Interview: Matt Sorum of Velvet Revolver & Sorum Noce
Fri, 29 Feb 2008 09:06:43
Guns N' Roses Photos
Velvet Revolver Videos
It's an oddly foggy February day in Los Angeles. The sun shines through at various spots in the city, especially along the famous Melrose Avenue. Nestled comfortably in the heart of West Hollywood sits Sorum Noce. It's the new boutique and rock and roll couture line that sees current Velvet Revolver/former Guns N' Roses drummer extraordinaire Matt Sorum partnering up with trend-setting designer Max Noce. Matt sits outside the store, preparing it, before he hits the road again. The shop is located right across the street from Urth Caffe in a very happening section of town. With a smile, Matt laughs, "Everyone is getting jacked up on coffee across the street, and I've seen about 50 people that I haven't seen in a year today!" About the perfect locale, he excitedly continues, "There's a gallery next door. There's a girl that does organic clothes in the back. So, it's cool. Kitson is also moving around the corner this summer."
With Velvet Revolver's immense success and Sorum Noce opening in April, Matt has every reason to be excited. He and Noce have created an edgy, yet classy line of men's clothing that's ready-to-wear backstage at The Forum or at dinner at Cut in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The chic designs have a timeless feel, just like Matt's playing does. So not only in the past year did Matt play on Velvet Revolver's phenomenal Libertad, and tour the world, he also began designing this groundbreaking brand. He delved into all of this and more for ARTISTdirect.
You really have a great spot for the store, and the line is fantastic.
Thanks. I'm working with a really cool Italian dude named Max Noce. He used to work with different designers including Dolce & Gabbana. He's up on all of the trends with making fine clothing.
How did the collaboration come about between you two?
I've been hanging out with him for quite a while. We actually worked on the line for the last couple of years. The original idea was just to go out with a kind of wholesale-vibe. We tipped that on a little bit. I've been touring and doing all this other sort of stuff that I do. He opened up this vision of the line and was able to work with that angle. Together, we built it through there. Everybody that has seen it is totally into it, and I've got a lot of friends that want to help—people in the clothing business that I know, as well as rock 'n' rollers, actors and promoters in town. Everybody's willing to help. So it's pretty exciting.
From the looks of who you've gotten to model on your web site, Jerry Cantrell and Slash, it definitely seems like you've got the rock and roll community participating.
Over the years of playing music, I've lived in Hollywood all this time. So now while being at the store, I see so many people I know walking by. The vibe is really good. Jim Marshall, an old rock 'n' roll photographer, I called him and said, "You know Jim, we'd like to use some of your photography in the store." So he sent me some really great stuff—pictures of The Who and Janis Joplin. We're going to have lots of photography and clothing. We're also making furniture, which is high-end, Victorian-Modern as I would call it. That's going to be available for people to buy, too. So that will be exciting.
The whole vibe is really cool. Sorum Noce has got that rock 'n' roll edge, but you have a real sense of refinement. It's really classy at the same time.
Thanks. We're trying to keep it pretty classic. We don't want to look like some kind of dated, rock n' roll thing. It's more about fine men's clothing with an edge—guys that want to go out on the weekend and wear some leather. We also have fine tailored suits. We've done those in beautiful Italian wool. We're doing knitwear, shirts, ties and slacks. It's all cool. The way we mix it up makes it look really classy with a groove on it.
What was your inspiration for designing clothes? Is it tough to find time while doing Velvet Revovler?
I've been busy on the last album and stuff. I think it's from being in the music for as long as I have. I don't want to call it my day job, but I get it done. I play drums and I make music, and that's killer. I have a really great time doing it. I think I've been pretty successful doing that and have had a great career. Of course I'm going to continue, but I'm looking at this as an outside interest that I've wanted to take on. I've wanted to do it for a while. It's a challenge, and also it's an art. It's fun to create. With my partner, we're just having fun designing the store. We're looking at different colors of wallpapers, and we're buying the chandeliers. It's all creative things. That's what we're into: music, art, photography and whatever else.
Sorum Noce can encompass everything. Like you said, furniture, clothing, and music. You've got this artist collective idea behind it, which is fantastic.
A lot of fashion people have always tried to attach themselves to rock 'n' roll, but they're not in a band and they don't know anything about it. I've been doing it all my life, and I grew up with all of the great influences like David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix—everyone that dressed cool. I was always like, "Look at the fucking guy! He looks like a million bucks!" I've always been influenced by that edge. But even if you look back at The Rolling Stones in the late '60s, early '70s, the way they dressed was really cool. They incorporated scarves and cool hats. The way they dressed was funky, but classy at the same time. So those influences are very strong with Max and myself. And the community, like you say, is important. The kinds of friends that I have are a big part of it. Mixing the photography and the art and everything we've been doing, is creating a communal vibe. We have a garden here, and there's just a whole lot going on down here.
