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2004.06.DD - Revolver Magazine - The Ego Has Landed (Slash, Duff, Matt)

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Post by Blackstar on Sun Aug 23, 2020 6:30 am

The Ego Has Landed

They're clean, sober, and ready to rock. So of course former GN'R members Slash, Duff, and Matt Sorum picked the biggest fuckup of them all to front their new band: ex-Stone Temple Pilot Scott Weiland.

Appetite for Dysfunction

by Andy Langer

Scott Weiland is in a playful mood today. Sitting behind a studio console at his Burbank rehearsal space, he's commandeered my tape recorder. "Ever fucked an animal?" he asks himself. "No," he answers. "But I've had my dick licked by a dog!"

It's clear this impromptu Q&A session is Weiland's attempt to avoid the inevitable. For the singer knows full well where the interview is headed.

"I know people immediately associate me with drugs," he finally says. Today, Weiland, who has had a long much-publicized battle with drug addiction, is enjoying a day pass from a court-ordered stay in a Malibu sober-living facility. "They look at me and think, bad-boy junkie rock star. That's something I don't know if I'll ever be able to outlive. It's not necessarily who I really am. But it is what it is. It's part of my story."

The latest chapter in this story is called, rather appropriately, Contraband . It's the much anticipated debut, on RCA, from Velvet Revolver, Weiland's high-profile outing with ex-Guns N' Roses members Slash (guitar), Duff McKagan (bass), and Matt Sorum (drums), and former Wasted Youth guitarist Dave Kushner. The record is a fiery and remarkably vital introduction to a group that may prove to be more than the sum of its venerable parts.

Contraband is also giving those members who were once the core of Guns N' Roses the chance to show they can still be part of an edgy rock and roll band, without the drug and alcohol excess that cemented GN'R's reputation as one of rock's most unpredictable bands ever. So it's a bit ironic that for their frontman the reformed party boys chose Scott Weiland. After all, during the past year, the former Stone Temple Pilots singer has clocked much more face time on Celebrity Justice than he has on Total Request Live : First there was his fourth arrest on drug charges, followed by a DUI stemming from him slamming his Beamer into a parked car. Velvet Revolver state that their aim is to make rock and roll dangerous again. And yet Scott Weiland might be a little too dangerous, even for them.

"I'll always be the wild card," Weiland says. "I'm sort of used to it."

He takes a long drag off his cigarette, then follows it with an even longer pause. "You know, Evil Knievel sold a lot of tickets," he says. "And people didn't come to see him make the jump."

Ask any member of Velvet Revolver what makes the new band work and one word comes up time and again: "chemistry." In fact, their overuse of the word borders on comical. But considering that three-fifths of the band lived through Guns N' Roses' heyday, "chemistry" might be as good a description as any to describe what's at the heart of Velvet Revolver.

"There's obviously something to be said for Duff, Matt, and I being together," says Slash. "Together, there is a sense of power. It's the walk-around-the-room-like-you're-a-fucking-tough-guy power. And it only happens when there is a certain chemistry. We have that. And when Scott came walking into the room the first time, it was like he'd been in this band 10 years."

"The beauty of the chemistry is how their emotional intensity matches their sonic intensity," Weiland says. "And the way they play their instruments matches the same intensity I have. They provide a soundtrack to the way I perform onstage - the way I fucking contort my body, the way I'll sweat blood and smash myself. It's perfect."

Despite their unspoken connection, the members of Velvet Revolver agreed that when it came to recording Contraband , guidelines would have to be spelled out. For starters, songs that sounded too much like Guns N' Roses or Stone Temple Pilots were immediately discarded. And, at Weiland's urging, the band agreed that any member could veto any song he wasn't wholeheartedly enamored of.

"With STP, there were times I'd made that mistake of including songs I wasn't completely behind, because certain bandmates were," Weiland says. "I sort of took it as, it's a band, you have to do that. But you don't. And I knew as long as everyone agreed to raising the bar, we could make the record we wanted to make. And this is the best rock and roll album I've ever made."

