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Scott Weiland's Near-Salvation: Velvet Revolver, Martial Arts and Money

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I went back to rehab but rehab didn't work. That's when Duff started talking about his trainer in Lake Chelan, Washington State. "Bring your detox meds and come up there with me," Duff offered. "You'll meet my martial arts master, one guy who can really help you."

His help came quickly and powerfully. His name is Sifu Joseph Simonet, and he's a master of six different martial arts forms. I planned to stay a month but stayed for three. At his Wind and Rock training facility, I also worked with his associate and fiancée at the time, Addy Hernandez, a kickboxer and holder of a black belt in kenpo karate. Sifu Simonet comes from a kung fu background in addition to the art form of Pentjak Silat Tongkat Serak. He created his own form called Key Fighting Concepts and, from day one, I related to his energy. He's a deeply wise man with a bit of a temper and a flair for martial arts instruction and philosophical riffing.

"My art form never stops evolving," he likes to say. "I can never repeat myself because the past is gone and the present is ever new, ever changing."

With intense daily training, I learned to channel my aggression, confusion, fear, and athleticism in positive directions. The rigorous routine allowed me to wean myself off opiates. The setting also helped. Lake Chelan Valley sits in the center of the magnificent North Cascades National Forest. The lake is a breathtakingly beautiful fifty-mile, glacier-fed body of crystal-clean water. Nature is untamed. Bears and wild goats roam the mountains. I fell in love with the area and decided to buy land there and, in time, build a cabin in the woods.

Back in Los Angeles, I hooked up with Benny "the Jet" Urquidez, a five-time world-champion kickboxer. Benny boasts that he has never been defeated, and when you train with him, you don't doubt it. He was my instructor for eighteen months after I returned from Lake Chelan. This was a difficult period — around 2006 — because Mary and I were still doing a death dance around our marriage. I'd walk into Benny's dojo — his karate gym — and right away Benny could read my mind.

"You're depressed," he'd say. "The energy between you and your wife has turned especially toxic this week."

"How do you know that?"

"I'm looking in your eyes — that's how."

Then Benny would start to explain the concept of being "glazed." He said that obviously anyone can incur physical injury. But once you're glazed, you're mentally and spiritually protected from harm. The glaze resists negative thoughts. Of course, like everyone, you will be affected by external circumstances, feelings, and moods, but the impact will be minimal because of the strength of your spiritual and mental muscles.

Glazed.

Ready to walk back into the world a whole man, ready to accept the world on its own terms.

Ready to get out there, join up with a balls-out rock band, and reinvent myself as a singer and artist.

It was going to work.

It had to work.

It did.

And then it didn't.

Back in 2003, after I joined Velvet Revolver and got straight, I wrote all the lyrics and all of the melodies for our first album, Contraband, which wound up selling over four million copies. The big hit was "Fall to Pieces." Duff and I wrote it at Lavish, the studio I built in Burbank. It was built on a riff by Slash, and somehow in the middle of the night we turned it into a song about coming to terms — or not coming to terms — with my heroin addiction. It was also about my relationship with Mary, and how it was falling apart. When Mary wrote her memoir last year, she titled it Fall to Pieces. In the song, I sang . . .

All the years I've tried
With more to go
Will the memories die?
I'm waiting
Will I find you?
Can I find you?
We're falling down
I'm falling

We went on the road for two years, toured the world, and established ourselves as a premier rock band. Velvet Revolver was a powerful force. There was so much energy on that stage that at times it felt absolutely combustible. Anything could happen at any time. We were a bunch of renegades held together by a rough passion that none of us completely understood. We were dangerous. We were on a runaway train, and audiences were drawn to our breakneck speed.

I liked our first record but can't call it the music of my soul. There was a certain commercial calculation behind it. We wanted hits; we wanted to prove that, independent of Guns N' Roses and STP, we could make a big splash. And we did. My fellow STPers — Robert, Dean, and Eric — tried a number of musical configurations without me, but none of them were successful. I wished them well, but I have to confess that, as a competitive guy, I wasn't displeased to be in a new band that fans were flocking to see.

From the book NOT DEAD AND NOT FOR SALE by Scott Weiland with David Ritz. Copyright © 2011 by Scott Weiland. To be published on May 17, 2011 by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

Related
Scott Weiland on the Brink: Rolling Stone's 1997 Feature

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