In a recent interview with RIVAL SONS‘ Michael Miley for the Gretsch YouTube channel, Matt Sorum reflected on his first performance as the drummer for GUNS N’ ROSES, which took place in January 1991 at the Rock In Rio festival in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
He said (see video below): “My whole career has been like flying by the seat of my pants. I’ve dealt with these guys that are very interesting characters, and you learn to love ’em, but at the time, you’re, like, ‘What the hell is going on out here?’
“Here I am rehearsing with GUNS N’ ROSES for our first show, where I’m gonna open with the band at Rock In Rio — my first introduction to the world. So I joined, and we started working on these [‘Use Your Illusion’] records, and then we got a call to go play two nights in Rock In Rio headlining. JUDAS PRIEST was opening for us, MEGADETH one night. The bill was crazy, but we were headliners. A hundred-and-forty-thousand-seat stadiums, two nights sold out for GUNS N’ ROSES. And I get there, and I’ve never rehearsed with Axl [Rose, GUNS N’ ROSES singer] — I’ve never rehearsed with the guy. We’re gonna do it live in front of a hundred and forty thousand people, plus on television. And I’m freaking out before the show. I’m looking around, and I’m, like, ‘Hey, does anyone know what the setlist is? I’d like to check out the setlist.’ And Slash [GUNS N’ ROSES guitarist] goes, ‘We don’t use a setlist.’ And I’m, like, ‘What?’ So I got no information about what’s gonna go down.”
He continued: “Basically, before the show, and I learned this happened with that band, every night, Axl‘s guy Earl Gabbidon, [who] basically took care of Axl, came over to me and said, ‘We’re gonna start with ‘Welcome To The Jungle’,’ ‘We’re gonna start with ‘Nightrain’.’ He would tell me every night. So that whole ‘Use Your Illusion’ tour, there was never a setlist. And we figured out how to give each other eye signals, or someone took a riff, but we figured it out. And here we were on a stadium-sized stage. But that particular night at Rock In Rio, we started with a song no one ever heard before called ‘Pretty Tied Up’, which we just finished recording. And it started with the hi-hat. And I just remember looking out, and the crowd was already bouncing. I was, like, ‘I’m only playing the hi-hat.’ [Laughs] You felt that when they bounce and the stage is kind of rolling. It was intense. And I was, like, ‘Fasten your seatbelt, man. This shit’s gonna get crazy.’ And it did. But that one of the highlights — just the beginning of it.”
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 has said in the past that a GUNS reunion tour should have included both him and Adler, with each playing the songs they recorded with the group. Sorum was inducted as a member of the band into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in April 2012.
Sorum‘s autobiography, “Double Talkin’ Jive: True Rock ‘N’ Roll Stories From The Drummer Of Guns N’ Roses, The Cult, And Velvet Revolver”, which was previously due in April and was subsequently pushed back to early July, will now arrive in 2021.