March 3 2014
Las Vegas, Nevada
Whew…where to begin…
This blog is titled halftime as I am currently in a holding pattern between bass and drums being completed and guitars and vocals firing up. By the time you read this Slash will be in the great state of Florida on day one of recording Gibson Les Pauls through Marshall Amplifiers. Myles Kennedy, currently down under, will be coming ‘up over’ (think about it…give it a minute…), joining the team to do that thing that he do! I will be joining them soon to do that thing that I do as well. It has been a most joyous experience and I can say now, fully invested in every step of this process to this point, that you will not be disappointed. This album rocks. I honestly believe that this record is going to be even better than the last. It has all the elements that I look for in my favorite records. It’s catchy with gnarly riffs and loud as hell. It’s aggressive, confident and not interested in taking any prisoners.
You’ve been warned!
I’ve been essentially living in LA since the fall of 2013. We hunkered down in North Hollywood and began molding clay and chopping wood to build the music you will be rocking out to in mere months from now. We broke for the holidays and then really dug in. Slash, Fitz and myself pulled songs apart, put them back together, pulled them apart again, like we were creating the perfect Frankenstein killing machines. An unholy army of the night. An army of songs to attack senses.
Then the process would begin all over again with the arrival of Myles Kennedy. This can be better. This could be altered to make this melody really pop. More aggressive. More dangerous. More nasty.
Then our producer, Elvis came along and shit got real. We got even more serious. We had created an armory of weaponry and now we were going to make them indestructible. Make them fool proof and deadly precise. Mortally efficient. No stone left unturned. No riff left in the cold. No kick drum left unfocused.
Though it sounds like an inordinate amount of work, and in many ways it can be, I think we trusted our instincts even more this time. Not feeling so held down by the confines put upon us by the 3 minute pop song. Gone are the restraints of a ‘radio friendly’ industry that has eaten itself. Make music that feels right. That feels effective. That feels honest. That feels authentic.
I know we have done that.
Of course I’m saying this without hearing any final recorded guitars but come on…it’s Slash. He’s the best guitar player on the planet. That part is a no brainer. Myles Kennedy is the best singer in rock today. He has an uncanny ability to conjure a bulletproof melody wrapped in a clever rhyme scheme. For it to be anything but awesome would come as an extreme surprise to me. Since I’ve heard everything to this point I think it’s my opinion we’ll be trusting here.
The most important thing to us was that we make a record that our audience wants to hear. In turn I believe it is the record we have always wanted to make collectively and individually.
Myles is looser and easier like a seasoned professional. He has gone 8 rounds with the best and held his own. There is a quiet confidence in having the output of several hit records behind him. What’s one more? Don’t be fooled by that kind Spokane boy thing. There is a wolf in there that he lets out and we’ve all heard it. And none can howl like he can.
So what about the drums and bass? The drums and bass were knocked out in record time at NRG studios in North Hollywood. Brent Fitz played things he didn’t even know he could play. He was challenged and met that challenge time and again. The drums are big and aggressive and full of attitude. It is the best performance of his career. I think he’ll tell you the same.
As far as the bass goes Slash and I talked in depth about the most recent Motorhead album, Aftershock. Lemmy’s bass tone was gnarlier than ever but still had that fatness in the bottom end. Let’s do that, we agreed.
This is the most aggressive bass tone to date for me. Anyone who knows me knows the bass players that I love and most of them aren’t about flair they are about attitude. I think that is the perfect mixture for me. Just the right amount of technique with a heavy dose of attitude. I think Fitz and I built an impenetrable wall for Myles and Slash to climb atop and do their thing.
Michael ‘Elvis’ Baskette is an incredible producer with a contagious energy. In the short time I’ve known him we have become super tight. I think he is the man. I’m stoked to get out there and get singing!
Our engineer, Jef Moll, is a magician. A wizard. With them behind us we couldn’t lose. We are an army and we are sharp and trained and ready to kill.
BUSH was recording next door. Gavin Rossdale introduced himself to me one day randomly and was ever the English gentleman I remember him to be. Back in the 90s my band, The Age Of Electric, opened for Bush and Veruca Salt. Didn’t get much bigger than those two in the 90s. That sprung us to a whole other level. Gavin was a good guy even back then.
It’s funny I always try to remind myself to stop and really take in all that’s going on around me. It’s always such a whirlwind that it’s often hard to focus on all that’s swirling around you. This time in the studio was no different. It seems a practice in controlled chaos. In our world there are always cameras around. Things being filmed for this company, photos for another, exclusive pix for this magazine or that. There are always a lot of humans around. That tends to add to the chaotic energy but I’ve always kind of enjoyed that aspect of it. It’s not a regular job so one should never expect anything ordinary ever. I’m always pleasantly comforted by the tornado of activity and not at all surprised by it.
