VELVET REVOLVER photo book coming soon
Rufus Publications has announced the release of a new photo book, “Velvet Revolver By Ross Halfin”, focusing on VELVET REVOLVER, the band formed in 2002 by then-former GUNS N’ ROSES members Duff McKagan, Slash and Matt Sorum.
Sorum, McKagan, Slash and guitarist Dave Kushner held an exhaustive singer search after VELVET REVOLVER‘s formation that lasted for almost two years, during which they issued an open invitation to the public to send in demos. Eventually they settled on former STONE TEMPLE PILOTS singer Scott Weiland.
VELVET REVOLVER released two full-length albums through RCA/Sony BMG — 2004’s “Contraband” and 2007’s “Libertad” — before dismissing Weiland in April 2008.
Down the long and convoluted road of rock history, the term “supergroup” has been used to describe collaborations put together by musicians already renowned for having established themselves with other popular bands. Many of these projects tend to be short lived and rarely capture the collective or individual greatness that these musicians achieved in prior bands. However, every so often, one of these so-called “supergroups” actually delivers on the theoretical sum of its parts and writes, records, and performs music that stands up on its own merits and strengths and cements its place in the hearts and minds of rock fans across the world. One such band was VELVET REVOLVER.
Having utterly dominated the early and mid 1990s in GUNS N’ ROSES — one of the only truly bonafide bands to ever adopt the slogan of “biggest band in the world” — Slash and McKagan found themselves somewhat adrift by the early 2000s, both having long left behind the machine of GUNS N’ ROSES. Under fairly similar circumstances, another 1990s rock giant — STONE TEMPLE PILOTS — had publicly imploded as a result of their own internal politics.
Despite all the drama and the cultural zeitgeist of the time not particularly calling out for such a group, VELVET REVOLVER formed with Weiland, Slash, McKagan, Sorum and Kushner, and perhaps in spite of such adversity delivered their stunning debut album, “Contraband”, on June 8, 2004. The album peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and went on to sell over two million copies in the United States alone — a truly remarkable achievement by anyone’s standards and serves as a reminder of the undeniable quality of the songs and performances that make up the track listing. A second album, “Libertad”, followed three years later after countless concerts around the globe, and even if it didn’t quite live up to the quality of its predecessor (frankly, few records could) — it still landed at No. 5 on the Billboard top 200 and would be certified gold in Canada and New Zealand.
History would ultimately repeat itself and the same forces that led to the band’s inception would reappear to derail VELVET REVOLVER once and for all in 2008. However, photographer Ross Halfin was there every step of the way to capture the band in the good times and the bad, and this photo book represents the total journey of VELVET REVOLVER and serves as a timely reminder that sometimes, rare as it might be, “supergroups” can be genuinely super.
The new coffee-table book from Rufus celebrates the short-lived brilliance of VELVET REVOLVER in a single limited-edition book of just 500 numbered copies worldwide with an introduction by McKagan. Coming in at 340 high-quality art pages, with a printed, foiled and embossed cover, a unique Carbon X slipcase plus a Ross Halfin signed print and poster, this book is a unique visual documentary of the band.
“Velvet Revolver By Ross Halfin” goes on pre-sale on Friday, August 11 at 3 p.m. UK time. All orders placed before September 30, 2023 will get a 10% discount.
Sorum discussed the formation of VELVET REVOLVER and the band’s eventual split during an August 2022 appearance on the latest episode of the “Sound, Sobriety And Success With Matt Pinfield” podcast. He said: “When we all got back together (after our departures from GUNS N’ ROSES), our big thing was, ‘We can’t do this if we’re gonna be loaded and everyone is fucked up.’ So we made a pact: ‘Everyone get clean. Let’s get cleaned up.’ We were in really great shape. I went to the gym. I was ripped. I was the skinniest I’ve ever been… I was already in my 40s. I’m, like, ‘Let’s see if we can just look like a great rock and roll band, get our look together here. Get our songs together, number one. Get looking good.’ Scott was looking lean and mean. I don’t know what he was doing to look like that, but he was great. And he was in good form. He’d cleaned up. We’d worked with him on it — we all did.
