Former Slash’s Snakepit Singer Eric Dover Gives Detailed Interview About Touring with Slash and Recording ‘It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere”!

Eric Dover Gives New Interview Talking Slash’s Snakepit!

Former Slash’s Snakepit singer Eric Dover gave an interview recently to Al.com . I’ve included the snippets of the interview (and there’s a lot) where he talks about auditioning for Slash’s Snakepit, writing with the band, touring and rehearsing.

Eric, what do you remember about the audition for what became Slash’s Snakepit? I’d read the audition was through Slash’s longtime guitar tech Adam Day. Did it take place at (North Hollywood rehearsal studio) Mates or something?

I’d just got out to Los Angeles and was kind of sleeping around on couches. Me and Roger (Manning), we’d rented a little place up on Ventura just to write and demo songs and stuff, so I was driving around a bit. We were trying out drummers, at Mates, and one of the guys is a friend of ours named Marc Danzeisen, and he was the one who’d initially told us Slash was looking for a singer. And then of course I asked Roger and he goes, “Yeah, you should do this.” I got his blessing first. And as I remember auditioning for (Slash) it was just me and Adam and Slash’s old house, off Laurel Canyon, up Wonderland (Avenue) there. He played me some music. Played me what became the song “Beggars & Hangers-On,” and I kind of wrote the lyrics on the spot and sang it, basically. And that was a lot of the great thing, the challenging part about working with Slash was the music was pretty much already done, the rest of it was – the intensity of writing lyrics pretty fast. And Slash called me after that and asked me if I was into doing it and so I said, “Yep.” [Laughs]

 

There’s some cool video footage on YouTube of you and Slash as an acoustic duo, doing TV promo for the Snakepit record, including (MTV’s) “The Jon Stewart Show.” Slash is mostly known for his electric-guitar skills. Did performing with Slash in an acoustic setting make you appreciate something different about his playing?

Well, Slash is a great player on anything that he picks up, essentially. When we did that acoustic promo tour, that took us all over the world for a couple of months. We’d never even played a live electric gig yet. I can listen to Slash play all day because he has the phrasing that I want to hear, and really nobody quite phrases and milks a note quite like him. It’s pretty cool. It’s like (Carlos) Santana or somebody like that. There’s tons of feel in everything he plays and that’s even apparent on an acoustic guitar, I think.

After the audition, what’s the first time you recall jamming with Slash?

It was probably over at his house. Because we recorded that day for the audition, basically, so he already knew I could sing and what I could do, so I think the rest of the time I think we just sat on his couch with a few guitars and worked on some things. We both are massive Rolling Stones fans so we probably sat around and played a bunch of Stones songs for a few hours.

There’s a cool clip from the acoustic promo tour of you and Slash playing the Stones deep-cut “Jigsaw Puzzle.” Why’d you pick that song to cover with all the other great acoustic Rolling Stones stuff to do?

Well speaking for myself, I chose it because it sounds very sour. The slide guitar in it, it kind of bends your ear in this really devious way, but the song itself is quite epic too – it’s almost “Sympathy for the Devil”-ish in its lyrical bent, I think.

Did you make up all the “Beggars & Hangers-On” lyrics on the spot, during your audition?

Yeah, the bulk of the lyrics were there from pretty much the get-go. I think we changed a few words here and there during the process. When it came time to do the record, we would just choose a song a day, and they would stick me up in a little lounge and I’d lock the door and kind of conjure up things. And this was still the days of just having your Walkman and headphones. There wasn’t really a lot of internet to distract you.

You’d go upstairs and put together some lyrics and come right back down and cut the vocals?

Yeah, and then Slash would do the Jeanine (“This Is Spinal Tap” movie character) thing and go [imitates British accent], “Oh, that’s good” or “That’s shit,” you know? [Laughs] His feedback really helped to shape up the final thoughts, to give extra impact.

Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan is credited as a songwriter on “Beggars & Hangers-On,” but he wasn’t in the Snakepit band. I was wondering what Duff’s contribution to that song was.

