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SoulMonster

1996.DD.MM - Interview with Duff in Hard Rock (France)

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1996.DD.MM - Interview with Duff in Hard Rock (France)

Post by Soulmonster on Wed Apr 27, 2016 7:10 am

Hard-Rock: Four musicians, from three different bands, with different musical background, it could happen only in Los Angeles…

Duff: Ha! Ha! It happened here, yeah! You know, we're all friends. That's the reason why this band exists. The fact that with all have different musical background is not really important. We're musicians, that's all. But it's true that from the outside, it could seem strange. "Why the hell those four guys started to play together?" But it's easier than that, we are all Steve Jones fans. That's the reason why everything works.

HR: How was it the first time you met him?

Duff: When I started to play music, I was playing guitar. All that I learned at this time was from Steve Jones… and Johnny Thunders. My school is Jones and the Professionals. It's not that I didn't like the Pistols, but it all started with the Professionals. I had the opportunity to meet Steve Jones in mountain bike. Funny, uh? I was really intimidated. He's a mentor for me. Even today, when I look at the pictures we did for the Neurotic, I say to myself "Goddamn, you're in a band with Steve Jones!". And when I go to Seattle to see my friends, they are jealous, ha, ha! But today, I'm not impressed anymore. We are real good friends.

HR: The presence of Johnny Taylor from Duran Duran is very strange. Is it because of his heavy solo album?

Duff: No. The Neurotic Outsiders started when Matt received a phone call. It was Sal, a friend who is the manager of the Viper Room. He asked him if he could do a charity concert for one of his friends who had a cancer. Matt knew John, and he knew that Jones and Taylor already played together. He asked me if I wanted to play guitar. We did a rehearsal, we learned some songs, and it was really cool. We did that show, and it was incredible! I was playing with Steve Jones and Johnny Taylor, it was surrealist! Then we started to play all the Monday nights. Every week, there was different guests: there was Brian Setzer, Iggy Pop, Billy Idol, Simon LeBon…

HR: There's a big buzz around the Neurotic Outsiders - who were called Neurotic Boys Outsiders in the beginning… Is it justified?

Duff: You know, people doesn't come every week to see a band because the guys in the band are known. Here, in Los Angeles, people can see you every day in the street, they don't give a fuck about seeing you on stage if the music sucks. That's the reason of this buzz. And that's the place where it's the harder to do that kind of project: the population is so cynic and blasé.

HR: And how a Monday night project between friends became, a couple of months later, a band that will release an album on a major label?

Duff: Like I said, the people were coming to the concert, we became the strange thing to see in Los Angeles. It was very hot. They started to invite me to the Hollywood parties again! And the labels started to turn around us. But the most interested one was the guy from Maverick. He saw all the shows we did in the USA, he followed us everywhere, he was a fan! One day, he said: "Guys, you must do a record". And we said OK and we signed a contract. But we didn't really care. We were more interested into that vibration, the good karma behind the band. So we did that album. In five days, we recorded 19 songs, at least the basic tracks.

HR: For the writing, how did it work?

Duff: Steve Jones did the biggest part. He was preparing a solo record when we started this project. Most of the song were already written. I did some songs, John too. Everything was really easy to put together. For the USA, nothing is sure, but in Europe, we will release singles and b-sides.

HR: You say that this band is just for fun, but you're still on a Warner label. Won't it stop the fun?

Duff: No, Maverick is like an independent. It's very small and the people who work there are doing it for the love of the music. On this label, there is, I don't know, maybe five bands. It's very small. They will release the album and everything will be fine. The album will come out in September, we will do a tour in bars in the USA and I think we will play in Paris too. But I don't really know for now.

HR: You play guitar on the Neurotic Outsiders album. Are you the replacement of Gilby Clarke?

Duff: Surely not!

HR: Does it bother you if I ask you some questions about Guns N' Roses?

Duff: Go on man, anything you want!

HR: OK! What is the status of Guns N' Roses today?

Duff: We rehearsal every night and I play bass! Axl is playing the rhythm guitar, and it works very well! We work from Monday to Friday, ha, ha! There's me, Axl, Slash, Matt, Dizzy. There's also a friend of Axl who helps him to learn to play guitar. But we play, and it works!

HR: And with Axl on the guitar, it works?

Duff: Believe me man, it kills! You know, with that Neurotic Outsiders thing, I found old sensations. I don't know if I lost it or if I didn't know how to recover it, if you can understand the difference… With Guns N' Roses, we started to play in very big places, and at a moment, you start to forget where you come from. It's hard to explain. When there's a 20-meter pit and 40,000 people, it becomes surrealist. The Neurotic bring me back on the ground and it makes me play like in the beginning, in small bars. Matt feels the same thing. And we both bring this freshness at the rehearsals.

HR: Is there something concrete that came out from these rehearsals?

Duff: Yes! Some songs are almost finished.

HR: Titles?

Duff: No! It's only work titles, it's very stupid. I don't want to mention them to have bad luck!

