Interview with Frank Sidoris from The Conspirators

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By Mark Derricutt

Starting his professional career as a member of The Cab, Frank Sidoris soon found himself among the ranks of The Conspirators, touring and recording alongside Myles Kennedy and guitar legend Slash. Mark Derricutt caught up with Frank just before Christmas to discuss the upcoming shows in Tauranga and Auckland, touring life over the holiday season and everything in between.

Hey, Frank, it's Mark here - how are you?

I'm good man, how's it going?

Good - So, it's great to talk to you. Where shall we start? You’re rhythm guitarist for Slash and you've been playing with him now for the last two albums, or were you on the first album?

Yes, so, I played with the band once it was considered the Conspirators, so, the band initially started with the band Slash. Under the name just Slash featuring Myles Kennedy. He had him, Myles, Brent, Todd and this guitar player named Bobby. Then eventually they wrote their first album together and Bobby was gone and so they needed another guitar player. That's when I came in. That's when they changed the name to Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators because they had created a product, on their own, creatively. As time went on, did another album and I played on this last one. The first one I played on was Living The Dream.

As part of that, was it more of a band as a Conspirator - were you involved in any of the writing with any of them, or was it you’re a session musician? How does that actually play out in these situations?

This album, the way it goes, as far as the writing process ... The writing process in general with Slash is always the same. We will go to sound check and he'll have some kind of riff ready and prepared just that he came up with, whether it was in the dressing room or the night before. He'll just start playing it at sound check. Me and the guys will usually ... Brent will always, play something on the drums, and then we'll all just kind of mess around and then it just gets some sort of skeleton. Some kind of framework. Maybe the next day, at sound check I'll be like, hey, I was thinking about this and why don't we play it like this.

He'll usually have it recorded, and over time, whenever the tour is over or something, or anytime time permits, we will go to some kind of rehearsal space and just kind of jam it all out. Record it and get a better idea. He was very ... everyone comes up with their own parts for the most part. All of it was our own stuff.

For me, I mean, the way they did it this last time was, Slash, Brent and Todd got in a room, hung out and just kind of really solidified the framework, then, sent that all to Myles, and then Myles came up with some stuff and then they sent it all to me. Then I wrote my parts to his parts essentially. Everything I played, I'd say 90% of its mine unless there was one thing Slash really wanted to play. A part that he thought fit best with whatever he wrote. That was only a couple times so it's cool. It's very much our record, as a team.

That's cool. I always got this kind of idea... I've been listening to Slash through Guns and Roses growing up. Being such a legendary guitarist, I always wondered is there an ego there? What's he like to work with? Not really ego, but, you hear some musicians are very controlling given it's essentially a solo project but it's a solo project with Myles and the band, the Conspirators. Is it considered a solo project still?

No, no. I wouldn't consider it a solo project at this point. I mean, that was his thing. Slash said it. He didn't want it to be titled just Slash but you can't not do that.

You gotta put your name in it. It's definitely like, he likes the idea of it, of being a part of a band and calling it a band. As far as like if he's controlling or how he is to work with, he is definitely a very easy going guy. It's all good. You consider what he's been through in his life. It's the last thing he wants. In his band life, specifically. The last thing he'd want to do is be confrontational. He's not that guy. He's just super cool. He's always been just very relaxed and it's all fairly casual. Yeah, it's definitely, over seven years, it's blossomed into something very cool. Something that he is very excited about.

I don't know, I didn't do the research on this. but a fun fact is that, I think, the longest running band he's ever been a part of, I think. Because if you consider ... I think that's what they said. In Guns, I mean, that wouldn't really count if you went from when Guns started, but they were saying from Appetite on, until Slash left or something like that. I forget, something like that. It was an interesting fact that I have to fact check but I thought that was a fun little fact.

Oh, no. I've been in the band ... Let me back it up. I've been in the band seven years. This has been going on nine years, almost ten years.

Over those last ten years, how do you see the band has changed? Is it keeping the whole vibe and the whole energy going? Is it harder to keep going? Is it easier?

It all seems to flow very naturally with this group of guys. There's no pressure to do anything. It all has happened fairly organically. You know? Again, we'll just go to sound check. Again, we do love touring together. It's like; it's such a great group of guys that would hang out. We all hang out outside of the band anyway, so. Just playing music together is great. Again, as it went on, the band was put together; Slash got a hold of Brent. He heard about this Brent guy and Brent finds Todd and Brent found me. Myles sang on the Slash album and it just so happened that everybody is very much in the same boat. We all feel the same way about a lot of things. It's just a very easy going process. Nine years later, it's still the same. I don't see it ending anytime soon. It's definitely one of those things that if it needs to stop, it'll stop. I believe Slash has said it too. It'll go as long as we can make it go. We enjoy doing it.

