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SoulMonster
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

2005.01.26 - Kerrang! - Psycho Circus (Slash, Duff, Matt)

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2005.01.26 - Kerrang! - Psycho Circus (Slash, Duff, Matt) Empty 2005.01.26 - Kerrang! - Psycho Circus (Slash, Duff, Matt)

Post by Blackstar Mon Jan 11, 2021 10:42 pm

PSYCHO CIRCUS

Velvet Revolver are the greatest show on earth – both onstage and off. Take you seats for an exclusive, all areas trip into the dark, private heart of the worlds most dangerous rock band…..


8.45pm. Glasgow SECC. First comes Slash. Then Dave Kushner, Duff McKagan and then Matt Sorum. Bringing up the rear is Scott Weiland – hollow cheeks and deadly eyes. Around them, crew members point the way to the stage with torches. There is no chat among Velvet Revolver, no fleeting glances, no little smiles. This is serious.

The lights go down, the crowd roars. The band stands in the wings, feet tapping, fingers twitching.
There’s a collective intake of breath. Then they stride out – Duff, Slash, Dave and Matt. Scott waits a second longer looking alien, like nothing on earth.

The intro to Sucker Train Blues cuts through the darkness, lights go up, drums kick in and they hit it. The crowd goes ballistic, the clanging emptiness of the arena is filled with screaming. Getting to the gig was a different story. The band was due to sound check at 4.00pm. At 4.30pm their tour bus pulled up to the hotel. The soundcheck was scrapped. Matt Sorum wasn’t even in the country at the time. Because this is Velvet Revolver and nothing works in the way it is planned.

* * *

THE FIRST thing they do when they arrive at the hotel is disappear into their rooms. Last night they were in Dublin and they’ve spent the whole day today travelling. Slash hates travelling anywhere by plane, having to deal with the airports and having to uproot himself from hotel to bus, from bus to airport and airport to plane.

“It’s just fucking arduous” he drawls “Airports are taxing.” He doesn’t have long to get over it. Within an hour he and Weiland are in another hotel room doing another interview for the local press. An hour later they emerge, shell-shocked, a little worn down.

Weiland comes out first, in a new duffle coat he picked up in London last time he was there and hat pulled low down his forehead. We’re introduced. He freezes, his face blank but hostile, his mind racing. He takes a step back and sizes me up with a look that says “who the fuck are you? How are you going to fuck me over?”

Then, in a split second, the face relaxes into a smile – he’s a different person, he shakes hands, more firmly than you’d expect and he introduces himself. Then he’s off down the stairs as Slash wanders over. Suddenly Weiland pauses. “Are you the guy coming on the bus with us?”

“Yes, if that’s okay?" Two beats…. three beats… “Well… okay.”

Slash’s handshake nearly rips your hand off. “I’m Slash. How’s it going? Man, it’s been hard work getting here. Matt’s still in Dublin. He got a little loaded last night.”

It’s an easy, Californian confidence he has – one that’s used to meeting strangers in strange towns. You sense that this is what he lives for, the new faces, the things to do, the attention coming his way – perhaps because it hasn’t been like this in a while.

* * *

WHAT HAPPENS next – show time minus two hours - defines the band. Duff McKagan (calm, organised) goes to the venue to start warming up. Slash (laid-back, calm but nervous on the inside) drinks in the hotel bar, somewhere he can usually be found around 7.00pm on every show night. Then he gets on the tour bus to drive him to the venue – the bus that’s almost like a womb to him.Dave Kushner (quiet, shy, withdrawn) joins him on the bus, listening to Muse on his computer, downloading early tracks from iTunes. He stays apart from the band, not because he’s the new guy, but because he’s happy in his own world. “I like to do my own thing,” he says “I’m pretty reclusive”

Scott Weiland (firey, bi-polar, loner) goes to his room to get his head ready for the performance. He hates to be at the venue for too long before the shows. “It’s too much stress for me, “ he says. Instead, he’s ensconced in his room…. “not thinking about what’s going to happen. When the whole preparation starts…… I guess it’s like a religious thing. It’s like a ceremony. The rock’n’roll experience is like a religious ceremony.”

