Grammy Award-winning, American rock guitarist Slash returns to Australian shores in January/ February 2019 with Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators in tow. The Australian Tour will support the release of Slash’s fourth solo album, Living The Dream released on Slash’s own label Snakepit Records in partnership with Sony Music Australia which debuted at #4 on the ARIA Album Chart. It will be great having them back in the country and I spoke to Brent Fitz (drums) about the album and upcoming tour.
Congratulations on Living the Dream it’s an absolute ripper of an album.
Thanks. Everybody in the band is pleasantly surprised at how, not that we thought people wouldn’t enjoy it, because we certainly are really proud of the record. It is really nice to see the immediate shared love. We were away for several years and now we’re back. By the way, I was supposed to be in Adelaide recently. I was scheduled to play there with Gene Simmons and I actually had to pull out of the shows because I am back with Slash. So I was almost there, but we went into rehearsals with Slash for this tour that we’re on right now. But I do love Adelaide.
It was quite an incredible show for Gene. Apparently, they flew all the way from Canada, literally arriving in Adelaide hours before playing the show. It was incredible.
I know. Before they got on the plane, they were like, “We hope we can pull this off.” This is the first show. There’s no time, there’s no room for errors. But I did hear everything went off without a hitch, so that was nice to hear. I did miss playing the show. I always miss playing anytime. It was a bummer to have to leave one gig for another but working with Slash, my heart and soul is in the new music always. So that’s why without question. I’m much better suited to be continuing working with Slash and promoting a new record.
Was it hard getting everyone in the same room at the same time?
It seems more normal now that the band has multiple projects going at once and band members seem to be sharing schedules ahead of time to try to arrange, how are we going to make an upcoming album cycle work. With Slash in particular, Myles Kennedy was always in Alter Bridge from day one so we always had to schedule things that we had to arrange ahead of time. As the touring cycle would wind down, he would be preparing for recording and then touring. Now, Slash has another project to juggle into the equation. I’ve always been much like that too. I’ve always kept several gigs going. I love to play. I love to play with as many different versatile artists. I think it keeps me sharp.
It’s the 2000, 18, 19 mentality of juggling other schedules and clearly, we made it work. We just had to do a little bit of advanced planning. Slash had always planned to do what we just did now, which was make a record and put a tour out. There were little breaks and Guns n Roses touring so he just kept in touch with me. I was doing other gigs and he was always asking, “Hey, we’re still good for this time frame for recording? Are you good?” I would adjust my schedule and away we would go. That’s the new norm.
After World on Fire, was it always the intention that there would be another Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators album?
Well, I think the building of the vocabulary amongst the band members after the first Apocalyptic Love record which I guess you could say was a happy accident of having a successful tour promoting Slash’s first solo record and realising that there’s some chemistry here amongst band members. Why don’t we try to write some songs? We did and successfully we were able to put out that first record and certainly building off that and playing all these new original songs we had, on the Apocalyptic Love tour. So, it’s very easy and natural, at least for me and I’ve been in many different bands and have written many songs with many different artists but this was probably the most comfortable band I’ve ever been in where putting songs together and finding a way to write a bunch of songs, get them recorded and get back out on the road was easy.
World on Fire was a very quick, easy next record and this one, the only thing that was the different for Living The Dream was just that we just didn’t know when we were going to get a chance to do it again, pending things like Slash doing Guns n Roses. We had already continued on after the World on Fire tour and had already written a bunch of songs and had this album half done. We just had to find some time to make sure, “Okay, we’re planning to do this.” So, it’s a strange, very comfortable natural progression with the band being able to put a record out and then here we are today. For a band that’s put out three records, I feel pretty good. I think Slash feels good, too. I think maybe we’ve been the band that Slash has been consistently with the longest making records with Myles and The Conspirators for the last whatever, seven or eight years.
How does the whole creative process come together? Does Slash have the bare bones of ideas consolidated or has an idea in his head how he thinks it’s going to sound or does everybody go off and work on their parts and bring it all back together?
It seems like the songs start with musically something. Not vocally or lyrically per se but an idea from an instrument. So, Slash is always coming up with new riffs and new ideas that he’s been cataloguing and always has. He’s never short of an idea and we like to do sound checks every day when we’re on tour and ideas just naturally progress into jam sessions that start out in a sound check. Then anything else that hasn’t been jammed, or say Slash comes up with an idea and he looks to Todd and I as the rhythm section. Like, “Here. I’ve got a little riff, here. What do you think?” We’re pretty quick.
