Hard rock supergroup Velvet Revolver will graduate to arena-level shows on its spring tour, which begins March 19 in Phoenix and will run through late May. During a short break in mid-April, the quint

Hard rock supergroup Velvet Revolver will graduate to arena-level shows on its spring tour, which begins March 19 in Phoenix and will run through late May. During a short break in mid-April, the quintet will begin preproduction work on its sophomore RCA album, which it hopes to have ready for a Christmas release.

"The crowd is becoming more aware of the material as time goes by," guitarist Slash tells Billboard.com of how Velvet Revolver's live shows have evolved over its first year of existence. "The energy has become a little more up close and personal, and the band responds accordingly."

The tour comes in support of Velvet Revolver's debut album, "Contraband," which debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 1.62 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Third single "Dirty Little Thing" is No. 8 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart this week.

The group -- made up of several former members of Guns N' Roses, ex-Stone Temple Pilots vocalist Scott Weiland and guitarist Dave Kushner -- has lately begun rotating several additional songs from "Contraband" into the show, including "You Got No Right" ("that's pretty much a standard," Slash says), "Superhuman" and "Spectacle." A handful of tracks from the GNR and STP catalog remain, as do a selection of covers from the likes of Nirvana, the Sex Pistols and Aerosmith.

The group has been working up bits of new songs in sound checks, and is hopeful of hitting the studio in late summer after a run of European dates. But Slash says he's hesitant to play any of the new material live for fear bootlegs will appear on the Internet within hours.

"There are songs we haven't even written, apparently, that are out there," he says. "I don't have any clue what they are. That's a bummer. Maybe at some point when the record is done, and we tour before the release of it, we'll play some new stuff."

To tide fans over before a new studio release, Velvet Revolver is planning on unveiling a live album and DVD at some point.

"We record everything," Slash says. "We've done a bunch of shows where we've full-on multi-tracked and we're actually mixing the stuff. As to when we'll do it, I'm not really sure. There's all kinds of stuff we could do. That's what great about this band. It was so confining in [Guns N' Roses], especially the last half of the band's career. There were so many things we could have done, but they would just never get done. In this band, we're like kids in a candy store."

Along those lines, Slash admits the wild excess of days gone by and the flameout of GNR has allows him appreciate Velvet Revolver's out-of-the-box success even more.

"For all that Guns N' Roses craziness, you'd be surprised how aware I was of what was going on," he says with a laugh. "At the same time, it was completely out there. We were totally new at it. It was a hell of a lot of fun, and there is certain stuff I can't remember."

"This band is still a rock'n'roll band," he continues. "It's not some new thing to any of us. But we're so much more present now than we were before. We have this wealth of experience, which creates a really unique situation. Now, we can indulge ourselves and say, 'wow, what a great f***in' night we just had.' You can really appreciate it."

Here are Velvet Revolver's North American tour dates:

March 19: Phoenix (International Raceway)
March 22: Montreal (Bell Centre)
March 23: Ottawa, Ontario (Corel Centre)
March 24: Hamilton, Ontario (Copps Coliseum)
March 27: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (Credit Union Centre)
March 28: Calgary, Alberta (Pengrowth Saddledome)
March 29: Edmonton, Alberta (Rexall Place)
March 31: Vancouver (Pacific Coliseum)
April 12: San Diego (Coors Amphitheatre)
April 13: Fresno, Calif. (SaveMart Center)
April 15: Santa Barbara, Calif. (Santa Barbara Bowl)
April 16: Anaheim, Calif. (Arrowhead Pond)
April 17: Reno, Nev. (Reno Events Center)
April 19: San Francisco (Bill Graham Civic Auditorium)
April 21: Portland, Ore. (Rose Garden)
April 22: Everett, Wash. (Everett Arena)
April 23: Boise, Idaho (Taco Bell Arena)
April 25: Salt Lake City (E Center)
April 26: Denver (Magness Arena)
April 28: St. Paul, Minn. (Xcel Energy Center)
April 29: Rockford, Ill. (MetroCentre)
April 30: Auburn Hills, Mich. (Palace of Auburn Hills)
May 2: Buffalo, N.Y. (HSBC Center)
May 3: Amherst, Mass. (Mullins Center)
May 5: Raleigh, N.C. (Verizon Wireless Center)
May 6: Atlanta (Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheatre)
May 7: Orlando, Fla. (Lee Vista Park)
May 13: Scranton, Pa. (Montage Mountain)
May 14: Wantagh, N.Y. (Jones Beach)
May 15: Virginia Beach, Va. (Verizon Wireless Center)
May 17: Cleveland (Tower City Amphitheatre)
May 18: Pittsburgh (Chevrolet Amphitheatre)
May 20: Holmdel, N.J. (PNC Bank Arts Center)
May 21: Columbia, Md. (Merriweather Post Pavilion)
May 22: Charlotte, N.C. (Verizon Wireless Center)
May 24: Tampa, Fla. (St. Pete Times Forum)
May 25: West Palm Beach, Fla. (Sound Advice Amphitheatre)

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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