They don’t have a record deal. They don’t have a music publishing deal. But they are on their way to having a hit single with “Set Me Free” off “The Hulk” soundtrack. Collectively, they’ve sold 70 million albums worldwide.
Velvet Revolver’s lineup is stocked with the bad boys of rock supergroups, including Guns N’ Roses vets Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum, David Kushner of Suicidal Tendencies and former Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland.
Thursday night, they play their first official show – a free, fans-only, short set after an international news conference – at the El Rey in Los Angeles. Velvet Revolver might even play a Guns N’ Roses or Stone Temple Pilots song, just for the fans.
“(Weiland) is just awesome,” Slash said. “We’ve been writing new songs. He’s a great singer, and he’s a great arranger. The music just sounds unique… We just fit together as a band. There’s not this weird subconscious pressure going on that something’s not right.”
“Set Me Free,” which officially hits stores this week as part of Decca/Universal’s score/soundtrack to the film, leaked to radio without being serviced and is already among the most-requested songs on alternative stations WBCN in Boston and KROQ in Los Angeles. The group’s managers, Dana Millman-DuFine and David Codikow of Immortal Entertainment, did a deal with iTunes to offer the single, and it’s already the No. 2 most-downloaded song.
“Set Me Free” came about because Kathy Nelson, president of film music at Universal Pictures and Universal Music Group, caught the band rehearsing and asked them to do a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Money” for “The Italian Job.” Thrilled with the result, she asked to hear more songs and began working with them for “The Hulk”
“The song is really about bottled-up angst and all these issues that everybody has,” Codikow said. “But if you think about it, ‘Set Me Free’ is what everybody wants always from their demons. Who better than Scott Weiland to write the lyrics?”
The band and management hope that Weiland, who recently was arrested on drug charges and went through rehab, will stay focused and clean.
“He’s very open and honest about his problem,” Nelson said. “He’s not in denial. He wants to be OK. (Velvet Revolver) is a very constructive thing in his life… and the guys are so incredibly supportive of him and tough at the same time.”
Slash said that before jumping into a record deal, the band wants to focus on writing music and rehearsing.
“In light of the way the music business is right now, you want to put out a record that’s going to be cost-effective and distributed properly,” he said. “If you’re going to make a deal, you want to make the best deal you can possibly make, and if you can afford to do it yourself, it’s even better. We’re just looking at it from all these different directions… I’ve cut my teeth on all different aspects of the wrong way to do it.”
Codikow and DuFine are weighing their options, and while a good label deal would be ideal (and many have inquired about the band), they have also been presented with opportunities to do a deal directly with an Internet company.
“People are talking to us, and in the next 60 days or so we’re going to figure it out,” Codikow said. “If radio embraces this band the way that we all hope, who’s to say that you couldn’t drop ship records to record stores and download them – and even if you sold less from an economic standpoint, you’d still make money.”