A Wild Night on the Sunset Strip With Matt Sorum, of Guns N' Roses
Sorum with his fiancée Adriane "Ace" Harper
[Editor's note: Soon-to-be-award-winning gonzo music journalist Danielle Bacher prowls the late late night scene for West Coast Sound. For this installment, she hit the town with drummer Matt Sorum of Guns N' Roses, the Cult, Velvet Revolver and Camp Freddy.]
10:10 p.m.: Sugar Ray singer Mark McGrath passes me as he exits the Whisky a Go Go. Two girls in their mid-20s wearing cutoff shorts and Nirvana T-shirts hold posters for him to sign. One is a large, cheesy photo of his mug with the frosted blonde tips that he sported in the '90s. I wonder how he feels about that look.
Glenn Hughes (Left) Sorum (Right) inside the Rainbow
10:12 p.m.: I wait in line to get into the venue with drummer Matt Sorum. His fiancée Adriane "Ace" Harper, a former dancer for Duran Duran and singer of electro-rock band Diamond Baby, is with us, too. We are trying to get into the Rock Against MS benefit, but we aren't on the list. Vocalist/bassist Lemmy Kilmister (Motörhead ), vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple/Black Sabbath), drummer Marky Ramone (Ramones/Misfits) and a bunch of other rock & rollers are inside.
10:14 p.m.: We are having difficulty at the box office. Sorum mocks the fact that a rock star can't get into a sold-out show. He thinks it's hilarious that we have to wait for approval.
Two hours before, we'e sitting in a red booth at the Rainbow Bar & Grill. Ace and Sorum order iced teas. He adjusts his glasses, which have pinkish-red tinted lenses. He's wearing a black shirt with a soft black scarf and jacket to match. His blonde spikes are gelled perfectly. Ace puts her hand on top of his, her seafoam green nails wrapped around his fingertips. Her shiny engagement ring glitters in the dim restaurant. They met seven years ago at a Super Bowl party in Texas. She was hammered and waited six months to sleep with him.
"Straight from the Heart" by Brian Adams plays loudly. Sorum hasn't done drugs or alcohol in about five years. Ace is sober, too.
We're here because the Rainbow was one of Sorum's first hangouts in Los Angeles. Owner Mario Maglieri comes over to our booth to say hello. I notice that Slash's booth is in the far back, where Guns N' Roses filmed part of the video for "November Rain."
Sorum tells the owner that he would often sneak into his restaurant because he was underage. He was like a father to Sorum during this time and would tell him if he was out of control or drinking too much.
Kenny Aronoff (Left) and Sorum (Right)
Mötley Crüe's 1987 hit "Girls, Girls, Girls" blares. Glenn Hughes from Deep Purple approaches our table. Boxer/biker/actor Chuck Zito sits in the booth next to us. Touring drummer Kenny Aronoff, next to me in our booth, tells me that Sorum has a nice white ass. He danced for him naked one night with a lampshade on his head. He also tells me that in the early-'90s, during a major hangover, he informed Dave Grohl that he was never going to make it in a band with a goofy name like Foo Fighters. Good call.
10:20 p.m.: They finally let us into the club. I think about what Matt told me at the Rainbow: Things on the Strip have changed a lot since the days when hard rock was king.
Back then, everyone dressed like a rock star. You had to distinguish the "posers" from the real musicians. He said that if the person didn't have a Les Paul or Stratocaster, they had the wrong equipment. At the Rainbow in the late-'70s and '80s, the rockers would converge in the parking lot to pop Quaaludes and buy coke. They would try to pick up girls or, if they had any money left, they would run to Gil Turner's liquor store to buy alcohol and hang out until the next party.
"It was great back in the day. Where is the cool music scene now? Silver Lake? It's just different," he says.
10:21 p.m.: We walk into the Whisky. A dude comes up to Ace and starts flirting with her. She tells him that she's here with her fiancé and to "be careful." The guy looks at me, standing next to her. She laughs and says, "No, not her, although I would be honored. I used to do that back in the day when I was drinking." She gives me a hug, laughs and says, "But don't get me wrong, I would love to be your wife." The guy is confused as hell and gives us a weird look, then walks off.
10:22 p.m.: An adoring fan screams, "OH MY GOD! I THINK BILLY IDOL IS HERE!" I feel a hand on my shoulder.
