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Back To Nature with Slash
by Debbie Seagle

Back to Part I
About this time, a new factor comes bouncing into the equation.  His name is Rod – Rod Jackson, singing lead vocals and generally firing things up.  With his long dreads, he’s a Lenny Kravitz double, but the resemblance ends with his looks.  Rod’s voice swaggers and bends, screams and wails, making him equally as comfortable singing hard rock tunes or smokey blues.  The key word here is comfortable.  Rod had the ability to feel comfortable, and not intimidated by Slash on stage.  The two had a truly symbiotic relationship as they performed.  Each fed off the other with Rod providing the perfect showcase for Slash’s talent, while Slash was careful not to mow over the top of Rod with his solos.  Although these two performers set the stage for a good vibe, the foundation is the tight new crew Slash has assembled to make his style of rock come busting through the burial shroud some have thought it to be hiding under.  With Keri Kelli on guitars, Johnny Blackout on bass, Matt Laug on Drums and Teddy Zigzag Andreas on keyboard and harp, there is enough ability in this band to go off the edge on either the rock or the blues side.  And who wants to separate the two?  In Slash’s case, the marriage is one that works.  That night I saw it bring Slash to his knees as he massaged the neck of his guitar like a lover.  The old passion is there, in the music and in the vocals.

Speaking of the music, if you are like me, and you weren’t overly impressed with “Its Five O’Clock Somewhere,” you owe it to yourself to listen to some sound clips of “Ain’t Life Grand.”  Its like night and day.  Among my favorites this night were “Serial Killer,” which started out as a slower ballad with Slash picking an acoustic guitar while Rod delivered vein popping passionate lyrics.  It takes a turn as it gets darker and maniacal in tone and Slash heats up on an electric guitar that gives him a trance-like appearance.  There is the Bluesy “Mean Bones” and “Back To The Moment,” or for the more traditional rock riot and speed precision, try “Land Slide.”  The night was topped off with a group of guys out of Hollywood who joined the band with their brass to deliver the strong New Orleans-like jam 
'Ain’t Life Grand.”  To say the audience was satiated would be an understatement.  Slash did not disappoint with the delectable ear candy he served up to his fans.

My observation of the subject complete, I ventured further into the jungle to get a closer look.  After the show there were several reporters hanging around to meet Slash.  As I wait for him to come out to the area we have been asked to wait in, I think back to Slash’s trademark swaggering and whiskey chugging during the show.  Would he act like that back stage?  Maybe.  My most vivid memory of Slash is a photo I have of him sitting on the floor, Jack in his hand, cigarette in his lips and looking like he was ready to pass out.  I see it, and I say, well – that’s Slash!  Here’s the inside scoop for those of you with the back stage pass . . . That’s not Slash!  He walks out and greets everyone with a big smile.  His hair is up in a turban of white towel and his face extremely kind and animated.  He is perfectly sober and articulate, as I imagine he always is.  Could it be that I was seeing what I wanted to see on stage? 

Slash is very soft spoken and open when he says hello.  We chat a minute about the gear he was using and I confide that I am coveting a guitar or two in his arsenal.  He laughs and I ask him the one question that has been burning in my mind for years.  I have read many bios about Slash and the thing that always stuck with me was the fact that his grandmother bought him his first guitar and it had only one string.  He then taught himself how to play.  That has always seemed funny to me and I ask him, “Slash, how did you learn how to play a guitar with one string?  Isn’t that like chewing a steak with no teeth?”  He simply smiled and said that he didn’t know any better and he had taught himself three or four Zeppelin songs  before he ever got another string!  I guess some people are just meant to play, and I dare say that Slash needs to play like he needs to breathe, and he’s found the right habitat to do that in – Snakepit.


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