Although there are bound to be Stone Temple Pilots fans that disagree with Weiland, Contraband does live up to the supersize expectations that surround it. Its introductory single, "Slither," is appropriately aggressive and instantly memorable - "a perfect marriage of STP and GN'R," Weiland says. Tunes like "Illegal," "Headspace," and "Spectacle" push the envelope even further toward a new brand of swaggering rock. But the album's most memorable moments are its ballads, "You Got No Right" and "Fall to Pieces," both of which feature gorgeously complex, Beatlesque melodies.

Because "Fall to Pieces" closely adheres to a classic power-ballad formula, it's hard not to recall Guns N' Roses, particularly since the song's centerpiece Slash solo is every bit as fluid and lyrical as his memorable lead break on GN'R's "November Rain." And yet the song - like the rest of the record - sounds nothing like the plug'n'play nostalgia of other post - GN'R outfits, like Slash's Snakepit of McKagan's Neurotic Outsiders. Contraband sounds like a product of 2004 - if for no other reason than Kushner's splashes of odd tones and textures. "He's the secret weapon," says McKagan, who had enlisted Kushner for his most recent post-GN'R outing, the Seattle-based Loaded.

Indeed, Kushner's lush, electronics-inspired soundscapes provide a necessary counter-balance to one of the most instantly recognizable guitar players of all time. "When I get a guitar solo, you're gonna recognize it," Slash says. "And that's okay, as long as the whole band doesn't sound like GN'R. And it doesn't. Everything has been tweaked in too many directions."

Of course, even if Velvet Revolver had wound up sounding like GN'R Mach II, it's not lost on the band that its album is being released - while the actual Guns N' Roses, kept on life support by singer Axl Rose, still haven't finished Chinese Democracy, the album Rose has been promising for years.

"We put this band together and started an album two weeks later," Sorum says. "It's not fucking brain surgery. It's verse, chorus, guitar solo, verse, chorus, and you're done."

I don't know what he's fucking doing over there," he continues, "but I hope it's a 72-piece classically composed masterpiece. Dude, come on!"

Guns N' Roses' story is the kind Behind the Music producers can only dream of. Full of drug-fueled excesses and personality clashes, it's a tale of a band that started off playing seedy Hollywood dives and ended up being flown in chartered jets to headline stadium shows. The group's 1987 debut, Appetite for Destruction, spat in the face of hair metal, proving melody and grit didn't have to be mutually exclusive. It also sold 15 million copies.

"I got to share stages with Elton John, Iggy Pop, and Brian May," says Sorum, who replaced the group's original drummer, Steven Adler, in 1990, about his time with Guns N' Roses. "When I was done with GN'R, I figured I'd done it all."

So, it seems, did the rest of the band. After continual clashes with the volatile Rose led to his departure from Guns N' Roses, Slash kept busy with session work and his band Snakepit; he says he enjoyed Snakepit, which was basically an excuse for him to jam with friends (including, for a time, Sorum), specifically because the stakes were low. McKagan, meanwhile, gigged and recorded occasionally with Loaded, spending the bulk of his time studying for a finance degree at Seattle University.

Then in 2002, Slash, McKagan, and Sorum regrouped for the first time in six years to play a memorial concert for the late Randy Castillo, who had drummed for Ozzy Osbourne and Motley Crue. Thrilled to discover they still shared their old musical connection, the trio decided the very next day to form a new band.

"There wasn't really a plan or a strategy when we started," Sorum says. "But in the back of our minds I think it was like this: If we put the right guys together and get a great deal, we can go out and rock the world. And if we don't get the right guys, we play some fuckin' shitholes for fun and pretty much suck. Our options were really pretty simple."

Getting the right guys proved to be easier said than done. Kushner was a no-brainer: He went to junior high with Slash and knew McKagan from Loaded. Finding a singer, however, was much harder. Slash, Sorum, and McKagan spent nearly a year listening to demos and inviting singers to auditions. "I was the hardest on them," Sorum says. "Guys would walk into the room and I'd be like, 'Out!' They wouldn't even get to open their mouths."

