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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

2005.05.20 - The Washington Post - Velvet Revolver, Sticking to Its Guns (Slash)

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Post by Blackstar Tue Jan 12, 2021 1:55 am

Velvet Revolver, Sticking to Its Guns

By Richard Harrington

VELVET REVOLVER called its 2004 debut album "Contraband," implying the dictionary definition of unlawful or prohibited trade.

In truth, theirs was more of a forgotten and discredited trade -- swaggering hard rock, practiced by a supergroup formed out of the detritus of two of the biggest bands of the late '80s and early '90s. Glam metal gods Guns N' Roses provided guitarist Slash, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Matt Sorum, while singer-lyricist Scott Weiland came from arena alt-rockers Stone Temple Pilots.

So maybe it's cheating a little bit to say that "Contraband," which opened at No.1 on the Billboard charts and has sold close to 2 million copies, is the fastest-selling debut ever in America. After all, this was a new band with a lot of history, featuring alumni from the most hedonistic band of the '80s and fronted by the most famous rehab rocker of the '90s, making what sounded like last-chance music -- loud, angry, dangerous and powerful.

"It's so natural," Weiland says. "We don't try; nothing's contrived. This just happens to be a group of guys who do what we do and everything happens to come out that way. It's a kind of vibe you just don't see anymore. It must have been what people saw when they saw the Rolling Stones in the '70s. But it's a whole new millennium. We're kind of like 'Sticky Fingers' on steroids!"

Velvet Revolver's rise is phoenixlike because its feeder bands had consumed its members, along with gargantuan amounts of illegal drugs and alcohol. Legend, and publicity, herald a dozen near-deadly drug overdoses among the band's now-clean-and-mostly-sober members.

The other major problem had to do with actually making music. Guns N' Roses released only three albums between 1987 and 1993, and in the mid-'90s, slightly loco singer Axl Rose disappeared under the weight of the infamous "Chinese Democracy" album, now a decade in the making and still with no release date in sight. A frustrated Slash, who has not spoken to Rose since 1996, formed Snakepit, and McKagan and Sorum the Neurotic Outsiders (with Sex Pistol Steve Jones and Duran Duran's John Taylor).

But the guitarist and the Gunners' rhythm section hadn't played together for years before performing at a memorial service for latter-day Motley Crue drummer Randy Castillo in March 2002. At the time, Slash was looking to form a band with Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman and was auditioning bassists.

"But when I hooked up with Matt and Duff again, I thought, 'Why am I spending all my time doing this when everything I'm looking for is right here?' " Fifth wheel and second guitarist Dave Kushner, formerly of Wasted Youth, has been Slash's pal since junior high.

According to Slash, "the Guns N' Roses split was so [expletive], distasteful but it had nothing to do with those guys. It was between myself and Axl and, inevitably, everybody else. For years, we'd subconsciously avoided being seen in any kind of spotlight as 'Guns N' Roses Without Axl' or any Guns N' Roses-like thing. When we finally did walk into a room after six years, it was pretty much water under the bridge, and it felt so good that we just did it."

What they also did was start casting about for a singer.

According to Slash, "Scott was the first guy I thought of because he has this great Jim Morrison-David Bowie-Alice Cooper-John Lennon rock voice -- he's really got a chameleon thing going. I'd never met him or seen an STP concert, I'd only heard him on the radio, but he was the first guy that came to mind when we made a very short list of well-known singers."

But Weiland was still with STP and Slash refused to sabotage another band, though Weiland was doing a pretty good job of that himself. He'd first been arrested in 1995 for heroin and cocaine possession, and when he was ordered to rehab at the end of 1997, STP went on hiatus. Weiland's 1998 tour for his solo album, "12 Bar Blues," ended after more problems with substance abuse and the law, and though he reunited with STP for 1999's "No. 4" album, a six-month jail term prevented him from touring.

The new band spent 10 months auditioning other singers, Slash says. "We wrote some great music, but we weren't finding the right guy to fill the bill as far as being the frontman."

