Interview Article & Photgraphy by L. Paul Mann
From September 2015 Vandala Magazine
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Members of the rotating rock royalty that make up the Kings of Chaos band gathered at the legendary Fillmore concert hall in the heart of San Francisco, for an ear shattering sold out rock jam on Wednesday, July 29th. The evening began with VIP guests arriving to meet and greet and have their photos taken with their favorite band members. Some of the veteran rockers then lingered on the upper levels snacking on vegetarian sushi and chatting with fans, who paid a premium to benefit Ric O’barry’s Dolphin Project. The organization was started by Ric O’barry, following his internationally acclaimed documentary, “The Cove”. The Fillmore was the perfect choice for the event, it’s walls literally dripping with rock music history. From photos of early appearances by the likes of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, to a massive poster collection adorning the walls, nearly every major rock performer of the last fifty years was represented. The Kings of Chaos were a made to order group for the historic venue. For the San Francisco show the line up in the band included, rock legends Slash (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver), Sammy Hagar (Van Halen), Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses), Gilby Clarke, Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver), Billy Duffy (The Cult), Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple) and Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge). Sorum was responsible for much of the organization of the special benefit and he spoke with us shortly before the concert.
Kings of Chaos has an extraordinary revolving line up of talented veteran rockers. Other than some of the core members sharing a period together as band mates in Guns N’ Roses, what is the connection that brought this group together?
Matt Sorum: Playing around the world over the years you meet and our share the stage with many great musicians and great bands and relationships form while on the road.
I have been fortunate enough to have played next to some of the greatest rock icons of all time. When the idea came to play with some of my peers and heroes KOC was born.
Many of this group’s members have given their time to play multiple benefit shows, including the annual Rock Against MS Benefit Concerts, Notes For Notes Benefit concert and now Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project Benefit. What was the catalyst for this concert and why do you think this particular group of musicians give so much of their time to worthy causes?
Matt Sorum: Well since becoming very involved with Dolphin Project about 3 years ago I have traveled to the infamous Cove in Taiji, Japan and was asked to join the board of Dolphin Project. Ric Obarry is an amazing man, activist, and environmentalist. My musician friends have all followed me on this journey and when it came time to ask they were all so gracious in supporting the goal of this very important organization.
What is it like to play at the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco with its rich history of live rock music performances?
Matt Sorum: It’s the perfect town and venue, San Francisco has always been at the forefront of positive change for our environment and world issues. Some of the greatest bands of our time have played there. It seemed like a perfect size to create an intimate atmosphere for the message of Dolphin Project.
What was the good, the bad, and the ugly about being part of the 1980s music scene?
Matt Sorum: For myself I started professionally in the 70s , the golden era of Rock n Roll, the 80s took it to the extreme with excess. I had an amazing 80s era moving through the different musical genres. And surviving !!! Ha ha
Are there any future recording or tour plans for Kings of Chaos?
Matt Sorum: Always working on the next lineup and gigs, have thought about recording something. The future looks bright.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
Matt Sorum: Practice and play, work harder than the next guy. You have to want it and go after it.
Kings of Chaos Show
The general admission audience that had been waiting patiently in line all throughout the day, bolted into the auditorium just after 8PM and swarmed the stage. But before the music started there was an extensive auction of a phenomenal collection of signed electric guitars, which raised tens of thousands of dollars. Finally, in front of a packed house dripping with summer sweat, the music began.
The show began with core members of Guns N Roses, Duff McKagan, Matt (Sorum), and Gilby Clarke taking the stage along with Glenn Hughes, the former member of Deep Purple on vocals and Doug Aldrich of Whitesnake on blazing lead guitar. They jammed classic Deep Purple material opening with the song “Highway Star” followed by “Smoke On The Water,” setting the classic rock cover theme of the night. The music was appropriately loud and Hughes vocals carried well across the venue, a fine juxtaposition to Aldrich wailing on lead guitar.
The Red Rocker himself, Sammy Haggar took over the vocals next along with guitarist Billy Duffy of The Cult. They played a Haggar solo song and a song from the Montrose band “Rock Candy,” where Haggar had his first success as a rock star in the 70’s. It was also a nice tribute to the late Ronnie Montrose. Haggar fittingly ended his jam with Hendrix “Foxy Lady”. Myles Kennedy took over the vocal duties next, singing a Cult song, “Fire Woman” while Duffy hammered away on his custom Les Paul guitar. Kennedy, the long time singer in Slash’s current band, was then joined by that iconic guitarist in his characteristic top hat. Slash wailed on a couple of Guns n Roses classics, before playing a particularly fierce version of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”. That was followed by another Zeppelin cover, “Communication Breakdown,” with Hughes returning to the stage to take over the wailing vocal duties. Slash left the stage while the opening line up covered yet another Deep Purple classic “Burn”. That was followed by the iconic rock song “Going Down,” originally penned by Freddie King. Haggar and Duffy returned for this classic jam augmenting Hughes and Aldrich. This group of musicians followed up with yet another classic Zeppelin cover “Whole Lotta Love”. Hughes and Aldrich left the lead on the next song to Haggar and Duffy, on another Cult song, “Love Removal Machine”. They were replaced by Kennedy and Slash for two more classic Gun n Roses songs. Then all the musicians of the evening took the stage for two final songs and were joined by a young guitar virtuoso Dane Craighead. The entire ensemble jammed on yet another Led Zeppelin classic, “Rock And Roll” and ended with Guns N Roses “Paradise City”.
The small army of musicians traded guitar riffs and vocals before coming together for a thunderous climax and a well deserved bow in front of the ecstatic crowd. It was another historic show for the Fillmore and a great night for the future of dolphins.
More information on the Dolphin Project:
Donate at www.dolphinproject.net/donate
Sign the petition! www.takepart.com/cove
Follow Ric on facebook:
#Tweet4Dolphins @RichardOBarry #TheCove