MATT SORUM Looks Back On His Time With GUNS N' ROSES: 'In Retrospect, Maybe I Would Have Handled It Differently'

December 25, 2023

During a recent appearance on the "Black Oxygen Inspiration" podcast, Matt Sorum reflected on his time as the drummer for GUNS N' ROSES. The drummer said in part (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "It got scary. In retrospect, maybe, being a little bit older, I would have handled it differently, but it got a little bit out of control because it became so big. We were moving fast. There was a lot of people around us. There was a lot of — I can't say confusion, but… I don't know. I was starting to kind of get out of sorts because we were the biggest band in the world at that time. There was nothing bigger, and it was intense because there was a lot of people coming at you, like old friends, just like infiltrating. And thank God I didn't have a cell phone or text in those days. Like imagine like if you had a text."

He continued: "And I'll admit it. I fell into too much drinking. And the band was pretty famous for that. So, in a way, I felt obligated to do it because we were — and I've explained it before, I always said that I felt like a pirate on a pirate ship. There was just this sort of gang mentality amongst us, and I wanted to be part of the gang. I didn't have one tattoo when I joined GUNS N' ROSES. It's almost like when you're a kid in school and you're hanging with some other guys, this is how that feels. It's, like, 'Okay, I'm gonna go get the tattoos. I'm gonna drink.' I always drank. But my point is things got a little bit confusing only because it was just so big. And there was a lot of kind of Hollywood sycophants around, a lot of what I call — I used to call them spot welders. And some of it I liked. And it was weird, because… I'd say to any young musician that gets successful, watch out for your ego. Just be careful, because that's what happened. And it's cliché — it's very cliché."

Sorum added: "I talk to young bands and I say, 'Hey, man. How's it going? How's your head?' Success can be daunting — when you're very successful — because things just change. I mean, family — I wasn't as close to my family. I was enjoying the ride; I really was. But it was a little bit kind of rock and roll bubble. I was in this big bubble and we were rolling through the world. And I really felt like I just wanted to have every part of that adventure, but it started to kind of affect me musically. I started to enjoy the party a little bit more than the music. [Laughs] And in retrospect, I'd say to myself, would I do it any different? No. [Laughs] I think I would have maybe — with the way I am now as an older guy, the way when you learn through life how to react to things, I've learned a lot more about how to sort of deal with things that I didn't understand, if that makes sense."

Matt went on to say that it was important for him to be honest in his book about how he handled being in GUNS N' ROSES at the height of the band's commercial success.

"I don't want any people to believe that it was just squeaky clean," he said. "If they read my book, the train came off the tracks a couple times. But where I am now in my life is a completely different circle of the people I keep around me. I don't really have time for anyone that needs to — I don't know. It doesn't make sense. I'm very, very content. Like, people will say — this is a Hollywood thing — 'So, what are you doing lately?' I love that question because I'm, like, 'I've done plenty and I'm just chillin'.'"

Sorum, who replaced Steven Adler in GUNS N' ROSES, recorded the highly successful albums "Use Your Illusion I" and "Use Your Illusion II" (both 1991) and "The Spaghetti Incident" (1994). He also supported the group on the "Use Your Illusion" tour and can be heard on GUNS N' ROSES' "Live Era: '87-'93" (1999) and "Greatest Hits" (2004).

Sorum was among the GUNS N' ROSES members who were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in April 2012. He, Adler, guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan attended the ceremony, while singer Axl Rose and founding guitarist Izzy Stradlin stayed home.

The 63-year-old musician, who has also played with THE CULT, VELVET REVOLVER and HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES, is not involved with GN'R's hugely successful reunion tour, which features Rose, Slash and McKagan alongside drummer Frank Ferrer, keyboardist Dizzy Reed, guitarist Richard Fortus and second keyboardist Melissa Reese.

Sorum's autobiography, "Double Talkin' Jive: True Rock 'N' Roll Stories From The Drummer Of Guns N' Roses, The Cult, And Velvet Revolver", arrived in May 2022 via Rare Bird Books.

Photo credit: Michael Segal

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