Slash Slashes His Way Into Film
Even though he's best known as one of the top rock guitarists in the world and has sold millions of albums with Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver and his own solo projects, Slash has just finished producing his first horror film.
In the vein of classic '70s horror, Nothing Left To Fear is the first film to be released under the GRAMMY winner's Slasher Films banner. It will have a limited theatrical release on Oct. 4 before its Oct. 8 release on DVD. The film's soundtrack, featuring music written and produced by Slash and Nicholas O'Toole, will also be released via direct-to-fan site PledgeMusic on Oct. 4.
In an exclusive interview with GRAMMY.com, Slash discussed venturing into film, his work with The Recording Academy's health and human services organization MusiCares, memories of his first career GRAMMY win, and the one collaboration that has eluded him.
Congratulations on venturing into film with your own company, Slasher Films. Has this been a lifelong ambition?
No. It came out of nowhere, and the only way I can put it is that I had absolutely no aspirations to be a movie producer, but [I've loved] horror movies ever since I can remember and I had a very rare conversation [with another producer] where I got to express and vent my passion for horror movies — what I think is wrong with the new ones and what I think is great with the old ones. It was, from the ground up, developing this particular script and getting it to where we wanted it, and then going and casting and getting the director and meeting all these distributors … and announcing Slasher [Films] as an entity. It was really an interesting and tough struggle to get the money [for] an indie kind of thing, and it was fun.
After this first experience, are you hungry to do it again?
Yeah, I'm looking for scripts now, trying to find that story or script that has the right elements that I can sink my teeth into and say, "This will make a great Slasher film." A lot of people are sending me stuff now and it's all roughly predictable. So I'm definitely looking for something different and I want a memorable sort of villain — something you could make a Halloween costume out of — something with a personality. And we have to have good actors. I want to concentrate on spending money on actors as opposed to CGI or any other of the expensive elements of making a movie.
You, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum have been strong supporters of MusiCares. What was it about MusiCares that appealed to you?
[It's important] when people are in need and you're able to facilitate, in some way, shape or form, to [be able] help them out. And it's inside of a community where we're all relatable. Just to be someone [who] can be there for them. I like to be able to give whenever I can in situations where I'm capable of doing it.
Why do you think MusiCares is important for the music community?
There are a lot of musicians I've known over the years [who] have gotten themselves — me being included — to that "hitting bottom" point. You need somebody and a lot of us don't have family to rely on necessarily, or maybe we're just too far gone for family to be able to relate to. So there are people who have been around the block a few times [who] have seen and have been through a lot of the things that people are going through and can help them out and who the person in need can trust. It's an innate thing that just works. The people who are providing the care have been through it and can understand and relate, and the person who is suffering can feel comfortable and can trust the person they're dealing with. It's private, for the most part, until the big MusiCares [MAP Fund benefit concert] where they get up onstage, and they've been sober for a few years or whatever. I think it's a really great organization.
You won your first GRAMMY Award in 2005 for Best Hard Rock Performance for "Slither" as a member of Velvet Revolver. What do you remember about that night?
We got there too late to accept it [laughs]. It was exciting, though. Velvet Revolver was a pretty f***ed-up entity by that time, and the fact that we'd achieved that accolade for that song was very cool. But that was it. You love a GRAMMY if you get one; otherwise you don't think about it.
You've collaborated with an amazingly diverse group of artists — from Michael Jackson and Carole King to Iggy Pop and Fergie. Has there been anyone who has eluded you?
Well, Stevie Wonder and I have mentioned playing together a handful of times, and we still have never done it. That's the only one that comes to mind. The rest of them — there's not any forethought. It's something where you meet in the lobby of a hotel or you're at a function, or something, and maybe you're introduced. And you naturally get to talking music, and you think you might wanna jam sometime, and that's how those things really are born. The only time I've had to put some forethought into working with other musicians was when I was putting together my  solo record [Slash] with all the different singers. That was really the first time where I had to reach out to set musicians to be able to work with them. Other than that, it's really a spontaneous thing.
You've accomplished so much in your career. What has been the most rewarding aspect of it for you so far?
Anytime you work on something you feel very passionate about, and you go through the whole process of developing it and seeing it through to fruition, it's pretty rewarding. It's not really what comes as a reward or result of that. It's really just achieving. I think it's the whole thing that the chase is better than the catch. It's really the process of doing stuff that I love. You love when success happens, but really, the most rewarding thing is the process.
(Nick Krewen is the Toronto-based co-author of Music From Far And Wide: Celebrating Forty Years Of The JUNO Awards, a contributor to The Routledge Film Music Sourcebook and has written for The Toronto Star, TV Guide, Billboard, and Country Music. He was a consultant for the National Film Board's music industry documentary Dream Machine.)