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2005.01.DD - Metal Edge - Breaking the Big Machine (Matt)

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2005.01.DD - Metal Edge - Breaking the Big Machine (Matt)

Post by Blackstar on Sun Dec 16, 2018 2:19 am

Breaking The Big Machine

BY PAUL GARGANO

“We’re all slaves to a big machine / All tied up to a big machine / I got houses / Got cars / I got a wife / I got kids / Got money in the bank / Get away without borders / I’m a slave, New World Order / I guess I chose to be… Hope I teach my son how to be a man / Now before he hits 35 / Comic book lives don’t really have any real life do they now” – Velvet Revolver, “Big Machine”

While the video for Velvet Revolver’s latest single, “Fall To Pieces,” is an autobiographical nosedive into frontman Scott Weiland’s world of addiction and chaos, it’s “Big Machine” that might best summarize the key to Velvet Revolver’s success. All veterans of the music industry’s “big machine,” Weiland and former Guns N’ Roses bandmates Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum have not only graduated from the machine, but they’ve done so with honors, achieving super-stardom, and learning from the mistakes that could have – or, should have – killed them.

Velvet Revolver began as rumored super-group with the odds stacked against them, but have quickly evolved into America’s next great rock’n’roll band. How did it happen? In last month’s cover story, we sat down with Slash, McKagan, and guitarist Dave Kushner. This month, we join drummer Matt Sorum, and Scott Weiland, who broke his self-imposed silence in this Metal Edge exclusive…


[...]

METAL EDGE: Scott said Europe got a little rough…

MATT SORUM: In my opinion, it was a rough tour in the amount of giging that we did. I think it was the hardest tour that I have ever done, and I remember telling management right before we left, “Okay, six-and-a-half weeks in Europe – How many days off?” They were like, “Two days off…” That’s fucking crazy! We’ve got four days in a row here, we’ve got another four days in a row with a record signing and a television show and no time off, and that part of it was a beating. Psychology, as far as going in and playing the smaller venues, I think those kick ass. There were a few that were fucking brutal as far as like temperatures – we did one in Germany, and it was just like a sweat box – but they weren’t all small clubs, they were all like theaters. We did the Hammersmith Apollo in London, which is a great theater…

ME: Heading into the release of the album, was there any worry that it wouldn’t be received as well as it was?

MS: No, because I always felt that we were in the right arena, at the right time period, and at the right label. It seemed like the timing was right, everyone was in the right mindset, there was a really good vibe around the band, and we were getting along really great. Take something like the vibe when I got back together with the Cult – With that band, when we made the record Beyond Good And Evil, we were trying to make a record to go with the times. When we went in to make the Velvet Revolver album, we didn’t give a fuck what was going on around us, and I think that’s what made it stick out. It’s a pure rock album, even though, subconsciously, it might have taintings of modern elements – Like with the production, and rhythmically there might be something happening, a couple of D-tuned guitars, but that was all subconscious stuff.

ME: Seeing you live, the chemistry as a band is impressive.

MS: I think the beauty of it is that we all kind of know what kind of rock’n’roll we want to thrown down, it’s a collective feeling. We all get up there and do our thing, we all get up there and play rock’n’roll. Even for Scott, I would say this is the hardest rock band he has ever been in, and it’s the hardest rock band I have ever been in. It rocks a lot harder and a lot more aggressively than GN’R ever did, with the exception of Axl and his high scream, but it’s got sort of a harder edge to it. Stone Temple was very much buying into the grunge thing, and a lot of it was real slow. The last song on Contraband, “Loving The Alien,” a couple of us didn’t want on the album – We kind of did it for fun, and it came out completely different than the rest of the record. But we thought that it was a good song, and we thought, we’d give people a little extra added something that’s just a little left of center. But I just wanted the record to fucking rock from the get go, and never let up.

ME: You have been through GN’R, you have been through The Cult, Scott’s been through STP – You’ve all been through bands before. Now that you’re a little older, you’d think the tendency would be to mellow out a bit – Especially when you look at the track record of other bands that have sobered up over the years.

