VELVET REVOLVER members Duff McKagan (bass) and Slash (guitar) recently spoke to the Belfast Telegraph about their years spent playing with GUNS N' ROSES and the formation of their new group. Several excerpts from the interview follow:
On McKagan's pancreas "exploding" on May 10, 1994:
Duff McKagan: "That was not a good day. I came very close to dying and I saw the things you see when that happens. I was floating above my body, looking down at myself in hospital. My mom, who had Parkinson's, was there with me. To see her sitting there in a wheelchair and seeing all these tubes coming out of me, it was like, 'What the hell have you done?' I felt ashamed. The doctors said to me, 'If you drink or take drugs again, you're going to die.'"
On Slash being taken to hospital to be revived on at least three occasions:
Slash: "Sure, I died. It was pretty stupid. I've done a lot of stupid things, but I've gotten away with a lot, too. Whatever's happened, I always wake up, so I figure someone's up there looking out for me.
"Obviously I'm a lot more aware of the consequences of my actions now, especially now I've got kids. You won't find me down in the basement with a needle hanging out of my arm any more. I'm prepared to admit I'm still a heavy drinker, but it's nothing compared with what I used to be."
On singer Scott Weiland seemingly being a liability to a group of rehabilitated addicts:
Slash: "We had to go through a lot with Scott. He was in the worst period of his life when this thing started, and he needed support from all of us. He was at a point where he'd lost his wife, he'd lost his kids, and he was completely strung out. But he managed to get through it. He was dedicated to writing and rehearsing and, on top of that, getting clean. When the dust cleared, we'd established a solid vibe. I don't see Scott going off the deep end. Right now he's doing really well and he's accomplished so much. He's also got a lot of things depending on his being present.
"This band is salvation for all of us. I hate to sound clichéd, but we're the kind of people who sold our souls to this thing a long time ago, and there's no giving up. It's rare to have a chemistry like this. What we have is hard to find once, let alone a second time. We're very appreciative of that now, particularly after all the shit we've been through."
On VELVET REVOLVER being compared to GUNS N' ROSES:
Slash: "If we are, that's cool, because that's where we come from. But so far we've been standing up on our own pretty well. The more we've played live, the less we suffer from that. We've discovered from the guy that sells our T-shirts that our fans are pretty young; he says 95 per cent are kids who would never have seen GUNS N' ROSES. One bunch of kids I was signing autographs for didn't even know what GUNS N' ROSES was. Much as I'm proud of what we did before, that is pretty cool."
On the experience of being in GUNS N' ROSES:
Duff McKagan: "It was an amazing experience and I wouldn't have missed it for the world, but, let me tell you, the drugs is a sad goddam story. Your main focus besides the gig is calling some sleazeball in the next city, to make sure he scores for you.
"And you have to keep that up or you're gonna get sick. That's the position I was in for the last few years of GUNS. Just panicking to get enough dope to get me through. I went into some fucked-up places. Here I was, in this band about to play a giant stadium in New York, and I was up in Harlem by myself scoring smack from some guy who, for all I knew, was getting ready to kill me."
Read Duff McKagan and Slash's entire interview with the Belfast Telegraph at this location.