The shortlist of candidates eventually included Days of the New's Travis Meeks, singer/songwriter Beth Hart, and Skid Row's Sebastian Bach. But no one was the right fit - not even Bach. "I love Sebastian," McKagan says. "But even though the songs weren't anything close, we sounded like Skid Row. We were looking at each other like, We can't do this. He can sing like a motherfucker, but you hear his voice and you think Skid Row. We didn't want that."

The embryonic band had known from the start that it wanted Weiland as a frontman. Not only was he a viable option as a singer for a modern rock band but all the members had connections to him: Slash's and Weiland's wives are friends, Sorum and Weiland had met during a stint in the same rehab facility, and Kushner's Electric Love Hogs had shared bills with Weiland's Mighty Joe Young in L.A. dives back in the late Eighties. But Weiland, when he was first contacted by the band, was still committed to the Stone Temple Pilots. By February 2003, however, Weiland's relationship with STP had deteriorated to the point that, when Velvet Revolver reinvited the singer to their rehearsal studio, he felt he could accept.

The plan at the time was just to have Weiland join the others for two songs that were slated to appear on soundtracks: a Velvet Revolver original that became "Set Me Free" and that was used for the Hulk soundtrack, and a cover of Pink Floyd's "Money," which landed on the soundtrack to The Italian Job. Pleased with what Weiland had done on "Set Me Free" - the song was an instrumental demo when he first heard it - the band decided to make the invitation permanent.

But signing on with Weiland meant signing on with his baggage - most notably, a heroin addiction that, Weiland admits, had gotten away from him between the end of Stone Temple Pilots and the beginning of Velvet Revolver. On May 18, just days after most of the music industry got wind of Weiland officially joining the band, the singer was arrested after officers allegedly found cocaine and heroin in his car. And yet, McKagan says, Velvet Revolver moved forward entirely undeterred.

"We're not gonna deny Scott's drug problem," he says. "But we've all had them. One time, we met the director of a rehab Scott was in - a crotchety old fuck - and he says, 'You guys are all in recovery. Why would you get a guy like this in your band?' Number one, it told me he didn't really support Scott very much. And number two, we don't have dirty water under the bridge with the guy. We didn't have the past history with him the STP guys may have. What we have is the knowledge. We've been way worse off than him. To us, this is nothing. It's all relative."

That McKagan is so open about his own history with drug addiction isn't surprising: Drugs played prominently into the GN'R mystique. "Even after I'd quit the band, the GN'R party wagon still followed me around," says Slash. "I'm just lucky I didn't get caught or hurt anyone."

"We all are," says Sorum, who replaced Adler specifically because Adler's own drug addiction had rendered him unable to perform. "There was awhile I thought I was Al Pacino. I did a lot of cocaine and drinking. And it's easy to think you can control it. But before you know it, it's, Oh shit! I'm a drug addict. I didn't intend to be doing an eight ball a day."

Now clean and sober, the members of Velvet Revolver have been incredibly patient with Weiland while he completes his court-ordered rehab. In fact, the very day Weiland was released from jail last May, McKagan and Kushner picked up the singer, flew him to Seattle, and enrolled him in the same martial arts retreat McKagan had used to kick his own heroin addiction. It was just the first step in what Weiland says has been close to a year of support.

"They traveled to hell with a squirt gun to break me out of jail down there," Weiland says. "And I'm indebted to them for that. And they knew how to find their way down there because they've been there themselves. They knew the escape route. And that kind of camaraderie wasn't something I experienced with my own band. There's a brotherhood - I guess I could liken it to shipwreck survivors or plane-crash survivors. There's a commonality you have when you've survived something like that.

"Drugs. Multiple overdoses. We share that whole experience. And having a really successful band crash and burn is also something we share. When you survive that stuff, you have a common bond. We've lived the same life. And we have each other's backs. We've said before that it's like a gang. But that's not a cliché. It is what it is.

