Jeff Angell has done the hard yards. A fixture of the Seattle rock scene, the 41-year-old has played with locally notorious bands Post Stardom Depression and the Missionary Position, and released albums since 2000.
Two years ago, after jamming with another local legend, Screaming Trees/Mad Season drummer Barrett Martin, Angell started his most successful band, Walking Papers.
The not-so-secret ingredient is Duff McKagan, the former Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver bassist.
Angell reveals that McKagan asked him to audition for Velvet Revolver in 2003 but the rock supergroup ended up enlisting Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland.
"I recorded some songs . . . but then they went with the guy who's sold 40 million records," Angell laughs over the phone from his home town. "I can't blame them. I respected their thing by not letting the demos leak. Duff knew he could trust me and we've remained friends ever since."
With McKagan on board, plus Martin - regarded as one of Seattle's best rock drummers - and the Missionary Position keyboardist Ben Anderson, Angell recorded the songs for Walking Papers' 2012 self-titled debut album. Since then the veteran musician and his new band mates have toured Europe five times and will make their first trip Down Under for the Soundwave shows. (McKagan's band Loaded was on the bill last year.)
"The whole flying-on-a-jet thing with a bunch of other bands will be something different," Angell says.
"I don't know whether they'll be able to fit all their egos on one plane - that's what I'm worried about. Compared to the tours that I've done my entire life, it's amazing.
"The tours the Missionary Position do, it's a van with all the gear and we're the drivers.
"We never take hotels. We sleep on pool tables and people's couches, sometimes with our face pressed up against the glass (of the van) at a rest stop.
"The tours that I've done with those guys (Walking Papers) are a luxury. I'd never been on a tour bus before - that was unbelievable."
While Angell is revelling in the opulence of a hotel bed and on board toilets, he is not willing to reach for the Gunners or Revolver to maintain the new lifestyle.
"Right off the bat, we're not doing anybody else's material but Walking Papers," he insists. "I have no interest in going around being a nostalgia act.
"It's a shame that some guys do something fantastic when they're 23 or 24 and for the rest of their life people want them to stay the same," Angell says.
"Duff's made all sorts of records and one of the key reasons he's in our band is to try to do different things."
The debuts reflect Angell's "fanatical" love for Nick Cave, plus Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and early Springsteen alongside his upbringing on Black Sabbath, AC/DC and Guns N' Roses. Some of the songs, which feature strong storytelling, include Celtic or Latin influences - this is not your meat-and- potatoes rock.
"Things start to get stale if it's just guitar, bass and drums all the time," Angell says.
"That's fun when you're 17 but after a while you start wanting to branch out and try some different things."