It sure didn't look like it would be Weiland, who admits "it was inevitable STP would implode, and it did. But I was tired of where rock was at that time -- that whole nu-metal thing was killing my passion for rock music."

With STP history, contact was renewed even though, Slash acknowledges, "we were all aware of Scott's baggage." The test drive would be a song intended for the soundtrack of director Ang Lee's "Hulk." The demo sent to Weiland was titled "Rock Song in A." What came back was a song titled "Set Me Free."

Maybe it did just that.

"I had been arrested six or seven times, I'd OD'd five times," Weiland says matter-of-factly. "I walk into this situation, and two of the other guys can boast statistics of the same magnitude. That's not something necessarily to brag about, but you do feel a certain kinship."

What they had been calling The Project was reborn as Velvet Revolver, perhaps a sly dig at the dichotomous name of three of its members' former band, though they insist it's more tribute to the Sex Pistols, whose "God Save the Queen" was Velvet Revolver's first rehearsal song. Weiland's ongoing -- and now apparently past-tense -- problems made recording a challenge but also confirmed a chemistry that, for once, was positive.

"Scott got himself into a lot of trouble, probably got himself to his lowest point ever, and we were there for him," Slash recalls. "Because of his talent and because of his personality and because of him as a human being, and all the really positive stuff about him, it seemed like a tangible thing to deal with because we all got through it. If that's the only problem, you can fix that."

Weiland, he points out, "made a concerted effort, and we sensed that he wanted to get over this thing and come to terms with it. It took a little bit of time but he did it, and we were here to support him. Looking back on it, it was a great bonding experience for all of us."

Weiland, who recorded his "Contraband" vocals under a counselor's supervision and returned each night to lockdown at a Los Angeles detox center, says, "It wasn't rock stars, it was a bunch of desperate people looking for this outlet, which is what we've been doing since we were 15. We had a common bond as far as doing something that meant something to us musically, and it was worth going through whatever we had to go through to pull that off.

As Weiland sees it, "it's like the shipwreck philosophy -- when people survive a shipwreck or a plane crash, there's a certain closeness and camaraderie, because you made it through to the other side. You've survived and come through something that you shouldn't have come through, and there's that bond that's similar that this band has. People who have survived wars are much more characters, I think, than those who have led sheltered lives, and I've passed through quite a lot of battles. I don't wish I had any other, softer lifestyle than I have had. Those experiences have given me battle scars, and men look good with a few scars."

And, he adds, "what makes the shows so explosive is that we all share that past; we've traveled down the same dark grimy streets. And the thing that has been allowing me to find peace and solitude and strength in my life over the last two years is just the fact that I know who I am now, and knowing who I am is what got me my family back." [Weiland reconciled with his wife, who had filed for divorce after his last arrest.]

"Contraband" was recorded almost before Velvet Revolver was a band -- Weiland added lyrics to six previously recorded instrumentals and the band hashed out seven other songs in the studio, including "Fall to Pieces," which addresses his well-publicized struggles with addiction. The album, which deftly mixed elements of both its source bands, came out before they ever performed live.

"It will be interesting to see how the next album is now that the band has developed into this explosive, sexual machine that we have become on stage," Weiland says. "Even the songs that we wrote for the last album are a lot more violent and at the same time sexual when we play them live. And that's a great thing because that's the essence of what rock 'n' roll is."

Slash concurs, saying Velvet Revolver is "working on new material like crazy because we have grown so much. When we got together, that initial spark was a killer, but we did ['Contraband'] really fast. Now there are so many aspects of our talent we haven't tapped into that we're going to be able to put into this next record, so it's really exciting." Recording will begin after this tour ends in September, with a December target for release.

VELVET REVOLVER -- Appearing Saturday at Merriweather Post Pavilion with Hoobastank.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/2005/05/20/velvet-revolver-sticking-to-its-guns/53414274-6120-47a4-8446-d2a505e6ffc0/
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