What's touring life like? I was thinking, I've come to this interview in the last week that I'm at work here. We're heading into Christmas. You guys are doing two shows down here in New Zealand at the end of February. I think on the 25th and the 26th. How does the touring schedule and stuff like that work with Christmas, New Year’s, holidays? Do you actually like get downtime or is it full on working and "What Christmas?"

Yeah. Normally, our touring schedule will always break for the big important holidays unless something specific comes up. I remember, one time, we did a gig in Aspen, the 25th of December. Do you believe it? Think. It was like the day after. It's usually ... we have the time to do the family stuff, but this break, after our very first leg that we just did in the States, we had about two months of a break, which is nice but now this next run is two and a half months long, spanning Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. There's very little downtime after all this though. After the holiday season, we're gonna be gone. To answer your question, we definitely have ... we always break for the important family time. It's not the worst. It's actually nice to be home for a bit with everyone and then take off.

That's actually good to hear, because I hear the occasional horror stories of people just being away on tour and just not being able to do that.

It happens. Definitely happens. We've been fortunate in the way that everybody's had the time to relax.

Your first band, was it The Cab?

Yeah. I was playing guitar for them for just under a year.

I'm not entirely familiar with them. Is that still going? Are you still involved with that at all or are you just... I suppose your nine years, ten years with Slash, that's you moved on, I guess. I'm not sure where I was going with that.

Yeah. The backstory on that band is I played with them for about a year and it was kind of a home grown band that I joined. They were from Vegas and I joined them after the drummer and the guitar player left. I joined with a new drummer as well. I had just known the drummer in Slash's band from living in Vegas and so over time, he knew me and he trusted me to be a good reference in the Slash world. He said hey, if you can make it down here to L.A. for an audition just to play some Guns songs and some of the Slash stuff. See how it goes. No promise of anything, just, you know, to throw it out there. In the end, it just ended up being ... I had to leave. I was in Toronto at the time, on tour and I flew out to LA on Super Bowl Sunday and auditioned. And then flew back onto that tour. Then Slash called me four days later. I'm still in touch with those guys in The Cab too, every now and then. They're good guys. I think they've disbanded like a year later or something. It's crazy. Yeah. It was a fun transition for me.

The Cab was, I understand, your first professional band in air quotes or…

Yeah. That was the first band that I ... yeah. I had been in bands before in Vegas and whatnot but I had never officially, like, you know, done any global tours. The Cab was a big enough band that we had gone to ... we did Sound Wave in Australia. We did Singapore, the Philippines, Japan, I believe China and then Canada. It was fun. I had definitely been around but it was never on the grand scale. In a band of like Slash's magnitude. That jump up was fantastic for me. As a fan and just as a person to grow, it was just wonderful.

That's awesome. That is quite a, I guess, promotion. That's going from one level to just the extreme level. That's quite a dream come true.

It was very fitting for me too. Yeah. I mean, it was definitely more fitting as far as the band wise. Who I was playing with. It just made more sense for me because in the band that I was playing in, it was funny because I would still play a Les Paul in a pop band and it was cool. People respected it but moving onto Slash's world made a bit more sense.

After this tour run, where are you guys going next? Do you have any songs kind of fleshed out or noted down for yet another album?

I think this next round we're going all over the place, and in a short time, because I believe Slash has been a busy guy, so it's been a lot of trying to figure out when we could all get together and make this happen. The booking has been very tight. You can see, as far as the dates, we start in January, in Singapore and then just we're off to the races for months and months. All of the stuff is getting announced at the moment but it's gonna be two and a half months going to New Zealand, Europe, Asia and then next I know we're doing South America and it's just non-stop. We're gonna cram it all in as fast as we can.

And then eventually, as time goes on, I know it's a safe bet that when we go on this tour, Slash is gonna present new riffs and we'll be writing to them and there's always a good chance that something could come of that in the future. No pressure. There's never any sort of rush to do anything but there's always the hope of another album down the way.

Time for a live album. DVD kind of combo.

Oh yeah. I agree. That would be great. I think it is time for a live album. Because the last one we did was at the Roxy. That was cool. It'd be fun to do it somewhere overseas or, you know. It's appropriate to play live shows in L.A. and record them cause it's a hometown show for him.

I would love to do a live album - we actually did one thing in Australia awhile back. It was called "mosh cam live" or something. It was a big arena and they set up there and it was like one of our first live things that we had done as the Conspirators. He had live albums with the Slash band before I was in, before Conspirators was a part of the title. Yeah. I'd love to do that. That's something we work toward, to do. We really love to play. That's the idea, playing live and presenting it properly. Just getting out there and doing what we love. We're always game for something like that. We'll see how that goes.

Awesome. Well, it’s been great talking to you. It's been great talking to you.

It was a pleasure man. Thank you.

SLASH FT MYLES KENNEDY & THE CONSPIRATORS

Tauranga Friday 25 January Baypark Arena - Ticketek

Auckland Saturday 26 January Spark Arena - Ticketmaster