Former Guns N’ Roses and current Velvet Revolver guitarist Slash has commenced recording his debut solo album with Josh Freese (A Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails) on drums, Chris Chaney (Jane’s Addiction) on bass, and Eric Valentine (Smash Mouth, Third Eye Blind, Good Charlotte) in the producer’s chair. Slash says, “I know you’re saying, ‘Didn’t Josh play with Axl’s Guns N’ Roses?!’ He did in the ’90s for a while but left after a couple years, so I don’t know if it counts much. Besides, that doesn’t undermine that he is an amazing drummer.”
Regarding which singers will guest on his upcoming CD, Slash said, “Unfortunately, I can’t divulge that info yet, but you’ll know soon enough. I will say, however, that they are fantastically talented songwriters who it’s been an honor to work and write with, to say the least.”
Slash’s wife Perla Hudson said in a video interview at Rockerrazzi.com that both Ozzy Osbourne and Fergie will make guest appearances on her husband’s upcoming solo album. Slash himself told The Pulse of Radio that he was still working out the guest list. “I’m using different singers for each song, so we’re figuring out which song goes with which person and I’m not sort of divulging the list of singers, but they’re all well-known singers and…sort of, you know, like I go and play on a lot of other people’s records, so I’m just making a record and gonna have people come play on this one, you know.”
Slash left Guns N’ Roses in the mid-’90s, forming Slash’s Snakepit before later assembling Velvet Revolver with several other ex-members of Guns N’ Roses and Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland.
Velvet Revolver is currently searching for a replacement for Weiland, who was dismissed last April.
Thanks for the report to Blabbermouth.net.
Chris Cornell ‘Expected Controversy’ With New Album
If you grew up listening to the groundbreaking grunge albums Louder Than Love or Badmotorfinger, you’re in for quite a shock. Chris Cornell, the vocalist who rose to fame with Soundgarden and experienced a similar success with Audioslave, has gone where few rockers dare: The world of electronic pop. Cornell’s 3rd solo album Scream has replaced the usual guitar-driven tunes of his past with tracks that are heavily based in dance beats and R&B grooves, a switch that undoubtedly was partially influenced by producer Timbaland (Justin Timberlake, M.I.A.).
Since Scream was released on March 10, critics and fans have expressed passionate views, and often times, drastically opposing opinions. You only need to take a peek at a few publications’ reviews to see just how divided the public is when it comes to Scream. While the Los Angeles Times explained that the album is a “fascinating but heartbreaking document of how many wrong decisions one can make in writing,” Entertainment Weekly wrote that Cornell almost succeeded in creating “his very own Thriller.”
It was evident during a recent interview with Cornell, however, that this is one musician who cannot be flustered easily. Rather than taking offense at the negative reviews, he has been looking at each comment analytically and sociologically. This is not an entertainer who is about to second-guess himself, particularly when he explained that his current live set (which includes a good batch of his old and new material) has made him the “happiest” he’s been in a good while. When Cornell talked with UG writer Amy Kelly, the singer’s time was quite limited, but he didn’t hesitate to provide our questions with candid, thorough responses – some of which might just have you thinking differently about Scream.
UG: Your new album Scream hit stores on March 10 and has already been evoking quite a bit commentary from critics and fans alike. When you pursued this project, were you prepared for the controversy that might develop by working with Timbaland?
“It’s not a simple album in terms of understanding what’s going on musically.”
Chris: Yeah. I definitely did that math pretty quickly in my head when I made the decision to do it. I didn’t know that the album was going to sound like it does. None of us knew. It was different than I even expected because the combination of influences kind of came from a lot of different directions. It’s not a simple album in terms of understanding what’s going on musically. It’s not as simple as rock-world-meets-hip-hop-world or any other sort of set or combination of components. It doesn’t really work like that.
Having said that, I sort of expected controversy, and Timbaland expected it. He’s been through it obviously before. I think he really felt that it was going to come more so from my album than other people he worked with. When you’re rooted pretty much entirely in rock and you make a dramatic move – or what seems like a dramatic move like that – it’s going to ruffle some feathers. I’m really glad that it has, though. I would actually have been disappointed if it didn’t. It kind of came out and everybody was all smiles about it. It wouldn’t have been as interesting.
Now it’s like this sociological experiment. You get to look at the different statistics, as opposed to just what people are saying. It’s like, “Okay, this is what they’re saying, but who are they? Where are they from? How old are they? What country is it? What period of my career were they a fan of first?” There were a lot of different periods, and all those different periods had different kinds of music. All of that is really interesting. Even though I’m a guy who comes from what someone could easily say is the rock world, the music that is in that is very different. I’ve released and written a lot of songs that are very non-hard rock inside that world. So then it starts to come down to, “Oh, so it’s really more about guitars versus not guitars, or guitars versus lots of synths or dance beats.” It’s really interesting to look at it from all these different angles, and then try and come up with my understanding of why people are responding in some ways.