And so just like that its over. At least the first half is over. First you’re in the studio every day, all day. You live in Los Angeles. You drive it’s streets. You know it’s turns and your fave spots. You are a local. You belong there. This is home.
Then it’s over. That chapter closes as quickly as it opened and you go back to your ‘reality’ as seamlessly as you’d left it. Admittedly my reality is pretty goddamned surreal. It shouldn’t be any other way.
I went to a screening of the new Godzilla film with Slash which was bizarre as it was incomplete. Stock music, unfinished CGI in many scenes. A very cool experience for a film nerd like me. They even had a sheet of likes and dislikes to fill out afterwards. I look forward to the final version. I love me some Godzilla. All of these things are regular occurrences on Planet Slash. On Planet Dammit not so much.
So as things have always been there will be no rest. Far too wicked. I hit the ground running upon my return to the great city of Las Vegas, Nevada. And man was the ground running.
Doc Ellis from the Sinners and I went to watch his beloved, Cian Coey, appear with the legendary Meat Loaf over at Planet Hollywood Casino. I could not be prouder of Cian. The first time I saw her perform I knew she was a star. Beautiful and talented. She is the whole package. When they told me she was up for the part I knew she’d get it and it was nice to see I was right.
The show was amazing. I’d seen it once before but it was even better with little Cian up there doing her thing. I was blown away.
We went back after the show and Mr Loaf gave me a hug even though I’d never met the man before. He was adorable and super talkative.
In my mind I kept thinking, ‘His name is Robert Paulson. His name is Robert Paulson’ from the film Fight Club in which he appeared with Pitt, Norton and Leto.
Ol’ Meat is a hell of an actor too.
All in all an amazing night. So proud of you Cian!
As a local (I’ve been in Vegas for 7 years. I’m local!), we all know or know of the world famous chef, Kerry Simon. A brother in arms struck down by a terrible disease called Multiple System Atrophy. Extremely aggressive it has hit him hard and fast. A benefit was put together to help raise money to fight this monster that has a hold of him. Kerry’s powerful friends assembled the heaviest of the heavy and the biggest of the big to make this thing happen.
My brethren, The Sin City Sinners were to be the backing band for an army of musicians and singers there to do their part. In my opinion there is no other band that could do it. I was asked to sit in with the guys and assist. I happily obliged.
The list of performers on this thing was mind blowing. Brother Slash (my two worlds colliding in the most beautiful way), Alice Cooper, Sammy Hagar, Vince Neil, Todd Rundgren, Matt Sorum, Billy Duffy of the Cult, Kip Winger, Lisa Loeb and JD Fortune of INXS. All of that is impressive enough but most of us were floored by the appearance of one of my all time favorite comedic actors, Bill Murray. I was completely knocked out by that.
To be fair we had been told in advance that Bill was going to be there. I don’t think most of us believed he’d show but as it turns out he was very close with Kerry and had known him back in his earliest days.
It seemed so odd as Harold Ramis had only just passed away and Bill and the entire Ghostbusters phenomenon was still on the tips of our tongues. Harold is missed.
In anticipation of his appearance we were told that he sometimes liked to sing so we learned one of his favorite songs, Brandi, You’re A Fine Girl by Looking Glass. I would never have actively learned such a song unless one of my favorite personalities was going to sing it.
At the event Bill Murray walked up to me and shook my hand completely unexpectedly. I asked him, ‘You gonna sing a song with us tonight?’
He dramatically reached for his throat and said, ‘Warming up. Warming up.’ And with that he took his leave.
Super super surreal. I mean Caddy Shack, Groundhog Day, Meatballs, Scrooged, Ghostbusters, The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore…the list goes on and on and on. The man is a legend. We were all floored by his being there.
Even more unexpected was Bill introducing us after his hilarious speech to Kerry. Then he continued to introduce all the guest artists for the remainder of the evening. To the point that it became perfectly normal that Bill Murray just happened to be hanging around.
My life is so weird.
He never did end up singing a song.
We did One Way to Rock, Can’t Drive 55, Mas Tequila with Sammy (who is a gent) then Slash joined us for the Montrose classic Rock Candy. Matt Sorum joined us for the last two songs too. The two drummers thing is always a blast.
JD got up and did the INXS song Pretty Vegas and the Doors song, Roadhouse Blues.
