As copies of Appetite For Destruction flood eBay and Discogs off the back of some shows by an invigorated (depending on what you read / see) ‘Most Dangerous Band In the World’ (© GN’R 1986), we continue to explore the GN’R related albums that folks have forgotten …
Slash’s Snakepit – It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere
Geffen Records, 1995
Shortly after wrapping up the Use Your Illusion tour, Slash hunkered down in his home studio (The Snakepit) to continue work on material he had written on the road. He was joined by fellow Gunner Matt Sorum, as well as ex-Gunner Gilby Clarke, and Mike Inez of Alice In Chains. Rumour has it that Slash intended the tracks for Guns N’ Roses, but after playing the demos to Axl Rose, the Rosemeister decided he wasn’t interested (hearing Chinese Democracy you can understand why, right?). So, Slash took the songs, enlisted Eric Dover (guitarist for Jellyfish) as vocalist, and The Snakepit set about recording their first album.
Recognising that Slash was a brand of his own, and I dare say acknowledging they would likely shift more units, Geffen insisted that the band be called Slash’s Snakepit.
The big unveiling was the ‘Southern rock’ tinged Beggars & Hangers-On; a co-write with Duff McKagan that sounded like Slash was channelling The Black Crowes. Though there are a few stylistic detours – some more pop punk thrash in the form of Gilby Clarke’s Monkey Chow and the murky instrumental Jizz Da Pit – the overall vibe of It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere is very similar. This is hard rock with some blues leanings and loads of guitar slithering around in the spaces.
AllMusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote ” most of his playing is quite amazing. It’s too bad that nobody in the band bothered to write any songs”. Which I think is a bit harsh. Trust me, aside from Slash’s pretty exceptional playing, there are some pretty great songs and, well, it’s a pretty splendid album.
Don’t get me wrong, they could have shaved a couple of tracks off the top, but don’t let that put you off. See, when It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere is good it’s really good. At it’s best, it’s the album we wanted from GN’R. That said, the best tracks here are those that just couldn’t sit in the GN’R canon – like Clarke’s Monkey Chow, Lower or Soma City Ward. Sure Slash has an unmistakable sound and style, but there’s something a bit darker lurking here.
The Snakepit are a bunch of great players with their own influences and influence, too. Each contributing something – Inez’s deep bass grooves, Clarke’s vibrant rythms, Sorum really plays with a sense of freedom that I don’t think we heard on the majority of the Use Your Illusion albums (the intros, fills, how he accentuates, and dictates the flow of a song really highlights how great a drummer this chap is), and then there’s Dover out front. He’s the kind of vocalist that the material needs, too. He has a raw energy, but avoids overcooking the vocal or sounding postured or insincere. In fact, there’s a certain gravity to tracks like Neither Can I or Dime Store Rock.
“For the first time in years, touring was easy, band mates were loads of fun and low on drama, and every gig was about playing rock and roll.” – Slash, 2007
With no action from GN’R, the band hit the road in support of the album. Inez and Sorum didn’t tour due to other commitments (Slash enlisted James LoMenzo and Brian Tichy as replacements). At some point between wrapping up their last date and booking another leg, Slash was ‘recalled’ by Geffen and told that there would be no more touring, cause the Rosemeister was ready to resume the Guns N’ Roses business. Slash’s Snakepit was no-more.
“I was informed by Geffen that they’d sold a million copies of It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere and had turned a profit so they saw no reason for me to continue our tour. I was to return to L.A. because Axl was ready to begin working on the next Guns N’ Roses record. They’d thought it through: in case I objected, they made it clear that the financial tour support for Snakepit was over.” – Slash, 2007
Following his departure from Guns N’ Roses, Slash revisited The Snakepit idea. However, there was no Dover, Inez, Clarke, or Sorum. Which is a shame, cause for all that GN’R were ‘The Most Dangerous Band In the World’ (© GN’R 1986), this was the most ‘dangerous’ Slash had sounded in years.
The new line-up recorded one album (2000’s Ain’t Life Grand) and had a stint supporting AC/DC before disbanding in 2002 (which isn’t such a shame).