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2004.12.30 - Las Vegas Weekly - The Perils of Rock 'n' Roll Decadence (Matt)

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Post by Blackstar on Mon Aug 24, 2020 5:38 am

NOISE: The Perils of Rock 'n' Roll Decadence

Velvet Revolver's Matt Sorum deals with groupies, TV cameras and rock star egos

By Josh Bell

Matt Sorum has it pretty good. The Velvet Revolver drummer was in two of the biggest rock bands of the '80s—The Cult and Guns N' Roses—and as a session musician, played with stars from Tori Amos to Buddy Rich and David Cassidy. Now he's in one of the top rock bands of today, a band that just received three Grammy nominations and is touring around the world to sold-out crowds. Also featuring Sorum's former GNR bandmates Slash and Duff McKagan, former Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland and guitarist Dave Kushner, Velvet Revolver is a stripped-down hard-rock band with more than a little of the old Sunset Strip sound of GNR, but without the theatrics and bloated indulgences that singer Axl Rose brought to the latter days of that group.

"We never look at things in a small-minded way," Sorum says of his band, who may be on the radio with younger groups like Jet and Queens of the Stone Age, but still retain their old arena sensibilities. "We never try to save money for the sake of saving money," he adds, showing a little rock-star flash. Having been superstars several times over, the members of Velvet Revolver can be excused if they're somewhat cocky, seeing themselves as part of the salvation of rock 'n' roll.

"What I'm seeing is a fairly young audience for guys that have been playing rock 'n' roll a long time," Sorum says of Velvet Revolver's fans. To Sorum, it's only natural. "I think that a lot of them just sort of are looking at it like, 'Wow, this could be something that I really believe in.' It's real, and that's what I'm getting a feeling of. I think when kids get to be 18, 19 years old, I think they think it's kind of lame to be into shit that's not really cool."

Put that simply, it's easy to see why Velvet Revolver has done well, especially since their no-frills rock is topped with Weiland's dark voice and volatile persona, nearly as unpredictable and controversial as Rose's. In and out of jail and rehab during the recording of the band's debut, Contraband, Weiland is now sober and back with his wife and two young children. Even so, he's known for having a large ego and a short temper. "All singers are basically the same," laughs Sorum, who should know, having worked closely with such colorful personalities as Weiland, Rose and the Cult's Ian Astbury.

Still, Sorum's penchant for groupies (he's the only member of the band who's not married) has put him at odds with newfound family man Weiland, according to a recent Entertainment Weekly article. Sorum now says the two have reached an understanding. "One night, we had a little situation where Scott accidentally walked in on me with about four girls naked, and it just kind of threw him off," he says in the sort of tone one might use to describe accidentally spilling some milk. "It just got a little out of control. But you know, we talked about it, and I said, 'Look, dude, I'm doing my thing, you're doing your thing. I did nothing but support you in your life,' and he does the same for me now. We've come to an agreement on how to make it work."

Navigating groupie policy is one of the many perils of rock 'n' roll life that the average person doesn't have to deal with. But for Sorum, it's second nature after so many years in the business. He's even toying with the idea of pitching a reality show based on his backstage exploits, after a special on the formation of Velvet Revolver and the recording of Contraband met with some success on VH1. On his breaks from Velvet Revolver, Sorum plays with his side band, Camp Freddy, a loose collection of musicians also featuring former Jane's Addiction members Dave Navarro and Chris Chaney, Sorum's former Cult band mate Billy Morrison and singer Donovan Leitch, plus a huge assortment of high-profile guest stars. Camp Freddy usually play impromptu jam sessions consisting largely of cover tunes, but they're in the process of putting together an album for which Sorum has already recorded the drum tracks.

With a popular band, parades of groupies, a side project jamming with superstars and a potential TV show, Sorum is clearly living the good life—and he knows it. "It's just everything I ever imagined rock 'n' roll could and should be," he says. The most important thing, though, is being recognized for his own contributions, something he feels like he finally gets with Velvet Revolver. "Me and Duff are walking down the street, and some kid goes, 'Hey, you're Matt and Duff from Velvet Revolver.' In all of our lives, I've either been Matt from the Cult or Matt from GNR, so that's a very cool feeling."
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