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2004.06.DD - Aardschok Magazine (Netherlands) - Oldtimers Back To The Garage (Duff)

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2004.06.DD - Aardschok Magazine (Netherlands) - Oldtimers Back To The Garage (Duff) Empty 2004.06.DD - Aardschok Magazine (Netherlands) - Oldtimers Back To The Garage (Duff)

Post by Blackstar on Sun Aug 23, 2020 6:12 am

Oldtimers back to the garage

Velvet Revolver; new band, familiar faces

While singer and crash pilot Axl Rose kept delaying the comeback album of his band, Guns'N'Roses, his former bandmates haven't been sitting still. Bassist Duff McKagan, guitarist Slash and drummer Matt Sorum founded Velvet Revolver in 2002 and re-enforced themselves with guitarist Dave Kushner (ex. Wasted Youth) and singer Scott Weiland (ex Stone Temple Pilots). Their debut 'Contraband' will be released this month.

CAREFUL

Duff McKagan stretches out his thin arm and points at one of the buildings at the Hotel Chateau Marmont. "That is the John Belushi-house," crackles his voice. In that white-plastered place, the American movie star (the fat one from the Blues Brothers) snorted himself to death in March 1982. Literally. A night out drinking at the Roxy and the Rainbow ended in this luxurious hotel with a last and fatal line of coke. "There is something about this hotel," the bassist points out. "More celebrities died here." (laughs) "I'll be extra careful today."

Chateau Marmont, that towers above Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, is todays location for the interviews with Velvet Revolver. The band was founded in 2002, when three former members of the once successful rock band Guns N' Roses (Duff McKagan, Slash and Matt Sorum) got together again in a rehearsal studio. There still was an apparent chemistry and the threesome decided to continue as a band and to look for new recruitments. Finding a singer proved to be an especially hard task. Courtney Love was considered but wasn't available. The same goes for Josh Todd from Buckcherry and Kelly Shaefer from Neurotica. They finally picked Scott Weiland, whose band Stone Temple Pilots had just collapsed from the umpteenth drug-related incidents. They found a second guitarist in Dave Kushner, who was previously a member of Wasted Youth.

NO-NONSENSE

Last year they already released a first song ("Set Me Free") on the soundtrack for the Hulk. For the introduction of their debut album, the band chose another legendary place, just a few days before the interviews; the Rainbow. The hideous brown shack, also on Sunset Boulevard, owes lots of its fame to the wild 80's. In that decennium, the club was a haven for all hair-bands in Los Angeles. This is where the musicians from Ratt and Dokken washed up after a night's rehearsal. This is where the members of Motley Crue rolled in their own vomit. And this is where Lemmy met drummer Mikkey Dee, to recruit him for Motorhead immediately. The singer/bassist still lives crawling distance from his favourite pub, and arrives with Joan Jett, also on the evening when Velvet Revolver's first album blasts from the speakers. It's a great record, so it seems. No-nonsense rock and roll. It's a typical album of a band who doesn't want to fight, but just wants to play. Slash's solos are obviously recognizable and remind you of Guns N' Roses, but Velvet Revolver's style is closer to STP. During the release party, the famous 80's come back to life for a moment. There is lots of booze and after the listening party, famous and anonymous friends and colleagues drop in. Bassist Duff McKagan holds on to a Japanese journalist and signals that he wants to learn a few fighting techniques. After the writer's initial suprise, he complies and shows some moves. The American imitates them diligently, but it seems like he is the leading character in a slow motion movie. Drugs destroy more than you like.

REHAB

It shows again a day later, when the heads are uncovered under the relentless Californian sun. Years of drug use gave Sorum, McKagan and Weiland a parchment-like skin. McKagan has an additional problem from time to time of finding the right words. Only the tree-tall Slash looks healthy as ever. For Scott Weiland, the drug-related troubles are very recent. During his years in Stone Temple Pilots, he was frequently taken off the streets by the police for using drugs. He spent most of 2003 in rehab and was only allowed to leave to record his vocal tracks. Upon his return at the clinic, he'd have to take a urine test, which he passed most of the time.

"That party yesterday was cool," says bassist Duff McKagan, contently. "We've heard the new record on a regular basis the last few months, but always in the studio. We were always analyzing. Can we make this vocal line better, or do we have to change that piece of bass? This time, we heard the music as it was meant to be; during a party. And I believe that the music was appreciated by everyone, right?"

AXL

Aardschok: First about the past. How did the definitive break with Axl come about?

Duff: That's a long story, it's a fact that the band fell slowly apart at the end of the 90's. Attempts to glue the band together failed because it was impossible to make good agreements with Axl. There were also many differences in opinion. He wanted a so-called modern sound with an important role for electronica. I just want to play in a rock and roll band. So there you have it.

Aardschok: When Axl performed with his new Guns N'Roses last year, he instructed the bouncers explicitly to keep you guys, his ex-bandmates, out of the venue.

Duff: Yeah, what can I say? It hurts, it illustrates his incertainty and paranoia. It's a shame that it all had to end like this. Guns N' Roses was at one point a great band and I feel bad that it's turning into a bad joke now. I mean, how long has that record been postponed now? How much money has that whole adventure cost?

GARAGE

Aardschok: You decided to rehearse again in 2002.

