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2004.10.15 - The Times-Picayune - Velvet Renaissance (Duff)

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2004.10.15 - The Times-Picayune - Velvet Renaissance (Duff) Empty 2004.10.15 - The Times-Picayune - Velvet Renaissance (Duff)

Post by Blackstar on Mon Aug 24, 2020 3:07 am

Velvet Renaissance

By Keith Spera

Singer Scott Weiland joins former members of Guns n' Roses to create a sonic high with Velvet Revolver.

"Tell me about this Voodoo festival," says Velvet Revolver bassist Duff McKagan, calling last week from a Seattle tattoo parlor. "I hear it's awesome. Scott said it was great."

Scott Weiland, the current Velvet Revolver and former Stone Temple Pilots vocalist, did indeed enjoy himself when STP closed out the 2000 Voodoo Music Experience. His bandmates surprised him with an onstage birthday cake. Lost in the moment, Weiland stripped naked, streaking offstage to the safety of his tour bus.

"Oh really?" McKagan said. "He didn't tell me that part. That's classic."

Perhaps the detail slipped Weiland's mind. His troubles with drugs and assorted stints in rehab and jail are well-documented. The other Stone Temple Pilots eventually tired of Weiland's cycle of relapse, triggering that band's dissolution.

Weiland found more sympathetic comrades in Velvet Revolver. McKagan and lead guitarist Slash both wrestled with substance abuse during their tumultuous years in Guns n' Roses. McKagan finally resorted to martial arts, specifically kick-boxing, to get clean. He orchestrated a similar regimen for Weiland in the mountains of Washington, an episode referenced in the Weiland/McKagan "fight" scene in the new video for Velvet Revolver's "Fall to Pieces."

"He had been to rehab like 30-something times," McKagan said. "It stuck a couple times, but for the most part it hasn't worked. He knew that I had gotten sober through martial arts, so he asked me for help. So we went away for a while. We were buried in the mountains; it was like something you'd see in a Bruce Lee movie. It was a defining month in Scott's life."

Still, Slash, McKagan and former Guns n' Roses drummer Matt Sorum took a chance by enlisting Weiland to front their highly anticipated reunion. Post-GNR, McKagan and Slash had stayed in touch, but let seven years elapse before they would share a stage again. They finally reunited with Sorum at an April 2002 tribute concert in Los Angeles for former Ozzy Osbourne drummer Randy Castillo, who died of cancer.

That reunion lit the spark for Velvet Revolver.

"It was the pure musicality of the thing," McKagan said. "When it comes down to it, that's what we are and will always be -- musicians. You can't just stop playing. Once Slash, Matt and I got back together, we'd really grown as players. It was like stepping into an old pair of shoes with an extra added flavor to it. We knew we had something special, if we just found the right pieces to add."

Those pieces included second guitarist Dave Kushner, a longtime acquaintance from the L.A. scene, and Weiland, chosen after a long audition process.

"At the time we thought it could be anybody," McKagan said. "Hindsight is 20/20, but Scott is the perfect guy for the band. How could we have gotten some guy who hasn't been through what we've been through? That's an important part of this, that we've all been through the highs and lows of what being in a huge band does to you."

Weiland was still dealing with his issues as Velvet Revolver took shape last year. In August 2003, he pleaded no contest to heroin possession, then was arrested the following October on a DUI charge. He spent much of last fall and early 2004 in court-ordered rehab; a judge allowed him daily breaks to record vocals for "Contraband," Velvet Revolver's debut. The band was unable to tour until Weiland received permission from the courts.

"He came into this really wanting to be a part of it and wanting to stop drugs and asking for our help," McKagan said. "He wanted his wife and kids back, and he wanted the band to work. It was a no-brainer."

Now Velvet Revolver is firing on all cylinders. Released in June, the swaggering "Contraband" has sold more than 1 million copies. The band has toured the United States and Europe once with another year of touring ahead, including a Sunday stop at Voodoo. "Fall to Pieces," the second single from "Contraband," is riding high on the rock radio charts.

