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Interview with Matt - The Music Network, January 20, 2012

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Interview with Matt - The Music Network, January 20, 2012 Empty Interview with Matt - The Music Network, January 20, 2012

Post by Soulmonster on Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:55 am

In the made-for-TV version of life, rock bands break up for clear-cut and profound reasons, but in reality the situation is often far more mundane and prosaic. From all accounts, Matt Sorum’s tenure as the Guns 'N’ Roses drummer came to an unceremonious end in a recording studio car park sometime in 1997 after a particularly heated verbal exchange with singer Axl Rose. What followed is well documented, with Sorum and former bandmates Slash and Duff McKagan reuniting to form the supergroup Velvet Revolver with vocalist Scott Weiland from Stone Temple Pilots.

What is less widely known is that, by this time, Sorum had already begun to branch out into several other fields. As might be expected, he built a recording studio, produced a few records by other artists and started some side projects just for fun; notably Camp Freddie, his revolving- door party band, fronted by whovever happens to be in town that night, and Diamond Baby, his glam-rock outfit with his wife, in which they perform in character and costume as Baron Von Storm and Ace of Diamonds.

In person, at Sydney’s Hard Rock Cafe, where he’s been flown out to smash a guitar at their grand opening (yes, you read that correctly), he is physically much leaner than might be expected, and certainly far more talkative and erudite, chatting excitedly about having recently written his first string arrangement, forays into kinetic photography and about his role as executive producer in an upcoming documentary for which he procured several of his celebrity friends (Depp, Love, Rourke, etc) to talk on camera about the secrets and mysteries of Hollywood’s famed Sunset Strip.

Underpinning all these diverse endeavours seems to be the simple desire to capture a moment in time, and that most elusive of qualities, interpersonal chemistry. While obviously content with finally having achieved creative and financial freedom, Sorum is quick to point out the importance of a good producer to motivate and unify a band’s resolve. “We need someone to slap us around a little bit. I think I could produce a great record, but it’d never work, ‘cos the band wouldn’t listen to me. They take it more personally when they know you. But I produced a lot of records that other people have had their names on. A lot of the Guns ‘N’ Roses stuff was really us; [Use Your Illusion producer] Mike Clink was more of a babysitter. He’d make sure we all got to the studio on time, and that was about it. You know, he used to say things to me like ‘Go in the studio and sing some harmonies’. Like, ‘What do you want, Mike? A third, a fifth?’ ‘No, just sing something’ – that kind of shit. But [Libertad producer] Brendan O’Brien was a different kind of animal. He sits down with a guitar, and can fuckin’ play every instrument in the room. But, he was in a little bit of a hurry. Maybe it sounded great, maybe the tones were good, maybe the parts were cool, but were the songs there?”

Sadly, sometimes people simply just don’t get along, regardless of how good their producer or musical chemistry is, and in 2008 Scott Weiland exited the band, leaving Velvet Revolver once more in the rebuilding phase. “The vibe on [debut album] Contraband was that the energy was unified,” Sorum explains.

“We were a band. When we made Libertad, not so much. We’d made a lot of money again, got a Grammy, we were back on the top of the heap, but then trouble arose. Drugs came back, alcohol, money, all the demons of the rock and roll business resurfaced their ugly little heads. And the managers, and the vultures, and the fucking sycophants, it creates conflict. And you’d think as you get older that you would be able to decipher all that.

“Unfortunately, before you know it, it’s on top of you. When the money comes, it gets pretty ugly and it’s amazing how quickly people write you off when you slip a little bit. I’ve been up and down in the business so many times, and I still can’t believe it. I’m like, ‘Wow, this is happening to me again?’ ” I ask whether any of this has made him jaded or forced him to develop a thicker skin. “No, but I do tell people to fuck off now,” he laughs.

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