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It wasn’t just Adler’s life that changed in those eight hours. The drummer-less Guns were eating up studio time when they should have been laying down Appetite…’s follow-up.
They quickly turned to Matt Sorum, a man whose stick skills they had witnessed first hand after catching The Cult live in LA months earlier. Sorum was, of course, familiar with the band.
“While I was doing the Sonic Temple tour, Appetite For Destruction was really taking off,” he recalls. “We were out on the road and the joke was, ‘hey, that band used to open for us!’”
With Guns in need of a drummer and Sorum enjoying a quickly-blossoming reputation as a hard-hitting groove machine, the call went out and the poodle-permed stick smasher headed to Guns HQ.
He explains: “I was going to just do the albums and Steven was going to come back and do the tour. Steven was going through a lot of personal stuff. I was temporarily there. But as time progressed, maybe a couple of weeks into the session Slash pulled me aside, and said it didn’t look as if Steven was coming back and asked if I’d like to join the band.
“Here I was in an already successful band that I was very happy with, but to be offered that gig at the time was the highest level you can imagine. If you compare it to what’s out there now, I don’t think there’s anyone that can compare to that level.”
The venues, and expectations, may have been far bigger, but there was plenty of common musical ground shared by The Cult and Guns, which was especially striking at a time when hair bands proudly prowled the Sunset Strip.
“The Cult was one of the only bands that wasn’t a hair band. It was dirtier and we looked like bikers. GN’ R had this dirty street feel to it. It was always different to all the hair bands.
“Before I joined The Cult I was offered to audition for bands like Warrant and Winger, and y’know I had pretty big hair, everyone did, but I just wasn’t into that scene. I came from more of a Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin background.”
It wasn’t just the lack of Spandex that The Cult and Guns N’ Roses had in common. The right-down-the-line, hard and heavy drumming styles shared by the two made the transition for Sorum all the more instantaneous, although the Gunners’ punk feel did take some getting used to.
“The Cult was a straight-ahead rock’n’roll band. They were a little more behind the beat. But the groove was more Phil Rudd than punk rock. When I joined Guns N’ Roses it was more of a punk rock attitude mixed with the rock’n’roll.
“My playing was not meat and potatoes but that kind of style, laying it right down the middle. It was a little more of a garage band with a loose feel to it.
“With Guns N’ Roses it was more haphazard, Slash might be pulling away and I had to pull the reins in. I had a different feel to Steven. The thing about drummers is that we’re all different. Guys can try to emulate John Bonham until the cows come home but it isn’t going to happen.”