With Covid ripping through the band lineup during album sessions in Nashville, it’s frankly a miracle that it got made at all. But the revelation is that this fourth album from Slash feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators is more slam-dunk than sick note, offering ten new tracks that should represent more than a toilet opportunity when the US tour starts next February.
Slash and Myles Kennedy led us through a tracklist that takes in cults, ghosts, dogs and dinosaurs.
The River Is Rising
Myles: “The River Is Rising came towards the end of 4, but I knew immediately when I heard the demo that it was gonna be an important track. It really announces itself, right out of the gate. Lyrically, I’d watched a TV series about cults of personality throughout history, and the effects that can have on people. It’s a fun one to belt out.”
Slash: “With the original arrangement, the fast bit was only at the end. But our producer, Dave Cobb, said we should make it the guitar solo. We did it inside the space of twenty minutes, totally spontaneous. I’d never actually soloed to that part before. I guess it has a similar thing to the Paradise City outro.”
Whatever Gets You By
Myles: “Are you familiar with Robinhood? It’s a trading app and this lyric was inspired by watching these people day trading. Essentially, they’re gambling, betting the farm on this app. It’s just a great riff. After I put my vocals on, Slash was like, ‘Man, I really like that chorus’. And I was like, ‘Well, all I’m doing is following your riff’. Y’know, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Slash: “All things considered, that riff was something that probably excited me more than anybody else. I had Todd [Kerns] come in and do the bass for the demo, and he was like, ‘Yeah, cool riff. Anyway…’. I think it came out really heavy and it’s got a Godzilla-type cadence to it.”
C’est La Vie
Myles: “This record is little stories. For example, C’est La Vie, that’s about someone who’s in an abusive situation and eventually finds the strength to move on. That’s one of the older songs. During the Living The Dream tour, I can remember standing in an arena when Slash brought that riff in. When he sent me the demo, I hadn’t heard the music in a couple of years and the melody came right back to me, which is usually a good sign.”
Slash: “Again, the solo to C’est La Vie was a totally improvised melodic thing that I thought came out really cool. There’s little glitches and this and that in my playing, but I think that’s part of the character.”
The Path Less Followed
Myles: “We all ended up being quarantined at the end of the album sessions, but there was this pool house that we turned into a studio, and me and Todd finished the vocals in there. You don’t want to have harmonies everywhere, but I felt like the verse melody needed it, and bringing Todd into the mix really helped. Lyrically, this song is for anybody who wants to follow their heart and live life as they see fit on their own terms.”
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Myles: “The title says it all. We’d just come out of all the political campaigning and all that when this was written, so we’d heard a lot of politicians making promises. Sometimes, as a person who’s just sitting on his couch watching it on TV, I remember thinking to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if it didn’t all end up just being empty promises?’ Like, ‘Let’s see some follow-through here’.”
Slash: “I’m looking forward to playing that one live because it’s definitely got a sexy swagger, in a raunchy kind of way. I dig that kind of vibe. There’s a certain nastiness that really appeals to me.”
Myles: “That guitar intro has a very mysterious Eastern quality, which is another element Slash has in his sonic toolbox. When I hear that song, I think of a serpent dancing. Like, I see a cobra coming up out of a basket. Lyrically, that one is a little odd. It was written from the perspective of someone who thinks they’re having relations with a ghost.
"But by the end of the song, the person realises they’ve been a ghost as well. Essentially, this whole thing has been going on in the spirit realm, which I thought was an interesting twist."
Fill My World
Slash: “When I heard Myles’ lyric, I thought this was such a sweet and almost sad song. I was totally thinking about a human relationship. And it turned out it was about his dog! It was one of the riffs that I was a little apprehensive about sending to the guys, because it was very ballady. The new Sweet Child O’ Mine? I don’t compare the two. I don’t have those kind of expectations, but it is a little bit like that. It’s a weird riff, because there’s a bend and then the open strings and stuff, so it’s easy to stumble.”
Myles: “That one was inspired by an event that happened a few years ago. My wife and I were trying to get home, but this horrible storm came through and we were watching our Shih Tzu on the camera. It was heartbreaking, because he was terrified, running around the house, trying to hide. The song is written from his perspective, the narrative that might’ve been going through his head as he’s waiting for his owners to come rescue him.
"It’s probably my favourite song, but the hardest one to sing, because to be totally candid, sometimes I get a little emotional. People are like, ‘Oh, come on, it’s just a dog…’. But I love my dog so much, so there’s an authentic emotion that comes through. You can hear it on the album. My voice cracks a little bit.”
Myles: “April Fool has a certain swagger. That’s another one of my favourites. Lyrically, it’s a song about playing the fool no more, and having the last laugh at the end of the day. From a musical perspective, it’s just a cool vibe. That was one of the tracks that was elevated in the studio by Dave Cobb. He had some good ideas about resequencing a few chords in the pre-chorus, which made the chorus pop.”
Call Off The Dogs
Myles: “That’s just a fun, up-tempo track. It’s about the moment when someone who is being pursued gives in to the pursuer. I remember thinking, when we were demoing that track, that it was already pretty much good to go. I had a chorus idea – like, a little chord progression that we threw in there – but other than that, it was pretty quick, just a cool blues-based riff.”
Fall Back To Earth
Myles: “This is my favourite guitar moment. It’s just the quintessential Slash hook. Dave Cobb said that it’s very Bowie-esque. As for the lyric, it’s a tale that’s been told many times. I had a music school teacher, way back in the day, who told me: ‘Don’t gain the world only to lose yourself’. That really stuck with me. Keep it real, as they say. I thought those were important words of wisdom to live by, and thirty-odd years later, I should have got that phrase tattooed on me somewhere. Fall Back To Earth is wonderful, in that it’s a sonic journey.”