Guns N’ Roses Icon Reveals How He Ripped Off Slash

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Former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke revealed in a new Ultimate-Guitar interview that he had inadvertently ripped off Slash’s guitar sound when he joined GNR, which led to him changing his gear.

“Well, oddly enough, I’ve always been a Marshall JMP guy ever since I was a kid. I have pictures of me at 17 years old playing a Les Paul and a Marshall JMP. I always used AC-30s in the studio when I was recording. Somebody had one in a studio and I always thought it was a Beatle amp, I always thought if you wanted a clean sound, you go with an AC-30.

When I was in there, I turned it up and found that it had a beautiful saturated distortion with a lot more midrange. So when I joined G&R, I was a Marshall and Les Paul guy, just like Slash. He had a little bit more gain than me. Sometimes on stage if we both hit the same chord, I couldn’t tell who was hitting what.

So I switched over to VOX AC-30s during the G&R years. It really helped me separate my sound from his on stage and in the mix out front. So that is what really started the whole other side of my using AC-30s. When I was working with Slash in the studio, I couldn’t plug a Les Paul into a Marshall, I would just sound a lot like him. So I always used an AC-30 or, on The Spaghetti Incident?, it’s a ‘62 Fender Deluxe on pretty much the whole record.”

Slash’s Conspirators bandmates Brent Fitz and Todd Kerns were recently interviewed by Linea Rock. Ultimate-Guitar transcribed their comments.

Did the dynamics within The Conspirators change or your actual influence and decision-making power since the first time with the band?

Todd: “Well, in the beginning, like I said, we were supporting Slash’s solo record at the time, we were playing a lot of Slash’s music. At first, we were just supporting what he was doing.

“It wasn’t until we recorded ‘Apocalyptic Love’ in 2012 where we got to play our own parts on the record, Slash was never sort of dictatorial or telling us what to play, he was just kind of, ‘Do what you do, play how you play.’

“We were really involved in the arrangements and putting the songs together and always have been, really.”

Brent: “I think Todd and I, as bass player and drummer, have probably the strongest connection with Slash because a lot of the songs, the way they get developed, they do start with Slash, they start with a guitar riff, there’s always a great riff, he’s gonna get out and get an idea…”

Todd: “Not sure what he’s doing right now, he’s probably making a riff somewhere.”

You entered into the play right after, I mean, he composes everything by himself?

Brent: “It’s just him on a guitar with an idea. He’s saying, ‘Here’s something, what do you guys think?’ We’re pretty good learners…”

Todd: “At soundcheck – generally, on the road – we’re jamming, checking our monitors and checking our stuff, but at the same time, we’re jamming new riffs, new fun things he’s come up with.”

Which of the three albums that you’ve done with The Conspirators – ‘Apocalyptic Love,’ ‘World on Fire,’ ‘Living the Dream’ – do you think represents this band at its best?

Todd: “I would have to say ‘Living the Dream’ only because it’s the most recent and it’s been just that many more years of us just kind of gelling together. That’s not to say that we don’t have a connection to the other two records at all.

“In reality, even during our show, we play a giant chunk of all the records, so they were all different experiences. ‘Apocalyptic Love’ was the first time we’d ever been in a studio together, and it was a really magical experience. Eric Valentine was our producer, he was amazing, and just doing really creative things.

“‘World on Fire’ was a totally different experience, of course we’ve been together that much longer, but Living the dream was the first record we had our guitar player, Frank [Sidoris] play on, so in reality, it was the first time all five guys were actually on the same recording.”

Brent: “We had a long break from the first two records, and then ‘Living the Dream,’ actually, the reason it came together is because we had a lot of time apart which actually got us a little closer together, so I think the songs are a little tighter.

“It’s not that they’re more rock ‘n’ roll, but I think the feeling was really effortless to come together and put on a record, like, we just didn’t have to overthink it.

“The first day we jammed with Slash, we got back in the studio and ‘Mind Your Manners’ came within minutes, that was a good sign, we were, like, ‘Oh, it’s just like we haven’t really been apart for a couple of years,’ we just got together and, ‘Let’s write songs.'”

Did Slash approach with this band changed in some way after Guns N’ Roses reunion from your point of view?

Todd: “Not at all, there’s never really been a whole lot of discussion as to what something should or should not sound like. I think, in reality, it’s very organic and like we sound the way we sound.

“I will say that over the course of three records there’s definitely a sound to this band, there’s definitely a thing. Some of it is obviously Slash’s guitar, it’s such a recognizable thing, but the way we all kind of support that and then the vocals with myself and Myles creates its own thing too.

“I definitely think we kind of found our own sound by accident during the course of all the way from ‘Apocalyptic Love,’ ‘World on Fire,’ and ‘Living the Dream.'”

Todd: “I think to add the one thing that’s different is Slash was specific and saying, ‘We don’t need to play as many Guns N’ Roses songs.’ We do have our own body of work on these three albums, so that was a very conscious decision to say, ‘Hey we can play a lot of music from this band in the last nine years and we’re going to,’ so we basically play every song we ever wrote in the band live.”

Brent: “We’ve always played from the ‘Apocalyptic Love,’ we play all the songs from that record, and the next record, ‘World on Fire,’ with 17 songs, we still manage to play every single one of those songs live.”

I saw the setlist of the recent shows and I know that you know that Guns N’ Roses and Snakepit and Velvet Revolver songs disappeared pretty much, but there’s one song that you sometimes play, which is ‘Nightrain,’ it’s the only in the set. Why that one? Is there any of the other classics that you miss playing?

“I really enjoy playing a lot of those songs, we were just talking about it today, we used to play songs from the second Snakepit record, like, very deep cuts as far as the fans.

“The funny thing as KISS, fans we always talk about how it’s great to see kids play deep cuts, that’s because we’re Kiss fans, we want to see Room service or something like that. For us, it’s cool that we have the option to do so if we decide to play something that’s a little more, deeper that way.”