Slash: Fretboard On Fire
The cover for the latest Slash album depicts all manner of pop culture with faces melting – in conversation with the man himself, BLUNT attempts to establish whether it’s a result of his blistering solos, or in reference to the title.
The artwork for World On Fire, the third ‘solo’ Slash album (and second in collaboration with Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators) is a painting by Texan pop artist Ron English. While Slash considers English a friend, the use of his Cerebral Celebration piece for the artwork of the album was, by his own admission, a last minute decision; and last minute decisions aren’t something Slash usually banks on when it comes to artwork. “I’m always very, very involved in the album artwork of any record that I’ve been involved with over the years – I come from that background because my dad did album covers and so it’s always been an integral part of the overall presentation of an album.”
His father, Anthony Hudson, designed albums for Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, and Slash himself has provided artwork for his own bands Guns N’ Roses and Tidus Sloan. The delay this time around was caused by the delay in naming the record, which in turn was caused, at least partially, by the fact that for the first time in his career Slash was laying down all guitar tracks (lead and rhythm) for the album to allow Kennedy to focus on vocals.
“We did this record really fast and I was just in the zone and then I realised we’re in the mixing stage and I don’t even know what the record’s called! In the back of my mind I had been waiting for something to pop up that would be like, ‘Oh that should be the title!’”
When nothing popped out Slash turned to song titles: “World On Fire really sort of jumped out at me. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that we did all the overdubs, guitars and vocals to the background of CNN and it gives you an idea of what a chaotic and scary and frenzied world we live in right now. World On Fire just felt appropriate, a much broader idea as an album title than it was as a song title because the song is sexually motivated, and it’s about just living life to the fullest and, you know, the last minute on earth, living every minute like it was your last. But as an album title it had a wider kind of meaning to it and could mean a lot of different things.
“Having established an album title it was like, ‘Fuck, we don’t have enough time to commission anything to get done, or to start getting into fucking around with some of my drawings and coming up with an idea, there was just no time, so I called my friend Ron English, who is a fantastic pop artist, but he’s a very sort of avant-garde kind of guy. I said, ‘Look, I’m looking for something that’s just total randomness and chaotic and crazy, nothing sort of related to itself’. He sent me a handful of paintings that he’d done and one of them was called Cerebral Celebration and I was like, ‘That’s it! That’s the album cover’.”
Some of the rapidly identifiable faces amongst the melting mess are those of The Simpsons’ Barney, Homer, and Bart. Slash mentions he’s heard rumours that the axe-wielding, behatted and longhaired Otto is based on him; given Slash’s two-decades-and-counting of influence and relevance, it seems reasonable enough.