Author Topic: Contraband Track By Track 10 Years Later  (Read 1083 times)

Offline Velvet Revolver

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Believe it or not, June 8th is the 10-year anniversary of the release of Velvet Revolver’s landmark debut album Contraband. The album was one of the most anticipated debuts in music history, with fans anxious to hear what the chemistry would be like between former members of rock heavyweights Stone Temple Pilots (singer Scott Weiland) and Guns N’ Roses (lead guitarist Slash, bassist Duff McKagan, and drummer Matt Sorum). The album went 2X Platinum in the United States and spawned the classic hits “Slither” and “Fall to Pieces.”

Rhythm guitarist Dave Kushner (Wasted Youth, Electric Love Hogs) was the only member of the band who hadn’t experienced major commercial success prior, and he became the band’s secret weapon, playing an integral role in the creative process on fan favorites like “Illegal i Song” and “Get Out The Door.” As Contraband turns 10, Dave Kushner agreed to exclusively look back at the album track by track with AlternativeNation.net. We also conducted an in-depth Q&A with Kushner that will go up tomorrow and focus on unreleased Velvet Revolver material, the band’s search for a new singer, and Kushner’s long history with Scott Weiland.

1. Sucker Train Blues

We just played it the other day, we were trying out a guy, and we actually had to relearn it. I don’t have any specific memories about that song, I like it.  The one thing that’s kind of cool about it is there’s this middle section — oh wait, that’s a different song. Nevermind, I don’t know. We’re off to a strong start!

2. Do It For The Kids

When we first were looking for a singer, it took 10 months to try and find a singer, and we wrote songs 5 days a week. We would just pick these weird names for a song, just whatever came to mind. Most of them had no vocals, just music. I remember that song was a song with a bunch of parts, a bunch of weird parts. I think it had like 10 different names, and it really sounded nothing like it [ended up] sounding like.

I remember the cool thing was when we got together with Scott, we had like 60 songs, and we just gave them all to him and let him pick stuff, and change stuff. He actually picked out that one main riff out of a song that had like 20 riffs in it, and made it into something cool. He kind of took it into his own studio and chopped it up with his engineer and made it into a really cool song, but it sounded absolutely nothing like that when we first wrote it.

3. Big Machine

“Big Machine” was another one that Scott definitely had a hand in, [where] we gave him a blank song, [basically] what we thought was the chorus and what we thought was the verse. The arrangement was totally different when we gave it to him, and he again, with his engineer Doug Grean, chopped the shit out of it and made it into a really cool song, and kind of brought it all together.

The first 3 demos we ever did with Scott besides “Set Me Free,” which was the first one, the next batch of demos was: Big Machine, Fall to Pieces, and Slither. So it was really cool, because I remember hearing that, I still remember the early version was really cool, but it sounds like the one on the record.

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4. Illegal i Song

I came in with that main riff. It was a day where Duff and I were the first ones at rehearsal. I wrote it on guitar, and then Duff actually was playing drums. We wrote that song before rehearsal one day, just he and I with him playing drums. So that was really exciting, I think it was the first song I’d written in the band that got used.

In the breakdown, there’s this thing where Scott keeps repeating ‘All hate Sunday.’ When I had hung out with Ozzy for a minute, all he would watch was the History Channel. He was like this World War II fanatic. I was telling Scott about that, then Scott went through a phase where he spent all day watching the History Channel, and it was all about World War II. That’s where he got the line ‘All hate Sunday.’ Because it was a Sunday, and it was just all about Hitler and the hate that he had for Jewish people and everything. That’s where that line came from, from watching too much History Channel.

5. Spectacle

“Spectacle” is one song I think that just never quite did it for me on that record, I think it’s my least favorite song on the record. I’m not really sure why, it just seemed like a song to me that was 90% done. It’s just not one of those songs that ever really grabbed me.

6. Fall to Pieces

Again, like I said, that was part of the first set of demos that Scott recorded. Me and Duff were in Seattle driving to meet Scott up in the mountains when he was trying to stay off drugs one time, he was at this martial arts retreat thing. I just remember that feeling of driving on the freeway with Duff in the car, listening to the demo of “Fall to Pieces,” and [going like]: ‘Wow, this is really going to happen. This is a really amazing song.’

