Slash/ Duff/ Matt Coming Soon, Axl Nowhere In Sight

Project will have songs in 'The Italian Job,' 'The Hulk.'

They still don’t have a singer, an album, a label deal or even a name, but the band featuring three former Guns N’ Roses members will release two songs this summer in movie theaters.

The group known as simply the Project, featuring ex-Gunners Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum, staged a live presentation for film studios at their rehearsal space in April with Stone Temple Pilots’ Scott Weiland on vocals. Afterward the band received several requests to contribute songs to movies as far off as 2004, and the guys have agreed to donate tracks to “The Italian Job” and “The Hulk.”

For “The Italian Job,” a remake of a 1969 Michael Caine heist film, the band contributed a faithful rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Money.” While the film was still in rough cut screenings last month, the Project recorded the cover with guests Weiland, Ziggy Marley and keyboardist Teddy Andreadis, who toured and played with Guns during their Use Your Illusion period. Weiland sang lead vocals, and Marley had a small speaking part.

For the “The Hulk,” Slash and company contributed an original song called “Set Me Free,” again with Weiland on vocals. Up through last week, Slash was still recording the guitar parts for the urgent rock track.

Judging by demos obtained by MTV News, the Project’s original material has a wide range, with some songs sounding like they’d be at home on Appetite for Destruction thanks to a hard blues edge and classic Slash melodies under the vocal line. Other tracks are more reminiscent of the Cult in that they’re darker, with a more cohesive rhythm-and-groove orientation.

“Set Me Free,” by comparison, is the first of the new songs to really showcase the group’s songwriting strength, especially since it doesn’t sound reminiscent of the bands from which the Project’s members sprang. An unmixed demo of “Set Me Free” was blistering and riff-oriented, with Weiland’s vocals starting as a growl and building to an almost pained, higher register chorus: “Set me free, set me free/ ‘Cos I think you need to heal my soul.”

“It’s a rocker,” Sorum said. “Very action-oriented-type number, up-tempo, about 160 [beats per minute], which is nice and fast. It’s killer, man.”

Several sources close to the band cautioned that just because Weiland performed with the group at the film studio presentation and recorded two tracks doesn’t make him a full-fledged member. The Project continue to audition singers, and in the meantime the plan is to contribute one-offs to films so the band has time to make bigger decisions about names, labels and vocalists (see “Sebastian Bach Or Scott Weiland To Fill Axl’s Jackboots?” ).

“Scott is not in the band,” Slash spokesperson Arlett Vereecke said. “The management set up the presentation as a way to get the guys in the recording studio again, to have something going until they decide on a vocalist.”

“It’s pretty darn close,” McKagan said. “We kind of set ourselves up for the right singer to come along, and I think so far this is good. It’s a step in the right direction [doing these songs] with Scott.”

Despite reports that Weiland is now the band’s singer and has signed a contract, sources close to the group said there is no contract and that he can’t be confirmed as the frontman until he resolves his rehab issues, an ongoing source of frustration for the band.

Though they may be listed in “The Italian Job” credits as the Project, an official name is still being chosen, Slash’s spokesperson said. The bandmembers are scheduled to meet Friday to discuss what to call themselves for “The Hulk” track. The group’s contributions will not appear on soundtracks, Vereecke said.

“The Italian Job” opens May 30, and “The Hulk” comes out June 20.

—Jennifer Vineyard, with additional reporting by Iann Robinson