USA TODAY International Edition
Guns N’ Roses drummer’s book finds new groove
As the drummer for Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver and The Cult, Matt Sorum secured a reputation as a literal heavy hitter.
He also earned a Grammy Award in 2005 with Velvet Revolver and in 2012, shared in Guns N’ Roses’ enshrinement in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
But as many a rock ’ n’ roll tale has demonstrated, the perks of playing in prominent bands often are countered by the detriments of being surrounded by sycophants.
Sorum, who replaced original Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler and remained a member for seven years – that’s him on “Use Your Illusion I,” “Use Your Illusion II” and “The Spaghetti Incident” – also battled drug and alcohol addictions.
Sorum is ready to share those stories of glory and misery in “Double Talkin’ Jive” ( Rare Bird, 304 pp.), his autobiography written with Leif Eriksson and Martin Svensson.
Who wouldn’t be hooked reading even just his preface about being tossed out of the after- party at the wedding of John Stamos and Rebecca Romijn? Dave Coulier also gets knocked out in the midst of the mayhem, by the way.
These days, Sorum, 61, is enjoying family time with wife Ace and daughter Lou Ellington, who turns 1 in June, but he also is keeping a finger in the music business. Last year, he co- produced “Hardware,” the third solo album from ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons; the hirsute guitarist returned the favor by writing the foreword to “Double Talkin’ Jive,” praising Sorum’s “insatiable appetite for the backbeat.”
Chatting from his home in Palm Springs, California, Sorum spoke with USA TODAY about the background of “Double Talkin’ Jive.”
Question: You’ve played with so many bands and done so many things, but you named the book after a Guns N’ Roses song. Does your time with them really feel like the defining years of your career?
Matt Sorum: I just thought the title was interesting. “Jive” is a word used like “jive talking”; I like the connotation of it. People in the industry would be like, “I love you, man!” and then you can’t get them on the phone. That Hollywood jive. You learn the Hollywood way as you go.
Q: You structured the book in an interesting way – short chapters and a little teaser about what is in each one. Why did you go that creative route?
Sorum: There was so much to tell. Obviously, the Guns N’ Roses stuff is, “Oooh, what’s he going to say?” I say some stuff, but I bookend it with the reasons that made it great. These guys are these guys with these personalities. But I had to be truthful about how it worked for me. Someone reading the book might say I’m a name dropper. But I worked with these folks, so if you don’t say their names, it isn’t fun to read.
Q: How important was Guns N’ Roses in your life?
Sorum: At the end of the book, I say if it wasn’t for GNR, my life wouldn’t be the same. If you put 20 people in a line, maybe 5% would know The Cult, 10% Velvet Revolver and 100% would know Guns N’ Roses. So I thanked the band for that
time I had with them, and I’m grateful for it now. Everything turns corners for a reason. I’m really a believer in going with the will of the higher intelligence of the universe.
Q: You admittedly did a huge amount of drugs. Did you ever question your memory when recalling some of these stories?
Sorum: The weirdest thing about me is I’m like Rain Man. Even with the drugs and alcohol, I had some kind of memory retention that was weird in a way. When I started to write the book, everything started to flood out with detail. I could jump on stage with any of those guys tomorrow and not rehearse and be able to play the songs.
Q: What was the writing process like for you and your co- writers, Leif and Martin?
Sorum: I bought the house in the desert in 2017 and I had just done the Hollywood Vampires tour, and Leif and Martin contacted me and said we’ll come to the desert. So they’d come out and sit in my living room and I’d be in my robe and get some coffee, and we went through my whole life and it was almost like talking to a therapist. The way I acted in those days isn’t how I am now, but that guy is still in there. I’m the happiest I have ever been because I had to go through trials and tribulations like everybody else.