tour with Ozzy Osbourne on Jan. 16 in Omaha, Neb., in support of his 2010 solo album, Slash. Before he hit the road, the Velvet Revolver guitarist and ex-Guns N’ Roses axeman riffed on a variety of music topics with EW.Break out the top hats and Les Pauls: Slash kicks off a
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can fans expect from the set list this time around? It sounds like you’ve been playing a wide swath of material from your career.
SLASH: The tour started last March and we took a break, and now we’re starting up again. We’ve been doing a lot of songs off this new record, some Guns stuff, some Velvet stuff and a couple Snake Pit songs. And it’s really cool when we’re doing a headlining set [Slash will perform on his own in some cities] because we really f—ing dig in there and pull out these cool gems. But for the Ozzy tour, it’ll be combinations of those things. It’s a 50-minute set, so it won’t be a lot of either. But at the same time it’s going to be a really cool, very entertaining, dynamic 50 minutes.
Any surprises you can tease?
There are a couple songs that I broke out for this next leg which we haven’t played on the whole tour, so there will be a couple surprises if you went to any of the other shows. If you’ve never been to a show, the whole thing’s a surprise. But give you hints? No.
Will you play with Ozzy?
We haven’t talked about any of that kind of stuff. I haven’t seen him because he’s been on tour and I’ve been on tour, so when we get together, we’ll see what happens. Ozzy’s very, very focused and he gets in a zone doing his show, so I don’t have any expectations of disrupting that. But you never know what will come out of just being in the same environment for a couple weeks.
If you could join him for any song, what would it be? “War Pigs”? “Crazy Train”?
“War Pigs” is a good one. I played “Paranoid” and “Iron Man” with him before so we’ll see. Any Black Sabbath song I’m down for.
What’s the timeline for making a decision on the new singer for Velvet Revolver?
There’s a short list of people we’re looking at right now but we haven’t made any decisions…. A decision will be made one way or another I would imagine in the coming weeks.
How many people have you narrowed it down to?
There’s a couple people and I can’t tell you who they are but they’re all good. Pretty much everybody has been really, really good. It’s just trying to find the right fit and the right style, and somebody who just gets it.
Are there names we know?
There’s one guy that’s definitely pretty well-known.
When will you go into the studio with the new singer?
I’m on the road through April, and then we take a break, so we’ll see what happens.
Was Duff McKagan’s departure from Jane’s Addiction also related to Velvet Revolver ramping back up again?
I don’t think he ever intended to stay in Jane’s for the long haul. I think he was just there in the writing process with those guys. And I’m not sure exactly how that ended or whatever happened, but I don’t think it was a permanent thing.
Let’s talk a lot about the intense video for “Beautiful Dangerous” (which features a seductive Fergie drugging Slash and tying him to her motel bed). What do you remember about filming it?
It’s easy to read more than there really is going on in that. Fergie’s just Fergie. I said, “I want to do a video,” and she goes, “I got an idea,” and she had her character mapped out. That’s the way she is. Every time I’ve ever worked with her, she knows exactly what she wants to do, how she wants to do it, and she just does it. I love that about her. She said she wanted to be this overzealous stalker fan, which was in its own way a huge compliment to me, you know? That she would even entertain that idea about me. I was like, “Okay, that’s cool.” At least it wasn’t my idea because I don’t think I could have done that for myself, but she’s singing the song, so fine. But anybody who reads into it like, “Oh, it’s really sexy” — it was just her being herself and me being myself, just thrown into this idea and being very comfortable with each other because we’ve been friends for awhile.
Still, it’s great that you were willing to suffer for your craft.
Listen, there’s nothing one can complain about being around Fergie in that attire.
Did you see that MusicRadar.com poll in which Axl was voted the greatest lead singer of all time?
I did. I thought that was actually pretty f—ing cool.
Yeah. All things considered, we may have had our differences and this and that and the other, but I will never undermine the fact that I thought Guns N’ Roses, when it was originally together, was one of the best rock bands, and Axl has always in my mind been one of the best frontmen/lyricists in rock and roll, period.
Would that have been your vote?
It might have been. I never stop to even think about it — there’s him, Roger Daltrey, Steven Tyler, Robert Plant, Mick Jagger…. I’d probably say Mick Jagger, only because Mick has been doing it for so long and he’s one of the most charismatic frontmen of all time. But if I had a Top 5, Axl would be in there. And John Lennon…
How would you feel about Glee doing a Guns N’ Roses song or themed episode?
Actually, we got asked about that once already but it got turned down. In the current climate of what’s going on in entertainment these days, I try to be more optimistic than negative because it’s really easy to get negative about it, but I draw the line at Glee. Glee is worse than Grease and Grease is bad enough…. When Grease came out I was like, “Oh, c’mon, give me a break.” Actually, I look at Grease now and think: Between High School Musical and Glee, Grease was a brilliant work of art.