“We kind of looked at it like the AEROSMITH model,” Sorum explained. “‘If we’re gonna continue to play rock and roll, we can’t go out there like 20-year-old kids. We can’t be out there every night getting fucked up playing rock (and roll) — we can’t. We’re older guys. We’ve gotta get our shit together.’ We all got it together, man, and we were on fire. And I remember we were all nervous ’cause it was the first time we’d ever gone out on the road clean like that, sober.
“The first album went triple platinum and we got three Grammy nominations and won a Grammy and got a lot of money,” Matt recalled. “And the wheels came off — the wheels came off the machine, the train came off the tracks and bad habits reappeared. I started drinking again, drugging, the whole thing — all of us. And shit got fucked up.
“Typically, people go, ‘Well, did you spend a lot of money doing drugs?’ I said, ‘No. But I made a lot of bad decisions.’ (Laughs) I made really a lot of bad decisions. I did stupid shit.
“People give you drugs, man,” Sorum added. “C’mon, forget it; you can get drugs. But if I had to do it all over again, I would be, like, “Cmon, you guys, man. We’re not gonna get this opportunity again. This is it for us.’ And we just — we imploded.
“The second record, I like the second record — I think it’s a good record — but it didn’t have the angst of the first record. The first record had a youthful thing because we were hungry. We meant it. I think we meant it on the second record musically, but it didn’t have that fairy dust of angst. And typically you hear that on a lot of bands’ early records, even though we were (all experienced). Typically the first couple of records are always the best records. AEROSMITH ‘Toys In The Attic’, ‘Rocks’.”
Weiland was found dead on his band’s tour bus in December 2015. The vocalist, who was 48 years old at the time of his death, was on tour with THE WILDABOUTS in Minnesota when he was found unresponsive.
Matt told “Sound, Sobriety And Success With Matt Pinfield” about his former bandmate: “I had my differences with Scott. We fought like brothers. But really what I wanted for Scott was the best for Scott. Scott was so fucking great. You just wanted him to realize how great he really was. You wanted to shake him and go, ‘Scott, you’re great.’ He would put off the air of, like, he was the epitome of a rock star. He’d walk on stage and you’d go, ‘There he is. There’s the frontman.’ They just don’t fucking make them like that anymore.”
In the past, Sorum had made it clear that he and his bandmates were very aware of Weiland‘s drug-addiction battles and chronic tardiness when they first joined forces with him to launch VELVET REVOLVER.
Weiland and his former VELVET REVOLVER bandmates said all kinds of nasty things about each other after their acrimonious split in 2008. But Sorum later said he wasn’t bothered anymore, partly because he said he had a chance to talk things out with the frontman a couple of years before Scott‘s death.
VELVET REVOLVER reunited with Weiland for a four-song set in January 2012 at a Los Angeles tribute concert for late songwriter John O’Brien, but the band has otherwise remained inactive.
At one point it was reported that VELVET REVOLVER was going to team with STONE SOUR and SLIPKNOT vocalist Corey Taylor, but the idea was ultimately vetoed by Slash. The group and Taylor recorded demos of 10 songs together.
A few days after Weiland‘s death, Matt reiterated his view that the launch of VELVET REVOLVER was the high point of his career. He said: “I remember me and Duff McKagan came out of a… We were coming out of the subway in New York, and he’s two guys who were in GUNS N’ ROSES, right? And we came out of the subway, and this guy looks over, and he goes, ‘Hey, you’re Duff and Matt from VELVET REVOLVER.’ And I looked over at Duff. I went, ‘Oh my God! That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that.’ And it was a very pivotal point for us, because now we’d created something new, modern, but at the same time, it was still great rock and roll. So I’ve gotta thank Scott for that.”