Matt Sorum has been the drummer for such legendary bands as The Cult, Velvet Revolver and Gun’s N’ Roses. Matt’s newest musical endeavor is a solo project titled “Matt Sorum’s Fierce Joy”. The album simply titled “Stratosphere” comes out of Matt’s desire to give back while also addressing his past with startling insight and maturity. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Matt recently about the creation of the album and his evolution as a musician and person.
Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on how you started working on this new album?
Matt Sorum: I have always been a fan of acoustic guitar. I will generally sit down and write a song when I am having some sort of emotional feeling. That is my outlet. I have acoustic guitars all around my house. I will just pick them up and start playing. A lot of this record was compiled from cassette tapes I had made as I used to keep a cassette player around to record these ideas when I had them. When I got ready to put this album together I knew I wanted it to be around my other love of music that is a bit separate from my love of rock and roll. I love artists like Tom Petty, Lou Reed and Joni Mitchell. I have this whole other set of music that I love and I wanted to do something in that vein. When I started putting everything together I noticed that my style was geared more towards that type of Americana writing. I grew up on progressive music and that is another influence that came out on this record. I spent a week out in the desert with these riffs and ideas and wrote 8 or 9 of the tracks. I didn’t have any distractions and I was able to just write. Things worked out well and I had this great channel of energy. I stumbled on to a way of writing which allowed me to really flow. In the past I had a collaborator help me with the writing but on this new record I did most of it myself. It felt really good to be able to do that. When it came time to put the record out I knew I could record it at my home studio and I could bring in musicians but there was more a lot more to it. I ended up starting my own label with an investor friend of mine and we called it Rok Dok Recordings. We did everything ourselves and it was a lot of fun. This was just a great experience all the way around. Having total control of your music is a great feeling.
AL: Can you tell us about some of the musicians who played on the album?
MS: I knew stylistically where I wanted to go with this and it was going to be in a different wheel house so to speak. If I wanted to make a rock album that would have been pretty easy but with the sound I was going for with “Stratosphere” things were a little different. I picked the drummer because I didn’t play drums on the album. That was probably the hardest thing for me. I started with Paul Ill on bass. He has played with everyone from Tina Turner to Linda Perry. Paul was very instrumental in putting the band together. He brought in some really great players that have played with tons of people and appeared on a lot of great albums. The guys who played on the record are going to be the same group I take out on the road with me when that time comes. These guys put their hearts and souls in to this record I really appreciate that.
AL: Can you tell us about the webisodes you created to document the creation of the album?
MS: I was trying to come up with a way to get the material out there and make people aware of it. Even before I did the album I knew I was going to shoot all of from the rehearsals to the actual recording. I have seen this idea done before and I know people want to be invested in a project or have a part of it. I ended up doing a series of 5 episodes that will be released over a period of time prior to the album release. After the album comes out there will continue to be new episodes being released. We want to be able to just keep building momentum. We have a tone of stuff recorded that we want to share with the fans.
AL: What do you feel is going to be the biggest challenge in getting fans to see you outside of your normal “rock” element?
MS: I could have easily sat back and made a rock album. I know rock and roll very well so that probably wouldn’t have taken very long. It’s easy for me to write rock songs but it never feels as satisfying to me. I like rock and roll as an energy and a feeling that is separate from what I felt when I was writing the material on this new record. I don’t feel I could have written rock songs that go as deep in to my psyche as these songs do as it’s a different energy. I hope fans look at it as either being good music or bad music. They don’t know me as a singer so I just hope they like the different style and notice that I can sing. I hope people who have known me or have been a fan of me for a long time will sit down and give this record a chance. I want people to be able to see me in a different light.
AL: Do you feel you are past the point now of ever doing Gun’s N Roses again?
MS: I think you have to be past it. I have been past it for a long time now. The expectations will just kick your ass if you don’t move on. There’s not a day in my life that I don’t get asked about the band. I look at that as two fold. It’s sort of a blessing and a curse. (Laughs) It’s really more of a blessing. Being a part of that legacy for the time that I was a part of it was a blessing. That time really paved the way for the rest of my life. That was a great experience in my life and was one of the greatest rock bands ever! I have to look at it with respect and thank the fans and the other band members for including me. I will look back at the height of things with the band which I was there for and say “I did it”. That might be the way it should be left. We all have other things going on outside of Gun’s N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver that we are very happy doing.
AL: What other projects to do you have in the works?
MS: I really need to get this stuff with Fierce Joy out there. This project is where I can really show my artistic roots. It’s a cathartic thing that you have to do. Some people write in a book or diary or maybe go to a shrink. (Laughs) For me I chose to do that with this record. My band Kings of Chaos are going to be going out on the road and were set to break off a bunch of new stuff for this summer. We are going to be doing something called “The Celebration of Rock and Roll”. This will be with guys I have known for 25/30 years. We are going to be in a lot of different places with that. I am going to try and do all of this.