Slash & Myles Kennedy Break Down Every Song On New Album '4'

Slash has reunited with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators once again as they have officially released their fourth full-length studio album, appropriately titled 4.

Produced by Dave Cobb in Nashville, 4 follows Slash and Myles' 2018 album Living the Dream, and the new project showcases ten new songs, including previously-released tracks like "The River Is Rising," "Fill My World" and "Call off the Dogs."

To celebrate their new album, Slash and Myles recently sat down and broke down each song on 4, including how the songs came about, and the meanings and stories behind them. Read on below.

Track 1: "The River Is Rising"

Slash: "'The River Is Rising' is the newest song that I wrote on the record. Most of the material was written around 2018 and 2019. Right before we went into pre-production I just made up this riff, and it turned into 'Rivers Rising,' and so it's the most [recently] written song on the record. And it's something that came together in my little studio in LA, and it was just very spontaneous. I can't even remember how it all came together, it came together really quickly. But, it rocks, and I thought it would be a good track for the opening of the record. 'The River Is Rising' song is I'm excited to get in front of an audience and play that."

Myles: "This track was interesting in the sense that when I got it from Slash, the basic demo, it just grabs you right outta the gate. It's like a real proclamation because it, at actually one point, wasn't even considered as a contender, believe it or not. That's the funny thing with songs. It's like, when you're trying to figure out what the first 10 were gonna be that I don't know if that was on the list, so I'm glad it made it. It's basically, from a theme standpoint, about kind of that cult of personality and how that affects people. And, just that you've seen throughout history, that's kind of a timeless theme that always rears its ugly head."

Track 2: "Whatever Gets You By"

Slash: "['Whatever Gets You By'] is one of my favorite songs on the record. I love the riff and the grind, and it was something that I definitely heard in my head, and it took me a while to figure out exactly what it was that I was hearing 'cause it has this sort of, more of a stomp nature to it than it actually had notes. But once I figured it all out, it's a real simple arrangement and it's really just focused on that riff."

Myles: "This track, it's funny when you listen to the lyrics, you probably think it's about maybe some sort of... I don't know. It's got kinda this nasty vibe, right? And it definitely has the groove. And the overall vibe of the song might not be as congruent with the lyric. 'Cause what the lyric is actually about is, is all these day traders on Robinhood. I know that sounds crazy, but I thought it would be really interesting to try and tell a story. Beause you see how people are so addicted to their phones and to their apps, and I thought, 'Well, what if you made it kinda fall in line with that?' But instead of it being obvious about a sexual relationship or something, it was more just your obsession with Robinhood."

Track 3: "C'est La Vie"

Slash: "'C'est La Vie' has been around for a little bit. I think I first started working on that riff on the 'Living the Dream' tour, and a lot of stuff gets written in hotel rooms and then we work on it at sound checks. That's been pretty much the nature of how we do things. And that particular riff came up in some hotel room, I can't remember what city or what country, and then it started to develop over the course of sound checks from that point on. And then, during the pandemic, when I started putting demos together, that was one of the things I definitely wanted to revisit, and I put the voice box on it and it just sorta came together."

Myles: "It's one of the first songs that we had from 'The Living the Dream' Tour. I remember we were working on that in a venue. It's funny because a lotta times, when I hear the songs, I remember the genesis of the moment that we started playing it together. And I think we were in Poland or somewhere, in an empty arena, and started jamming the riff, and so it's fun to see how that's come together over the years. Because it's something that you never know, when your first jamming, where things will go. But the narrative ended up being about somebody kind of... Or essentially finding the strength to move on. Like, you could be in an abusive relationship or something that's just not healthy, and it's that moment where you take charge and you decide to move on with your life."

Track 4: "The Path Less Followed"

Slash: "I think 'The Path Less Followed' is a piece of music that might be the oldest song on the record. It was a melody that was just stuck in my head and I think I originally showed it to the guys, it might even have been at the tail-end of recording, Living the Dream. And it's just something that I've been wanting to see materialize, and when I finally started putting together demos for this record, for our fourth record, [I] revisited that and finally got it together and sent it to Myles and here it is."

Myles: "'Path Less Followed.' That lyric is almost a continuation of a song we had on the last record called 'Boulevard of Broken Hearts,' which is essentially words of advice for anybody who wants to follow their bliss. Be it getting in the music industry or the entertainment industry, or just anything that is not the status quo where you're doing something where you're following your heart and you're doing something that you have to do. Like, someone told me a long time ago, they said, 'Be a musician because you have to be a musician not because you want to.' And it's the idea that if you're gonna take that chance and essentially march to the beat of your own drummer, it's a long, hard road, but in the end, it's worth it."


Photo: Austin Nelson

Track 5: "Actions Speak Louder Than Words"

Slash: "I remember the origin of this was in South America. We were in Brazil and I'd come up with the melody and then started working on it at soundcheck. So the song arrangement developed over every country in South America that we played on the 'Living the Dream' tour. So, Brazil, São Paulo, Brasília, Argentina, Chile, all these different countries that thing was slowly but surely coming together."

Myles: "That's another one that's older. That's another one that I can remember we were in empty arenas all over the world, as that was kinda coming to life. And, once again, it's a song that took a few different turns, a few different arrangements until we finally were comfortable with it. So, it was cool when Slash started putting the demos together, and then it was solidified even more by that point. I had enough distance from it where I could have a fresh perspective, and that's really important 'cause sometimes when you're working on songs, you get so immersed in the process that you aren't able to look at it from 30,000 feet. So, when he sent the final arrangement, it was really easy to just go, 'Oh.' Any melodic concerns I might've had, I had that fresh perspective where I could go, 'Oh, this melody here is fine. This is great.' And it was done really quickly just in, like, a day. So that's always a positive thing."

