COCKED & LOADED
By Don Sill
VELVET REVOLVER BEGAN AS A FLUKE OF SORTS THAT SNOWBALLED INTO ONE OF THE YEAR’S MOST ANTICIPATED ROCK BANDS.
These days it seems that every new rock band that lands a record deal is on a mission to bring the chaos back into the world of rock … or so they say. Truth is, while most may have the thunder very few have the lightening to truly encompass the dangerous vibe, original style and background necessary to truly achieve rock’n’roll anarchy.
But, every now and again comes a special band with both the thunder and the lightening that turns rock’n’roll on its backside and blasts a gaping hole within the industry with a silver bullet.
Velvet Revolver is cocked, loaded and ready to shoot your ears off.
“We’re just a new band,” says the band’s modest guitarist, “it’s totally a new band, that’s it. We’re just as much a new band as if you took five kids and stuck them in their garage and having them all be excited about working with each other and finding out they have all the proper chemistry and just stuck them in there to make some music.”
But, truth is – this isn’t just any new band. Velvet Revolver is a hard stomping assault weapon that merges two of rock history’s greatest bands, Guns N’ Roses and Stone Temple Pilots, and delivers the kind of heated, guitar-driven grit-rock that has been sorely missed for the past decade.
With famed GNR axe-master Slash, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Matt Sorum – together with the charismatic frontman, Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots), and guitarist Dave Kushner (ex-Wasted Youth, Dave Navarro’s band), Velvet Revolver will bring the chaos and deliver the shock and awe back to the rock and roll stage with hardly batting an eyelash.
Velvet Revolver began as a fluke of sorts that snowballed into one of the years most anticipated rock bands. “We didn’t know what we were doing,” admits Slash with a laugh, “we were just sort of shooting in the dark.” Shooting in the dark landed them a bulls-eye when, after months of searching and auditioning, they landed the perfect front man for the job.
“We knew that whoever we got had to fit with who we are,” said Slash. “Basically,. I mean, I had a voice in my mind, that’s why Scott (Weiland) kept popping up, but when he finally walked in was when I realized how many different qualities it takes to make up a person of Scott’s talent, presence and so on. It was completely daunting to me that we were actually trying to find somebody through some dot.com’s, newspapers or the Music Connection (laughs).”
The timing couldn’t be more perfect for both all parties. After breaking away with STP, Weiland was available and eager to join Slash and the boys. Weiland’s controversial nature and much publicized bout with drug abuse and marital problems were nothing new to the others in Velvet Revolver. In fact, most of the band mates have been through their fair share of rough times. “I think everyone in this band had to go through their own individual Hell to get here,” laughed Slash. “(Scott) is one of the last great rock singers. Just as a person he’s just a raw guy and he’s got this great talent for writing and singing and performing … his whole make-up is very genuine.”
Having Weiland on board not only fit the musical dynamics of the band perfectly, but also proved, once again, that Slash has an uncanny knack for working along side some of history’s most notorious front men, including Axl Rose and Michael Jackson.
“I don’t go into it going, ‘I got to find somebody with controversy surrounding them’ to be happy,” Slash says with a laugh in his voice.
“It just turns out that the most dynamic front people that I know or had the opportunity to work with, the best ones, are the ones who have the most baggage. I don’t want to lump them all into a category or anything like that …”
“I’m a magnet for shit like that anyway, just in general. I’m a really calm, laid back, cool, quiet guy but I’m surrounded by insanity and that’s just the way it is …
But with lead singers, well just musicians in general, the ones who rock the hardest are always the ones who are the most volatile.”
The bands debut album, “Contraband,” is a collage of fiery rock anthems and deep insightful ballads that grab from inside rattling the rib cage and touching into the soul. “It’s a very passionate, energetic album, you know,” says Slash. “It’s really something you just gotta listen to and obtain yourself. A lot of it has intensity to it, it’s an aggressive album with just the way that it is and there’s a lot of really cool playing on it.
“It’s not a complex record, it’s not anything to marvel at with all these intense arrangements or anything like that,” continued the guitarist in a modest tone. “It is a straight-ahead rock and roll record and even though it’s got that old-world/old-school delivery it is sounding very fresh which is interesting to me because we didn’t do anything technically to make it sound that way.”
Their first two single’s, “Slither” and “Fall To Pieces” have been exploding all over rock radio and plenty of rotation on MTV and Fuse bringing Velvet Revolver into households all over America. The album has already gone Platinum since it’s release last June leaving more proof that their brand of brash, in-your-face rock’n’roll is welcomed, once again, into the mainstream.
“None of this was planned out,” Slash said. “But now that we can stand back and look at for a second it seems like the general public is looking for something a little more hard and with a little bit more soul to it other than what been dished out by the business for the last eight years. So, it is cool in that respect. I mean, we bring a lot of shit to the table as far as if you wanted a genuine rock and roll band, I mean, we definitely the bunch of guys who can do it.”
It’s weird; it’s hard to explain why. I guess we all just seriously, seriously love what we do to the point where it’s never gotten old,” said Slash. “For us, this is our moment of truth; this is what we all got together for in the first place. Making a record is just a means to an end but to get up there and perform it, that’s what this whole band is about. We all have the same kind of goal, the same kind of ambition and now, after everything we’ve been through for the past two years, since the very beginning, all the way to right now, we’re finally doing it.”
So, the big question remains. Can Velvet Revolver replicate the kind of success that both GNR and STP have had? “I don’t have the foresight to be able to predict what kind of effect any record that I’ve been involved with is gonna have, you know what I mean?” said Slash. “You just sort of do what you do and you don’t speak about that stuff. Even now, the record’s done and we’re on the road and everything and that’s still something we keep in the back of our minds. It’s very much a step by step thing, just do one thing and go on to the next.”