Slash (GUNS N' ROSES, VELVET REVOLVER) spoke to Premier Guitar about the songwriting process for "World On Fire", the new album he recorded with his backing band, MYLES KENNEDY & THE CONSPIRATORS.
"I write in the moment and never look at anything through a past perspective," Slash said. "I write when we're on the road, in the dressing room, or I'm in my hotel room, and I keep my phone close by and I just play all day. And if I stumble across anything that I think is cool, I'll keep playing it until I develop it and record it onto my phone — it could be 30 seconds or two minutes or whatever. By the end of the tour, I've amassed ideas. After the tour is done I decompress for a few weeks, and then I'm itching to go back to work and listen to all those ideas.
Asked how easily those parts come to him, Slash said: "The thing is, they come easy because you're not trying. That's the big thing for me. Because if I sit down and focus on trying to write something, then it becomes really difficult.I wouldn't be able to write in the studio. It might just magically happen, but nine times out of 10 it won't. Then you just sit there and start beating yourself up for not being able to create in the moment."
Slash also talked about how he keeps making music fresh, and how he keeps evolving as a musician and as a songwriter. "That's really something that the listener has to come to a realization of," he said. "I can't say that I purposely set out to do this and this and this, so it's going to be modern. The approach I use is basically the same, I've altered it a few times over the years for certain situations, but I like to work quick. I don't like to noodle around in the studio — it does not fascinate me. Playing in a room as a band is first and foremost the only way to do any kind of proper rock 'n' roll recording. I've always found that playing live to tape has worked. I did a couple of VELVET REVOLVER records with Pro Tools, and the first one, which was a pretty popular record, has a tendency to sound very linear, which is what a lot of new rock bands sound like. There's no dynamics because people sit there and tweak everything to line up. And they don't realize it's taking the actual energy and humanity out of the recording. People who listen to it don't know what it is, but there's something they're not getting. When we did that with VELVET REVOLVER, it was 'cause I sorta didn't know any better. I witnessed that happening in the middle of the night. I'd left the studio and then came back to get my keys or something and found the engineer just tweaking everything. I was like, 'What are you doing?' That was the first time I witnessed this in real time. Since then, I've been like, 'No, I don't want to do it that way.' So I stick to just recording as a band."
He continued: "On our first record, 'Apocalyptic Love', the band was really developing, so I just recorded completely live to tape, no overdubs or any of that stuff. It was cool and we achieved it, and I got to see how good the band really was. This time around, I went back to recording live and doing my guitar in the control room and making sure it sounded right. I find that's the best way to do it. If anything sounds fresh, it's mostly from not trying to be retro."