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APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.

Cheers!
SoulMonster

2004.08.28 - Living Scotsman - Ex-Druggies & Rock'n'Roll (Slash, Duff, Matt)

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2004.08.28 - Living Scotsman - Ex-Druggies & Rock'n'Roll (Slash, Duff, Matt) Empty 2004.08.28 - Living Scotsman - Ex-Druggies & Rock'n'Roll (Slash, Duff, Matt)

Post by Blackstar Wed Aug 26, 2020 11:37 am

Ex-druggies & rock'n'roll

PAUL SEXTON

ON A tour bus in New Jersey, some of rock’n’roll’s most notorious party animals are huddling together conspiratorially to indulge in the decadent paraphernalia of their glamorous lifestyle. Extravagantly tattooed and bearing the telltale ravages of a life of excess, the members of Velvet Revolver are openly, brazenly clutching the new hand-held organisers they’ve all been issued with, and sending each other e-mails on the way to tonight’s gig.

That’s life on the road these days for America’s hottest new-old rock band. Comprising three former members of Guns N’ Roses, the ex-lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots and a longtime friend, they all read the book on hedonistic misbehaviour, decided it was a bit dull, tore it up and wrote their own.

They’ve all stuck their hand in the devil’s fiery furnace: Guns survivors Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum, old mate Dave Kushner from the band Suicidal Tendencies, and the notoriously heroin-haunted Scott Weiland. All five have got their souls singed, but miraculously had them returned for further use. Junk and booze brought these men to the precipice of doom, as if they did indeed have an appetite for destruction. Now, touring for Velvet Revolver is a riot of e-mail, non-alcoholic beer and banter about wives, babies and home improvements.

When Velvet Revolver arrive in Glasgow on Tuesday, as part of a 13-country European adventure, things will be a little different from the days when G&R; came to pillage your town in their 1990s pomp. But to borrow the terminology of another erstwhile horde of invading Vikings, for those about to rock the Carling Academy, we salute them, because this is indeed a velvet revolution.

On the evidence of the new band’s blinding performance at New Jersey’s Starland Ballroom club late last month, their lives may all be freshly scrubbed and squeaky, but they still rock like they’re in an electric chair charged with 10,000 volts.

Weiland, the most recently reformed of the quintet, with a drug rap sheet as long as his punctured arm, struts across the stage all Jaggeresque in leather and shades, a motorcycle cop in eyeliner. It’s all threat and theatre, and rock hasn’t felt this much fun for a long time. Think an American version of The Darkness. Weiland is like an uncaged lion, and with good reason. It was only in April that he was even cleared by the California authorities to tour with the band, having spent several months in court-ordered rehab after pleading no contest last year to heroin possession. The very concept of this musketeer collective was roundly derided, especially by those who thought the former Guns members could never amount to anything without frontman Axl Rose, whose maladjusted antics had led to the band’s cold-storage and an effective slow death from the mid-1990s. That was, until VR’s invigorating debut album Contraband came out in June, precisely a year after their first gig, proving the disbelievers wrong by selling 256,000 copies in its first week, on its way to going platinum.

McKagan, the bassist, remembers it all, and probably knows where all the cynics live. "It’s like when we got Scott in," he smiles. "‘Oh, yeah, great, you’ve got a drug addict for a lead singer. You’ve traded a neurotic guy for a drug addict.’ There were so many nay-sayers. ‘Oh, you guys will never make this record.’ - We made the record in three weeks. ‘Yeah, well, Scott will go back to drugs before the record comes out.’ - We started touring three weeks before the record came out. ‘You guys will never make it through a leg of a tour.’ - We made it through a couple of legs. Then the record goes to number one. Now people are saying, ‘Oh, I knew it all the time.’"

Slash calls them the "anti-band". But, he adds with a cackle, it’s also a bit of a rock’n’roll pissing contest. "There’s a fine line between being anti and being busted. All the guys have had bands that broke up, we’ve all been through the drugs and this mosaic of rock’n’roll experiences. There’s a lot of mutual admiration."

I’ve been told it’s a pleasure working with Velvet Revolver, and it’s true. Each of them shows up obediently at my room to be interviewed in turn, like hopeful job applicants - punctual and personable, indulging in nothing heavier than coffee, and in Slash’s case frequent cigarettes.

That morning, on my first encounter with McKagan, at the absurdly un-rock’n’roll time of 10am, he’s clearly on his way to the gym. Like Weiland, years of indulgence have given his face that skeletal look that Keith Richards practically invented. Other than that, he’s a picture of Californian health, unrecognisable from the man whose gallon-a-day vodka habit made his pancreas explode.