Fronting a group composed of the majority of one of rock's most legendary and successful bands seems like an intimidating proposition. And yet, when he's asked if he's apprehensive about singing for Velvet Revolver, Weiland's answer is remarkably straightforward - and a little cocky: "I've sold a few albums too."

He had indeed. Although the Stone Temple Pilots started as a critically reviled band pinned as grunge-come-latelies, the group, across five albums, proved itself as one of the most consistently commercially viable and artistically adventurous acts in modern rock. The question now is, are STP a dead issue?

"You never know, but it's definitely just not happening," Weiland says. "This is happening. My heart is in this."

"With STP," he continues, "there was never anything said. It ended with a fist-fight. But God works in funny ways. The recording studio where we cut drums for Contraband was where (STP's) Dean and Robert (DeLeo) were producing a band in the room next door. I passed across a long letter and we spoke the next day. I gave them a copy of Velvet Revolver's demo. And I haven't spoken to them since. But there were hugs and kisses. We spoke about everything. The air is clear."

Things are more complicated for the former Guns N' Roses mates. Slash, who left the band in 1996, remains knee-deep in what seems like a never-ending stream of GN'R-related paper-work. And, despite his work since, he's still know more as "Slash from Guns N' Roses" than he is as just "Slash." "Don't get me wrong, "he says, "I'm proud to have helped establish one of the coolest, most genuine, kick-ass, in-your-face rock and roll bands ever. It's a legacy. I'm proud to be 'Slash, who used to be in GN'R.' But I don't want to be the guy who can't do anything else. 'Slash from Velvet Revolver' will take time."

Sorum, for his part, is less concerned with people associating him with his Guns N' Roses glory days. "I'm still boning 18-year-old chicks because I was in Guns N' Roses," says the drummer, who is the band's only bachelor. "It happens every day to me. So I'll fucking take it as far as I can. If I wasn't in GN'R, who knows where I'd be? It's given me a whole life of pleasure and fun."

The walls of Scott Weiland's rehearsal space are lined with plaques commemorating different sales plateaus for each of the five Stone Temple Pilots albums. Weiland says the plaques remind him of not just what he's accomplished but also what he should take away from the Velvet Revolver experience.

"We will take nothing for granted," Weiland says. "Because STP taught me you get to a place where it's about everything other than the music. Except for the rare moments when you're making records or are actually onstage, it's about everything else. Right now, it's about the thing we have with us - the chemistry. And I fucking realize that you have to cherish this time now, because it's gonna change."

"We're all up for it," insists Sorum. "We're not a bunch of rich, jaded fucks. I've been in bands where they don't want to do the work - where they'd rather sit at the hotel than do a meet-and-greet or drive to a radio station. We're gonna work our asses off."

Obviously, it's too soon to tell how well that work will pay off. Slash is too smart and has seen too much to make predictions, and the rest of the band isn't much more forthcoming. "I don't know if we're the next big thing," Slash says. "I don't know if it's gonna last 20 years. All I can tell you is we did the record. That alone is a big thing. There was a lot of negativity. Close friends of mine said, 'You'll never find a singer.' We did. And we hung in there through some serious shit. This is a band built of sheer desire. We're here doing it because we like it. This is the second chance we never thought would happen."


Last edited by Blackstar on Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:37 am; edited 2 times in total
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2004.06.DD - Revolver Magazine - The Ego Has Landed (Slash, Duff, Matt) Empty Re: 2004.06.DD - Revolver Magazine - The Ego Has Landed (Slash, Duff, Matt)

Post by Blackstar on Sun Aug 23, 2020 6:31 am

Scott Weiland sent a response to the writer of the article:
--------------------------------------------

From Scott To Andy Langer (5/9/2004)

Dearest Andy Langer,

I would love the opportunity to speak to you further, you fucking kiss-ass pussy sycophant bitch. Do you make common practice of licking the assholes of rock stars, only to walk away to a safe distance? Wait till a man's back is turned then print a headline like that? Do you? Well, you know what half-man? My studio is in Burbank, the same place where you met me, interviewed me, and kissed my ass, you fucking worthless piece of journalist shit. Five days a week! I'll be there bitch! No more interviews, you're all a bunch of fucking kiss-ass pussy turncoats.

