True Fans of Rock n Roll will know this month’s featured interviewee. Matt Sorum was born on November 19th, 1960 and has more music industry experience and stories to share on his impressive journey than most people can dream of. He not only lived “The Dream” but survived to tell the story! His newly released Book “Double Talkin Jive” is a must read for any fan of The Cult, Guns n Roses, or Velvet Revolver (throw in Kings of Chaos and Y Kant Tory Read too). He is now an energetic 60 years old and is celebrating the birth of his first child who entered the World approximately 3 weeks prior to this interview. In his visit with Rock On Magazine, Sorum talks about the new Book, his new life with current projects, and shares some casual excerpts of stories from some of his life experiences as a bona fide Rock n Roll Star. This is what Matt had to say while holding his French Bulldog and talking with ROM:
We heard you have moved from L.A. to Palm Springs! How do you like it?
Well right now, it’s a little toasty. We’ve lived here for about 4 years. When the Baby was coming, we decided to get out of the big city. Maybe thinking about getting a second home at Lake Tahoe. We love the Summers there. Palm Springs is cool, and we love it in the Winter and Spring. We just recorded a new Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) record out here too.
Oh yes, we heard about the Recording, so can you tell us about that Project?
In Pioneer Town and Joshua Tree there are a lot of Musicians up there. I was working up at my friend’s place (Christopher Thorn) who used to be in the Band Blind Melon, and of course Shannon Hoon who was a cohort of Axl’s. So, I was working up at his studio, but there’s another Studio up there called “Escape” near Pioneer Town (Pappy and Harriet’s area) on 140 acres, 2 Studios, 4 Houses and a bunch of Airstream trailers. I talked Billy into coming out there last Summer in July. We made the record in the middle of nowhere and shot 4 videos, super low budget and stripped down. We worked really hard coming up with the best songs, and I think we came up with a really cool record. It came out and was a Top 20 Record in England and #1 in a couple of Countries in Europe, and it’s doing really well.
We want to hit on your Book “Double Talkin Jive” and it is an amazingly fun read. You have met so many people and jammed with so many amazing artists. How does that make you feel?
Obviously when you write a Book, not to sound like a name dropper, but it’s hard to tell the stories when you’ve had all these experiences I have had. People would always say “Oh my God you have some amazing stories, you should write a book”, and with me for some reason I was like Rain Man. I could just remember everything down to the details; I guess being a drummer, I was just always detail oriented. When we got into the Cult stuff and me and Ian (Astbury) almost get arrested by the Fire Marshall, I mean, I can remember the Room number; it was room 626 because I remember thinking “Oh my God, we’re only four doors down from the Devil”. I remember it was Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and it was over 30 years ago. So, when I remember the characters in my life, it was such pinnacle moments, and I used to say to people when I was partying hard “Well, it’s going to be good for the book”.
This is in your Book but let our readers in on what led to you becoming the Drummer for Guns n Roses, and… the first time you met Axl Rose?
The first time I met Axl was when I was in NYC, and I was playing with The Cult. There is a segment in the Book explaining about a famous Rock n Roll Hotel in New York right outside Central Park called “The Mayflower”.
All the Bands used to stay there, and The Cult liked the Hotel. I remember when I first walked into the Hotel, I saw Sean Penn and Robert DeNiro. I went up the elevator, and the guy who brought my bags to my room said, “Is there anything else you need”? (Wink, Wink, like drugs, alcohol). It was that kind of Hotel!! I then went downstairs to the Bar, and there was Nick Nolte and Christopher Walken. I sat down at the bar in between Ian Astbury and Christopher Walken who asked, “Where you guys going”? After we said, “we’re going Downtown to the East Village”, that’s when Ian announced that Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin were going to come pick us up. Before I left The Cult, we were the Headliner and Guns n Roses was the Opening Act. Ian was the one responsible for giving Axl his headband look and had rapport with him long before I did.
