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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.

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2020.10.07 - Gretsch Generations - Interview with Matt

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2020.10.07 - Gretsch Generations - Interview with Matt Empty 2020.10.07 - Gretsch Generations - Interview with Matt

Post by Blackstar Mon 2 Nov 2020 - 0:04


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2020.10.07 - Gretsch Generations - Interview with Matt Empty Re: 2020.10.07 - Gretsch Generations - Interview with Matt

Post by Blackstar Mon 10 Jun 2024 - 18:29

Excerpts from Ultimate Guitar:

During a conversation with Gretsch, drummer Matt Sorum (Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver, The Cult, etc.) looked back on his very first show with GN'R after joining the fold in 1990.

Looking back on the gig, Matt commented:

"My whole career has been like flying by the seat of my pants. I've dealt with these guys that are very interesting characters - and you learn to love 'em, but at the time, you're like, 'What the hell is going on out here?!' Here I am, rehearsing with Guns N' Roses for our first show where I'm gonna play with the band at Rock in Rio, my first introduction to the world. So, I joined, and we started working on these records, and then we got a call to go play two nights in Rock in Rio, headlining. Judas Priest was opening for us - Megadeth one night, the bill was crazy. But we were headliners. 140,000-seat stadiums, two nights, sold out for Guns N' Roses. I get there - and I've never rehearsed with Axl, I've never rehearsed with the guy. We were gonna do it live in front of 140,000 people - plus on television - and I'm freaking out before the show... I'm looking around and I'm like, 'Hey, does anyone know what the setlist is...? I'd like to check out the setlist...' And Slash goes, 'We don't use a setlist.' And I'm, like, 'What...?' So I got no information about what's gonna go down.

'Basically, before the show - and I learned this happened with that band - every night, Axl's guy, Earl Gabbidon - he basically took care of Axl - came over to me and said, 'We're gonna start with 'Welcome to the Jungle,' 'We're gonna start with 'Nightrain.'' He would tell me every night, so that whole 'Use Your Illusion' tour, there was never a setlist. And we figured out how to give each other eye signals - or someone took a riff - but we figured it out. And here we were, on a stadium-sized stage... But that particular night at Rock in Rio, we started with a song no one ever heard before, called 'Pretty Tied Up,' which we just finished recording. And it started with the hi-hat, and I just remember looking out, and the crowd was already bouncing... I was, like, 'I'm only playing the hi-hat...' [Laughs] You felt that when they bounce and the stage is kind of rolling - it was intense. And I was, like, 'Fasten your seatbelt, man, this shit's gonna get crazy.' And it did. But that one of the highlights - just the beginning of it."


During an appearance on Gretsch Generations, former Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver drummer, Matt Sorum, talked about the recording process of the band's 1991 "Use Your Illusion" albums.

Sorum commented (transcribed by UG):

"When we were recording 'Use Your Illusions' 1 and 2, we went to the A&M Studios, which is now called Henson, and we were in the big Studio A, and that's probably the most famous for where they recorded 'We Are the World' with Michael Jackson and everything. It's right here in Hollywood, it used to be owned by Charlie Chaplin.

"And so we were in there, we had the big rig, and the idea was - we recorded live in those days when the Pro Tools weren't out yet, it just was coming, the first time I saw it was with on the Metallica 'Black Album.'

"Me and Lars were friends, that was the first time I ever saw Pro Tools; I was like, 'What is that?' But we were still cutting tape and rolling tape. So anyway, we go in there and we got this song 'You Could Be Mine' and we would only do two or three takes.

"Because I'd say, 'Hey, can we do another take?', and Slash would say, 'What do you want, to just suck the rock 'n' roll right out of it, don't you?' I go, 'Come on man, we can play it better!'

"But his idea was let's get the first impression of what the song is - the sheer energy, no click tracks in those days, we just went in there and played! Slash and Duff would set up in front of me and Axl would come sometimes and play.

"But most of the time it was the band and Izzy Stradlin. So I did the beginning of this song 'You Could Be Mine,' but in the third take, I decided to throw in a little bit a la Terry Bozzio, but my interpretation is quite a bit slower.

"And the band went like, 'Huh?!' I remember Mike Clink, the producer, stopping the track and going, 'That's the one!' And it was like the third take or something.

"So it was like one of those accidents you hear about, that becomes like a pretty big part of my career. People always remind me that they love that intro, or whatever, and I remember - just for some reason I'm gonna go there, and I did, and that's how that ended up...

"When you find those other guys, that symbiotic connection that you guys have as a band, that's the greatest part of it. I have a similar story - one day, I heard Izzy Stradlin play, he was playing like kind of one of those Spanish Flamenco things.

"And I went and he was in the other room similar to yours, you just hear something, and I went [playing drums], we kicked in and that became 'You Could Be Mine.' And that was one take!