HR: Do you miss the stadiums?

Duff: These days, I like to play in bars. It's a positive experience. But when I saw the Sex Pistols in London , I said to myself: "I need to play in a stadium again!" And when it will happen, this time, I will remember it, ha ha!

HR: How do you deal with the Neurotic Outsiders and Guns N' Roses in the same time?

Duff: It doesn't scare me. I drink a lot of coffee. But it's true that I'm very busy.

HR: Tell us about a typical day. Like today…

Duff: OK! Last night, I went to sleep at 3 am, after the rehearsals. Normally, we stop at 5 am, but yesterday… Anyway. I got up at 10 am. It's OK. I can do with 6 hours of sleep. Then I do a lot of interviews on telephone. After, we go out! Slash, Axl and me are going to see the Sex Pistols in Los Angeles. They play here tonight. After the show, we will go to rehearsals. And it goes on. I don't have a social life. I don't even have a girlfriend. Maybe I will find one tonight!

HR: Why do you think all the members of the band except Axl want to do solo projects?

Duff: It's because we are workaholics! You know, when I recorded my first solo album, I didn't have the intention to make a CD. I did it for myself during the Illusion tour. Geffen heard it and wanted to release it. Actually, they did it only because they were afraid that I release it under another label. Not very cool for me, but…

HR: Since the end of the promotion of Believe in Me, at the end of 93, there's a hole in your biography. What did you do?

Duff: I had health problems after that tour. I was very sick.

HR: Because of the excesses?

Duff: Yes. It was really serious. My pancreas exploded! So I became clean and I did a punk rock band with Steve Jones.

HR: Does it mean that the Duff McKagan of 1996 is clean?

Duff: Yes. I do kickboxing every day. It's popular in France, uh?

HR: Uh… yes.

Duff: Do you know Benny The Jet?

HR: No

Duff: He was a world champion during 20 years! He's my teacher!

HR: To come back to the Neurotic Outsiders, do the members of Guns N' Rose listened to the album?

Duff: Yeah! Slash played with us at the Viper Room, many times.

HR: Yes?

Duff: Of course. Everybody knows that he plays with anybody, ha ha!

HR: But there's no solo on the Neurotic songs…

Duff: Not on the album, but on stage, we do what we want. And Slash is very good even when he plays rhythm. I'd really like to see Axl playing with us. I invite him many times. One day, he will. The guys of Guns N' Roses really like the Neurotic Outsiders. They know that it's just a side project.

HR: And Axl, he said nothing? People doesn't have a good perception of him in Europe…

Duff: Oh no! He's quite at ease right now. You know what is the problem with Axl? He doesn't go out at all and then everybody starts rumors. But Axl Rose has a normal life!

HR: I read that some songs were ready, but Axl didn't want to use them.

Duff: Ha, ha! I never heard this one. Don't believe everything you read! It makes me think that I received Kerrang, but not anymore. But I moved!

HR: Never wanted to leave Los Angeles?

Duff: No. But I go to Seattle every weekend. I have a lot of friends out there and sometimes I play with them. The guys from Soundgarden are my friends. When I go to Seattle, I water ski. Chris Cornell let his boat at my house and we water ski together.

HR: You said that you were at the Sex Pistols concert in London, at Finnsbury Park…

Duff: Of course! I will tell you. When arrived in London, I went to the hotel, I did a little bit of exercises, and we went in the backstage at Finnsbury Park, Matt, John and me. Iggy Pop was on stage. Then the Sex pistols went on stage. You know, they almost never played in front of more than 200 people, and now, there was 30,000 people! It was very cool!

HR: On the album, Steve Jones, John Taylor and you sing. But not Matt. He can't sing?

Duff: He does background vocals. Actually, he has a better voice than all of us. The problem is that he sings too well. He's OK for the background vocals, but if he was on lead, we would sound like Journey, ha ha!

HR: Of all your band, Guns N' Roses, your solo career and the Neurotic Outsiders, which one do you prefer?

Duff: I really love those three. I'm very happy: I play in the Neurotic with my mentor. My band, Guns N' Roses, it's… it's a carnage. We are back together and it will be great. And I'm in good health. What else could I want?

HR: Guns N' Roses is often on the "who's hot/who's not" thing. How does it feel to be in the band that people like to bash?

Duff: It's cool. They can fuck off. I don't care. It's a thing that has to happen anyway. If I was not in the band, I think I would also bash them. But they are not into the studio with me and that the band works very well and that we are preparing a carnage.

HR: Appetite or Illusions orientation?

Duff: Appetite. It's normal. We haven't played together in a long time and our collaboration in fresh, just like in the beginning.

HR: It's the year of the reunions. Kiss, Van Halen, the Sex Pistols… What does it mean to you?

Duff: I don't know what to think about it. I will go to see Kiss. When I was young, they were gods. This concert won't change the world, but it will be cool, and that's the most important thing!
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