Drummer Matt Sorum (GUNS N’ ROSES, THE CULT, VELVET REVOLVER) recently guested on the “2 Hours With Matt Pinfield” podcast. The full conversation can be streamed using the widget below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On his plans to write an autobiography:
Matt: “I’m writing [it] right now. When you write a book, you sit for hours and just go through the trials and tribulations. I’ve done almost four months of four- or five-day sessions, like, once a month, so I’ve got hours and hours — probably a thousand pages right now. We’re going to edit it down. It’s going to be good, though. It’s going to be the juiciest of the juiciest of the GN’R books, for sure, plus all the other crap I’ve done. I’m being really truthful about everything that happened. I’m not a jaded individual; I’m not a bitter guy. There’s a lot of bad shit that went down, but I just want to tell the story straightforward, and I don’t want to, like, hold back. I will edit some things — my wife’s got to look at it. [Laughs] I’ve had such an amazing life, and I go, ‘Wow, man. If I don’t write it down now, I don’t want to forget.’ There’s a lot of good shit in the book that doesn’t pertain to GN’R. Before I was in a rock band, I was a drug smuggler. I used to smuggle cocaine across borders. I’d fly on airplanes with two kilos strapped around my waist. Most of my deliveries were in Hawaii, because I had a big connection there. I thought about the title ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Smuggler’. Imagine the movie ‘Blow’, and then think about coming up in rock ‘n’ roll, before I got into bands that I was in. My way to pay my way was smuggling, and that’s what I did. A lot of the book, there’s probably going to be at least a chapter or two on my drug-dealing days. The last time I smuggled two kilos to Hawaii, I remember thinking I was being followed, and it wasn’t because I was paranoid on cocaine — I really felt that I was being followed. So, I told the guy that flew this stuff for — I was the mule, and I got, like, a couple grand every time I went — ‘I can’t do this. I’m being followed.’ He’s like, ‘Oh, man, you’re just high.’ I’m like, ‘No, man. I’m not doing it. I’m going back to L.A.’ The guy that took my place got arrested. 20 years in a federal penitentiary [for] international drug smuggling. That would have been me.”
On how he came to join THE CULT:
Matt: “Basically, it was a guy that played with Steve Jones named Terry Nails. He was a cool local guy, and him and Pat Torpey from MR. BIG told THE CULT about me. Pat had played with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant when they did that tour [in 1988], and THE CULT guys had seen him, so they called Pat first and wanted Pat in the band. Pat said, ‘No, man, I can’t do it. I’m starting a band called MR. BIG, but I know this guy named Matt Sorum.’ That’s how it happened. I went to this [rehearsal studio] in the valley called Mates. I lived in the [San Fernando] Valley in a warehouse, and I had, like, a broken-down [Datsun] 280z. I needed the gig. I was like, ‘All my friends are making it.’ I was, like, 28 at the time. I’m like, ‘It’s almost over for me. I’m old!’ If you’re in rock and roll and you were 27, you were, like, an old dude. I said, ‘Man, I have to get this gig.’ And I manifested it. That’s when I started learning about manifestation, and, like, really setting the stage for myself — ‘I am going to get this gig.’ I learned ‘Love’; I learned ‘Electric’; I even went back to ‘Death Cult’. I was prepared. I walked in there, and Billy Duffy and Jamie Stewart, the original bassist, [were there]. No Ian Astbury. I had this big double-bass drum red kit, which was, like, a no-no, but I only had that because I’d lost the David Lee Roth audition because I didn’t play double bass. I went out and learned how to play double bass. That’s all I did all day. Then I come to THE CULT and they go, ‘Oh, what’s with the other bass drum?’ I took it away, and I was back to being me. I played a bunch of songs with those guys, and they said, ‘Well, we really like you, man, but Ian‘s got to sign off.’ I was very superstitious about telling anybody. I go two weeks before Ian‘s coming back from London without telling anybody. Then Ian comes and we went to this little place out in the Valley. He came in in full regalia — a hat with a skull, sunglasses, black flares, cross around his neck. He didn’t say hello. We kicked into, like, ‘Fire Woman’ and ‘Sweet Soul Sister’, and then we did, like, ‘Wildflower’, ‘Little Devil’. He turned around to me and says, ‘You got the gig, but just don’t smile so much.’ Then he turned around and walked out. We ended up being drinking buddies. We did a lot of drinking together on that tour, and really pissed off the rest of the band.”
On joining GUNS N’ ROSES:
Matt: “I had this sort of initial big offering of THE CULT taking me into the arena level. I feel like I’m in a [big] band. This is good. I’m cool. This is a great life. I’m making a great living. When the GUNS N’ ROSES offer came along, I can’t say I had really listened to the [‘Appetite For Destruction’] record even though it was everywhere. I didn’t buy it, because I was on the road. I was doing my own thing; I was living another life. When I got back to L.A. and THE CULT tour finished, I got that call from Slash, and ended up coming to Hollywood. When I finally was offered the position, Slash and Duff and then Axl came in, very similar to Ian. Waited a few days and came down. Axl came in and he kind of walked by. He winked at Slash, and then he left. Same thing as Ian did, except for he didn’t sing. That day, Slash said, ‘You’re in the band, dude. You want be in the band?’ We went up to his house, and we were drinking and hanging out. I remember thinking, ‘These guys are nuts, but I like them.’ [Laughs] I ended up joining the band and becoming a member. I wasn’t a sideman. A lot of people think I was, but I was full member. When we started touring, my first [show] was Rock In Rio. We get down there, and I never had really even rehearsed with Axl. He never showed up to rehearsal. Everyone’s like, ‘He’ll be fine.’ In those days, we used no setlist — we just flew by the seat of our pants. It was awesome — it was so punk rock.”
On not being asked to participate in GN’R‘s “Not In This Lifetime” tour:
Matt: “People ask me, ‘How do you feel about not being involved in the reunion?’ I say, ‘I’ve got to tell you — I was there at the height of everything. And I did it.’ Sure, I could go out there and play that music, no problem, but I’m very, very grateful that I was there when it was the greatest it was. That was the biggest tour GN’R ever did. We were at the hugest level at that point, did two and a half years on the road. It was great.”
Sorum, who replaced Steven Adler in GUNS N’ ROSES, recorded the highly successful albums “Use Your Illusion I” and “Use Your Illusion II” (both 1991) and “The Spaghetti Incident” (1994). He also supported the group on the “Use Your Illusion” tour and can be heard on GUNS N’ ROSES‘ “Live Era: ’87-’93” (1999) and “Greatest Hits” (2004).
Sorum has said in the past that a GUNS reunion tour should have included both him and Adler, with each playing the songs they recorded with the group. Sorum was inducted as a member of the band into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in April 2012.
Photo credit: Adopt The Arts / Alex Kluft