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Friday, 07/06/01
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Slash slithers back into town

For The Tennessean

Not long after moving to Los Angeles when he was 11 years old, Slash (born Saul Hudson to a pair of musician parents) began playing his Les Paul guitar in a rock 'n' roll band.

Ten years later, he joined Guns N' Roses and the group quickly and defiantly became recognized as one of the most notorious rock 'n' roll bands of all time.

''Guns N' Roses was as green as they come, as naive as they come, as irresponsible and as (expletive) innocent and all that stuff that goes with going out there,'' Slash said. ''And you just don't know how it's gonna end.''

Guns N' Roses, at least the way the band was in the late '80s and early '90s, is gone, but Slash is back with a new cast of characters (Rod Jackson, Keri Kelly, Johnny Blackout and Matt Laug) and a new band called Slash's Snakepit.

With the days of headlining sold-out stadiums around the world a mere memory, Slash's Snakepit will play a more intimate setting at 328 Performance Hall tomorrow night in support of its second release, Ain't Life Grand.

''As time goes by, you just chalk it all up to experience,'' Slash said.

''I love playing stadiums, but you have to stay rooted, too, so playing clubs came naturally. That's when you and the audience sweat it out as one. When you're up there playing, the only thing you're trying to do is play well. There are no mirrors in clubs.''

Although the guitar player's longtime fans have had more of a chance to meet their idol in the clubs, there remains a shroud of mystery about him.

''The fantasy world of a rock 'n' roll band in the eyes of the public,'' Slash said, ''they really don't know what goes on, and you don't want them to know, because that's what kills the illusion.''

Unfortunately, masking that very illusion can oftentimes result in unfounded rumors circulating, especially when you consider the history of a guy like Slash.

A good case in point was this past March when Snakepit was forced to cancel its opening slot on the second leg of the AC/DC tour, including a stop in Nashville at Gaylord Entertainment Center.

Everything from liver and kidney damage to HIV to a stint in rehab were said to be the cause, when in fact it was nothing more than a case of walking pneumonia, according to the guitar slinger.

''I've been living with this kind of stuff in some way, shape or form ever since the first band I was in,'' said the Stoke-on-Trent, England native.

''Word of mouth and brew-ha-ha has always been a mainstay in my career. We've had incidents that haven't been reported that nobody really knows about, which are actually a lot worse. We just sort of focus on playing and any issues that happen along the way that sort of kick up the surf just goes with the territory.''

Another of the recent rumors was that Slash and Axl Rose had come to terms with their past differences and reformed the original Guns N' Roses.

The rumor proved to be nothing more than fans' wishful thinking.

Drawing little more than a subtle laugh, Slash is careful in choosing his words before letting on to his true feelings about the band that sold nearly 50 million albums.

''One of the things that (angers me) is that if (Guns N' Roses) could have just stayed doing what it was we originally set out to do when we first started, and maintained that, then I never would have quit.

''Every so often I'll stop myself before I get angry or resentful or bitter about anything that's gone on in the past that you don't have any control over or could have controlled.

''If anything, the most important thing is the fans,'' Slash continued. ''I feel for them. When I officially quit, which meant that Guns was no longer, and a couple of the other guys had already left and then Duff (McKagan) quit consequently, then I realized how many people were going to feel let down.''

Nevertheless, like his former mates (Axl, Duff, Izzy Stradlin and Steven Adler), Slash has indeed moved on in both a personal and professional way.

As laidback and easygoing as he's ever been, Slash is content with the pace opposed to the chaotic ramblings of a decadent decade ago.

''It's just a blessing,'' Slash said. ''I've been up close and personal with a lot of fans and it makes you humble.

''It blew my mind, but I had one kid come up and tell me that he was too young to have heard Guns N' Roses and that he had been turned onto it after hearing Snakepit. That's some heavy rhetoric.''

Getting there

Slash's Snakepit performs at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 7, at 328 Performance Hall. Tickets for the 21-and-over show are $13 in advance and $16 the day of the show, available through Ticketmaster (255-9600).



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