Track 6: "Spirit Love"

Slash: "'Spirit Love' is just a pseudo Middle Eastern kind of grind. It started with the intro, and that just influenced the rest of the rest of the song. It's another one of my favorite ones on the record."

Myles: "'Spirit Love' is a song that tells a story of someone who thinks that they're having a relationship with someone or something in kind of this spirit realm, like a ghost. But as the narrative progresses, they realize that they've actually crossed to the other side as well. I have no idea where that came from. Sometimes I'm like, 'I'm a twisted man. Strange human being.'"

Track 7: "Fill My World"

Slash: "'Fill My World' is a really simple little melody thing that I came up with and put together, pretty much the entire arrangement over the course of one sitting. And [it's] sort of a mid-tempo ballad kind of a thing. But, Myles really put a gorgeous melody over the top of it. That's really what made the song happen for me."

Myles: "That's probably my favorite track on the record, and it was about... I don't know. It was a few years ago, and I was on the road, and my wife, she comes out and visits me, and we oftentimes will leave our dog Mozart, he's a little Shih Tzu, with friends or with the petsitter or whatever. And so they had dropped him off at the house to be unattended for a little while, but my wife was supposed to get home to take care of him. Well, this storm rolled in, so she couldn't get home, and all we had were the cameras inside the house just to keep an eye on how he was doing, and so we watched him. It was heartbreaking as the night progressed. The storm was getting really intense, and he's super sensitive to storms, and we always have trees and branches that'll hit the house during those storms and it really freaks him out. So, he was panicking. It was kinda heartbreaking, and so I thought that song would be written from his perspective. Like all the things if he could articulate it that he would've said during that horrible night. It's interesting because when I sing that song now, and even when my wife heard it, she kinda teared up 'cause you can see that. You can see just the panic. I mean, it's a dog and so people might think, you know, maybe if you're not a dog lover you're not gonna get it, but if you're a real dog lover, there's a certain empathy. Your canine empathy will kick in when you hear that song."

Track 8: "April Fool"

Slash: "'April Fool' is another song that's been around since the 'Living the Dream' tour. It was a cool riff and a cool arrangement all the way up until we went into the studio, and then we actually toyed around with it for a second and it came out really good. But, the original inception was back in 2019."

Myles: "That's another one of my favorite tracks on the record. I feel like the overall vibe of it. I was real happy with the melody. That was one of those melodies where it sticks in your head, and that's important. I wanted it to have a certain hook element. But as far as the lyric goes, it's really, and we've all been there, where you're in a situation, there's a dynamic with another human being or whatever, where you're always kinda playing the fool. This song touches on that, and the idea that, again, ultimately you have the last laugh. So, something we all can relate to and all hope to see one day."

Track 9: "Call off the Dogs"

Slash: "'Call Off the Dogs' is one of the newer songs on the record, and it was really when we first got into the studio to start pre-production. I always come up with something that we can jam on. And this was that particular riff that I just came up with on the spur of the moment that we could just fall into and start playing, 'cause sometimes you can get into the room together, and if you start thinking about what you're gonna play, you can stand there for an hour trying to figure it out. So, I always make up something so we can kick into gear right away."

Myles: "'Call Off the Dogs' was another one of those tracks where Slash sent the demo and I really liked the overall vibe of it. I just felt like it needed a chorus. Kinda like 'River Rising' where it was this really great groove and one of his signature riffs. And so, took it and cut out like eight or 16 bars, whatever it was, put some drums down, and played a guitar part, and bass and whatnot, added a melody, and sent it back to him real quick. And this is the beauty of technology is you can do that. And we were 1,200 miles away from each other and said, 'Hey, you know, what do you think of bringing this section in for a possible chorus?' And he was totally cool. I mean, that's the thing that I love about working with him is — he's always been that way where he's open to whatever as long as it serves the song. So, that song is definitely another example of that every time I hear it."

Track 10: "Fall Back to the Earth"

Slash: "'Fall Back to Earth' I actually wrote when I was on safari in South Africa in 2019. It was just a melody that I heard, and I'd taken my guitar to Africa with me and came up with the chorus melody line, and then put together some of the verse parts and whatnot. It took a while to really sort of get to where the arrangement is now, because it's one of those kind of songs that's got a lot of different parts and how they tie together was really important. But, it came out really nice. I'm really proud of it."

Myles: "That is a track that, to me, when I hear has elements of the signature Slash thing. Like, that melody, that is Slash in a nutshell, and that's what he does. It's one of my favorite things that he has in his bag of tricks as a guitar player and as a musician, as a writer. As far as what I tried to bring to the table on that, it was definitely... Now that I hear it, once it's done, I can definitely hear my appreciation and respect for David Bowie. It's definitely got Bowie elements. And I think that the lyric is something that I've seen time and time again in this industry where people gain the world and then lose themselves in the process. And so, this touches on that and the idea that, you rise and you fall that there's someone there that'll catch you in the end. Looking at it from a friend's perspective and seeing somebody who's falling into the rock and roll cliché, and letting them know that, 'I got your back. You're gonna be all right.'"

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