MS: I really feel, especially for Slash and Duff, that there was a lot of underlying anxiety and pent-up frustration about the GN’R situation, and when it was finally unleashed on the Contraband album, it really came out in a really aggressive, cathartic way. I had really been holding a lot back that came out through the music, and I know Slash would tell you that he finally had come to the realization of how he felt after GN’R broke up – We were all highly suicidal, and I was really strung out on drugs, and it’s like, “Fuck, I was just in the biggest band in the world! Now what?” Slash will tell you the same thing, and Guns was more his baby than anybody’s. I have never known of anybody to pour so much of himself into the music and the band as Slash does – His whole life revolves around that. I mean, he has his family right now, but the top priority for Slash is still to get onstage. I am the same way. When GN’R broke up, we didn’t have jack to go to, it was hard on all of us. We all went out and explored our own identities, but we never seemed to touch that feeling that we had already achieved.

ME: Do you feel like you have achieved that with Velvet Revolver?

MS: You know, I feel better with this band than I did with GN’R. There is something about this band. I mean, we could do so much more collectively, with the members of this band – We want to talk to each other, and we all want to make music together. GN’R turned into a Gestapo – It was run by one guy who had his vision of what Guns was supposed to be, at that point. In this band, we like hanging out together and playing music with each other, it’s like we can’t wait to come up with a new riff. With Guns, we’d come up with a new riff and Axl would be like, “That sucks!” Nobody says, “That sucks,” now. We completely have an open mind throughout. I even wrote a couple of the riffs on the album – I wrote “Set Me Free” and “Spectacle” on guitar, and to have the band sit and listen to me play guitar at this point in my career, that was like a great, great moment for me. To play guitar in front of Slash, that’s fucking really good. That’s like a really, really cool vibe, and that’s what we are all about – We all know that if you shoot people in the foot, if they are trying to show the best that they could possible be, you are never going to have the best thing to show for it.

ME: When we did the photo shoot [for last month’s cover, and this feature], we had Cheap Trick’s Live At Budokan on, and Scott said that “Surrender” would be a cool cover for you guys to record – You’ve recorded it since then, right?

MS: Yeah, we did.

ME: What other covers have you recorded?

MS: We did “No More, No More” and we did a version of “Tie Your Mother Down,” but we haven’t finished it. I mean, we have a few things up our sleeves – We are doing covers and b-sides, because we feel like laying down some covers instead of giving away a very good song. It’s a cool thing for people to hear out interpretation.

ME: It’s not very often in the music industry that you could say something is a sure thing, but it seems like “Fall To Pieces” is as close as it gets. Do you go into something like the release of that single with anticipation? Having been to the heights that you have been through?

MS: The label was all about “Fall To Pieces,” and we were like, “Alright…” I wanted to wait, do that third, and let the second single rock a bit. I mean, K-Rock [Los Angeles] is playing “Big Machine” already, and there are other stations playing it, too, because it’s what they want to play. But “Fall To Pieces” is starting to come up now, it’s getting heavy rotation on VH1, it went to No. 1 in Active Rock, and it moved up to No.7 at Rock, is No. 1 on mainstream… We’re starting to see sales come up. The thing about the video was, it scared the record company. We were like, “This is the kind of band that we are, we are an honest rock band. We are not going to go out and make a mushy pop-rock video.” We make videos that are meaningful to us. The first cut of it was a lot heavier than that, even – There was a lot more sex, and more violence. When we were making the video, I remember thinking that it just felt really good. Because we are such a working band, we could get the amount of work done in two days, that it used to take Guns two weeks to do, because Axl wouldn’t show up – “Don’t Cry” probably took us a month, and “Fall To Pieces” took three days.

ME: The success of the song should make your next tour here in America even bigger. I hear finding an opening band was a challenge...