There are a lot of parallels between the fashion world and the rock world. Both encourage a free spirit and a bit of a rebel or maverick outlook. Also both involve shows.
Exactly. We've had to go do events, like the Grammys and the American Music Awards. We're searching around for the gear we're going to wear that night. There's a lot going on in this town, and people have so many places they can go. What have you got? You've got Gucci, D&G or the funkier kind of places. I think we're offering something with a different, upscale look, but you can mix it up, and wear it during the day as well. At the store, we're here to help. The space is about 18x20 feet. Someone comes in off the street and they get treated hands-on. And I'm going to be around a lot too. I'm going to put in my two cents there, without bullshitting. It's not, "Buy it, because I said so." If you look like a dork, I'm going to tell you, "Take that off and try this." Some clothes work on some people, and some clothes don't. We're going to try to sell stuff that works for that person. It's a personal thing.
And to give that personal attention too is great. As a guy, you always wonder when you're spending money on clothes how they look.
I think guys, in general, maybe are just looking to vibe themselves up a bit and may not know what looks good and what doesn't. Not to say that we're going to completely re-style someone's image or whatever. They may come in and get a vibe that’s a little edgier for them that maybe they don't know. Max is going to be in the store everyday working, and that's what he does. So we're not just going to swing clothes on someone if they don't look good. We don’t want them walking out of our store with our name on it if that's the wrong size, the wrong color, or the wrong fit. We want our stuff to be presented and treated in the right atmosphere. So that's what we're going to try to do.
Classic bands like Zeppelin and Hendrix had a great look on stage, and they always looked larger than life. I've kind of felt like that has been missing in rock a little bit—bands having that image.
Definitely. The Killers, I really like that band a lot, and they're a band that actually has an idea of that kind of '70s early '80s, kind of vibe, with the image. And The Strokes kind of did that New York, Velvet Underground kind of trip. There really aren't a lot of bands that are doing that as much. So I mean, that's another thing. We can help with that. It's all up to the individual to come and check out the stuff. So I mean, I wear a suit jacket with a pair of jeans, and a T-shirt. It's all how you do it. The pieces all work in different setups.
And the fact that the stuff is adaptable to almost any situation is great.
Yeah, I think we'll help with that too. Guys will come in and buy pieces of clothing. You can buy a suit, and you don't have to wear it as a three-piece suit all the time. You can wear the jacket with a pair of jeans or the waistcoat with a t-shirt. We're going to have jewelry as well. We're working with a few jewelry companies, it's going to be very cool rock n roll jewelry. We're going to help them mix it up. You can wear the jacket with a t-shirt or jeans, or wear whatever. When the guy walks out of the store, he'll kind of have an idea of the kind of outfits that particular items will work in different set ups.
You've been such a big part of rock and roll and its history that this is a cool way to branch out and bring more people.
If I inspire people as a drummer or a musician, that's great. I had a little bit of a back and forth fashion fall in the early '90s, but I think everybody did as well. It was just a bad time for fashion, in general. Plus I was doing a lot of drugs. But now I'm a little bit more focused and making clothing, and, you know, I've found myself image-wise. I'm very comfortable where I am with clothing, art and design—I've even done a few houses. I went to the Pacific Design Center today, you know, it's something that's very exciting to me.
In terms of design, did you draw certain designs for Sorum Noce? How much were you involved in that process?
Well, my partner Max does all the designs of the clothing. I bring him things and ideas that I like. I say, "Hey, I see something I like. Let's do a jacket that’s take-off of a '67 biker jacket. Or let's take off an early English biker jacket or a three-piece suit and leave the jacket this length." I met a tailor and I said, "let's cut the pants a little more tailored with a slight flare," so I have a lot of this influence on that kind of stuff. But when I go to my partner with an idea, he orchestrates it.
From the way that everything looks, you guys must have a fantastic creative chemistry.
Yeah, I mean everything we do we knock ideas off of each other. Everything we're doing is a group effort as far as Max and I are concerned. I've always been a team player, being in band. The first thing, "what do you think," or "do you like this groove?"—it's an inspirational creative banter. An open mind and willing to try ideas. That comes with it when you have an open mind and you're creative together.