10:23 p.m.: I turn around. The security guard from the venue tells me that I have to leave. Matt and Ace keep walking and don't notice that I left. Awesome.
Sorum (Left) Mark Mahoney (Right) inside Mark Mahoney's tattoo shop
An hour before all this shit goes down, the Temptations' "I Wish It Would Rain" plays softly through speakers inside Mark Mahoney's Shamrock Tattoo shop. We watch him ink a client in the back room. "I brought some friends with me. They all want tattoos on their butts and maybe breasts," Sorum says to Mahoney.
I'm not exactly sure why we are here, but Mahoney has done the cover up for Sorum's sleeve, and he wants to get a consultation about doing some extra nautical work on his arm.
10:33 p.m.: I stand outside the Whisky after being escorted out. I have no fucking clue what happened. A dark-haired, chatty woman in her 30s gets kicked out as well by the club manager. "Can I talk to somebody?" she says to the security guard. "Why the hell was I kicked out? Let me talk to someone now! I'm calling the police."
10:35 p.m.: I go up to the box office and ask why I was kicked out. The woman tells me that I can't go back inside. I show her my wristband and tell her that I was already inside the venue. I'm pissed and rethinking this entire endeavor.
10:37 p.m.: "I'm calling the police for assault if you don't let me inside!" shouts the woman standing next to me. She dials a 9 on her cell and then stops. I can hear Rick Springfield perform "Jessie's Girl" from inside.
10:38 p.m.: The woman in the box office tells me that publicist Nancy Sayle will not let me in. (To this day I have no idea why.) Since this event is a fundraiser for Sayle herself, who is battling MS and a brain tumor, I would think they would want people to come in and spend money. I am utterly confused now.
10:40 p.m.: Sorum finally comes out. He looks at me and asks, "Did they really kick you out?" He laughs.
"I can pay for her to get in, right?" he asks the woman at the box office. She says no.
"Now that's fucked up! I'll pay, I don't give a fuck. I have cold hard cash."
A fan comes up to Sorum and asks for his autograph. He tells her he likes her blue hair.
10:41 p.m.: Steven Adler, former drummer of Guns N' Roses, walks by.
10:42 p.m.: An owner of the club comes outside and asks what is going on. I tell him that they won't let me in. Sorum cracks another joke about how money doesn't buy you everything. The owner allows me in.
Ace (Left) Sorum, Gilby Clarke, Daniella Clarke (his wife) inside the Whisky
10:44 p.m.: Jack Russell is on stage with his band Great White and Aronoff. It sounds like shit, but that's probably because of the speakers. I'm standing next to Gilby Clarke, the former guitarist for Guns N' Roses. He makes fun of me for getting kicked out of the club. After all of that, we stay for ten minutes and leave.
Billy Morrison (Left) Sorum (Right) outside the Whisky
10:50 p.m.: Sorum stands outside the venue, and a sea of fans swarms him, begging for autographs. Vocalist/guitarist Billy Morrison -- from Billy Idol's touring band the Cult and Camp Freddy -- comes over. We take a photo as all the fans watch in amazement. It seems like all rockers in L.A. know each other, and each has some long, annoying story to tell about how they are connected.
11:00 p.m.: Sorum picks up an L.A. Weekly to check out the writing inside and notes that I have a feature in the paper, on Dave Navarro.
See also: Dave Navarro Made Me Cry
11:01 p.m.: Sorum asks Ace and me if we want to look at dildos at the Hustler store. He wonders if that is "too dirty." He mentions that Ace wants a big black one, and she really needs it. Billy makes fun of Matt for not being that "wild" anymore and says tonight will consist solely of stories from ten years ago.
11:02 p.m.: On the way, Matt throws the newspaper in the garbage.
"Did you just throw the L.A. Weekly out in front of me?" I ask.
"Ah, yeah. You know, I just can't carry it. I shouldn't waste paper like that. I should have at least recycled it."
"Yeah, you could have at least used it for your dogs to go to the bathroom."
"Yeah, I guess I'm not eco-friendly. But I am. I don't usually do that. "
11:04 p.m.: We walk into Hustler. He says to Ace, "We got the dirty schoolgirl stuff. What are you thinking?" He picks up some short, slutty skirt and nudges her on the arm.