Weiland wrote the "Contraband" lyrics as a literal chronicle of the toll exacted by his long descent into narcotic hell. The album's opening cut, "Sucker Train Blues," is a horror show of desperate drug imagery. "Brain and body melting while there's roaches multiplying," he sings. "The rats have crawled through his house and out through their head/One of them ate a hole in the sky/To believe this would be a fate worse than death."

Weiland's bandmates readily accepted his confessions as lyrics.

"We had gone through all that stuff with him, so we were really glad that he was writing his own lyrics," McKagan said. "He insists upon it, which is great, because that is his instrument. The guy's such a masterful melody writer, and his lyrics are clever. Yes, they're brutal, but you can't fault him for not being honest. He got it all out."

Velvet Revolver's set list changes nightly, but favors "Contraband." Sets might include Cheap Trick and Aerosmith covers, along with the occasional Guns n' Roses or STP chestnut.

"It's great to have a bunch of covers," McKagan said. "I don't know if you call (the STP and Guns n' Roses songs) covers, if they were your own band."

Slash, McKagan and Sorum own a stake in those songs. Despite perceptions to the contrary, McKagan said, mercurial frontman Axl Rose was not the sole creative force behind Guns n' Roses.

"Axl made it an Axl thing, but it really wasn't," McKagan said. "He never wrote any of the music. That was part of the reason it broke up, because we'd play shows and he'd say, 'Here's a song I wrote about ...' and it would be a song he had nothing to do with."

Rose has yet to finish a long-promised Guns n' Roses album with an ever-changing lineup of musicians, even as his former bandmates have successfully launched a new project.

"I'm not knocking him," McKagan said. "We did go through a lot together, and we accomplished a lot together back then.

"But this is now. And we're having a great time. We hope to do this until we can't do it no more."
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2004.10.15 - The Times-Picayune - Velvet Renaissance (Duff) Empty Re: 2004.10.15 - The Times-Picayune - Velvet Renaissance (Duff)

Post by Blackstar on Mon Aug 24, 2020 6:29 am

A few days later, Duff posted on the Velvet Revolver forum and retracted the comment he made about Axl in this interview:
Posted: Fri Oct 22, 2004 3:00 am  

Oh yeah... Just one more thing to ponder for you guys. Please don't believe everything you read (see my 'interview' for the Voodoo Fest for example). A lot of times things are taken out of context or just plain misquoted. This not only happens to me, but to all of the guys in the band. Interviews are often done on the phone, or in a crowded place jotted down on a piece of paper, then... the article will be written a couple of days later. We all know what can happen to one's memory even in that short of a period. No one is perfect, and sometimes we come out of these things looking like stupid jerks... trust me, we are not. Interviews are a necessary evil that more often than not turn out to benefit the band and hopefully enlighten a new audience to our brand of high-octane 'fuck you' rock n' roll.
Peace.... Duff
https://web.archive.org/web/20041111094618/http://www.velvetrevolverforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=163059&highlight=
Retraction from Duff
« on: November 08, 2004, 03:56:53 PM »

To all concerned

I will now officially retract a statement made in an interview for the Voodoo-Fest in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago. To paraphrase, I was quoted as saying that Axl wrote none of the music for Guns N' Roses (supposedly in the time that I was in the band). This was an ABSOLUTE misquote and I do believe that my past record in doing interviews period, would show me saying something like this as a serious deviation from my normal responses to 'Guns' questions.

Axl, and all 'Guns' fans, I wholeheartedly apologize and am quite embarrassed by this whole episode. I have always looked at the 'glass as half full' when it comes to the amazing things we accomplished, and the amazing songs we wrote as a group. 'My world' is still one of my favorite songs!!!
 
Much respect and love.... Duff
https://web.archive.org/web/20060506070302/http://www.velvetrevolverforum.com/forum/index.php?topic=8164.msg170643

(I made some spelling corrections)


Last edited by Blackstar on Wed Aug 26, 2020 11:09 pm; edited 2 times in total
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2004.10.15 - The Times-Picayune - Velvet Renaissance (Duff) Empty Re: 2004.10.15 - The Times-Picayune - Velvet Renaissance (Duff)

Post by Blackstar on Mon Aug 24, 2020 6:33 am

It seems a portion of fans had reacted negatively to that interview.

Duff made similar comments in other interviews, though.
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