The really obvious ones are the most negativity and the most positivity. In other words, the most polarization is definitely in the U.S. Outside of the U.S., people are used to hearing remixes from every rock band. I mean there are Metallica remixes if you go to Ireland. They’re used to it. So it hasn’t been as polarized.
In the U.S., there is also that we’re a country that loves the underdog. There are people who will hear negative stuff, and they’ll come back with, “This is the best thing he’s ever done.” Even that is sort of tough in that I have to gauge, “Well, is this person saying that because they want to be encouraging or it’s because they really believe that?” Some of the comments that I hear from people I really believe. Other ones I feel like they may love the record or it may not be their favorite record, but they don’t like it when somebody gets picked on. So it’s all been pretty interesting.
I recall in past interviews that you’ve mentioned many of your songs start out in a rather traditional rock way – with a few chords from your guitar. So many of the tracks on Scream are beat-driven, which probably changed the entire songwriting process. How did you form the groundwork for most of the album? Did you concentrate on the percussion or vocal elements first?
Basically everything was beat-based. So Timbaland would kind of work from home on beat ideas one at a time. As he was doing that, he would bring them in. Sometimes he would do it in the studio and sometimes he would do it at his home studio. He would bring them into where I was, in the studio where I was working, and play them. Generally, it was like a 2-track, stereo file with his percussion and maybe like one other part already kind of mixed in there. I would write and sing all my parts over that. Some of them, like on the song “Ground Zero,” were actually nothing except drums and this one little keytar note that would sometimes not be there. So as you’ve just said, the vocal harmonies and the vocal melody dictated the key changes to the song. It was like writing a song entirely with just vocals, and other parts were added later.
In a song like “Never Far Away” or “Scream,” there would be much more lush music that we’d write, and it would have much more of an already-arranged-song feel. Working in the computer environment to this degree was different for me because a lot of the song arrangements kind of happened as we’d go. I would write down lyrics for what I felt was a song and sing the parts. When we were kind of figuring out what is the bridge, how many times should the chorus be, when it should come in, what should the length of the verse be, and all of it had been more or less arranged, Jeff would be in cyberspace versus a band standing there trying all the different ways to see how it sounds.
“Basically everything was beat-based.”
Another difference, too, was that none of this album was ever performed by a group of people in a room and then recorded and rehearsed – which I’d never done ever. The only thing that I’ve ever done that’s like this is when I would demo at home. I will write songs, using a recording device for the process of writing. I’ll write out lyrics and be singing, but I’ll still kind of have to read lyrics off the sheet since I just wrote it and didn’t remember it yet. Whatever is going down on the tape is what I put as my first impression of the song. I actually have a knack for that.
I’ve had a hard time sometimes with demos as a vocalist because I want to sort of feel like I know how to sing the song and know what I’m doing. Sometimes there’s something sort of missing and in trying to find it, there’s something in there that’s more exciting. I’ve had producers over the years tell me that some of my demo performances were better. I used some of that on the album. There’s certainly a freshness to every vocal on it that’s not like something rehearsed or over-rehearsed.
I actually had to rehearse quite a bit once the album was finished. I just wanted to get used to performing the songs. I did the whole album at several shows on the tour, so I had to rehearse that. The main difference is that you were writing the song and recording the song at the same time.
In listening to Scream, I did have to wonder how you were planning to translate the album into a stage show. Are you going to add quite a few additional bandmates to your usual lineup?
I’ve done it where I had just keyboard players – 2 and then where I had 1. Basically what it is now is using some of the synth tracks and backing tracks and playing to those, and then having guitars sort of mimic synth parts and just replay those parts. Then the drums are just live and we’ll have sort of a reproduction of what’s recorded. That’s been the best way. There’s something about it, too, that it translates really well. The feeling of the song and the feeling of the album come through, but it’s also about a band playing. Therefore I can go in and out of new and old material pretty much effortlessly, and it’s not weird at all.
That was my only concern in this whole process. How am I going to bring this live and mix it up with my old material? Being able to do what I like to do, which is like a 2-and-a-half-hour set, how am I going to get in and out of it? I came up with a lot of ideas before I tried it. One was that I could do an acoustic set where I could just play lots of new music and mix it up. You can get in and out of anything with that. But when we started playing, not only was it not a problem, it’s actually become this huge bonus to the live show. It’s really dynamic and it’s a new level sonically and rhythmically. To me, it’s just kind of broadened my live set to where I’m the happiest that I’ve ever been.
You’re probably not looking too far ahead with the new album just being released, but have you reflected on your next possible move? Is it possible that you might even push the envelope further by exploring more new musical genres?
Yeah, I’ve already had a couple of ideas of what I would do next. At the time I’m focused on the album, so I can’t make any predictions – but I will take this experience me wherever I go.
