TheVine interview: Matt Sorum, Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver, December 2011

I interview Velvet Revolver and former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum for TheVine. He has some interesting things to say about the prospect of a GnR reunion for the band’s acceptance into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Excerpt below.

When Matt Sorum sat for the first time on the drum riser behind The Cult, he figured he’d made it. It was 1989 and the British hard rock group were atthe very peak of their powers, releasing music that had genuine crossover appeal in the United States.

But little did Sorum know that The Cult would merely be a stepping stone to one of the most storied bands in modern rock history. Los Angeles natives Guns N’ Roses were scouting for a new drummer, having fired Steven Adler for his continued substance abuse. Sorum joined the band, contributing his belting style to the Use Your Illusion project, and so began a feverish seven years lived on rock’n’roll’s leading edge.

Of course, the Gunners are now just one of the many arcs in the greater Matt Sorum story. After he left the group in 1997, Sorum bedded down behind the boards, becoming a producer for groups such as Poe and Candlebox. In the new millennium, when he finally returned to a steady recording project, it was as a driving force behind the propulsive Velvet Revolver, along with fellow GnR alumni Slash and Duff McKagan.

Velvet Revolver are currently on hiatus as the group search for a new singer (following the acrimonious departure of Scott Weiland). Sorum, though, has stayed busy, focussing on two recording projects, Darling Stilettos and Diamond Baby, his fashion label, Sorum Noce, and playing as a drummer for hire in a variety of high-profile touring bands.

It was on a recent visit to Australia to help re-open Sydney’s Hard Rock Café that TheVine caught up with Sorum and picked his brains about the ins and outs of his career so far.

TheVine: How was the opening last night?

Matt Sorum: It was great!

Big night?

Great night, yeah. Awesome time.

I hear that you were lucky to make it down to Sydney. There’s a story floating around that you’d lost your passport.

Yeah, well. I had a bit of a whirlwind trip, I was doing four gigs in three days. I’ve got a couple of bands that I put together that are fun bands. I’ve got a band called Magnificent Seven with Steve Stevens, and some other friends from Billy Idol’s band, and we went to Mexico. We were in Cabo, came back, and I had a gig that night with Dave Navarro and Billy Idol at The Roxy [in Los Angeles]. I was kind of like bringing all these people to the airport; so it’s more along the lines of I set my passport down but I didn’t realise it until I had to go to New York. I did a gig with Courtney Love, and then I flew back on Sunday. I thought I had everything together and when I got to the airport I realised I didn’t have my passport. I almost didn’t make the last flight and the last flight was 11:50. I got there at about 11:00. They were getting ready to shut it down, and the guy found my passport in the airport – an immigration guy – so I got on the last flight out.

You’re just talking about how you’ve got a few bands on the go. You’re known for your versatility, both as a drummer and in other fields. Those early days in L.A. when you were behind the kit for all sorts of different artists – Belinda Carlisle, King Solomon Burke, Tori Amos’s band – how important was that for your development as a drummer? It sounds like a great apprenticeship.

I came from [an environment] of getting gigs, you know what I mean? The beauty about growing up in the ’70s is that you had to have musicianship, number one, but you had to be able to sort of morph as well. When I came to Hollywood in 1979 I just grabbed every gig I could get because I didn’t want to have a real job. I was jumping into all these different situations and I was picking up gigs and doing all kinds of shit.

There was one time I was in ten bands at the same time and I would drive around with this drum kit. I had this full station wagon, and I’d go from gig to gig. It was kind of a trip because I was playing in a Top-40 band five nights a week, and then going and doing other gigs to make sure that I wasn’t going to get locked up in that world, because I always looked at Top-40 guys as, “Oh God, they’re making a living and they get lazy.” But I wanted to break out, I wanted to be in the big bands.

For the full article, visit TheVine.

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