It’s all about that double bass.
During his appearance on The Modern Drummer Podcast, drummer Matt Sorum (The Cult, Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver) recalled the time he auditioned for David Lee Roth’s band back in 1985 saying it was “probably the craziest” audition he ever went on.
“All these drummers went down to S.I.R. [Studios in Hollywood] to audition,” said Sorum, later noting that nobody knew what band they were auditioning for when they arrived. “I remember going in there, it was, like, Mark Craney from Gino Vannelli. All these guys were in line. I’m like, ‘PFF!! I’m goin’ home!’ Like, this is out of my league!”
According to Sorum, it was not being able to play on a double bass drum kit that would prove to be a major factor in not getting the job.
“I remember going in there and Steve Vai [was there],” he continued. “There was a double bass drum kit that they had rented, and I went and sat down behind the kit. And I actually picked up one bass drum and moved it and Steve Vai goes, ‘Hmm…what are you doing?’ I go, ‘I don’t play double bass!’ And he went, ‘Hmmm….’ One demerit! Right?! [laughs]. I grew up with Ian Paice and [John] Bonham. It was all about one pedal. I ended up not getting the gig, obviously.”
Ultimately, the gig went to Greg Bissonette, who recently told host John DeChristopher he had Sorum to thank for beating out the rest of the other potential DLR drummers.
“I had Greg on my show last year and he mentioned auditioning for David Lee Roth,” said DeChristopher. “And he said he was going in as you were coming out or something along those lines and I said, ‘I didn’t know Matt auditioned for David Lee Roth,’ and he said, ‘Well…Matt didn’t play double bass drums.’ And so, I think Greg had played some double bass drums and made a mental note to himself. I think he wrote something out…I don’t know but when he went in, he was ready for it ‘cuz of that information that you’d given him.”
“He was standing in line when I walked out,” Sorum said.
“Yeah, that’s what he said,” continued DeChristopher. “And you were like, ‘Man, I don’t know. I don’t think I’m going to get it, man.’ They wanted a guy that plays double bass drums.”
David Lee Roth – “Shyboy”
Sorum later shared more details about his audition, saying Vai put him to quite the musical test.
“It was very clinical,” said Sorum. “We were playing, like, crazy time signatures and it was very ‘Zappa’ school. He was running me through the mill, like, give me a seven four [beat] and I’m like, ‘Okay. Genesis. ‘Cinema Show’. Yeah, you know, I got that, OK. Then he said something like, ‘Play 26 over eight [time signature].’ And I was kind of cocky and I looked up and I went, ‘Why?’ And then I saw Billy Sheehan sitting on the couch. I go, ‘God I love to jam. Can we jam?’ We didn’t jam, I played by myself. It was probably the craziest audition I ever did.”