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2004.12.DD - Hit Parader - Straight Aim (Slash, Duff)

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2004.12.DD - Hit Parader - Straight Aim (Slash, Duff) Empty 2004.12.DD - Hit Parader - Straight Aim (Slash, Duff)

Post by Blackstar on Mon Aug 24, 2020 4:48 am

Straight Aim

"Success is something you never take for granted."

By Tom Lindgren

It's now been nearly six months since Velvet Revolver's debut album, Contraband, lit up the rock and roll skies with its rugged riffs, volatile vocals and take-no-prisoners attitude. During that time guitarist Slash, vocalist Scott Weiland, bassist Duff McKagan, drummer Matt Sorum and rhythm guitarist Dave Kushner have continually proven their musical worth through a series of high-profile MTV videos and a string of incredible concert performances. Even with the still-lingering specter of Weiland's off-stage difficulties hovering over the group's collective head, the VR camp has forged boldly ahead, creating a sight and sound explosion that for many has recalled the halcyon days of the hard rock empire.

For Velvet Revolver, the success of their debut disc is far from unexpected. After all, the band's members past histories in such stellar outfits as Guns N' Roses and the Stone Temple Pilots virtually guaranteed a healthy degree of out-of-the-box media and fan recognition. But the simple fact of the matter is that it's now been well over a decade since GN'R were at the top of their game, and even STP's glory days seem like they are fast becoming a distant memory. So while their platinum-covered success certainly hasn't been a surprise, it's been greeted by a major sigh of relief from the entire VR contingent.

"Success is something you never take for granted," McKagan said. "That's never been our style, anyway. We've never been very good at trying to play nice and fit in with everyone else. We've always been much better at rubbing everyone's face in the mud and just doing our own thing. This is a very dangerous band on a number of levels - and we may be the first dangerous band that's come along in a long time. Our goal is to go out there and cause as much chaos as possible."

Despite the fact that their core members are now precariously close to the age of 40, it seems as if little of their past "bad boy" reputation has disappeared with the passing years. Oh sure, Slash many no longer choose to perpetually live life on the razor's edge, where his past activities marked him as one of hard rock's most notorious - and self-destructive - forces. These days the long-haired guitarist seems far more at peace with both himself and with those around him. In the process, he has become a happier, healthier rock and roll force.

It's really cool to feel great, and to be with people whose sole goal is to make great music," the guitarist said. "People can say anything they want about me and about this band. All we care about is that they listen to the music. We've had so many opportunities in our lives. Some of them we've taken advantage of, and others have slipped through our fingers. We want to make sure that we take every advantage of the great situation we've encountered with Velvet Revolver. Finding the right people to play with, and the right opportunity to present what you're doing isn't easy. So that's why I'm so excited about this band. This my chance to make music that I enjoy with people who share my passion."

There's no denying that with the appearance of Contraband, and with the overwhelming success of their first world tour. Velvet Revolver has emerged as a true musical force. The hard-driving, yet eminently listenable brand of rock and roll fury created by this high-profile quintet has caused an unparalleled commotion in hard rock circles, and rightfully so! In many ways their debut disc may well be the best pure, straight-ahead rock album since (dare we say it) Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction was released nearly 15 years ago. And while the band members may offer bemused smiles when such a comparison is thrust in their face, they seem seem more-than-prepared to answer such a claim.

"It's all great rock and roll music, and rock and roll is timeless," Slash said. "It's not our job to compare what we're doing now with what we were doing then. But I take it as a great compliment. To me, it's when you develop the attitude that you've got to make music a certain way in order to fit in and keep up with everyone else that your music stands the chance of getting corrupted. Our focus has stayed on doing what we like - and what we feel comfortable doing - and then hoping for the best."

"The music is very aggressive, almost vicious in the way it just explodes on every track," Weiland added. "We grab you right in the beginning and we don't let go! You should feel like you need to lace up your boots real tight and get ready for a fight. I used the toxic nature of the relationship I was in to fuel a lot of the writing I did for this album. That's why many of the lyrics on songs like Fall to Pieces and Headspace are very personal. But I think that everyone can relate to them on some level. The only other album I ever put as much effort into was the first STP album - and I know a lot more now."

Whether it's comparing Velvet Revolver to their illustrious predecessors, or simply grooving to the band's hypnotic on-stage beat, millions of fans around the globe have already embraced VR as the potential "saviors of the hard rock form. While the unit may not go out of their way to accept such a responsibility, neither do they shy away from it. Indeed, as their songs grow into anthems for this generation, and their tour stops become "must see" events for so many of their faithful admirers, it appears as if Velvet Revolver have lived up to - if not exceeded - all of the dreams and hopes that surrounded their emergence on the scene.

"We've each had our share of notoriety in the past," Weiland said. "But in many ways this represents a fresh start - a rebirth, if you will. When you're in a band for a number of years, things just naturally change. Some of the excitement you may have initially felt begins to fade away. But in this band we've all been able to re-experience that excitement of first-time discovery. It's been really magical. People can accept this music for what it is - great rock and roll. It doesn't fit in well with a lot of things that you may be hearing on the radio. It doesn't want to fit in. Why should everything have to adapt to expectarte successful over the years by developing something unique...not by fitting in."
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