25 Years Ago: How Slash’s First Solo Album Rekindled His Love of Music
By the time Guns 'N' Roses wrapped their Use Your Illusion tour in Argentina in July 1993, the band had performed in front of 7 million fans over the course of 192 shows in two and a half years. By the time they released their covers LP "The Spaghetti Incident?" in November 1993, band relations were showing signs of fraying.
In his 2007 autobiography Slash, the guitarist recalled how Guns 'N' Roses started feeling like a foreign entity with Axl Rose exerting an outsized influence over the direction and membership of the group. Not only had the singer dismissed guitarist Gilby Clarke without consulting the other members of the group, he also insisted on having guitarist Paul Huge take Clarke's place.
"I was open to the idea ... until Paul showed up," Slash said in the book. "He had no personality whatsoever, and no particular guitar style or sound that I could identify with."
With lines of communication with Rose becoming increasingly closed off, Slash recalled how, over the course of the Use Your Illusion tour, he had amassed a number of songs he'd written that had no specific purpose in mind.
Watch the Video for Slash's Snakepit's 'Good to Be Alive'
"I was writing for the hell of it, just doing music indicative of where I was at the moment," he says in the book. "I hadn't grasped the idea of doing a Guns record or what that might be going forward. I was just having a good time with no pressure whatsoever."
"At the start of it, it was a step-by-step thing," Slash said in a 1995 interview with Ireland's RTE. "At first, it was just a bunch of us hanging out, really enjoying each other's company, and then it turned into jamming and coming up with new riffs and stuff. At first, it was just [drummer] Matt [Sorum] and myself and after that, Gilby got involved and [Alice in Chains bassist] Mike Inez mysteriously showed up at a party I was having, [and he] brought this whole new vibe to it and it seemed like a band. It was guys jamming together, bonding just through the playing and personalities without the rock-star shit. It was just enjoying playing together."
The guitarist said things between himself and the band jelled so well, they went into the studio with producer Mike Clink and laid down the tracks for It's Five O'Clock Somewhere without vocals. Slash said while the group briefly entertained having different singers contribute to the making of the record, he eventually recruited former Jellyfish touring guitarist Eric Dover to sing, a recommendation that came from Clarke's ex-drummer Marc Danzeisen.
The selection of Dover "was based purely on the fact he could sing," Slash said. "I never met the guy before I heard him sing. It was based on a tape that I heard him sing, and then he wrote 'Beggars and Hangers On,' which turned out to be our first single."
Watch the Video for Slash's Snakepit's 'Beggars and Hangers On'
"The main thing about Snakepit," the guitarist noted, "it's a whole different thing. There's no lead-singer, lead-guitar-player hierarchy. With Guns 'N' Roses, there is a certain focus on Axl and myself, but with this band, it was an equal amount of effort from all involved. Eric, being a rhythm guitar player, he doesn't have that lead-singer attitude."
Slash and Dover wrote the lyrics for all 12 songs on the album, which reached No. 70 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart and sold more than a million copies. "I think it's easy to tell which songs he wrote and which ones I wrote," Slash notes in his book. "All of my songs are directed at one person, though no one picked up on it at the time. I used that record as an opportunity to get a lot of shit that I needed to get off my chest."
After having secured the album's release through Geffen Records, Slash's Snakepit hit the road on a tour that would eventually take the group through the U.S., Europe, Japan and Australia. When Inez and Sorum were unable to commit to touring, Slash recruited Brian Tichy and James LoMenzo, both of whom had worked with Zakk Wylde, to perform alongside him and Clarke.
Following more than two years of playing to throngs of faceless crowds in stadiums all over the world, Slash credited the Snakepit tour for reawakening what originally sparked his interest in music.
"We had a lot of fun, there was no drama," the guitarist says in Slash. "We just booked gigs, showed up, got up there and played. We did clubs and theaters, and it was great. It really helped me discover why I love what I do. That project was the essential soul-searching that I needed, because I felt like I'd forgotten myself over the last two years. It was a shot in the arm for me to rediscover what it is I always knew: Being in a band doesn't have to be so taxing emotionally and psychologically. ... It can just be all about the playing."