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2004.04.DD - Rock Feedback - Interview with Slash and Duff

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Post by Blackstar on Fri Aug 21, 2020 8:21 pm


Brief description: A press-conference reveals all on Slash's new guise.
Location of interview: London, UK.
Date: Winter 2004.

‘It’s not a supergroup,’ stridently declared former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash of his newly formed, star-studded Velvet Revolver.

Yes – unfathomable, since VR includes Slash’s G’n’R compatriots Duff McKagan and Matt Soren, as well as Dave Kushner of Wasted Youth, and, oh yeah, former Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland. Yet Slash adamantly insisted upon the band’s roots as being assuredly ‘organic’ at a press conference in the Gibson Guitar Shop near Soho last week (Weds 24th March).

‘We had no intentions… of making it what you call a supergroup. We were so f**king innocently just wanting to f**king play,’ Slash detailed, lounging in flaming leather pants, classic bike jacket, and signature hair flowing freely. In a gravelly, phlegmy timbre, McKagan too reiterated the natural genesis of the group; ‘the stars aligned, and this thing f**king happened’, apparently.

VR took derivation in 2002 at a benefit concert for Randy Castillo, wherein Slash, McKagan, and Sorum musically reunited, and sparks flew. With a ‘chemistry too f**king perfect to ignore,’ as Slash felt it to be during the benefit, the G’n’R boys decided to act. Slash, McKagan, and Soren soon enlisted Wasted Youth guitarist Dave Kushner to join their metal militia, but the vacancy remained for that idyllic lead singer.

‘It was like pulling teeth,’ sighed Slash of the frontman audition process; hell, listening to over 200 vocals on tape every week would wear on anyone’s nerves, you envisage. Yet, after searching for about nine months, Stone Temple Pilots happened to break up (conveniently), and Scott Weiland was free to roam – well, almost.

‘Scott was my favourite rock and roll singer more or less since Guns came out. At the end of the day, he was the one we all wanted and nobody else even came close,’ enthused Slash. After being prepped with some VR musical material, Weiland then came into the studio to see if his collaboration would complete the dream team.

‘He swaggered in, he got on the mic, and f**king sang this thing with the same passion, with the same language that we (Slash and McKagan) speak,’ said McKagan of Weiland’s instinctive connection to their musical patois.

But some tweaking was necessary – Weiland has had his plate somewhat full of late, dealing with every rock-star’s essential mid-career slump: drug rehab, and a divorce. When asked if Weiland’s troubled narcotics history gave the other VR members hesitation, Slash was quick to refute any puritan snobbery, admitting that Weiland’s drug problems ‘... actually attracted us... That made us feel a little bit more comfortable...’

Yes, no strangers to a life of sensational debauchery, Slash and McKagan understood and empathised with Weiland’s recent plight – especially easy enough to believe seeing as they chain-smoked throughout the entire conference. And, besides, according to Slash, Weiland is ‘amazingly f**king focused,’ and ‘doing great.’ Recent press reports that he has been released from hospital, with the approval of his doctors.

But the actual sound of this ‘non-supergroup’? Inevitably a natural history of rock and roll of the last 20 years, with a little forward focus. With Weiland’s grunge-era vocals, and Slash’s chillingly sharp, virtuoso solos, Velvet Revolver create a harder, darker sound than either G ‘n’ R or STP had on their own.

Of the material... single ‘Slither’ boasts grappling guitar, drilling steadily behind Weiland’s sensual drawl, and when the vocals end, the hair-metal guitar solo begins, and listeners either raise an almighty fist to the air, or gag. The not entirely-unmelodic chorus of ‘Sucker Train Blues’ juxtaposes a lingering chorus with staccato verses, crafting an aural speed chase and atmospheric outro that could, should last longer. And ballads are not forgotten. ‘Fall To Pieces’ has a touch of a recycled ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ in the chord-structure, and while not unpleasant, bears not the precious fruits of VR’s emotive angst.

Clearly, ‘supergroup’ or not, it’s evident that VR blend historical rock-eras which have in turn informed one another: G’n’R enlightening the grunge movement; and Weiland now bringing his inimitable vocals to the fore of a barrage of baroque rock.

‘We’re gnarlier than ever… we’ve gotten into more of an aggressive mode than probably ever,’ McKagan reflected conclusively with childlike enthusiasm for the new project.

And while watching Slash strut into the dusky twilight across Charing Cross Road in full leather garb and sunglasses some few minutes later, his dark locks floating in the breeze, ‘gnarly’ couldn’t suit the whole thing better. One can almost hear the seminal guitar solos start up already.

-Lauren Gallagher


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