"And Duff was just standing there and he picked up the bass and all of a sudden, it was on! And luckily, Mike Clink - he produced UFO and a bunch of bands - he was taught when you see the guys up there doing something, you push Record.

"I remember being invited to a Rolling Stones session and as soon as Keith Richards walked in the room the engineer was ready to go. It was like, 'Something's going down and we better capture it because if we miss it...'

"That's the moment in a rock 'n' roll manner, a unit - there are magical moments that happen that might not happen again. It's almost like when you go to write a song and you forget to put it on tape and then you wake up and it's gone!

"That's happened to me a lot of times - I can't remember that riff! But you gotta get in there and do it because for some reason it's that moment that just brings that thing! You're lucky to be part of that magic!"

Wow, that's interesting to hear that Guns N' Roses were like that - visceral and not premeditated or whatever.

"Well, yeah, the producer, Mike Clink, in those days, he was more like a babysitter than a producer. The idea was to get the band in the room, the mics are up, what condition are they in...

"So we would get there at noon, and Slash was really the band leader, so we'd walk in the studio and pretty much sit down and we had all these rough forms of songs written, like working titles...

"We were like - we had a lot of songs a lot of riffs, and they would kind of go in there and basically lay them down, and then Axl would make sense of what it was lyrically. But one time I remember, we went across the street to this club called Crazy Girls, which was a gentlemen's club.

"We went to have our afternoon cocktails, and upon arriving back at the studio, it was happy hour, and drinks were cheap, so we had more than a couple. Mike looks at us he's like, 'You guys are… go home!'

"And we got, 'Whoa, come on, we want to jam!' And Izzy had this strong song called 'You Ain't the First,' and if you listen to it, it's basically a drunken pirate song! But we were in the perfect state of mind to track it.

"I think I had a tambourine, I could barely hit the kick drum, so I had to get my drum tech to go boom' because I couldn't do it in time, I was so drunk. But the tambourine, if you listen to it, it's even a little wobbly, but it's kind of perfect.

"So it's one of those things, and so that's what you hear on the record - is us all lined up with acoustic guitars, a bass drum, my tech playing it because I couldn't stand up, swinging a tambourine... And we recorded it live, man!

"You listen to a lot of music and you go back to those older records of what we grew up to, you go, 'Man, why is it so great? Why do I feel so much when I listen to the music, the human connection of what's going on with the track?'

"And I think when you get in there and people start getting too clinical, it takes away whatever gives that sort of emotional feeling to your heart, it takes away the real human connection.

"That's the only way I could figure it out because I can't connect to a lot of music that's very linear. Because of human nature, as a drummer even, we want to speed up and slow down.

"We want to pick it up in the chorus, we want to drop back down into the verse, even take it up another bpm in the solo, it's got to move a little bit. So, I don't know, that's just my take on things."


During an appearance on Gretsch Generations, former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum talked about filling in for Mikkey Dee in Motorhead on tour back in 2009.

Remembering how the Motorhead stint came to be, Matt commented (transcribed by UG):

"I got a text from him [frontman Lemmy Kilmister], I could hear his voice through the text, 'Matt, it's Lemmy.'

"And I said this at his memorial, I said, 'Why me?'... And Lemmy texts me back, 'Because Dave Grohl wasn't available.' What I loved about him - he just told the truth all the time.

"But anyway, I met them out in Washington D.C. - I got a DVD in the mail of Motorhead at the Wacken Festival, and I'm like, 'What the hell?'

"And then I get a text from Lemmy, 'Learn the show, we'll meet you in Washington D.C.' I'm like, 'What, no rehearsal?'

"So, basically, I learned the Wacken show from Germany, which is a huge festival in Germany - It's pretty metal, pretty hardcore. And I get to D.C. and I say, 'We're not rehearsing?' He's like, 'No, soundcheck.'

"So I'm up there, I'm doing 'Bomber,' 'Overkill' - this is all double bass - 'Ace of Spades,' all the songs. And then we did the show that night - I remember, I gotta say, I've been playing drums a long time, playing on a lot of stages...

"But it was one of the most nervous nights of my life because as a Motorhead fan, you're dedicated, you're loyal to Motorhead - and, 'Who's this guy Matt Storm coming in here?'

"It's like, they're all wearing biker jackets, even the girls were like, 'Aaaaaaarr!' And I'm up there...

"Man, I said after that tour I could have just walked off into the cornfield and retired. That scene with Kevin Costner and 'Field of Dreams.' It was cool, it was a real honor, and something I never thought would happen."

Looking back on the early days and being a young rock fan, Sorum said:

"All that great interaction - that's what's missing, I feel, for me. I was lucky to come up in it; I grew up in the 70s, that was my upbringing, and I got to see bands that would jam, just jam, go on for...

"I remember seeing Zeppelin and man, the jams were like 20 minutes long. If you go back and watch 'Dazed and Confused' there was never one similar version of those.