Matt Sorum (party animal), however, is on a twin-propeller aeroplane being bounced and buffeted around somewhere over the Irish Sea with his much younger, blond, beautiful girlfriend. During the night out in Dublin last night, he was told by an Irish cabbie that the planes flew to Glasgow every hour. They don’t and he missed the only plane he could have got. So he hires one at $4000. “$1000 for every hour of lie-in I had” he laughs later. He’s relaxed and casual – a hulking, blond surfer who giggles a lot and tries not to get “caught up in the drama”.

* * *

KUSHNER AND Slash are met at the SECC by one of the crew – a man who exudes efficiency and is, apparently, the New York arm wrestling champion. Slash greets him like a long lost brother (most of the crew have been working with him since Guns n’ Roses) They’re walked through the maze of corridors and empty dressing rooms backstage and there’s a moment where no-ones looks sure of the way. “Where are we going?” says someone, “Hello, Cleveland” says someone else.

Backstage it’s all flight cases, roadies scurrying from one corner to another as support band The Datsuns blast away. In the dressing room it’s quiet – much quieter than you’d expect. McKagan is warming up, listening to Motown records and playing along with their hammering funky basslines. Slash is nervous. “Every night I’m nervous, every fucking night,” he says. “I get edgy as soon as I get to the venue. I’ve always been like that. I’m neurotic about it. It’s really bad; it’s really unhealthy. I wish I could be one of those people that just walk up there and does his thing, walks off and it’s the same every night.”

The dressing room is dry – there is no alcohol or drugs, except a little stash of wine and Jack Daniels in Slash’s corner. There’s a little joking around, but it’s quiet. Slash pulls a guitar from one of the flight cases and starts playing. He pours a glass of wine and chain smokes cigarettes. He has another glass of wine, then a coffee, and then more wine. “Poor man’s speedball.” he says. Kushner is listening to music. “Normally Muse, Slipknot or Slayer – something to get the blood pumping” Then Weiland arrives, puts on his make-up and gets into his outfit. This is a different Weiland from earlier, one who clearly has nothing else on his mind but going “out there”. So what drives him to do it….the attention?

“No. I don’t thrive on the attention,” he says. Every word is considered. Sentences are littered with minute long pauses. “What I am on stage is something completely different to what I am as a human being and songwriter. When I’m performing I’m the same person as I am when I fuck.” So what’s going on in your head on stage? The same thing as when your fucking? “Pretty close. Fucking and fighting…same kind of thing.”

What’s happening in the dressing room…..foreplay? “Kind of…it’s kind of what it would be like for woman getting all prettied up and putting lingerie on. Or getting dressed for a street fight. Or a fighter getting ready to go into the ring. I have to be someone totally different.”

SORUM EVENTUALLY arrives – about half an hour before show time. No one in the band seems worried about his lateness. He’s revelling in being the last one to the party, laughing and joking about his turbulent flight – “An hour and 10 minutes of thinking about death. We had two pilots who were both telling each other how to fly the thing. We were like, ‘Huh?’”. The attention, he says, is one of the reasons he’s doing this. “Sure, I love it,” he says “We’re all fucking hams. I’m smacking a gong up on stage. That’s pretty silly. I love it!” Then he changes. There’s no warming up, playing on a practice pad, or “any of that bullshit” for him. There are no nerves either, not until he’s walking on stage and they roar for him.

Occasionally one of the band slips out to the toilet, running the gauntlet between the stage and the crowd. They roar whenever they see one of them. McKagan gives them a small wave, Slash looks mortified and pulls an embarrassed grimace “I’m only going to the fucking john,” he says.

