The band has yet to decide upon a name or a lead singer, but they’ve already got a TV show in the works. What’s commonly being referred to as “The Project” — a regrouping of ex-Guns N’ Roses members — is being documented by VH1 as a behind-the-scenes look at how the band gets constructed, from the songwriting, singer search and studio sessions to whatever the end result may be. But don’t call the constant swirl of TV cameras monitoring Slash’s re-pairing with Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum a “reality show.”
“That sounds exciting,” Slash said, “but realistically, ‘documentary’ and ‘reality’ are two different things, and when you say ‘reality show,’ it just sounds stupid, as far as I’m concerned. There’s something inherently wrong with the whole concept of reality shows. With the whole slew of reality things that are going on right now, watching everybody’s trials and tribulations, the stupidest aspects of everyday life, or whatever it is that goes on, usually border on stupidity.”
Instead, Slash has classic rock documentaries — “backstage stuff from Zeppelin, that kind of thing” — in his mind’s eye, though he concedes that he doesn’t exactly know how this will turn out (neither, by the way, does VH1, as it’s still a work in progress).
“What we’re doing with VH1,” Slash explained, “is just documenting what we’ve been doing as far as looking for a singer, and then [we're] going into the studio and all that kind of stuff, basically — just the whole process of putting this band together. They’re not going to our house and coming out with us to dinner and going with us to the gas station and watching us fight. So let’s put that whole reality concept to rest.”
Slash said that he doesn’t know when the show will air, since it’s contingent upon his bandmates filling the vacant singer spot (see “Former Guns N’ Roses Members Form Band, Don’t Rule Out Courtney Love As Singer” ). Auditions have been ongoing, with the recently added feature of cameras rolling in the background. Slash said that it hasn’t changed the dynamic of the tryouts too dramatically.
“There’s only really a couple of guys shooting, and they sort of become part of the scenery so they’re not real intrusive,” Slash said. “So when somebody comes in, at first we don’t really pay much attention to the whole shooting aspect because these guys really aren’t in everybody’s faces. They’re really sort of at a distance. They’re all over the place, but never right in your way. And so what basically happens is if somebody’s coming in to audition, we sort of hint at the fact that there’s cameras around, and ask if they’re cool with that.”
A long list of vocalists have tried out, including former Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach, Buckcherry’s Josh Todd, Neurotica’s Kelly Shaefer and Psychotica’s Pat Briggs, while actress Gina Gershon and Waylon Jennings’ son Shooter, who fronts the L.A. rock band Stargunn, have stepped up to the mic for the band’s few live appearances thus far (see “Gina Gershon Fronts Ex-GN’R Members At Sundance Concert” ). Since VH1 started documenting the singer search, at least three more solid potentials have tried out, with only one of those declining to allow cameras to roll.
“There’s been so many people since Sebastian,” Slash said, “but I’m not going to name names. I’m trying to be discreet, just trying to be cool about who comes in and all that kind of stuff. That aspect of it is a bit private on both ends, you know what I mean? As soon as I get somebody, I’ll make a long list. I’ll mention a couple of people — with their permission — of who tried out. But as we speak right this second, we haven’t chosen anybody.”
On the need-not-apply list? Heavy metal-screamer types. “As soon as we hear that, we’re just, like, not really into it,” Slash said. “We’ve had a lot of demos of like Judas Priest-type stuff, a lot of the Sum 41/Good Charlotte-style pop punk, pseudo punk rock kind of guys.”
More female singers have also tried out since Gershon took the stage with the band at Sundance, but Slash thinks that ultimately they’ll end up with a guy. “We haven’t closed the door,” he said, “but at the same time, we’re used to working with guys all the time. But you never know. It’d have to be someone really uniquely gifted for this thing, somebody with the real growling kind of rock and roll voice.”