GnR axe hero recalls recording sessions 20 years ago which aimed for greatness – but ultimately blew his band apart


Kid in a candy store: Slash

Slash believes Guns n’Roses’ Use Your Illusion albums are filled with “good crap” – even though their creation triggered the collapse of the band.

It’s two decades they released two records in one year and lost drummer Steven Adler, guitarist Izzy Stradlin and manager Alan Niven along the way.

In the years to follow everyone but singer Axl Rose would quit the band and move on to other projects, leaving the name in the hands of the frontman who maintains it today.

Slash believes the new musical direction which included the introduction of synthesisers to the band’s sound led directly to Stradlin’s departure – but he has some good memories of the writing and recording sessions.

He tells Music Radar: “There’s a lot of good crap on those illusion records. That was the first time I had enough money to buy some new guitars. I was like a kid in a candy store because there was so much material and I wanted all kinds of different guitar sounds – just whatever my vision was for that song.

“As tumultuous as it was to make those records, the one thing I really enjoyed was those three weeks doing guitars, just having a great time.”

The guitarist says Use Your Illusion I and II marked a “more intellectual approach” than the one they’d taken with groundbreaking debut Appetite for Destruction – and that proved to be part of the problem.

“I went from using one guitar to God knows how many on those albums, back to one guitar now. It was fun at the time and it worked then, but it’s never worked for me since.”

He says his relationship with Rose remained “okay” during the sessions, even though the singer started communicating with his bandmates via management at the time. But his insistence on introducing synths to the mix was a lot for Slash to deal with – and the direction eventually proved too much for Stradlin to deal with.

“The only catch with the Illusion records was the introduction of synthesisers. I disagreed with synthesisers and I still do.

“The problem was with Izzy. Because the album reached such gargantuan proportions as far as the production and complexity and the massive expectations, 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 sort of disappeared.”

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