PS: Oh, by the way, you wanna know about fucking drugs? Fucking try them yourself!

- Scott Weiland
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2004.06.DD - Revolver Magazine - The Ego Has Landed (Slash, Duff, Matt) Empty Re: 2004.06.DD - Revolver Magazine - The Ego Has Landed (Slash, Duff, Matt)

Post by Blackstar on Wed Aug 26, 2020 1:34 am

Response from Andy Langer (the writer of the Revolver mag article); Austin Chronicle, June 11, 2004:
------------------------------------------------

Get in the Ring
When rock stars attack


BY ANDY LANGER

According to Google, the colorful phrase "kiss-ass pussy sycophant bitch" appears on the Web 143 times. Every last one of 'em refers to me by name.

Granted, I'd prefer to see myself linked to "People's 50 Most Beautiful People" or "well-paid," but in my line of work, a little name-calling is an occupational hazard. If you write about people long enough, some of them are going to write back. Not that it's any consolation to my mother. She's not impressed I'm yielding the same search results on the Internet as those I'd have gotten with a law degree. Apparently, I've ruffled Scott Weiland's feather boa.

In February, I flew to Los Angeles to spend a day profiling Velvet Revolver, Weiland's new band with Guns n' Roses alumni Slash, Duff McKagan, and Matt Sorum. The piece was for the June issue of Revolver, a glossy metal magazine that features porn stars, tattoo artists, and a monthly Q&A column from Pantera's Vinnie Paul, the self-described "Yoda of Pussy." My piece hit newsstands in late April. By May 9, the story was overshadowed by a post on VelvetRevolver.com from Mr. Weiland himself.

Dearest Andy Langer,

I would love the opportunity to speak to you further, you fucking kiss-ass pussy sycophant bitch. Do you make common practice of licking the assholes of rock stars, only to walk away to a safe distance? Wait till a man's back is turned then print a headline like that? Do you?

Well, you know what half-man? My studio is in Burbank, the same place where you met me, interviewed me, and kissed my ass, you fucking worthless piece of journalist shit. Five days a week! I'll be there bitch!

No more interviews, you're all a bunch of fucking kiss-ass pussy turncoats.

PS: Oh, by the way, you wanna know about fucking drugs? Fucking try them yourself!

Scott Weiland


Nice. Or at least radio thought so; three of the leading radio industry tip sheets (including MTV's) picked up the story, making it instant fodder for hundreds of morning shows and newsbreaks around the dial. For many, the burning question was simple: What was the headline? Under the innocuous and admittedly cliché headline of "Appetite for Dysfunction" was a meatier subhead: "They're clean, sober, and ready to rock the world. So who did former GN'R members Slash, Duff, and Matt pick to front their new band – Velvet Revolver – ex-Stone Temple Pilot Scott Weiland. Of course. The biggest f**k-up of them all."

Naturally, I didn't write the words in question. Editors write headlines and kickers, not writers. Yet, whether it makes me stupid or just a stubborn prick, I'll stand by what I didn't write. The day Weiland and I filled 48 minutes of tape together, he was on a day-pass from a court-ordered rehab facility. This is the guy who's clocked more time this year on Celebrity Justice than Total Request Live. He's got four drug arrests. His last DUI was for wrapping his Beamer around a parked car. A fistfight ended his last band.

In the interview, Weiland says to me straight up, "I'll always be the wild card. ... You know, Evel Knievel sold a lot of tickets. And people didn't come to see him make the jump." For my money, calling him the biggest fuck-up of them all is only inaccurate in that it glosses over the achievements of Courtney Love.

In the week that followed his post, I got dozens of requests for radio interviews. Aside from a longer piece for LA Lloyd's locally produced and nationally syndicated news brief, I took the high road. "I wish him a speedy recovery" was my only comment to most outlets.

