Guns N’ Roses may not be regarded as the most dangerous band in the world anymore, but when they were, it was Matt Sorum who had the job of holding the fort and keeping the whole thing together, according to the former stickman.
The Use Your Illusion era drummer wasn’t invited to participate in the current Guns N’ Roses reunion with classic era members such as Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff McKagan, but then again with the exception of a few cameos on the drum stool neither was original member Steven Adler.
The beating of the skins and keeping of the beat on the Not in This Lifetime tour is the responsibility of Frank Ferrer. And that’s just fine and dandy with Sorum who insists in an interview with Mitch Lafon on One on One that he no longer has the stomach for the danger and chaos which always appears to surround Axl and the boys.
“We never knew what the f**k was going to happen. There was no sense of stability whatsoever.
“That kept the band in a constant state of aggression. When we got on stage we’d take it out on our instruments in sheer exhaustion or anger. It made the rock show legendary.
“People ask me what’s different about rock’n’roll and I say, ‘It’s not as dangerous as it was.’ I’m not saying that’s a good thing.
“I was in the most dangerous rock’n’roll band in the world at the time. That’s been an amazing journey, but I can’t handle living my life like that any more.”
Reflecting on being asked to replace Steven Adler in 1990, Sorum admits that the whole set up in Guns N’ Roses was a lot different to what he expected after being a fan of the Appetite for Destruction era.
“Everything was so much different than what I expected. I thought I was walking into a straight-up rock band, a crossbreed of AC/DC and Aerosmith, mixed with the Sex Pistols and Nazareth.
“Along came pianos and these epic 10-minute opuses. I was surprised.”
Sorum also has fond memories of just how spontaneous and fresh everything was during that time compared with today, where everything is rehearsed to the point of soul-destroying tedium.
“We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare – we rehearsed for about a month and went into the studio. We had to learn 33, 34 songs then we went in and recorded everything.
“I was so crammed with music. I had so much to learn. In those days it was so crazy, how we operated. We’d take one or two takes and it was in the can. You don’t cut it up, you don’t f**k with it like bands do nowadays. It’s done.”
Matt banging the drums behind Duff McKagan and Johnny Depp in the Hollywood Vampies. [Image by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]
Regarding the dynamic of Guns N’ Roses during that time, Sorum has clear opinions on every member’s role and responsibility.
“Everything that happened was so natural and everyone was given free rein. The leader, I would probably say, was Slash – he had such a work ethic. Axl was the front guy, the guy controlling what was going to happen that night.
“They needed a guy that could hold the fort together and I did that. It was an interesting time because things were moving so fast.
“I look back with admiration that we all lived through it. We did it.”
Sorum insists he still has nothing but respect for Axl, Duff, and Slash to keep doing what they’re still doing, even though none of the hard-rocking trio are as young as they used to be.
“They’re out there doing that, going on stage on time every night. Times have changed, haven’t they?
“What’s going on now is great for them, but I was there when it was great too – probably the greatest.”
[Featured Image by Pedro Gomes/Getty Images for Starkey Hearing Foundation]