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the AU interview: Matt Sorum of Kings of Chaos (USA)

The man behind the beats of Guns n Roses (from 1990-1996), Velvet Revolver and Neurotic Outsiders is at it again with another super group. Taking some members of Gunners (obviously), Def Leppard, Deep Purple and Skid Row, Matt Sorum has created a super group among super groups with Kings of Chaos.

The latest brain child of the enigmatic Sorum is set to hit Australian shores in a little under a month for Stone Music Festival (April 20 and 21) “to play all the hits from everybody in the band, in an hour long non-stop show of great hits” says Sorum.

So to help spread the love and excitement for both the band and the festival, Matt spoke to the AU review’s completely enthralled (Guns n Roses, Velvet Revolver loving) Charly Lindsay about the allure of super groups, life on the road without drugs and how his different world view is impacting his music.

The excitement in Sorum’s cool Californian voice is apparent, as he starts to talk about appearing with Van Halen and playing with Kings of Chaos, saying; “I’m really excited. I mean opening for Van Halen is just going to be awesome. I can’t wait to watch them play and I’m really excited to bring this cool idea I had down to Australia, I think the fans are going to dig it. We’ll have each singer come up one at a time, so Sebastian will be doing the Guns n Roses stuff and Skid Row, then we’ll rip in to a little Deep Purple and then Joe Elliott will come up and we’ll do some covers and some more Def Leppard and we’ll end the show with a big GnR number. It’s going to be awesome.

For Sorum the allure of the musicians around him, mixed with his career stage and the lack of heavy drugs and alcohol on the road (by choice of course. What kind of rock star can’t get drugs if they want them?), made a new super group the choice that was literally staring him the face.

“You just get out there and you get amongst it pretty quickly. I’m at that stage of my career where I haven’t really got the energy to go and try and create a band. I mean how many bands do I have in my back pocket? I’d rather just get a bunch of great guys together that everybody knows and go and play a bunch of shows to 60,000 people, like whoa. Even Velvet Revolver, it took us 18 months to build that up, and we we’re on the road like 20 year old kids. So my thing was, number one I don’t really want to go on the road for 18 months any more, which will basically kill you unless you’re doing hard drugs and I don’t do hard drugs anymore and I don’t drink anymore and the rest of it’s just kind of boring. So I’d rather go and do great festivals and do two or three week tours, go out and just have a blast and then go home and then think about the next thing. This idea that I came up with, this is like a release for all the other guys because it’s fresh for them, even though we’ll be playing all our hits, it’s all with all our friends and the buddies that we’ve met through years and years of rock n roll” Matt said.

He happily admits to the difficulties super groups and conflicting schedules can make, which leads in to a great little retrospective and humble chat, about just how amazing the opportunities Matt has created are.

With Matt saying; “Well you know, everyone’s always so busy so it can be hard with everyone all over the place. But you know, It’s weird I talk to Glenn (Hughes) all the time and Steven Tyler and Billy Idol, you know and it’s kind of strange, it’s surreal you know, even now sometimes I sit back and go to myself, shit Steven Tyler just texted me, that’s just bizarre. Or like Iggy Pop called me the other day and I was like, this is fucking weird, Iggy’s like a friend you know and it’s really great, I’m really blessed. I look at it, like I’m a kid that grew up listening to and wanting to play rock n roll and now I’m in this community of all these great musicians. So I said well fuck it, why don’t I take advantage of that and put a band together and go play?

Kings of Chaos aren’t all Sorum has going on though, with a solo piece in the works that shows off his different sides and sees him take on both different subjects and different instruments in a multitude of musical styles.

“My album is very kind of scaled down, I play acoustic on it and I play piano on a couple of songs, and there’s orchestration. The closest comparison I would say is that is a cross between Wilco and The Doors. I’m the kind of guy that likes to do a lot of different styles of music. I’m a musician and a fan of great music and to me there are two types of music, there’s good music and there’s bad music” said Matt.

On top of making music with many of the world’s best, Sorum has branched out in to philanthropy, working with international women’s shelters through his ancillary of Adopt The Arts ‘Global Sound Lodge’ and animal charities The Cove and Animals Asia. Which Sorum puts down to becoming a more spiritual person, thinking about the planet and being open to the problems of the world.

“I’m really a lot more spiritual now, whereas I was more Rock n Roll spiritual before. I’m just in a place where I’m thinking more about the planet and I’m a lot more open to world problems. I’m doing a few charity projects, with The Cove, and Animals Asia with moon bears up in China. I’m really in to animal activism now, you know the planet is really on my mind and the ocean and Mother Nature and all that stuff. I wrote a song called Land of the Stone, and I think people will love the lyrics, they’re pretty heavy. Then the Land of the Pure started in Pakistan with Malala, but there’s 350 million women in the world that aren’t getting access to education, it’s really bad and it needs to be addressed and people need to know about it. I mean so many of the guys like John Lennon got their message out through music and they’re my kinds of influences".

The topic of The Beatles led us straight in to a little chat about the man that got Sorum playing, Ringo Starr and Matt’s experience of playing with him recently, and while it may of left me without time to talk to him about Gunners. Who could knock back the chance to talk to their one of their idols about one of their idols, especially when those idols are Matt Sorum and Ringo Starr (that’s a lot of idols).

“Yeah I got on stage with Ringo and now I see him all the time. It’s amazing because he was the reason I became a musician and a drummer, so it’s quite a cool thing for me to get on stage with the guy who made me who I am really, he’s a god” said Matt.

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Don't miss Kings of Chaos at Stone Music Festival on Saturday, April 20th. It is their only Australian performance! The festival takes place at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

Tickets and details: http://www.stonemusicfest.com/