McKagan, 40 last February, married with daughters aged seven and four, is positively shining in the light of survival. "I can’t say I’d trade my life in for anything else," he says. "I’m glad I’ve experienced what I’ve experienced. I’ve got my life back, and I don’t have questions. I don’t think, ‘Maybe I’ll try that...’" But, like the other band members, he is "psyched" to be back in the trenches with a mass-appeal, back-to-basics rock band.

Sorum, the oldest in the band at nearly 44, had most recently served a second term drumming with The Cult, whom he played with in the 1980s, before he joined Guns. "I started to think, ‘That’s it. That’s the most I’m ever going to be in my career,’" he admits.

"I got into The Cult in 1988, joined Guns in 1990, left Guns in 1996, did a shitload of drugs, drank a lot of alcohol, went into rehab, got cleaned up..." Sorum laughs at how Spinal Tap it all sounds. "After I got cleaned up, here’s The Cult again... Okay, now you’re not in The Cult any more... Hey, there’s Slash and Duff! Now I get to do this again. But this time, do it right. Make the right decisions, stay together, be positive, don’t f**k it up - all those kind of things came into my head. There was a lot of gratitude."

They all get snippy at the word supergroup, but if that’s the worst that’s thrown at them, it’s a very minor beef compared to the unmanageable beast that Guns N’ Roses became and the self-induced hell they all negotiated. "Supergroup just reminds me of Asia, or some band that a record company has put together," says McKagan. "But this is a rock’n’roll band. It’s not contrived.

"Basically we ran in the same circles. Slash and I are attached at the hip. The way we roll is the way we roll. We did a press conference in Canada, where Scott said, ‘The rock’n’roll gods put these five guys together. It’s needed now.’" Apparently, it was said without a blush, too.

McKagan tells me that maybe 30 times since Contraband was released, people have come up to him on the street to thank him for rescusitating rock. At the Starland, a 2,000-capacity club that they reduce to a bubbling pool of sweat, Weiland gives the audience the credit. "It’s you, the fans, that have given rock’n’roll a shot in the arm," he says. The crowd responds in kind, and a chant develops. Are they shouting what I think they are? Soon, it’s unmistakable. "Axl sucks! Axl sucks!"

"The supergroup tag is only going to disappear the more gigs we do," says McKagan, "and I can understand why it’s there. But it’s just another tag. Drug-addict tag, has-been tag, supergroup tag - we just have to knock ’em down one at a time.

"With Guns N’ Roses, so many people got involved. When we were just a band left to our own doings, we were fine. Guns got so many extra people. Right now we just have a tour manager, three crew guys and no yes-men. We’ve learned where yes-men come from, and how they can infiltrate and f**k up a band.

"With Guns, there were probably 80 yes-men, and when Axl hears yes 80 times a day, and Slash and I say no, who’s right? It’s 80 against two. Money and sales didn’t have much to do with the demise of that band, it was the yes-men."

None of Rose’s former friends wants to be seen basking in their new success without him. Slash calls him "one of the most amazing, brilliant, sweetheart guys, and at the same time one of the most inconsiderate, nihilistic, unpleasant people you could ever meet".

Rose has been working on Chinese Democracy, a new album with a retooled version of Guns N’ Roses, for years. The latest projected release date is November, but few would be surprised if that deadline dissolves, like many others before it. Meanwhile, his alleged enthusiasm for Botox has been attracting attention. One fan posted an open letter on the Riftrock website earlier this year, saying, "Take a look at yourself, Axl. You look like a member of Milli Vanilli who’s had a run-in with a terrible plastic surgeon."

"I’ll never talk shit about Axl," says McKagan. "I hope one day the guy will be happy. We were five guys who came out of nowhere, in a shitty room, half the size of this one, no bathroom, no kitchen, wrote our own songs, started playing clubs, got a record deal and toured on Appetite for Destruction for a year before it broke. We became a household name, and we did it together."

The members of Velvet Revolver have that rather dazed look of people who have just got off a fairground waltzer: none of them can quite believe they’re all back on terra firma. "I look at Duff McKagan, and nowhere ever did I think I could look at him and see the kind of man he has become," says Sorum. "I used to think, ‘One day the phone’s gonna ring and I’m gonna get some bad news.’"

Slash, the well-spoken, polite antithesis of his ball-breaking image, is equally open. "During the last years of Guns N’ Roses, we used to drink heavily because we’d be waiting to go on stage for three, sometimes four, hours. It was just a sad reality we were in. It almost killed Duff."

McKagan’s erstwhile travelling colleagues, Mr Stoli and Mr Vladivar, had fuelled some rare adventures. "I probably don’t remember the stupidest thing I did," he says, "but we had a film crew with us throughout the whole of the Use Your Illusion tour. We became pretty tight with these guys. They were with us all the time.