11:06 p.m.: We sit in the café to chat for a moment. Matt says that his new solo album is coming out in July. He sings and plays guitar on the album, rather than drums. He also tells me he's a huge animal activist. He claims he's become a more thoughtful person and is on a "different psychological level" that doesn't include doing drugs and partying. "Recently, I started thinking a lot more about other people. Trying to help with situations. It wasn't like one day I thought, 'I'm going to do charity work!' Organically, everything came to me."
11:10 p.m.: We talk about how kids in schools don't even know elephants come from Africa and Asia. They think they only are at the zoo. He also wants to teach kids that we shouldn't hurt the planet. We talk about his charity Adopt the Arts and why it's important to educate kids with music and the performing arts in school.
11:20 p.m.: As great as it is that Matt wants to save the planet, I'm more concerned with how this is going to be a wild night. I'm sitting here discussing charity work with a sober rock star. I also think it's funny we are talking about protecting sea creatures inside a porno shop while some girl, nearby, strokes her own ass. I think she's getting turned on.
11:30 p.m.: Techno beats play in the background. Sorum is telling me about a song on the new solo album he wrote about loss. He explains that the song was inspired by his brother passing away of cancer. He was only 11 when he died.
11:40 p.m.: "Some people never change, but I think I've changed for the better." He tells me that rehab got him sober. He laughs and says, "Fuck, that was expensive!" Ultimately, he wants his life back. He says that he and Slash have agreed that the rock star life starts out as fun, but "one day I woke up and I couldn't stop the fun anymore. I couldn't stop. And then I realized, 'Oh shit, I'm an addict.'"
12:00 a.m.: "It's legendary what Guns N' Roses did. I don't need to prove anything to anyone. What do you want me to do: kill myself? Do you want me to die?" he says. "I just can't party anymore. It might be fun for them, but it will be death for me."
12:10 a.m.: We discuss why rock stars don't actually spend that much money on blow. They get most of that shit for free. They spend money after they are high on the blow. Matt rented a jet for 25 grand to go to Vegas one time. That shit adds up.
12:18 a.m.: Sorum grew up in and out of different kinds of churches and lived at a right-wing Baptist congregation. When he was 16, he was smoking pot on the couch and fell asleep. One of the ministers turned the heat all the way up on blast and he woke up sweating. The minister said, "That's what it's going to feel like to burn in the wraths of hell unless you get saved." He had a warped view on religion until he got sober.
12:19 a.m.: "Hella Good" by No Doubt is now playing. I can't wait to get the fuck out of here.
12:20 a.m.: Sorum doesn't like watching porn made from sex trafficking. He says he can tell when a woman wants to have sex on camera and when she doesn't. He says Japanese girls usually don't look happy.
12:25 a.m.: We talk about moon bears in China and why they are being held captive and abused. Sorum explains that they are being captured so that people can harvest the bile to make Chinese medicine. I feel like I've been taking part in a Discovery Channel documentary.
At the Hustler store
12:27 a.m.: Sorum checks his hair a few times with a compact mirror before we take photos. We browse around the store. He picks up a very large purple dildo and starts playing with it. I try to take a photo, but I get yelled at by one of the workers there.
12:40 a.m.: We jaywalk across the street and talk about Dave Navarro.
12:43 a.m.: Some guy who harassed Matt on Twitter comes over and apologizes to him. He apparently was going to donate a tuba for his Adopt the Arts program, but claims it was flooded with water. The guy tells him that he blocked him on Twitter and that he had Crohn's disease. He's weirding me out.
12:44 a.m.: I'm pretty sure this dude is shitfaced. We agree there should be a Breathalyzer test before you get on Twitter.
12:45 a.m.: "Who the fuck was that guy? I don't block that many people on Twitter, so he must have been a real asshole!" says Sorum.
Some guy comes up to me outside the Rainbow and asks what rock star Sorum is.
Sorum with his fiancée Adriane "Ace" Harper
12:46 a.m.: We get inside his Mercedes and ride to my car. They get out, and we take some more photos in the dark. I try to find my keys.
12:58 a.m.: I head home and get out of my car. I walk toward my apartment. On the way to the door, I notice that the laundry room door is open. I peek my head inside and see a shady guy smoking some drug that smells like meth. He actually looks like a junkie version of Mark McGrath. I run, fast.
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