For their part, in the next issue, Revolver responds with: "The magazine's editors, not Andy Langer, wrote the story's headline. On a more up note, we're glad to see that the HTML classes the singer took in rehab are paying off." It's mildly amusing, but I fought for a different response. I wanted them to say they work at 1115 Broadway. Five days a week!

My favorite e-mail from a Velvet Revolver fan calls me a "worthless cochsucker." What the author doesn't know, other than how to spell, is that I'm a Velvet Revolver fan, too. I grew up on Guns n' Roses. I'm a sucker for a Slash solo. The group's debut, Contraband, has plenty.

As for Weiland, he's the perfect frontman. As I discussed with the man himself, it's pretty obvious that if you're former Gunners and you want to have a viable band, you've exactly two choices for a singer, and Chris Cornell's already taken. As it is, Velvet Revolver is greater than the sum of its parts. So how did Weiland and I get so sideways? You'll have to ask him.

We didn't share drinks at the Chateau Marmont. We didn't go antique shopping or barbecue at his house. This was business: It got no friendlier than the introductory handshake and the closing, "See ya later." In between, we talked about the band, the pressure, and yes, drugs. He brought them up. I assumed he was comfortable talking about addiction, because that's how he's been spending his time in rehab – talking it through. Interviewers like to talk about vibes, but in this instance, there wasn't one. There also wasn't any ass-kissing.

My editors at Revolver will tell you that my inability to kiss ass has become something of a trademark. Every SXSW I see hundreds of people that share my job title, and nine times out of 10 I'm embarrassed for them. Most of them are fans first, journalists second. These are people who are way too eager to have audience with rock stars. In my book, ignoring the celebrity status of those you're talking to is an effective tool to disarm them into saying things they don't say to every other media outlet. So yeah, it stings a bit to have Weiland accuse me of being exactly the kind of guy I'd like to think I'm not.

What also stings is reading the message boards. Weiland's note generated hundreds of posts across five or six sites. It's little surprise that the bulk of them backed their hero, but the contempt for the music press was nothing if not eye-opening. It was as if Rolling Stone lied to them about WMDs.

I used to get excited when a music magazine mentioned my favorite band. Kids today get suspicious. I'm beginning to think I'm working in a dying profession: Thanks to the Internet, artists can communicate directly with their fans. Not only can artists spin their own agendas, they can rally the troops against reading anybody else's version of the truth.

Although my personal strategy has been not to protest too much, others have taken up the cause. Austin poster artist Billy Perkins and KLBJ's Johnny Walker both posted nice (and wholly unsolicited) notes of support to message boards. There were more, only with more mysterious screen names. This paper was less kind.

Apparently an illustrator noticed I have less hair now than when I started at the Chronicle nearly 15 years ago. Even so, the caricature that accompanied the Weiland news item in "TCB" added insult to injury. Bob Newhart is funny. That somebody thinks I look like him isn't. Equally disappointing is Revolver's official response. I'd hoped they would muster something stronger than an HTML joke. Instead, "The World's Loudest Rock Magazine" offered an apologetic whisper.

What folks ask me most now is whether I'm pumping iron in anticipation of a showdown with Weiland at Velvet Revolver's June 17 date at Stubb's. He says he'd like the opportunity to speak to me further, but I think I'll pass. I'm going to the show, alright. I'm just going to watch it from a safe distance – with three or four large friends. Come to think of it, reading that last sentence, I'm willing to give Weiland this: Maybe I am a pussy. If so, call me Yoda.

What have I learned from all this? It's proof of journalism's primary tenants: You can't please all the people all the time, and no press is bad press. Weiland thinks I screwed him, but I think he knew the timing couldn't have been better. By calling out a journalist, he made headlines in anticipation of his group's debut.

Me, I'm gonna laugh it off. Maybe frame a copy of his letter with Billy Bishop's Stubb's poster. I may even revamp my business card. Since I'm a writer, television reporter, and radio host, I've never known what to put under my name. Scott Weiland and Google have decided for me: kiss-ass pussy sycophant bitch. This way you don't just get a card, you also get a good story to go along with it.

https://www.austinchronicle.com/music/2004-06-11/215382/
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