MATT SORUM TALKS KINGS OF CHAOS, HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES AND MORE
Feature image by Zach Whitford
It’s not for nothing that Kings of Chaos is billed as “Rock’s Ultimate Supergroup.” Boasting a revolving lineup that’s included the likes of Billy Gibbons, Billy Duffy, Corey Taylor, Chester Bennington, Steve Stevens, Robert Deleo, and our own Matt Sorum – co-founder of The Musician’s Ear – the group has been dazzling audiences for several years now with its multi-faceted, classic-rock-oriented set lists.
Fresh off his stint with the Hollywood Vampires, Matt has put together the latest incarnation of Kings of Chaos, who’ve announced a series of dates starting December 1 in Las Vegas. As the group gears up to hit the road, we spoke with the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer about a range of topics – including his musical inspirations, his favorite albums, his dream collaborators, and the most memorable moments of his career. For more about Matt and Kings of Chaos, including tour dates and the current lineup, visit the band’s website.
The Hollywood Vampires recently finished their world tour. What was it like touring with the band? Are there any future recordings still to come?
Matt: We had a great time getting to know each other more. I’ve known Johnny Depp for 25 years but hadn’t seen him much because of our busy schedules. And it’s the same with Joe Perry and Alice Cooper — I’ve known both guys but it’s cool to share the stage with them. I had never played with Robert Deleo — he’s an amazing bass player and very cool guy. Tommy and Bruce are super cool and great musicians as well. There is talk about trying to record some stuff at JD’s house when time permits.
Photo by Ross Halfin
The latest lineup for Kings of Chaos was just announced. It includes Robert DeLeo, Billy Gibbons, Billy Duffy, Corey Taylor, Chester Bennington, Steve Stevens, Robin Zander and yourself. How did the group come together and what does the future hold?
Well, Kings of Chaos is something I came up with and love to do. These are guys who I respect, and of course I love their music. So I reached out and started putting gigs together. We go out and play each other’s material. It’s a bucket list thing for me to play with all these greats. I plan to book it worldwide with various degrees of lineup changes.
You co-founded the hugely successful “Adopt The Arts Foundation” in an effort to save the music programs in Los Angeles schools. You’re also very involved with animal welfare. Can you discuss these charities, and what drives your passion for the mission?
Doing charity work is something that happened organically for me. I fell into the school thing through donating instruments, and loved it so much I formed by own charity and 501c3.
It is the mission of Adopt the Arts Foundation to bring together well-known artists, public figures, entrepreneurs, policy makers, and the general public to save the …
Kids need Music and Art in Public schools — period — and I am fighting to keep it alive for them. I’m also a board member of Dolphin Project and am against all captivity of dolphins and whales. It’s a modern world, and it’s time these animal “abusement” parks shut down.
I’ve traveled to Taiji, Japan where they do the capture, and it’s heartbreaking. Kings of Chaos has done two concerts for Dolphin Project.
I’m also ambassador to Animals Asia, who are amazing and have rescued over 400 moon bears from the cruel practice of bear bile farming, and to Oliver Ridley Project — an NGO that saves turtles from ghost nets.
Animals Asia Foundation
A government-registered charity based in Hong Kong devoted to the health and welfare of wild, domesticated and endangered species through the Asian continent.
Olive Ridley Project
We are excited to announce the launch of our first fundraising campaign: Help us #freetheflipper!
We know that Ringo Starr was a huge influence on your style of drumming, but who else inspired you to want to play music?
I was lucky to grow up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and I had older brothers who turned me on to so much great music — bands like Cream, the Stones, The Who, etc. I love Keith Moon, Ian Paice, Bill Ward, Roger Taylor, and of course John Bonham. But Ringo was the reason I started on drums.
You have two solo albums to your name — 2004’s Hollywood Zen, and 2014’s Stratosphere. How does writing and recording for yourself differ from working within a band?
Making solo records is the most joyful experience for me. It’s purely about the music and things I was thinking about when writing the songs — very cathartic and great for the soul.
Who are some current musicians you are listening to?
I love everything Jack White does. He’s created his own universe and I respect that. I’ve always loved The Killers, another band that paves their own way. I’m into a band called Royal Blood, and can’t wait for their new record.
Name one album that has stayed most relevant with you throughout your life. Also, one album that, if there was only one copy left, you would pay anything to purchase.
Weird, I totally love Avalon by Roxy Music — just epic and perfect. My second choice might be first Pretenders record.
What’s on your turntable right now?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Genesis lately. Thanks to SoundStageDirect, I’ve picked up a bunch of my old favorite Genesis records — The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Selling in England by the Pound.
What musicians have you always wanted to collaborate with?
I’ve been lucky to play with a ton of greats — but of course to play with Jagger, Pete Townsend, or Jimmy Page would be amazing.
You recently collaborated with Izzy Stradlin on a song — titled “F.P. Money” — for his new LP. Any more recordings with Izzy coming in the future?
Izzy is great and his process is very Rock and Roll. He called, and within a couple days we were in the studio cutting a couple of songs. He gets the inspiration and goes with it – truly a great songwriter. You never know with Izzy. He could call tomorrow from Spain and say, “Come over, let’s record.” I love that about him.
Photo by Zack Whitford
Describe how it feels to play for thousands of people on a given night.
Well, that’s the best feeling. The energy of a great crowd has been my life’s blood. Give them all you got and the crowd will give it back tenfold. The strongest energy field in the universe is at a rock show.
Describe one of the most memorable moments in your career, and why it was special.
There are many, but one of my favorites was The Freddy Mercury Tribute. There were so many amazing musicians onstage on that single night — Elton, Annie Lennox, Bowie, Liza Minelli, Ian Hunter, Mick Ronson…. I also met Elizabeth Taylor and partied all night at a club called Browns with the guys from Queen, Robert Plant and many more. Epic. The second would be winning my first Grammy with Velvet Revolver, and of course being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Guns ‘N Roses.
Photo by Zack Whitford