How Slash’s First Solo Album Rekindled His Love of Music
To say things were murky in Guns N' Roses' world in February 1995 when Slash released It's Five O'Clock Somewhere would be a gross understatement.
By the time they wrapped up their Use Your Illusion tour in Argentina in July 1993, Guns N' Roses had performed in front of 7 million fans over the course of 192 shows in two and a half years. But relations were fraying as they followed with the covers LP "The Spaghetti Incident?" in November 1993.
Slash said Guns N' Roses had started feeling like a foreign entity, with Axl Rose exerting an outsized influence over the direction and membership of the group. Not only did he summarily dismiss guitarist Gilby Clarke without consulting the other members, Rose also insisted on having Paul Huge take Clarke's place.
"I was open to the idea ... until Paul showed up," Slash wrote in 2007's Slash. "He had no personality whatsoever, and no particular guitar style or sound that I could identify with."
As lines of communication with Rose became increasingly closed off, Slash said he amassed a number of his own songs over the course of the Use Your Illusion tour, but with no specific purpose in mind.
Listen to Slash's Snakepit Perform 'Good to Be Alive'
"I was writing for the hell of it, just doing music indicative of where I was at the moment," Slash said in his autobiography. "I hadn't grasped the idea of doing a Guns record or what that might be going forward. I was just having a good time with no pressure whatsoever."
In the beginning, Slash told Ireland's RTE, "It was a step-by-step thing. At first it was just a bunch of us hanging out, really enjoying each other's company, and then it turned into jamming and coming up with new riffs and stuff like that. At first, it was only two of us. It was [drummer] Matt [Sorum] and myself. And after that, Gilby got involved, and [Alice in Chains bassist] Mike Inez mysteriously showed up at a party I was having ... so he came up and he brought this whole new vibe to it, and then, all of a sudden, it seemed like a band.
"It was ... just guys jamming together," Slash added, "having that communication and bonding just through the playing and personalities without the rock star shit. It was just enjoying playing together."
Things jelled so well, in fact, that they went into the studio with producer Mike Clink and laid down the tracks for It's Five O'Clock Somewhere without vocals. Slash said the group briefly entertained having different singers contribute, but he eventually recruited former Jellyfish touring guitarist Eric Dover to sing, a recommendation that came from Clarke's ex-drummer Marc Danzeisen.
Dover's selection "was based purely on the fact he could sing," Slash said. "I never met the guy before I heard him sing. It was based on a tape that I heard him sing, and then he wrote 'Beggars and Hangers-On,' which turned out to be our first single."
Listen to Slash's Snakepit Perform 'Beggars and Hangers-On'
Dubbed Slash's Snakepit, they represented "a whole different thing," Slash said in a contemporary TV interview. "There's no lead-singer, lead-guitar-player hierarchy. With Guns N' Roses, there is a certain focus on Axl and myself, but with this band, it was an equal amount of effort from all involved. Eric, being a rhythm guitar player, he doesn't have that lead singer attitude."
Slash and Dover wrote the lyrics for all 12 songs on It's Five O'Clock Somewhere, which reached No. 70 on the Billboard 200 and sold more than a million copies. "I think it's easy to tell which songs he wrote and which ones I wrote," Slash said in his book. "All of my songs are directed at one person, though no one picked up on it at the time. I used that record as an opportunity to vent a lot of shit that I needed to get off my chest."
After securing the album's release through Geffen Records, Slash's Snakepit set a concert schedule that would eventually take them through the U.S., Europe, Japan and Australia. Inez and Sorum were unable to commit to touring, however, so Slash recruited Brian Tichy and James LoMenzo, both of whom had worked with Zakk Wylde.
Following more than two years of playing to throngs of faceless crowds in stadiums all over the world, Slash credited the more intimate Snakepit dates with reawakening what originally sparked his interest in music.
"We had a lot of fun, there was no drama," he wrote in Slash. "We just booked gigs, showed up, got up there and played. We did clubs and theaters, and it was great. It really helped me rediscover why I love what I do. That project was the essential soul-searching that I needed, because I felt like I'd forgotten myself over the last two years.
"It was a shot in the arm for me to rediscover what it is I always knew: Being in a band doesn't have to be so taxing emotionally and psychologically," Slash added. "It can just be all about the playing."
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