Slash, the lead axeman of hard rock legends Guns N’ Roses, is an undisputed icon. From his sunglasses to the long black locks that flow from under his top hat, there are many reasons that signify Slash’s legend, be it the pertinent or the trivial. Still, one thing is sure, his guitar-playing is of the rarest kind, and there’s no surprise that we’re still discussing his brilliance today, over 35 years since her burst onto the scene.
Duly, for someone so revered, Slash is a sage when it comes to music, and everything he has to say regarding his profession has legions of disciples take note with concentrated ears. Whilst he has given his opinion on a whole host of matters of the years, recently, in an interview with Music Radar, the Guns N’ Roses legend revealed his thoughts on modern studio technology, and surprise, surprise, he’s something of a traditionalist.
During the interview, Slash posited that advanced studio technology is taking the human element out of the recording process and diminishing the true spirit of rock. “The human dynamic of people working in the moment, and especially working as an ensemble, there is a lot of little things that go on,” the guitarist said.
Adding: “There is a lot of communication […] that really comes across in the playing and the way it sounds, and what we have got into the habit of doing is just producing everything to the point where there is nothing organic about it.”
He wasn’t totally dismissive of new technology, though, maintaining that technology works for other genres of music outside of rock ‘n’ roll. He opined: “I mean, the advent of the hard drive made people go crazy, and people were making records from all corners of the Earth […] We were all sending them in; ‘Isn’t this great!?’ And that was the novelty of it, and I think it has worn off and we are starting to realize that the integrity of the music is totally lost in this fascination with the ability to do that.”
Slash continued: “I think for rock’ n’ roll, all of the greatest rock records, for the most part, are done pretty much in a live setting, or in a very stripped-down, raw setting where everybody is playing more or less together, and I think that is something that comes across in what you’re hearing. You can’t put your finger on it. It’s there, and it’s something that makes records exciting. Being in a rock’ n’ roll band is to be able to go in and be as good as any of those people that didn’t have the luxuries of what we have today, where they only had three takes and they were out!”
Slash does make a valid point. Many of the best rock records were made in a raw, stripped-down setting, giving them a human essence that is timeless. However, music and times are changing, and even though people such as Slash may be aware of the difference between contemporary recording techniques and older ones, music is all about ease and accessibility at this moment in time.
One would argue that it has probably changed for good and that the sort of processes that Slash favours will probably never be the industry standard again. You never know though; things are cyclical.