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2005.03.21 - The Ottawa Citizen - Slash And Burnout

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2005.03.21 - The Ottawa Citizen - Slash And Burnout  Empty 2005.03.21 - The Ottawa Citizen - Slash And Burnout

Post by Blackstar on Tue Jan 12, 2021 8:19 pm

Slash and burnout

Rock's bad boy talks about Axl and the new guy


After the strain of dealing with Axl Rose, one of rock's most legendary nutcases, you'd think the rest of Guns N’ Roses would stay away from troubled frontmen.

But the former GNR guitarist Slash says Scott Weiland was the perfect candidate to front the latest post-Guns project, Velvet Revolver, despite the fact the Stone Temple Pilots singer has spent most of his adult life battling an addiction to heroin.

Even after months of auditioning hundreds of singers, Slash kept thinking back to Weiland.

"The only guy that was well known out of the whole list ihat I really thought was perfect was Scott," said the soft-spoken guitarist in a recent phone interview. "But he was in STP still. The last thing we wanted to do was sabotage STP so we just let it go, and auditioned people for nine months."

Slash and his former band-mates drummer Matt Sorum and bassist Duff McKagan along with ex-Wasted Youth Electric Love Hog guitarist Dave Kushner, had been jamming since 2002, and the rock 'n' roll chemistry was clicking into place.

The search for a singer stepped up when offers came in to contribute songs to two soundtracks.

"We took those two gigs and figured we'll get somebody to do it and we'll just do these two things and it will break up the monotony," Slash says. "At that particular point in time, Scott had left STP and we found out about it, so we talked to Scott."

But between leaving STP and going through a divorce, Weiland was having a rough year.

"The whole divorce thing really pulled me through a keyhole emotionally so I fell backwards on a narcotic slide and had to pay the price," Weiland says in the band's official bio. "But these guys were there to catch my fall... They've all kicked dope so it's not like I'm the lone junkie in the band or I'm the only one who knows what it's like to kick a three-gram-a-day heroin habit."

They had their singer, demons and all, recorded the two songs and planned a press conference, but still needed a name. "Knowing that we had a gig coming up and we were going to announce this as a new band, we started going through different names and the last name I came up with was Revolver," Slash says.

Too many other bands had the same name so they began adding adjectives. Weiland's suggestion, Black Velvet Revolver, was deemed to be too much like Stone Temple Pilots. It was trimmed to Velvet Revolver, a handle that echoes the imagery of Guns N' Roses.

"Nah, it sounds more like the Sex Pistols," responds Slash. "To me, it's all sexual. It's all phallic."

The band released its debut disc, Contraband, last summer, loading it with snakey electric guitars, a flat-out rhythm section and Weiland's twisted lyrics, the poetry of a junkie corning off a toxic relationship.

Nonetheless, it was greeted as a high-profile revival of hard rock from a veritable supergroup. It also contained a hit the overblown ballad Fall To Pieces was embraced by radio stations. The disc has been selling steadily and earned the band a Grammy Award for best hard-rock performance for the song, Slither.

Although plans are already in place for pre-production towards their second disc (the band is on a mission to have it out by the end of the year), Slash insists Velvet Revolver is, first and foremost, a live act. He's been convinced since their first official gig, the press conference and showcase in Los Angeles last year.

"That was the first time I'd ever performed on stage with Dave Kushner or Scott and it was just so explosive," he says. "Listening back to it, it was sloppy and mayhem, but it was the kind of rock 'n' roll sloppy that's just the right kind. So from that point, we've been so confident as a live band. It just clicked but it was killer to begin with."

Since last fall, the band has been touring hard, plowing its way through Britain, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, the United States and now a few dates in Canada. They stop at the Corel Centre Wednesday. With just one disc of material, they fill out the show with tracks by GNR and STP, along with a few cover songs.

"The band really rocks, regardless," Slash says. "It's just fine tuning it where you do it every day and you just improvise, you start making shit up and the jams start becoming looser....more sort of spontaneous and tighter at the same time, and everything starts to fall into place without thinking about it at all."

As for causing trouble along the road, Motley Crue style, Slash says they tend to spend their free time focusing on the music, whether it's leading up to each night's gig or working on new material in hotel rooms.

"We've all been around the block so many times," the guitarist says, "that when there is any crazy stuff, it doesn't get to the point where it becomes national news.

"But you know, there are moments when it's a little bit nuts, but at the same time, the band is very much in control."

He goes as far as saying that Velvet Revolver is a dream come true for everyone involved.

"We've all been in great touring bands but we've never been able to find as individuals the right exact bunch of people to play with," Slash says. "As rock 'n' roll sort of diminishes in the mainstream ... it gets harder and hard to find people to play with. So when we got together, it was really explosive. The energy level is majorly high and we're having a blast."

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