Slash is all good with technology. But he's seen the negative side of it creeping into how albums are made these days. "You've got a lot of bands that don't even actually go to the studio to record a record," he tells UCR. "I can name a dozen of them."

But he's not naming names today. Instead, he's celebrating the fact that Orgy of the Damned, his first blues album, recently made its debut at No. 1 on the blues album charts in both the U.S. and the U.K. It landed in the Top 10 in five other countries around the world.

Even after all of his successes, this latest milestone caught him off guard. "I'm very honored, he says. "But I'm also, really, sort of shocked at the same time." The Guns N' Roses guitar legend is humble as he expands on that previous thought a bit. "You do some stuff and you're just like, 'Oh, this will be fun.'  Then, you do things that you really focus on and take it seriously and put all of your attention on that."

"The one that took the least amount of effort is the one that does the best," he laughs. "It was just sort of a cool covers record. Obviously, there's some great people on it, but I didn't really have a lot of expectations for it. So it's been a pleasant surprise that it's been so well-received."

His upcoming S.E.R.P.E.N.T. blues tour, which features numerous friends, from Eric Gales to Samantha Fish and Warren Haynes, kicks off July 5 in Montana. Fans can preview the trek thanks to a livestream of the Denver, Colo. date. that will raise money for charity. In the below conversation with Ultimate Classic Rock Nights host Matt Wardlaw, Slash opened up about the rehearsal process, how he first connected with Haynes and his ongoing relationship with a longtime associate from his Guns N' Roses world.

As you're getting ready for the tour, you did an acoustic gig at Amoeba in Los Angeles. That seems like it must have been fun.
We weren’t all in town. We flew Tash [Neal] in because his schedule was open and Ted [keyboardist Teddy Andreadis] lives here. We got together with some acoustic guitars in my living room and just picked out a number of songs. We said, “Okay, let’s do this. We’ve got a half an hour to go out there and play.” We loosely threw it together, got up there at Amoeba and just sort of went for it. [Laughs] But it was fun. The people that showed up were really, really encouraging and supportive and really into it. I think it made up for the lack of pre-planning. It was a really good time.

Watch Slash Perform at Amoeba

I think you've had enough gigs of a certain caliber go sideways. So while you weren't winging it with this one, you probably have become pretty good at just rolling with the situation, right?
You know, it’s funny. You get enough experience where you’re able to do that, but maybe it’s just me personally -- I don’t like to purposely do that. You can be really cocksure and think, “Oh yeah, I’ve got it together” and have the floor fall out from underneath you. I’ve been through that. Things that you just did not expect happen and you’re not prepared for it and you’re not able to pull it together. I had those experiences way early on in my career and they pop up here and there. So [for me], the thing is, be as prepared as possible, so no matter what happens, you know how to handle it. [Laughs] That’s the way I look at it.

You played songs from the album, but also some other stuff. It made me wonder how fluid the set list is going to be for this tour?
We’re rehearsing it now and pulling out all kinds of shit. [Laughs] It’s a lot of fun. What I’m trying to do is put together an hour and 45 minute set, which consists of maybe 23 songs or something like that. What we’re doing, is we’re trying to amass a certain amount of songs to be able to pick and choose throughout the tour -- to be able to do stuff that we didn’t do the night before here and there. But at the same time, I don’t want to just think of something off the top of my head that day and walk out on stage and call it like we would do in a bar. [Laughs] Because this is a big outdoor venue with a lot of people, all paying good money to see you. You don’t want to make it so loose that it looks like you don’t give a shit. But at the same time, we should have a pretty good surplus of songs to pick and choose from.

READ MORE: Slash Celebrates New Solo Album + Says '2025 is All About Guns N' Roses'

Warren Haynes will be joining you for some of the dates. You had a chance to play with him last year at his annual Christmas Jam. How did Warren first come on your radar as a music fan?
The Allman Brothers, I think that was really the first time I became aware of Warren. Those guitar players -- all of them, Warren included -- are all some of the greatest, most soulful and tone-conscious guitar players. Duane [Allman] to Dickey [Betts] to Warren, I mean, all of these guys, had a huge influence on me. I never did get to see Duane, obviously. I had mutual friends with Dickey Betts, but I never met him. But Warren, he’s got the Mule. I’ve gone to go see them, just as a fan of him. But we hadn’t ever really gotten to know each other. I think I was always too shy to go up and introduce myself. In more recent years, we’ve been in the same jamming situation together, so we met through that. But getting a call to come up and do the Christmas Jam, that was one of those really memorable occasions. Over my career, that’s one of them, to get up and play with Warren -- and to do it with Myles [Kennedy] was really cool. Warren’s just one of those guys that I really dig. We also did the Country Music Awards together, which was the first time where he and I really got together and worked to do something together. It was cool.

