|On Velvet Revolver, drugs, Axl and more
By Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna
"Set Me Free," which will be heard everywhere this week thanks to The Hulk, is an ironic title for Velvet Revolver's first single considering that singer Scott Weiland is facing drug possession charges. So will Weiland go to jail? Will he and Gn'R vets Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum upstage Axl Rose and actually release an album? Is Weiland's other band, Stone Temple Pilots, done? And what the hell is a Velvet Revolver, anyway?
In their first interview as bandmates, Weiland and Slash answer all of the above and more.
Slash, you guys went through a lot of singers . . . Buckcherry's Joshua Todd, Skid Row's Sebastian Bach, Neurotica's Kelly Shaefer, the guy from Days of the New . . .
Slash: Yeah, what's his name? [laughs]
You can't remember the Days of the New singer's name!?
Slash: I can't remember all their fucking names . . . oh, Travis Meeks. That was the guy! There's too much incoming. There were some really great guys; no insult to the people who made the effort.
Tell us how you got from "the Project" to "Reloaded" to "Velvet Revolver."
Slash: The Project was a moniker that was affectionately given to us by the public. I think it started on the Internet. It was a working name. Reloaded was just something that we'd been talking about that day. So it was funny when the next day we read that Scott had told you that. But, then we had a couple different names hanging around. Revolver was one of them, but Scott had this idea to put Velvet in front of it, and I thought that was cool.
What does it mean to you?
Slash: Everybody's got their own take on it. "Revolver" for me especially has a personal meaning.
What? A revolving door in terms of bandmates?
Slash: Yeah, along those lines. It's something that, as a group, Scott adds this whole thing to it, so when he said Velvet, it was perfect. It just sounds like him.
Scott, is this your full-time thing now? There's still some unanswered questions here with STP.
Weiland: STP's never broken up, we just have made a decision to take time apart and do different things. The DeLeo brothers are doing some producing right now, Eric just built a studio . . . We worked for ten years, we made five records, we sold 25 million records around the world and we felt like we needed a break. Then I got to be friends with Duff on a personal level and he asked me one time if I'd be interested.
Did you say yes immediately or did it take a little time to come to the decision?
Weiland: I wanted to hear what the music was like. I didn't want to sing for Guns n' Roses.
Do you remember the first time you heard Guns n' Roses?
Weiland: I had just moved out of my parents' house. I was nineteen years old. I had just started going to college. I was playing in a band, a band I formed when I was fifteen with my best friends. We would go take little road trips -- I lived in Huntington Beach [California] -- up to Hollywood to go see them play and I remember going to see them play at Scream, and going to see Jane's Addiction play. Those two bands are probably very much responsible for my musical career.
Is there one song in particular you love?
Weiland: My favorite Guns n' Roses song is probably "It's So Easy" [from Appetite for Destruction].
Will Velvet Revolver play any Guns n' Roses songs live?
Weiland: I'll tell you this: There will be some surprises regarding Guns n' Roses songs and STP songs. There will be some surprises . . .
When you're singing Gn'R songs in rehearsal, if you are, do you have to make sure you don't fall into the way Axl Rose does things?
Weiland: You mean that I don't fall into the wig that he wears? [laughs] Actually, I have nothing against Axl. I hope that he makes a great record because he was very, very important. It just seems that he's going through his Brian Wilson phase right now.
Slash, you guys landed one of the best frontmen since Axl.
Slash: Yeah, Scott was actually who I wanted when we first started this whole thing eight months ago. He was the first guy that I thought of. Duff's wife knew his wife, and everybody in the band, except for me, had met him or hung out with him or had some relationship with him. We all agreed that he would be great. When we first hooked up we gave him a tape of four songs, and he thought the tape was great and was really into it, but he wasn't just gonna walk away from STP like that.
At what point did you know Scott was in?
Slash: Around February, we had these two movies to do, and were getting frustrated. We wanted to do some of our songs with a singer, just go in the studio and try it out. It turned out Scott wasn't doing anything with STP at the time, so we thought, we'll just do one fucking cool song just to do it. So we called him up and he came down and we covered "Money" for the Italian Job. But we also had all these originals, and we randomly picked one and he wrote "Set Me Free" to it, sort of inspired by the The Hulk. When Scott came in, there was never an awkward moment. We were standing onstage at the rehearsal place, and it was just a natural thing.
But Scott's still on everyone's rock star death list. Does that scare you?
Slash: I had my name on that list for a long time. I don't like to dwell on that whole thing. Once we found that chemistry was there [with Weiland] then [the drug issue] was just sort of, "OK, well we'll deal with that." And having been around it, it was no big deal.
So you think Scott's gonna make it?
Slash: Yeah. I have total faith.
How close are you to signing with a label?
Slash: Not really close. We talk about it from time to time but we're just gonna go start making a record. It's great because we've built up a certain status where we can pick and choose what we want to do.
Is September still the date you're eyeing to start recording or do you have to wait until after Scott's July 11th court date to see what happens?
Slash: No, it has nothing to do with that. But at the same time, we don't know. Soon. In a perfect world it would be September, but you never know. But I would say it's looking toward that -- September, October maybe.
Scott, what's in store for you when you go to court July 11th?
Weiland: California has this thing called Proposition 36, and thank God for it! It says that people who are drug users and have been arrested for the possession of drugs -- whether they're innocent or proven guilty, which is yet to be seen -- have that opportunity to have some form of treatment.
So you're just facing another stint in rehab, not jail?
Weiland: I really can't speak about that at all.
How do you feel right now?
Weiland: I'm feeling great right now and that's that. I'm taking the steps that are necessary for me to take, that my attorney told me to take.
How is being in this band different from STP?
Weiland: One of the greatest things about being in this band is every single person that I'm sharing my musical abilities and also my personal relationships with has also gone through the same problems with chemicals that I've gone through -- and have made it through the other side. So they're extremely supportive. I don't want to piss anybody else off, but let's just say that having that kind of support is extremely refreshing.
Will STP make another record?
Weiland: There's always hope. There is gonna be an STP greatest hits album coming out with a brand new STP song that was recorded a few months ago. It's called "All in the Suit That You Wear." It rocks.
Is the rest of the Velvet Revolver material pretty much like "Set Me Free"?
Weiland: That's a pretty good idea of what it's like. But there's different textures, too, because Dave Kushner, our second guitar player, brings in a very modern element to the band. He's a master with electronic effects. One of my favorite guitar players is Dave Navarro. I love how he's able to use guitar as almost like a psychedelic electronic keyboard instrument. Dave [Kushner] reminds me of that in some ways and brings a more modern element to our songs.
Other than "Set Me Free" and "Money," what songs are done?
Weiland: There's a track called "Slither." It rocks. And I'm not gonna give any more information out.
Have you thought about a producer for Velvet Revolver?
Weiland: Yeah, we've thought a lot about producers -- it just has to do with who's available. It has to be someone who's very musical and has an amazing understanding of the technical side of engineering. That person does exist, but I don't know if the ideal person is available time-wise right now.
What's your time frame?
Weiland: We would love to get a record out by the end of the year. I think there's a good chance . . . All I know is my bank account is growing rapidly and I just bought a nice chunk of land and I'm building a log home somewhere in a state that I won't tell you. Definitely not California. I still will live in California, it's just a place to get away so I can bring my children and have them fish and go hiking.