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Credit: Ed Vill

Music

The two bands Slash thought were better than Nirvana

It’s strange to think that Guns N’ Roses came to the fore around the same time Nirvana started up as an underground outfit in Washington. Yet, Guns’ debut album, Appetite for Destruction, actually came out the same year that Kurt Cobain formed his band.

Guns N’ Roses, with their classic rock sound, have always felt a bit like 1970s heavy rock revivalists, and it is a bit jarring to think that they were making waves at the same time that the grunge movement was taking root. Clearly, Guns N’ Roses were never going to be tagged with the ‘grunge’ term any time soon, seeing as they were far more glam-inspired than some of their dirtier contemporaries.

Guns N’ Roses’ guitarist, Slash, once discussed the distinction between the grunge scene and his own musical venture: “It was kinda lame that music writers at the start of the ’90s could only create an identity for the Seattle bands by setting them up as anti-Guns N’ Roses,” Slash said. “I know writers like to consider the whole’ birth of grunge’ as the death knell for Guns.”

“But we were so big at that point that the emergence of the grunge bands didn’t really matter to us. Personally, I thought Nirvana were cool. I have four of their albums. But they weren’t as heavy or riff-oriented as Soundgarden or Alice In Chains. So those were actually my two favourite Seattle bands.”

It’s unsurprising that Slash loved Alice in Chains, seeing as their first album, Facelift, was heavily influenced by heavy metal. The grunge term was a bit of a journalistic throwaway anyway, especially when applied to Alice in Chains. In fact, Alice in Chains were the offshoot of singer Layne Staley’s previous band, the glam rock outfit Alice N’ Chains, though they insisted that their name had nothing to do with the style of Guns N’ Roses’ name.

Elsewhere, Slash drew comparisons between Cobain and Axl Rose: “I guess Axl and Kurt Cobain had some issues. But Dave Grohl is on my album with Duff [McKagan]. So at least one member of Nirvana didn’t hate me! I thought [Cobain] was brilliant; it’s a loss, but at the same time [it] was probably inevitable that he did what he did, but he wrote some great stuff.”

Nirvana had actually been invited to join Gun N’ Roses on their 1991 tour, but they declined the offer as Kurt Cobain felt the band did not really want to play in massive arenas in a support slot. Just as well then, that Slash preferred Alice in Chains and Soundgarden.