Slash and friends join forces to battle youth homelessness in Los Angeles during the Los Angeles Youth Network (LAYN) Rocks! benefit concert November 22 at the Avalon Hollywood.
Hosted by comedian George Lopez, LAYN Rocks! will unite musical talents Slash, Ozzy Osbourne, Perry Farrell, Tom Morello, Billy Idol, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, Travis Barker, Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother, Dave Navarro, and many others for a night of music and a step toward eradicating youth homelessness. Causecast's Brandon Deroche had the opportunity to talk with Slash about the night and get his take on the root of the problem.
This interview was originally posted on Causecast.org
CC: In recent times there seems to be somewhat of a shift taking place, with an emphasis on volunteering in local communities, and an overall emphasis on giving back. Do you think people are waking up to the idea of service?
Slash: Well, I haven't really thought about whether or not there is a shift taking place and people are all of a sudden deciding to give back. I do realize that there are a lot of people doing that, there are a lot of organizations doing that and a lot of celebrities all doing that, but I'm not sure if that's a new trend or if that's just something I've been more aware of, but I think it's a good thing.
CC: With something like a benefit concert, music is being used as a vehicle for social change. Do you feel music often serves that purpose well?
Slash: I think music is a great communicator, a great way to get people to listen. Musicians seem to be able to pull people together in huge crowds, and be able to actually communicate certain things, and people by and large actually listen. So it is very conducive to get people listen to a particular point or to draw people together on a particular idea.
CC: This is not the first time you've been involved with homelessness. Is there a reason you're particularly passionate about this cause?
Slash: The whole thing with helping kids get back on their feet when they've been in a situation where they're sort of homeless and helpless, confused, and abused, and all that stuff which is very relevant, I think trying to provide some security for them so that they can get a better focus to be able to get on with their lives is a great place to start when it comes to giving to any kind of a charity. I think kids are a really great place to start. My wife is on the board at LAYN and we're both supporters of this particular organization in Los Angeles, which does exactly that. They provide housing and wherewithal to homeless kids from 12-21 so they can sort of get their lives together and get on track, I think that's a great cause.
CC: There are a lot of big names playing the concert, which I can assume you had a lot to do with organizing. How did they respond to the idea, and what can we expect from the performances?
Slash: Well, you know, all the people that I managed to pull together to do this gig, it was really really simple, just a phone call. So, everybody was very enthusiastic, one to play but also for the cause. As far as the actual gig is concerned, we're going to sort of throw it all together and it's the kind of thing where you can't predict exactly what's going to happen. It'll just be a great night where everyone is playing and at the same time it's a complete total surprise because it's very spontaneous. I know it'll be a lot of fun.
CC: Besides the concert itself, what can people do who feel inspired and want to get involved?
Slash: I think the easiest thing to do is probably to get in touch with the folks at LAYN and they'll just sort of walk them right through it. It's really easy, they're very eager to have people, you know, come up and be supportive and make contributions or do any kind of volunteer work or whatever it is. They have a website that you can get in touch with them through which is LAYNrocks.com, there's a phone number, and at the actual venue there will be booths and ways of getting in touch with people if you want to contribute and be supportive.
CC: L.A. has over 10,000 homeless youth, Why do you think LA has such a large homeless youth population?
Slash: I think, you know, I don't want to say statistically, I think Hollywood is the kind of place where it seems to attract a lot of chaos anyway, and it's the kind of place where people are trying to get into the music business or acting business or trying to get whatever in life. Hollywood seems to be that kind of place where it's very difficult to do, and a lot of people seem to fall by the wayside. And then there are a lot of drugs and whatnot in Hollywood, and a lot of kids being pushed aside as a result of their parents getting involved with drugs and in jail...there's a lot of different things going on in L.A. that aren't really necessarily kosher, and I think kids fall pray to that a lot.
CC: As a musician, you have the ability to inspire people and turn them on to something of this nature. Has there been anyone in your life who has inspired you to want to be active for another person?
Slash: Well, I think it's the nature of what it is that I do for a living that makes me want to be able to reach out and help other people because I'm exposed to a lot of different kinds of people when I'm out on the road, all kinds of different cities and different environments, and you see a lot of that sort of stuff going on everywhere. It just raises that awareness, makes you want to be as helpful and do as much as you possibly can to contribute in some way. Especially living in L.A., because I see it all the time, I see a lot of it in Los Angeles and it's pretty sad. You can see where the circumstances, where it happens because of what's going on in different places, in different areas, and being subject to this sort of environment on a regular basis, it makes you see that there are different ways that you can help that are right under your nose.
CC: All this relates back in some way to the word 'peace.' Being homeless, you don't get to experience a lot of 'peace.' Everyone talks about achieving peace, so what does peace really mean to you?
Slash: I think when you think of peace, you think of as little conflict as possible, as little confusion and struggle as possible, being able to sort of relax and not worry about where your next meal is going to come from, or the next place you're going to be able to sleep at comes from, having some sort of basic serenity. I think that seems to be a good indication of peace if you've got all of those three things happening.
The Los Angeles Youth Network is a volunteer driven nonprofit organization based on helping over 10,000 homeless adolescents become self-sufficient by providing shelter, food, and counseling for the abused, neglected, and abandoned. An incredible lineup of passionate artists has been recruited, linking social awareness and entertainment together under one roof.
Read more Causecast musician interviews at www.causecast.org/music.
All photos by Erina Digby