Interview by Amy Kelly
Ultimate-Guitar.Com © 2009
Brian “Head” Welch was born June 19, 1970 and grew up in Bakersfield, California. At the tender age of 11, Head picked up a guitar and found his original calling. Barely out of high school, he helped found the nu-metal band Korn. The band quickly became a Grammy® award-winning, multi-Platinum selling band, and quickly rose to the top of the music world while selling some 40 million records internationally.
In early 2005, Head rocked the music world by announcing his resignation from Korn. At the time, Head was committed to moving away from the crazy Korn life to continue to care for his daughter Jennea, as a single father. Additionally, Head committed his life to Christ with the goal of touching people’s lives and giving back to those most desperately in need.
His debut solo album, Save Me From Myself, finally surfaced back in September. The album was produced by Head, who recorded the music off and on for the past two years in Phoenix, Arizona. It also featured renowned musicians Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, David Bowie) and Josh Freese (A Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails), and was mixed by Ralph Patlan and Bob Clearmountain. In this exclusive interview, Joe Matera caught up with Head to discuss his solo album, guitars and Korn.
UG: In what ways did the writing and recording process for Save Me From Myself differ from the approach you used writing and recording the Korn albums?
Brian Welch: I did everything differently when I recorded my solo album. When I recorded while I was in Korn, I drank beer, did my tracks and drove home drunk. On my solo album, I prayed a lot, did my tracks and drove home sober. Another thing I did was take my time on the recording of Save Me From Myself. I was in a great place financially and it was cool to not have a deadline at all. I started recording the album in the summer of 2005, took a break in 2006 to write my book also titled Save Me From Myself, then I finished recording in 2007, mixed it and released it in 2008. Now that’s taking your sweet ass time! The writing process was a lot different too. Instead of writing my songs on my guitar, I wrote them on a keyboard that had all these nasty cool synth sounds that sounded like distorted guitars. I demo-ed the songs all electronically and then brought them in the studio to lay the real tracks.
Was it hard to dig deep inside during the creative process now that you’re clean and sober whereas previously you may have found the creative process enhanced by the environment you found yourself in and were surrounded by?
It was actually easy to dig deep inside because I spent years covering up the real me and I needed to let everything out. I went through a lot of crap in my life and this was a way for me to pour out the pain into my songs.
Obviously your new found faith in God and spirituality, has brought a sense of renewed energy and musical growth?
Yeah, definitely man, I was completely out of energy before I found Christ. I was sick, tired, confused, depressed and literally going insane from drugs. Before I found Christ, I was the type of guy that would want to stay as far away from Christians as possible. To me, they were boring, but when I was desperate for help, I had to at least try to pray and see if it worked. I swear to God after I prayed a few times, I felt the power to want to totally change my life for the better and I did. When I prayed to Jesus for Him to come and live inside of me, a crazy thing happened–He actually did and my changed life is proof of that. I haven’t done drugs since and I never will. Everything in my life is better.
|“I did everything differently when I recorded my solo album.“|
You produced the album as well, so was it hard to be objective in the studio when it came to wearing both hats such as that of musician and producer?
Yeah sometimes it was a train wreck! Especially in the beginning, but I had a lot of support from my friends and engineers that lent me their ears for second opinions. I couldn’t have done it without them. My emotions were all out of control in the beginning, but I started to mellow out later on.
When it came to gear, what did you use for Save Me From Myself?
I used mainly Ibanez baritone guitars for all the rhythm tracks. I used a Les Paul, G&L and a Strat for the lead guitar melodies. For the amps we used Mesa Boogie, Orange, Marshall and a Bognar. We recorded tons of rhythm tracks and combined the amps to get a phat tone. For my pedals, I used anything and everything. That’s probably my most favorite part of recording. Every time I record a new record, I go pedal shopping at all the cool guitar stores and buy everything that sounds crazy. I only end up using a few of the pedals that I buy, but its fun to shop and good to have the collection. Anyway, the pedals I used the most are Boss Digital Chorus and Digital Reverb, Digitech Whammy Wah, Boss Flange, Big Muff, Small stone, and a few others that I don’t remember.
You have a collection of custom guitars, so what do you look for when it comes to a guitar?
I look for guitars that have a great sound for sure. With the low tuning that I use in my music, the guitars I use got to have a meaty sound, but clear so you can hear the Chord progressions good. Sometimes it’s a guess though. You just plug them in and see what they sound like, and sometimes the guitars you think are going to sound the best, end up not sounding so great and vise versa.
So going back to your guitar collection, what is it like these days?