READ MORE: Slash Announces S.E.R.P.E.N.T Festival Summer 2024 Tour

Listening to things like "Key to the Highway" with Dorothy and "Awful Dream," which you did with Iggy Pop, it struck me how you got to inhabit a lot of different characters as a guitar player on this album.
You know what? I hadn’t really thought about it that way, but the songs are from completely different artists with different feels. You sort of adapt to those different feels. Because the reason those songs speak to you is because of that, their unique tone, cadence and all of that. When you’re covering them, you go through these different, emotional mood changes to fit each song. It’s great as a guitar player to be able to have the opportunity to do that on one record.

Listen to Slash and Dorothy Perform 'Key to the Highway'

You worked with Mike Clink on this album. He's been a part of your world for a long time going back to the early days. What does he bring to your process that's important?
He brings a really cool, very straightforward and honest producer approach to things. He’s like, [you’re] the artist, he’s the producer. Do your thing. He will tell me if I’m going off the deep end or if I need to be reeled back in. Whatever it is. But [he offers] very little input -- only when it’s necessary, which gives me the freedom to just do what I want. I don’t have to be second-guessing myself because of what the producer thinks. He’s great in that sense and he’s also an amazing engineer. It’s one of the really key things about Mike. He knows how to record all of the instruments, but especially the guitar.

He knows how to record that properly, which he was great at it more than anybody else in the ‘80s when I first worked with him. But now, he’s one of the only guys that’s able to record a guitar properly at all. He’s like the last of a dying breed. A lot of these contemporary young guys, because of the way the times have changed, they just don’t do it. The only thing they can think of is that you just stick a mike in front of the speaker cabinet, EQ it a little bit in the control room and that’s it. But it’s really not just that. Working with Mike on this record, I didn’t think about working with anybody else. He was the only guy I thought of, because he would know how to capture the band’s sound and record it properly.

I think guys like Mike -- and Ron Nevison is another example I think of -- Ron made a record with UFO in a former post office. Guys like Ron and Mike had to figure things out. They weren't just using plugins -- and there's an art to that.
No, it’s true. You know, we always talk about the [Rolling] Stones and Glyn Johns, Eddie Kramer doing [Led] Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. Andy Johns, too. These guys are all mavericks that figured out, just based on their own understanding of the physics of the whole thing, how to do certain things. It was great, because it was very innovative and made some of the most fantastic records that we still listen to and cherish today. Mike is from that school. You know, just from the days of analog tape and all of that kind of stuff, some of these great recordings. As you get into the future, there’s nothing wrong with technology and all of that. I don’t have anything negative to say anything about that. But sometimes, some of the things that we overuse tend to have a negative effect on the sounds of things. Also, the conveniences that we’ve come up with have gotten to the point where you get very lazy. You’ve got all kinds of bands that don’t even actually go to the studio to record a record. I can name a dozen of them. You talk to the producers that they worked with and the producers did all of the work. Some of the guys never even showed up. They just recreate or create the sounds digitally. And that’s a whole other world. Some of those producers really have to be given a lot of credit for creating something out of nothing. That’s neither here nor there. That’s a whole different world. Working with Mike is like my idea of recording a band in a room -- that’s what turns me on about playing and recording.

You've been doing some more film scoring stuff recently. How did you get into that originally?
You know, there’s been a lot of music that I’ve recorded that’s actually ended up in movies. It’s great when you have the right marriage of a visual and music and they come together the right way. It’s the most emotionally satisfying experience in entertainment, as far as I’m concerned, those two things coming together. I love being involved. When I started producing movies, it gave me a chance to actually get into scoring and just writing. I can’t sit there and score an entire movie. I don’t have the skill or the wherewithal to really do that in the most professional sense. But I can write stuff that fits a scene or fits a theme for the idea of a movie. Then I can record that work with a composer, figure out how to voice it and what the instruments should be and put that together. I’ve been into that for a little while now. I’m actually working on a TV series that I just produced. I have a meeting with the director to get more musical ideas into it. It’s another facet of playing that is really intriguing to me that’s not just band-oriented, but a whole other thing that for some reason really appeals to me.

READ MORE: How Guns N' Roses' 'You Could Be Mine' Tied In to 'Terminator 2'

Slash at Amoeba Music, May 29, 2024

Guitarist played unplugged set to promote blues covers album 'Orgy of the Damned.'

Gallery Credit: Alex Kluft

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