Slash still top gun
Slash, with Myles Kennedy adn the Conspirators

Though he has been one of the most recognisable musicians on the planet for decades, there is a definite mystique surrounding guitar god Slash.

Everything about the man born Saul Hudson, from the epic guitar solos to the top hat to his beloved Les Paul guitar, has become immediately identifiable and symbolic. But relatively little is known about the man himself.

A recent episode of South Park even raised the prospect the former Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver axeman doesn't actually exist, but is rather a fictional character portrayed by various people in costumes, like a rock'n'roll Santa Claus.

While understandable, it's not a public persona the man himself is overly comfortable with. Speaking to Slash on the phone, he is every bit the relaxed, down-to-earth everyman, far removed from some self- promoting rock star enigma.

"When I started out picking up the guitar, it wasn't all about that particular dream," he says.

"It was about music and doing concerts. That was what I was going after; I was excited about live performance and really cool music. That's what I got into it for.

"In the late 80s, beginning of the 90s, when all of a sudden that status of rock star was achieved, I didn't know what to do with it. So it's never been a big part of my make-up, trying to be a celebrity, you know?"

Slash is speaking from a Hungarian hotel room where he is on tour with his latest musical venture, a collaboration with Alter Bridge frontman Myles Kennedy. It's been a fruitful partnership, with the duo combining talents to release the rollicking Apocalyptic Love a few months back.

The album sees Slash appear the most comfortable he's been in a long time, unleashing his signature guitar fireworks alongside his most willing and able sleazy hard-rock partner- in-crime since he was in a band with a guy named Axl.

As on Apocalyptic Love, the pair will team up with the rhythm section of bassist Todd Kerns and drummer Brent Fitz, aka the Conspirators, for an Australian tour which will see them in Perth later this month.

"It's definitely the most fun I've had writing and recording a record since probably the Appetite for Destruction days," Slash says. "It was one of those situations where you just go in and have a really good time and feel like you're in your element, without a whole lot of outside distractions. I don't have any record company people or other weird pressures on me."

He admits it is a welcome relief and a change to the situations he has found himself in for most of his career. For though he and his bands have reached the pinnacle in his field of work, seemingly every achievement has been accompanied by well-publicised intra-band issues, with relationships between members ranging from tense to toxic.

"Yeah, the rock'n'roll business, it's not a walk in the park," he chuckles.

A case in point was Guns N' Roses' recent admission into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While a significant achievement, Slash says the combination of his previous opinions on the Hall - "I always thought it was kind of a snobbish, politically motivated organisation" - and the inevitable hoopla surrounding whether he and the rest of the original line-up would finally appear together at the ceremony, meant the news they would be inducted wasn't met with the elation one might expect.

"Rather than going 'Wow, that's great', the first thing that came to mind was 'Oh great, what a pain in the arse, now we gotta try and get these five guys together'," he laughs.

"For a while there I didn't want to go, I didn't want to deal with it. I had an issue with the Hall of Fame because there are all these artists who haven't been inducted and I didn't want to be inducted before them, and so on and so forth."

In the end, Slash, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steve Adler turned up, however Rose and guitarist Izzy Stradlin did not. Rose declined his personal induction into the Hall via a widely distributed open letter.

While Slash won't be fully drawn on his feelings toward his former vocalist's no-show, he says the evening was a positive reminder of what the five achieved in their time together.

"For those of us who did show up, that particular evening was a really special night," he says.

"It was about the few records the original band made and the impact it had. And I felt very grateful at that moment, so it turned out to be a lot cooler than it felt like it would be going into it."

The West Australian

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