"We were playing somewhere in upstate New York, by Niagara Falls, so after the gig the film crew say, ‘Hey, man, we’re going to go to Niagara Falls.’ It’s the middle of the night. We get up there and there’s a fence. It says, ‘Do not cross this point.’ I’m wearing cowboy boots, I’m out of my f**king mind. I say, ‘It’s just a little tiny fence,’ so I climb over it and for the film crew I’m standing on the edge of a rock." He gets up to demonstrate his perilous wobbling. "They were like, ‘Get off there!’"

The payback came soon after. "I had basically resigned myself to the fact that I was going to die by the time I was 30. I had accepted it. It wasn’t a big deal," says McKagan. "I got acute pancreatitis in 1993. My pancreas started to expand, and it burst."

He adds, "It was f**king painful. I woke up one day and I had a little pain, like sharp stabbing pains in the stomach, and the pain started getting lower and lower. And it hit me so suddenly, from that first inkling to where I couldn’t even get to the phone. Luckily my friend Andy came by just at that moment. He came upstairs and said something like, ‘It has finally happened.’ So he put me in his car and rushed me to hospital."

But Slash’s leanest period was still to come. In 1996 Axl Rose chose the characteristically unendearing tactic of announcing Slash’s departure from Guns N’ Roses by faxing a statement to MTV. "When I inevitably quit the band, I went through some real hard times sorting that out, and I almost died after that," says the guitarist. "Then all of a sudden I came out of the hospital clean, and I had a year sober. Now I drink, but not as much, and I haven’t had the desire."

He tells me that on his 39th birthday last month, someone gave him some cocaine, which he put in his pocket. He found it the next day and threw it away. "I’m basically a pretty good guy. Even when I was high, I was more or less considerate. I’ve never been out to hurt anybody. I might have scared a few people in my time, but that sort of went with the territory."

"I’ve heard people relate sobriety to shipwreck victims or Vietnam vets," says Kushner, who has known Slash since they were at school. "You don’t know what it’s like until you’ve been through it. The common factor is that all five of us have."

Kushner honed his addictions in the relative privacy of less successful bands while the Guns juggernaut was revving, and explains them with chilling precision. "You know your life falls apart every time you do drugs, but being an addict you’re like, ‘Maybe it won’t happen this time.’ You just do it anyway, and it’s not because you want the thrill, it’s just that there’s a part of you that convinces you maybe this time you can work it out."

Sorum believes that Weiland is through the worst and has a grip on the prize. "With Scott, I don’t think he’s going to kill himself. He has had enough time clean to be able to think rationally about what it is he wants to do with his life. He knows that when he’s together he makes great music. He has his family, and he’s able to make money and travel. When he’s high, things go down the shitter."

That’s life in the public service endeavour that is Velvet Revolver: rocking out and cheating death, so that you don’t have to. "When we came together, it was almost like a eureka thing," says Slash. "We all wanted to do something that was over-the-top rock’n’roll." And it looks like they’ve succeeded.

Velvet Revolver play the Carling Academy, Glasgow, on Tuesday. The album Contraband is out now on RCA

https://web.archive.org/web/20061214043242/http://living.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1001802004
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2004.08.28 - Living Scotsman - Ex-Druggies & Rock'n'Roll (Slash, Duff, Matt) Empty Re: 2004.08.28 - Living Scotsman - Ex-Druggies & Rock'n'Roll (Slash, Duff, Matt)

Post by Soulmonster Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:54 pm

Trying to figure out which show they played near Niagara Falls during the UYI touring? Anyone have any idea?
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2004.08.28 - Living Scotsman - Ex-Druggies & Rock'n'Roll (Slash, Duff, Matt) Empty Re: 2004.08.28 - Living Scotsman - Ex-Druggies & Rock'n'Roll (Slash, Duff, Matt)

Post by Blackstar Mon Jan 11, 2021 5:09 pm

@Soulmonster wrote:Trying to figure out which show they played near Niagara Falls during the UYI touring? Anyone have any idea?
Maybe this one?

https://www.a-4-d.com/t1922-1992-07-25-rich-stadium-orchard-park-usa
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2004.08.28 - Living Scotsman - Ex-Druggies & Rock'n'Roll (Slash, Duff, Matt) Empty Re: 2004.08.28 - Living Scotsman - Ex-Druggies & Rock'n'Roll (Slash, Duff, Matt)

Post by Soulmonster Mon Jan 11, 2021 6:15 pm

@Blackstar wrote:

@Soulmonster wrote:Trying to figure out which show they played near Niagara Falls during the UYI touring? Anyone have any idea?


Maybe this one?

https://www.a-4-d.com/t1922-1992-07-25-rich-stadium-orchard-park-usa


Yes, that is probably it.
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