|Rockers document the search for a singer to replace Rose
So you wanna be a rock & roll and TV star? The former members of Guns n' Roses might just have a job for you. Guitarist Slash, bassist Duff McKagan, drummer Matt Sorum and newcomer guitarist Dave Cushner are holding tryouts in Los Angeles to replace Axl Rose -- who splintered the original combo in the Nineties -- and VH1 is filming the proceedings for a new show.
"I was on my way to rehearsal and thinking about all these reality shows," says Slash. "I thought, 'You know what would be fucking cool? To show a band as it goes through all this bullshit.'"
The band had placed ads in everything from local circulars to Rolling Stone, reading, according to Slash, "Unnamed artist looking for singer-songwriter somewhere in the realm of early Alice Cooper/Steve Tyler, the harder-edged side of McCartney and Lennon."
"We were getting between 200 and 300 CDs a week," Slash says. "We listened to every single one of them. You have to, because you never know. That one that you throw away could be the shit."
In all, more than 500 singers sent demos, and the band has so far auditioned about fifteen of them. Only one finalist, former Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach, knew the band beforehand, but he doesn't necessarily have the inside track. "He's busy on Broadway, isn't he?" jokes Sorum. "Seriously, we haven't found the one yet."
"I absolutely love [Sebastian]," says McKagan. "He's amazing, but we've just got to be really careful with who's going to front this thing."
"This thing" started when Sorum asked Slash and McKagan to join him in a tribute performance for late Ozzy Osbourne drummer Randy Castillo last spring. It was awesome," Sorum told Rolling Stone. "We sort of looked at each other after that and said let's try and make something work." The three then spent the summer writing songs with a fellow Guns alumnus, guitarist Izzy Stradlin.
"We've written over fifty songs," McKagan says. "There are twelve great songs in there."
McKagan, Sorum and Slash road tested their reunion last month at the Sundance Film Festival, backing actress Gina Gershon and Waylon Jennings' son Shooter through a set of covers and old Gn'R material -- including a rip through "Paradise City" to close the night. The three looked fresh and ready to rock again. And they'd be lying if they said Axl Rose's recent misadventures with a band he's still calling Guns n' Roses weren't motivation.
"When we saw what Axl was doing with his band, we decided there was nothing standing in our way," Sorum says. "We had to take some years to heal from what happened. It was crazy. We're a little older, a little wiser, but we've still got the rock & roll in us. We're ready. We're going to make a rock & roll album."
COLIN DEVENISH, COREY LEVITAN and ANDREW STRICKMAN
(February 7, 2003)