There’s no group hug before show time – “none of that shit,” says McKagan – just a quick glance to see if everyone is ready, and they’re marching down the corridor. Then they’re on and it’s powerful, even from the side of the stage. Weiland, in his own words, is a “preacher, politician, whore, soldier, everything”. He’s nothing like the thin, suspicious man he was earlier. He works the crowd, despises them, loves them, and they can’t take their eyes from him as he whirls around the stage. “I’m really not one for shoegazing” he says later.

They’re constantly glancing at each other, giving little looks that keep them all in with each other, little looks you can’t notice from out front. Once McKagan stands on the drumriser and gives Sorum the most fleeting of grins, a look that says ‘this is alright, isn’t it?’ Sorum flashes one back just as quickly – a split second of communication borne from years of history.

They come off before the first encore and drape themselves in towels. All except Sorum and Kushner are topless, all of them glisten with sweat. Weiland wraps a huge greatcoat round himself and disappears. McKagan paces about, getting his breath back before nipping to the toilet. Sorum too. Slash and Kushner just sit on a crate, not saying a word, not smiling, not even looking at each other, just rebuilding the energy. Outside, people are screaming for more, shouting through the curtains. Then, with no obvious signal, Slash gets up and the others follow him back on stage.

Another few songs and they’re offstage again. This time they stand together chatting, knowing they’re on the home stretch, only one more encore to go. McKagan opens a non-alcoholic beer. Slash is towelled down by one of the crew and they’re back out again. Three more songs and they’re done, whisked from stage to dressing room by security.

* * *

IT’S A good gig, but not their best. Slash is uncomfortable throughout, telling his monitor man to give him more guitar. “Nothing sounded loud to me. People at the front there saying ‘that’s fucking loud’. But I couldn’t hear it. Everyone was saying ‘good gig, good gig’. I was like, ‘really?’ It wasn’t a disaster. I just couldn’t get in the groove.”

He stays in the venue, annoyed with himself, before finally getting back to the hotel early in the morning. He watches ‘Sky News’ alone in his room, trying to will himself downstairs towards the bar but knowing he’s fighting a losing battle. He takes his boots off and sleeps fitfully, “fucked” by jetlag. McKagan is already asleep in his own room when Slash gets back – the bassist now works like clockwork. Up at 8.00am and in the gym an hour later, early to the soundcheck, early to the venue and straight back afterwards. He chats to his family on a video linked to the internet and is in bed by 11.00pm – “Scott will tell you I’m the most boring man on tour”.

His partying days are behind him. “If I have another drink I’ll die” he says bluntly “It’s not really tempting.” He is however, prone to panic attacks, to moments of extreme terror – he freezes, he gets the sweats and his heart rate goes through the roof. “I have a low serotonin level and I get freaked out in enclosed spaces, in lifts, in tight dressing rooms. I retreat into myself and I just can’t function.” When it happens, he turns to his safe people – Slash is one – and they talk him down. “It happened before the first Velvet Revolver gig, “ he says “it was a cross between a press conference and a gig and I got an attack. Slash can tell when it happens, he turned to me and said ‘you’re having one, aren’t you?’. Then he sorted me out.”

Kushner goes to bed early too. Weiland is in his hotel room eating – something he likes to do after gigs if his wife isn’t with him. If she is, he likes to “have sex with my wife”. Sorum, arriving at the hotel in a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce settles down in the hotel bar, his girlfriend on his arm, and stays there til five in the morning. Then he sleeps until noon, blowing out the band’s soundcheck in Newcastle later in the day, to McKagan’s annoyance.

“There tend to be arguments in this band,” says McKagan. “They come from nowhere – they can just escalate like you wouldn’t believe. We’re all type A people. We’re confident in what we’re doing and what we want to do, so it happens.” Sorum agrees. “I don’t think me missing flights goes over the whole time. I try to be professional but I’ve had a few tumbles. They don’t mind me being human. Duff and I are like brothers – we beat each other up. We’ve chased each other round hotel rooms. I can get pretty uppity at times and I’m usually the one that starts it – I have a temper! Duff’s very even-keeled, he’s never really been a prick.” Have you? “Yeah, I’ve been a prick. An occasional prick.”