MS: We can't find a band to open for us! Our agents are like, "Chevelle..." "Fucking Chevelle? Fuck, no!" "Hoober-what? Who’s is that?" Have you heard the Burning Brides? We talk to the promoters and they are like, "They don't sell tickets..." I am like, "Fuck, why don't we just go out, and play a venue even though it's smaller, so we don't have to go through all that?" I hope that the work that we have done in the last four, five months of touring is going to make people want to come see the show. We are going to add a lot of production, really cool lights, lighting and visuals, and play more music and a lot of different stuff.

ME: It took you a long time to find a singer - Was there ever a concern that you weren't going to find anyone?

MS: Dude, there is this VH1 special which documents us, and it was done over almost a year-long period of putting this band together - When you watch that, you will see the frustration in all of us, but probably most apparently in me. Let's just be realistic - Slash and Duff, they wrote fucking Appetite For Destruction, you know what I mean? Me? I am a working musician, "Let's get onstage and play some rock'n'roll!" I ain't hanging out for ten years while you are coming up with this genius rock album, dude - I want to go play, and I will. I said to Slash and Duff, "This ain't a fucking hobby for me, if this is a fucking hobby, and we come down to the fucking rehearsal studio everyday and rip ass, fuck that! We need a singer, and we need one now!" I paid my fucking dues long enough to not put up with that type of bullshit. I mean, when I moved to Hollywood in the early-'80s, I would be the guy that would go up to a club, meet another musician, and I could just look at the guy and tell if he is any good. I am like, "This guy is a fucking douche ball, there is not way he could play..." I always had a feel and a sense, and I think between all of us... Slash and Duff, they know how many more bands I was in before GN'R, so these guys would just come into the studio [to audition], and I would just be like, "No fucking way!" Slash and Duff would be like, "Awe, give it a chance..." "Chance? What the fuck? What's going on here? He got his chance to drive here, send him home..."

ME: Was the audition process that rough?

MS: Guys like Travis [Meeks], from Days Of The New. I was like, "Oh man, I can't believe we are having this conversation..." We had Axl Rose, one of the greatest frontman ever - Not just of the early-'80s and the early-'90s, ever! It's like Freddy Mercury, fucking Ozzy - We have to find a guy who has charisma, and a rad voice and melodies. I remember saying, "Someone like Scott Weiland..." They were like, "Yeah, Scott Weiland." And, I mean, all the great ones are insane! Look at Tommy Lee - He's a great fucking rock'n'roll drummer, and he's out of his fucking mind. All the great ones are nuts!

ME: Are you insane?

MS: [Laughing] I am just an okay drummer!

ME: Just, "Okay," so you're allowed to keep your sanity?

MS: Yeah, I can't put myself in the same category as Keith Moon or John Bonham... Then again, I am still alive! With all the frustration that we went through at the beginning, we all knew that it would be so strong, knowing that we have all been there ourselves. I was like, "I need a shirt that says, 'I have done more drugs than you, I just never got caught.'" We have a great opportunity to go out and play rock'n'roll, why fuck it all up? So we just stuck by him, and we knew that we were going to get through that point if we hung with him and got him through all this shit. We have a lot of camaraderie going on - I don't know how it went with the Stone Temple Pilots thing, what that situation was, but I think maybe they just dealt with it differently, with more anger, and tougher. It's not like we babied him through it, we just supported him in a different was than his old band. There was probably a ton of damage done [with STP] - There was too much resentment, I think anything that would happen, would just build... With us, we've all been through it. He may have been able to pull the wool over their eyes, but he couldn't pull it over our's - We've been there, so if he's on something, we're going to know it. We just worked our way through it...

ME: Does it get easier as it goes along? Is it easier with Velvet Revolver than with Guns N' Roses?

MS: Oh yeah, just like anything in life, you learn to appreciate things more, and you just don't take them for granted. It was such a wild rid with Guns, that it was really had to hold on, it was just fucking endless reckless abandon. There was so much drama, and there were so many people with their hand in the cookie jar, and in that situation I felt so out of control - My destiny was appointed by a guy that I didn't really like. It was like that guy was controlling my life and, now, I actually have something to say in this band. We know how much of a good thing we have, so we are not going to fuck it up.

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