Matt Sorum, the drummer for Velvet Revolver, which plays Alltel Arena on Sunday, Oct. 31, has a resume that wouldn’t fit the usual heavy rock drummer.
He’s played drums for Gladys Knight’s band and backed former Go-Go Belinda Carlisle. He played on Tori Amos’ debut album, and he has elements of jazz and pop in his past. But it was his work with the Cult in the late ’80s that caught the attention of Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan, and they called him when G-n-R needed a new drummer about a year after releasing the group’s smash debut.
Three years ago, Sorum was asked to play for a Hollywood tribute/benefit for Richie Castillo, the drummer for Ozzy Osbourne’s band, who was suffering from cancer. When Ozzy couldn’t perform and the show needed a headliner, Sorum asked his old pals, Slash and Duff, to step in. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith was among the singers who fronted the makeshift band.
“We had such a good time playing together that we thought we should continue it, but we needed a lead singer,” he said. “We looked all over the world. We had a mail-in address for people to send CDs. After a few months, it started getting frustrating. We tried a few guys and it didn’t work out.”
Then, Scott Weiland became available — sort of. Stone Temple Pilots, which had a roller-coaster 11-year run between Weiland’s trips to drug rehab and court appearances, broke up last year (guitarist Dave Kushner had also joined the band by this point).
Courted by RCA, Elektra and Warner Bros., the band hooked up with legendary label guru Clive Davis at RCA. Signed in September 2003, the band was in the studio the next month.
“We finished the album fairly quickly, in about five weeks,” Sorum said. “All the basic tracks went down in five days. Scott took a little longer as he was having some problems with the law.
“That was bit of a tough time for us. But out of that came a good record. It was a snapshot of what was going on with Scott, the band, the repercussions we were feeling from Scott’s drug problems. Everybody is involved when someone in the group has drug problems. But we were really strong, we pulled together, stood behind Scott and saw him through it.”
So, about the name. Slash wanted to call the band Revolver, but that name wasn’t available. Weiland, according to Sorum, suggested Dead Velvet Revolver. Sorum suggested dropping the “dead” portion.
“At first, though, I didn’t think much of the name, but as soon as the music started coming in and the vibe of the band was there, it started to sound right,” Sorum said.
Growing up near Hollywood, Sorum always had his sights on being rocker. Even in his mid-teens, he recalled, he’d play clubs there.
“One night I saw Roger Taylor of Queen get out of a car, a beautiful girl under his arm. I knew then that’s what I wanted to be,” Sorum said. “It’s been an amazing ride, a great career. This is the most exciting moment because the band is doing so w
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