Interview: Matt Sorum, Rock’s Go-To Drummer, Flexes Songwriter and Guitar Chops on Solo Album

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Matt Sorum (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Matt Sorum (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

If you’ve been a casual follower of Matt Sorum’s career — the drummer’s career includes stints in the Cult, Guns N Roses and Velvet Revolver — you might be surprised by his new album, Stratosphere (credited to “Matt Sorum and Fierce Joy”). It’s pretty far from the hard rock sounds of his career bands. On this album, Sorum is in singer-songwriter mode, and trades his seat behind the drums for vocals and guitar.

Radio.com spoke to the multi-instrumentalist about his new direction, animal rights activism, his former bandmate Tori Amos and the future of Velvet Revolver.

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How long have you been playing guitar?

I started playing the guitar, actually, before I started playing the drums. My mother was a classical pianist, so I had a lot of music in the house. I started playing piano and then I got into the guitar. My middle brother played guitar so I started dabbling on his guitar, and around that same time I saw the Beatles on TV and I gravitated more towards the drums. And I wrote a lot of the songs actually on the first Velvet Revolver album, if you read the credits, which people don’t do much anymore, but I wrote a good portion of the riffs on that album.

Have you always been a singer?

Well, I’ve always sang backing vocals in every band I’ve been in, for the big bands that I’ve been in starting with the Cult. I sang all the high harmonies. And when I joined Guns N Roses I sang a lot of the harmonies on the records, and I sang a lot live too, with Duff and Izzy, we would share harmonies. I’ve always loved to sing and play [simultaneously]. My mother was a vocal teacher as well as a classical pianist, so I took choir as a kid and you know, it wasn’t the coolest thing to do. You’re in the choir! It was a little weird.

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