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2004.05.19 - Toronto Sun - It's GNR With A Little STP (Duff)

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2004.05.19 - Toronto Sun - It's GNR With A Little STP (Duff) Empty 2004.05.19 - Toronto Sun - It's GNR With A Little STP (Duff)

Post by Blackstar on Fri Aug 21, 2020 9:59 pm

It's GNR with a little STP

VELVET REVOLVER: ROCK'S BAD BOYS ARE BACK ... FROM REHAB

By LISA LADOUCEUR, SPECIAL TO THE TORONTO SUN

VELVET REVOLVER wasn't designed as a supergroup. It's just that when half your band is rock royalty, you can't give the crown to a clown. That is why, when former Guns N' Roses members Duff McKagan, Slash, and Matt Sorum needed a singer for their new band, they chose Stone Temple Pilots' superstar frontman Scott Weiland.

"We listened to a lot of singers. We didn't consider any of them," says bassist McKagan, on the phone from his hometown, L.A. "When Slash and Matt and I got together, we said we weren't going out unless it was amazing. There's a pedigree we have. We can't just be okay. We knew we'd find the right guy."

Scott Weiland was that guy, they decided. The fact that Weiland suffers from a well-publicized drug addiction, which has landed him in and out of rehab and court, was not a problem.

The problem was that he was already in a band. And so, the three musicians with reputations bigger than Sunset Strip hairdos circa 1985 went looking for a real rock singer. They struck out.

Still, on the GNR name alone, they were asked to contribute music for films The Hulk and The Italian Job. Just then, Stone Temple Pilots broke up.

"I called Scott and told him we had these two soundtracks and he said, 'Tell me when to be there,' " says McKagan. "The moment he walked in, we knew he was the first real guy. A lot of guys come in and see Slash and can't take it, but he swaggered in, and wasn't intimidated by us. It was perfect."

For their part, the band wasn't intimated by Weiland's addiction.

Having recovered from substance abuse themselves, and having worked with notorious egomaniac Axl Rose in GNR, they can handle anything.

"Scott's a piece of cake compared to Axl," says McKagan, laughing. "He's one of the fellas. A lot of people freaked out that we got a singer with a drug problem. Really, Slash and I, our problems were 10 times worse."

Velvet Revolver's debut album, Contraband (out June 8) sounds like what you'd expect: GNR topped with STP. But mashing two great rock bands together doesn't automatically equal brilliance. (See: Audioslave.)

McKagan says the veterans were determined to inject Velvet Revolver with a sense of danger, and for the most part, they succeeded. Recorded in just under three weeks, the disc is loud, rife with big riffs and unabashed solos on standouts like Big Machine and Do It For The Kids. It's not revolutionary, but it rocks hard.

Lyrically, Contraband bleeds with Scott's honest accounts of life as a broken man dealing with divorce through drugs. It seems like an eerie sequel to Alice In Chain's 1992 disc Dirt. Thankfully, there's hope that Weiland won't suffer the same fate as Alice singer Layne Stanley, who died of an overdose in 2002. Contraband is playful, not despairing, with a relieving sense of redemption.

Clearly though, Weiland is still at risk. To shoot the video for Contraband's first single, Slither, the singer required a day pass from rehab. In the clip, designed to mimic Parisian catacombs, Weiland appears frighteningly skeletal. Still, a Velvet Revolver tour is a go, including a sold-out show at Toronto's Kool Haus Friday.

"Scott's come a long way," says McKagan. "He's got his family back. He's very grateful. So it'd be hard for me to imagine him doing anything to shoot himself in the foot. He doesn't want to let us down, he's going to do everything in his power to make this work."
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