Christopher Walken asked, “Can I hitch a ride”? So, this Limo pulls up in the front of the Hotel and there was Axl and Izzy. We end up jumping into the Limo and get into this conversation about Axl funding and supporting these Nicaraguan Guerillas in their plight against their government, and I thought that was just so eclectic and cool. I just remember the imagery of it all…. there’s Christopher Walken just being Christopher Walken (laughter). We then drove down to the East Village to the “Scrap Bar”. Went down there and drank until that placed closed, and then ended it up at a place called “The Loft”. I found Ian later laying besides a trash can. I said “Hey, we have a photo shoot this morning at Central Park”!!
Who was the first person who brought up the notion of you becoming G & R’s Drummer?
The Cult was finishing up a Tour and Shows in L.A. and Slash and Axl showed up. They get out of a limo that made me think of scenes in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. These guys were the epitome of Rock n Roll; it looked fabricated but was One hundred percent real. At the time, joking to my girlfriend I said, “Those guys look like fun, maybe I can play with them”. Fast forward a month or two later, I get a call from Mike Clink (who produced a lot of big records (Whitesnake, Triumph, Guns n Roses, Motley Crue, MegaDeath, UFO, Jefferson Starship, The Baby’s, Eddie Money, many more) and he says, “I got your number from Lars Ulrich, and I’m not going to tell you who’s calling, but somebody is going to be calling you in a minute”. Not long after that Slash called me, and Mom said something like “Slush is on the phone” (more Laughter). When Slash and Duff (McKagen) came to see me, the conversations were about playing on their recordings, but shortly thereafter I was put up in a Hollywood apartment. I walked in and started playing with Slash, Duff, & Izzy and it was awesome! In those days the pressure to come up with the second album was huge because bands needed to come up with an album every year, and if you didn’t you were in trouble.
“Double Talkin Jive” is written about your heyday and all the amazing stories. Besides the obvious answer of your Family, since you aren’t the Party Animal you were before, what is the one thing that now motivates Matt Sorum every day?
I’ve always been the guy who wakes up and takes it one day at a time. I can’t really say I had a “plan” for that particular time in my life; I just wanted to be in a Rock Band and play Rock n Roll. With that type of mindset, you just go after things because you have nothing to lose.
I still have the kind of mindset going into my life, except now I have a family, I’m Married and have a Baby, and everything changes. I still feel like going out and being creative, trying to do good things. My life in the Book lays out that I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but I always fall into something incredible; my Bucket List is “pretty full”. I’ve played with some of the greatest in the business from Steven Tyler, Lemmy, Alice Cooper, etc. I’ve lived the Rock n Roll dream!! I’ve taken all that experience and it has opened other doors for me. Now I’m doing things as an Entrepreneur, I’ve got a couple Charities going. Guns n Roses opened a lot of doors for me because if people want to be around a creative environment, I can give wisdom in other ways.
Who is your Hero now, who do you look up to?
Right now I’m in Baby World!! I can’t even think right now, this has been 60 years in the making! There are heroes to me in other aspects of the World for sure. Guys like Ric O’Barry behind the Dolphin Project and Jill Robinson with Animals Asia Foundation. There are a lot of things out there, and as you get older different ideas come, and I like that. Lars is a good friend of mine, and Metallica is one of those bands that gives back.
Switching gears, you have a new Beer coming out called “Drummer Beer”? Can you tell us about that?
Sometimes I work with people who I met who are a “Fan” of mine. I was doing some stuff in Brazil, and someone wrote something about me doing a Beer. The beer is in Brazil, and we are launching in August here in America. It’s already out (released) in Brazil, but those are the type of things you’ll see me doing in the near future.
Matt as you leave the Stage what are your parting words?
Are you talking about my final bow? Well, I definitely have more to do, but I don’t know….
“I came and lived the Dream; I felt the rush and it’s been a beautiful life. I’ve grabbed every piece that I could and there’s more to come, I hope”.
Matt wanted to let everyone know to check out his Audio Book coming out on Vinyl) and can get it on: Rare Bird or ExperienceVinyl.com
For information on the Dolphin Project go to: www.dolphinproject.com
For information on the Animals Asian Foundation go to: www.animalsasia.org
Read more about Matt Sorum, music, videos, studio, news and upcoming tours. www.mattsorum.com
Former GUNS N’ ROSES / VELVET REVOLVER Drummer MATT SORUM’s Double Talkin’ Jive Book And Vinyl Signed Ltd Ed Preorder Available Now – BraveWords