USA TODAY reporter Patrick Ryan sat down with legendary guitarist Slash to discuss his new album, “Living the Dream” and more.
Slash is back with new solo album “Living the Dream,” released Friday, which is both personal and political for the top-hatted Guns N’ Roses guitarist. Following a decades-long struggle with heroin and alcohol addiction, the rocker talks to USA TODAY about being 12 years sober, advice for recovering addicts and losing Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington to suicide.
Question: You’ve been sober for more than a decade now. Any advice for those in recovery?
Slash: It’s a tough one. I was really fortunate to have been able to get through it the way that I did, in that when I finally came to terms with it, I really came to a point where I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I haven’t felt the inclination since then. It was a very definitive moment where I was just like, “I’m done. It’s not fun anymore.” Any time that I’ve thought about it since then, it always brings back negative feelings and emotions. I fell really hard into music when that time came, and for a lot of people, that’s hard to do. Getting sober makes some people feel out of touch with their creativity; they feel like they needed the chemicals to make that happen. When I first came out of it, I just dived into music and that really saved me. That, and having kids.
The only advice I can give to anybody is really being honest with yourself in coming to terms with it, because nobody can help anyone get their act together and get clean, except for themselves. It really is something that if you want to do it, you have to be committed and feel strongly about doing it. It’s really not easy at all.
Q: You recently revealed that you recorded a song with Chester Bennington before his death. (A version of it was later released as “Doctor Alibi” on Slash’s 2010 self-titled album, featuring Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister.)
Slash: We did a song that was never released because we had that red tape of (record) labels with Linkin Park. So I forgot about it, and then my engineer, Chris Flores, sent me the recording recently, and I was like, “Oh yeah, Chester and I worked on this song.” I sent it to his family just so that they would have it.
Q: What was it about?
Slash: It was a song looking inwards and was about some of his conflicted feelings at the time. It was an interesting song, given what happened. It gives you a window into what was going on in his mind in terms of his own personal feelings about himself.
Slash: I really put a good, sincere test on my mortality on a regular basis all through the ’80s and ’90s. But it’s been the stark reality of losing people that you care about. It’s always a shock and sad when it happens, but if you’re in this business long enough, you see it happen a lot.
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