The Observer, Jul 2004
This Much I Know: Slash, guitarist, 38
Also at The Observer
Any girl that’s going to look at me and go ‘I like that guy’ is trouble, or she’s looking for trouble. But I’m actually a pretty mild-mannered guy. So the girls I ended up with were a handful.
One of the biggest mistakes I apparently ever made was giving up the name Guns N’ Roses. But I couldn’t care less. Axl is doing exactly what I assumed he would do with it, which is run it into the ground.
I was 37 when I had my first kid. He was conceived in London at Ronnie Wood’s house. I’d been drinking nothing but Guinness for two weeks and my wife got pregnant. So I always hold up Guinness as the real deal.
No regrets – that’s my motto. Things happen the way they happen and I accept them as such. I’m also totally used to expecting the unexpected.
I’m not what you call superstitious. I’m not worried about ladders or umbrellas or any of that shit.
But I know you should never get a blowjob before you go on stage.
I never had any ambitions with money. I had no interest in it, no real respect for it. Money will turn your life in all sorts of twisted directions if you don’t get a handle on it. So my wife helps me. She was a madam back in her day. She knows money backwards and forwards.
I get very insecure before we go on. I just sit by myself and play my guitar because I’m scared I might have forgotten how. And I still never hardly look at the audience, I shake my hair in front of my face. That whole Top Hat thing and the hair has always been a way of hiding.
I love rock’n’roll and stupidity. And the twain meet on the same ground all the time.
Monetary stuff really does please girls. There are some things, possessions, that they really enjoy and they’re really expensive.
Keith Richards gave me the best advice: ‘Never leave a rehearsal.’ And it’s true, man, you’ve gotta hang in there. It means a lot of things.
I got very addicted to sex at one point. I’d keep three or four different rooms in one hotel so I could bounce around between them. That was over the top and that took me to therapy. It was during my first marriage, too, which is pretty sad. That first marriage was a big mistake.
I looked like a mini-Slash when I was little. I’ve always had long hair. I couldn’t give a shit about the afterlife at this particular point in time. It is whatever it’s going to be and, obviously, if you’re a really horrible person it’s not going to be pleasant.
I don’t believe in AA. Some of the steps make sense, but I don’t believe in being part of that institution.
I just burned out on the process of doing drugs all the time, dealing with people that nobody should have to deal with just to keep my buzz going. It becomes pathetic. And the dope’s not as good any more either.
I’m a naturally paranoid workaholic. It’s all about music. Listening, playing, doing whatever needs to be done 25/8. My whole existence is based on music – I don’t call it career. I’m probably one of the most dedicated musicians you’ll ever meet.
I’ve died a couple of times in hospital and I’ve still come out alive at the end of it, but I try not to get philosophical. It’s too heavy. I think when there’s a destiny involved, a path to follow, and a philosophy of life and all that shit, then you’re taking yourself too seriously. I’m not in control. I’m not driving this bus.
The only thing I miss about Stoke is my family. They’re all very tight knit and never been to London most of them. I didn’t see them all until we played Wembley and they drank everything in our dressing room. Cleaned us out completely. When we came off stage, there was nothing left. Very British – didn’t matter what it was, it was gone.
I have gone to church five times over the past 23 years. I went to a monastery once when I was in the seventh grade and I got bit by a rattlesnake. I had the venom sucked out and was sent home. That was obviously a pretty heavy experience.
Never watch Spinal Tap before you go on stage either. I had a guitar that had the knobs go to 11, and Axl said, ‘Is that what you’re going to use tonight?’ I said, ‘Yeah!’ And he had a fit. He went crazy.
Try to be smart in the moment doing whatever you are doing.