"Cream, even Sabbath! If you listen to a lot of that early stuff, like, 'OK cool...'

"And it's funny because I wrote something this morning about Van Halen, and I remember coming to Hollywood in the '70s and seeing Van Halen when they were a band called Mammoth, and how exciting of a time it was for rock 'n' roll.

"And when Van Halen got signed in like '78, and they took off, and Alex Van Halen had all those drums, four bass drums, and gong - he had a gong!

"Not only did he have a gong but he had a gong that lit on fire, and I was like, 'Oh my God, how does he do that?!' And it was so exciting for an American kid because they were our band.

"You got to remember, in the '70s it was mostly Brits - it was Zeppelin, Sabbath, Deep Purple... The only band that we had that was really American was Aerosmith but they were East Coast guys.

"Grand Funk Railroad and bands like that - but Van Halen was a California band, Pasadena. And I'm a California kid!

"So when Van Halen broke in '78, they got signed, the Whiskey a Go-Go, I used to play with them in the '70s, they played four nights a week, and when they made it, I'm like, 'Oh my God, I can make it too!'

"That could look all like hope, and then all these musicians just started flocking to Hollywood - Zakk Wylde, and George Lynch, and Randy Rhoads, and all these and drummers like Randy Castillo, and Tommy Lee...

"And all of a sudden, there was this big rock 'n' roll dominance! Such a great time. And I remember I was having these feelings about Eddie like everybody was, and then I had this personal connection that I felt so emotional later on in the evening about how much that meant.

"Because for me, at my time coming up, it was pretty much the band that set the path for guys from California claiming they were going to be a rock 'n' roller.

"We did, it was a little bit untouchable with the Brit thing, and Queen! And so I hand it to those guys, I hand it to Alex Van Halen and a very underrated drummer.

"And every guitar player on social media is talking about the influence of Eddie Van Halen, he might be the greatest of all time in that ilk.

"Speaking of Eddie Van Halen, one of my first big auditions was for Steve Vai. And I went down, I auditioned at SIR, and when I got there - I wasn't a big name guy at that point, I hadn't joined any really big band.

"I was just a guy around Hollywood - people knew me, I was playing in a lot of bands. And I get to the line at SIR and there's Gregg Bissonette, Mark Brzezicki, who was an amazing drummer, a bunch of really great drummers...

"God, all these amazing guys. Oh man, I almost turned around and went home. I was like, 'Forget it!' So I go in there and there's the bass player, Billy Sheehan, Steve Vai, and he runs me through this.

"Steve Vai basically stands over me and starts telling me all these odd meters, 'Play 5/4, play 7/4!' And I gave him my best Genesis beat, 7/4, I played like Zep one, 5/4 beat I knew.

"And then he goes, 'Play 26 over eight!' And I looked at him and went, 'Why?' And then he ended up writing his notes and I didn't get the gig.

"But that was the incarnation of David Lee Roth when he left Van Halen. I auditioned for that, but then long story short - I went out, I didn't play double-bass drums, and that was one thing they wanted - was a double-bass drummer.

"So I went out and I got all these - I got this big double-bass kit and I sat there and just playing. 'I gotta learn double bass!'

"And then my buddy Pat Torpey, who was a drummer from a band called Mr. Big, got rest his soul he passed on, but he called me and said, 'Hey Matt, this band The Cult is looking for a drummer, and I'm starting a new band called Mr. Big. You should go check it out, I told them about you.'

"So I went down there and I brought my big double-bass drum kit, and they walked in, they go, 'What's with the other bass drum? Get rid of that one.'

"I went over there, I picked it up, and I moved it outside. And they didn't like the color either, they didn't like that it was red. They go, 'Get black drums.' I'm like, 'OK.''

Was that just Ian and Billy and then just a bass player...?

"Amy Stewart, the original bassist. So, me, Billy and Jamie. And when you audition, so I'd say this, there are drummers out there listening that want to go and audition - learn every song they ever wrote!

"Because you don't know when they're going to throw you a curveball. I went in there, I learned the 'Love' album, the 'Electric' album, the early stuff, 'Death Cult'...

"I was ready, man, and I sat there and I would shed it. The Cult changed, so I had to kind of morph styles - 'Sanctuary' was a really straightforward, simple kind of drumming.

"The drummer's name... I'm spacing out in his name right now [Nigel Preston], but it was different, and then Les Warner was kind of a little sloppy or rock 'n' roll swaggery feel...

"And then I had to listen to all of it and somehow make it work for me. And I went in there, and they go, 'Do you know this one or this one?' I'm like' 'Yup, yup, yup, yup...'

"And I got the gig because I was ready. Plus I dressed in all black, I had motorcycle boots on, I had the looks right. In those days, you had to have the look all together, everything had to be in the pocket with a rock 'n' roll band."

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