7. Headspace

“Headspace” is the first song that I think we wrote completely as a band, with Scott in the room. We’d given him those 60 songs as a template, and he’d maybe picked out 8 to 10 of them, and put vocals on them. Then we kind of started getting a sound, I think from my memory that was the first song we wrote with everybody in the same room, and just throwing riffs out there. So it’s definitely got a little bit of a different vibe, a little heavier vibe than the other songs, outside of Illegal i. Because those are definitely 2 songs I remember actually writing in the room, I think you can kind of hear the difference.

8. Superhuman

I haven’t listened to that song in so long.  I remember it definitely being a favorite.  (Laughs) I remember one time being in Las Vegas, we played on New Years, and the night after.  We played the 30th, 31st, and the 1st.  I remember it was one of those periods where everyone was drinking a lot.  I remember Slash had to start the song, and he couldn’t remember the part.   He just would play a couple notes of it (laughs), and he kept playing different random notes to try and jar his own memory.  It just seemed like the longest gap of time ever to start a song, and then we all just jumped in and started at the same time, but it was funny waiting for him to try and find the right notes.

9. Set Me Free

“Set Me Free” was the first song that we ever gave to Scott.  I think we might have given him 3 blank songs.  We had been looking for a singer for 10 months, just like in the [VH1 special].  We had looked for 10 months, we talked to Scott, he was finally interested.  We gave him 3 songs, and that was the first one he gave us back.  When we heard it, we just kind of knew.  Like okay, this is it, this is the guy obviously.  When we heard the song, it really cemented the future of the band.

Obviously there were those apprehensions, like: ‘Wow are we really going to do this?  He’s not in a good way right now.’  But for us, at that time, that song was just the end of a 10 month search, and really signified the end of that search.  Again, like on the VH1 doc, it was the one song we played for all of those record company execs.  It really was the start of the band, and having it be on The Hulk soundtrack, having it be the first song that came out before we even had a record deal.

10. You Got No Right

There’s certain songs where you just remember where you were when you first heard it.  I remember, I still lived in an apartment with my now wife, I don’t even know if we were engaged at the time.  We went to this kids party, and Scott, Duff, and I were all at the party.  Scott gave us a CD to listen to, and Duff and I walked back to I think Duff’s car, and listened to the CD.  We were really just fucking blown away, that song especially when I heard that.  [We already had] heard the first batch of demos with “Slither,” “Fall to Pieces,” and “Set Me Free.”  But “You Got No Right” was one of the songs we’d written after we’d become a band, and hearing those vocals once again was like: ‘Wow, this really could be something great, and not just some quote unquote supergroup.’

11. Slither

It’s funny, that was a song that we had like 1,000 different versions of.  Like this breakdown, and that breakdown.  The verse and the chorus were always the same, but we just had so many different versions and we tried out a lot people.  I just remember it was so much work to get that song recorded.  Matt was going through this phase, I don’t know if was a phase, but for some reason on that song I don’t know if he maybe knew it was going to be the single, he just got really tweaky with it at the time.  I remember we all systematically got kicked out of the room when we were recording it.  Because the 4 of us would record live in the room, and then Scott would record in a different room.  I remember him kicking out each one of us, and blaming us for messing up the tempo.  It’s the only song that Matt recorded the drums by himself, not playing with anyone, and the rest of us put our instruments on later.

12. Dirty Little Thing

It’s so weird, I’ve always been a fan of animation, and since VR I’ve started this project called Pusher Jones.  It’s an animated project, it’s kind of a rock and roll Gorillaz.  It’s with Scott Shriner from Weezer, Joey Castillo from Queens of the Stone Age, and Franky Perez singing.  I started this project, and it’s funny because I remember the animated part of the [Dirty Little Thing] video being done by this company, and we had a meeting with them today about potentially partnering.  I remember there was a lot of drama when we were doing the actual video, there was some guy on the set drunk and on drugs and freaking out and stopping the shooting.

[That is also a song that] Keith Nelson from Buckcherry had a writing credit on, I think he contributed that main riff before I was in the band.

13. Loving The Alien

I forgot about that song.  That song I don’t have a lot to say on, I just remember that Scott was in a very strange place at that time (laughs) when he was writing the lyrics.  He would come up with this really kind of out there concepts for things like songs, record covers, for all kinds of shit.  Some of them we would take, some of them we would leave.  That song, again another song we wrote after we were a band, it was a song where he put his kind of eccentric stamp on that song.  Which is funny, because I totally forgot about that song.  Now I’ve got to listen to it, you’ve piqued my interest.