Velvet Revolver is a hard rock supergroup consisting of former Guns N’ Roses members Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum, alongside Dave Kushner formerly of punk band Wasted Youth. Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland was Velvet Revolver’s lead singer since their formation until parting ways with the band in 2008. In 2004, the band achieved commercial success with their debut album, Contraband. Critics initially described Velvet Revolver as a mere combination of Stone Temple Pilots and Guns N’ Roses, and criticized the band for a “disconnection” between Scott Weiland and the rest of the band. With their single “Slither”, they won the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance.
The band released Libertad in 2007, driven by the release of the single “She Builds Quick Machines”, and embarked on a tour with Alice in Chains. In April 2008, Weiland parted ways with Velvet Revolver and has since reunited with Stone Temple Pilots. Velvet Revolver has been on indefinite hiatus since April and in November of 2008, the band was released by their record label RCA Records at their request to allow them “complete freedom to go through whatever process it would take to accomplish” replacing Weiland. Although the band is still in ‘limbo’, the band members remain optimistic about its future.
The trio played again at a bar concert for musician Randy Castillo in 2002. They subsequently decided to form a new band after recognizing that their musical relationship was still very much intact. Izzy Stradlin was initially invited to be the band’s rhythm guitarist, but he declined due to his unwillingness to work with a lead singer and his aversion to the life on the road (although Stradlin has rehearsed & written with the band & occasionally played with them on tour). The band recruited guitarist Dave Kushner, who had previously played with Dave Navarro and Wasted Youth. Kushner had attended school with Slash and had worked with McKagan in Loaded, the band in which he played before joining Velvet Revolver. The quartet were referred to under the temporary name “The Project”. During this time they wrote several songs such as ‘Embrace’ and ‘Vengeful God.’
The quartet then set about auditioning a lead singer, with VH1 filming the recruitment process. The resulting documentary was aired as VH1 Inside Out: The Rise of Velvet Revolver. A number of lead singers auditioned, including Canadian Todd Kerns (formerly of Age of Electric), Josh Todd (of Buckcherry), Michael Matijevic (of Steelheart), Sebastian Bach (formerly of Skid Row), Kelly Shaefer (of Atheist/Neurotica) and Travis Meeks (of Days of the New). Myles Kennedy (of Alter Bridge and formerly of The Mayfield Four) declined an invitation to audition because he didn’t like the band’s lifestyle and also to focus more on other projects. Reportedly, singers Mike Patton (formerly of Faith No More) and Ian Astbury (The Cult) were also approached early in the process, but both declined the offer. Scott Weiland had become friends with McKagan (via their respective wives) and had once played on the same bill as Kushner. Originally Weiland was wanted by the band but due to STP still touring he declined. After the band heard about STP’s split in 2003, they were quick to get Weiland involved. Once he heard the material and offered his services as the lead singer, the band was formed.
According to Slash’s autobiography, Scott Weiland suggested the name “Black Velvet Revolver”, combining something intimate with something violent, after Slash suggested Revolver. He had liked the word Revolution, which he saw in the credits of a movie. From Black Velvet Revolver, they arrived at simply “Velvet Revolver.” This was done while walking to the viewing room, at Universal Studios, to see Hulk. They were considering lending a song (Set Me Free) to the soundtrack.
Velvet Revolver recorded its first track “Set Me Free” for the soundtrack for the movie Hulk in 2003. The band also recorded a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Money” which is featured in the movie The Italian Job. The band played its first live gig at the El Rey in Los Angeles in June 2003. It recorded its first album, Contraband,
in the latter part of 2003 with recording complicated by Weiland’s court appearances for drug charges and his subsequent sentencing to undertake rehabilitation.
The marketing campaign for Velvet Revolver in the run-up to the release of the first album was profiled as part of the Frontline (PBS) program The Way the Music Died, which included interviews with the band members and producers.
As of August 2005, Contraband had sold more than 2 million copies in the United States, and the rigorous touring in support of the album reached global scales. The band toured both the United States and Europe twice, while also performing in Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The CD had SunnComm’s MediaMax DRM rootkit on it, exposing users to a computer security vulnerability. Velvet Revolver performed at Live 8, playing “Do It For the Kids”, “Fall to Pieces” and “Slither.” However, only “Fall to Pieces” appears on the Live 8 DVD. In 2005, a part of Contraband’s “Dirty Little Thing” was inserted in xXx: State Of The Union. The band also recorded a new song entitled “Come On, Come In” for the 2005 movie Fantastic Four.
During 2005, the group announced that a second album was in the works. Scott Weiland announced at the 2005 Radio Music Awards that it would be a concept album, and would be less single-driven than its previous effort; but later in the summer of 2006, Matt Sorum dismissed the claim that it would be a concept album. In December 2006, the band set Libertad (Spanish for “liberty”) as the working title of the album. In September 2006, Matt Sorum confirmed via Camp Freddy Radio on Indie 103.1 that the band had recently signed a deal with Rick Rubin to produce the new album. However, on his website, Sorum later claimed that former Stone Temple Pilots producer Brendan O’Brien would be producing the album.
