Slash Remembers Difficult Birthing Process for ‘Use Your Illusion’ Albums
The making of the dual 'Use Your Illusion' albums is as much of a multi-faceted story as the music on Guns N' Roses third and -- no disrespect (well, maybe a little..) to 'The Spaghetti Incident' or 'Chinese Democracy' -- final real albums. Saturday (Sept. 17) is the 20th anniversary of the albums' release, and to hear Slash tell it, that day was the culmination of a journey that in many ways broke the band.
The guitarist gave an extensive interview to MusicRadar.com in which he detailed what the band was going through before, during and after the recording sessions. He says things had hit rock bottom just before GNR began working on the project. It had been four years of touring and partying since 'Appetite For Destruction' was released in 1987, however Slash had managed to kick a heroin habit in time to get serious. From the onset he and Axl Rose disagreed about the project's direction.
"It was definitely exploratory compared to Appetite," he tells Music Radar. "I mean, honestly, I'd have preferred to do a record with just 10 f----ng songs that were a bit more straightforward, but it was an opportunity to finally get the band to work again."
The band relocated to Chicago, but what was an intended team-building exercise went bust. As the band returned to L.A. Slash discovered drugs again and engaged in a number of high profile shenanigans, like running naked and sobbing around an Arizona golf course, truly believing he was being chased by the 'Predator.'
"We reconvened. I think the Guns N' Roses chemistry was a natural thing that was always there if we could just get past other distractions. When we dropped all the bullshit and just started playing, there was a natural synergy between us." A two-night writing session churned out songs like 'The Garden,' 'Get in the Ring,' and 'So Fine.' Others -- like 'Civil War' -- had been written while on tour. And a few were solo efforts.
"I wrote 'Coma' in my heroin delirium," Slash admits. "That's a song that I'm still proud of. There's not a lot of 'technique' -- it's a pretty straight up kinda Slash approach." While Slash could manage his drug habit, others couldn't. Drummer Steven Adler was kicked out the band when he couldn't keep up, but after months of screwing around the band got serious and recorded 36 songs in 36 days. For the sake of moving forward, Slash gave into Rose's demands for synthetic instrumentation, but the singer's perfectionism was sign of trouble to come.
"The problem was with Izzy (Stradlin)," Slash says in the MusicRadar interview. "Because the album reached such gargantuan proportions as far as the production and complexity and the massive expectations [that] Izzy started to bow out. He was harder to find, because that was against his rock 'n' roll philosophy, which I totally agree with."
"We got through the basic tracks and I think that's what gave the albums such a natural feel. But when we started getting into the time it took to do overdubs and vocals, he sorta disappeared."
A week after the albums were released, Stradlin officially quit. Including manager Alan Niven and Adler, that made three critical departures over the course of one album. The band never recovered, and Slash quit five years later. The guitarist says he hasn't listened to either 'Illusion' album in years but admits, "There's a lot of good crap on those Illusion records…"
Fans agree that there is also a lot of filler on 'Use Your Illusion,' but no two fans agree on which songs are keepers and which should have been left behind. You can help us pare the albums down to one single record with our 'Choose Your Illusion' poll, and also sign up to win a Guns N' Roses vinyl collection, including both 'Illusion' albums, 'Appetite For Destruction' and 'Chinese Democracy.'