Duff: With all the publicity and business affairs, the music had disappeared into the background. We went into our rehearsal space and cranked up the amps. The chemistry was there. the old magic returned instantly. It felt a bit like our time in high school: making noise in dad's garage. The time of back-yard parties, punk clubs, putting up flyers and playing for free beer. Everyday we were looking forward to the rehearsals. It had been a long time since we had felt that way. We wrote about sixty songs in no time. But it proved to be very difficult to find a good singer. Eventually we heard that Stone Temple Pilots crashed and that Scott might be available. And he appeared to be our golden boy.

Aardschok: How did Stone Temple Pilots end?

Scott: The band imploded during the last tour. After a show, a quarrel between me and Dean DeLeo turned into a fist fight, and that was the end of the band. During the recording of Contraband, he appeared to be working in the same studio. I didn't know. I just bumped into him in the hall. I had a choice. Continue the fist fight or talk about it. I chose the latter.

Duff: (laughing) Because you weren't really physically able to do the first.

Aardschok: Did you know quickly that Velvet Revolver was the ideal new band for you?

Scott: I just waited it out. Much of the music was already done and I wanted to know if I could add something useful to that with my vocals. And also if I could connect with the guys on a personal level. In both cases I quickly had a very good feeling. Only the songs themselves, I didn't really like. Of the 60 songs that were done, we eventually only used 6, and we wrote 6 new songs.

PERSPECTIVE

Duff: The recording process went very quick. It was just a matter of weeks, after that we had the basics on tape.

Aardschok: Scott, you were in rehab all of last year. Did that interfere with the recording process?

Scott: I had to use my days off to sing my vocals. That was pretty difficult. But nonetheless working on this album gave me a perspective to my life that I needed really bad. I have a rought time behind me. A few years ago everything seemed to be fine. I was clean and had a wife and children. After my divorce, I fell really deep. I lived in a blinded apartment for about a year. The only people who visited me, were my dealers. I realize that this could be my last chance. That's why I put all my heart and soul into this album.

Aardschok: It's very apparent that the album is filled with references to your personal problems.

Scott: With every record I make, I tell myself to not bare my soul. It always gives a lot of complaints from women and girlfriends. They get sick and tired of the way I air my dirty laundry. But I can't do anything else. I'm very bad at telling made-up stories. I can only draw from my own life.

Duff: That honesty adds a lot to the music, and extra quality in the form of emotion. Anger, sadness and agression. Lyrics and music fit each other perfectly. Contraband was drawn from life. I hear too few records that report raw reality. Too many artists create a made-up ideal. We don't.

Aardschok: One of the most moving songs is 'Falling To Pieces', in which you really bite the dust.

Scott: The music was already done. I arrived at our rehearsal one day when I was really down. I saw my life fall apart around me. What I felt like at that time, I put on paper in a few minutes. I turned myself inside out. That song documents one of the worst days in my life.

Duff: When I heard that song, I knew we were on the right track. This concentrated what we were looking for; honest music and honest lyrics. This is a song that will survive us as people and as a band. It's a song that has a whole life ahead of it. We want to be remembered by this. This is the kind of song for which we do what we do.

Scott: It's a universal theme. Everyone has fallen in a very deep hole sometime, and will recognize something of that in 'Fall To Pieces'.

BANDNAME

Aardschok: There is something about the name. Guns N' Roses is a combination of something violent (Guns) and something lovely (Roses). It appears that you chose a similiar contrast for Velvet Revolver.

Duff: Yeah, I realize that now you say it like that. I didn't think of that at all. Slash came up with Revolver at one point. Nothing else. I then looked it up on the internet and it appeared that there were a couple of thousand bands with that name. And it seemed to be too expensive of a joke to buy them all off, so we wanted to give it our own twist. Scott came up with Velvet Revolver and we stuck to that. Don't look for any hidden meaning. The fact that both band names refer to a gun is a coincidence. It's a fine name, but the music is more important.

Aardschok: And then the title of the cd: "Contraband".

Scott: (laughing) We thought that was pretty fitting for this band. All of us tried to smuggle something through customs at one time.

GUERRILLA

Aardschok: How are you going to promote Velvet Revolver?

Duff: We choose a guerrilla tactic; short tours, and quick television appearance. Letterman, Leno, Saturday Night Live, that kind of shows. We want to perform as much as we can, cause that still is the best way for a rock band to present itself.

Aardschok: Will the recent drug problems form any obstacles?
Scott: I'm in the last phase of my treatment and everything is going well so far. I hope my doctors will be lenient, just like the judges, and that I will be free this coming year to go wherever I want. I'll just wait and see.

Aardschok: What will your setlist look like? Just Velvet Revolver?

Scott: No, one record is not enough to put on a full night show, so we will also play songs by Guns N' Roses and Stone Temple Pilots. Appetite for Destruction is one of my favorite rock records, so I'm looking forward to sing songs off of that. And why not? Those songs are part of our collective past. And I know for sure that we will pleased the crowds with that.

Exactly one day after the interview, the world-famous glamour photographer Helmut Newton visits the Chateau Marmont, of which Duff said that many celebrities died there. After his appointment, the photographer gets into his Chevrolet, suffers a heart attack and crashes his car into the hotel wall. Dead.

https://web.archive.org/web/20050208005530/http://belowempty.com/vr/articles/2004/040601_Aardschok.php
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