|SLASH: NO AXL TO GRIND
By DAN AQUILANTE
June 13, 2004 -- AS far as supergroups go, there are few that rival Velvet Revolver's
pedigree as the bastard lovechild of Guns N' Roses and Stone Temple Pilots.
While 39-year-old Slash - Saul Hudson to his mom - is reluctant to take credit
for assembling this group, the legendary bad-boy guitarist's desire to create
the perfect band has been his ambition since the early '90s, when GN'R exploded
onto the hard-rock scene.
The seeds of Velvet Revolver were planted back in 2002 when Slash, drummer
Matt Sorum and bassist Duff McKagan (all GN'R alums) played together in a benefit
for the family of a friend who had died.
"This benefit concert was going to be a one-shot affair," says Slash
from his L.A. home, "but as soon as Matt, Duff and I plugged in ... we
tore the house down. The next day I called Duff and Matt, and said, 'All the
Guns N' Roses s--t aside, we really have to do something with this - it's a
waste not to."
That brings us to Velvet Revolver's voice: Scott Weiland, the former STP singer
who became addicted to heroin, was arrested, sent to prison and is currently
still involved in court-ordered rehabilitation care.
Slash defends Weiland. "There was no trepidation whatsoever about Scott.
I don't want to sound like a hopeless romantic, but our decision was based on
the desire to do this kind of music. No obstacle was too high."
And with more than a little empathy, he adds, "Look, Scott had a drug
problem. I had a drug problem. So did Matt and Duff."
Slash, now clean and sober, remains a wild man on stage, as his recent New York
performance will attest, but when he's offstage he's a homebody - married with
a baby boy and another due next month. Times have definitely changed.
Why get back with Matt and Duff?
Let's start with Duff. When he and I first met, I fell in love with his sound
as a bassist. Our relationship as friends and players is special; we've written
some great stuff together, and the combination of his bass and my guitar makes
for some pretty amazing riffs.
What about Matt Sorum?
He's the best drummer alive. Between the three of us, we had this great rock
Why bring in Dave Kushner as a second guitarist?
He was in Duff's previous band, and I went to junior high with him. Not only
was he a good friend, his playing gave the music another texture, another level
Why doesn't Velvet Revolver sound like either Guns or STP?
It wasn't a conscious effort to eliminate either; we mentally surpassed that
right away. I attribute the new sound to the different relationships that we've
During our conversation, you've been reluctant to even say the words Guns
N' Roses. Do you have any regrets?
I feel bad about all the people who got ripped off by Guns N' Roses.
You mean the no-shows, late performances and bad shows?
You know what I mean by that. The fans were so f---ing great. They embraced
us, and a band couldn't have asked for more, and we let them down.
Do you blame [lead singer] Axl Rose, or do you take some of the blame yourself?
I would be a total assh--e if I didn't put some of the blame on me. But I'm
not responsible for the band breaking up. I worked too hard, for too long, trying
to keep things together. I don't like to blame Axl either. He seems to be the
scapegoat for everything.
So Axl isn't to blame?
Nobody involved with Guns wants to blame Axl, but there's no one else to blame.
That's a tough one.
What did Guns do for you guys?
We went from being little gutter rats to being on top. We did it without any
concessions, and we played by our own rules. We didn't last for 25 years - we
probably shouldn't have lasted one year.
Do you think Velvet Revolver will last a year?
We wanted to do what we've been doing since we were kids, and we have a collective
unit to do it with. After all the s--t we've been through, we made a band. We
have been given a second chance and we're not going to f---k around with it.
We're in it for the long haul.
Contraband debuted at #2 on the Australian album chart.
Another VR article, this one is from CNN.com