As an iconic axeman, Slash needs guitars. So when his beloved 1991 Gibson Les Paul "Goldtop" was stolen in 1998 and never recovered, he turned to Gibson to recreate the classic guitar, which he used on some of Guns N' Roses' most epic tunes. The guitar company obliged, and now the same Slash signature model is being released for public consumption from Gibson, carefully customized to Slash's specifications. (A more affordable Epiphone Les Paul model is also available.) He'll need it in the coming months as he and Velvet Revolver work up some new material and continue searching for a replacement for departed singer Scott Weiland.
Slash is also working on demos for his first true solo album, which he hopes to release next year. He would not reveal any song titles or personnel, but he expects to be tracking in a Los Angeles studio by January. "It's just a lot of stuff I want to do," he says of his new songs. "It will definitely be a rock & roll record."
What is special about this Les Paul guitar?
I asked Gibson to make me a reissue of the 1991 Les Paul Goldtop that I had been using on tour for "Sweet Child O' Mine," "November Rain" and "Knockin' On Heaven's Door." This was probably the best guitar that I ever heard for playing those kinds of solos. In 1998, I had my studio ripped off and all my guitars were stolen. Slowly but surely I got them all back — but the one I didn't get back was that particular Goldtop. Finally, I got to the point of asking Gibson to build me a reissue. It's amazing: they built me this guitar and it sounds exactly like the 1991 stolen guitar, which somebody out there still has.
Was there a particular guitar player you looked at as a young kid?
In the '70s, there was a lot of guitar players. Jimmy Page definitely had a big influence on me when I first picked up the guitar. A lot of the guitar players I listened to, I would really like this solo or that solo, and I'd find out later what kind of guitar it was, and chances are it was a Les Paul.
Which is also what you play in Guitar Hero.
I was very specific about that because they didn't have a Les Paul in their entourage at that time, and I said the only way we can do this is with a Les Paul.
Has the huge success of Guitar Hero boosted your rep even further?
Yeah, but the flip-side of that is I met this kid who came up to me and was blown away by the fact I was the guy in the Guitar Hero game, and he kept going on about that. Ten minutes later he goes, "Do you play real guitar?"
What's up with your solo album?
I've been working on the solo album all summer. I only have three of four more songs left to get on [demo] tape. We're probably going to record the album next year. It's hard to say when it will actually be released because this industry is so fucked up right now.
What is the status with Velvet Revolver?
Everything is cool. We've been writing this whole time, but we're on this quest for a singer.
It wasn't so long ago when you were in this situation, back when the band was getting together.
We spent at that time 10 months listening to 200 singers a week, and chased after Scott, and managed to make that work. We were off and running, but then things fell short and we're at it again. It's actually sort of a blessing, because we originally wanted to do something really heavy and it took a different turn, especially on the last record. This time around we're not going to make any compromises.
Did you learn any lessons learned from the last search?
Singers are a very interesting breed. It's hard to be choosy when it comes to finding somebody talented enough to be a really great frontman for a rock & roll band. There's always something that comes along with it, just like with any musician. It's all worth it if you manage to get those magical moments.
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