Matt Sorum Calls Velvet Revolver ‘Highlight of My Life,’ Bows Out of Hollywood Vampires Touring
We recently spoke with drum legend Matt Sorum about his latest venture, ARTBIT, a cryptocurrency-based community aiming to help artists in a variety of art forms monetize their works in an increasingly difficult financial world. ARTBIT recently announced their partnership with Hashgraph at a SXSW event in Austin and Sorum goes more in depth on ARTBIT in our recently published interview as well as some of the discussion below.
But for the second part of interview, we focused on some of the drummer's other projects both past and present. Sorum speaks about the Guns N' Roses reunion, offers his thoughts on Velvet Revolver and calls that band "the highlight of my life," discusses his all-star collective Kings of Chaos, chats about the progress on a book he's writing and even shares some intel on his time with Hollywood Vampires and why he's bowing out of things this time around. Sorum also chats about one of the hot topics in metal -- the retirement decision by Slayer.
I wanted to get your thoughts on Duff McKagan and Slash returning to Guns N' Roses getting invited to play with the band and what you've thought of the reunion.
Well, I'm glad it finally happened. They're doing the catalog and they're out there playing. That's cool, and everyone's doing their own thing of the other guys. For me, I'm over here doing this and doing my own music and keeping my thing going. It's great for them and I'm happy for them.
I noticed on your Facebook, you were passing on some of your road cases from Velvet Revolver. Obviously, a lot of time has passed with Velvet Revolver, but do you ever see a time where that might come back around or is it pretty much done?
You know, I never say never, but actually those cases I was getting rid of come from all three of my bands. I have three sets of those things storing them out in the valley. But you know how it is when you clean house. Sometimes you don't want to get rid of something, but then when you do get rid of it, it's like, 'Oh that felt good.' I got that feeling of closure on certain things, but I don't want to say there's closure on that particular band. You never know. I never say never cause that was a great time and we were very successful.
I always say to people who say, 'What are you doing now?,' and well I talk to them about ARTBIT. And this to me is no different than creating a great record. You've got to really have a vision of what's to come from a project like this and it's basically building the perfect beast and doing the press thing and getting it out there and then getting people to come to the table, so that's what we're doing with ARTBIT. There's a lot of people involved in this, and it isn't just me. It's a big team and a big project. I want to let the people know out there that this is serious business and it's not just me coming up with it. I'm the spokesperson and I have some say in the creative decisions, but this is a big team behind this.
Living here in Los Angeles, I saw you with Camp Freddy many times. You've got Kings of Chaos, which is also made up of a lot of your friends you've played with over the years. Can you talk about the camaraderie you've formed with years of touring and different bands and what it means to bring that together with something like Kings of Chaos?
Well for me that's just my Roladex from the last 30 years of my career. I just love playing music with my friends and you just get out and do it and there's not a lot of drama. And I just started recording some music last week, so we'll see what it turns into. I definitely want to get that out and who knows, maybe I'll launch it on ARTBIT (laughs).
And I'll tell you, it's going that way too. I don't know if you researched this, but Bjork just launched a new album on a blockchain cryptocurrency platform, being paid directly for her record with cryptocurrency. Think about this -- when you pay an artist out of your wallet, that direct access to the artist, that money can immediately be distributed to all the players and all the contributors. It doesn't have to go into some company bank account or have paper pushed around while people wait to get monetized for their works. That's possible now. But will it go that way where possibly 10 people are involved in one project and instead of having to call in to get a check or chase them down, you can get paid automatically. It can all be distributed through the data on the public ledger. So that's what really excites me about this is the way that it's very secure and you get compensated fairly. I'd like to see it go that way and I think that will happen, five to ten years from now, this will probably be common language, you know what I mean?
I heard that you're writing a book as well?
I am. Yes. I've got my first phase of it done. I'm going through the first draft and we've got to edit and do all sorts of things. But hopefully by the beginning of next year, we'll have something to give to the public.
With all the things you've been involved with over the years -- The Cult, GNR, Kings of Chaos, Camp Freddy, Fierce Joy, Hollywood Vampires -- I saw you play with them a while back -- do you have a most rewarding experience personally or professionally surrounding an album or tour cycle?
Well I really enjoy Kings of Chaos and that's really loose and fun, but the highlight of my life was Velvet Revolver. The thing about Velvet Revolver, yeah, of course, we were a supergroup, but we had come out of this massive band, the three of us and to be able to re-create and come back with a new thing and be successful, you've still got to write the songs and you've still got to make a great record. You've still gotta have the goods and you've got to move with the times. The music has got to translate to the culture and what's happening in the world, and we just hit with that record -- Contraband -- the first record. The timing was right. The people were ready. And when we got the Grammy nominations and we won the Grammy for Best Rock Performance, that was probably one of the biggest highlights -- that and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
But it felt different for me, because obviously Guns N' Roses was already a big band when I joined that band. So for me, Velvet Revolver was icing on the cake for me. I was a founder of that group. Me and Slash and Duff said we need to do something new with a new sound and a new band and we did. We went out there, did a couple of records and a couple of big tours and that was great.
I'm not going to be doing the Vampires this year, because I felt like I needed to get back into my own driver's seat. That was fun. I like hanging out with those guys and Alice Cooper is a hero of mine, so is Joe Perry and I've known Johnny Depp since the '80s so it was great to get back and talk and hang out with him. He's just a really great guy, super cool and intelligent, and good hanging out. That was fun and that's going to be a nice little memory and piece of my life.
Plus one of the greatest experiences I ever had was playing with Motorhead for that short run I did in 2009. I always said I could retire after that. But that's just been my life. And then I look at this thing, ARTBIT. I don't fight why I'm here. My life just navigates itself. It's taken me to very interesting places and I try to do my part to make it the best it can be. I don't look at anything any different than being successful in a rock and roll band and building that. It's an exciting universe to be involved in and it's got that creative spark. And obviously I've been very philanthropic in the last five or six years of my life, so this is another way of giving back. How can we find a way to make it work where I don't hear these stories from artists who have to give up, go away? There's gotta be a solution. We really hope that it's ARTBIT, right?
Absolutely. One last question: I wanted to get your thoughts on Slayer's last tour.
I can't say that I'm a huge metal guy, but I respect everything those guys do and I respect the metal community. The community is very strong and has always been an underdog. And bands like Slayer have waved the flag for years, so I think the community, it's very similar to when we lost Motorhead. We didn't just lose Lemmy, we lost Motorhead. That was hard to take and hard to see them go and it'll be a similar feeling when Slayer finally says, 'That's enough.' How do we replace these guys? That's the question I ask and I hope there's new stuff coming to keep the energy flowing. People study the masters of their craft and Slayer are definitely among the masters.
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