We’re not afraid to jump in as, we’re multi-instrumentalists so our musical vocabulary is pretty strong and we can all sing and come up with anything. It’s a very easy palate for Slash to come up with, “Yeah, I got an idea. What do you guys think?” Then we just jump in and start playing along to it. Then, next thing you know, you’ve got a song and even the new Living the Dream record, half of those ideas were put together with jams, maybe in a sound check. Then a couple of times, we got together off the road and just got in a room, just the classic old style of just jam out the ideas and record them, not writing songs with a computer and Pro-Tools.
The whole idea was to create something like a foundation, a melody idea and see if Myles would like it or could come up with something melody wise to sing over it. We would never complete a song. It was just where a riff or some kind of a verse is and a chorus idea then what do you think, Myles? Then, if he could put something really great and get an idea at the start with the melodies and then eventually the lyrics, then the song would start to form a complete song. It’s a real simple way of a classic rock song coming together.
Do you think the album title is inspired by where you guys are as a collective? Like literally living the dream?
Well, I don’t think there’s too much reading into the title if it was supposed to imply anything, but I remember at the time as we were writing songs at Slash’s studio in L.A. and prepping and getting ready to record, there was a lot of watching the news and CNN, sometimes as we’re working on music, outside things you start paying attention to the rest of the world. I think we were always being very cynical about it, “Hey, we’re making music here and everything else around the world is going on.” But we’re living the dream. It was more of a punch line, a Slash thing, Living the Dream.
I wouldn’t say that, we’re all saying to ourselves that we’re living the dream right now. Of course we are! We love playing music so the title has a lot of weight to it as far as a band and playing music together, but I think, I don’t think too much can read into the title.
How did you guys celebrate the album being finished? What were your initial reactions when you heard the final mix for the first time?
Yeah, this was the first time, because like I said earlier, we were all doing different things while we were putting this record together. It was great that it came together so smoothly. We did high-fived and hugged each other saying, “Great job, guys.” Then we had to jump on another tour for something else we’ve been doing and that’s been the norm is that everybody’s very, very busy and we’re busier than ever doing other things but somehow it feels great. We didn’t see each other for several months before the upcoming tour. Actually, I think we finished the record in March and we didn’t all get together again until we did some photos, but we didn’t get in a room and start rehearsing again for the tour until August. Slash was out with Guns. I was out with Gene Simmons and Todd was doing solo shows and Myles was doing solo shows, so literally everybody and Frank, I’m sure was doing stuff, too, that was keeping him busy knowing that we were going to come back together in August.
It must be so exciting touring with a brand new record and it’s probably less reliance now on having to add Gunners and Velvet Revolver songs in to set?
It’s great now having three albums and we can pick any of those songs. We’re certainly wanting and looking forward to playing a lot of the new record. This band by Slash’s design, has always been the intent of everything that we write and record certainly has a chance to get played live. So, anything off Apocalyptic Love has already been played, either extendedly or is a regular in the set or has at least has seen a couple of shows on a tour where we actually played it. We’ve all agreed that the best thing about this band is anything we write, is going to get played live and we look forward to it.
We enjoy playing together, so if Slash says, “Hey, let’s play Night Train tonight,” well, we’re going to play Night Train. No one’s really going to complain because we always keep the sets fairly fresh and Slash’s body work is pretty diverse if. Playing new music would be the focus and I’m sure Slash would say, if you interviewed him, that he would say the same. He already has a vehicle to play Guns n Roses music. So, he would want to play different music with this band, but I’m happy to play Velvet Revolver. Me, personally, I like all the music that Slash has been a part of, so if once in a while we change up and play different songs, I’m actually okay with it and I think fans are good with not playing the same thing all the time.
Touring Australia in the New Year is going to be awesome for Australian fans?
Yeah. I’m very excited for that. We had a really great tour last time we were down there. Next year is going to be a busy year for the band which is great. Yeah, we’re looking forward to that. Australia is my favourite country for coffee in the entire world. I love it!
Interview by Rob Lyon
Slash Ft Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators Australian & New Zealand Tour Dates:
Tauranga Friday 25 January – Baypark Arena
Auckland Saturday 26 January – Spark Arena
Sydney Monday 28 January – Qudos Bank Arena
Brisbane Wednesday 30 January – Brisbane Convention Exhibition Centre
Melbourne Friday 1 February – Margaret Court Arena
Perth Sunday 3 February – RAC Arena
Tickets to Slash Ft Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators tour from ticketek.com.au