Slash Says Performing Is His Biggest Motivator: ‘Love Every Aspect of What That's All About’ (Exclusive)

The guitar virtuoso is embarking on his S.E.R.P.E.N.T. Festival tour on the heels of releasing the chart-topping 'Orgy of the Damned' album

<p>Mat Hayward/Getty</p> Slash performs at the Paramount Theatre on Feb. 9, 2022 in Seattle, Washington

Mat Hayward/Getty

Slash performs at the Paramount Theatre on Feb. 9, 2022 in Seattle, Washington

For Slash, nothing provides more satisfaction than still giving fans exactly what they've come to expect from his legendary live performances for decades.

The guitarist tells PEOPLE in conversation at the Gibson Garage in Nashville that "the biggest driver for me" is "to go out and perform."

"As much as I love to write and come up with new ideas and go into the studio and record something and the satisfaction of doing something that you're pleased with and all that, it's all been a means as an end," he shares of how performance remains paramount to him.

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He continues to note, "I love playing. I love every aspect of what that's all about," adding, "the part that really drives me is that I love to be able to go out and play in front of an audience."

<p>Scott Dudelson/Getty</p> Slash performs onstage in support of his new album ;Orgy of the Damned; at Amoeba Music on May 29, 2024 in Los Angeles, California

Scott Dudelson/Getty

Slash performs onstage in support of his new album ;Orgy of the Damned; at Amoeba Music on May 29, 2024 in Los Angeles, California

Despite noting how a lot of performing, to him, is "flying by the seat of your pants," the "Sweet Child O' Mine" creator takes solace in remembering, "You have a structure of a song you get to play and sort of mess around in the middle of, it's like a sandbox."

"And so that is what excites me, and it keeps me doing it," he adds.

And the artist — who has covered more musical ground in a few decades than most can hope to achieve in a lifetime — is taking that love of playing on the road once again, but this time at the wheel of his own project: S.E.R.P.E.N.T. Festival.

According to the Grammy winner, S.E.R.P.E.N.T. is an acronym for "Solidarity, Engagement, Restore, Peace, Equality N' Tolerance" — which identifies the tour's charitable efforts involving The Equal Justice InitiativeKnow Your Rights CampThe Greenlining Institute and War Child.

"S.E.R.P.E.N.T is a vehicle to help support and uplift people and communities suffering from the injustices of racism and equal rights violations, as well as to support children adversely affected by war and poverty across the world," Slash shared in a press release on his website.

<p>Ethan Miller/Getty</p>

Ethan Miller/Getty

Coming hot on the heels of the Rock Hall of Famer's Orgy of the Damned album, which enlists guest features from the likes of Chris Stapleton, Iggy Pop and Demi Lovato to cover iconic songs from blues history, the star notes how dabbling in blues music has "been sort of kicking around in the back of my mind forever,- since the nineties."

Related: Slash Announces Summer 2024 S.E.R.P.E.N.T. Festival Tour Dates: 'Celebration of Blues and Rock 'N' Roll Music'

"But at one point during the Guns tour last year, it was really loud in my head that I wanted to do this blues record," he explains of the thought manifesting into Orgy of the Damned, which has since spent five weeks at the top of the Billboard blues chart.

"The fact that it's been so well received at this point is like a trip to me for sure," Slash reflects on the album's success, while looking forward to continuing to dabble in his love for the blues and live performance at S.E.R.P.E.N.T. Festival, which kicks off July 5 in Montana and ends Aug. 16 in Arkansas, a project he says he has "put all [his] effort into every detail that [he] possibly can."

"It's a new environment for me. I'm looking forward to it just being a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to really being able to open up and play my ass off for two hours every day for a couple months, and then also jamming with some of the people that we're going to be touring with. And then just the whole new experience," he shares.

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