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Slash N Burn ... from the Home News Tribune


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DATE: May 18, 2007

SOURCE: Home News Tribune

Slash talks about making "Libertad" and dropping by Axl's house.

Slash 'n' burn


18 May 2007

Home News Tribune


Pulse Correspondent

Those who want to know how the forthcoming Velvet Revolver CD, "Libertad," compares to the band's debut release, "Contraband," probably shouldn't look to guitarist Slash for answers.

"That's really where interviews hit a brick wall for me," Slash said in a phone conversation last week. "It's got a lot of stuff going on in it, but I couldn't verbally explain it to you. You'd just have to listen to it and then sort of figure that out."

Fortunately, Slash proved to be more forthcoming about the ups and downs of the sessions for "Libertad." The band is previewing a few of the new songs on a brief club tour that stops tonight for a sold-out show at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville.

The band originally planned to record "Libertad" with acclaimed producer Rick Rubin, who's known for his work with the Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jay-Z, among others. But that partnership fizzled.

"We got up and going, but Rick's just got so many projects he's working on all at the same time, and he's very rarely there (in the studio)," Slash said. "I think there was just a feeling of frustration because whoever the guy was that was going to be the producer, we needed somebody that was hands on, who was there 24-7, like the band was. It just was hard to sort of sit around and write and write and write indefinitely waiting for Rick to show up."

So Velvet Revolver — Slash, singer Scott Weiland, bassist Duff McKagan, drummer Matt Sorum and guitarist Dave Kushner — pulled the plug on the Rubin session and hired Brendan O'Brien, who had produced several albums by Weiland's popular previous band, Stone Temple Pilots, as Rubin's replacement.

As soon as an enthusiastic O'Brien got involved, Velvet Revolver got back on track and was moving full speed ahead.

"He just came in and we went straight to work and we managed to get pre-production done in like three weeks, just going up and getting into it every day," Slash said. "That's how we needed to do it."

If Slash is reluctant to compare the sound and style of "Libertad" to "Contraband," he said the finished album shows considerable growth in the band's music and lyrics.

This makes sense, considering Velvet Revolver didn't have a long history together when "Contraband" was written and recorded.

The group began to come together in 2002 when former Guns N' Roses members Slash, Sorum and McKagan played at a tribute concert for Randy Castillo, the late drummer for Ozzy Osbourne and Motley Crue.

Next, Kushner, a high school friend of Slash's, was recruited, leaving only the singer's slot vacant. After an extended search, Weiland, fresh from the breakup of Stone Temple Pilots, in 2003 joined to complete the lineup.

"Contraband" became an immediate hit upon its release in June 2004, debuting at No. 1 on Billboard magazine's album chart and eventually producing three hit singles, "Slither," "Fall To Pieces" and "Dirty Little Thing."

With "Libertad" completed and awaiting a July release (the CD was pushed back recently from its original May release date), life in Velvet Revolver seems smooth and stable now. That hasn't always been the case. In particular, there have been periodic rumors that Velvet Revolver was ready to break up or that Slash, McKagan and Sorum were re-joining Guns 'N Roses and its frontman, Axl Rose.

One thing that is true is that Slash and McKagan have sued Rose, accusing Rose of changing publishers of Guns 'N Roses' songs without their consent and pocketing the royalties from the deal.

Rose countersued Slash, and then stirred up further controversy by saying that Slash showed up at his house uninvited to offer a truce. According to a March 2006 MTV.com article, Rose said Slash dissed Velvet Revolver by telling Rose that Weiland was a "fraud," McKagan was "spineless" and that he hated Sorum.

Slash denied everything except the visit to Rose's home.

"It's a long story," Slash said. "I actually did go to Axl's house at one point, but I never saw him. I never talked to him. I left a note with his person over there having to do with lawsuit that we were in. I don't know how it got turned into what it got turned into."

The quotes from Rose, as well as other rumors, though, did cause tension in Velvet Revolver. But Slash said he thinks the band has survived the rumors and innuendo and is more solid than ever.

"From the end of the ("Contraband') tour to the beginning of the (new) record, there was a lot of that going on," Slash said. "It was actually pretty detrimental at one point because it just got to be so overwhelming we couldn't seem to escape it. But it was just a matter of sticking together and getting through it, and we did. It will be interesting to see what they come up with next. The band is pretty firmly bonded, so I don't think it will be too easy to break that, to chip away at that stone, so to speak."

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