* * *

INSIDE THE Velvet Revolver tour bus the day after the Glasgow gig, it’s like watching a different band. This is home to them. There’s something gratifyingly mundane about it. It’s a chance to see how they operate as people. It’s a nice bus, but not overly luxurious – not something beyond the means of lesser bands. The kitchen is loaded with cereal – not the whiskey and drugs of old. Virtually everyone of them plumps for a bowl of Country Crunch, then Slash tries to nap in one of the bunks. McKagan watches ‘Ali G’ on the TV in the back, pacing up and down and repeating the word ‘Poonani!’ in an appalling Ali G accent. Sorum gets into a bunk with his girlfriend while Kushner chats, then moves back down the bus.

Weiland is pacing about in baggy trousers and a shirt, and couldn’t be more of a contrast to his onstage persona. He looks tired. We’re supposed to be doing an interview now but he’s not in the right mood, so instead we sit and chat about his family, how thrilled he is to have them back, and how he’d like to take them on the road all the time. “It’s complicated though and not always the best thing for the kids,” he says “Kids need stability, routine, they need to know when they’re going to eat, where they’re going to bed.”

The tenderness with which he speaks of his family is surprising only if you think Scott Weiland is just the person you see on stage. He’s not. “I get treated for a bi-polar disorder,” he says later “it’s the only way I can operate. For years I tried to get through life by not taking medication. For years I self-medicated.”

He’s engaging to talk to; honest but guarded, aware he is talking to a journalist – and journalists haven’t always treated him fairly. Sometimes the wall goes up and what comes out is a great quote but doesn’t get you very near to the man. When he get’s going though, he’s fascinating….“A great gig is like great sex. It’s a reaffirmation of one’s self as a creative entity, a reaffirmation of yourself as a human being. It’s another reason to live. It’s a way of exorcising fantasies that I have that I can’t exorcise in my own life. I’m quite a shy person.. I’ve lived my life under a microscope, and I really appreciate the times when I have a little privacy. I like to put on a coat and cap and try to be one of the crowd.”

Would you prefer to be recognised never or always? (Pause for nearly a minute) “I guess……… (10 seconds) ….. I guess I’m a contradiction like every rock star. Never recognised when it suits me but always recognised for music I’ve created, for the legacy I hope I’m part of.”

Do you have a lot of self confidence? “It’s like a pendulum. It constantly goes back and forth. It’s not a constantly shifting thing as it used to be. I have a much better grasp on who I am than I used to….” So who are you? (30 seconds) “…um…..that’s an interesting question….” (30 seconds) “…I think I’m a guy that was born with a lot of gifts and a lot of talents, with almost equal insecurities. Those insecurities were a gift in a sense because they were there to balance out and test the natural talents like creativity that I had. If I didn’t have those self-doubts I never would have pushed myself as far as I did. There have been a lot of dark spots, and I think, a lot of brilliance and bright spots, too. The dark spots, a lot of the light spots and the beautiful colours between have made me who I am.”

Would you be willing to exchange the peaks and troughs for a flat line through the middle? (Quick as a flash) “Never, never, never. No.” NEWCASTLE GIG is better. The band is crisper and Slash seems to have fallen into his groove. When it’s over, most of Velvet Revolver head into their bus, ready for the drive to Manchester. Not Weiland though.

He wants a shower and meal first, and goes back to his room. He stays there for hours, lying low. The band wait for him outside, his tour manager pacing up and down, trying to keep to the schedule. Moments like these are vital for Weiland’s head. Whether they irritate his fellow bandmates is impossible to tell, because they present a united front when asked. Not one of them offers anything other than praise for Weiland, a man they – and they’re not alone – believe to be the best front man in the world.

They support each other, a circle of trust that, through years of experience in other bands, might just be able to withstand anything. Three of Velvet Revolver used to be in the most volatile, compulsive band that ever existed. And they may have just found themselves another one.
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