On June 21, 2007, Velvet Revolver performed in a concert at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C., that was streamed live via MSN Music. On June 23, 2007, four songs off the album were available in full stream audio onto the internet ten days before retail on BestBuy’s website. It was announced by WWE that “Let It Roll” would be the official theme song for the 2007 Diva quest Search. “Slither” “She Builds Quick Machines,” and “Messages” appear in a downloadable Velvet Revolver pack in the videogame Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.. “She Builds Quick Machines” was on the game NASCAR 08.
On their official website, Velvet Revolver gave a chance for fans to vote in a poll for the third single off of Libertad. “Get Out the Door” won with 53% of the votes, winning over “Let It Roll” and “She Mine”. “Get Out the Door” was released for airplay on January 28, 2008. MTV has recently reported that Slash told Illinois’ Northwest Herald that the band will begin working on its next LP in April 2008. Slash is also planning to record a solo album sometime in the next year or two. They began a tour of Australia, Europe and the United States, starting with a concert in Chicago on January 24, 2008. According to BlabberMouth.net on February 7, Scott Weiland voluntarily entered a rehab facility. This led to Velvet Revolver cancelling their Australian tour which had already been postponed for 2 months. They returned to the stage on March 8, 2008 in Dubai for the Desert Rock Festival.
Split with Weiland (2008–present)
Weiland stated on March 20, 2008 at Velvet Revolver’s show in Glasgow that this would be the band’s final tour. Matt Sorum posted a message on his website the next day discussing the band’s situation and said, “You could tell who was unhappy last night,” and “some people in this business don’t realize how great of a life they have.” Weiland responded by telling Blabbermouth.net, “Well, first of all, the state of my family affairs is really none of his business, since he is too immature to have a real relationship, let alone children. So don’t attempt to stand in a man’s shoes when you haven’t walked his path.”
At the time Slash hinted in an interview with Classic Rock magazine that, contrary to Weiland’s assertions, Velvet Revolver will continue beyond its current tour. When asked “Will Scott be singing?”, Slash replied “I have no comment on that”, and laughed.
It was announced on April 1 that Weiland had officially parted ways with Velvet Revolver. Later that month, Weiland performed with Stone Temple Pilots for the first time since 2002, kicking off their reunion tour.
Matt Sorum said on May 26, 2008 in an interview “that the band was definitely not breaking up and that they looked for a singer before and they can do it again.” Bassist Duff McKagan has recently stated that the band has been working on new material inspired by the recent drama with Weiland.
Velvet Revolver have been on indefinite hiatus since April 2008 and sought audition tapes through the internet of prospective singers. In summer 2008 Lenny Kravitz was rumored to be in the studio with VR as a possible singer, but Kravitz denied the story and was on tour with his band during the time. Royston Langdon, of Spacehog, was also rumored as a possible singer, but it was denied by the band. Chester Bennington of Linkin Park was another rumored singer, having already performed the Guns n’ Roses song “Paradise City” with the band, although, as stated by Classic Rock magazine “[Chester] already has a job”. In November 2008, the band asked to be released from their record label Sony BMG/RCA Records in order to pursue a new frontman on the band’s own terms. At NAMM 2009 Duff McKagan appeared at both the RotoSound and Dunlop booths, at the end of a long day, McKagan sat down with MusicRadar for an exclusive video interview. They discussed a variety of topics, the most pressing being Velvet Revolver’s ongoing search for a new singer. McKagan smiled and hinted that the candidates have been narrowed down and that an announcement could be made very soon. The following month bassist Duff McKagan said “It’s down to a couple of guys,” and the band was “weeks away” from announcing their new singer.
Rumors of Guns N’ Roses reuniting arose in late 2008 when Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose disappeared without promoting the latest Guns N’ Roses album. It was stated that Axl had been in secret talks with the original Guns N’ Roses members for a reunion tour. However, Axl Rose has done a couple of interviews since and seems strongly against a reunion tour; also, the touring lineup for the upcoming branch of the Chinese Democracy Tour has been announced. Because of this, speculation for a reunion tour has gone.
Velvet Revolver has been in limbo since April 2008. Since then they have been focusing their individual projects and auditioning for new frontmen, however, the band has had no luck.
On July 15th, 2009, Slash stated through his Twitter account that a scheduled Velvet Revolver meeting “went great.” He also went on to say that no new singer had been announced, but “the dream is alive and well.”
In 2009, the members of the band have been busy with their solo projects. Duff McKagan has recorded an album with his band Loaded whereas Slash has been working on his first solo album Slash & Friends.