to working on the Snakepit album, Slash -- whose resume of guest appearances includes work with such top artists as Michael Jackson, Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan, and Lenny Kravitz -- continues to busy himself with occasional side projects including the mini-Guns N' Roses gig at Slamdance.

"I do one-off stuff all the time," he said of the show, which included several Sorum compositions from the Slamdance film, "Soundman," along with Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan covers. "I'll hook up with Matt sometimes if he's got a gig going on and he needs me, or vice-versa, if I need to get in touch with Duff for something, or Izzy for that matter. We just hook up and play because we dig doing it."


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February 1st 1999