|It's been seven years since the release of a Guns N' Roses album featuring original material, and as Axl Rose mulls over members and musical direction, his former bandmates are quietly and quickly making
solo records, with LPs on Geffen anticipated from bassist Duff McKagan and guitarist Slash by year's end.
While Izzy Stradlin's second solo outing (117 Degrees) was recently released on Geffen, the guitarist inexplicably decided against promoting it via press or performances. McKagan and Slash, however, are more pro-active about
their work. Both played on Stradlin's album, and Stradlin returned the favor on McKagan's forthcoming album, titled Beautiful Disease.
Ensconced at L.A.'s Conway Studios with producer Noel Golden, McKagan explains the genesis of the title: "It's a song about kind of losing it, snapping for a second, but being healthy about it," he says. "I'd just been freed
from so many things -- a shitty marriage, I got sober. It was like, 'Fuck, I want to live.'" The album, notes McKagan, is in stark contrast to his debut, 1993's Believe in Me, recorded while still an official member of Guns.
"It was such a horrible time in my life," he recounts.
On the nearly completed Beautiful Disease are McKagan's longtime Seattle- bred pals, brothers Al and Curt Bloch (My Favorite Martian and the Fastbacks, respectively), drummers Abe Laborio (Seal, Jeff Beck),
and Mike Bordin (Faith No More), plus guitarist Michael Berrigan and his band, Plexi. Slash also guests on the disc.
While the status of the Neurotic Outsiders, the "supergroup" featuring McKagan and members of the Sex Pistols and Duran Duran, is undetermined, McKagan has another record currently in stores, the just- recorded "debut" LP
from his first band, Seattle's legendary 10 Minute Warning (Sub Pop). This year, in his home studio, McKagan also plans to produce Seattle band the Ya-Ya's and former Butt Trumpet members Betty Blowtorch.
While Slash's band and record are in more infantile stages than McKagan's, the guitarist is writing daily and working up songs in his fully appointed home studio with a band that includes guitarist Ryan Roxie
(Dad's Porno Mag/ Alice Cooper), drummer Matt Laug, and bassist Johnny Griparik. "The band sounds great," says Slash. "I haven't been in a band like this since Guns started." The guitarist also just recorded "No More Mr. Nice Guy" for an
Alice Cooper tribute record with Roger Daltrey on vocals.
While Slash's 1995 solo debut, It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere, featured singer Eric Dover of Jellyfish -- and subsequently Imperial Drag fame -- Slash's new vocalist is undetermined, though he's been tracking with an
L.A.-based singer for several weeks.
The opus has no title or release date, but Slash, who plays occasionally with his jam band Blues Ball, hopes things will fall together quickly. "In the next few weeks I'll make a decision as to the vocalist, so I'd like to have a
Christmas release and a pre-summer tour," he says. "But I'm going to do a small tour before I do the record, to break the material in. Let it sweat a little."
-- Katherine Turman