Lisa Loeb nailed her classic song Stay which was the hardest one for us to learn. I swear we learned it in 3 keys before settling on a fourth. She is a very sweet lady. I met her at some record company party in Vancouver back in the day. She was a doll then too.
Todd Rundgren did a set of songs and our bro, Kip Winger, played bass. He also played bass for the Alice Cooper set. Kip played bass for Alice back in the 80s.
Alice did No More Mr Nice Guy, Eighteen, Brown Sugar by the Stones and School’s Out which Slash joined in on.
I sang Love Removal Machine by the Cult with Billy Duffy and Matt Sorum (who played in the Cult too) and had a blast. I am a massive Cult fan. Billy is the man. One of my faves.
We closed with one of the kings of Vegas, Vince Neil. Wild Side, Live Wire, Girls Girls Girls. An absolute blast.
And then bang it’s over with everyone taking the stage to do Come Together by the Beatles together. Even Bill.
I got to say hi to a lot of good friends after and brush shoulders with some of our guests. Bid Slash adieu as he would be heading to Florida where I would meet up with him in the coming weeks.
And that, as they say, was that.
I believe the evening was quite a success and I hope we can make some kind of difference for poor Kerry. It’s such a terrible thing.
If you wish to donate please follow this link. Thank you so much.
From one benefit to the next. Yesterday I found myself at yet another charity event with my brothers in Sin, the Sinners. The St Baldrick’s Foundation raises money for kid’s with Cancer which is so heartbreaking. That is very hard. The Sinners do this every year. This year Zach Throne had his head shaved in solidarity with the kids fighting this awful disease. He’s a good man. I jumped up and played a couple of songs with the boys-It’s Not You It’s Me and Going To Vegas.
A lot of credit must go to the Sinners for doing two charity events in one weekend. A lot of credit has to go to the heart and mind behind our participation in the St Baldricks event, Sinners’ manager, Jason Green.
So now here I am. At one with the couch tonight enjoying the Oscars. McConaughey won best actor- Alright Alright Alright.
Love me some McConaughey. I knew he was gonna get it. he is my current favorite. I think he’s such a character. A real original.
Speaking of Matthew I am currently obsessed with True Detectives which I devoured the second last episode of right after the awards. He is intensely awesome in that show. Woody is an underrated actor. He deserves some love.
Then I get my zombie on with Walking Dead then talked about it with Talking Dead. That show is so popular it has a post show.
It’s so funny because as a show wraps up like Breaking Bad a bunch more spring up. Vikings is back. Loved the first season of that one. Bates Motel is back tomorrow which i was obsessed with. Game Of Thrones will be back before you know it.
Am I a television addict? Maybe but let me say this-in a day and age when I had pretty much given up due to the reprehensible dross that is reality television I have to say how lucky we are to have quality programming like AMC and HBO to save the day. Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Game Of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire etc are in my opinion the highest of quality. Especially in a time where most television executives are saving money by not having to pay actors or writers by creating fake reality shows about everything and anything. Trust me I have been involved in a few reality shows and there is no reality going on. I find it depressing. My friends call it mindless entertainment. I think more of myself and my mind.
Hard to be a snob about something so stupid as television but I don’t get it. I’m just a big fan of good writing, good acting. How it should always be.
The live album is finally coming out very very soon. The final touches are being put upon the artwork and audio as I write this. Bootleg Confessional : Live In Vegas will be out hopefully before the new Slash album is even finished recording. That is very likely. It was recorded September 2nd at Count’s Vamp’d in Vegas. There are almost 20 songs on it including an unreleased song called The One that I wanted to play exclusively for that show. Fitz and Frankie from The Conspirators make an appearance as do Zach and Ellis from the Sinners along with the lovely Cian Coey from, of course, Meat Loaf. It is a lot of fun. If you were there you know how much fun we had.
So now here I am. Kicking it in Vegas. Appearing this Friday with the Sinners over at Southpoint on the south strip in Vegas. Working on Bootleg Confessional : Live In Vegas and trying to enjoy the calm before returning to the second half of recording the new Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators album. I think y’all are gonna be very happy.
Everyone should immediately check out Horns And Halos by Michael Monroe, Dregen’s solo album, Ginger Wildheart’s brilliant new cd Albion and the Butcher Babies’ Goliath. I love Rock N Roll…put another dime in the jukebox, baby.
To Kerry I say, ‘thinking of you brother’
To the kids at St Baldricks I say, ‘you are in my kindest and warmest thoughts’
To Matthew McConaughey on his big win I say, ‘Alright Alright Alright’
And to you, brother and sisters, I say, ‘BIG LOVE’
Alright Alright Alright
Your loyal and humble servant,