|VELVET REVOLVER BEATING THE ODDS
BY RANDY SMITH
By now everyone, everywhere has heard of Velvet Revolver, the new supergroup featuring guitarist Slash, vocalist Scott Weiland, bassist Duff McKagan, drummer Matt Sorum and rhythm guitarist Dave Kushner. But what they havenít heard (except for a smidgen of movie soundtrack tunes) is music by this band of former members of Guns Ní Roses, the Cult and Stone Temple Pilots. But all of that is about to soon change. At this very moment this high-profile collection of rock and roll talents is in a West Coast recording studio laying down the tracks destined to comprise their eagerly-anticipated debut album. Recently we managed to track down Slash for a few words in regard to the status of Velvet Revolver.
Hit Parader: So how does it feel to be back in the spotlight?
Slash: It feels great because itís happening for all the right reasons. People are interested in us because they believe that we can make some great music, and we think theyíre right. But itís not like we havenít been doing anything over the last few years. Iíve been doing my thing with Snakepit, Matt was with the Cult and Duffís been busy with his own projects. But it does feel great to be working together and making some really exciting music.
HP: So how did you come up with the name Velvet Revolver? Thatís an obvious Guns Ní Roses ďplayĒ ... isnít it?
Slash: For a long time we didnít want to have any name, at least until we finalized on who the singer was going to be . For a while we just referred to what we were doing as The Project, and that name almost stuck. But once Scott came on board, things began to take shape. We liked the name Revolver because of our past associations, but it seemed a little too obvious ... too in-your-face, if you know what I mean. So then Scott was the one who thought that Velvet Revolver sounded cool, and as soon as he said it, we all agreed.
HP: We all know that Scott has had his share of personal problems - some as recently as last summer. Do you all feel those are now behind him?
Slash: I think they are. Look, I donít think itís a big secret that weíve all been through some of that stuff. We can relate to what Scott is going through almost too well. But he seems so excited about this band, and so focused on what weíre doing, that I canít imagine him wanting to jeopardize it in any way. I have confidence that heíll be able to keep it together, and he know that he has a major support group in the rest of us whenever he feels the need to call on us.
HP: A lot of guitarists always complain about working with singers... and youíre certainly no exception going back to your days with Axl Rose. What makes Scott different?
Slash: What makes him different is that heís cool to work with and a good friend. At the end of the day, that might be the most important thing. Duff, Izzy, Matt and I have remained friends throughout everything weíve been through. Axl was just too high strung and unpredictable for that. He didnít need anybody... at least in his mind. Scott is a total pleasure, especially in comparison to that
HP: Give us a little Velvet Revolver history. We had heard about the band, with various singers, going back to 2002.
Slash: I guess it does go back to 2002, thatís when Duff, Matt and I started jamming with Keith Nelson and Joshua Todd of Buck Cherry. We did some work with them, wrote some songs and stuff, but it wasnít going in just the direction we wanted. We had some fun with a few other vocalists, but it wasnít until Scottís name came up that everyone really started to get serious. Suddenly we realized we had a band that could be really big - and more importantly, make some incredible music.
HP: Was it true that at one point former Skid Row vocalist Sebastian Bach was gonna be your frontman?
Slash: We all think Sebastian is the best, heís a great friend and an amazing frontman, but he wasnít the guy we had in mind for this band. We did a little work together, just to try things out, and a lot was made out of that by some people. But it was just some friends having fun, it was never anything serious
HP: What are the present plans for the band? Are you still planning on having your first album out early in 2004?
Slash: Thatís the plan. I think weíve got enough material already together to make it happen. Once Scott started writing with us, things went to an entirely new level, and once that happened we knew that we should take out time and make sure every song was great. The goal from the moment we got together was to make sure that this album was incredible. We want it to be the kick-off point for a long career.
HP: Having lived in the ultimate spotlight with Guns Ní Roses, and having felt a bit of audience apathy as a solo performer, how important is huge success to you now?
Slash: If you remember when we talked back during the early Guns Ní Roses days, I always said the important thing to me was having a long, successful career... not being famous. I always admired bands like the Stones whoíve done it for years and years. Thatís the goal for me with any band Iím in. And thatís the goal of Velvet Revolver. I never want to get involved in a situation like Guns Ní Roses again if it means going through all the other crap that happened. Itís just not worth it either in an emotional or financial sense.
HP: In recent years weíve seen the likes of Kiss, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest reform after bitter musical divorces. Can you ever see that happening with Guns Ní Roses?
Slash: I donít think thatís ever been for me to say. Thatís a question that should be directed at Axl. I havenít even spoken to him in about eight years, so I have no idea where his head is at right now. All I know is that Iím very excited about Velvet Revolver, and thatís where my total focus is at the moment. Itís gonna have to be something very special for me to change that focus - even for a short while.
Other VR/Slash HP mentions
HEAVY METAL HAPPENINGS
VELVET REVOLVER: Things are getting thiiis close for Velvet Revolver to wrap up their recording sessions and release their eagerly-awaited debut disc. According to our on-the-scene snoop, the VR camp has really been cooking, laying down a series of blistering tracks that threaten to live up to (and possibly exceed) the lofty expectations of their followers. ďThe songs sound amazing,Ē Our snoop said. ďThis stuff is gonna rock the world! Just hearing Slashís guitar work blend with Weilandís voice is enough to send shivers up and down your spine.Ē
BREAKING NEWS BY LOU OíNEILL, JR
ON DEADLINE: JUST the name itself has a certain ring to it - to our ancient ears - ĎRevolverí and in a split-second itís the Ď60s again and everything was so different. So, we ask, isnít it interesting that Slash and Co. Call themselves Velvet Revolver? Itís almost like VR insisting they can go with the past.
Well embedded snoops insist Slash, Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum and Dave Kushner have bonded tightly. Theyíve sorted through close to 70 songs just to make one CD. Of course, the Joker - we hope the Hero - of Velvet Revolver will be Scott Weiland, one-time lead yapper with the Stone Temple Pilots. Can he keep things in control? Any fair-minded person would have to say Scott dodged a bullet late last year when, after being busted, the judge said ĎBe a good boy for 1-year and weíll forget this ever happened!í
Just asking, but wonder if you or I could cut the same deal with the law? One thingís certain: If they do manage to keep this together, Velvet Revolver could blow through the roof! Very hard-rocking, melodic and take-no-prisoners stuff. Sorta Guns Ní Roses meets the muse of John Lennon. Hyper-charged might be another way to say it. Stay tuned ... incidentally, would there ever be a better time to query, whatever happened to Axl Rose?
The ultimate Guide to Metalís Tattooed Heroes!
ďThere was a time in L.A. when every guy in every band had to have a tattoo. The shops on the Strip were open like 24-7 just to take care of the business. Theyíd have guys wander in there at midnight to have some idea they had come up with put on their arm. It was wild.Ē
SLASH, VELVET REVOLVER