I actually only have a few guitars right now. I have a couple Ibanez Baritones, a couple 7-strings and a double neck 7 string/14 string. When I left Korn, I didn’t go and pick up my gear at our studio because there was some tension between me and the guys, so they still have a bunch of my guitars, but I don’t need them anymore because I’ve switched to 6-string baritone guitars. Plus, after I left Korn, I sold my house in Bakersfield CA, and some really expensive jazz guitars came up missing during the move…oh well.
You’ve become associated with the Ibanez 7-string guitar, in what ways did playing a 7-string bring a different perspective and approach to the way you approached music?
It really helped Korn come up with heavy grooves that people could bounce to and the low 7-string helped to bring out a deepness in Korn’s choruses that not a lot of bands had at the time. Fieldy, the bass player in Korn, played a 5-string bass, so we were sometimes fighting over the low end, but most of the time it worked out.
In what ways, do you think your playing have evolved over the years?
I kind of think that I’ve come back to the basics on Save Me From Myself. In the early days of Korn, we focused on the songs rather than over playing our instruments and that’s what I tried to do on my new album. It goes back to the old saying, “why reinvent the wheel?”
Do you think that you could switch to playing a 6-string guitar exclusively one day?
I actually have switched to play 6-string guitars. I used 6 string Baritones on my entire CD. Not one 7 string was used. It seems to me that I could get a cleaner, less muddy, guitar tone with the baritone compared to the 7 string. That’s my opinion anyway.
|“If you’re an unstable person when you’re a nobody, you’ll be an unstable person when you’re at the top of the charts.“|
So what is the secret to getting Head’s guitar tone?
It’s a secret, I can’t tell you….no, I just try anything and everything and I try not to do anything by the book. You got to keep an open mind if you want to keep improving your tones. There are no rules in making music. We are all free to try anything and everything with music, and nobody can tell you that you’re wrong because it’s just a matter of opinion.
When you made the first Korn album, did you realize at the time that the band were in effect creating what became “nu-metal” and a sound that would influence all the bands that came in Korn’s wake?
No way, we knew we had something different, but we had no idea the impact that Korn would have on the metal scene. Nobody predicted that. It was just something that happened and none of us were complaining. It was definitely a rollercoaster ride that we weren’t prepared for though. I think all of us thought that if we made it to the top, everything would be perfect and we would feel content with life because our dreams came true. But that wasn’t the case. We found that there are a lot of pressures at the top and it can mess with your mind being in a band that big. If you’re an unstable person when you’re a nobody, you’ll be an unstable person when you’re at the top of the charts.
Are you proud of what you contributed, musically, whilst in Korn?
Yeah, I grew up with all those guys and it was a trip to make it big with all of my childhood best friends. That kind of stuff just didn’t happen in Bakersfield, CA, but dreams do come true. When I was a kid, I used to rack my brain trying to come up with a guitar sound and style that didn’t sound like anything or anyone else out there. When I couldn’t find that unique sound I was looking for, I gave up and then a few years later, I joined Korn and the unique sound just kind of found us. It was crazy.
Do you think the day will come when you and Korn will be reconciled and maybe make music together again?
I’m really looking forward to playing with other musicians right now. I started my life over, so I don’t feel that I want to go back to the familiar. That’s where I’m at today.
What have you got planned for 2009?
I want to get out on the road and do some live shows. We are working on putting my touring band together so we should be rockin’ really soon here. I’m also very close with my daughter Jennea. I’m a single father and that takes a lot of my time. I bought her a new puppy so I’ll be busy with that in 2009 as well. She’s been asking me for a puppy for five years, but first I talked her into a fish, then a hamster, and now I finally gave her a puppy.
And are there any plans for another solo album?
Yes, I have a butt load of songs that I look forward to recording soon so we’ll see what happens.
Interview by Joe Matera
Ultimate-Guitar.Com © 2008
I saw this article 28 hours after it was published, and there were already over 200 comments on the article. What is very interesting to me is how so many people have such strong opinions about whether or not a person should share their religious views, even if that is a primary focus of thier lives. Even though he did not say that anyone should follow his religion, people take offence at what he has to say. It’s a sad commentary on the present state of western culture, that you can’t even share your life with people without being judged.
While casually looking around the interwebs for a new guitar amp, I came across this clip while looking at a Rivera amp.
This guy is just amazing.
I love concept/themed albums. Really I do. Not only does an artist have to write good songs, but they have to flow. This album is awesome. I heard the single “Life is Beautiful” on the radio one morning and was instantly struck by the feel of the song. I found out that it was written by Nikki Sixx, so I thought I would check it out.
I have never really been that big of fan of Motley Crue. Sure I have a couple songs that make their way into a playlist or two, but overall not really impressed. However this album is amazing. I have been listening to it nonstop for about 2 weeks, and everytime it just keeps getting better and better.
The songs range from strait rock, to ballads, to Floydian in style, with vocal parts intermixed throughout creating music that really is deserving of the term soundtrack. Every instrument fits in perfectly and the recording/mixing is awesome.