|Former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash lives in a well posh gaff in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. Not content with living in a pad that previously belonged to a legendary Hollywood filmmaker, Katherine Turman discovers he's currently building a bar and a pinball machine and has his own recording studio.
Is Los Angeles Slash's 'Paradise City'? Hardly. "I don't like to stay anywhere for too long," observes the former Guns N' Roses guitarist. "Two weeks, three weeks, a month, tops." However, with a new, Spanish style home in the quietly ritzy environs of Beverly Hills, Slash has made some sort of commitment to stability, if only because his basement is now home to his well-appointed Snakepit Studio.
Slash is, however, rather intrigued by his new home's Hollywood tinged history. "It was owned by (legendary filmmaker) Cecil B DeMille. And (director) Roman Polanski lived here. In my bedroom, there's a kitchen; it used to be a darkroom, with girls' names on the drawers!" chuckles the guitarist, imagining the prurient pictures that once occupied them.
"There's also a tunnel that goes from this house almost as far as Laurel Canyon, where they used to have speakeasys during Prohibition. Every house had a basement where people kept their bars. I was like, "This is definitely for me!"
SLASH'S SILVER BALLS
"I'm not at liberty to really discuss the Snakepit pinball machine until the blueprints are done, but it's going to be a really, really cool game, very different. I drew everything, like I always do, on cocktail napkins. The Guns machine, for one, is the first machine ever made with the real record on it. At the time, it was the loudest machine ever made. The Viper machine we just did... it has Snakepit material on it, and now that's the loudest machine ever made. I went to (one pinball company) and asked, 'Can you do this, this, this and this?' And they went, 'Umm, I don't know.' I went to Data East and they said, 'We can do anything.' I spent a couple of months in meetings back and forth to Chicago, dealing with stuff (for the Snakepit machine).
"All the pinball companies are in Chicago. My ex-wife, her family lives in the suburbs of Chicago, and I went there to visit for the first time - I never played pinball as a kid - so I was bored. there was nothing to do except drive into the city and get fucked up and never be able to find my way back. But they had a basement - those are real popular in Chicago - and they had pinball machines down there. So I played pinball every night for a week. We came home and I bought The Addams Family (pinball machine) for Renee. That was the first one. Then one turned into two, two turned into four, four into six, and next thing you know, I was designing one! That's when the Guns N' Roses machine came.
"I play for relaxation, just to take my mind off things. Or you just walk into the room, turn on one machine and play a game before you go on to something else. There's a general theme: either they're monster or a fun, goofy theme, like Party Zone. Anything that's got a cool vibe. I don't know how to define it. Baseball, football, the fisherman one - no way. I'll probably get Godzilla.
"The Funhouse machine has a great story. We were all on mushrooms one night and Renee thought the machine was talking to her. I told her, 'Honey, it's OK, you're having a bad trip.' But she made me unplug the machine, making sure its mouth and eyes were closed, and I had to sell it. Later on, I found another one, so I bought it back in... (My now ex-wife and I) were on the outs then. Still to this day, she's scared to death of it."
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
"It used to be a normal backyard fountain like anyone else would have. I was sitting around and I drew... actually, her prototype is right there on the window. So I drew it on a napkin and thought, 'That would be cool.' I had it made by this guy out in Thousand Oaks (California) or somewhere. He was a claymation guy, and I gave him this gig. I think it was a challenge for him. I do wacky shit like that. She's a Brachiosaurus, a baby Brachiosaurus. The guy who made it did it exactly how I drew it. Her name's Bertha."
THE NEW BAND
"For a while, I've been getting all band members together, looking for singers. At this point, I'm not saying I have found one, but I'm pretty close. What we do is go upstairs during the week and write ideas, tape 'em, and the next day we go downstairs and record them. There's a couple of the Blues Ball guys in the band, and I'm s till working with Teddy Andreadis, although we don't use a piano for hardly anything. I'm using Ryan Roxie, who used to be in Alice Cooper's band, and that's it. We start at 1pm and play until one or two in the morning. I'd like to have a Christmas release and a pre-summer tour.
"But I'm going to do a small tour before I do the record, just to break the material in, let it sweat a little. Right now, we're doing just demos, but all things considered, they're really good-sounding demos. The band sounds great; I haven't been in a band like this since Guns started."
CAT SCRATCH FEVER
"I'm building a pub upstairs, but this bar is just what I've got now. As for my animals, I downsized my reptile collection. I probably have 50 snakes and a couple of iguanas and three cats. My ex took three of my others, then I've got two new additions, but I don't know if they're permanent. They're mommy's kids. I'm not a dog person. Cats and snakes are more like me, very independent; they only need you when they need you and can take care of themselves."
DOWN IN THE BASEMENT
"The selling point of the house was the basement. I thought, 'I can make a studio out of this.' Chronologically, I can't tell you how long this took to build. We got it started, then the guy who was leading this technical expedition got really drunk and fucked up, so he got fired, and we started over and it took a couple of months. The studio is probably the only thing in this house that is totally finished. I did a cover song for an Alice Cooper tribute record here, just my guitar stuff. We did 'No more Mr Nice Guy' with Roger Daltrey. He did it at Bob Kulick's - he's (ex Kiss-guitarist) Bruce's brother's - house. Bob is doing the whole thing.
"Everything in the studio I've used before. It's that old adage: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I experiment as much as the next guy, but I always end up going back to what's tried and true. But the cool thing about this studio as to most of the others I've ever worked in is the whole band can play live in the room. We have monitors, you can sing in there. But if we want to record and we don't want any ear bleeding and want to use headphones, we have isolation booths for everybody.
"My Gibson flame top, that's the guitar I got when Guns first started working in the studio. That's what 'Appetite For Destruction', the whole record, was done with. "
STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
"When it comes to home maintenance, I'm a wuss. I just split. But I had to grow up really quick. I had to come home, and I was like, 'Wow, I really need to be responsible for my own stuff.' And at this point now, I'm hands on, with the studio especially.
"For the most part, I don't believe in selfgratification by putting up (gold records and awards). I give all my gold records away, I don't like to have that stuff around the house. But I have the original 'Appetite...' artwork and the poster for Monsters of Rock, the first one we played, with Iron Maiden on it."