Well originally, they had just gotten together and done that as a project. They didn’t quite know what would become of it, because Guns N’ Roses was still I think a bit in limbo at the time as far as what they were going to do, so pretty much everything hinged on what Guns N’ Roses would be doing. So I think when it came time to do the tour, still nobody knew and Duff – of course, I don’t know, he’d have to tell you – but he probably figured he better wait around for Guns, possibly. But Mike Inez was on the record.

So maybe Duff and Slash co-wrote the “Beggars & Hangers-On” music together?

They probably wrote the material earlier. That would probably be something I know the least about, because I basically just showed up and the tracks were done.

Mike Clink, who was behind the board for all those great, hit GNR records, also produced and engineered “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.” What was interesting about working with Mike?

I can’t say enough good things about Mike Clink. He’s a super nice guy but he’s also extremely supportive so he knows how to coax the best out of you. And he’s very patient as well. You don’t feel pressure when you work with him. And I really love his engineering and production work as well.

I’ve been lucky enough to interview Mike Clink before and he really is the best. So genteel.

A true gentleman. Exactly.

Your Snakepit vocals are pretty awesome and intense. What was inspiring you vocally when you were making that record because obviously Axl Rose is a great rock singer and this was the first band Slash was doing, after Guns had made it big.

Well, what I remember from doing the record that the mindset was that I was just going to go for it as hard as I could and really, really push. And really go for the rasp and that kind of vocal tonality. So that direction was basically kind of spelled out going in. We were making a hard, rocking record so I wanted to sound like my Ramen noodle bowl was getting yanked out from under me. [Laughs]

In 1993, Slash had come off the “Use Your Illusion” tour, playing stadiums and arenas, playing music from a record that was dense and epic. Next time out on the road he’s with Snakepit, playing theatres and clubs and that record is more of a punch-you-in-the-teeth deal. Did Slash seem invigorated being back in that scrappy vibe, that Guns had when they were coming up? I would think that would be a pretty electric tour to be a part of.

Oh, it was salad days. Slash was completely free and I think we had nothing but fun during that entire album cycle. You could ask him, but I think I could answer for him that there was a freedom there, for both of us. We took every opportunity to enjoy it as much as we could. [Laughs]

Gilby Clarke was the rhythm guitarist on that first Snakepit album and tour. He’d previously replaced Izzy Stradlin in Guns N’ Roses after Izzy left GNR. Obviously, Izzy and Slash were such a great guitar duo, but Gilby’s playing and tone on “Five O’Clock Somewhere” is fantastic too. What do you think makes Gilby, who you also worked with later, such a good fit with Slash, guitar-wise?

Gilby is a very cool guy. Very down to earth. As far as how it fit, it just kind of did – I don’t know if I can even quantify it and really compare him. A lot of what Gilby does kind of has a Johnny Thunders kind of thing. So, if anything was a little different, I would say you could maybe hear that influences out of it. But he’s a fine rock ‘n’ roller. He gets the swagger part.

Even now, Izzy Stradlin has such a mystique to him. Do you recall Izzy ever passing through Snakepit’s orbit back then?

Yeah, he did. He came to a couple shows and played with us. Izzy’s fantastic. I never really got a chance to know him. As you said he’s a bit mysterious to everyone, but he was always super cool with me. I’m also friends with Rick Richards (guitarist) from Georgia Satellites, who was in (Stradlin’s first post-GNR band) Ju Ju Hounds, so it kind of narrows the circle up a little bit.

Were there any outtakes that didn’t make the “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” record? If so, do you remember if they had a similar hard-rock vibe or were more bluesy or whatnot?

Gosh, I don’t remember. I did sing on, just kind of demoing around on things and maybe that turned into a song or what but I don’t remember there being too much leftover.

Did Geffen Records pull Snakepit off the road in hopes of getting Guns N’ Roses to do a new record?

Well, in so far as I know, they never said, “You’re done. We’ve got to get Guns back,” but that was making the most money for them so they were a very good label to work with even for Slash’s solo project. They really did everything they could to promote the record and we could see good results from their hard work. But I think they all were doing so that they knew there would be another Guns record and you can’t really blame them.