Slash: I wanted to play bass

Slash says he had designs on playing bass rather than guitar when he was a teenager – until he heard a music teacher play Cream licks.

The guitarist visited the Guitar Center, Hollywood where he spoke about his formative years, influences and his forthcoming album, World On Fire.

“The thing that really inspired me to play guitar was Steven Adler,” says Slash. “He had an electric guitar when we were about 13 years old and he used to bang on it to Kiss records at full blast. That was very exciting, so I opted to play bass since he was playing guitar.

“I went to a local music school and talked to the teacher and said, ‘I want to learn how to play bass.’ He asked me a few questions to figure out what I wanted to achieve. While he was talking to me, he was playing Eric Clapton’s Cream licks on electric guitar.

“I said, ‘That’s what I want to do’, because I really didn’t know that much about guitars. So that was it – I switched over to guitar.

“My grandmother gave me a beat up old Spanish acoustic that only had one string – and I started learning on the one string. There was no stopping me at that point – I was obsessed with it no matter what obstacles or hurdles there were. I never accepted no for an answer and just kept at it.”

The former Guns N’ Roses axeman also chose to buy live albums rather than studio recordings because of the “energy of a band playing together”.

“I was definitely into crazy live performances,” he says. “It wasn’t about studio achievements, it was about spur of the moment live playing – that energy that goes along with it and the energy of a band playing together, where the solo was in the context of the song and not just ‘look what I can do’ five-minute guitar soloing.

Talking about the recording process on World On Fire, Slash says: “My last album Apocalyptic Love was designed to be live in the studio with no overdubs, no edits, just pure live recording. World On Fire was also recorded live in the studio but there’s overdubs and harmonies – I just wanted to make a more produced record.”

Classic Rock magazine will release a fanpack edition of World On Fire on Sep 15 – four weeks before the album’s regular release date.

Slash is currently on tour in the US with Aerosmith and will arrive in the UK for five dates at the end of November.

Tour dates

Nov 28: Manchester Phones 4u Arena

Nov 29: Leeds Arens

Dec 01: Birmingham LG Arena

Dec 02: London Wembley Arena

Dec 04: Glasgow SSE Hydro

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.