Since it was revealed two months ago that singer Scott Weiland had been excised from Velvet Revolver, the rest of the guys have been searching for his replacement. They hosted auditions and even rejected an offer from reality-TV producer Mark Burnett, who wanted to make VR the subject of his next "Rock Star" series.
Not long after Weiland's departure, guitarist Slash stated that VR would be using the Internet to audition potential frontmen, adding that the band was even toying with the idea of launching a Web site, where audition videos could be posted for public review. That site never took off, unfortunately, but there are still hundreds of aspiring singers out there who are all at the band's beck and call, should the Revolver need them.
While the names of several established musicians (including Linkin Park's Chester Bennington) have been kicked around as rumored replacements, it hasn't deterred these unknown rockers, who claim they're ready to step into Weiland's imposing shoes at the drop of a hat. Some of them have taken their cases to YouTube and other video sites, where, with a little shameless self-promotion, they've manufactured their own hype, generating a groundswell of support from VR fans. Some are even claiming they're front-runners in the race to return the band to the stage, but none explicitly claim they've been contacted by VR.
Dale Toth, who sings in a band called Rogosonic and sounds frighteningly like Axl Rose, had an interesting take with his audition tape. The video, which features an original song from his band, shows nothing but images of Toth trying to look tough. He chose not to cover a VR track, because he figured "it's going to be new material they're more focused on right now, so maybe this is a better idea of what I can offer," he wrote in a post alongside the video. "If it goes further (crossing fingers), I'd be glad to do some vocal tracks to the other VR tunes so they know what I can do on that stuff."
"The vocals are amazing," complimented one fan. "Here's to blowing away the competition."
But Toth admitted on his YouTube page that the band "may have someone already, but I have to contact the VR camp again next week. Hearin' a lot of rumors of people they may already have in mind. Guess we just have to wait for [the] official release."
Another hopeful is Weiland sound-alike Sam Serinsky, who sings for a rock band called Lasting Factor. For his grainy, low-budget audition tape, Serinsky sang one of his own band's originals, and the video has been well-received — with some fans saying it would be a crime if he weren't asked to join the band.
"Damn, you are the real deal," wrote one user, pointing out that Serinsky can also play guitar, which Weiland didn't. "You would be a perfect fit for VR and then some."
"I think it would be good to get someone that is not already 'known' because it would give the band a new, fresh and unbiased sound," wrote another supporter. "I wouldn't be surprised if this kid got a call from Slash and offered the gig."
But perhaps the most-produced (and longest) audition tape belongs to Brian Phyll Miller, a man who desperately wants the gig. In his video (which features some classy footage of a dog licking itself), Miller — wearing a "Brutal Rockers" T-shirt — belts out a cover of AC/DC's "Whole Lotta Rosie," and follows it up with VR's "Slither" and "Fall to Pieces." In the video, Miller talks of his love for "vodka, cigarettes and Jack [Daniels]," discusses some of his influences ("Anybody that's cool"), and talks about the vocal and breathing exercises he does before a performance. He also confesses that, since the age of 14, he's wanted to be in a band.
Google Miller's name, and you'll find he has a lot of online support, whether self-manufactured or not.
On the Rolling Stone site, an already-deleted comment on a Flobots piece read, "Flobots? Hmmm I don't think so ... Velvet Revolver is talking with a guy to be the new singer of their band. He is good, he has some epic vocal cords. Judge for yourself. Go to YouTube and search for Brian Phyll Miller. Make it happen, spread the word on this guy and give him support. He is already talking with the band, but it would be nice to have all the fans' support behind him."
On Monday, several comments popped up on our Newsroom blog, following a post on the VR singer search, mostly praising Miller's abilities.
"A lot of talk about who will be the next Velvet Revolver frontman. ... There is a new guy in town that would be very worthy of filling those shoes," one commenter said. "Brian Phyll Miller is getting a lot of comments on his YouTube and MySpace site. A lot of people are saying he should be the next Velvet Revolver lead singer. I would have to agree. This guy is awesome, great range with his vocals, something I think Slash and the guys should take a serious look at."
"Just watched his YouTube video — he's amazing," another commenter wrote.
On Miller's YouTube page, where he admits he hasn't been contacted or spoken with anyone representing VR, the remarks (the origin and authenticity of which we can't verify) are more of the same: He rules and is the best replacement for Weiland.
"How come this guy isn't signed with some band and changing the world with his epic vocal cords?" wrote one fan, adding that his voice is "much better than Scott Weiland's."
But will these guys ever get their shot at a proper audition? It's doubtful that a band as established as VR, with its members' vaunted history, would opt to add a complete unknown to its ranks over someone who's road-tested, studio-savvy and has a recognizable name. But then again, stranger things have happened.